The Oldest Black University is Facing Hard Times

Wilberforce University, the oldest private African-American university, has landed in deep waters, leading alumni to step in and do all within their power to raise money … fast.

In June, the Higher Learning Commission issued a “show-cause” order that brought to light a list of financial issues, lack of leadership and poor campus grounds at the Ohio university. This ultimately puts its accreditation on the line, in addition to a decreasing student enrollment and financial deficit of $9.7 million, according to the Associated Press.

The loss could possibly result in little to no eligibility for federal financial aid – a blow that would highly affect 80 to 90 Wilberforce students who receive assistance. It could also affect transferring credits.

Not wanting to see their alma mater in such a way, the alumni association and graduates have pulled together in an effort to raise $2 million in cash donations. The campaign includes a pledge of $400,000 made during a weekend alumni conference. The university has already received $200,000 from that donation.

With the financial woes, threat of accreditation loss and crumbling campus, Wilberforce is working to realign its school board and modify academics and facilities.

The deadline for compliance with the “show-cause” order is December 15, 2014 with a needed commission visit by February 9, 2016.