Alderson Broaddus gets provisional authorization, but must provide hard financial figures in coming year - WV MetroNews (2024)

West Virginia’s Higher Education Policy Commission voted for provisional authorization of the financially-troubled Alderson Broaddus University, with an eye toward whether the institution can sustain itself for the entire school year.

After two earlier delays and a look at less-than-ideal financial projections, commission members today voted for authorization with several benchmarks for the university to meet.

By Oct. 1, Alderson Broaddus is supposed to submit appropriate plans to allow other provisions for students who might need to transfer if the university can’t be sustained.

Another requirement is to make arrangements to secure transcripts and financial aid records with a third party.

Alderson Broaddus also must submit monthly reports to the policy commission’s vice chancellor for finance to show the university’s financial performance and operational stability, including actual money received and actual funds raised.

The university must cooperate with site visits requested by the state’s higher education chancellor or a designee. And the institution must provide any other information requested by the chancellor.

Alderson Broaddus gets provisional authorization, but must provide hard financial figures in coming year - WV MetroNews (1)

“The commission reserves the right to reconsider this provisional reauthorization at any point that the institution’s financial stability does not meet the State of West Virginia’s criteria,” said Michael Farrell, the vice chairman of the Higher Education Policy Commission.

Alderson Broaddus has been deeply rooted in the Philippi area for more than 100 years. But both university representatives and state officials were blunt during a three-hour meeting today about the private college’s recent struggles.

Annual reauthorization of almost all of West Virginia’s private colleges wason a June 16 agenda,but Alderson Broaddus was set aside for the possibility of provisional authorization. The HEPC delayed the Alderson Broaddus matter until a late June special meeting, and then agreed to put off a decision again until today.

Much of that time was spent gathering information, but even that was imperfect.

“The analysis of the financial condition at Alderson Broaddus has been challenging to evaluate for a variety of reasons,” said Misty Price, the HEPC’s vice chancellor for finance and facilities.

Limited accounting staff were available at the university, and the institution is without a chief financial officer and controller right now. Audits from 2022, two fiscal years ago, were incomplete. What the HEPC could determine added up to significant long-term debt and lines of credit near their maximum.

Recent reports showed a positive cash balance and improved revenue from an increase in tuition and fees and increased enrollment.

Even the bright spot is under scrutiny. The enrollment numbers are based on both registered students and those who are unregistered but expected to enroll.

“The estimated students that have yet to enroll but are expected to enroll are 268 and that account for approximately $3 million in revenue and cash,” Price said. “So this estimate and this projection is really critical in the analysis of AB and if they can get to the end of the year with
sufficient cash.”

Corley Dennison, the HEPC’s vice chancellor for academic affairs, emphasized how important student enrollment is to the private institution’s bottom line. But he said a review of those numbers over the past three years shows “a steady and progressive decline.”

“Furthermore,” he said, “enrollment numbers provided to the HEPC by Alderson Broaddus have been inconsistent and unsupported. In some instances, student numbers were overly optimistic and in other cases, revenue forecasts did not match the enrollment data.”

A couple of scenarios could be difficult to navigate this year, Dennison said. One possibility would be closing in December, at the conclusion of the first semester, providing only a short timeline for students to transfer.

Or, “The worst case scenario is a mid-semester shutdown, or AB runs out of money before the conclusion of final exams. This leaves students with virtually no option that they would be unable to finish their classes and receive no academic credit for their work.”

Alderson Broaddus gets provisional authorization, but must provide hard financial figures in coming year - WV MetroNews (2)

Representatives from Alderson Broaddus tried to provide assurances based on the efforts of a new leadership team along with longtime support by community and alumni. Additional possibility comes from an emphasis on recruiting athletes to bolster enrollment.

“We are very dedicated to completing this year successfully,” said Alderson Broaddus’s interim president, Andrea Bucklew.

“We are, again, very, very concerned about students. And that’s always our first and foremost priority.”

James Garvin, the new president of the board of trustees, asked for some faith that supporters will help pull the university through.

“There is a deep, deep devotion among our alumni,” Garvin told the HEPC. He added, “This new regime really deserves a chance to show that all they’re projecting, everything they’ve seen, everything that we intend to implement, it’s going to turn the corner.”

Before the higher education commissioners went into an executive session to determine what to do, Gavin concluded, “I would beg you to give us a chance.”

Alderson Broaddus gets provisional authorization, but must provide hard financial figures in coming year - WV MetroNews (2024)
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