From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Committee backs continued support for beleaguered

Date Thu, 9 Feb 2006 15:13:53 -0600

Note #9113 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

06071 Feb. 9, 2006

Committee backs continued support for beleaguered Barber-Scotia College

School will receive Christmas Joy Offering funds, hopes to reopen

by Evan Silverstein

LOUISVILLE - A General Assembly Council (GAC) committee on Thursday (Feb. 9) approved a recommendation to continue investing in Barber-Scotia College in Concord, NC.

The decision by the National Ministries Division Committee (NMDC) will allow the financially troubled institution to continue receiving Christmas Joy Offering funds.

Barber-Scotia is one of seven Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)-related racial-ethnic schools and colleges supported through the annual offering.

The NMDC recommendation goes next to the full GAC on Saturday.

Barber-Scotia, which suspended classes last year, received $323,419 from the Christmas Joy Offering for 2005, although $100,000 was retained by the church to cover property insurance, according to Beneva Bibbs, the PC(USA)'s associate for racial-ethnic schools and colleges.

For 2006, the college will receive only its base grant, with no financial incentives. That means its allotment for this year will be about $160,000, Bibbs said.

"The reason now it's only the base grant is because they don't have students, and that's what the incentives are based on," said the Rev. Curtis A. Kearns Jr., director of the PC(USA)'s National Ministries Division.

Barber-Scotia is calling this an "administrative year" but hopes to reopen in the fall, Bibbs said, noting that the college is developing a business plan.

The proposal to continue providing the annual allotment was based on a recommendation from a PC(USA) delegation that visited Barber-Scotia on Feb. 2.

That group, led by the Rev. Allison Seed, NMDC's chair, was formed to determine whether there was any realistic hope of an effective reorganization and a fresh start.

The delegation toured campus facilities, examined financial data and spoke with the college trustees about their vision and plans for the future.

The group found several positive factors, according to a summary of its findings included with the NMDC's recommendation to continue providing funds.

It said the trustees, alumni and friends of the college were characterized by goodwill and generosity, and the physical facilities were substantial and well-secured. More important, it said, was evidence of serious planning for the future.

"There is close to a million dollars in past-due bills, the instructional college is on hiatus, and without student revenue there is little income," NMDC said. "There is limited staff and practically no administrative support, but in spite of all these negatives, there is indeed life at Barber Scotia College."

In addition to Seed, the delegation was comprised of Kearns; Don Robinson, a former GAC member and an accreditation consultant; and Patricia Chapman and Judy Golliher, GAC associate directors.

The last two years have been tumultuous for the college.

Barber-Scotia lost its accreditation in 2004 and suspended classes last October after only a handful of students enrolled for the first part of the fall term. Only two volunteer instructors were on the job at the time. A month later, the college announced that President Gloria Bromell-Tinubu had resigned. Last May, the institution expelled 42 students who had not repaid debts to the school. Then in August, the college announced that it would cut expenses by closing on-campus housing for the 2005-'06 academic year.

Barber-Scotia was founded by the Presbyterian Church in 1867 as a seminary for the daughters of former slaves. It once had more than 1,000 students.

Enrollment dropped from nearly 600 in 2004 to just 91 in January 2005.

The recent setbacks raised fear that Barber-Scotia would be forced to close its doors permanently, as happened in March to another PC(USA)-related, historically black school that had lost its accreditation - Mary Holmes College, in West Point, MS.

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