Can Black Colleges and University Survive?

Edward Waters Officials Vow To Fight Loss Of Accreditation

By Sinclere Lee

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. –(BNW) Another Black college has crashed and burned. Like Morris Brown in Atlanta, Edward Water College in Jacksonville Florida is one in a long list of Black colleges that have lose their accreditation or put on probation for poor performance and mismanagement by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the organization that accredits colleges and universities in the South.

The 138-year-old school plans to appeal that decision, but losing its accreditation could mean loss of enrollment and funding that could force the historically black college to close.

Edward Waters College in Jacksonville has lost its accreditation two months after a plagiarism scandal at the historically black college.

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools voted to drop Edward Waters from membership.

EWC President Jimmy Jenkins informed the student body Tuesday night that the school's accreditation was in jeopardy.

"This appears to be, and is, a state of emergency, but it's not the end," Jenkins told students and faculty Tuesday night. "This is a new beginning."

"That's not an option as far as EWC goes. We will be accredited," said U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, who lives near the school.

Jenkins said the school would win on appeal.

"If you're never tested, you never know that you have faith," said Jenkins.

Students at unaccredited schools can not receive federal financial aid, and other universities and potential employers may not recognize degrees or course credit from Edward Waters as valid.

It also means the school is not eligible for membership with the United Negro College Fund, a scholarship organization that requires member schools be accredited.

The move comes after the school acknowledged that it had plagiarized material from another college in a document crucial for its reaccreditation bid.

SACS committee members visited EWC a few months ago to reaffirm its accreditation. The school was mostly up to par then.

Brown said she's stepping in to help.

"What I want to do is look at the process, talk with the school, talk with the people that were involved in making that decision and turn this around," said Brown.

Jenkins said he believes the scandal is the reason the association moved to drop the school.

This shows you how stupid and incompetent the are: in October, a Florida Times-Union investigation uncovered similarities between Edward Waters' Quality Enhancement Plan and that of Alabama A&M University.

Edward Waters officials acknowledged their plan included material copied from Alabama A&M. They blame it on an administrator who has since left the school and say the college is guilty of a lack of oversight, not a lack of integrity. Right!

During the appeal, the college will remain accredited and students will continue to receive financial aid.

The school has had intermittent troubles with everything from finances to dilapidated buildings. But many students said they're willing to fight for their education.

"Every time in history, we came out on top," said EWC Student Body President Emmanuel Fleming. "We will continue doing that."

2 Former Morris Brown College Officials Are Charged With Fraud

The former president and financial aid director of Morris Brown College in Atlanta have been charged with orchestrating a $5 million scheme that drew on fraudulent student loans and grants to camouflage the school's serious financial troubles.

Dolores Cross, president from late 1998 to early 2002, was named in the 34-count federal indictment along with Parvesh Singh, her former director of financial aid and enrollment services.

Prosecutors allege that the two fraudulently obtained hundreds of federally insured loans and grants in the names of students who were not enrolled at the time and diverted the money to pay for consultants, business travel and other things designed to promote the college's reputation.

Those patterns of financial mismanagement were part of the reason Morris Brown, one of the nation's oldest historically black colleges, lost its accreditation and access to federal funding last year, prompting students to leave in droves and enrollment to plunge from nearly 3,000 to barely 150.

Now this is one example of stupidity and corruption that give all Black colleges and universities a bad name

The college is still struggling to stay afloat. And prosecutors say the mismanagement that wrecked the school also devastated the finances of unwitting students who discovered only years later when they tried to obtain credit elsewhere that there were defaulted loans in their names.

"Hundreds of students were victims of the defendants' alleged fraud," David E. Nahmias, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said in a statement released yesterday. "In many cases, unauthorized student loans inhibited the students' ability to obtain financial aid at other schools."

Current college leaders praised the work of the federal prosecutors, who said that the new administration aided the investigation. "We are eager to bring closure to this matter," James E. Young, chairman of the college board of trustees, said in a statement. "We are extremely appreciative of the outpouring of support from all the constituencies of the college in supporting [its] restoration."

If convicted, Cross, 68, and Singh, 62, face two to five years in prison for each count of fraud and theft.

Cross's attorney could not be reached yesterday evening. But John Garland, an attorney for Singh, said his client is innocent. Singh, he said, came to Morris Brown College after a sterling career of more than 25 years in financial aid, and did his best to help a school that was already $8 million in debt.

He noted that prosecutors do not allege that Singh pocketed any money.

"He came in, and he imposed a best-practices system on a university that was in complete disarray," Garland said. "He had no knowledge of any funds going to ineligible students."

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