PHILADELPHIA — The nation’s oldest historically black college will remain accredited after a state commission decided to work with the school, citing “significant progress” after a two-year probationary period.
Cheyney University has grappled with financial and administrative woes in recent years. In August, Pennsylvania’s state-owned university system agreed to forgive $30 million in loans if the school maintained a balanced budget over the next four years.
Losing accreditation would likely have signaled the death knell for Cheyney, founded in 1837 as the Institute for Colored Youth.
President Aaron A. Walton began his tenure in May. He said the following in a note Friday afternoon to Cheney staff and students: “The commission’s decision comes after months and months of hard work by so many students, faculty, staff, trustees and others who have contributed to helping place our university on a stable path. While we all pause to recognize this important opportunity, we know that there is much work ahead in order to move the university from probationary status to regular status. That is our next goal, and I am convinced we will achieve it too.”
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education said Cheyney is “making a good-faith effort to remedy existing deficiencies” in its letter Friday. The school must continue to make improvements and report back to the commission next September.
Board of Governors chair Cynthia Shapira issued the following statement: “The decision by Middle States affirms the extraordinary progress the university has made under the leadership of President Walton. At the same time, we know there is even more to be done. Significant challenges remain, and more difficult decisions will have to be made. The Board of Governors is committed to a strong, vibrant future for Cheyney, and we will continue to do everything within our power and authority to assist the university on behalf of the students of this historic institution. We all seek the same goal–a thriving and vital Cheyney University that will provide students the outstanding educational experience they need to be successful throughout their lives.”
Added Walton to the Cheyney community: “It has taken many hands and many hearts to get us here today/. To our supporters and the community at large, let me say, ‘thank you.’ You have stood by this venerable institution for nearly two centuries – through times of trial and triumph. We ask that you continue to stand with us.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.