Paine College $1 Million from goal, promises there is ‘no plan to close’

Paine College Campus Photo
Paine College Campus Photo

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The year-long push to keep Paine College open nears the end as the Board of Trustees announced major financial gifts pledged to the more than 100 year old institution.

You may recall the Historically Black College fell in jeopardy due to financial issues recently putting its accreditation on the line with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.  The school was placed on probation nearly two years ago.

The Board held a press conference Tuesday morning to speak to the institution’s progress and tell the public about plans to move forward.

It has been a long road for Paine College complete with leadership changes and a nation-wide search for not just the best students, but the highest dollars to keep the school operating.  Trustees guaranteed the public that PC is open for business.

Attorney Michael Thurmond, Chair-elect of the Board of Trustees gave the group a rousing promise.

“There is no plan to close Paine College,” he said.

Chair Barbara Bouknight echoed his statements with the Board’s mission for a solid plan moving forward.

“Our top priority is to stabilize the administrative and fiscal management of Paine College.”

Paine College’s Board of Trustees publicly announced the progress of its latest fundraising efforts and what those dollars means for helping to keep the school open.

Thurmond said, “On July 1, 2016, the Paine College Board of Trustees will adopt a balanced budget.  The era of deficit spending is over.”

With the end of financial insolvency comes a plan for what Chair-Elect Thurmond is calling a $20 Million budget with more eyes on it to promote transparency and accountability.

“We will live within our means.  That, I think, is the most credible evidence,” he said.

Paine nears its goal with more than $2,540,000 of its $3.1 Million goal.  The latest pledges helped close the gap with Thurmond’s “Be 1 of 1,000” campaign expected to take the school to its surplus.

Cynthia Hopson, Assistant Secretary General of The Black College Fund pledged support on behalf of the Global Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church.

“We are committing $350,000,” she said.

Marshall Gilmore, Trustee emeritus, sent a message from The College of Bishops of the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church.

“The College of Bishops has pledged $1,000,000.”

The Board also decided to officially make Samuel Sullivan President of the Historically Black College and keep him at the helm for another year.  Sullivan, who helped the school lift seven of ten areas of non-compliance, said he will help Paine also eliminate the final three stipulations.

“Make a recommendation to SACSCOC in Memphis around the 15th of June to have SACSCOC vote to put us in full compliance and thereby remove Paine College from the list of institutions that are on probation,” he said.

Paine still has to raise $1 Million by June 30.

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