Saint Augustine’s is On the Verge of Closure, Trustees and Consultants Fear

Executives, consultants and staff members at Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) have growing concern about the future of the school, privately fearing that it is unlikely to pass an upcoming accreditation site visit from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and that its third negative review in three years may close the 151-year-old institution for good.

Internal documents anonymously forwarded to the HBCU Digest reveal an institution divided by financial hardship and differences held by members at the highest levels of school leadership over the management of the school, and the capacity of its current administration to report and resolve issues honestly with stakeholders. Chief among those issues are questions about the school’s enrollment management strategy.

ENROLLMENT CHALLENGES

Since 2009, enrollment at the university has decreased by about 64% from 1,529 students to 974 in the fall 2017 semester. The last two years have produced an enrollment increase from a nine-year low of 810 students in 2015, but records indicate that SAU has confirmed attendance for just 122 paid first-time and transfer students as of July 20, 2018 for the upcoming fall semester out of 2,871 admitted students.

This figure is well short of its internal goal of an incoming class of 600 new students for the beginning of the school year.

FINANCIAL FUTURE UNCLEAR

Last month, Saint Augustine’s was one of several historically black colleges awarded debt relief in a federal Department of Education capital debt loan deferment program. The initiative will excuse the school from interest-bearing loan payments and penalties for the next six years and will return more than $1 million to SAU for its 2017-18 payment.

The debt relief alone, however, may not be enough to salvage the university’s challenges with revenue. In addition to its negative outlook on student enrollment income, budget proposal documents from the last two academic years reveal that the university increased revenues between its 2016 and 2017 fiscal years (FY), but increased spending as well, resulting in a net zero budget for the 2016 fiscal year, and a $1.2 million shortfall last year.

These losses parallel financial difficulties cited by SACSCOC President Belle Wheelan in her notice of probation letter to SAU President Everett Ward in January of 2018.

CLICK TO READ INTERNAL FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS

“Significant enrollment declines through 2015 with increases in fall 2016 and fall 2017, but net tuition and fee revenue decreased from $14.6M to $10.6M in FY 2016. Net tuition and fees only increased $100,000 with the enrollment increase in fall 2017. Net operating results were negative $700,000 in FY 2016 and $1,700.000 in FY 2017.”

According to Wheelan, total net assets declined by $8.1 million between 2014 and 2017, and operational unrestricted net income over the last three years has averaged $1.8 million.

The university, which has made headlines in recent years for staff layoffs and sales of campus property, has laid off more than 90 full-time or temporary employees, furloughed remaining staff members, and has yielded extraordinary turnover since the appointment of former SAU board member and alumnus Everett Ward as interim president in April 2014, and permanent president one year later.

PERSONNEL TURNOVER, EXECUTIVE STRIFE

In the last four years, the school has hired five chief financial officers, three vice-presidents for marketing, three vice presidents for student success, four different police chiefs and two provosts. The turnover was a point of dissension in a recent board evaluation of Dr. Ward in July 2018, in which trustees in job performance ratings and in written narratives showed a wide gap in its desire to fire or to keep him in the position.

According to documents, trustees rated Dr. Ward’s performance in several leadership areas (relationship with board of trustees, community relations, personnel relations, finance, personal qualities, physical plant, curricula, and student services) as a 70 out of a possible 100 percent rating, with Dr. Ward receiving highest marks in community and personnel relations and the lowest in finance and physical plant categories.

CLICK TO READ SAU BOARD OF TRUSTEES PRESIDENTIAL EVALUATION

Personal narratives submitted by some trustees underscored the low rating.

“The president has continuously refused to follow the bylaws and the procedures/policies of the board of trustees,” wrote one board member. “He does not provide the board with the necessary reports so that informed decisions can be made for the greater good of the university. He does not provide follow-up for tasks that are given. He acts as if the board of trustees reports to him.”

Others expressed full confidence in Dr. Ward’s leadership.

“ [the] President has a difficult board with some members going beyond board authority and taking on administrative duties,” wrote another trustee. “President works well with who he has.”

Some trustee consensus focused on Dr. Ward’s frequent absence from campus and his dual role as general president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Dr. Ward has been featured nationally in conversations regarding the impact of fraternities and sororities on black communities, and the value of supporting historically black colleges and universities.

