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Morris Brown College Officially Regains Full Accreditation After Nearly 20 Years

Morris Brown College Officially Regains Full Accreditation After Nearly 20 Years

Morris Brown College

Photo: The campus of Morris Brown College in Atlanta appears to be bustling with students May 2, 2006, but they are student actors from the film "Step Show" being filmed on campus. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)

It’s taken nearly 20 years, but historically Black Morris Brown College has officially regained full accreditation.

The HBCU in downtown Atlanta was granted full accreditation on April 26 in a unanimous vote by Virginia-based accreditation organization Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. The organization approved the accreditation application from Morris Brown in 2020. The process continued through 2021, and accreditation was officially granted this year.

Reaccreditation means the school can apply for federal education funding that could go toward student financial aid and Pell Grants or on-campus housing, CNN reported.

The college was founded in 1881 by formerly enslaved religious leaders at Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church to provide higher education for African Americans after the Civil War. Debt and financial mismanagement led to Morris Brown losing its accreditation in 2002.

Morris Brown was the first college in Georgia to be owned and operated by African Americans. Its alumni include Alberta Williams King, the mother of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and James Alan McPherson, the first Black writer to win a Pulitzer Prize in fiction.

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The college has survived bankruptcy, the foreclosure of some facilities, and a decreasing student population, which dropped from a high of 2,000 to a low of 30, according to CNN. Financial impropriety by a previous leader at the school left it in financial shambles. Ultimately, the school was able to pay down more than $30 million in debt, CBS 46 reported.

When Dr. Kevin James took over as president in 2019, he vowed to regain accreditation under a different accrediting agency. Morris Brown earned accreditation candidacy in 2021, which enabled students to receive federal funding to attend the school. 

“Many thought that this feat was impossible, but due to our strong faith in God, our hardworking and wonderful faculty and staff, the support of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, our dedicated alumni, and our resilient spirit, we were able to achieve full accreditation,” James said in a statement.

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Photo: The campus of Morris Brown College in Atlanta appears to be bustling with students May 2, 2006, but they are student actors from the film “Step Show” being filmed on campus. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)