Cheyney University will get another year to execute a turnaround plan designed to rebuild its plummeting enrollment and improve its finances.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a regional accrediting panel, agreed Tuesday to extend the historically black university's accreditation through November 2019, noting that the school is continuing to make "significant progress."
Cheyney president Aaron A. Walton said he was pleased by the commission's decision.
"We are working in a deliberate manner to transform the university to ensure it continues to serve the commonwealth into the future," he said. "We're now going to continue our efforts to make sure we have complied with all the requirements so we can continue to move forward with the transformation.
The university, part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, must submit a report to the commission by August, documenting its progress. The extension is the second and final one available to the university under commission policy, said spokesperson Brian Kirschner; the board will decide next year whether Cheyney can keep its accreditation.
The university has been on probation since 2015.
In granting the extension, commission chairman Gary L. Wirt cited Cheyney's "good-faith effort to remedy existing deficiencies."
Cheyney has struggled for years with declining enrollment, an abysmal academic record, and unstable leadership.
Last month, the state system announced that most of its universities had lost enrollment, and that Cheyney's enrollment stood at 469 students, down 286 — or nearly 38 percent — from last fall.
Founded in 1837, Cheyney has a storied history as the nation's oldest historically black college, but has lost more than half its enrollment over the last decade.
In July, Cheyney officials announced plans to partner with Jefferson University, Starbucks, and others in creating a new African American-focused institute that will promote the school's legacy.
Walton said last month that applications were up, admission standards had increased, and academic performance had improved.