Can Cheyney survive? Why America’s first historically black university is struggling

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Sharell Reddin was the president of the Student Government Association when Cheyney University celebrated its 180th anniversary in 2017 under a cloud of uncertainty. (Emily Cohen for WHYY)

Sharell Reddin was the president of the Student Government Association when Cheyney University celebrated its 180th anniversary in 2017 under a cloud of uncertainty. (Emily Cohen for WHYY)

Cheyney, America’s first historically black university in Chester County, has risked losing its accreditation, coped with crushing debt, and dealt with shrinking enrollment that fell a whopping 38 percent from 2017 to 2018. Recently, the campus dorms even ran out of hot water. But Cheyney could be turning a corner with a new collaborative plan. Why has Cheyney struggled over the years? And how can the university position itself to be self-sufficient in the future? University of Pennsylvania professor Marybeth Gasman, and Cheyney alumnus and Philadelphia attorney Michael Coard answer these questions on this episode of The Why.

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