College graduation at St. Andrews in Laurinburg

Compared to other 4-year colleges in the Southeast, St. Andrews has traditionally achieved above average on-time graduation rates. However, a graph of this century’s year-over-year graduation rates shows the story of how St. Andrews was, a decade ago, beyond the brink of closing – as well as the amazing comeback staged by a never-say-die administration, loyal staff and faculty, and one key alumnus.

The 4-year graduation rate, also known as the on-time graduation rate, is a somewhat tricky, key metric from the Department of Education. The number looks low, in part, because the metric excludes transfer students and part-time students. Students who transfer out or in do not count as graduated here, even if they graduated in four years.

4-Year graduation rate at SAU is rising along with the regional trend.

From 2003 to 2012, the on-time graduation rate exceeded averages for other Southeastern baccalaureate programs in seven of ten years. Troubles, however, started brewing around 2007. In June, 2007, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) – our accrediting agency – voted to remove the college’s accreditation. The January 2007 appointment of alumnus Paul Baldasare as college president was too late to turn the tide of events. The finances had been structured in a way that was not in compliance with SACS criteria. After years of appeals, SACS finally gave the college its closing date. Many students had to transfer out of St. Andrews to other colleges. Fortunately, at this time, alumnus Dr. Keith Wade was president of Webber International University and was in a position to help. In 2011, President Wade was able to bring St. Andrews into Webber International College, making Paul Baldasare campus president, and saving St. Andrews for all of us.

St. Andrews quickly rebuilt its educational tradition, while also bringing in some new programs from Webber – such as the MBA program. The yearly, on-time graduation rates reflect the story of this bounce back. After seven years of rebuilding, in 2020, St. Andrews once again achieved an on-time graduation rate on-par with other 4-year colleges of the region. It’s a story of resilience and a testament to the lifelong relationship that many alumni have with St. Andrews. This is still a crucial time. As St. Andrews charts its trajectory onward and upward, now is the time for alumni to rally around this success and support the strengthening of St. Andrews.