Morris Brown College to regain accreditation after 20 years

"We are elated about accreditation candidacy and making history,” said Kevin James, president of Morris Brown College

Morris Brown College, a private, liberal arts HBCU in Atlanta, has announced it received accreditation candidacy through the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) after nearly 20 years.

The college lost its accreditation in 2002 due to financial discrepancies. Federal funding was also revoked, nearly closing the historical institution.

“We are elated about accreditation candidacy and making history,” said Dr. Kevin James, president of Morris Brown College in a statement to The Atlanta Voice. “I want to thank all the faculty and staff for their hard work. We intend on making history as the first HBCU to regain its status after a twenty-year hiatus and the first HBCU to have a flagged hotel on its campus for a hospitality education program.”

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Morris Brown
(image courtesy of Morris Brown College)

He continued, “These achievements have sparked other closed HBCUs to try again. Without the resilience, support, and prayers from the Board of Trustees, African Methodist Episcopal church, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community, we would not be here.”

Achieving accreditation candidacy means the college is poised to make a return and once again to stand along fellow Atlanta HBCUs, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University.

Morris Brown is now eligible to apply to the U.S Department of Education to participate in financial aid programs and Title IV funding. To gain candidacy, the college was found to be in basic compliance with the Standards and Criteria, has been evaluated by an on-site peer team.

According to the TRACS website, this is only the first step. The organization explicitly states, “While candidacy indicates that an institution appears to have the potential to achieve accreditation within the prescribed five-year period, this level of recognition does not guarantee the institution will become accredited.”

A sign on the Morris Brown College campus in Atlanta on July 18, 2015. Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

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theGrio reported in November 2020, the college, founded by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, reached fundraising heights with a virtual homecoming.

According to Dr. James, Morris Brown collected $500,000 toward the accreditation application through October. A donation of $100,000 from Dr. Sheree Jones Dixon, MD, class of 1977, solidified the campaign goal. The news was shared in an Instagram video upload by the university president himself.

“I am excited about the future of Morris Brown College under Dr. James’ leadership. Morris Brown has made tremendous progress within the last twenty months,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Bishop of the 6th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, according to The Atlanta Voice, at the time.

Morris Brown College
(Credit: Morris Brown College)

Other HBCU members of TRACS include Bennett College, Paine College, Paul Quinn College, and Virginia University of Lynchburg.

As stated on its website, the mission of Morris Brown College is “to provide educational opportunities in a positive and nurturing environment that will enable its students to become fully functional persons in our global society. The College prepares graduates to live meaningful and rewarding lives, thereby enabling them to make socially constructive and culturally relevant contributions to society.”

Notable alumni of Morris Brown include the late actor Thomas Byrd, Queen of Comedy Sommore, civil rights activist Hosea Williams, reality star and personality NeNe Leakes, and former NFL Players George Atkinson, Donte Curry, and Ezra Johnson, among others.

theGrio has reached out to President Dr. Kevin James for additional comments.

This article contains additional reporting from theGrio’s DeMicia Inman.

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