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St. Aug's to close for week, furlough faculty, staff

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Saint Augustine's University will effectively close for a week during spring break and faculty and staff will be furloughed that week, President Dianne Boardley Suber told the faculty and staff in a letter Monday.

The letter came the day the Board of Trustees met to discuss financial concerns at the school as well as the leadership of Suber.

Suber, in her letter, wrote, "It is regrettable that we must make some hard decisions and take action immediately. We have decided to impose a temporary closure of the University campus beginning March 9, 2014, and reopening March 17, 2014."

The letter states that employees making less than $30,000 a year were exempt, as were campus safety and health workers.

The letter contributed to a dramatic day at St. Aug's as trustees heard complaints from concerned students.

Some students said they've noticed class enrollment down from previous years

Senior Devon Burroughs said he transferred here from St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville, Va., a historically  black college that had to close down permanently last year.

Burroughs now runs track for St. Augustine's and said he doesn't want to face déjà vu.

A recent external audit of the university found a $3 million drop in tuition revenue and bad accounting. It also showed that a contractor on the school's football stadium sued for breach of contract, claiming he is owed more than half a million dollars.

"It's fair to say we have some financial challenges," Board of Trustees Chairman Rodney Gaddy told WNCN Friday.

Gaddy said the school will take "whatever steps we need" to get back on track financially.

A member of the student government told WNCN Monday that many on campus want the current president out and the school has not been communicating its problems with the student body.

One trustee refused to comment when reached by WNCN Monday, saying what was discussed is private.

The school has refused to answer questions on the situation.

Suber became president at St. Aug's in 1999 and is the first woman to lead St. Augustine's.

St. Augustine's is a historically black college that was founded in downtown Raleigh in 1867, two years after the Civil War, during Reconstruction.

WNCN reporter Jonathan Carlson contributed to this report.

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