Can The Historic Cheyney University Survive?

Enrollment has decreased by 50%. Financial conditions are worsening. You can barely locate students in the Student center. “Where are the students?”  That is the question students and faculty are asking themselves today. What has caused this national treasure to lose its students, faculty, and value?

Built on land donated by the prominent Cheyney family, the university was founded as the African Institute in February 1837 and renamed the Institute of Colored Youth (ICY) in April 1837, Cheyney University is the oldest African-American institution of higher learning. This historic black college has gone through tough times before but this time it may not be enough to keep the university’s doors open.


There are pros and cons with attending Cheyney University today. Their graduation rate is the lowest out of the 106 Pennsylvania schools. On the flip side, the students who graduate ranks high among the mobility rate of moving from low income to the middle-income brackets.

– Students running out of money before they complete their degree requirements.

Their athletic program is on probation until 2019 for violating NCAA rules due to eligibility.

– Accreditation is one of the biggest obstacles for HBCUs, just not Cheyney University. Cheyney has been on probation for not meeting certain criteria for accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). This will affect the students’ ability to stay in school since most depend on federal student aid funds.

With only 17 undergraduate degrees and two master’s programs, their enrollment is the lowest it’s ever been in 180 years.

– A third of their campus’ buildings are no longer in use or awaiting destruction.

Getting CU Back on Track

Cheyney has brought in Dr. Frank Pogue as the interim president to help get this historical university back on track. Dr. Pogue has come out of retirement to assist with turning Cheyney’s challenges into positive transition for the university.

With his expertise and great leadership , Dr. Pogue suggests in an article from the Diverse Education, that he’s very optimistic about Cheyney’s future and insist that “Cheyney no longer appears to be standing by itself” with the help of state and federal assistance.

Cheyney’s innovative is to promote the success of the university’s honor college and increase financial stability.

The Board of Governors of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education has given the university an $8 million line of credit. This is not the first time Cheyney was given a line of credit, but this time it will different with the help of a State task force to ensure Cheyney protects its tradition.

Penn Live spoke with some current students at Cheyney, and they are still in love with their campus “quiet atmosphere, the faculty, its proximity to Philadelphia, its Keystone Honors Academy or an indescribable energy.” With everything that this university has gone through, there still remains hope in the students of Cheyney University.

Originally blogged on CampusLately

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