Trustees of LeMoyne-Owen College have agreed to resign, allowing the cash-strapped school to receive an anonymous $2.5 million donation and meet today's deadline for covering operating expenses for the year.
Last week, an anonymous donor pledged to give the college $1.5 million by the end of the month and an additional $1 million in a matching grant-- if the school's trustees resigned.
All but three of the college's 30 trustees -- including Mayor Willie Herenton and board chairman Robert Lipscomb -- have submitted their resignations, Lipscomb said Thursday. Trustees who hold seats specially designated for alumni and churches weren't asked to leave.
Lipscomb said the board already had decided to restructure itself before it received the donor's request.
"We have the opportunity to renew ourselves," Lipscomb said. "We already decided that we needed new people in our seats."
The $2.5 million donation gives the city's only historically black college, which is more than $6 million in debt, more time to address its financial and accreditation problems.
Last December, the college was placed on "probation with good cause" by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Officials with SACS will return in October to evaluate the college's financial progress and reconsider its accreditation status.
Earlier this month, school president James Wingate resigned, citing in part frustration over the inability to chip away at the school's $6 million debt.
Lipscomb said trustees who submitted their resignations will remain on the board until their replacements are chosen. The new trustees will hire a new president and work to resolve the college's financial problems.
Lipscomb hopes new board members will focus on finding a specific niche for the university.
"Our progress isn't going to happen overnight, but it will happen," he said.