Bennett College—the small, private historically Black college for women headquartered in Greensboro, N.C.—has been granted candidate status by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and School (TRACS) an organization that accredits higher education institutions.
The achievement, announced by college officials last week, comes two years after Bennett’s accreditation was revoked by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) which noted declining enrollment and financial deficits as primary reasons.
Bennett launched an ambitious fundraising campaign that raised $9.5 million over a two month period, but SACSCOC rejected the school’s appeal. Bennett has since sued the commission and has remained accredited by SACSCOG, but continues to operate on a probationary status.
The new relationship between the college and TRACS is a step aimed at ensuring that the college—founded in 1873—remains accredited despite whatever ultimately happens with the SACSCOG lawsuit.
“This is a momentous day for the entire Bennett family and a major accomplishment for our institution,” said Suzanne Walsh, Bennett’s president, who added that after completing the rigorous application stage that included intensive self-study documentation, financial audits, and site evaluations this summer, the college was commended by TRACS’ evaluation team for “the institution’s strong leadership team” and for “offering programs and activities to students that have created a dynamic ‘Belle Community.’”
“It is significant to note that an accreditation body commended us in two distinct areas, and it affirms that we are on a clear, secure path forward as our students, staff, faculty, alumnae and supporters all work together to reimagine Bennett College,” said Walsh, who noted that the completion of the TRACS accreditation process must now take place within the next five years.
TRACS accreditation would ensure that Bennett continues to be eligible for Title III and Title IV funding, “and our students continue to be eligible for federal financial aid, including Pell Grants and federal work-study programs,” said Gladys Robinson, chair of the Board of Trustees of Bennett College. “We are also pleased that our TRACS accreditation ensures the college credits our students earn will remain recognized by other institutions and graduate programs.”
Paul Quinn College—an HBCU in Dallas—is already accredited by TRACS and Morris Brown College, which lost its accreditation in 2002, is looking to be accredited by TRACS, which focuses on Christian affiliated colleges, universities, and seminaries. Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, was granted full accreditation in October. TRACS has become a lifeline for many HBCUs.
“As the first Historically Black College and University member of TRACS, Paul Quinn College is thrilled to welcome Bennett College to the TRACS family,” said Paul Quinn president, Dr. Michael J. Sorrell. “We have steadfastly maintained for the last decade that TRACS represented a unique opportunity for smaller, faith-based colleges and universities, especially those with the historical missions of HBCUs. We trust that Bennett will discover what we have: that TRACS is a wonderful place, filled with supportive colleagues who will push your school to become the very best version of itself.”