VUL's President Speaks About Embattled University

Lynchburg, VA - In recent months Virginia University of Lynchburg has been put on probation by its accrediting body, laid off several staff members, and cut the majority of its athletics programs.

It has many people wondering: is one of the oldest institutions in our region on the brink of shutting down?

ABC 13's Rachel Schaerr sat down with the university's president in an exclusive interview.

"I think that we have been mistreated," Dr. Ralph Reavis said from his office in Humble Hall.

The president of the historically black college, one of the oldest institutions in the region, says the school's finances are improving.

He says two things contributed to their financial problems: overstaffing and starting athletic programs without any residual funds.

In October, VUL laid off athletic director Willard Bailey. Reavis said Bailey and much of his staff promised to raise funds, but didn't.

In a lawsuit filed after his firing, Bailey alleges the school fired much of his staff and tried to cancel away games, preventing him from performing his duties as athletic director. A Lynchburg judge dismissed his case without prejudice.

Dr. Reavis says the media coverage of VUL has been unfair and the largest untruth being reported, was that the school only has two people on the board of directors.

"We have 22 members and there will soon be 23 board members," Reavis said.

When pressed, he gave us names for the Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and himself, the Chaplain, but says the vice chairman has not been assigned.

School administrators say they've laid off 22 employees this year.

According to court records, two of VUL's current employees have criminal records.

On VUL's website, Jason Randoo is listed as the director of institutional effectiveness. Court records show he was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon. He's also been charged with brandishing a firearm and assault and battery, but those charges were later dismissed.

According to Lynchburg court records, the women's basketball coach Robert Flood pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery back in 1994.

We brought that information to the president of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, the gatekeeper of the school's Title III and Title IV funding.

"We have no standard on basketball coaches. We have no standard on not hiring criminals. We have a standard on criminal activity, but that's criminal activity on the part of the institution," said Dr. Paul Boatner.

Mike Armstead is fed up with his Alma mater. He's among more than 100 people who've signed a petition to have Dr. Reavis and Provost Kathy Franklin fired.

"If VUL doesn't get rid of Dr. Franklin and Dr. Reavis, VUL will be in the same place it was in last time. With federal investigators shutting down the school and seizing its documents," Armstead said, referring to an incident several years ago.

Reavis says Armstead's just getting back at the school because it refused to sign a contract with his construction firm. He says any allegations that administrators are misappropriating money, is a blatant lie.

"We have our books audited every year by a reputable auditing firm, TRACS get that, State Council of Higher Education get that, Department of Education get that. If our school was mismanaging funds, I'm sure we would be cited by one of those agencies," Reavis said.

As the sun sets on historic Seminary Hill, administrators say they're providing an educational opportunity to a community that otherwise may be left in the dark and the students would be the ones left to suffer if accreditation is pulled.

"I'm a person of faith. I'm a believer. And I can see the future. It's not here yet. But it's coming," Reavis said.

He the school's working on a master plan to add ten new buildings to the historic campus, generating donations from outside the city of Lynchburg, and in five years, hopes to triple the number of students attending the school.