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MCU mulls next move

BY KATHLEEN FOXkfox@paducahsun.com

MAYFIELD - The leaders at Mid-Continent University continued Tuesday evening to consider the next steps as the more than 60-year-old school inches toward closing its doors to students.

The Board of Trustees met for the first time since a gathering one week ago that produced a decision to lay off the entire school workforce and an announcement that the school will cease institutional operations on June 30.

The board discussed on Tuesday the pending sale of property on Pecan Drive in Paducah which would enable school leaders to recall some of the employees who were terminated last week because of an inability to meet payroll.

Acting President Robert "Tom" Walden said school officials are compiling a list of recalled employees who are essential to teaching classes and operating administration offices. The college has remained open because of faculty and staff members who have volunteered their time so university seniors can reach May graduation.

Board Chairman Tom Butler said the number of employees who will be recalled and how long they would be paid is still unknown. He said the college's remaining finances have to be used wisely and spent on payroll along with facility expenses to keep the campus operational.

The college bought the 19.2 acres at Pecan Drive and Alben Barkley Drive in June 2008 for $594,496. According to the McCracken County Clerk's Office, the anticipated sale has not been filed.

The school's closure date remains June 30, and the Board of Trustees would have to approve any change or delay to that date. Funds from the property sale would be used in the short term to maintain university operations.

Walden said although classes will stop on that date, operations will continue for the financial/business aspects of the school. Items that haven't been decided include the future of the main campus property, payment of school debts and accounts receivable owed to the school by students which total about $1 million, according to Chief of Staff Bill Bartleman.

The university is also waiting to hear from the U.S. Department of Education about the school's status and whether student loans paid by the school will become property of the university, Bartleman said.

Walden said Tuesday's meeting was mainly to update the trustees, but the board did approve the dissolution of the school's participation in its athletic conference, which ends its organized sports.

Student transcripts will continue to be made available. The university is required by law to arrange for the secure storage of all student records.

Walden said school officials are also working with other schools to arrange special consideration for Mid-Continent transfer students through a "Teach Out" program. He wouldn't disclose which colleges, citing that ongoing nature of the conversations.

Mid-Continent's financial crisis stems from incorrect and incomplete U.S. Department of Education student financial aid paperwork, creating a financial shortfall of more than $9 million since 2011.

The next Board of Trustees meeting is set for 6 p.m. May 13 on campus. Graduation will be held at 3 p.m. May 10 at Graves County High School.

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