Alderson Broaddus starts developing plan to dissolve after higher education officials order a wind down - WV MetroNews (2024)

Alderson Broaddus University’s board of trustees voted to develop a plan of dissolution, promising to provide more information about specific plans for assisting students, faculty and staff.

The decision and promise of specifics were conveyed by a press release with a statement attributed to James Garvin, chairman of the board of trustees.

University leaders took those steps after members of the Higher Education Policy Commission voted Monday afternoon to withdraw provisional authorization from Alderson Broaddus, directing the start of a wind down.

Members of the higher education board concluded that the private university’s financial liabilities were unsustainable and that students would be at risk of a campus shutdown at mid-semester.

So commissioners voted unanimously to revoke Alderson Broaddus’s authorization to confer degrees in the state effective this December 31.

The revocation means the institution is not permitted to enroll new students beginning this fall semester. However, seniors scheduled to graduate at the end of the fall term may return to complete their degrees on schedule.

The steps toward dissolving raise many more issues: how to assure smooth transfers for undergraduate and graduate students who had expected to attend this fall, maintenance of academic records, the employment status of faculty and staff, the status of outstanding debt and the upkeep and possession of campus property.

West Virginia’s higher education chancellor, Sarah Armstrong Tucker, said some employees were on campus today to work through some of those issues. And the Higher Education Policy Commission had a representative on hand to provide guidance.

Alderson Broaddus starts developing plan to dissolve after higher education officials order a wind down - WV MetroNews (1)

“We had someone there, boots on the ground today at 8 o’clock this morning, to help answer any questions and help the staff that is at AB right now make sure they are able to answer questions and what should they be telling people,” said Tucker, speaking on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

“We understand that there are at least four, if not more, individuals on campus today that are busily answering phone calls, getting transcripts, helping students make moves toward other institutions if that’s what they want to do. And if they can’t answer questions, they’re taking their names and numbers and their questions, and they’re getting answers and calling them back.”

Some seniors who would be scheduled to graduate in December may be able to remain on campus this fall to complete their undergraduate degrees.

“Last week, we had the provost pull the seniors that were expected to graduate in December. I believe there are 15 of them,” Tucker said. “There’s another cohort of physician assistant students that are scheduled to graduate in the end of August, and I think a few other students that are scheduled to graduate at the end of August.

“We wanted to make sure the students who were able to finish at the end of the semester could finish and be done.”

Completing required courses online is likely option, she said, for students who are on track to graduate within that time frame but who might not have access to faculty for in-person instruction.

The first day of classes had been set for August 21, and some students were either already on campus for summer activities or had expected to arrive prior to the official start date.

Now many of those students will be seeking to transfer. Several state colleges offered paths to make those transfers relatively seamless.

Nearby West Virginia Wesleyan in Upshur County and Davis & Elkins in Randolph County were among the institutions offering help for transferring students. Like those, West Virginia State University in Institute offered to waive application fees and provide an expedited transcript review.

“This is a challenging moment for Alderson Broaddus University. West Virginia State University is committed to helping AB’s students continue their dream of achieving a college degree,” said Ericke Cage, president at West Virginia State, where the fall semester begins August 14.

Alderson Broaddus is a private Baptist college that has roots in Philippi, Barbour County, starting in 1909. Two other Baptist institutions combined in 1932 to form Alderson Broaddus College, and the institution was named a university in 2013.

About 750 studentshave enrolled there in recent years.

Earlier last month, the Higher Education Policy Commission twice delayed and then granted provisional authorization for Alderson Broaddus to commence the coming academic year. The provisions included regular financial reports and specific plans to allow students to transfer and for academic records to be protected in case of financial failure.

Higher education officials took action after receiving and confirming information that led them to conclude Alderson Broaddus University’s financial condition renders the institution unable to create a stable, effective, and safe learning environment for its students.

Tax filingsfrom 2020 showed Alderson Broaddus with more than $37 million in liabilities and -$904,424 in net income.Consolidatedfinancial statementsfrom 2020 and 2021 showed the college’s greatest debt is a $27 million communityfacilities loanwith the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whichhas been a lifelinefor struggling rural colleges.

Alderson Broaddus was hit last week withatermination notice over $776,598.70 in unpaid water, sewer and electric bills. A revised payment plan included a deadline to pay an initial $66,953 due by 10 a.m. Monday. Officials said that payment was made.

Alderson Broaddus had been working to improve its financial situation. A two-pronged strategy included encouraging more enrollment and drumming up donations from loyal supporters.

Alderson Broaddus starts developing plan to dissolve after higher education officials order a wind down - WV MetroNews (2)

Drew Payne, chairman of the Higher Education Policy Commission, said there were no remaining paths to saving the university.

“There’s no way. There was not any way,” Payne said, describing a review over roughly the past 90 days. “That’s what we’ve been trying to do, and exploring every option and trying everything and hoping what they told us on things would materialize. Some didn’t materialize, and that’s why we had to take the option we did.”

Alderson Broaddus starts developing plan to dissolve after higher education officials order a wind down - WV MetroNews (2024)
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