Bennett College Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel

The Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel at Bennett College

GREENSBORO — Bennett College reported two more sizable gifts Wednesday as it closes in on its fundraising deadline.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the nation’s oldest African-American sorority, pledged $100,000 to the private woman’s college.

Bennett also received $50,000 from Wells Fargo, the San Francisco bank that has 280 branches across North Carolina.

The college announced these two gifts on the birthday of Bennett President Phyllis Worthy Dawkins. She wrote on Twitter: “My birthday wish is to raise our goal before the deadline. ... We are two days away, but WE CAN DO IT!”

These two gifts also are among the largest the college has received so far as it works to raise $5 million by Friday.

Last Thursday, two foundations each donated $500,000 to Bennett. One check came from The Papa John’s Foundation, the new charitable arm of the national pizza delivery chain. The other came from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Winston-Salem organization now led by former Guilford County Schools superintendent Maurice “Mo” Green.

As of late Wednesday, according to its website, Bennett had raised about 65 percent of its goal, or about $3.25 million.

Bennett is trying to raise at least $5 million to satisfy the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The commission voted in December to revoke Bennett’s accreditation because it’s concerned that the school doesn’t have sufficient financial resources to stay open. Colleges must be accredited to accept federal grants and student loans as payment for tuition and other college expenses.

The commission put Bennett on probation for the two prior years, and the school had run annual budget deficits for several years. But the college says enrollment increases over the past two years have relieved some of that financial pressure and it’s on pace to have a second straight annual surplus.

Bennett has appealed the commission’s decision and remains accredited for now. The commission plans to hold an appeals hearing in Atlanta in mid-February.

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Contact John Newsom at (336) 373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.

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