Senator John Kane

Op-Ed By Senator John Kane

Great news has come our way! Cheyney University, the first HBCU on our Country, our historic and beloved state school, has had its accreditation reaffirmed, lifting it off probation. This isn’t just a win for the university; it’s a victory for our entire district and community. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Cheyney’s accrediting body, made this announcement earlier this week, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Cheyney University has always held a special place in our hearts. As the oldest Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the United States, founded back in 1837, it has been a beacon of higher education for African Americans for over 185 years. This recent reaffirmation of accreditation is a testament to the university’s resilience and unwavering dedication to academic excellence.

Despite facing numerous challenges, Cheyney has never stopped pushing forward. The university was previously placed on probation by the Middle States Commission, which claimed it was not meeting several required standards. However, reports from peer evaluators who visited the campus found that Cheyney was meeting these standards, both before and after the probation was imposed. It’s refreshing to see how well Cheyney has been at working to uphold its high standards and commitment to its students.

State officials, including Governor Shapiro and my colleague Senator Vincent Hughes, played pivotal roles in advocating for Cheyney. They, along with the Chancellor and the board chair of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), argued that the university had made significant progress and did not deserve the probation designation. Their support was crucial in achieving this rightful recognition.

Under the exceptional leadership of Cheyney President Aaron A. Walton, the university has balanced its budget for the past four years and increased enrollment to over 700 students from a low of 469. The implementation of a new student information system and improved handling of federal financial aid are just a few of the strategic moves that have paid off.

This decision not only reaffirms Cheyney’s accreditation but also boosts confidence in our university’s future. Cheyney University is on the rise. This reaffirmation should encourage more students, faculty, and donors to invest in this historic institution.

A spokesperson for Governor Shapiro rightly called the decision to reaffirm accreditation “the right one,” emphasizing the critical role Cheyney plays in Pennsylvania’s higher education system. Over the years, Cheyney has opened doors of opportunity for countless students, and it will continue to do so with even greater strength.

As we celebrate this monumental victory, let’s continue to support Cheyney University and honor its legacy as the oldest HBCU in our country. The university’s dedication to its mission and its students is truly inspiring. Here’s to many more years of excellence and progress at Cheyney University!