After 20 years of operating as an unaccredited institution, Morris Brown College has been granted full accreditation by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.
Morris Brown’s “Hard Reset,” the nickname current president Dr. Kevin James has given the road back to accreditation, will begin a new chapter for the school.
“We are now working on growing the endowments and our enrollment,” said James at a press conference announcing the school’s full accreditation. “Anyone who is interested in Morris Brown College, this is an amazing place to be.”
As a fully accredited institution, Morris Brown has been reinstated to the Federal Financial Aid Program. Students will be able to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for federal loans and federal work-study jobs.
Morris Brown stakeholders highlighted the school’s affordability at $4,250 a semester, making it the least expensive school in the Atlanta University Center Consortium.
James emphasized the school’s 141-year history of educating young, Black minds, and thanked the people who have worked throughout the last 20 years to keep Morris Brown’s doors open.
James enthusiastically praised the support of Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, chair of Morris Brown’s board of trustees. Founded by Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Morris Brown has relied on the support of the AME Church throughout its long history.
During last Friday’s press conference, James recounted the story of the school’s founding. Stewart Wiley, a layman, suggested at a church meeting that the congregation start their own college.
“These words ignited a flame in Bishop Wesley John Gaines, a former slave, who stood up an said, ‘With the help of God, we can and we will!’” James said.
James added that the school began with only 107 students and nine faculty members, but went on to grow into a renowned institution. He also praised the efforts of his predecessor, Dr. Stanley Pritchett. Pritchett led the school through the bulk of its years as an unaccredited institution, from 2002 to 2018.
Shermanetta Carter, Morris Brown’s CFO, was also highlighted as one of the key individuals responsible for helping James to right the school’s financial situation.
“On my first day on the job, I was walking around this campus talking out loud to God and I said, ‘God help me. How am I going to beat a $35 million bankruptcy?’” James said.
“The loss of land, the loss of students, the loss of reputation? And God said to me, ‘Use what you’ve got.’”
Risha Clark, who serves as Miss Morris Brown College, said she was almost moved to tears when she heard the news.
“I have been waiting for this for 20 years,” Clark said. She first attended Morris Brown from 1997-1999, and returned in 2019 to complete her studies.
“I saw the school at its height back then, and now I get to represent the school at its new height,” Clark continued.
Lazaro Nightingale, Morris Brown’s student body president, told The Atlanta Voice that when he was in middle and high school, he had teachers that graduated from Morris Brown, and he is proud to be part of the school’s legacy.
“It has been a long time coming; we’ve been waiting to showcase the greatness that Morris Brown College can bring into the future,” said Nightingale.
Dozens of Morris Brown alums returned to campus for the press conference and celebration of the school’s accreditation.
“It was a journey, but it was wonderful. It allowed me to become who I am today. There are things I learned here that are lessons I take with me to this day,” said Mary Crosby, class of 1989.
Nafeesah Madyun, class of 1969, said she grew out of her shell during her time in college and is glad more students will have the opportunity to have that experience.
“I am so excited and overwhelmed,” Madyun said. “It’s like crossing the finish line.”
Miss Junior Morris Brown, Jarai Boykins, said she is ecstatic that her school has regained accreditation after 20 years.
“When I came here from Memphis in 2019, I had a lot of judgment from people for going to a school without accreditation,” Boykins said.
Enrollment at Morris Brown was around 2,000 students before the school lost its accreditation in 2002. Since then, enrollment has remained around 50 students.