The agency responsible for accrediting schools in Ohio has informed Wilberforce University that the school is in danger of losing its accreditation. School officials believe it will be an uphill battle to fix the situation.
The Ohio Higher Learning Commission issued a "Show-Cause Order" letter to Wilberforce this week, which means the school must prove that its accreditation shouldn't be removed.
The letter gives the school until December 15 to issue a report addressing academic, fiscal and facilities issues. A site visit by the commission will be made in February and the university will know by June of 2015 if it can retain its accreditation.
The University's Interim President Dr. Wilma Mishoe, says the school was aware of the problems stated in the letter, including a budget deficit of nearly $10 million.
"It's not that we were not aware that we had deficiencies that we had to improve upon and I don't want anybody to have the impression that we didn't know that we had things that we needed to work on because we did," Mishoe said. " But, we simply did not expect that we would be given this short amount of time to do it."
Mishoe thought the university might receive a notice of probation from the Ohio Learning Commission, and was surprised to learn of the 'Show Cause' order. She stated that the school is restructuring its administration and board of trustees in order to come up with a plan to save its accreditation.
Richard Deering is the president of the Wilberforce Faculty Association and has been at the university since 1968. He doesn't believe that the university will be able to keep its accreditation.
"It would seem to me to be almost impossible to come up with a new set of facts that are going to change the direction that we are on right now," he said.
Enrollment at Wilberforce has slipped below 200 students, while less than 50 new students are enrolled for the fall term which starts in late July.
Wilberforce University is one of the oldest African-American universities in the nation, and was founded in 1856 by members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.