LOUISVILLE — Gloria
Bromell-Tinubu has resigned as president of Barber-Scotia College,
a Presbyterian-related school in Concord, NC, that now has
just one employee and soon will have no students.
The college announced Bromell-Tinubu’s
resignation in a news release dated Nov. 8.
In the release, Thomas G. Robinson, chair
board of trustees, commended Bromell-Tinubu for “the innovations
and contributions (she) made, especially during the most challenging
period in the history of the college.”
Robinson reportedly told a North Carolina
newspaper that Bromell-Tinubu resigned by “mutual consent.” Mable Parker McLean,
Barber-Scotia’s first woman president (1974-1988 and 1994-1996),
is coming out of retirement to accept the board’s appointment
as acting president.
The private, historically black college
about 20 miles north of Charlotte suspended classes last month
when fewer than five students enrolled for the first part of
the fall term, according to Beneva Bibbs, the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.)’s associate
for racial-ethnic schools and colleges.
Bibbs said the four-year liberal arts institution, which lost
its accreditation last year, will not have any students for the
winter term that begins in January.
She said only two volunteer instructors were on the job when
classes were suspended.
Bibbs said her office had asked the college
to provide a viable business plan and hired a consultant to
help. “The school
needs to devise a plan for the future,” she said.
In the meantime, officials have taken no action to close Barber-Scotia
“As a board, we are still very optimistic, as far as funds
being raised and the college coming back,” Robinson said.
Bromell-Tinubu’s resignation came
as the college laid off six of the seven employees still on
the payroll. The one remaining staffer works in the business
Barber-Scotia, founded by the Presbyterian Church in 1867 as
a seminary for daughters of former slaves, once had more than
1,000 students and dozens of staff members.
Bromell-Tinubu, who could not be reached
for comment, faced numerous hurdles in her 16 months at the
college. Just days after she became president in June 2004,
the college lost its accreditation by the Southern Association
of Colleges and Schools because it had awarded degrees to about
30 adult-education students who hadn’t completed the
requirements. The loss of accreditation meant the loss of the
federal funding on which most students had depended.
Enrollment dropped from nearly 600 students
in 2004 to only 91 in January 2005. In May, the college expelled
42 students who had not repaid debts to the school. Three months
later, Barber-Scotia announced that it would cut expenses by
closing on-campus housing for the 2005-’06 academic year,
a move that further diminished student interest.
The setbacks raised fears that Barber-Scotia would be forced
to close its doors permanently, as happened in March to another
PC(USA)-related, historically black school, Mary Holmes College
in West Point, MS. Mary Holmes also had lost its accreditation.
At Barber-Scotia, Bromell-Tinubu tried to change the college
from a four-year liberal arts program to a business-technical
curriculum, and sought partnerships with accredited colleges.
“We’ll do what’s necessary to get back on
the right track,” she told the Presbyterian News Service
shortly after taking office. “We really believe ... things
will be put back in place. The school will live up to its potential.”
Bromell-Tinubu, a former Atlanta city council member and onetime
Spelman College economics professor, told The Charlotte Observer
last month that she was trying to arrange for another four-year
college to offer courses at Barber-Scotia, starting in January.
She said the partnership would generate revenue and attract students
to the campus.
Barber-Scotia receives money from the
Christmas Joy Offering, which supports seven Presbyterian-related
racial-ethnic schools and colleges. According to Bibbs, Barber-Scotia’s
2005 allocation was $323,419, of which $100,000 was retained
by the church to cover property insurance.
McLean, an 83-year-old Barber-Scotia
alumna, was president in the mid-1990s when the college was
on “warning” for
accreditation and enrollment was dwindling.
“We are fortunate to have a wise and
dedicated resource embodied in Dr. McLean, who has come to the
aid of the college once again,” Robinson said. “Clearly,
in order to survive, we will need to draw on the expertise of
someone … who
knows the college well from the perspective of a former student,
professor and president.”