The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (formerly the General Assembly Mission Council) voted unanimously today (Sept. 14) to cease funding of 145-year-old Barber-Scotia College in Concord, N.C. at the end of this year.
Barber-Scotia is one of several racial-ethnic schools that receives funding from the Christmas Joy Offering.
The decision came following a site visit to the school in July by mission agency board member Molly Baskin, Director of Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries (REWM) Rhashell Hunter and the Rev. Jerry Cannon, pastor of C.M. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church in Charlotte and part-time REWM staff person.
That team had recommended Barber-Scotia funding for two more years, but the board’s Leadership Committee turned down that recommendation unanimously.
“I’ve been an educator my whole career,” said committee member and seminary professor Nancy Ramsay from Fort Worth, Texas, “and this is clearly a failed institution. I respect very much what Barber-Scotia has done over its history but I cannot support this motion [to continue funding].”
Committee member Kevin Yoho, general presbyter for Newark Presbytery, agreed. “I don’t see how we can be accountable and let this go on a day longer.”
Barber-Scotia College lost its accreditation in 2004 and has never regained it. In order to qualify for funding under the PC(USA)’s guidelines for receipt of Christmas Joy Offering money, schools must be accredited. “Institutions that are not accredited will have a three-year period in which to achieve accreditation,” the guidelines state.
Hunter and Baskin did not disagree.
“Barber-Scotia has been in a losing situation for a number of years,” said Baskin. “Most tuition is given back in scholarships. They basically have no cash and negative net-worth. They have dropped property/casualty insurance because they can’t afford it. “Trustees and alumni have not stepped up financially and it’s highly unlikely the financial situation will improve.”
Hunter said “we weren’t really aware of the seriousness of the situation until the site visit.”
In recent years two other historically racial-ethnic PC(USA)-related colleges have closed ― Mary Holmes College in West Point, Miss., and Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, Alaska. Mary Holmes College was sold and Sheldon Jackson’s trustees gave that school’s core campus to local arts groups after selling off non-campus property to pay off the college’s mountain of debt.