Paine College Files Lawsuit Against the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Posted by painewebmaster | 09/19/2016 09:00 AM

Augusta, Georgia – Paine College has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia seeking declaratory, monetary, and injunctive relief against the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).  The lawsuit and motion seek an emergency injunction from a federal district judge compelling SACSCOC to restore Paine College as a member of SACSCOC, restore Paine College’s accreditation, and prevent SACSCOC’s removal decision from taking effect.

The lawsuit alleges that SACSCOC violated Paine’s right to due process as guaranteed by federal law in several respects.  For example, as alleged in the lawsuit:

-  A high-ranking SACSCOC employee had improper, substantive conversations regarding Paine’s appeal with the hearing officer and the chair of the appeals committee outside of the presence of Paine or its attorneys the evening prior to the appeals hearing.  This conversation was a serious violation of SACSCOC’s own rules and procedures and the Higher Education Act.

- This same high-ranking SACSCOC employee, in violation of SACSCOC’s own procedures, failed to provide Paine with important documentation that SACSCOC was required to provide to Paine for its appeal.

- SACSCOC, in violation of federal law and its own procedures, prohibited Paine from submitting the most significant evidence of its financial resources and stability to the appeals committee, its unqualified audited 2016 financial statements.  The audited financial statements provide evidence that Paine is in significantly better financial condition today than when SACSCOC last reaffirmed its accreditation in 2011.


“I believe the actions of a SACSCOC staff member who engaged in improper communications with the hearing officer and chair of the appeals committee prior to the appeals hearing created the appearance of impropriety and possibly tainted the adjudicative process,” said Michael Thurmond, Chair-elect of the Paine Board of Trustees.  

Paine College President Dr. Samuel Sullivan stated,  “The hearing officer’s decision to prohibit the admission of Paine’s unqualified 2016 audited financial statements prevented the appeals committee from seeing verified evidence that Paine had a balanced budget, reduced liabilities, increased unrestricted net assets and was in full compliance with the Principles of Accreditation.”


Paine has engaged Gus H. Small, Brent W. Herrin, and Benjamin S. Klehr, attorneys with the law firm Cohen Pollock Merlin & Small, P.C. in Atlanta, Georgia, as its counsel in this matter.  Attorneys Small, Herrin, and Klehr are experienced in representing institutions of higher education in accreditation issues with SACSCOC.  Paine refers all questions regarding the specifics of the litigation to its attorneys.

Paine College, affiliated with The United Methodist Church and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, was founded in 1882 and is located in Augusta, Georgia.  The mission of Paine College is to provide a liberal arts education of the highest quality that emphasizes academic excellence, ethical and spiritual values, social responsibility, and personal development to prepare men and women for positions of leadership and service in the African American community, the nation, and the world.



Paine College to File Federal Lawsuit to Maintain its Accreditation

Posted by painewebmaster | 09/17/2016 16:58 PM

September 17, 2016 - Augusta, Georgia -- Paine College has been notified that the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) denied its appeal.  Paine has instructed its attorneys to file a lawsuit in the United States District Court seeking an order compelling SACSCOC to restore its accreditation.  It is anticipated that this lawsuit will be filed in the next 48 hours.  Paine will ask a federal district judge to prevent SACSCOC’s ruling from taking effect until the conclusion of the lawsuit, and is hopeful that the Court will enter such an order in the next few days.

Attorney Barbara E. Bouknight, Chair of the Paine College Board of Trustees stated, “We are disappointed that SACSCOC chose to ignore the voluminous evidence demonstrating that Paine College is a vibrant, financially stable institution.  She added, “It is deeply distressing that SACSCOC has removed us from membership when our financial condition has improved so markedly over the last few years.   We are also deeply disturbed by the process that led to this result.

Paine College President Dr. Samuel Sullivan stated, “This was not a review process that was governed by standards of due process. “  He further stated, “Although we presented abundant evidence that we had satisfied the issues SACSCOC identified, SACSCOC chose to ignore such evidence.  Fortunately, SACSCOC does not have the last word.  We believe that a court of law, following standards of due process which are guaranteed by federal law but completely absent from our proceedings before SACSCOC, will vindicate our position and ultimately order our SACSCOC accreditation restored.”

Attorney Michael Thurmond, Paine College Board Chair-elect, stated, “Our students, faculty, and staff should know that Paine will take every action to maintain its accreditation. In the meantime, our students, faculty, and staff should know that Paine will take every action necessary to maintain its accreditation during the pendency of this lawsuit. Paine College family and supporters should know that we are exploring all alternatives.”



