Bacone College Closing, Laying Off Staff Unless Funding Is Found Soon
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - A Muskogee college is shutting its doors after commencement next weekend.
Bacone College says it’s simply out of money.
The college will be laying off almost everyone after Saturday’s commencement.
Right now, Bacone needs about $2 million to complete the academic year and to open back up again in the fall.
Bacone College President Franklin Willis says his college is in a tough predicament.
“We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel right now to pay utility bills and property bills and health insurance, and we’ll just barely make paying the payroll,” said Willis.
The college has about 600 students and needs a little more than $2 million to stay open over the summer and continuing into the fall.
Willis says the school will be laying off about 90 full-time positions after commencement.
Already, some non-essential staff have been let go.
“It is the intention…to reopen in June and proceed through our June classes and then into our academic classes in fall,” stated Willis.
A major frustration for students and faculty, who say the school is leaving them in the dark, taking away meal cards if they don’t pay bills, temporarily closing down summer housing, and not letting them take final exams if they don’t pay.
“Most of our students are great and responsible and are paying the bills, but we have a bunch of kids here that have been dodging bills,” said Willis.
Bacone College has also been plagued with accusations of unsanitary living conditions in the past, which the president says his housing department has taken care of. In the meantime, Willis says the college is looking into a variety of funding sources.
He says, “we need the time to get there and we need a couple of million bucks to close the gap this year.”
The president says if the college can’t find a way to get that money, another possibility could be combining with other schools.
Willis is expected to step down in the next couple days.