AUGUSTA, GA. (WFXG) - The future of Paine College - a historically black college- is in the hands of a federal judge. U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash, Jr. ruled in favor of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission - or SACS - saying the organization was in its legal rights to revoke the college’s accreditation back in 2016.
That decision will impact federal aid and degrees. Paine College President Dr. Jerry L. Hardee was adamant that the college is accredited and confident that they will get past this. Right now, the school is accredited with probationary status because the school’s board of trustees filed a restraining order that prevented SACS from stripping it completely. The school maintains that status as long as this legal war ensues.
Dr. Hardee is at the forefront of the 2-year battle for Paine College’s accreditation, sparked by reports of financial mismanagement. It’s one of the changes he’s been striving to make since his first day on the job a year ago.
“There were several areas that Paine needed to address and had not addressed them in the manner that SACS thought they should have been," he explained.
Dr. Hardee said within the past year, the school has satisfied those issues and have proactively applied for accreditation with Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools - OR TRACS. In two weeks, college administrators are heading to Dallas, Texas to meet with TRACS and are hoping to be accredited by both organizations soon.
The ruling that was made on October 11th means the school could lose SACS accreditation pending the final judgement. The college now has 30 days to respond.
Despite the recent ruling, Students like Jordis Holmes fully support this school.
“I still see myself right here at Paine College. There’s no other place I’d be than this school. It’s destined to be,” she told FOX 54.
Dr. Hardee said he is working to rebuild student morale and enrollment that declined over the years. He hopes the school doubles its current 500 students enrolled by next year.
Monday, he told students, alumni, faculty and the media he and the board plans to mull over the school’s options. Over the next few days they’ll decide whether they will attempt to address the judge’s SACS ruling.
He said two things can happen : they can address the ruling - continue the case and remain accredited by SACS OR they will pursue accreditation by TRACS. Best case scenario, Paine College will be accredited by both organizations within the coming weeks.
CLICK HERE to connect with the college’s accrediting memberships. Read statements from both the college and the court.