I don't normally post entire press releases in this space, but these are unusual times on the higher ed beat. I've written a lot over the years about schools that are changing and growing. Until Tuesday, I've never covered a century-old school that's down to its final few chances.
If you missed it, here's what I wrote Tuesday about Bennett College following the vote by its accrediting body to remove its accreditation. The college sent out this news release Tuesday night after my print deadline.
I can't find it online anywhere, so I'll print it here so you'll be able to read the college's official reaction to Tuesday's events and its road ahead.
Here it is, with a couple of added links for context and convenience:
Bennett College mounts aggressive fundraising effort to try to raise significant amount of money
During the annual meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), it was announced today that Bennett College will be removed from SACSCOC membership.
Bennett President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins and the Board of Trustees, led by alumna Dr. Gladys Ashe Robinson ’71, are continuing the College’s aggressive plans to demonstrate financial stability and raise funds. Bennett appealed the decision to SACSCOC and will retain its accreditation during the appeal process.
Under Dawkins’ watch, Bennett has made significant progress to address financial stability. Bennett generated a surplus of $461,038 and had no audit findings during fiscal year 2018. Moreover, Bennett has steadily increased its fundraising from $3.37 million to $4.25 million over a three-year period, enrollment has been trending upward for two years, from 409 in 2017 to 471 in 2018, and earlier this year, the College was approved for an HBCU Capital Finance loan deferment over a six-year period with a financial benefit of nearly $9 million.
“While we did not get the news we wanted today from SACSCOC officials, I remain optimistic that Bennett will make the necessary strides to demonstrate we deserve to remain accredited,” Dawkins said. “Bennett College is one of only two all-women’s HBCUs in the country and has produced outstanding alumnae who have become national leaders in various fields.
“We strongly believe in the mission of Bennett College,” Dawkins continued. “The growth and development of our students motivates us to continue our transformative work. We are particularly excited about members of our freshwomen class. Our new students came in this fall with an average GPA of 3.2, and we are determined to do everything we can to graduate phenomenal women leaders.”
Dawkins further added, “People care about Bennett. They are asking what they can do. We need your donations and connections for unrestricted funding. We have 45 days. This is a call to action for those willing to stand with Bennett.”
Bennett's formal appeal hearing before SACSCOC will be Feb. 18.
The #StandWithBennett hashtag, meanwhile, has been trending all day on Twitter. It seems like Bennett has plenty of allies.