Bacone interim president replaced by acting president

Apr. 17—Bacone College has replaced its interim president with an acting president, according to a statement released Tuesday.

The statement, issued to Bacone College and staff, acknowledged Bacone's Board of Trustees' gratitude to incoming Acting President Dr. Leslie Hannah. Hannah served as board chairman, according to the statement released by Dr. Christine Roush, Executive Director of the American Baptist Foundation. Bacone is affiliated with the American Baptist Church.

Nicky Michael, who was Bacone's interim president, said Tuesday when she arrived on campus Monday she was locked out of the buildings and was not able to access her email.

Michael said she called Hannah and was told there apparently was a vote and that all Bacone operations were to shut down.

"We have several weeks to get to graduation, nine students to graduate," she said. "These are nine students who could not find comparable programs elsewhere."

According to the statement, Bacone "is not closing, and plans to graduate another class of outstanding graduates again this May."

"Like many small nonprofit colleges, Bacone has experienced several difficult years," the statement reads. "The Board of Trustees are committed to the future of this historic college, and believe that Bacone will continue to provide a quality education for our students for decades to come."

The statement notes that the board will provide a "detailed revitalization plan in the near future."

"As staff, please know that the Board fully understands what incredibly dedicated staff we have, and just how hard you have worked to get our students to the finish line," the statement noted. "... Our goal is to make sure Bacone survives and that you have the opportunity to continue doing what you do so well — serving our students."

In December, Bacone suspended classes for the spring semester, except for some radiography students and students who cannot find degree plans to match Bacone's.

"We had a teach-out agreement and the board approved to get them through," Michael said Tuesday. "We timed it."

The statement said the Board will have no additional comment — "as a board we are responding to all questions with this statement."

The Higher Learning Commission accrediting agency gave Bacone a Financial Distress designation in 2023.

Michael said she and other Bacone officials attended a HLC hearing in March.

"The hearing results were pretty clear, they said that the board should do what it needed to do," Michael said. "They said they could not in good conscience continue with the accreditation."

She said Bacone could have chosen to appeal the decision at the HLC board meeting, "but we do not have the money."