One of the oldest HBCUs in the nation is facing foreclosure. After 131 years of educating students, Morris Brown College in Atlanta is on the brink of closing its doors.
For the last decade, Morris Brown has faced climbing debt, severe mismanagement, and dwindling student enrollment.
In 2003 the college lost its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools due to years of mismanagement, questions of fraud, and increasing debt. The loss of its accreditation also meant the intuition lost its federal funding, and the United Negro College Fund also pulled it support.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) gives more details on Morris Brown’s woes:
Over the last two decades, while Spelman College, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University have thrived, Morris Brown withered away.
In 2003, after years of severe financial mismanagement, fraud and debt, the school lost its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the federal funding and academic standing that comes with it. With the loss of accreditation, the United Negro College Fund, also withdrew its financial and other support.
The capper came in 2006, when Dolores Cross, who served as president from 1998 to 2002, pleaded guilty to embezzling federal funds by applying for money on behalf of students without their knowledge or consent. Cross used the money to pay operating costs. She was ordered to pay $13,942 in restitution to the government and was sentenced to five years of probation but avoided prison time.
These days, Morris Brown only has about 50 students enrolled, a far cry from the years when it served over 3,000 young minds every year. Barring a miracle, an auction of the college’s assets, including the school’s administration building, will take place on September 4.
Former Atlanta City Councilman Derrick Boazman, a graduate of Morris Brown, called the school’s predicament ”heartbreaking” and said “the school is needed now more than ever.”
According to the AJC, Morris Brown owes approximately $30 million to creditors and raised about $500,000 to pay off a $9.9 million debt to the U.S. Department of Education.
A prayer vigil for Morris Brown College is being held this coming weekend.