After nearly 20 years, Morris Brown College has not only regained its accreditation, it is also getting an infusion of cash from famed Georgia-based restaurant chain Chick-fil-A.
In a city rich with HBCUs and Black academia, the school built by Blacks and touted for more than a century as a premier institution for coeducational liberal arts disciplines had been struggling with support issues. But Chick-fil-A has stepped up to the plate and as part of its commitment to developing student leaders will award the college a $500,000 gift to train student leaders. Through the award, students will participate in a two-year leadership development program aimed at preparing them for a career in hospitality and organizational leadership.
During the school’s lean years, college officials found themselves in an unenviable position and ultimately had to sell parcels of the campus and liquidate assets, including dormitories and iconic instruction halls built by black workers at the first college for Blacks in Georgia, and where W.E.B Dubois taught classes.
Dr. Kevin James, President of Morris Brown College said, “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Chick-fil-A, a tenured leader in the restaurant industry. I look forward to Morris Brown being a direct pipeline of diverse leaders within the career fields of hospitality and organizational leadership for organizations like Chick-fil-A. My goal is for Morris Brown to become one of the top institutions in the country for Black and Brown people to learn how to own, operate, lead, and manage restaurants and hotels.”
The 128-year-old institution lost its accreditation in 2003 for financial malfeasance, but college administrators and faculty undeterred by the change in status continued to operate under extreme conditions.
“We went from 2,700 students to 70 students overnight, when we lost our accreditation,” said MBC’s interim president, Dr. Kevin E. James, regarding the chain of financial missteps and mismanagement that would ultimately launch officials into a Herculean effort to restore accreditation and increase enrollment.
Morris Brown’s 2020 Strategic plan projects that a significant number of the school’s incoming students, will be virtual students participating in online learning programs. “This semester we began our online programs and we’re maximizing our use of technology to grow a vibrant online [learning community]. That will help us immensely,” said James.
“As so many alumni and celebrants have expressed … Morris Brown changed lives, profoundly and forever,” said Greg Jackson (’81), president of Prestige Automotive in Detroit. “I honestly don’t know where I would be right now if it weren’t for Morris Brown,” he continued. “So, if we want to carry that mission and the good works of the school forward, supporting Morris Brown is a no-brainer,” he noted.