The dashing of the Arkansas Baptist College dream | Arkansas Blog

Friday, July 18, 2014

The dashing of the Arkansas Baptist College dream

Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 7:14 AM

FALSE FRONT: New construction at Arkansas Baptist has been accompanied by persistent financial problems, now increasingly an issue in court.
  • FALSE FRONT: New construction at Arkansas Baptist has been accompanied by persistent financial problems, now increasingly an issue in court.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Jeannie Roberts has a great front-page article this morning about the mounting problems at Arkansas Baptist College.

Unpaid bills are piling up, according to lawsuits for nonpayment. Regulatory officials are taking a deep look at both the financial shortcomings and the business the college has done with related parties. The college offers no meaningful defense (only a hazy e-mail). It has refused detailed interviews with news outlets for months.

Arkansas Baptist has been every do-gooder's favorite feel-good story. A tiny, largely forgotten institution was transformed into a platform of hope for disadvantaged students by a charismatic president, Fitz Hill. Some philanthropists were charmed. Buildings rose. Students enrolled. It even fielded a football team!

The college continues to insist it merely has cash flow problems.  Which it says are not financial problems. If the revenue flow appears unlikely to ever catch up with the bills, you have a financial problem. When the cash flow is combined with self-dealing, it doesn't inspire confidence.

No longer can the college blame a couple of years worth of financial disarray on computer software. More than ever, it appears that more money has been spent — not always smartly or ethically — than could be covered by the federal money on which the college's survival depends. 

It's a shame. And if there's a believable explanation to the contrary, the college is long overdue in supplying it.

PS — I am told that I may be able to expect more from the college soon. Standing by.

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