Bennett College will remain on probation for another year, but officials with the college say that's a good thing.
College President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins and administrators attended the annual meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in Dallas when they received the news Tuesday morning.
The all-women, historically black college and university will continue as an accredited institution but has been placed on probation “with good cause.”
“Believe it or not we're happy with being able to continue probation so that we have another year to stabilize the institution,” Dawkins said.
During the 2015-16 school year, Bennett had a $1.5 million deficit. So far this year, that figure is at $1.1 million.
Dawkins added that school officials are doing a number of things to get off probation by next year, including aggressive enrollment and fundraising.
Bennett College has been working with the enrollment marketing firm EAB Enrollment Services, also known as Royall & Company, since last November to increase enrollment.
Currently, enrollment is at 410 students, which is a 2.5 percent growth from last school year. Dawkins said their target enrollment number is 800 students. So far, 692 students have been accepted to fall 2018. Dawkins said she hopes to see between 454 and 500 students attend next fall.
As for the fundraising aspect, Dawkins said they would like to get financial contributions this year to the tune of $4 million.
“We need gap money, we need that to sustain us,” she said. “So to grow, that's number one and to fund raise. We need money, we need scholarship dollars to help with that gap.”
Gap money is when a school's financial aid award for a student doesn't meet the student's financial need as defined by the college, according to Do It Yourself College Rankings.
Dawkins said SACSCOC could see the progress Bennett College has made and that closing isn’t an option.
“We're not even thinking that way,” she said. “I think when we were at SACS this week that they heard that there is a future for Bennett.”
In addition to Bennett, two other North Carolina universities – Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte and St. Augustine University in Raleigh– are also on probation.