Updates from Dr. Ward and statements on national issues and fraternity happenings have been regular since his installation in July 2016, but regular administrative updates and presidential statements from the campus have been sparing since beginning his tenure as Alpha Phi Alpha general president over the last two years — and according to the university’s website, administrative updates have not been published since 2016.

In June, Dr. Ward issued statements on behalf of Alpha Phi Alpha condemning the NFL’s participation mandate for players to stand during the playing of the national anthem, and the federally-authorized separation of families in illegal immigration prohibition policies along the United States’ southern border.

Fraternity officials say that their organizational bylaws allow for the proper balance of both roles, and in a statement, said that Dr. Ward has the full support of its membership and leadership.

“Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. fully supports our 35th general president Dr. Everett B. Ward. The administrative structure of our fraternity has always lent itself to our elected leaders ability to excel in both their professional roles and their positions within our brotherhood. The strategic vision of Alpha Phi Alpha is competently set and perpetuated by our general president but ably executed by our executive director and chief operating officer who manages the staff and the day to day operations of the Fraternity.”

Trustees also cited the high number of firings and concern about unqualified persons holding key positions. These comments were echoed by reports compiled by higher education consultants, which indicated in both letters and memos to the president, that the school is likely to close without immediate and substantial changes.

“I am formally informing you and the Board of Trustees that in my expert opinion, I do not feel that St. Augustine’s University is ready or prepared for the upcoming accreditation site visit, and unless drastic measures are taken immediately, the institution will lose its accreditation and be closed,” wrote one consultant to Dr. Ward in a July 2018 letter.

The comments echoed statements in a consultant’s memo written to Dr. Ward following a March 2018 meeting with SAU officials.

“(The consultant) shared that time was of the essence and that SACSCOC would be less than willing to extend the time unless there was absolute and complete progress,” the memo reads. “That progress should be a balanced budget with a surplus, addressing reoccurring findings, addressing the current findings, having no findings in the most recent audit and an increase in enrollment.”

Both consultants recommended that SAU develop strategic plans for enrollment management, fundraising and financial management, while appointing qualified personnel to key administrative positions and increasing focus on the accreditation monitoring report.

Since issuing a ‘First 100 Days’ status report in 2014, the university has not published a strategic plan or made drafts or previous versions of a plan available on its website.

ACCREDITATION JEOPARDY

In December 2017, SACSCOC kept Saint Augustine’s on probation for continuing non-compliance in standards of financial resources and stability, institutional effectiveness in educational programs, and control of finances. According to officials, the institution is required to submit its fourth accreditation monitoring report before a Sept. 7, 2018 deadline, when a special committee will visit the campus to report on improvements in the areas of non-compliance.

CLICK TO READ NOTICE OF PROBATION LETTER FROM SACSCOC

In an emailed statement, Dr. Ward said that he remained committed to transparency concerning the university’s improvements and excited about its potential.

“It is a fact that since January, this administration, in total transparency, has made our internal and external stakeholders fully aware of all aspects of the accreditation process. As we communicated then, Saint Augustine’s University remains committed to serving our students with the highest academic standards possible and being in full compliance with the regional accrediting body, The Commission on Colleges of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. As President of Saint Augustine’s University, I remain excited and extremely optimistic about the students of this university and the future and viability of this 151-year-old institution of higher learning.”

SAU Board of Trustees Vice Chairman James E.C. Perry said that Dr. Ward has the full support of its members.

“The board of trustees fully support Dr. Ward and the administration. As a board, we are committed to resolving accreditation compliance issues and remain confident that each issue will be in compliance with SACSCOC standards. The board continues to be engaged with the administration in the accreditation process and looks forward to Saint Augustine’s University being removed from probationary status.”

Accreditation officials, however, were less than optimistic.

“With its upcoming review in December 2018, your institution will have exhausted its probationary status and its period of continued accreditation for good cause,” Dr. Wheelan wrote. “At that time, your institution must demonstrate compliance with all the requirements and standards of the Principles of Accreditation, or be removed from membership. The commission calls your attention to the enclosed policy entitled “Sanctions, Denial of Reaffirmation, and Removal from Membership.”

73 comments
  1. Why would someone anonymously send information to you if they weren’t trying to sabotage the accreditation process..? I am an alumni of Saint Augustine’s University and I am just as angry with you as I am with the coward that sent you the information. Yes, we have problems but this doesn’t help the situation. We are our own worst enemies when it comes to supporting our HBCUs and any other establishments. I know you need sensational news to publish but you are our worst enemy too. This article does not help us. HBCUs need positive help, not this. Yes, I am angry because when someone sends information anonymously there is usually sabotage written all over it. Someone at SAU is trying to sabotage the process and I’m sure it’s for their own benefit. The coward who sent it is the lowest kind of insect. They will be found out. I still support my HBCU!

