How Morris Brown College Made a Way Out of No Way

Atlanta school rebounds towards regaining accreditation
Founded by formerly enslaved religious leaders at Big Bethel AME Church in 1881, MBC is the first college in Georgia to be owned and operated by African Americans.
Morris Brown College received accreditation candidacy by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) in April. Photo credit Morris Brown College

There has been no room for complacency in the two-and-a-half weeks since Morris Brown College received notice that it has achieved candidate for accreditation status.

According to Morris Brown President Dr. Kevin James, the next step in the process is applying for federal financial aid. "When we get the aid", Dr. James says, "the flood gates are going to open and Morris Brown will be back stronger than ever." Not to mention, according to James, Brownites (Morris Brown graduates) around the world "have been doing cartwheels."

Enrollment numbers dwindled tremendously in the nearly 20 years since Morris Brown lost accredition because of fiscal mismanagement and debt. Without accreditation, students at the Atlanta HBCU could not receive federal loans.

The candidate for accreditation designation isn't Morris Brown's only major achievement. According to Dr. James, there's a new E-sports program, global business program, and a $30 million dollar hotel that will be built on the campus.

"We literally have come out of the grave", says James, "and proven to an accreditor under the United States Department of Education that our institution is one of quality, is in compliance with all of the standards and criteria set forth, and that now we can apply for federal financial aid."

James is extremely grateful and credits the alumni support, financial and otherwise, for helping Morris Brown "make a way out of no way."

Dr. James uses glimpses of the past, at the school's once highly successful Hospitality and Management academic program for instance, to lead MBC in the future. The idea that resulted in a deal with Hilton Hotels, is the result, James says of wanting to move in a direction, where "of course we welcome all gifts, but we're doing for ourself." The same way the institution was started "for us by us" James says he had a goal and a dream to start something at Morris Brown that "we can earn sustainable revenue on our own going forward."

James adds that the 140 year old institution, "built by Blacks for Blacks", will continue to prove to accrediting agency Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, "that it is continuing to improve."