WILBERFORCE —Wilberforce University will maintain its accreditation after more than a year of fund-raising, restructuring and recruiting.
The Higher Learning Commission announced Thursday that it lifted the show-cause order placed on Wilberforce in 2014 and placed the nation’s oldest private historically black university under a standard path.
“It’s a great day at Wilberforce University,” President Dr. Algeania Warren Freeman said Friday during a joyous celebration inside Gaston F. Lewis Arena. “I would like to thank the Higher Learning Commission for helping to make Wilberforce University a better learning institution.”
The show-cause order placed the school under threat of losing its accreditation if it was not brought into compliance with the criteria and practices of the HLC. Losing accreditation could have prevented students from receiving financial aid.
The show-cause letter said Wilberforce was out of compliance with key requirements, such as having an effectively functioning board and sufficient financial resources. The development of a strategic five-year plan addressing enrollment, infrastructure and budget issues helped bring Wilberforce into compliance.
“The board and administration affirmed the mission of the university in November 2014 and have committed to addressing enrollment, infrastructure, and budgetary challenges,” the HLC said in a letter informing Wilberforce it had been taken off show-cause status. “These commitments have been demonstrated through alignment of institutional human and financial resources with the issues and challenges facing the institution,”
Freeman, who was lured out of retirement to help lead Wilberforce’s transition, was celebrated by many of the dignitaries in attendance but she deflected the praise back to the new board of trustees, which was assembled to guide Wilberforce off its rocky path.
“This new board of trustees has provided dynamic leadership for Wilberforce University so that we could make the change necessary to achieve this noteworthy victory today,” Freeman said. “Wilberforce University will continue to implement its five-year strategic plan that was approved by the Higher Learning Commission. The work has only begun and we will not let up, we will not give up, we will not back up. We are going forward.”
The microscope is still firmly on Wilberforce, however. It must submit a monitoring report to the HLC in 2017 and in the 2019-20 academic year it must host a comprehensive standard accreditation pathway site visit.
“They want to make sure that we have implemented our strategic plan,” Freeman said. “They will be looking for the results. What have we done to enhance Wilberforce University?”
Freeman vowed to be ready.
“We want everyone to know we will never find ourselves again where we were June 14, 2014 (the day the show-cause letter arrived),” she said.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.