Episcopal Church-affiliated university moving classes online amid financial woes

The campus of Saint Augustine's University, a historically African American academic institution based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and affiliated with The Episcopal Church.
The campus of Saint Augustine's University, a historically African American academic institution based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and affiliated with The Episcopal Church. | Screengrab: YouTube/Saint Augustine's University

A historically African American university in North Carolina affiliated with The Episcopal Church will be moving its classes online due to financial and accreditation issues.

Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina, is planning to move its classes online beginning on April 1, according to a report by Episcopal News Service published Wednesday.

“While we strive to maintain the quality of education, it is also our utmost responsibility to ensure the safety, well-being, and dignity of the SAU community, especially our students,” said interim SAU President Marcus Burgess in a statement quoted by ENS.

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Despite the move to virtual learning, some students will remain on campus for the remainder of the semester until May 4, when graduation is scheduled to take place.

SAU leadership is rejecting demands from some alumni to have its entire board of trustees resign over the financial issues that are threatening the university's accreditation.

“The board remains focused on preserving SAU’s accreditation and stabilizing the university’s finances under its new leadership,” the board stated on Wednesday, according to ENS.  

“The university’s accreditation and financial stability are critical to its ability to continue as a premier HBCU in North Carolina. Our focus remains on fulfilling Saint Augustine University’s mission and supporting students, faculty, staff, and alumni.”

Last December, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Board of Trustees voted to remove SAU from its list of member academic institutions, putting the university on probation while an appeal process was undertaken.

The SACSCOC explained in a document released at the time that they voted to remove SAU from membership as an accredited institution due to concerns over its financial stability.

Last month, SAU announced that it was launching the Falcon Pride Initiative Fundraising Campaign, which was aimed at helping the university preserve its official accreditation.

“The Falcon Pride Initiative Fund represents our unwavering commitment to the future of Saint Augustine’s University,” said Burgess, as quoted in the announcement.

“Our goal is to raise the necessary funds to preserve our accreditation and reassert our position as a leader in higher education. We fully dedicate ourselves to maintaining our accreditation and fostering an environment of academic excellence and opportunity for our students.”

Late last month, a few weeks after the fund was created, the SACSCOC upheld the decision to terminate SAU’s accreditation, although the university intends to undergo an arbitration process to challenge the decision.

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