Bennett College Files Lawsuit to Keep Accreditation

Originally published February 22, 2019

Bennett College has successfully reached a settlement with SACSCOC to keep its accreditation; Hires top law firms to help in the fight

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Bennett College is pleased to announce that its accreditation was restored this afternoon by a federal court in Atlanta.

The court’s decision reflects an agreement reached earlier today between the College and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to preserve the College’s accreditation during legal proceedings, which are expected to last several months. Bennett College will remain accredited during the court proceedings.

Earlier this week, SACSCOC’s Appeals Committee informed the College that it has lost its appeal.  Today, the College moved quickly to file a lawsuit against SACSCOC and a motion for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) to prevent SACSCOC from revoking the College’s accreditation and notifying the Secretary of Education of its decision to revoke the College’s accreditation.  The strategy was successful.

After being cited in December by SACSCOC Board of Trustees for a lack of resources, Bennett College launched a major fundraising campaign to address those issues.  In the last two months, with a groundswell of support from individual donors, corporations, foundations, alumnae and businesses, the College raised over $9.5 million and presented the funding evidence to SACSCOC Appeals Committee members at a Feb. 18 hearing in Atlanta.  Despite the College’s unprecedented success with its #StandWithBennett Campaign, the Appeals Committee submitted an adverse and unfair ruling.

“We are so thankful to the Bennett College family, our Board of Trustees, Bennett alumnae and our friends and neighbors for their continued support of this great institution,” said Bennett College President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins.

“Our fight continues. The accreditation process can be slow and even disappointing at times.  The negative decision by SACSCOC to remove Bennett from membership will not disrupt the daily operations of College” continued Dawkins.  “We will continue educating our young women to become analytical thinkers, effective communicators and phenomenal leaders.  We urge everyone to keep the faith and know that Bennett College is standing strong.  Please join us in remaining steadfast in our commitment to #StandWithBennett.”

As part of its legal team, Bennett has retained The Banks Law Firm, P.A. in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and Alston & Bird in Atlanta.  Attorneys Eric Pristell (The Banks Law Firm, P.A.) and Derin B. Dickerson (Alston & Bird) are leading the legal team representing the College.  They are both partners at their respective law firms.

Bennett has already made progress in seeking another accreditation with the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, or TRACS.  Officials from TRACS are scheduled to visit the College in March.

WHY WOMEN CHOOSE BENNETT

For nearly 150 years women have found Bennett to be the ideal place to foster the constant rhythm of ideas. Each student’s individual need for self-expression and desire for achievement is constantly nurtured. The College fosters a strong respect for every student. Today, in the midst of a very active renaissance, Bennett is preparing contemporary women to be well educated, productive professionals, informed, participating citizens, and enlightened parents.

The goals of the College continue to focus on the intellectual, spiritual and cultural growth of young women who must be prepared for lifelong learning and leadership. Since 1930 more than 5,000 women have graduated from Bennett College. Known as Bennett Belles, they continue to be among contributing women of achievement in all walks of life.

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