Alderson Broaddus University has lost its state authorization to grant degrees, likely prompting a closure unless the small Baptist institution in West Virginia can win an appeal to overturn the state board decision.
The vote came during an emergency meeting of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission Monday that laid out the financial challenges Alderson Broaddus faces. HEPC chancellor Sarah Armstrong Tucker noted in a report to the board that Alderson Broaddus has been fundraising to meet payroll and utility bills in recent weeks, expressing concern that a midsemester closure was likely.
“We are very aware that some student athletes and international students will be arriving on campus as soon as this week. And of course, new and returning students are preparing for the start of class. Can you imagine being these students? Can you imagine being their parents or loved ones right now, not knowing if this institution can remain open for the duration of the semester? A midsemester closure would be the worst scenario for these students,” Tucker told the board, arguing that based on finances, “a midsemester closure seems to be inevitable.”
HEPC voted to revoke the university’s ability to grant degrees, effective Dec. 31, and ordered it to wind down operations, which means Alderson Broaddus cannot enroll new students and must begin a teach-out process. Seniors on track for graduation will be able to complete their programs.
The vote is subject to appeal, though Alderson Broaddus did not respond to a question from Inside Higher Ed on whether it would seek to remain operational after the vote. HEPC’s decision comes after the West Virginia governor requested the board delay an emergency meeting on Friday to explore avenues to keep the university open. Though HEPC complied with the delay, members ultimately cast votes that will likely close the institution.
“I don’t think anybody wants the school to close. But with all that being said, it may very well be inevitable that that is exactly what happens,” Governor Jim Justice said in a news conference Monday before the vote.