On Friday evening, Feb. 22, Bennett College President Phyllis Dawkins held a press conference to announce that the college was suing the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges over that organization’s decision to revoke the school’s accreditation.
Dawkins began on a positive note; she said the college would maintain its accreditation during the court proceedings.
“Bennett College is pleased to announce that its accreditation was restored this afternoon by a federal court in Atlanta,” she said at the press conference that began shortly after 6 p.m.
The school has been on a roller coaster ride in recent months as it has attempted to maintain its accreditation – something that’s vital for a college or university. Students at unaccredited schools, among other things, are not eligible for federal financial aid, aren’t able to transfer credits to another school and can find themselves ineligible to obtain professional licenses in some fields once they graduate.
At the Friday evening press conference, Dawkins announced that the school was fighting against SACS’s decision and she encouraged the school’s supporters to remain strong.
“Today, the college moved quickly to file a lawsuit against SACS and to file a temporary restraining order to prevent SACS from revoking the college’s accreditation,” she said.
In December, Bennett College was cited for a lack of financial resources and was notified by the organization that its accreditation was in jeopardy. In response, Bennett raised more than $9.5 million – twice its $5 million goal – and optimistically informed SACS’s appeals committee of that fact. Dawkins said that, despite the tremendous success of the “Stand with Bennett” campaign, SACS delivered an “unfair” ruling against the school.
Dawkins said she was very thankful to Bennett alumni and others who offered their support.
She also said the court proceedings will not interrupt the college’s daily operations.
“We urge everyone to keep the faith and know that Bennett is standing strong,” she said.
Earlier this week, SACS informed Bennett that it wasn’t going to allow the college to keep its accreditation despite the school’s highly successful fundraising effort.
Bennett College has retained two law firms to fight the court battle – one based in Research Triangle Park and one based in Atlanta.