Administrator fired amid financial problems at St. Augustine's

Posted April 3, 2014 6:32 p.m. EDT
Updated April 4, 2014 6:43 p.m. EDT

Saint Augustine's University, St. Augustine's University

— One day after the vice president of business and finance at Saint Augustine’s University was fired, the school's trustees and administrators met via conference call Friday afternoon to discuss personnel issues.

Although Saint Augustine's officials declined to comment, WRAL News has confirmed that Angela Haynes was dismissed Thursday.

President Dianne Boardley Suber issued a news released Thursday afternoon saying that the school's executive management team was undergoing changes to help stabilize the historically black college’s financial footing.

"Specific administrative changes have been implemented in the business and financial operations” after the school received attention “for issues of ineffective oversight in the areas of financial and grants management,” Boardley Suber said in the statement.

"We are at a critical juncture in both the university's present and future, and we need to be vigilant in assuring that every administrator on the team shares both the mission and the vision of the university,” she continued. “In these times of extreme financial challenges, and given the current political landscape of our country, that sometimes means putting our personal philosophies on a back burner and supporting practices that strengthen the infrastructure of the university over the long haul.”

The university’s finances have been scrutinized within the past few months after the school lost $3 million in tuition revenue due to falling enrollment. A contractor filed a lien against the school over $675,000 owed for work on its football stadium, which remains unfinished, but the lien has been settled.

The school also is under investigation for allegedly providing false information on a federal grant proposal. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits the university, has also requested information regarding the school’s finances.

In February, Saint Augustine's eliminated over a dozen positions and planned to furlough faculty and staff over spring break in March. School leaders later canceled the furloughs.

"I am sensitive to the fact that Saint Augustine's University has been subject to a significant level of close scrutiny over the last several months and that any decisions or actions taken by me or any member of the administrative team are likely to draw additional, and possibly unwarranted, attention,” Boardley Suber said in the statement.

Financial problems among HBCUs

Saint Augustine’s financial problems are the latest facing historically black colleges and universities:

  • Money issues at Shaw University have led the school to use the business practice of “process optimization” to boost efficiency and cut costs.
  • Ten of the state’s 11 HBCUs saw enrollment drop this year. Budget cuts forced Elizabeth City State University to reduce its number of degree programs, and North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro applied for and received six federal grants to cover some funding gaps in research and teaching.
  • Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Va., closed last year after Saint Augustine’s board of trustees decided not to take over the school.
  • Morris Brown College in Atlanta, which has been in bankruptcy hearings in recent months and has seen enrollment plummet, is working to sell its property to the city.
  • A Howard University trustee wrote last year, regarding the school’s finances, that “Howard will not be here in three years if we don’t make some crucial decisions now.”