WJTV News Channel 12 - Raleigh's St. Augustine's facing money woes

Raleigh's St. Augustine's facing money woes

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Saint Augustine's, the historically black university in Raleigh, is facing financial turmoil.

Rodney Gaddy, chairman of the Board of Trustees, confirmed to WNCN the contents of a recent external audit. It showed a $3 million drop in tuition revenue and that a contractor on the school's football stadium sued for breach of contract, claiming he is owed more than half a million dollars.

The audit also revealed bad accounting and a failure to go after students for money they owed.

The university has cut jobs, and furloughs are likely as a result.

"It's fair to say we have some financial challenges," Gaddy said.

He said the school will take "whatever steps we need" to get back on track financially.

The university refused an interview request, but President Dianne Boardley Suber, in a statement, said, "Higher education institutions in general and HBCUs, in particular, all over the country are facing financial challenges as federal and state cuts have had a direct impact on our students being able to afford to attend college. As a private, tuition-driven institution, St. Aug is definitely feeling the impact.

"We know that in times of economic challenges, the solutions are often difficult to implement. The University is mindful of the domino effect that financial decisions can have on employees and their families and regret that these kinds of adjustments in operational cost are necessary; but like any other business; we continue to stay focused on our mission and vision.

"This administration, with the support of the Board of Trustees, alumni, faculty, staff and students, are doing what is necessary to sustain the financial health of the institution in these difficult economic times. Our immediate goals are to support our continuing students, meet our recruitment goals for the 2014 freshman class, and effectively and efficiently manage and maximize, our financial resources."

Students near campus Friday said they have been kept largely in the dark about the state of their university's finances. They said they have been learning about the troubles from the media.

Students expressed concern ranging from the school shutting down to their degrees "not counting for anything," said one student.

School officials stressed that isn't likely to happen.

Another student said he is trying to remain focused. "We just try to focus on education, and just do what we are supposed to do. [There is] only so much we can do."

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