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Paine supporters say the college is too important to lose

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Since its first class almost 130 years ago, Paine College has sent graduates to become lawyers, politicians, educators and scientists around the world.

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Dr. Sardar Yousufzai, an assistant professor of chemistry, physics and environmental sciences at Paine College, teaches a free six-week chemistry course for middle and high students.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
Dr. Sardar Yousufzai, an assistant professor of chemistry, physics and environmental sciences at Paine College, teaches a free six-week chemistry course for middle and high students.

Paine graduates flood the community today, from school superintendents to city commission members.

The school pushes money into the local economy through student and staff spending and acts as a living history book.

So, when Paine was sanctioned by its accrediting body June 21 for poor financial health and mismanagement of federal money with potential loss of accreditation, the warning was a reminder of what Paine has to lose and how costly it would be to Augusta if it failed.

“Paine opens doors for people who otherwise not many would open doors for,” said Deborah Rashada, a 2011 graduate of Paine. “They give people opportunity. So it can’t fail.”

Paine is one of 105 remaining historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, in the U.S.

According to Paine historian Mallory Millender, young people flock to Paine for a sense of community. The quality of education sweetens the deal, and with a student body that has never grown above 923, students receive individual attention.

“You get an unusually good education from the standpoint that you don’t get graduate assistants teaching the students at Paine. You get the very best professors,” Millender said. “Our professors … work one on one and get to know the (students’) potential, and the students feel that.”

University of Pennsylvania professor and national HBCU expert Marybeth Gasman said that black colleges give students a chance to learn from relatable role models.

A campus steeped in black history is also a way for students to escape racism, Gasman said.

“HBCUs provide an option for African-American students, one that nurtures them and supports them,” she said in an e-mail.

“I think it’s good to have a lot of different options for college. In addition, HBCUs are cultural treasures that we should all be concerned with and work to preserve. They are holders of history, art and stories of our past. They uplift students and propel them to new positions in life.”

The contributions

Apart from how Paine enhances students, its impact today can be seen in even more tangible terms.

Paine attracts students from across the nation who spend money and often stay to work in the Augusta area after graduation, said businessman and philanthropist James Hull.

The school brought $36 million to the area in 2007, according to an economic impact study conducted by Mercer University professor of economics Roger C. Tutterow.

Hull said Paine also adds youth and intellect to the area as it enhances the culture and diversity of a Southern community.

In May, Hull donated $10,000 to the $250,000 James M. and Karen N. Hull Endowed Scholarship he established in 2008. Five students have been awarded the scholarship, and Hull said he would like to see more community leaders invest in Paine students.

“I don’t really care what race you are,” Hull said. "We’re interested and should help foster and support what needs to be a great institution. You think about the professors and the students, the graduates: They enrich and improve our community in, I think, ways that are obvious and ways that are unseen … I think people also ought to think about Paine’s history. It’s so beautiful, and we’re just really blessed to have it.”

The history

Almost two decades after slavery was abolished, men from the Methodist Episcopal Church South, now the United Methodist Church, and the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America joined to establish a school to train black teachers and preachers.

According to Millender, Paine is the only college in the nation founded as a collaboration between black and white Southerners.

“Paine is a national treasure,” Millender said. “Paine is the national pioneer in race relations, and that’s not just in education. It’s the national pioneer in race relations – period.”

Paine graduates have assumed leadership positions around the world.

From Paine’s classrooms came Richmond County school Superintendent Frank Roberson, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1978, and his predecessor, Charles Larke, who received his bachelor’s in mathematics in 1969.

Augusta politics has been filled with Paine alumni, from city commission members Johnny Hatney and Bill Lockett to Grady Abrams and Betty Beard.

Mack Gipson, a geologist commissioned by NASA to study pyramids on Mars in the 1970s, and Michael Thurmond, a former Georgia commissioner of labor, are also among Paine’s notable alumni.

The leadership at Paine has plans to make it a nationally recognized liberal arts institution, complete a $7.5 million health and athletic complex, and increase enrollment past the current 891 students.

The spirit of the school is what Rashada said drew her in when she wanted to go back for an education after raising nine children. She also chose Paine to get a better understanding of black culture, which she said permeates many of the lessons and discussions across campus.

“I thought the school was just going to be like go to school, study for tests, pass exams, but I never thought about how it would impact me as a person, but it did,” said Rashada, who is a sixth-grade math teacher at Langford Middle School.

In almost every interaction with pupils, she said, Paine steers her instruction.

“We’ve had conversations in the classroom where we talk about life in general and we talk about people, and certain situations just take me back,” she said. “I reflect on what my professor would have said, and what they did say.”

The challenges

Black colleges are disappearing across the country amid financial crises. Gasman said many, such as Paine, are under-resourced and struggling to survive.

The number of black colleges has dwindled from 250 in the 20th century to 105 today.

Federal, state and private funding for HBCUs remains significantly lower than for larger schools, Gasman said. Because many HBCUs, including Paine, are tuition-driven, the drop in enrollment is crippling their financial base.

