Centenary College responds to action from accrediting agency
SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary College confirmed that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (Commission) continued the College's accreditation while placing the institution on probation during its June 2016 meeting.
"The Commission acknowledged Centenary College's overall financial strength while noting two concerns," said Centenary President David Rowe. "The first concern relates to internal control oversights on two one-time events. The College implemented new policies and procedures in the spring to prevent such oversights in the future. The second concern relates to recent operating deficits. The Commission expressed optimism that the College would be able to clear up both concerns over the course of the coming year."
"Over the last seven years the College has implemented a financial discipline that has eliminated most of what was about a $10 million structural deficit at the height of the Great Recession in 2008-2009," said Chairman of the Board of Trustees George Nelson Jr. "It is a matter of unfortunate timing that the Commission's snapshot comes before we have eliminated it completely."
Forbes magazine recently awarded Centenary the only "A" grade in the state of Louisiana for college and university financial health.
Dr. Rowe observed that Centenary is emerging from the recession stronger than most schools in the region. The College's total net assets have grown $34 million since 2009 to $156 million, and it boasts one of the largest endowments per student in the country with an investment portfolio of just over $130 million. Over the last six and a half years, donors have contributed more than $50 million to the College. Centenary received $10 million in gifts last year alone, posting its largest giving year since 2009.
Centenary President-elect Dr. Christopher Holoman echoed that sentiment. "All of Centenary's financial health indicators are strong and on the right path," he said. "I look forward to working with the Commission to help resolve these two concerns."
Robert S. Blue, Centenary's Vice President for Finance and Administration, says the College maintains a strong financial discipline. Since 2009, the institution has decreased expenditures by nearly 20% while enhancing the educational experience of students through programs like Centenary in Paris, implementing the More in Four curriculum - which allows students to complete both a bachelor's and a master's degree in four years - raising the minimum wage on campus for all regular full-time and part-time employees, standardizing salaries to a competitive national index, and investing more than $6 million in deferred maintenance.
Drs. Rowe and Holoman join the faculty in acknowledging that the core of Centenary's strength going forward is its distinctive academic program: "We are proud that Centenary's curriculum continues to prepare students for admission into premier graduate and professional programs, as well as entry into prestigious careers. The faculty look forward to working with the larger Centenary community to demonstrate our financial strength."
Centenary is the only Tier One National Liberal Arts College in Louisiana and, in 2015, enrolled its largest freshman class since 2012, says Vice President for Enrollment, Calhoun Allen, who emphasizes the College's extraordinary outcomes. "More than 80% of May 2016 graduates completed their Centenary education in four years or less, and more than 80% of current students have had an international educational experience." He also noted that Centenary continues to boast exceptional acceptance rates to law (80%), medical (90%) and dental (100%) schools.