Cheyney University Is Down to One Math Major

Financial, academic struggles continue for the HBCU, half of whose students come from Philly. Last year students and alumni filed a federal civil rights suit over funding.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that enrollment at Cheyney University, the only HBCU institution among the 14 state-owned universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, is in both financial and enrollment dire straits. The Delaware County school, half of whose students come from Philadelphia, is on its third line of credit from the SSHE, for $6.5 million, and the federal government is examining whether Cheyney misused or misdirected federal student aid. The school, the nation’s oldest African-American institution of higher learning, has had nine different presidents in the past 14 years. But most alarming?

[E]nrollment, which already declined from 1,586 students in 2010 to 1,022 in 2014, is expected to drop by 302 students — another 30 percent — to 700 this fall. Only 54 percent of students who began their studies in fall 2012 returned to the university for fall 2013. Some degree programs have few students; math has just one.

Cheyney recently extended its admissions deadline to this coming Wednesday, just two weeks before fall semester classes are set to begin, in hopes of attracting more students. The school blames cuts in state funding for problems that include decrepit dorms and classroom buildings, outdated academic offerings and limited resources; a group of students, alumni and activists filed a federal civil rights suit last November alleging that the school hasn’t received proper funding. A plan to form an association with nearby West Chester University, also an SSHE school, remains up in the air. The historically black college was founded in 1837 by Quaker philanthropist Richard Humphreys.

Coincidentally, the hashtag #IfHogwartsWasAnHBCU is trending on Twitter today. Sample: Students would be living in the woods with Hagrid’s half-brother because they didn’t get housing.

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