    1. Are you angry at the data, or the fact that it’s public? Were it not public, what position would anyone be in to save the university? If only more institutions would make their challenges more well known, perhaps we wouldn’t be in the position of potentially losing so many in the coming years.

  2. Their challenges we’re known they have been reaching out to alumni explaining the situation and asking for help. This article doesn’t mention anything but negativity. That title alone is purposely trying to make it difficult to recruit students to the university. You know exactly what you were doing by writing this article, that’s sad.

  3. This sounds like one leadership member who is being messy and you are contributing to their mess with them. Instead of working with him to sabotage our school’s name because of y’all nuances with our President, how about you publish an article about how the institution is working through its financial struggles of the past by surpassing our $2million fundraising mark.

  4. It is amazing that people get upset at a fact filled article. Instead of being upset at the information, be angry that the information exists and do something to demand that your institution be better and do better.

    As HBCU Alumnis, we have to hold our institutions more accountable and not get upset when a journalist does their job; something our administrators should do, their job, then the information the journalist would report would be different.

  5. I’m not angry about the data. I’m angry about the way it was done. We don’t need this coming from inside the institution. Sabotage comes when people want to take something from you and for their own gain be it financial or otherwise. I’m angry that they published it. We are our own worst enemy! I know that to be true. I have experienced it.

  6. I’m hoping to God that St.Augustine will not close. It just seems HBCUs are going through a domino effect..this HBCU ,then another .If they’re not closing they’re on life support.

    I also don’t trust SACS .I see why people like Michael Sorrell ( Love that man!) went with another accreditation agency. SACS will not give you a chance for anything. They’ll just shuck and jive with their clients then shut the school down to the point of no return.That is what they did with Morris Brown College and trying to do with Paine College.Even though Morris Brown may have another shot with accreditation, as long as they’re dealing with SACS,I wouldn’t bet on it.

    Even if SACS were to help gain St.Augustine’ s accreditation, the University also have to do better than what they’re doing. Those students deserve better and for them to put the students through this is wrong.

    It’s also scary. The more HBCUs close ,the more they’re getting rid of our history, community, education and economic power. Were already living in perilous times where our education is already threatened and stuff like one taking at St.Augustine’ s doesn’t help.I wouldn’t want to give White society what they want.

  7. “Management is tasks. Management is a discipline. But management is also people. Every achievement of management is the achievement of a manager. Every failure is a failure of a manager, People manage rather than “forces” or “facts.” The vision, dedication, and integrity of managers determine whether there is management or mismanagement.”

    Peter F. Drucker
    Renown management expert

  8. HBCU schools are important to our survival as a people. They preserve and teach our history. They also show that we have overcome great obstacles. They give us hope in the future.

  9. I am deeply saddened by the article. Not for the truth but the fact that Dr. Ward has not fulfilled his commitment. I am an alumn and former employee. For the protection of my HBCU I remained quiet. But I saw a disgraceful treatment of staff and no regard for what was needed to move forward. He refused to listen and I pray that the beloved falcon does not fall. This man does not listen and he is not who everyone believes he says he is.

  10. Mr. Carter:
    Although private, Saint Augustine’s University is recognized by application as a non-profit organization under section 501, subsection (c)3 of the US tax code [also known as 501(c)(3)] which also covers Charitable Organizations. Under this status, the University can accept tax deductible contributions. Thus transparency is a requirement on certain direct and associated information which must be made available upon request. Although I am not a journalist, if writing this article I would have used the anonymous documents to direct me to request official information on enrollment, finances, those hired (then investigate their credentials), and the SACS report and procedures-which is public. That would allow the journalist to develop a article title that does not bias the reading of the information in the text and just report the facts. That type of reporting would help with the direction and correction without doing harm to enrollment, etc. Most Universities have federally required (HHS) policies that must be taken into consideration before publishing information or distributing information that might be published that may harm “human Subjects”. Although it may be a bit of a stretch, it is possible that if a student(s) can show that your HBCU Digest and the anonymous distributor harmed their chances for an education due to negative consequences resulting from your article, there could be legal repercussions to your organization and your source. You are correct that the information can be helpful in helping the University in charting a direction and forcing changes if reported at the right time and place. To that end, as a journalist publishing data from a university that could harm human subjects, go back to your source to make sure that information is up to date as of today and that that source has not placed you in a position of detrimental reliance.

