THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES

B-CU alumni protest as Grimes seeks funds to turn things around.

B-CU
PHOTOS BY DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
Bethune-Cookman University alumni hold a rally on campus on Jan. 12 seeking resignations and answers.

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

Bethune-Cookman University alumni again expressed their frustrations about the state of their alma mater during a Jan. 12 rally on campus.

Members of the B-CU National Alumni Association (NAA) held a march on campus followed by a rally behind the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune House.

The alumni association is calling for all members of the board of trustees (BOT) to resign, including its chair, Dr. Michelle Carter-Scott.

The alumni say they are working in the best interest of the students and the university.

“We want the students to understand that at both the beginning and the end of this process is all about them,’’ said Jose Perez, spokesperson for the alumni association.

“If we are not protecting Bethune- Cookman, we can always say we are alumni, but it’s not fair that we don’t take a passionate and fair approach to make sure that this university stays around for them and their children. They should be able to come back as alumni and show their children around the school.”

Seeking $7.5 million

That concern was highlighted even more this week after B-CU Interim President Hubert Grimes made an appeal via a video asking for $7.5 million to keep the school open.

Grimes asked for $7.5 million by June 30, 2020 to keep its doors open.

Currently, B-CU is on accreditation probation with the Southern Association of Colleges.

“We have taken definitive steps to correct the deficiencies of non-compliance with the core requirements and comprehensive standards of SACS,” Grimes stated.

Layoffs and restructuring of staff and operations are all being discussed.

Accreditation concerns

For alumni, addressing the accreditation is important.

“Our top goal is to make sure that the university gets its accreditation so that we can move onto the next phase,” Perez expressed. “We believe it starts with removing the board.

“There have been padded enrollment figures and it looks like gross financial mismanagement which is a big deal in regards of our students’ futures and the future of the university.’’

Seeking dorm details

Alumni also want to see a forensic audit that the board had conducted but haven’t released any details.

They are also seeking details on a dorm deal that resulted in both $25 million and a student center missing after the project ballooned from more than $60 million to $85 million.

Bethune-Cookman is still facing lawsuits, investigations by federal and state agencies and $150 million in debt mainly due to the dorm project.

Perry’s appeal

A prominent board member, retired Judge Belvin Perry, is calling for Carter-Scott’s resignation.

On Jan. 11, Perry, also a BCU alum, held a press conference calling for Carter-Scott’s removal from the board. Perry serves as the third vice chair of the board of trustees.

During that press conference, Perry stated, “Dr. Carter- Scott is hampering Grimes from doing his job and has attempted to fire Grimes at least seven times.”

Perry also accused Carter- Scott of operating under a “cloak of darkness.”

He also called for a stop to the current search for a president to replace Grimes.

Student feels robbed

All of the uncertainty has students concerned too about the school’s survival.

Sharonda Lassiter, a graduatin senior, told the Daytona Times: “I have a vested interest in B-CU. My interest goes beyond my graduation day. It extends to graduation days of future students who will pursue a more excellent path. I wished to pursue my master’s here but due to the accreditation issue had me reconsider.

“B-CU has been raped and demised. I feel robbed of the prestige that the legacy of BCU has across the world. The debt and missing funds show poor financial prowess and solidifies the loss of trust and absence of integrity. The financial acumen must be restored so that students can pursue higher learning,’’ she added.

A story in the Jan. 18 Florida Courier will include more information about Grimes’ call to action and plans to turn the university around.

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