Augusta Committee to Help Paine College Pledges Support

Posted by painewebmaster | 09/7/2016 04:56 AM

The Augusta Committee to Help Paine College comprised of 30 business and community leaders in Augusta, GA met with Paine College President, Samuel Sullivan, and Chair-Elect of the Paine College Board of Trustees, Michael Thurmond on September 6, 2016, at the Augusta Marriott. President Sullivan and Trustee Thurmond presented financial information and presented talking points that demonstrated that Paine College is worth their investment. Article excerpt:

Augusta leaders rally around Paine

By Tom Corwin

Augusta Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016 8:14 PM

Less than a week before its accreditation appeals hearing, Augusta and Georgia community leaders came together Tuesday to show support for Paine College. Some are now working on ways to help the college obtain a $1.5 million loan or line of credit that could further bolster its argument that it has reversed its financial woes. 

Calling themselves the Augusta Committee to Help Paine College, about 30 business and community leaders got a candid synopsis of Paine's financial troubles and what has happened under Dr. Samuel Sullivan, the president of Paine, and a new board of trustees to dig itself out. The meeting's hosts were Augusta businessman Nick Evans and William S. Morris III, the publisher of The Augusta Chronicle and chairman of Morris Communications.

Read the entire article here.

Paine College Leadership Presents at the CSRA Leaders Luncheon

Posted by painewebmaster | 09/6/2016 11:50 AM

Paine College’s CSRA Luncheon was hosted by William C. Morris, III today, September 6, 2016 at the Augusta Marriott. Paine College President, Samuel Sullivan, and Chair-Elect of the Paine College Board of Trustees, Michael Thurmond presented the following TALKING POINTS:

1. In 1882 Paine Institute was founded in Augusta by leadership of the Methodist Episcopal Church South (now the United Methodist Church) and Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (now the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church). This collaboration between white and black religious denominations was an unprecedented example of racial cooperation in the post- Civil War South.

2. When Paine’s former president resigned in September 2014, the College faced a $10 million budget shortfall. Under the leadership of Samuel Sullivan, Interim President (at that time), the College budget was cut significantly in Fiscal Year 2015, including elimination of the football program and significant changes in fiscal oversight and accountability. The Board of Trustees unanimously adopted the balanced Fiscal Year 2017 budget presented by President Sullivan. 

3. In April 2016, the Paine College Board of Trustees elected new leadership, including Attorney Barbara Bouknight, Chair, and Attorney Michael Thurmond, Chair-Elect. As the governing authority of the college, the trustees acknowledged and accepted full responsibility for correcting the fiscal and managerial shortcomings that have plagued the college in recent years.

4. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) has recognized the significant progress made by Paine College. In 2014, Paine was out of compliance with ten (10) standards of the Principals of Accreditation. After nearly two years of work, Paine has been judged compliant with seven (7) of those ten (10) standards. The three remaining sanctions involve questions concerning financial stability and sustainability, only. The Colleges' academics are strong.  

5. There is no question that Paine and other historically black and small liberal arts colleges experienced severe financial challenges in recent years.  A significant part of the problem can be attributed to the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to tighten credit requirements for the Parent PLUS loan program. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of Parent PLUS loan recipients declined by 45 percent at HBCU’s. The total loss in funding was approximately $166 million. The impact on Paine was particularly severe as nearly 95% of Paine’s students qualified for financial aid, compared to 45% at all HBCUs. Between 2011 and 2013, Paine experienced a 66% decline in the number of borrowers from 163 to 56 which resulted in a 73% percent decline in the loan amount approved -- $1,547,161 to $422,909 -- a decline of $1,124,252.

6. Paine ended FY 2016 with a net balance of $634,132

7. Paine’s liabilities declined from $18,460,607 in FY 2015 to $17,684,183 in FY 2016

8. Paine’s private gifts increased from $2.4 million in FY2014 to $3.1 million in FY 2015 to $4.2 million in FY 2016

9. Paine’s total net assets increased from -$2,408,411 in FY 2014 to -$1,303,948 in FY 2015 to $2,423,824 in FY 2016.

10. SACSCOC has stated on several occasions that despite the financial challenges, the College’s academic program remains strong.

11. The Uniqueness of Paine College - As an HBCU, Paine College plays a unique role in the regional higher education eco-system. We offer small classes and personal attention in an academic environment that is primarily African-American. Staff, faculty and administrators serve as role models and mentors and, together with students, create an environment that supports both high achievers and those with potential who may not have demonstrated the strongest academics in high school. 

The history of Paine College is a wellspring which influences our ability to help address some of the key social and racial issues facing our community and country at this specific time. Our history provides us with a deep pool of experience and relationships we can leverage to help address the specific challenges and stresses of our increasingly diverse community and nation.

12.  Strong Academic Programs


- Biology and Pre-Professional Sciences
- Business
- Media Sciences
- Cyber Security - Paine is part of a national collaboration funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and in partnership with 13 HBCU’s and two Department of Energy Lab.  The program focuses on helping to meet the nation’s growing demand for cyber security professionals. Summer programs on cyber security are available with stipends, free tuition, and free room and board. This program is ideal for partnership with Fort Gordon – Augusta as the epicenter of cyber security in the country; helping to ensure diversity in the field of cyber security.


13. Economic impact - With 140 employees and a $15 million annual economic impact, Paine College plays an important role in the region’s economy and social fabric.

