We all feel Paine's pain

Keeping college accountable amid difficulties can help it survive
Paine College's economic and cultural impact on Augusta is immense, and anyone who loves the school should support eradicating any impropriety.

Not all pain is bad. Sometimes it helps alert you to a major problem.

 

“Pain is the body’s way of telling us there is something wrong that needs to be addressed,” notes one website.

“Pain is like the warning lights on your car’s dashboard,” says another. “It alerts you to something that needs investigation. Pain serves an important function. It’s your body’s way of saying, ‘Pay attention.’ ”

Such is the case with the hurt over Augusta’s Paine College and its recent financial difficulties.

Paine is facing questions over allegations of improprieties in the use of federal and student aid, including diverting education money to overdue bills and payroll and failing to return unused federal aid earmarked for students who later withdrew.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges has given Paine a year, and may give it two, to right the ship before it pulls the college’s accreditation.

Officials will work with Paine to avoid the loss of accreditation, which could fatally cripple the school.

It’s an absolute last resort, as it should be.

“We’re not trying to put people out of business. We’re trying to make them better,” says Belle Wheelan, the president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges.

If it seems as if they’re picking on Paine, nobody is. The accrediting body, the auditors and others – including this page – desperately want the institution to survive.

Paine is not only an integral part of Augusta, but a tenured part of the soul for its alumni and supporters – black and white. It’s economic impact is immense, having brought $36 million to the area in 2007 alone, according to a Mercer University economic impact study. The cultural impact is incalculable.

And the loss to the psyche would dwarf the economic injury should it close.

For their part, supporters are certain it won’t.

“Paine faces challenges now,” says school historian Mallory Millender. “Paine has faced challenges throughout its history. But God loves Paine College, and Paine College is going to be all right.”

All of us should hope so.

We would encourage supporters to look at the current dealings as an attempt to heal, not hurt, the college. We also urge them to support the weeding out of impropriety and anyone found guilty of it. Not to do so would not show the school any love.

Accountability is a good thing. It helps institutions survive.

Paine given a year to correct financial mismanagement
Paine supporters say the college is too important to lose
Audit uncovers financial mismanagement at Paine College

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