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St. Paul’s College, an HBCU, to Close

Khorri Atkinson | 6/7/2013, 12:13 p.m.

St Paul’s College, a historically black college institution in Virginia founded in 1888, is slated to close by the end of this month after years of financial difficulties and the failure of the college administration to meet accreditation standards.

According to the Associated Press, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), a regional body that gives accreditation of degree-granting to higher education institutions in the Southern states, has confirmed that St. Paul’s will be closing. According to the school’s Facebook page, St. Paul’s was the only college in Virginia to offer a degree program specifically for single parents and an accelerated degree program for working adults.

In 2011, St. Paul’s executed budget cuts to some of its academic programs and student life activities as part of an ongoing effort to ease some of the school’s financial burden. This also included the closing of the school’s intercollegiate athletic program that had originally housed 14 athletic teams.

With continuing budget cuts, the institution’s enrollment of predominantly low-income and first-generation college students had fallen to below 100 from an original enrollment of more than 600, diverseeducation.com reported.

In June 2012, the commission terminated the 125-year-old college accreditation, but it was later restored and put on probation after a federal court ruling the following August. Since being on probation, the school has seen various students not meeting eligibility requirements to receive federal financial aid, the Associated press reported.

There was some hope for the college, when Saint Augustine's College, a historically black college in North Carolina that, like St. Paul’s, was founded by the Episcopal Church said they were examining the possibility of purchasing the financially strapped college. However, St. Augustine recently postposed that idea, after administrators learned they will have to take the college out of debt, an estimated four to five million dollars, according to diverseeducation.com.

St. Augustine announcement not to buy St. Paul’s finally prompted St. Paul’s Board of Trustees to make the final decision to close the college.

Currently, St. Paul’s is one of 74 schools in Virginia that is accredited by the SACSCOC. According to their website, five of these institutions are also danger of loosing accreditation. These include Virginia Intermont College, Central Virginia Community College, Wytheville Community College, University of Virginia and Southwest Virginia Community College. St. Paul’s however is the only historically Black college on the list.

While the school’s website noted that the college will be closing on June 30, 2013., letter from the St. Paul Alumni Association is still asking for funds to keep the college open. The AmNews has contacted the President of the college’s alumni association but got no comment to meet press time.

St. Pauls has asked students who need assistance in transferring to another higher education institution, to attend a “Teach-Out Information Session” scheduled for Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15.

According to diverseeducation.com, St. Paul’s will sell $30 million in property and buildings.