Local News

Finances Threaten Louisburg College Accreditation

Posted December 26, 2007 2:42 p.m. EST
Updated December 26, 2007 6:49 p.m. EST

— Tight finances at Louisburg College could endanger the school's accreditation, which in turn might damage the local economy.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools recently warned Louisburg College officials that the school's financial stability needs to improve. The college's $15 million in annual revenue exceeds its expenses by more than $500,000, which SACS administrators said is too tight a margin.

College President Michael Clyburn said applications are up and more students are expected in the fall, which should boost revenue. But it's too early to determine how much revenue will exceed expenses.

The Louisburg College Board of Trustees is expected to meet in January to address the school's finances. Administrators said they plan to improve budgeting to increase profits, but a tuition increase and staff layoffs haven't been ruled out as possible remedies.

The college has been a cornerstone of the Louisburg community for 220 years. The two-year college draws nearly 800 students and employs about 130 people, and those students and faculty members bring their business downtown.

Deanna Sykes, the owner of Baxter's Ale House, said her pub would be forced to change the way it operates if Louisburg College lost its accreditation and had to shut down.

"I think that would be pretty detrimental," Sykes said. "(We would) schedule different entertainment, bring different types of crowds in. As opposed to gearing towards a younger crowd, (we would look at) maybe gearing towards an older crowd."

Louisburg Mayor Karl Pernell said the college help drive the local economy. Although he's confident the college will rebound financially, he said, the threat of closure can't be ignored.

"You naturally pay attention. There's no question about that," Pernell said. "People come here from all parts of the state and other states to different functions of this college."

Earlier this year, SACS stripped St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg of its accreditation because of financial questions.