Federal court judge grants Paine injunction, accreditation reinstated

Paine College graphic
Paine College graphic

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Paine College just learned a federal court judge granted the school its injunction to help keep its accreditation.  This news comes after the historically black college’s president, Samuel Sullivan, answered questions from the larger Paine community.

This injunction is big news for Paine College.  Even Board Chairman-Elect, Michael Thurmond said it’s a great day for Paine. Students were called into the Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel shortly after the school learned its status changed via an emergency text message alert. Once seated, Vice President of Academic Affairs Cheryl Evans Jones read the injunction, filed in federal court Monday morning in Atlanta, in its entirety.

“The Paine College located in Augusta, Georgia is hereby reinstated to membership in the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges,” Evans Jones read.

The lions celebrated the good news with chants and cheers from pews.

Freshman Brandon Trapp told NewsChannel 6, “I had a little worry that I was going to have to transfer my first year.”

Marcus Bennett, who is also a Paine Freshman, had the same fears.

“It was a blessing so I can further my education at this college.”

Dr.  Sullivan said the injunction buys the school some time.

“It basically says until further notice. We’re back to the status of being on probation. Those sanctions are still there. We have to work to get them removed. We just have more time.”

As lawyers worked in federal court early Monday morning, Dr. Sullivan took questions and comments from people itching to know what’s going on in Augusta.

One supporter said, “I have never had a negative outlook on the success of Paine.”

An international athlete stated in confusion, “Where do I go from here?”

One by one Sullivan answered those questions. And discussed another plan, an alternative to SACS called The Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.

“The criteria are very similar except for TRACS there needs to be a clearly defined mission that reflects the Christian values of the institution,”  Dr. Sullivan explained.

Many supporters stressed wanting to help Paine financially, but worried leaders in the past mishandled funds. Sullivan assured all he’s never been investigated and there is new leadership in place, including a new board.

That new leadership has attracted other leaders in the fight to save Paine.

Augusta Riverfront President Paul Simon attended the community meeting as one of the 30 something prominent businessmen recently getting on board to save Paine.

“From an educational point of view as well as what it means in the community itself, there’s a lot of folks who graduated from Paine and we need to keep it going in that direction,” he said.

Dr. Sullivan added that lawyers on both sides are working together to come to a conclusion.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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