Shorter University

In this August 2019 file photo Shorter University President Don Dowless leads a family to the next step in the check-in process.

Serious financial difficulties led the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to place Shorter University on notice this year.

In June 2019, SACS gave the school warning that its accreditation might be taken away if the school did not get its finances in order by June 2020.

“Shorter University was placed on warning because the SACSCOC Board of Trustees determined that the institution had failed to demonstrate compliance with Core Requirement 13.1 (financial resources) and 13.3 (financial responsibility),” a disclosure statement from SACS stated.

For these core requirements, according to the disclosure statement, an institution is expected to demonstrate a stable financial base to support the mission of the institution.

Money had been a touchy subject at Shorter for the last few years. One of its major financial drains included years-long leases for buildings and the satellite-based campuses in Atlanta.

Shorter closed many of those satellite campuses, according to the university's Vice President of Communications, Dawn Tolbert. They also sold many of their properties in hopes to regain some sort of financial stability.

On a positive note, Shorter's President Donald Dowless said that because of decisions to get rid of those long-term leases and other financial decisions, the school is no longer in jeopardy of closing its doors for good.

The school’s next review will happen in June of 2020 according to SACS.

Prior to the next review, the association said a special committee will conduct an on-site evaluation of the institutions compliance with the accreditation standards of the commission. After the visit, SACS can do one of four things.

The commission can choose to remove Shorter from warning status, which would mean the college is completely off the hook for the next year. If they are removed from warning, it likely means the commission approved of the steps taken by the college to move toward financial compliance.

The commission’s Board of Trustees can also choose to continue on with another year of warning for the school. The maximum the board allows a school to be on warning is two years.

The board’s third option is to demote the school from warning status to probation. Once the board members have opted to do this, they can request a special monitoring report and request a committee visit.

The final option is complete loss of accreditation, while unlikely, could lead to further financial troubles. For instance, schools that lose accreditation have a hard time receiving federal aid.

“The university is in no danger of closing. We have been transparent with our constituents about the financial challenges we are facing and have been working diligently to secure our financial future,” Dowless said in June. “Donors and friends, including the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, have been generous in increasing their support.”

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