  11. Mr. Cater:
    Are these documents from a confirmed source you are keeping confidential or is your source anonymous to you as well?

    Saint Augustine’s University is recognized, by application to the IRS, as a Non-Profit tax exempt organization under section 501 subsection c3 of the US tax code that also covers charitable organizations. Thus the University can accept tax deductible contributions but in turn must make most direct financial information and indirect information (administrative information related to use of finances) available upon request. Thus it may have been possible, useful, gendered a better title and more appropriate to use anonymous documents as a reference tool to seek specific and up-to-date documents (your date of receipt for your documents is not given) on the issue. I understand the University may have chosen not to comment after understanding you received anonymous documents without a source. Please understand universities have responsibilities when distributing data that they know will be published. Most of the concern I and other have with this article is the negative/bias title the words of which cannot be attributed to a source whether the source is kept confidential or not. Although the information could be accurate, the title genders bias. Again I understand you may have asked for comment before publishing but please note that SAU and universities who accept federal funding are required by federal regulations/guidelines (HHS-IRB) to protect human subjects when distributing data that may be published in an article impacts human subjects on campus. The title has the potential to negatively affect enrollment and retention and thus the educational opportunity for existing students if the affect on enrollment and retention translates to the operation of the University. Although it maybe a quantum leap in thought, student(s) who experience loss of an educational opportunity and can associate that loss to the negative title and implicit bias of the title could fault the article presentation, author, and publisher. Even though comment was not obtained from the university, that does not remove the author’s responsibility to produce a title and opinions that can be directly attributed to a confirmed source even if that source is kept confidential, particularly when the title is negative. Otherwise the article, the author, and publisher will experience what you find in these comments and potential detrimental reliance on information that cannot be confirmed by a confirmed source.

  12. Keep your heads up Falcons. I give back to my alma mater (Johnson C. Smith) and to SAU. If one bleeds, we all bleed. We’ve got a probation issue too, and getting ready to do a million dollar campaign from alumni. We did it several years ago and we alumnus can do it again. I always say, I spend money on Bullsh-t all the time, and now give that extra money to both schools. All alumni need to step up! Just think if the Mighty Falcon alumni all gave $50 a month for a year or even $25 a month and I mean everyone who ever graduated or benefited from an education at Aug. Come on, you know we can afford it! I’m going to keep doing my part because I don’t want to see St. Aug close its’ door. It’s history is too relevant and the students need Aug. Folks are lining up I imagine. to turn those buildings into condos. The area is already being gentrified. The limited seating at the stadium tells that story. Folks of the different hue want that property and yes while it is not that simple, I do think alumni can do its part. St. Aug and all HBCU alumni, rise up and support your University! Raise that money! Keep your Alma Mater Open! And I ain’t mad at the brother who wrote the piece. I see Dr. Ward at times because my meetup group gives of their time and money and have volunteered at the school. and stil did not know its the 3rd review around in Dec from SACS, I think he had a big mess to clean up. Just hope its enough…Its time to get more $$ coming into the school by any means possible…Lets do this….in the spirit of the ancestors, we owe them…

  13. Thank you for your comment. I have issues with anonymous information and people who respond anonymously. Only cowards do that. I question their motives. I also think they should verify information. I know that reporters write what they want and slant information to their own benefit. As a school principal my statements were often taken out of context and sometime not close to what I said. Our HBCU will survive.

  14. As a current student there are many issues going on that we as students can see, especially with the institution taking money and not giving us our certain scholarships that were promised to us. They have shortened the amount of scholarships to us to one, which isn’t even feasible to attend a private school.

  15. Dr. Ward had been very transparent with alumni and University supporters. How else would we have raised the much needed funds. When I hear that information has been received anonymously, I know w/o doubt that person wants to see my alma mater fail. I think there should be an investigation and the person be revealed. No evil deed should go unpunished.

    Everything in this article was already known by alumni. This is not news to any of us! But families who love and respect each work together to build up, not tear down. All HBCUs are competing with PWIs for the same students. PWIs have more funds to give financial aid that is the still the backbone of a college education for many who attend HBCUs.

