The Only HBCU In South Florida Is At Risk Of Losing Accreditation, Closing

Students wearing face mask showing note pad notes to colleagues in the university / high school's corridor

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Florida Memorial University is the only historically Black university in South Florida. Known for having some influential Black figures as students, the university may be at risk of closing its doors for good, according to Miami New Times.

Reporters say the 142-year-old private institution in Miami Gardens is facing difficult financial issues, which may lead to its accreditation being revoked.

Its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), placed FMU on yearlong probation in July to address its lack of "financial responsibility" and failure to comply with financial aid program duties. If it doesn't do so by June next year, the university could lose its accreditation.

Michael Lomax, president of the United Negro College Fund, claimed SACSCOC's accrediting standards were created for "large, wealthy, predominately white public institutions." HBCUs have historically been underfunded compared to predominantly white institutions.

"It's very sad to see what the university was and see where it is now," FMU alumnus Terrell Brown told the New Times. "There's a lot of history, a lot of legacy there. It would be very heartbreaking, honestly, if something were to happen to the university in terms of its accreditation."

Brown, who is an assistant professor at Florida A&M University, says the FMU's focus has shifted to athletics recently. "I mean, sports, that's fine. Football is fine. But I do think that there needs to be a refocusing on academics, enrollment — those things need to be primary," he says.

Reporters learned that FMU has been facing other issues besides its financial woes, from multiple lawsuits and falling enrollment to scandals involving rape and sexual misconduct.

Sharee Gilbert, FMU's director of communications and marketing, told the New Times the university plans on addressing their enrollment and financial issues with "new enrollment initiatives, academic programs, enhanced infrastructure, as well as new programs in its athletic, band, and certificate (or nondegree) programs."

"FMU is well on its way to resolving the outstanding issues," she says.

Click here to see the Miami New Times' full report on the situation.

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