Some of the decline is attributed to competition from larger schools that are wooing the most talented students of all races to their campuses.

Despite the challenges to HBCUs as a whole and the internal turbulence at Paine, supporters remain optimistic. Millender said Paine will find strength in its alumni and leadership.

“Paine faces challenges now; Paine has faced challenges throughout its history,” he said. “But God loves Paine College, and Paine College is going to be all right.”

ABOUT PAINE COLLEGE

FOUNDED: Nov. 1, 1882

TYPE: Private, four-year HBCU

PRESIDENT: George C. Bradley

ENROLLMENT: 891

DEGREES OFFERED: Bachelor of arts, bachelor of science

ATHLETICS: Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), which is affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division II

Source: Paine College

Comments (14) Add comment
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Riverman1
86902
Points
Riverman1 06/30/12 - 06:03 pm
7
4
Too Many Colleges

The facts are there are too many colleges, too many students and way too much student debt. Young people graduate tens of thousands in debt and can't find jobs with their, in many cases, worthless degrees. Anyone can get in college today. We need to make a college degree worth something again. Make it tougher to get in and do away with student loans.

We now have a trillion dollars in student loans that are on the edge of going bad because there are not enough jobs for the little fun degrees. This is going to bankrupt the country unless we get hold of matters. Close Paine and about half the colleges in the country.

Just My Opinion
5864
Points
Just My Opinion 06/30/12 - 09:17 pm
4
0
I hate to think that Paine

I hate to think that Paine might close, but it might...might...be for the best. We'll see if they can get out of this hole that VERY inept people put them in. I just can't see any way other than there being something very wrong going on at Paine. This didn't just happen overnight. Where are all the successful Paine alumni?? Why don't THEY take more pride in their alma mater and help them financially? I guess that's just easy to say and harder to do.

Mira Hobbs
4
Points
Mira Hobbs 06/30/12 - 10:45 pm
1
1
Paine College will survive this

Paine College will survive this even though there is a real contingent of people who think it won't. Paine College is supported by the alumni; however, as a private institution, we don't receive the funding some other larger institutions receive. During the time I was a student there, I don't remember the school having the financial issues that have been occurring lately. It is tied directly to leadership that has been lax in ensuring that proper protocols and procedures are being followed effectively.

I do believe, however, that since the issues now have been made manifest, that the administration will do the right thing and correct the errors that have occurred. As for those who imply that a degree from Paine College is not meaningful, I would simply say look at the alumni. I received a great education at Paine; and when I attended and graduated from Florida State University with a master's degree, I realized that I owed a great debt of gratitude to the strong foundation I received during my undergraduate years. Many of my classmates have gone on to be quite successful in the fields of business, science, medicine, religion, fine arts, and education.

I agree with Professor Millender: Paine has faced challenges before, and with the help of God, we will be just fine.

debbiep38
428
Points
debbiep38 07/01/12 - 01:57 am
0
0
Mira, do you mean too black
Unpublished

Mira, do you mean too black to fail?

debbiep38
428
Points
debbiep38 07/01/12 - 01:57 am
0
0
Mira, do you mean too black
Unpublished

Mira, do you mean too black to fail?

debbiep38
428
Points
debbiep38 07/01/12 - 01:57 am
0
0
Mira, do you mean too black
Unpublished

Mira, do you mean too black to fail?

debbiep38
428
Points
debbiep38 07/01/12 - 01:57 am
0
0
Mira, do you mean too black
Unpublished

Mira, do you mean too black to fail?

debbiep38
428
Points
debbiep38 07/01/12 - 01:57 am
0
0
Mira, do you mean too black
Unpublished

Mira, do you mean too black to fail?

debbiep38
428
Points
debbiep38 07/01/12 - 01:57 am
0
0
Mira, do you mean too black
Unpublished

Mira, do you mean too black to fail?

debbiep38
428
Points
debbiep38 07/01/12 - 01:57 am
0
0
Mira, do you mean too black
Unpublished

Mira, do you mean too black to fail?

alinfun
24
Points
alinfun 07/01/12 - 06:31 am
4
1
Separate but equal

Let the alumni take care of the problem if they feel compelled to have their own race defined college. The days of racism are over.

boodroe
1959
Points
boodroe 07/01/12 - 08:09 am
3
0
Paine might close

Where did Paine get the money to remodel all those buildings and were the funds managed correctly. Lack of money might not close Paine but a lack of creditation will close Paine

Riverman1
86902
Points
Riverman1 07/01/12 - 08:21 am
1
0
The city paid for Paine's new

The city paid for Paine's new gym.

Cestlavie
147
Points
Cestlavie 07/01/12 - 09:00 am
0
2
Did you not read the article?

Did you not read the article? Paine is not a "race-defined" college. It originated by the cooperation of both black and white Methodists. It has always welcomed students and faculty of all races and nationalities. Paine has always been a unique institution of learning and though we are going through a rough patch, we will continue to strive for excellence.

