Paine College Board Chair calls on ‘white friends’ to help with campaign


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Paine College wants to expand its list of donors in hopes of making sure it wins its appeal for accreditation. This news comes as leaders accepted a $1 million check from the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church to save it from a financial downturn.

Excitement filled the sanctuary of Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel as the CME Church told Paine’s history. Presiding Bishop Kenneth Carter gave a rousing speech before the check presentation.

“Bishop Holsey asked leaders of the Methodist Episcopal Church South to help establish a school to train negro teachers and preachers so that they might in turn appropriately address the educational and spiritual needs of the people newly freed from the evils of slavery,” Bishop Carter stated.

It took $9 to start then Paine Institute in 1882. But CME Church leaders told the group of supports it’s going to take more now.

“We invite you to give until it hurts,” he said challenging others to donate.

Paine can take the CME Church’s $1 million check to the bank and to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC) appeals board in its accreditation fight.

Paine President Samuel Sullivan explained how the money works.

“This million dollars will be an additional piece of information. They are aware that the church pledged over a 12 month period,” he explained.

Paine Board Chairman Michael Thurmond said the historically black college surpassed its initial goal of $3.1 million and reached $4.1 million, that’s 757 new donors, including Mayor Hardie Davis’ church Abundant Life Worship Center, handing the school $10,000 last month.

“A million dollars is a whole lot of money, but it’s not enough,” he shouted.

Now, Paine is pressing outside color lines.

“If you have white friends, I’m just going to say it. We need our white friends,” Thurmond urged the group after telling them he placed a call to one of Augusta’s riches residents prior to the press conference.

President Samuel Sullivan has his money on the CME Church giving more next time. He’ll tell SACS that and his plans for the community to support Paine long-term.

“All of the other entities that [we] are partners with, [we] will consider either returning or ratcheting up their support for the school,” Sullivan said.

He also wants dollars from the private sector despite some losing faith in the school’s ability to manage money. He said old leadership didn’t mishandle funds–it just didn’t program wisely. He shared one of those programs he thought was not a good financial move for Paine.

“Our attempt to reinstate football. We were losing roughly a million dollars a year,” he said.

Ultimately, Sullivan said Paine needs to grow its enrollment in order to survive successfully.

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