By Helene T. Carter
Augusta, Ga…Members of the Paine College Board of Trustees, representatives of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church, along with President Samuel Sullivan stood united as they announced their plan to move the College in the direction of fiscal solvency and drive the Institution on the path to full compliance with the Principles of Accreditation of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The trustees held the press conference on Tuesday, May 24th at 10:00 a.m. inside the HEAL Complex.
Bishop Marshall Gilmore, trustee emeritus, drew a round of applause as he announced a commitment of $1,000,000 on behalf of the College of Bishops of the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church. The CME Church will fulfill the $1 million commitment within 12 months.
Dr. Cynthia Bond Hopson, Assistant Secretary General of The Black College Fund, pledged $350,000 to the College on behalf of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) of the United Methodist Church. The GBHEM has consistently rendered support to Paine College over the years.
Attorney Barbara E. Bouknight, Chair of the Paine College Board of Trustees, said,” During the spring meeting of the governing body, we unanimously adopted a strategy and a plan that included changes in Board leadership, changes in College leadership, restructuring the board membership and the implementation of a governance structure that will facilitate a culture of accountability and transparency.” She further commented, “This means that the Trustees are fully engaged and committed to taking full responsibility for correcting any and all fiscal and managerial shortfalls that have faced the College during the last three years.”
Attorney Michael Thurmond, Chair-elect, solicited the audience to become involve in the process of preserving and sustaining the College. He announced that the College had raised more than $2,540,000 toward its $3.1 million goal for the fiscal cycle July 2015 to June 30, 2016. Attorney Thurmond invited the community to participate in the “Be 1of 1,000” campaign. The fundraising campaign has the potential of yielding more than $1,000,000 by June 30, 2016.
“The urgency is now,” said Attorney Thurmond. “It matters that we give now to demonstrate to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges that we love and support this great institution that has played a significant role in our lives and in our communities.”
Attorney Thurmond made it clear that the Trustees would work with the College to develop ongoing development programs that would allow the College to remain financially stable.
President Samuel Sullivan said that he was humbled by the outpouring of support from the College’s constituents. He stated that recently, a local theologian donated $50,000 and within weeks of that gift, the pastor made another donation of $27,000. Dr. Sullivan expressed his gratitude to Paine alumni, churches, and friends who hosted events to assist the College.
The trustees thanked Dr. Sullivan for his leadership during the College’s challenging times. “Under Dr. Sullivan’s leadership, SACSCOC lifted seven of the ten areas of non-compliance that faced the Institution.”
The College must comply with the Principles of Accreditation of three remaining areas: 1) financial resources, 2) financial stability, and 3) control of sponsored research/external funds.
Dr. Sullivan echoed Attorney Thurmond’s appeal. “It is important that we give now. “Paine must raise an additional $1 million by June 30, 2016 to ensure that the College has surplus funds for ongoing operations.”
“My primary goal is to keep the doors open to provide an accessible and quality education for students,” said Dr. Sullivan. “I am convinced that we can work together to achieve this most important goal.”
For more information about ways to support Paine College, please contact Ms. Sunya L. Young in the Office of Institutional Advancement at 706.821.8233 or via email: Syoung@paine.edu.