Pennsylvania agrees to a $30,000,000 lifeline to save the nation’s oldest HBCU
Members of the Cheyney University drumline perform during the Big Apple Classic at Barclays Center on Dec. 15, 2013. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
By Angela Helm
The Pennsylvania state university system has agreed to forgive $30 million in loans to Cheyney University, if it can maintain a balanced budget over the next four years, saving the struggling HBCU from closure.
In a special meeting of the system’s board of governors on Tuesday, the body approved the debt forgiveness so that Cheyney—the nation’s oldest historically Black University—can maintain its accreditation. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that that system and its 13 member universities have extended several loans to the university over the last few years.
“Cheyney University cannot survive without accreditation, period,” Cynthia D. Shapira, chair of the board of governors, said in a statement. “And today’s serious actions give Cheyney the path forward.”
Cheyney faces a Sept. 1 deadline to submit a fiscal plan; it has also begun to take significant steps to close a more than $7 million gap in its budget, including cutting certain academic programs without allowing current students to finish out their studies. It has also cut more than 17 administrative positions.
The school, founded in 1837, now has fewer than 750 students.
Famous Cheyney alumni include the late journalist Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes fame as well as the late Jim Vance, also a broadcast journalist for almost 30 years in Washington, D.C.
According to the Inquirer, the state board is in similar discussions with Lincoln University, an HBCU in Chester County, Pa. (not Jefferson City, Mo.).