CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The president of Alderson Broaddus University told members of the state Higher Education Policy Commission Friday a two-year probation handed down against the school by the Higher Learning Commission is “in a unique way it’s an opportunity for us.”
AB President Tim Barry addressed the commission Friday, less than a month after it had been notified of the accreditation problem by the HLC.
HEPC Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Corley Dennison told the commission the HLC’s issues with Alderson Broaddus focus on the school’s finances. The school defaulted on 2012 long-term bonds and has a history of not being able to generate sufficient revenue to meet projected enrollment and retention goals, according to the HLC.
The private school, located in Philippi, was already in financial trouble when Barry arrived in late 2015. He told the HEPC Friday the school has started to get its financial house in order including improving enrollment and cash flow.
“What I feel good about is that we’re ahead for fall enrollment with visits, acceptances, applications and dramatically increased deposits,” Barry said.
Barry said the school has developed a positive relationship with bond holders in recent months and is currently in a two-year forbearance agreement.
When asked how Alderson Broaddus got into the financial shape it did, Barry provided several reasons.
“We moved too quickly in construction of buildings and a stadium and things like that,” he said. “I grew up on an Iowa farm and my father said a million times, ‘If you don’t have it, don’t spend it,’ well, we had it but we quickly spent it. I guess I would have taken $3 million and shoved it into a mattress for an extra year,” Barry said.
The school now has a five-year financial plan, Barry said.
“That sounds so obvious,” he said.
Barry also said he’s worked to eliminate any disconnect between his office and the schools, trustees, alumni and area lawmakers. He said he’s confident AB will do what it has to do to get off probation.
“I’m looking forward to moving through this process during the next two years,” Barry said.
Alderson Broaddus says it has fulfilled all necessary requirements for the provisional certification alternative. The HLC is requiring the school to submit comprehensive evidence and evaluation no later than Dec. 2018 to demonstrate compliance to all accrediting standards. The HLC will review documents in June 2019.