Episcopal Church-affiliated historically black university launches fund to preserve accreditation

The campus of Saint Augustine's University, a historically African American academic institution based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and affiliated with The Episcopal Church.
The campus of Saint Augustine's University, a historically African American academic institution based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and affiliated with The Episcopal Church. | Screengrab: YouTube/Saint Augustine's University

A historically African American university in North Carolina affiliated with The Episcopal Church has launched a fund aimed at helping to preserve its official accreditation.

Saint Augustine’s University, which was chartered by the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina in 1867 and is based in Raleigh, announced the launch of the Falcon Pride Initiative Fundraising Campaign earlier this month.

The goal of the campaign, according to SAU, is “to demonstrate financial solvency for preserving its accreditation” by “rallying the support of internal stakeholders, alums, friends, neighbors, and the [historically black colleges and universities] community.”

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The campaign seeks to raise $5 million from supporters, coming in response to a decision by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to remove SAU from its membership.

“The Falcon Pride Initiative Fund represents our unwavering commitment to the future of Saint Augustine’s University,” said SAU President Marcus H. Burgess, as quoted in the announcement.

“Our goal is to raise the necessary funds to preserve our accreditation and reassert our position as a leader in higher education. We fully dedicate ourselves to maintaining our accreditation and fostering an environment of academic excellence and opportunity for our students.”

Last December, the SACSCOC Board of Trustees voted at their annual meeting to remove SAU from its list of member academic institutions, with the university being put on probation during the appeal process.

According to a document released in December, the SACSCOC explained that they voted to remove SAU from membership as an accredited institution due to financial concerns.

Specifically, the board cited “failure to comply” with requirements centered on “financial resources,” “financial documents” and “financial responsibility,” among other stated reasons.

The standards require a member academic institution to have “a governing board that … exercises fiduciary oversight of the institution” and to have “sound financial resources and a demonstrated, stable financial base to support the mission of the institution and the scope of its programs and services.”

In response to the December vote, SAU Board of Trustees Chairman James E.C. Perry stated that the university community “will stop at nothing to ensure that SAU maintains its accreditation.”

“We are experiencing one of the most important moments in the institution’s history,” Perry added. “Our charge to everyone associated with the university is to comply with all policies and procedures, advance the institution’s mission and vision, and work collectively to place SAU back in good standing with SACSCOC.”

The accreditation situation came as SAU was facing litigation from former President Christine Johnson McPhail, who filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last December, accusing the institution of creating a hostile work environment.  

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