UPDATE: Paine College fights to keep accreditation, plans to fight SACS decision

UPDATE: Paine College fights to keep accreditation, plans to fight SACS decision

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - In a press conference Thursday evening, College President Dr. Samuel Sullivan confirmed that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools recommended that Paine College lose its accreditation, but that the school plans to appeal.

Deonte Moses, a rising junior, said, "I set an ultimate goal that I wanted to graduate from Paine College and the thought of that not happening frightens me."

Moses, like many other students, had tons of questions after news of the decision began to spread.
Interim President Dr. Samuel Sullivan tried to put some of that fear to rest as he addressed supporters on Thursday evening.

"We've been preaching this forever that Paine is going to be here," said Sullivan.

When the college was first put on probation in 2014, there were 10 sanctions to be addressed.

Two years later, school leaders have knocked that down to three-all in the area of financial stability and sustainability.

That's something Trustee Michael Thurmond said they plan to show substantial improvements in by the time of the final appeal.

Thurmond said, "We broke all of our fundraising records to date-$3.1 million. The good news is that we will end this year with a balanced budget and a small surplus."

Sullivan said the college still needs an additional $1 million by June 30th in order to satisfy immediate financial needs.

With a $1 million pledged from the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and close to 750 new donors, Sullivan said he believes they can reach their goal.

"We're constantly trying to figure out how to get the biggest bang for every buck that we spend," said Sullivan.

As 134 years of history hangs in the balance, Moses says he won't give up on the place that gave him a shot at success.

"Until that last day that they tell me it's over, I'm standing by this school," said Moses.

SACS will send a notice to Paine College in the next two weeks. Once the college receives that notice, Paine can file an appeal within 10 days. While the appeals process is going on, Paine will remain accredited.

Mayor Hardie Davis released the following statement after the SACS decision:

"For the last year, Dr. Sullivan and the Paine College family, community, alumni and friends have worked to restore Paine College.  The journey has been marked with exceptional successes.  I have witnessed the strength of the Augusta community as we have rallied to support Paine College and wrap our arms around the treasure that Paine College is to this community and the opportunities Paine College has long provided its students.  We had hoped for full reaffirmation from SACS today, but the Paine College story continues to be told.  We support Paine College through the appeal process. We continue to share the message of hope and higher learning that Paine College provides.  We continue to be champions for our college in the continued press toward full resolution of their immediate and long term financial goals.  Paine College is an Augusta institution and together we must commit to the promise of a brighter future for Paine College and the students it will serve."

CORRECTION: We initially reported that Paine College had lost its accreditation. While that was the recommendation of the SACS review board, the school will remain accredited while it appeals the decision.

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