Morehouse President: It’s Too Soon For Georgia To Open Up, ‘We Will Not Take That Risk’

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Morehouse President David A. Thomas said he is not going to risk his students’ lives despite Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s official orders to begin reopening the state. Photo Courtesy of Georgetown University.

Morehouse President David A. Thomas said he is not going to risk his students’ lives despite Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s official orders to begin reopening the state. Thomas made his position known in an op-ed published Friday on CNN.

“What’s clear to me is that Morehouse would endanger its students, faculty and staff by resuming in-person instruction while the pandemic still poses a serious threat. We will not take that risk. Our decision is one that prioritizes the health and welfare of our campus community — and not one that will not be influenced by politics,” Thomas wrote.

Thomas also questioned whether reopening the economy was worth the risk to human lives.

“On Friday, despite rising cases of coronavirus in Georgia, a segment of the business community will reopen. Under the governor’s authority, businesses like hair salons and tanning facilities, along with the trade schools that educate these service workers, will be among those allowed to welcome back customers,” Thomas wrote. “For business owners, the pressure is on to restore hope and profitability, but at what human cost? Covid-19 is still a highly infectious disease with no known cure.”

Instead of prematurely reopening, Thomas said the top HBCU for Black men will continue its work to expand its online distance learning options.

“Morehouse was already exploring strategies to help us grow revenue online before the pandemic hit. We developed virtual academic courses for students and discussed the once-taboo idea of offering former students the opportunity to re-engage and complete their degrees online at their own pace. We are now developing a menu of professional development courses and online programs that will be open to the public regardless of gender or matriculation,” he continued.

He spoke of Momentum@Morehouse – a full-time, 12-week coding bootcamp the school offers in partnership with Opportunity Hub (OHUB) and Momentum Learning – which begins its first cohort in May.

In the op-ed Thomas also revealed he is taking a 25 percent pay cut to support Morehouse’s ability to survive the pandemic; adding the spirit of community and brotherhood which has long defined the school is still present, just in different ways.

“I believe that Morehouse will brave these uncertain times and thrive for another 153 years — and more. We are driven by our mission, which is to develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service,’ Thomas wrote. “A Morehouse education has produced a steady pipeline of predominantly black men who learn under the expectation of excellence — an expectation that they will not only graduate and get competitive jobs, but also create jobs, and lead companies, communities, and nations.”