INSTITUTE INDEX: Bennett College's crisis underscores accreditation inequities

Earlier this month, the Bennett College community celebrated surpassing its $5 million fundraising goal in an effort to maintain its accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Though leaders of the private North Carolina school for women are hopeful that their efforts will save its accreditation — at least for the short term — the battle to save this institution highlights the disparities faced by HBCUs. (Photo via Bennett College's Facebook page.)

Date on which the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) announced it was planning to revoke its accreditation of Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina: 12/11/2018 

Number of years SACS had placed the private liberal arts school on probation before the announcement: 2

Including Bennett, number of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for women nationwide: 2

Other than financial sustainability, reasons SACS gave for revoking Bennett's accreditation: 0

Bennett College's total endowment: $15 million

In comparison, endowment of SACS-accredited Duke University, which did not allow Blacks to attend until the 1960s, and whose originally-endowing family owned enslaved Blacks: $7.9 billion 

Amount Bennett set out to raise in hopes of keeping its accreditation: $5 million 

Amount the school ended up raising during its #StandWithBennett campaign, which drew the support of foundation leaders, college presidents, HBCU students, celebrities, and investors: $8.2 million 

Date on which Bennett will make a formal appeal before SACS to keep its accreditation: 2/18/2019

If the school loses accreditation, amount it would be eligible for in federal Title IV funding, which is critical to the survival of colleges like Bennett that enroll middle- and low-income students: $0

Including Bennett, number of bachelor-conferring institutions accredited by SACS that are currently on probation: 9

Number of those imperiled schools that are HBCUs: 6 

As of 2015, percent of SACS member schools that were HBCUs: 13

Percent of SACS's sanctions that have been placed on HBCUs: 25

Between 1998 and 2013, number of HBCUs that SACS put on warning or probation: 29 

During the same time period, number of HBCUs that lost their SACS accreditation:

Number of other HBCUs that have lost their SACS accreditation since that time: at least 2

Since 2005, number of schools that have appealed the loss of SACS accreditation:

Number that have succeeded: 1**

Year in which Paine College, a private HBCU in Augusta, Georgia, lost its accreditation with SACS over issues including financial deficiencies, after which the school appealed and sued the accrediting agency in federal court: 2016 

Date on which a judge ruled that the school could keep its SACS accreditation for now as it continues to pursue the appeal: 2/8/2019

* The other is Spelman College in Atlanta.
** Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Georgia.

(Click on figure to go to source.)