Months after Paine College lost its accreditation from its regional accrediting body, a judge ruled in the school’s favor instead.
Just as the weekend kicked off, Paine College President Dr. Jerry Hardee publicly announced the news at the Presidential Scholarship & Masked Gala. Not only is Paine now accredited again by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), but it has The Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) accreditation too.
“It’s been a long, long tough road. It’s been a lot of criticism for staying,” said Harry Davis Jr who entered Paine College in 2015 to play football.
“I went home for Christmas break and two days away from coming back we found out the football team was canceled,” he said adding that no explanation was given and a mass exodus began at the school.
“A lot of people transferred,” he recalled. “A lot of people went home. Something just told me to stay and I flourished at some point.”
Davis took a risk. In June of 2014, NewsChannel 6 reported SACS placed Paine on probation for failure to comply with 10 accreditation standards. Fast forward to October 2018 and SACS removed Paine altogether as an accredited institution.
“SACS was presumptuous in its move to disaccredit Paine College back in October,” said Dr. Hardee.
President Hardee’s announcement stated a judge ruled in Paine’s favor, restoring its accreditation with probation still. But it will need to apply as a new institution once the restraining order is lifted.
“All parties involved will at some point sit down and discuss and come to a compromise,” said Paine College Board Chair Elect Michael Thurmond.
Until then, Paine moves forward with two accreditations. Both SACS and TRACS. Hardee said while TRACS is a national agency, SACS still carries with it more benefits despite being regional, such as tapping into federal dollars and the NCAA.
Dr. Hardee added, “Were we just TRACS accredited we’d then have to switch our athletic program to NAIA.”
Paine will graduate a class of a little more than 40 students this year, classmates of Davis who did not flee. And that dedication paid off.
He said, “Storms don’t come to destroy. Sometimes they come to clear a path. This storm that we went through, it just happened to come a clear a path for two accreditations.”
NewsChannel 6 contacted SACS and spoke with the Direcotor of Government and Legal Affairs Rosalind Fuse – Hall. She said Paine has 30 days to appeal. Also, no word on when they plan to sit down and talk with Paine. We will stay on this story.
Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins