Tuesday, August 12, 2008

College Raises Church-State Issues By Program Offered Through A Church

Inside Higher Ed today reports on problems faced by North Carolina Central University, a part of the University of North Carolina system. The campus violated UNC rules by opening an out-of-state program housed at a Georgia megachurch, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. The program, called New L.I.F.E. College, existed for four years and awarded 25 bachelor's degrees until NCCU's accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, required the unapproved program to end. The pastor of New Birth church is NCCU alumnus, Bishop Eddie Long. Long recently donated $1 million to NCCU. Inside Higher Ed reports that it asked NCCU officials about church-state concerns involved in a public university awarding degrees "for a program that is described as the arm of a church, for courses taught in a church, for which tuition revenue goes to a church." The school responded that the question would need to be answered by its former Chancellor who is now president of Florida A&M University. However NCCU said that tuition revenue went back into a trust account to support the program.