    I applaud and support all HBCUs that are fighting to keep their doors open and I would suggest to HBCU Digest to dispense with the “if it doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t lead” mentally. It serves no purpose than to stoke the flames of the HBCU haters.

  16. Thank you for your comments. Excellent. Also, I would remind the Digest writer that Dr. Ward inherited a situation that very few people would have accepted. But because it is his alma mater, he did what any loving son would do for a parent.

    SAU had lost the favor of so many because of the previous administration. He has worked tirelessly to rebuild relationships.

  17. White Society, I’m white I am on staff at SAU. The institution is rife with mismanagement, nepotism, and individuals in decision making positions that should not be in them. The color of ones skin has nothing to do with incompetence. Society, as a whole, not White society, or Black Society, will be worse off if HBCU institutions are allowed to fail. Don’t always blame White Society for all the ills that affect Black society, sometimes you need to look in the mirror to assess some of the blame.

  18. The problem has been stated…Yet WE failed to articulate solutions…Saint Augustine’s University is not the only college and/or University with challenges..Collectively WE must re-create a quality product..what’s working, what’s not working, what are some obstacles noted in audit?..You cannot keep throwing money at a broken system..I’m over the blame game..what’s the plan and/or solution.

  19. I graduated from SAU and I love my HBCU no matter the ups and downs but I do believe that the students have tried to help. We are the ones living on these campuses everyday for four years and maybe even longer. We tried to give our opions on how the school should change and maybe it would attract more people. If your leader, staff, teachers as well as students aren’t happy with what they see as well as there job then hoe can you expect the school to run? I really do not want to see my HBCU to close because it means that much. Something has to be done. We all just need to come together on this !

  20. YES, WE GOT TO COME TOGETHER ON THIS. WE CANNOT LET THIS SCHOOL CLOSE. SEND THAT $$ IN IF IT AIN’T BUT $20…WHEN WE WERE YOUNG, MY MOM AND POPS USE TO SELL FISH DINNERS AND HAD POKER PARTIES FROM FRI NIGHT TIL SUNDAY MORNING. I USE TO LOVE THOSE FRESH SHINY QUARTERS I GOT ON SUNDAY MORNING FROM THEM CUTTING THE KITTY. IF OUR PARENTS AND ANCESTORS KEPT AFLOAT THRU HARD TIMES AND BUILT THIS COUNTRY..THEN WE SHOULD KNOW INSTINCTIVELY WHAT TO DO…LETS’ DO IT FALCONS! LETS NOT WORRY ABOUT THOSE WHO WANT TO SEE US FAIL…LET’S DO IT. THOUGHTS AND IDEAS…HIT ME UP ON FB.

  21. The data has always been public to the alumni, staff, and friends, the people it really matters to. We have a cadre of concerned persons at all levels aroud the country and eleswhere who are tirelessly working on behalf of SAU to make a difference.

    Dr Ward has been open about the challenges we face. As a dedicated alumnus who chose to make sure that I was, am, and continue to be aware of what is happening to my alma mater, I am truly concerned if you did not attempt to contact Dr. Ward before you printd this proprietary information that you received. Which, by law you have engaged in a crime. I am pretty sure the individual who sent the information signed a non-disclosure agreement.

  22. I agree we have old ass desk the dorms are covered with mold the food looks and taste like prison food and we pay almost 30k the only reason I stayed is because the student teacher relationship is really amazing other than that the living and food is horrible

  23. This is the most ridiculous and uncritical response ever. As a person who has been on the faculty of SAU, I can attest that the idea of exposing all of this financial, academic, and administrative impropriety is REGULARLY discussed among faculty & staff, but people refrain from doing it mostly out of consideration of the people who would be affected by a closing. Please understand that what you read in this article is only the tip of the iceberg; things are so much worse. It is problematic to float this rhetoric that suggests the details of institutional mismanagement here should be kept “in-house.” That’s the same rhetoric Dr. Ward espouses in his meetings with faculty. But if everyone is keeping quiet, NOTHING is ever changing—the documents and figures presented bear witness. We have to stop this ridiculous promotion of secrecy & blind support. This is what accountability looks like. You all sit and pine away for the university SAU was when YOU were an undergrad there. It is NOT the same institution by far, and they are ripping your children off, charging them an arm and a leg and giving them NOTHING. A fair portion of the current students struggle with the basics of reading and writing, entering the university with 9th/10th grade skills. There can hardly be rigorously dense or competitive instruction because the students have high difficulty with the simplest of assignments—those who actually go to class rather than take advantage of the absence of an actual or enforced attendance policy. Let’s not play dim; you know what the attendance policy issue is about … keeping bodies on the roll to keep dollars in the bank. So go or don’t go, learn or don’t learn. I can’t cosign the idea that exposing this anonymously makes one a coward; it’s quite brave to risk jeopardizing it ALL so the students can FINALLY get what they pay for or go somewhere else in pursuit of it, and so that naive parents can stop being fleeced by double-talk and professional politics. They are ROBBING YOUR CHILDREN.

