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Higher Learning Commission To Audit Wilberforce University This Week

Officials from the Higher Learning Commission are inspecting the facilities and academic programs at Wilberforce University this week, and the future of the nation's oldest black, private university is at stake.

The Higher Learning Commission regulates accreditation. Last June, the HLC found the university was out of compliance in several areas including its academic programs, finances and facilities. Now, the commission is back to see how Wilberforce has addressed those problems.

Dr. Algenia Freeman took over as president in September. Since then, the school has raised over 10 million dollars and is whittling away at its debts. Freeman believes Wilberforce will survive.

"If I did not believe that we could do it, then I would not be here today," she said. 'It's a brand new day at Wilberforce and we will sustain this effort."

The school also recently announced the Wilberforce Promise program. Promise Scholars will receive a combination of grants, scholarships, and other types of finanical aid that will help pay all of their expenses, such as tuition, fees, housing and food.

Mark Wilson, chairman of the board of trustees, said the school is also whittling away at a $9 million deficit. "We're going to do everything we need to do, to present the case that our accreditation is safe and intact," he said.

In December, Wilberforce delivered a 3,000 page document to the Higher Learning Commission explaining that it has improved the conditions on campus. The commission is expected to make a decision on Wilberforce's future in November.