Hiwassee College President Dr. Robin Tricoli released a statement on Friday after state investigators visited the college on Wednesday, May 8.
Hiwassee College recently announced it is closing its doors for good and on Friday, the last graduating class members received their diplomas on the Madisonville campus. Hiwassee college officials have said the school does not have enough enrollment to sustain itself financially. However, there have been allegations by some former employees, students and alumni that funds were mishandled at the school. None of those allegations have been proven, but state investigators did show up on campus last week to look at records.
The statement Tricoli emailed to The Advocate & Democrat on Friday reads as follows:
District Attorney Steve Crump and his team, including representatives from both the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, came to Hiwassee College’s campus Wednesday afternoon and met with Dr. Tricoli and several members of the College’s business office and administration.
Hiwassee’s understanding at this point is that it is likely that a disgruntled former employee or faculty member has made allegations and/or assumptions regarding Hiwassee’s financial operations which are false and misleading, but which must be thoroughly investigated. We voluntarily met for several hours with Mr. Crump’s team and supplied all financial records and supporting materials which were requested, and we will supply any additional follow-up materials which they would like to review. We are confident that our operations are all conducted properly, but that does not change the fact that Hiwassee’s closure is a heartbreaking event for our whole community.
Our declining enrollment has created this growing financial hardship and necessitated Hiwassee’s closure, but we can understand that the State would want to look very closely to verify that something else is not at play. We welcome this inquiry and will cooperate fully with the District Attorney’s Office if any additional information might be needed as they complete their work. Meanwhile, we are on schedule to celebrate our graduation service on Friday and to applaud the completion of study for 29 graduates and 44 getting their Associate degrees. This is a very happy event in the midst of our heartache at our impending closure later this summer.