  24. I rarely comment on these kinds of news reports, but it would seem to me that St. Augustine’s University should look at a 2+2 degree enrollment strategy, along with adult education opportunities as a means to drive enrollment. I also think this represents a huge opportunity for HBCUs in general. While I understand the importance of on-campus enrollment, it is critical to look at all enrollment opportunities to raise the university’s profile and create value in the minds of persons who seeks a degree but have a non-traditional path to achieve their goals.

    This is how Southern New Hampshire University, Union Institute & University and others have raised their institutional profile. I’m sure that there is a substantial pool of 2+2 and adult learners to turnaround the ship at St. Aug.

    Thank you.

  25. You said that you remained quiet for the protection of your alma mater, but now you speak anonymously and make negative comments. Each of us has a different experience with the same person. What we take away is what we bring. I thank you for your comments, but am saddened by the fact that you cannot identify yourself.

  26. I agree. It is not the data that was published. It is the saboteur mentally that we reject in the anonymous person who shared the information. Anyone who anonymously shares proprietary (internal) documents leaves at lot to be desired. I truly hope that this person’s intentions were not an act of vengence, although I suspect they are. Why else would someone do this anonymously. Not sure but I believe that disclosure of proprietary information can be viewed as a crimminal offense.

  27. I, too, am an alumni. I give back as well and like you said, if all graduates rise up and give, we can save our beloved St.Aug. But, no matter how much money is brought in, that money has to be managed and used properly. They also have to do what it required of whatever accreditation agency being used. Whatever mess that was inherited by Dr. Ward can only be cleaned up with the help of all involved…he CAN NOT DO IT ALONE and he MUST be willing to be quiet and listen to others, so that answers can be found and implemented. I do hope and pray that it is NOT TOO LATE to turn things around.

  28. Thanks K Allen! Exactly the point. Students are getting into debt, and leaving without job offers. The goal I think of an HBCU is to nurture people, and give them the extra support that they may not receive elsewhere. I was lucky to have that at an HBCU, thanks to a few great professors, but not everyone did. It was a problem even then, and I suppose it’s much worse now. We all want to support the fund raising effort, but we won’t be doing so blindly. We want accountability. We also need better teachers and administrators. As mentioned above, nepotism is high. Tons of unqualified hires, etc. If we invest, now, the course has to change because this is not working, and it never will! We need greater transparency!

  29. “All HBCUs are competing with PWIs for the same students.” Are you serious??

    So you’d rather focus on who snitched than the clear substance of the claims? This makes no sense. You’re telling us alumni knew and failed to demand accountability.

  30. Oh if that were true. It’s sad that what you think you are woke on. You really are asleep. You have no idea the people that suffered health and financial loss and hardships under this administratiion. Students and staff. The man was put in this position but knows nothing about higher ed… be blind sheep or falcons in flight.

  31. First off I’ll like to say I’ve been here three years an u haven’t seen any improvements at all mine with the dorm rooms I had roaches an some dorms had mold In them they also needed to updated them .the other situation with financial aid is it is out of order they don’t know what they doing half of the time an one time they lost my fafsa an also lost my scholarship information for my diversity scholarship so I had to go resign an tbh this is getting frustrating to keep doing this stuff each year an tbh this most likely be my last semester at st aug

  32. An I’m not saying it’s a bad school just needs improvements but they had three years to get the financial issue fixed an they still having financial problems

  33. Unfortunately your comments show that you are totally unaware of the previous administration’s destruction of the school’s finances. It will take more than three years to undo that.

  34. Anonymous exposure of proprietary documents has yet to solve a problem. All comments are appreciated but only positive ones lead to problem solving.

  35. This is sad, I really hope the top administrators and Board can figure it out. The Board Members are suppose to be the biggest fundraisers. Also, where is the Catholic Church? Isn’t St. Augustine a Catholic School?

