By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
SOJOURNER-Douglass College’s Bahamas campus has shut down its “academic operations” for the rest of the year, it’s executive director saying campus officials are in talks with another “American institution for affiliation” to have the campus reopened as soon as possible.
Theresa Moxey-Ingraham, executive director of the East Bay Street satellite campus, told The Tribune that the school has closed for effectively the entire fall semester and will not resume “until the beginning of the new year”.
The Tribune understands that Sojourner-Douglass (Bahamas) will not conduct another semester until the new institution, reportedly Bethune-Cookman University (BCU), takes over.
Mrs Moxey-Ingraham did not give a reason for the campus’ closure, saying she was not at liberty to disclose such information amidst the ongoing negotiations.
However, international reports have suggested that the issue stems from the revocation of Sojourner-Douglass’ main campus’ accreditation as a result of financial issues.
It is also unclear just how many students are affected by the campus’ closure.
Nonetheless, Mrs Moxey-Ingraham’s statements coincide with the particulars of a letter purportedly from Sojourner-Douglass (Bahamas) officials to “Bethune-Cookman students” dated August 2, 2016, and obtained by The Tribune.
The letter, which revealed that the campus officially closed its doors as of July 29, 2016, for unspecified reasons, advised students that as Sojourner-Douglass was not “certain of the exact time BCU will be in place,” adding that the campus would not conduct another semester until the transition was complete.
As such, Sojourner-Douglass (Bahamas) suggested that students continue their education at other institutions, if they choose to do so during that “interim period”.
The letter informed students that school officials have had conversations with Southern College (Bahamas) and that officials from that institution will “work arduously” to ensure that their credits are transferred to that college.
Additionally, the letter said Southern College’s director of admissions will ensure that students have a “smooth transition” to Southern College should they opt to enrol there.
Last month, an article in the Baltimore Sun stated that Sojourner Douglass’ main campus was not scheduling classes for the fall semester because it was engaged in a legal battle to regain its accreditation.
According to the article, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) reportedly revoked the school’s accreditation in 2014, citing the school’s financial struggles at the time, and denied SDC’s appeal of the revocation in June of last year.
The commission reportedly warned Sojourner-Douglass in 2011 that it was in danger of losing accreditation because it lacked adequate financial resources. The commission reportedly gave the school three years plus a one-year extension to resolve its challenges. But commission officials reportedly said the finances remained unstable and that college officials had not satisfied the commission’s requirements.
Without accreditation, the institution is ineligible to receive the federal funding it needs to stay open, the article said. The article also noted that the decision not to schedule classes for the fall semester (in 2015) would affect roughly all of SDC’s satellite campuses, the Bahamas’ included.
When questioned for an answer as to the campus’ closure, Mrs Moxey-Ingraham said: “The academic operations has closed and will not resume until the beginning of the new year. That much I can tell you.
“And I can tell you that we are now in the middle of negotiations with another American institution for affiliation. And that’s about as much as I can say right now because I’m not at liberty to say their name or anything at this time.”
Sojourner-Douglass (Bahamas) has been in operation since 1988. The college also has satellite campuses in other areas in Maryland, namely Owings Mills, Lanham, Cambridge, Annapolis and Salisbury.
The school is named after two African-American abolitionists - Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass.