Dear Board of Trustee Members:
Paine College is in the education business, and as Board members, each of you have the fiduciary responsibility of providing the President with guidance and direction to meet the established short-term and long-term goals of the institution. The President should be presenting to each of you a plan of action to meet the institutional short-term and long-term goals. If these goals are not met, the President ultimately needs to be held accountable. Tasks can be delegated by leaders, but the ultimate responsibility of completing those tasks still remains with the President. Evidently, the high turnover indicates that Dr. Bradley has been able to downward delegate his responsibilities and not be held accountable for the downward spiral of Paine College.
When a new member is brought into the Board, that Trustee should be provided with the requisite information to add value, assess performance and make recommendations accordingly. Each Trustee member should have a copy of the Board’s Policy & Procedures, Board Governance, Dr. Bradley’s contract, short-term and long-term Board approved plans to meet short-term and long-term goals, and any correspondence from the Department of Education, SACSCOC, auditors, . . . that will impact Paine College. At each Board meeting, the President should be giving you a progress report on meeting the established goals. If you are not provided this information, your ability to provide the President with guidance and direction and assess the President’s performance is severely compromised.
Unfortunately, this information has not been provided to the Paine Board of Trustees. Without this website, the Paine community would not even know who are the Trustee members. This pervasive lack of transperancy at the highest level will lead to the ultimate demise of Paine College. The leadership has established a culture that enables secrecy, no accountability and intimidation. Trustee members who have not attended a meeting in years is sorrowful. In essence, this is black on black exploitation that will sadly lead to the legacy of a great institution such as Paine College to its eventual demise, and best case, a shadow of its former self. My prayer is that each of you will have the courage to ask for this information, and more importantly, bring in new leadership. Six years is adequate time for any leader to prove themselves, and in any corporate environment, Dr. Bradley would have been dismissed years ago. This will give you as leaders time to reinvent the leadership structure at Paine College and bring in leadership that is highly competent and cares.
A Concerned HBCU Advocate
An Open Letter to the President and Board of Trustees of Paine College, Augusta, Georgia
In 2011 the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges found mismanaged student financial aid, unqualified personnel preparing financial statements, and expenditures exceeding revenues. It issued a warning and granted two years to remedy the findings. A 2013 fiscal audit showed many of the same issues still remain, with ledger accounts not being reconciled, failure to track and reconcile cash, and discrepancies in what was paid and charges posted to student accounts. On June 19, 2014 Paine was placed on probation for nine violations of compliance with the Commission’s standards related to finances, governance, qualified personnel and mismanagement of federal student financial aid.
President Bradley has failed to adequately address the issues and as a consequence Paine College, a 132 year old institution, stands at the door of possible revocation of accreditation. Based upon the foregoing, I hereby call on President Bradley to resign immediately so a qualified and capable president can take the helm and resolve the issues that have put a historical institution with a rich legacy at great risk.
The current predicament of Paine College also results from failure of the Board of Trustees (hereafter Board) to fulfill its oversight and fiduciary responsibilities. Accordingly, if Bradley does not resign and the Board does not take the compelling and necessary corrective action within the next couple of weeks, I respectfully ask all alumni with legal qualifications to explore and execute all legal options to hold responsible and mandate the Board of Trustees to execute its obligations and duties under law. I am prepared to make a substantial contribution toward to the effort.
Grady L. Cornish, PhD, 1969 Graduate
This letter was sent to Dr. Bradley by Joe Tinsley on Saturday, July 12, 2014.
Good Morning Dr. Bradley:
In light of past events, I feel sorrow and disappointment for the Paine College family. There are dedicated employees at the college who in no way contributed to the current predicament the college is in. As a colleague that stood along side those dedicated men and women, I quickly understood the value and importance of my work and of others.
I often reference to comments you’ve made in speeches about planting trees at the college that we will never sit under. I always liked that metaphor. I’m sure there are many ways to interpret the aforementioned, but I’ve always looked at it like this: To operate with a level of purpose, determination, integrity and altruism that promotes humility and authentic stewardship over the students we are entrusted to educate, the alumni that will forever be shaped by the foundational craftsmanship of Paine’s educational sculptors and the next generation of those who desire to one day enroll. Any place that exist on this earth that offers a real palpable and pragmatic way for young people to grow intellectually, socially and professionally should always remain inoculated from the flaws of self-preservation, myopic vision and egotism.
Though as humans, we may be guilty to a degree of some, if not all of the above at times. At Paine College, an incubator of higher education, the above mind-set cannot permeate a campus. It has. The will to fight, the desire to innovate, the energy to serve—-the sheer joy of coming to work has been forcibly and systematically drained from the campus. When all of the above-mentioned takes place, man’s natural proclivity to self-preserve kicks in. It’s plain to see. You know it. Quite simply, they’ve lost faith in you.
Though I’m sure it was not your intentions when the newness of the beginning was in front of you. It now has metastasized to the point that it can only be vanquished by a healing rebirth of new blood, direction and purpose. The College deserves that. It needs time to heal and re-establish it’s place as a progressive light for society. It can remain a beacon of hope for those who desperately need quality educational training, nurturing support and social structure. The brick and mortar of the college can never be explained in acres or location. It quite literally is the collective spirit of whites who opposed the stain of slavery and slaves who persevered so that one day they could see their lineage as free men and women receiving a quality education———to the generation that protested to preserve and earn a seat at the table of equality and now to a generation that desperately needs our tutelage. Their ancestors DNA is in them. We must re-ignite and re-align that focus and determination. In spite of what many may say about this generation, they are salvageable. Deep within them they cry out for structure, discipline and love. They need that. They crave it. I see it. I still remain recklessly naïve that our colleges and universities can deliver that with assembly-line like proficiency again.
With all that has been said, I hope you make the right decision to abdicate your position with the college and depart with the hope that She will rise again.
Integrity is a road that has few footprints and even fewer admirers. (I believe it is one of the core values) It does however reward the soul of a man’s progression throughout life’s journey. You have more to give, and a population to serve in a place that will be richer for your presence.
Joseph D. Tinsley
Former Admissions Director
“Righting ” the ship must be the first priority! Those matriculating there deserve nothing less.
A lot of questions remain unanswered but as one of the students has indicated “nothing will be resolved unless we realize that Paine College is larger than any one of us or any group of us.” Forgetting that will be disastrous!
Dr. Curtis Martin, Former Interim President, 2007
Vice President for Academic Affairs, 2002 – 2010
Paine College Stakeholders:
Our inside sources indicate that the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) is going to put Paine College on a cash reimbursement status soon. This means that the school would be placed on a heightened cash monitoring status under which funds derived from federal student financial aid would be provided on a reimbursement basis only and not at the beginning of the semester. This could be the beginning of the end for Paine even without losing accreditation. The college is cash strapped. Dr. Bradley has announced furloughs and our sources state that he has converted salaried employees to hourly employees, and cut this month’s pay to all employees in half. We are still in the process of verifying this information but for now it seems credible. Hopefully someone attending the July 12, 2014 Alumni meeting will ask Brandon P. Brown to confirm or deny whether this is true or not.
Reimbursement status means that if the college cannot come up with the cash to meet expenses from external sources it would not be able to meet ongoing expenses such as payroll, utility bills, loan payments, etc. Our sources indicate that the USDOE is looking for some sign that there is a functioning governance structure in place at Paine. For the last two years they have not seen that that is the case. They have concluded that the Bradley administration is inept, incompetent and possibly lacks integrity. Read the 2013 DOE Program Review Report from June 2013. It is on the website under Financial Aid Concerns.
In the 2010 – 2011 school year Paine received $8,003,314 in federal financial aid awards. In the 2012 – 2013 school year the comparable number was $10,294,446. Reimbursement status means that Paine would have to pay those funds up front and get reimbursement after it proved payment. This is not likely to be accomplished in today’s economic environment.
The 2013 USDOE Program Review Report made 12 Findings:
Finding #1: Account Records Inadequate Not Reconciled & Advances Used for Non-Program Purposes
Finding #2: Student Credit Balances Deficiencies
Finding #3: Current Year Charges Paid With Prior Year Funds
Finding #4: Pell Overaward
Finding #5: Enrollment Status Not Verified Before Disbursement
Finding #6: Direct Loan Underaward
Finding #7: Incomplete/Incorrect Verification
Finding #8: Conflicting Information
Finding #9: Satisfactory Academic Progress Not Met
Finding #10: Return to Title IV (R2T4) Calculation Errors
Finding #11: Failure to Reconcile Records for COD, NSLDS, and Student Account Ledgers for Federal Pell Grants and Direct Loans
Finding #12: Financial Aid Packaged Incorrectly/Full Eligibility Not Awarded
As of March, 4 months ago, the USDOE wrote to the college that it had failed to adequately explain disbursements of $1.6M in Pell grant funds and $2.7M in Direct Loan funds. At the Paine Project we have interviewed all four of the last CFOs of Paine College and other former business office personnel. The school cannot produce the required records because the disbursements were not properly documented at the time they were made and were diverted to other uses. For these reasons it is likely that Paine will be placed on reimbursement status. It is actually required under USDOE regulations. As stated, this could amount to taking the patient off life support to die a slow natural death, even without the loss of accreditation, which is also likely to come next spring, to be announced in June of 2015 by SACS.
The bottom line is that our collaboration at the Paine Project concludes that unless the Board of Trustees shows that it is in control by terminating the Bradley administration, USDOE is likely to pull life support from Paine between now and the start of the next semester. For lack of a better term, “sacrificing” Bradley would be some sign to the USDOE that the Board is alive and trying to do the right thing. It would also be an important, although belated, sign to SACS that the Board is a functioning governing entity.
The situation is dire. Please act accordingly.