  36. I was an employee at SAU for nearly a decade. I couldn’t sit back and watch how young women and men were treated – being drawn in by false promises of scholarship money, only to have it taken away. The living conditions were terrible, and dorms were filled with mold and roaches. Upper administrators built a “wall” of protection around them by hiring good friends and family members who were not qualified, but who were loyal and would protect them from scrutiny and accountability. The true victims of all this are – and have always been – the students.

  37. Several alums and a few trustees were warned about this previously but turned a deaf ear. The president is only using St. Aug for his personal credit card and job placement for family and friends who are unqualified to even work for a public school system-much less a university. This is sad but not surprising. If the trustees are blind to the fact that they need to not only remove the president, but clean the entire house, then they’re in agreement to this historical university being closed. No, I take that back… the majority of his friends sits on the board so yes, it’s sad that they can’t see what’s going on because they are blinded by the friendship and fraternity connection. You wonder if he’s really traveling on Alpha Phi Alpha dime or SAU dime… can we get a forensic accounting going on?

  38. Nothing released was proprietary what makes you think it is. It is sensitive information but nothing proprietary about it

  39. @HBCUTruth Obviously? Based on my ability to think for myself rather than blindly support criminal and unethical behavior as a part of some group agenda to “save ourselves,” while drowning and watching rescue boats pass us by? You sound ridiculous. I didn’t handle the finances or come anywhere near them. I wasn’t an unqualified administrator. You’re either a current administrator or an uninformed alumn.

  40. It’s time to recruit, enroll, and donate !i Our life has never been a crystal stairway, but we always survive, We have overcome 150 plus years of struggles and like every other time; we triumph.

  41. You were possibly hired under Dr Suber hiring. She destroyed the school. Very much a lot not qualified hires. Why listen to destruction?

  42. Life is not easy. I bet your home was no better. You went to school for a better chance in life. Some don’t have the grades to go to other colleges or else you would have went.

  43. This reminds me when President Obama became President after Bush. It took so much just to get on even street. The previous president destroyed the school. The state schools put up new dorms and buildings yearly but are fully funded. Dr Ward is fighting to getting us back on even street.

  44. The University Needs to listen to a wise man named ( Steve Hairston ) on all University issues. He can get it turned around.

  45. It’s baffling to me that you all can see the house burning, but your only concern is castigating whoever had the matches. THAT says a lot about your priorities, and probably how the institution got to where it is.

    The fact of the matter is there are people administrating who can barely spell administration. But they got their jobs because they are related to, or go to church with, or are frat brothers/sorors with somebody who knew somebody. They are collecting checks while your children don’t have access to the tools they need to be competitive. If all of this wasn’t a secret (as has been said in the comments), and alumni were aware …. (1) why is the school in this condition? (Pause. Stop saying it’s a money issue; it’s a MANAGEMENT issue. That’s precisely why they’re being assessed). (2) If it was known … then you shouldn’t be here making a big deal of the fact that someone sent the info anonymously to HBCUDigest. So do you want to beat the match holder, or do you want to stop the fire and save the house? You can’t do both.

    And while SAU is a private institution, it’s a private institution that depends on the public (students & parents). Those students and parents have every right to know what they’re spending nearly $30/yr for. Would you go to a car lot and buy a used vehicle without knowing it’s history, problems, or condition? NO. The widespread push for secrecy is just a means of covering it up. I know that the institution is largely run by sorors and frats who believe wholeheartedly in secrecy … but this is not a greek organization, it’s supposed to be an institution of higher learning. That said, the credos of your beloved organizations don’t trump the need for transparency and accountability. And yes, Dr. Ward inherited a really bad situation, but that inheritance doesn’t explain or excuse the continued practice of poor leadership, poor hiring practices, nepotism, talking to faculty members like they are children, and failing to attend to the clear and present BASIC needs of the students. Some of you should stop opining from a distance and actually talk to students and faculty at SAU. There are no lies presented here.

  46. I disagree. Whistleblowers play a huge role in getting accurate information out to those who need to know. I read the word transparent too many times in the SAU administrator and Board’s comments. My daughter attended SAU last year and a lot needs to be fixed. The physical plant is absolutely deplorable. The dorms and cafeteria are beyond antequated. The food became more of a joke as the year went on. Those issues are just to start and the tuition was a serious sticker shock to her father and I. My daughter has decided to transfer out and begged my son not to attend as a new student this year. He will not attend.

