Cheyney University: Oldest HBCU struggles to maintain accreditation

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As Cheyney University reportedly struggles with debt and enrollment declines as well as concerns about its accreditation, president Aaron Walton has announced an ambitious fundraising campaign to help balance the budget for the first time in at least six years .

“We will have a balanced budget,” Walton said at a news conference Tuesday in the school’s science center.

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Walton has been at the helm of the nation’s oldest Black college since June 2017, and he told his audience of alumni, students and supporters that he he vows to keep the historic university around for another 182 years.

“It was this first year that was most challenging because now you’re establishing the ground rules, after that it’s kind of business as usual,” Walton said during a meeting with The Philadelphia Tribune’s editorial board. “We’re doing a lot of other things that will be supportive of our financial position moving forward and other forms of revenue. This first year we didn’t have those – the second and third year, we will.”

The university in Delaware County has three major goals to reach in the coming months, with the most vital being securing $4 million by June 30 to balance its budget, hillytrib.com  reported. The report also noted that on Nov. 20, Walton will meet with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to revisit the university’s accreditation status.

“I’m not worrying about balancing the budget for the next two years because we already have in place what we’ve submitted that will conclude in a balanced budget for the next two years,” Walton said.

“Cheyney is going to stay open, the issue is accreditation. If you don’t get accredited, you’re no longer eligible for Title IV funds, nor are you eligible for Pell Grants, etc., and we would default on one of the conditions of staying accredited,” he said about federal grants, student loans and other funding, the report states.

Rosalyn McPherson of the ROZ Group has been tapped to help with fundraising goals and she says there’s an “aggressive hit list” of folks they are targeting.

“We’re getting people on board with the fact that there is a real concrete plan in place as well as dynamic leadership , so we’re dealing with perception issues as well as financial goals,” she said.

Walton noted that the university cannot survive on student tuition and state funding alone.

“We’re saying we want to earn the contributions that you want to give us,” he added. “It’s the same thing we did with the state. We didn’t ask them to forgive us the $30 million without earning that by performance. We were willing to perform ourselves into the future and not beg ourselves into the future.”

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