Six years ago, City Council established the Barber-Scotia Community Task Force with the genuine hope that working collaboratively with college leadership, alumni, and the community, we could identify and implement a viable revitalization plan for the college. It was our hope then, and continues to be our desire today, to see the campus restored to its former place of prominence as a premiere center of learning, entrepreneurship, innovation, and community.
Barber-Scotia College, located downtown in the heart of our city, has for generations been a vital part of our history, source of pride, and a beacon of hope. Regrettably, in the nearly 20 years since the college lost its accreditation, the campus has fallen into disrepair with six of the 15 buildings currently deemed uninhabitable and another three with violations. It has been years since students lived and studied on campus, and 18 years since the last degree was awarded by the school.
City Council created the Task Force to work in partnership with Barber-Scotia’s leadership to address these significant challenges and identify a path forward that preserves the college’s iconic buildings and honors its legacy as a historically black college. We signed a formal Statement of Collaboration with the college, and hired expert outside consultants to advise the Task Force and help guide their collaborative work. Task Force members held countless meetings and we provided substantial resources to support their work, including an extensive community survey. These efforts and more generated new ideas and possibilities to reinvigorate the campus. Unfortunately, all of them were met with resistance by college officials, and often times met with no response at all. We also offered financing for a comprehensive engineering and construction study on all of the campus buildings to understand renovation and repair costs so the college could develop a rehab plan and raise necessary funding. College officials cancelled the study at the last minute without explanation.
For any task force to be successful it takes a shared commitment and true collaboration. As Members of City Council, we have earnestly tried to engage Barber-Scotia College officials, and have been transparent and genuine in our support of the college and the work of the Task Force. Despite our efforts and financial commitment, Barber-Scotia College officials refuse to work in partnership with us, and have continuously obstructed the work of the Task Force. We no longer believe it is possible for the Task Force to work effectively in pursuit of a revitalized campus. For this reason, we have decided to formally dissolve the Barber-Scotia Community Task Force.
It is our sincere hope that one day we may still see a vibrant, restored campus buzzing with activity and thriving with renewed energy and purpose. Our city is growing and it is our deep desire for the college to grow with us. Even as we close this chapter and disband the Task Force, we hold onto hope that Barber-Scotia College’s legacy will not whither and the college will continue to inspire generations to come.