    I graduated from an HBCU and believe that we must hold ourselves accountable to provide the BEST services to our community versus worrying about airing our dirty laundry. SAU should not be allowed to continue operating at such a low level because it will only produce ill prepared graduates.

    The two times that I was able to have a conversation with the President, I felt that he was out of touch with what other HBCUs are offering and how bad SAU is. I respect all HBCUs but I expected much more than what my daughter and I experienced from SAU. I truly understand why enrollment is down.

  47. Saint Augustines University is Episcopal. And the Episcopal church USA sends a grant and donations yearly to St-aug and Voorhies college in SC. Many scholarships, campus programs, and chapel programs are completely funded by those donations.

  48. I completely disagree with that comment. There is no question about Dr. Wards character. You obviously don’t know him and his associates. He has been in the area for most of his life and has made many great friends that he feels St-Aug could benefit from knowing and that their talents are needed. He could be anywhere else but he chose to come here and lead St-Aug to greatness. If you don’t know him. Google him or stop by Oakwood Ave he will be happy to introduce himself, because he doesn’t hide in any office.

  49. I’m not giving my money to anybody without confirmation of their money management skills and a proven track record of good stewardship. Although Pres. Ward came into this situation in a deficit, there’s no evidence that the university has improved its money management ability. Yes, they’ve raised 2 million dollars, but what are you doing with it if you’re cutting student scholarships—correction, promising students scholarships you don’t actually have money for—cutting athletic teams due to funding, running out of money for paper for students to print their assignments, missing a viable and useful student book store, don’t have enough computers for your students, admitting them into poor living conditions, etc.? If that looks like good money management and leadership to you, I’m afraid to see what your own finances look like. I’m all for supporting our institutions, but you all are afraid of accountability, and that in itself is frightening.

  50. YES. I wholeheartedly agree with you ! I really feel like this school need to be SHUT DOWN ! Completely! They offer you absolutely NOTHING .. I don’t care about an alumni it’s not the same from when y’all graduated in 1970 or 1980 .. the school is Trash ! Charge You an arm and a Leg for ABSOLUTELY nothing ..

  51. There are a couple of ways to look at this. One is to go nuts over this anonymous source. As a former HBCU public relations director, I had to constantly deal with folks who wanted to “expose” unpopular leaders by trying to use media to smoke them out–horrible idea. I even had folks ask me to use my platform as a PR director to help take leaders down–ridiculous idea. But going nuts over an anonymous source while getting mired in personality conflicts, perceptions of leadership and “he-said-she-said” makes it difficult to focus on solutions.

    Another way is to look at running this story as a call to action. HBCU Digest is hardly the enemy. Besides, there are two (or more) sides to the story–leadership’s side and faculty and staff’s side with the the truth somewhere in the middle. While numbers may speak volumes, there’s context that we on the outside may not be privy to. Turning a troubled institution around is not a one-year job and leaders often have to make extremely unpopular decisions. Regardless of who’s at fault for what, we all know that, as an institution, SAU needs people to engage in a robust conversation with leaders (president, administration, and board) about the future of the university ASAP. How that is done is up to those stakeholders.

    Putting my PR director hat back on, I’ll tell you what I told alumni at my past stops. Now is not the time to “feel some kind of way” about people. Put on your thinking caps and be prepared to have thoughtful conversations with leaders about the future health of St. Augustine’s. Those conversations will take some time and they will be far from perfect, but thoughtful conversations will yield real results.

  52. No, he has not been transparent. Do you know what they sold the golf course for? Where is that money? Have you received any information about the endowment? Is it still in tact? What about the extra millions that the accountant found? Where is that money and why are they just now finding it in the old coffers? What about total enrollment? Has he provided an actual enrollment and not an inflated one? Has he provided that he terminated St. Aug alum employees and replaced them with inexperienced family and friends? Has he provided you with a report that he called a board of trustee meeting with only his friends to make a quorum to push out a board member that wanted answers to finance questions? Girl bye. This is why this university is closing-because folks like you can’t see that this Ward man has never cared about SAU, just received his doctorate when they hired him and had no experience whatsoever. Finally, how can he “pump” up his role as a fraternity president full Time and not pump up SAU? Y’all better wake up and stay woke! Get rid of that man and the entire staff. Replace them with folks that genuinely love SAU.

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