Thursday, September 9, 2010

Witness: The death of a historically black college

Posted By on Thu, Sep 9, 2010 at 10:58 AM

I'm not from around these parts originally, so maybe there's something else to this story I'm just not grasping. On the surface, however, and as a newbie to the Q.C., I don't understand why the community would allow Barber-Scotia College to fade out like it is.

From the school's "about" page:

The original purpose of the College was to prepare teachers and social workers to improve the '101 of the freedman and to provide a pool of leaders.' Accordingly, subjects classified as normal, academic, and homemaking were offered in a pattern which anticipated state certification, but which always pointed to the collegiate level.

The second period of academic development came in 1916 when the name of the institution was changed to Scotia Women's College. In 1930, Barber Memorial College of Anniston, Alabama, merged with Scotia Women's College. The present name, Barber-Scotia College, was adopted in 1932.

Rating and accreditation by this time had become a point of great urgency in education in the South, and four years after the merger of Scotia with Barber, the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools granted Barber-Scotia full approval as a Class 'A' junior college. Eight years later (1942), the Board of National Missions took action to support fully a four-year program for the College; and in 1945, the first class to be granted the Bachelor's degree was graduated. The North Carolina Board of Education granted the College a four-year rating in 1946, which made it possible for graduates who plan to teach to receive the 'A' certificate.

On April 2, 1954, the charter was amended to admit students without regard to race or sex. Following closely on this event, the College was admitted to full membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Barber-Scotia College is historically related to the former Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, and currently to the Presbyterian Church (USA), as of June, 1983. The Presbyterian Church (USA) in its Church World Mission Goals, revised by the 202nd General Assembly's June 1990 Statement, stated: 'As a continuing goal, upholding church-related educational institutions, we will seek to form close partnerships with various church related educational institutions, especially with racial ethnic institutions." The Presbyterian Church (USA) and Barber-Scotia College are strengthening the ties in fulfilling the mission to provide a cadre of educated Black Leaders.

Problem is, the college lost its accreditation in 2004 and it can't quite seem to dig itself out of its hole.

It's a disheartening cycle: Without accreditation, the school has fewer students, and fewer students mean less money for the college. The shortage of funds then becomes a barrier to paying off the debt that is preventing the college from receiving accreditation.

David Olah, president of Barber-Scotia, said debt caused by a $6.5 million loan for campus renovations must be addressed before the college can receive accreditation.

Read more from

Still, I don't get it. Here in America, in general, we rally around organizations and people in need of help almost as if we're waiting for opportunities to jump in and save something. Of course, here in Charlotte, we tear down our past in favor of what's shiny and new. So, there's that.

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