A former North Carolina town mayor has been chosen to lead Barber-Scotia College, a historically Black college (HBCU) located northeast of Charlotte. The college, facing financial challenges, unanimously selected Chris V. Rey as its new leader after conducting a nationwide search.
Barber-Scotia College Taps Former Mayor for Leadership
The announcement was made in a school news release on Thursday.
Rey’s appointment comes as Barber-Scotia College, founded 155 years ago, continues its pursuit of regaining accreditation, which it lost in 2004. The college has been grappling with financial difficulties for several years. As of the spring, the institution had only four students enrolled, all of whom were attending classes online, as reported by the Charlotte Observer.
Prior to his appointment, Rey served as the mayor of Spring Lake from 2011 to 2017. During his time in office, a 2016 state audit revealed that Spring Lake had reportedly spent nearly $500,000 on questionable purchases or violations of its own policies, as previously reported by the News & Observer.
In addition to his new role as the leader of Barber-Scotia College, Rey currently serves as the international president of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., one of the oldest historically Black fraternities in the nation, founded in 1914.
Challenges Faced by Barber-Scotia College
Barber-Scotia College has also faced challenges with the Cabarrus County tax office due to the loss of its tax-exempt status. The tax exemption for 14 of the college-owned land parcels, out of a total of 24, was revoked, resulting in a new tax bill of $127,000. While most of the property is vacant, two dormitories are in need of repairs and have been deemed hazardous by the city.
As the college was unable to cover the costs, the city hired a contractor to demolish the buildings. However, the college’s board stated that the $380,000 bill was only sent to them in 2021. Despite these obstacles, the college’s trustees and alumni remain optimistic about the future.
The last commencement ceremony was held in 2019. To revitalize the college and restore its relevance, the school’s leadership devised a five-year plan, guided by three alumnae. However, Barber-Scotia College has faced ongoing disagreements with officials in Concord, the city where it is located.
In 2017, Concord officials established a task force with the aim of collaborating with the struggling college and formulating a revitalization plan. However, differing opinions on the goals of the task force often created tensions between the city and the college’s leadership.