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Saint Paul’s Misses Serious $5M Goal

However, college continues to push for donations
By Jeremy M. Lazarus
Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Richmond Free Press

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(TriceEdneyWire.com) - Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Va. fell short of raising the $5 million it said it needed by May 17, but is extending its fundraising effort for three more weeks.

The reason it urgently needs to meet its goal: To show its accrediting body that it is financially stable and should retain its accreditation. The cash-strapped liberal arts school collected $4.42 million in gifts by the college’s self-imposed deadline — $580,000 short of the goal, according to Eddie N. Moore Jr., the president of the 124-year-old Episcopal-affiliated school in rural Lawrenceville.

“We still need to raise $300,000 in new donations,” said  Moore, former president of Virginia State University, and to receive $280,000 in uncollected pledges to help keep the doors open. The historically Black school dates to 1888. It was founded by Episcopal Priest James Solomon Russell to give Black people access to educational opportunities denied them by the White supremacists in control of Virginia.

Moore originally set the May 17 deadline for raising the $5 million as that was the final date for Saint Paul’s to provide information to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges about the school’s efforts to meet accreditation standards.

He said he still hopes to reach the fundraising goal. Despite the shortfall, the accrediting body, the SACS Commission on Colleges, has indicated that its focus on deciding whether to restore the school to full accreditation would be based entirely on its finances rather than on the level of fundraising.

“Our standards require accredited schools to have a sound financial base and the financial stability to support the school’s mission,” SACS spokeswoman Pamela Cravey said. “We are not involved in determining the dollar figure for our member schools to raise.”

That’s good new for Saint Paul’s, which remains hopeful that the decision from SACS will be positive. Saint Paul’s has been on probation for two years with the SACS college commission. Unable to extend the probation, the commission’s board of trustees is to decide by June 21 whether to reaffirm Saint Paul’s accreditation or remove the school as a member. Loss of accreditation would halt the flow of federal grants and loans for student tuition.

Dr. Cravey said the decision will be made during the trustee’s four-day meeting in Chantilly in Northern Virginia.

“We have come a long way, and we are so close to success,”  Moore declared in a statement provided to the Free Press in which he profusely thanked those who have already given. Moore launched the $5 million campaign after taking over as president six months ago.

The new funds, he said, were to be used to cover current operations, partially pay down debt and make some critical building renovations — all areas where SACS had previously found Saint Paul’s deficient. Along with raising money during his tenure, Moore, a former state treasurer, also has worked to improve the administration and financial controls, rein in spending and step up student recruiting to show compliance with SACS standards.

The SACS college commission first placed Saint Paul’s on probation in June 2010 for various problems, including the college’s lack of financial stability and qualified administrative staff.

 
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