Paine College Cancels Classes Due to Flood Watch

Posted by painewebmaster | 09/1/2016 11:53 AM

Paine College officials have canceled all classes and events starting today, Thursday, September 1st after the National Weather Service issued a flood watch in effect from September 2nd from 6:00 AM until September 3rd at 6:00 PM. Classes will resume on Tuesday, September 6th. In the case of emergency, students, staff, and faculty can call (706) 821-8235 or (706) 821-8200.

Paine College Professor Featured in National Magazine

Posted by painewebmaster | 08/29/2016 04:12 AM

Dr. Sardar Yousufzai, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Physics & Environmental Sciences and the Minority Affairs Chairperson of the Savannah River Section of the American Chemical Society is featured in the August 16 issue of the Diverse: Issues In Higher Education magazine. 

Dr. Yousufzai who this summer celebrated the ten years anniversary of conducting his free “Basics Concepts of Chemistry”  class reflects on his educational background and discusses why he started the program and his goal of teaching Chemistry to diverse students. 

Diverse: Issues In Higher Education is a Virginia-based magazine that has an estimated print and digital readership of over 100,000 people.

The Paine College community congratulates, Dr. Yousufzai for demonstrating excellence in STEM education.  To view the issue featuring Dr. Yousufzai, visit the magazine’s website.

Paine College will host Fall Convocation

Posted by painewebmaster | 08/23/2016 04:26 AM

Paine College will host Fall Convocation on Wednesday, August 24, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. in the Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel. Dr. Samuel Sullivan, President, will serve as the keynote speaker for the occasion. The event will welcome new and returning students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni and friends to the Paine College Community.  This event is open to the public.

For more information, please contact the Office of Communications and Marketing at 706.396.7591 or via email:

Paine College Holds First Campus Pride Clean Up Day

Posted by painewebmaster | 08/19/2016 06:51 AM

Paine College students, faculty, and staff unite for the first Paine College Campus Pride Day of service, sponsored by the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church & Faith-based Community Saturday, August 20, from 8:00 am – 1:00 pm.

During this day of service, hundreds of volunteers from the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and United Methodist Churches along with members of the Paine College community will work to improve the appearance of the Paine College grounds and make improvements to dormitories and the student center. The goals of this campus clean-up day are to clean up our public areas, foster a sense of stewardship for the campus and build community-wide connections.

Community members are invited to volunteer. All volunteers will gather at the Peters Campus Center on the Paine College Campus at 8:00 AM to complete volunteer forms and be assigned to a team captain. Paine College will provide cleaning supplies.

Community members can also take advantage of this opportunity to register to participate in future campus clean up events. Volunteers can register at

Accrediting Commission Grants Extension to Paine College to Make Appeal

Posted by painewebmaster | 08/3/2016 13:29 PM

Dr. Samuel Sullivan, President of Paine College, announced that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) granted a 30-day extension to the College to appeal the decision of the SACSCOC Board to remove Paine from membership.
Paine College Administration and members of the Board of Trustees will appear before the SACSCOC Appeals Committee on September 12 or 13, 2016. During the appeal process, Paine College remains accredited.
College officials will continue to keep the public informed throughout the appeal process.  Frequently asked questions and responses regarding Paine College’s accreditation and appeal status can be found at
For more information about Paine College, contact the Office of Communications and Marketing at 706.821.8233, or email:


Michael Thurmond, Paine College Alumnus and Chair-Elect of the Paine College Board of Trustees to Speak at Worship Wednesday Community Prayer Breakfast

Posted by painewebmaster | 08/1/2016 07:15 AM

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Radio station 96.3 Kiss FM will hold the 96.3 Kiss FM Worship Wednesday Community Prayer Breakfast this month at Paine College. Organized by Women in Gods Service (WINGS), the inaugural event aims to provide an opportunity for the community to embrace diversity in an atmosphere of inclusive fellowship and to raise money for the College. Paine College which boasts the oldest interracial governing body in the nation has a history of pioneering race relations in Augusta making it a well-suited venue to bring diverse groups of people together for discussions regarding racial issues in our community.

The keynote speaker will be Michael Thurmond, Paine College Alumnus and Chair-Elect of the Paine College Board of Trustees. The event takes place on Wednesday, August 3, 2016, from 7:30 to 9:00 AM at the Candler Memorial Library on the Paine College Campus.

"It is such a wonderful feeling to see the Augusta community coming together for this worthy event," noted, R. Wayne Woodson, Chief of Staff, Assistant Professor and Director of Music, “Cher Best has pledged her support for Paine College and founded Women in Gods Service- WINGS. This group is hosting the prayer breakfast, and will be working with Dr. Lucinda Sullivan, the College's First Lady, on a number of events over the next year.”

The cost of the event is $25 per person and tables are also available. Tickets will be sold in advance on Eventbrite. Tickets will not be available at the door.  Those unable to attend the event can make donations on Eventbrite until August 23rd. For more information, visit