School of Hard Knocks

, Shannon Blosser, Leave a comment

This article originally appeared (under a different title) on the web site of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

CONCORD, N.C. – It’s been a troubling few months for officials at Barber-Scotia College.

In February, President Sammie Potts announced his sudden resignation and gave no reason as for his departure. A few months later, school officials sent out letters to roughly 30 students who planned to graduate to inform them that the school awarded them too many “life experiences” credits and that they would have to take some courses in order to receive a diploma.

The school’s troubles, which also include financial concerns, have continued with notification from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools had taken back Barber-Scotia’s accreditation. This after the school was placed on warning by the accrediting association in December.

“This is devastating for the college,” Board of Trustees Chair Ella Scarborough told The Associated Press.

Officials with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools said the reason for dropping Barber-Scotia’s accreditation was for the college not providing accurate information to the organization, The Associated Press reported.

The loss of accreditation means the school is no longer eligible to receive federal financial aid or grants. According to the Associated Press, 90 percent of Barber-Scotia’s enrollment depends on those programs to pay for tuition. Revenues from tuition comprise roughly 60 percent of the school’s $14 million budget.

“We are committed to correcting and righting conditions that brought this decision from (the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools),” said new Barber-Scotia President Gloria Bromell-Timbu, who begins her tenure July 1. “This is baptism by fire.”

An effort by Barber-Scotia to regain accreditation may be easier said than done, however. The process for schools that lost accreditation to reapply for it is difficult, according to Donna Wilkinson, associate executive director of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

“It’s difficult to overcome the obstacles in terms of having enough enrollment to make any stride for reapplying for accreditation,” Wilkinson said. “Many institutions that lose accreditation are financially instable. This is a common reason for an institution losing accreditation. Those financially instable institutions simply find it difficult to overcome those obstacles and close. At that point, the question of reapplying for accreditation is moot.”

According to the Associated Press, the college has also delayed employee pay and owes the city of Concord over $75,000 in past utility bills, now due July 6 (the college received an extension on the bills). Barber-Scotia employees filed a complaint with the state Department of Labor on June 14 regarding the pay issues, according to the Associated Press. Jim Taylor, wage and hour administrator for the Department of Labor, told the Associated Press that the only legal way to defer payment to employees is for all employees to agree on a deferment date.

No faculty vote was taken when the move was announced by college officials.

“Up until now the issue has been financing,” Concord Mayor Scott Padgett told the Associated Press. “Now we’re talking about credibility.”

Barber-Scotia was founded in 1867 as a seminary school for daughters of former slaves and was commissioned by the Presbyterian Church as Scotia Seminary. It merged with Barber Memorial College of Alabama in 1930 to form Barber-Scotia College.

Shannon Blosser ( is a staff writer with the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in Chapel Hill.