Florida Memorial University, the 142-year-old historically Black college (HBCU) in South Florida, is in danger of no longer being in operation.
A growing list of financial issues cited by accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has put FMU on a yearlong probation. If the university does not address its lack of "financial responsibility" and failure to comply with financial-aid program duties by June 2022, SACSCOC could revoke its accreditation.
SACSCOC accredits colleges across 11 southern states, including 72 HBCU's, which have long been underfunded as a result of decades of systemic racism.
Michael Lomax, president of the United Negro College Fund, wrote SACSCOC's accrediting standards were created for "large, wealthy, predominately white public institutions," citing a 2020 study that found that from 2012 to 2017, SACSCOC took adverse actions against HBCUs than against non-HBCUs.
The effects of losing South Florida's only HBCU would be devastating for Black communities, as HBCUs have long played a crucial role in molding Black leaders and professionals. HBCUs make up only 3 percent of the country's colleges and universities, yet they enroll 10 percent of all African-American students and produce nearly 20 percent of all African-American college graduates.
Over the past two decades, six HBCUs have closed; several others remain open despite losing their accreditation. Stripped of accreditation, FMU would lose access to federal funding and Pell Grants for students with financial need and their diplomas could become worthless.
In order to boost enrollment and address its financial shortcomings, the university plans to introduce enrollment initiatives, academic programs, enhanced infrastructure, and new programs.