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State lawmakers receive update on Alderson Broaddus in first interim committee meetings

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Chancellor of the Higher Education Policy Commission Dr. Sarah Tucker provided an update on Alderson Broaddus University to members of the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability Sunday.

Interim committee meetings at the state capitol building began Sunday afternoon and are scheduled through Tuesday, August 8.

The financially-troubled institution is set to close due to mounting debt and a non-existent cash flow.

“They have significant long term debt of more than $30 million, they have lines of credit at or near $5 million which is there maximum, and they owe the city of Philippi $835,000,” Tucker told state lawmakers.

The state’s Higher Education Policy Commission met last week and voted unanimously to revoke the authorization to confer degrees in the state from the school effective at the end of the year. The Higher Learning Commission, a national accrediting body, announced last week that the university voluntarily resigned its accreditation effective December 31.

“At the end of the day, we came to the conclusion that this institution was not going to be able to stay open for the semester,” Tucker said following the interactions and meetings with AB officials and after learning of their financial situation.

The fall semester at AB begins August 21, with some students coming to campus even earlier than that. Some students are already on campus for certain activities.

Seniors scheduled to graduate at the end of the fall semester may return to complete their degrees. About 15 students fit that description according to Tucker.

Of the 750 students that are enrolled at the private institution, Tucker said around 80% of AB students are athletes, who have their tuition reduced by around 50%.

“Isn’t that pretty high,” Delegate Joe Statler (R-Monongalia) asked, to which Chancellor Tucker replied, “yes.”

With the authorization pulled, the institution is also not permitted to enroll new students beginning this fall semester. Delegate Statler said it’s not a good look for AB if they were indeed recruiting students during the spring semester of 2022, before the authorization was pulled, and considering their financial troubles.

“I don’t want to say it’s criminal, but it’s bad,” he said. “We already know we’re in trouble and we’re still recruiting students?”

Chancellor Tucker suggested it’d be a good idea for state officials and the HEPC to take a closer look at other universities across the state from a financial standpoint.

“I do think it is probably incumbent upon us in this next year to take a really hard look at the finances of all of our institutions. Institutions across the country are closing,” said Tucker.

Tucker gave credit specifically to West Virginia Wesleyan College in Upshur County and Davis & Elkins College in Randolph County for stepping up in trying to transfer eligible students. West Virginia State University has also reached out to transferring students of Alderson Broaddus, among a handful of other institutions.

Chancellor Tucker also gave a brief update on deferred maintenance for higher education institutions.

“I once again want to thank you all for allocating money in the surplus section for deferred maintenance for higher education,” she said.

According to Tucker, it’s the first time that has happened since 2009.

$272 million is being allocated for four-year institutions, while Tucker said that two-year institutions have around $20 million for deferred maintenance.

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