This 159-Year-Old College is Spending Millions of Dollars in a Last-Ditch Effort to Stay Alive

A historical marker for Wilberforce University (Courtesy of YouTube)
A historical marker for Wilberforce University (Courtesy of YouTube)


(Business Insider) – A decade ago, Wilberforce University was struggling but stable.

The storied historically black university (HBCU) was in debt, and enrollment was beginning to decline. But it didn’t seem like Wilberforce — the oldest private HBCU in the county — would soon be in danger of closing.

However, following two problematic presidencies, widespread student protests, and various internal issues, Wilberforce now finds itself in a fight to stay alive.

Wilberforce’s leadership has recently played host to a group of visitors who may determine the future of the HBCU — an accreditation board that will soon determine if the university has improved enough to keep its accreditation. If it loses that accreditation, it’s much more likely Wilberforce will close.

“To keep its accreditation, Wilberforce must address its ballooning debts, deteriorating buildings and leadership shortcomings,” Charlie Tyson reported in Insider Higher Ed in June, after the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) threatened to revoke the school’s accreditation.


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