Cheyney University

Students walk on the campus of Cheyney University. — Emily Cohen for WHYY, file

Cheyney University officials said on Thursday — the same day they had to submit a major report that will be used to determine whether the school can keep its accreditation — that they had raised more than $4 million in donations and balanced the school’s budget for the first time in nearly a decade.

On top of that, Cheyney President Aaron Walton said in a statement on Thursday the school is expected to take in $26 million in revenue this year with a $2.1 million surplus.

Walton credited a new “expenditure reduction plan” for balancing its books, which included eliminating low-performing programs and staff positions, among other expenses. He said the changes “enhanced the integrity of the academic program” and the school’s resources were concentrated “in fewer, higher-performing and higher-demand programs.”

Walton did not provide detail about what cuts were made and did not return multiple requests for comment.

Robert Bogle, the president of The Philadelphia Tribune, is the chairman of the university’s council of trustees.

“We are well on our way to restoring Cheyney to its rightful position among elite Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” Bogle said in the released statement from the university.

Ken, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties that represents upwards of 30 faculty members at Cheyney, said he has been hearing “encouraging things” from the university about rising enrollment, alumni support and state funding increases.

Cheyney officials expect to receive $13.5 million in state funding — 2% more than in 2018-19 — in the 2019-20 school year.

But , who has not seen the new budget figures, said the university has not shared enough information for the union to confidently determine whether the school will maintain its accreditation in the fall.

“Are we frustrated by the fact that we don’t have more information? Yes, we are,” he said. “Do we think we should have more information? Yes, we do.” Accreditation on the line

On Thursday, Cheyney also faced a deadline to submit its “show cause report” to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the regional accrediting body.

The commission will use the report, along with documentation from an upcoming private site visit, to determine whether to allow the university to keep its accreditation. The commission will meet and make its decision on Nov. 21.

The report must document whether Cheyney can sustain compliance with the commission’s standards and policies, whether the school has balanced its budget for the upcoming school year, and how the school is balancing its books regarding $29.5 million in federal funding liability, among other things.

Brian Kirschner, a spokesman for the Middle States Commission, said earlier this week that he cannot comment about the report or even confirm if the commission eventually receives it on time.

Middle States put Cheyney on probation in 2015.

That year, Cheyney also landed on the U.S. Department of Education “Heightened Cash Monitoring 2” list over administrative oversight issues regarding $29.5 million in federal funds it received between 2011 and 2013. It has remained on the list each year since then.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education declined to comment this week on Cheyney’s situation due to an ongoing investigation.

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