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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Saint Augustine’s University Trustee Addresses Lawsuit, Claims Raleigh Developers Seeking Merger With Shaw University

Saint Augustine’s University Trustee Addresses Lawsuit, Claims Raleigh Developers Seeking Merger With Shaw University

The Board of Trustees Chairman at Saint Augustine’s University, Brian Boulware has responded to a lawsuit filed by the SAVE SAU Coalition, citing the lawsuit as “fraught with lies and deceptions from individuals and disgruntled former board members and graduates.”

The letter also provided updates on the institution’s financial status. In a detailed four-page letter, the Vice Chair-turned-Chairman of the Board of Trustees, who assumed the role in January 2024 following the resignation of Justice James Perry, outlines the challenges and efforts to safeguard the university.

Boulware says a significant issue arose during a business dinner attended by SAU’s Interim President, Dr. Marcus Burgess, and key Raleigh business leaders. During the meeting, a proposal to merge SAU with Shaw University, another local black university was suggested to free up downtown land for development. The executives were unnamed in his 6/17 letter.

“Let’s get to the bottom of this,” the TV station owner reportedly said, according to the document. “Raleigh doesn’t need two black universities. We need them to merge on SAU’s property because we need downtown land to expand the development footprint.”

Boulware cited in the letter that the proposal was met with resistance and ultimately rejected, leading to a targeted campaign highlighting the financial struggles of SAU and other regional HBCUs.

SAU has been in the news frequently over the last fiscal year due to issues with its finances and accreditation. The Raleigh university’s financial woes include cash flow issues and delayed payroll for faculty and staff. The university also lost its accreditation this February after being placed on probation in December 2023.

Representatives with Saint Augustine’s said at the time that they disagreed with the board’s ruling, saying they felt the decision was arbitrary, unreasonable, and inconsistent with the board’s policies.

Shaw University, on the other hand, has fared better, but interestingly, does sit on valuable downtown real estate. Shaw University occupies around 30 acres of prime downtown real estate, making it a focal point in the city’s plans for growth and development. Earlier this year, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance (DRA) presented a revitalization plan to city leaders to reshape the area.

In response to the lawsuit and addressing the university’s financial issues, Boulware says moving forward, SAU will announce an immediate short-term financial solution to “address payroll, student refund compensation, & other urgent operational funding needs,” to develop a solid long-term solution within 90 days to address IRS and state tax delinquencies.

Boulware concluded the letter by assuring stakeholders of the board’s dedication to addressing the financial crisis and enhancing institutional stability and urged the SAU community to stand together in support of the university during these trying times.

This story is developing and we will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

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