Over the past six months, many of us at Paine College have worked tirelessly to secure the funding needed to keep our doors open and to rebuild and restructure our operations for sustainability and success. Just weeks ago, we reservedly began a collective cheer of relief as we were able to witness yet another class of outstanding Paine College students complete their degrees. Moreover, these students graduated from Paine knowing that the College continues to be fully accredited and that their degrees hold value in the greater community.
Included among those who graduated were students who are the first in their families to attend college. They marched and graduated while relatives, young and old, watched with immense pride, joy and an elevated sense of possibilities. What a great time for Paine, our Augusta community, our state, and the nation!
A renewed Paine College is being born and we could not have accomplished this momentous feat without the unwavering support of many individuals and organizations. We owe a debt of gratitude to local radio, television, and newspaper outlets for continuing to shine a light on who we are and the successes we have had, both recently and historically. The faith-based community from which we sprang and to which we continue to be so closely attached, has been extremely supportive and generous of Paine. Business leaders across the City of Augusta recognized early on the essential role Paine College plays in the local economy and have voiced their support for the College, while local government officials have spoken up on Paine's behalf at critical junctures, as well. Our students, alumni, faculty and staff have sacrificed so much for Paine College and they, along with our Board of Trustees, are more committed than ever to the College's success. Many, many friends of Paine College have stepped forward to give of their time and efforts, and to make donations to the College - many doing so for the first time. Finally, people from all across Georgia and all over the country have sent in financial support... one dollar at a time.
Our struggle is not yet over; neither is our resolve. At the end of 2014, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Colleges (SACSCOC) found that Paine College faced ten areas of noncompliance with its accreditation standards. In just over one year, through our collective efforts, seven of the sanctions were successfully addressed and only three issues remain for full compliance - financial resources; financial stability; and control of sponsored research/external funds. We must meet compliance requirements of these remaining sanctions by June 30, 2016. To address the financial challenges, the College of Bishops of the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church has made a remarkable pledge of $1 million to Paine College! The CME has committed to fulfilling the generous pledge within the next 12 months. In addition, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) of the United Methodist Church also made a considerable pledge of $350,000 to Paine College! The GBHEM pledge is expected to be fulfilled within a two-week period. While these considerable gifts have gotten us closer to our fundraising goal of $3.5 million, the College must still raise an additional $1 million by June 30th in order to satisfy immediate financial needs.
We fully realize that your support includes implicit expectations - expectations that we will maintain an excellent, sustainable and accountable program of higher education; that we will be much better stewards of the resources we generate to finance our operations; and that we will graduate practice-ready students with the skillset to serve as motivated and innovative leaders within our communities. We welcome these expectations as they reflect the values that guide every facet of current operations at Paine. Further we do not take the confidence that you've placed in us for granted - confidence in the ability of our students; confidence in the skills of our faculty; confidence in the dedication of our staff, confidence in the direction of our leadership and, most important, confidence in the future of Paine College.
On behalf of all of us here at Paine College, THANK YOU! Your contributions are helping and your prayers are working. Because of you, we are making tremendously progress in rebuilding and rebranding Paine College.
Photo: President Samuel Sullivan, Ph.D., President of Paine College