Central State, Wilberforce University merging some operations

Two local historically black universities are considering merging some of their services on campus.

Wilberforce University announced today that is in talks with Central State University to share some services for the two colleges that are located across the street from each other in Greene County. The “collaboration” will begin with some Wilberforce students living on Central State’s campus, according to a release.

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The two schools are “exploring opportunities” to merge some of their academic offerings, housing, food services, library services and information technology.

“Central State University and Wilberforce University students will continue to engage on their respective campuses but can look forward to shared and dynamic learning and student engagement experiences,” states a release from Wilberforce.

A Central State spokeswoman declined to comment Thursday. This news organization has also reached out to a spokesperson for Wilberforce University.

Each university has been in the news recently for their campus housing.

In January, multiple Wilberforce students were displaced after a pipe burst and damaged rooms in Henderson Hall, Cynthia W. Roseberry, vice president for institutional advancement said at the time. All displaced students have been housed in the Ramada hotel in Xenia, Roseberry said.

Central State announced in 2018 that it was building a set of new $24-million student apartments on its campus.

Central State and Wilberforce are also both trying to rebound from financial issues of the past few years.

Wilberforce ran an operational deficit of more than $19 million in fiscal year 2017 and was placed on probation by the Higher Learning Commission. The HLC is a regional accrediting body and is responsible for accrediting colleges in 19 states.

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Central State was removed from state fiscal watch in March 2017. CSU was first placed on fiscal watch in 2015, after it fell below a state threshold measuring financial health two years in a row.

The state measures every public college’s fiscal health with something called a “Senate Bill 6 score,” an annual rating of 0 to 5. Any school that falls below a 1.75 two years in a row is put on notice.

Central State scored a 1.3 in 2013 and a 1 in 2014. To get removed from fiscal watch, a university must meet a rating of at least 2.4 and must also re-mediate all conditions that led to its financial troubles.

“No one likes to be on fiscal watch but it was an opportunity for us to regroup, rethink, re-strategize and re-position ourselves for a better future,” CSU president  Cynthia Jackson-Hammond said after the school was taken off of fiscal watch.

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