Yes, the voters agreed to allocate $2.5 million (of $7.5 million) from SPLOST for the complex; Paine is not the only private entity who received funds. The community will have access to programs and services that will be provided by the college.

avidreader
3377
Points
avidreader 07/01/12 - 10:50 am
0
2
Enjoyable News Story!

This is a very positive and enlightening news story. Hopefully, the citizens of Augusta will respond to Paine with a more open mind. Although I still deem the leadership to be a bit shakey, there is hope that the college will eventually prevail and continue to offer a valuable service to our community. Mr. and Mrs. Hull, your gift to Paine reveals a lot of confidence in their mission.

Good job, McManus!

You guessed it...Frank Stallone
83
Points
You guessed it...Frank Stallone 07/01/12 - 11:54 am
2
0
"Did you not read the

"Did you not read the article? Paine is not a "race-defined" college."

Paine is designated as a "historically black college or university". So it actually is defined based on race and reality. Regardless of who it officially admits.

CoastalDawg
125
Points
CoastalDawg 07/01/12 - 12:30 pm
2
0
No man created institution is "too important"

I agree that losing Paine College would be a tragedy for a number of reasons but the reason that it is in trouble was plainly stated: "So, when Paine was sanctioned by its accrediting body June 21 for poor financial health and mismanagement of federal money with potential loss of accreditation, the warning was a reminder of what Paine has to lose and how costly it would be to Augusta if it failed." How did this come to happen? It's quite plain that SOMEONE mismanaged the money and, unlike the federal government which just prints more money, a "historically black college" can't do that. The same has been true @ Savannah State University over the years; mismanagement has put them into difficulty, not always financial, but with staff and it happens over and over and over there. The alumni cannot and probably WILL not keep Paine College open on their own; it must draw back to where it can meet its obligations within the boundaries of the monies available. If it had to admit fewer students for a time, do that; FIND someone who KNOWS finances, knows how federal and other money should be managed and put that person on staff regardless of race. Historically WHITE colleges can't even USE that terminology yet even in 2012 we still hear that term applied to schools such as Paine College and others; they do and should continue to exist but remove the racial connotation, do away with the Black College funding and just let them be a school that seeks to educate regardless of race. Until that happens and the financial base is widened it is probable that they and other such schools will continue to carry the load of being a "historically black" school therefore using a label that also carries with it a sense of begging the public to "not let the school crash". Paine College has been a proud and upstanding institution for all these years; let the people THERE do what is necessary to bring its finances under control and keep them that way.

Just My Opinion
5864
Points
Just My Opinion 07/01/12 - 02:41 pm
1
0
Read these comments and there

Read these comments and there are a couple of them that I disagree with....but that's one of the rights we have, correct? First off, Mira Hobbs wrote "...since the issues now have been made manifest, that the administration will do the right thing and correct the errors that have occurred.". Don't you agree that good and competent administrators would have seen this happening LONG AGO, and not wait and be forced to rectify the situation when it becomes public knowledge?? Therein lies the problem Ms. Hobbs. Aside from tuition, monetary influx of governmental funds has been a part of the workings at Paine (and most every college) for decades. What caused that to change the last few years? No, I don't think declining enrollment can be totally blamed....good administrators learn to adjust accordingly. That, sadly, obviously didn't happen here. If I were a college administrator, I would HATE to know that this sort of thing would occur on MY watch! The question has to be asked.."Are the people running Paine incompetent?". And to CoastalDawg...just an honest question here (and for anyone else), don't you think that by stripping Paine of it's HBCU status, that that would take away huge amounts of funding that probably couldn't be replaced?? THAT is my biggest concern with doing that.

Sweet son
10736
Points
Sweet son 07/01/12 - 03:07 pm
1
0
University of Pennsylvania Proffesor

This lady needs to rethink her words "relatable role models" when referring to Paine. I believe that the faculty and staff all are probably great role models but the Prez and Brandon are all the way at the top and their leadership is pathetic. The college needs good leadership and they need to go. Step up Paine Board get rid of them and hire people who will be on fire for the college. And yes the Methodist church supports Paine!

galaxygrl
1268
Points
galaxygrl 07/01/12 - 03:46 pm
0
2
Keep Paine Going

I have had employees work for me while attending Paine. After learning about their experience at a HBCU I understood the need for these institutions to thrive. They bring texture to our society and community as well as history to the students. As a community we should help our colleges do well. When colleges do well the community prospers.

Just My Opinion
5864
Points
Just My Opinion 07/01/12 - 08:37 pm
0
2
Galaxy, I have to agree with

Galaxy, I have to agree with you. ANY institution that features further education in any field of study is a good thing for the person and for the community...I don't care if it's a med school or a beauty school.

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 07/02/12 - 08:01 am
0
0
will someone please tell me
Unpublished

will someone please tell me where "these jobs that paine graduates are staying around and getting" that other graduates including with MBA's are unable to find.....

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