- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

PETERSBURG, Va. (AP) - A member of Virginia State University’s Board of Visitors is raising concerns about the state of the Petersburg school.

With enrollment down 550 students, the university has closed residence halls, cut back its dining operation and curtailed maintenance.

Board member Terone B. Green told the Richmond Times-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1nQ3cYK ) that he believes the school is in trouble and is calling for state education officials to take a close look at its operations.

Greene told the paper he decided to speak out because he is tired of the “veil of secrecy” he sees surrounding problems at the university.

Rector Harry Black took issue with Green’s assessment, but did acknowledge the historically black land-grant university is experiencing “challenging times.”

School officials say its enrollment for the fall is 4,917, including 960 freshmen and 225 transfer students, costing the university $1.6 million.

University spokesman Tom Reed attributed the decline to several factors, including raising the academic profile of students, the effects of federal loan policy changes and the slow recovery from the recession.

“We’re aggressively marketing to high-caliber students, especially in STEM disciplines,” he said in an email to the newspaper. “We are reviewing every aspect of our budget to determine the areas that can be reduced without compromising our core mission of providing a top education.”

Still, Reed said, the university is facing a $5.3 million shortfall this fiscal year, including the loss of revenue from enrollment, a $2.4 million reduction from anticipated state appropriations in June, and the 5 percent cut all state agencies were ordered to make last month.


Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, https://www.timesdispatch.com

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