From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
[PCUSANEWS] Mary Holmes president resigns
PCUSA NEWS <PCUSA.NEWS@ecunet.org>
13 Jun 2003 09:24:09 -0400
Note #7810 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:
Mary Holmes president resigns
June 11, 2003
Mary Holmes president resigns
Board to meet this week to ponder future of troubled institution
by Evan Silverstein
LOUISVILLE - Nathaniel Jackson resigned last month as president of troubled
Mary Holmes College in West Point, MS, making the future of the historic,
Presbyterian-related institution even more uncertain.
The 111-year-old private, historically black college has been on shaky ground
in recent years. It lost its accreditation in December after years of
struggling with financial problems, declining enrollment and a deteriorating
The two-year college stands to lose millions of dollars in crucial federal
funding by month's end. It also owes thousands of dollars to U.S. education
officials and to the Presbyterian Church (USA), which owns the land it
The Mary Holmes board of trustees may determine what comes next for the
college - if anything - when they meet on campus June 13.
In May, the trustees reaffirmed their desire to keep the school open, even
without federal funding and without accreditation. School leaders hope
eventually to regain accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges
and Schools (SACS).
However, Jack Baugh, the board chairman, suggested this week that he and the
other trustees may have been "following their hearts" in trying to save the
school, and now must focus on the "hard questions" of whether keeping the
college open is really feasible.
"They need to decide what's going to happen," said Baugh, who won't be able
to attend the board meeting later this week. "That's what they have to
The board accepted Jackson's resignation, effective May 31, during last
Baugh said Jackson, who came to Mary Holmes in July 2000, decided to resign
on his own. He said he didn't indicate whether the decision was prompted by
the school's financial and accreditation woes.
Baugh, noting that the accreditation problems were based on financial, not
academic concerns, said Jackson knew when he took the post that he would face
a difficult task.
"It was a friendly kind of thing," he said of Jackson's resignation. "We
understand and support his decision."
Two college staff members, Evelyn Bonner and Gail Turner, have been appointed
to manage the day-to-day operations at the college, where no classes are
being held this summer.
Bonner, a Mary Holmes graduate, is director of the school's Helen R. Walton
Learning Resources Center. Turner has been in charge of community relations.
The college won't search for a replacement for Jackson until the board
decides how to proceed.
Jackson did not return phone calls after announcing his resignation. In April
he had been upbeat about Mary Holmes' chances of survival and had said
nothing about resigning.
"I'm optimistic, because I think there are some options," he said shortly
after learning of the school's failed accreditation appeal. "Especially that
of affiliation, whereby the college would serve as a branch of another
institution, preferably a Presbyterian institution."
In January, school officials appealed the SACS decision to drop Mary Holmes'
accreditation. SACS is the regional body for the accreditation of
universities and colleges in 11 Southern states. Institutions of higher
education are accredited through its Commission on Colleges.
An appeals committee later upheld the original SACS ruling.
Without accreditation, Mary Holmes would be ineligible for crucial federal
funding, and its 256 students would lose access to grants, loans and other
financial aid. Practically all students at Mary Holmes receive financial aid.
Federal money is also used to pay professors' salaries and for campus and
Only a handful of faculty and staff remain at the college, said Baugh, who
declined to speculate about what employees might do after federal money that
pays their salaries is discontinued. He said two staff members are already
working on a volunteer basis.
Baugh said there was discussion during the May board meeting about raising
money for an endowment to provide student financial assistance while seeking
community support. He said such plans are uncertain now.
"To make a plan, you have to know where you want to go," he said. "How do you
plan for something you don't know? Until we know where we're going to go, we
don't know what we want to do."
Funds also could be sought to help pay the school's debt, which totals around
$2.5 million, including a projected $400,000 operating deficit for the
2002-2003 school year, according to the Rev. Floyd Rhodes, the PC(USA)'s
interim associate director for higher education.
Rhodes said the debts include a $456,000 loan approved by the GAC in 2001,
and $491,000 to the U.S. Department of Education for renovating a dormitory.
*** For instructions on using this system (including how to UNJOIN this
meeting), send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Send your response to this article to email@example.com
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send an 'unsubscribe' request to
Browse month . . .
Browse month (sort by Source) . . .
Advanced Search & Browse . . .