Morris Brown: Out of the Woods…Almost

By Hal Lamar and Titus Falodun | 12/20/2013, 6 a.m.
Thirty million dollars of debt is why Morris Brown College has been in federal bankruptcy court, facing the possibility of ...
Dr. Stanley Pritchett, President, Morris Brown College, addressing attendees.

“The property that Morris Brown may redevelop could have a Federal Express, as an example, in the bottom of the building,” the source explained. “So, it would have a commercial aspect, but it would still have an academic aspect to the property.

“If FedEx says, ‘Ok, we will put a location in the bottom of the Morris Brown science building, as an example. That [FedEx] will be for-profit. But the top portion of the school, of the building, will still be for academics. There will be some type of ‘revenue sharing’ between the college and the developer.”

This joint-venture will not be any sort of naming rights, as the buildings will retain their original names, but their purposes will vary, depending on who buys out a given space.

“They will just lease a portion of that building to do their business, and Morris Brown and the developers would make money off of that relationship,” the source continued.

AME’s lawyer Renardo Hicks added the school is seeking re-accreditation.

Various sources reaching The Atlanta Voice say that is ready to be acted upon once Morris Brown gets its financial affairs in order. That likely prompted Hick’s remarks that accreditation could come within 12 to 18 months, which should allow the college to resume drawing down federal funding to provide tuition for many students who need the help.

The loss of accreditation back in December of 2002 forced nearly half of the school’s 2500 students to leave the campus. After the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) turned away Morris Brown’s accreditation appeal, most of the remaining student body was forced to leave.

Despite their student enrollment’s erosion to less than 50 with only 15 faculty members, the college never closed.  One current student, sophomore Mary Hemphill told Atlanta radio station WABE after last Saturday’s program, that she isn’t fazed about Morris Brown’s accreditation.

“It’s political. As long as I learn what I need to learn and able to apply to my day to day life, I’m able to progress in life,” she said.

Morris Brown’s reputation for reaching out to students who couldn’t be admitted elsewhere or afford costly tuitions has yielded valuable talent to the community.

Its graduates and enrollees include civil rights icon Rev. Hosea Williams, Pulitzer Prize winner James McPherson, Atlanta radio personality Derrick Boazman, professional musician Paul Mitchell, and professional athletes to include former Oakland Raider all-pro George Atkinson, former Chicago Bear Charles Bivens, 1st round 1977 NFL draft pick Ezra Johnson, San Francisco 49er Tommie Hart, and ex-Kansas City Chief Solomon Brannon.

As it stands now, Morris Brown College, the only institution in the sprawling Atlanta University Center founded by African-Americans and undergirded by the predominately black AME church, is getting a peak at the end of its tunnel of financial woes and near ruin.

The sliver of light of better days will become increasingly more visible within the next 24 months.