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Morris Brown Loses Accreditation

Published: Thursday, April 10, 2003

Updated: Sunday, August 10, 2008 00:08

Despite the tireless efforts of several members of the Howard University community to stop sister school Morris Brown College from losing their accreditation, what was feared has occurred. But the coalition maintains, the struggle continues.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools on Monday decided to maintain its Dec. 9 decision to rescind the accreditation of the Atlanta-based school.

The SACS report cites the College for poor record keeping and misspending of federal financial aid as some of the institution's violations.

The financial impact due to accreditation loss is severe. Morris Brown will immediately lose access to millions of dollars in federal financial assistance, which approximately 90 percent of its students receive.

The loss of accreditation also suspends the school's affiliation with the United Negro College Fund, a major financial source. According to the UNCF regulation, a school automatically loses its membership if it is unaccredited.

In addition to the grave financial consequences, the enrollment at the College could be further affected.

Approximately 50 percent of its 2,500 students did not return for classes this spring. Many transferred to neighboring schools in the Atlanta University Center.

Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert commends the efforts of the Howard faculty, staff and especially the students that worked relentlessly to bring the plight of Morris Brown to the forefront.

"Our efforts here at Howard University have not failed," Swygert said. "We were and still are committed to preserving the legacy of our sister school Morris Brown. The Howard Community came together to help keep the gates of this historic institution open. Unfortunately we were unable to do so, but the battle continues."

Olu Burrell, a senior English major, who spearheaded the Howard University Campaign to save Morris Brown, is deeply disappointed by the SACS decision. Burrell and his team set up a Save Morris Brown website and sent post cards and letters of support in the hundreds to the Southern accrediting body. The efforts were not able to reverse the decision, but Burrell does not see it as a failure.

"Now more than ever support is needed to lobby for funds," Burrell said. "This is not a setback, it is a set up for a come back."

The 122-year-old institution is not planning on closing its doors. There are plans to resume classes in August. The spring semester was accelerated to accommodate graduating seniors earning a degree from an accredited institution.

Students attended each class for 110 minutes three times a week, Monday through Saturday in order to fulfill the 2,250 hours of class time required to meet university guidelines.

President of Morris Brown College Charles E. Taylor remains committed to restoring the college's accreditation.

In a written statement Taylor said, "This decision will have a tremendous impact on Morris Brown, but the college has weathered very difficult times before," Taylor said.

"With the help of a lot of people, we have made great progress. We will continue to improve, we will continue to raise funds, we will continue to meet the needs of our students and all standards for accreditation as we engage in the process for re-accreditation."

Dr. Alexander Hamilton, Howard University School of Law student, said his alma mater's survival does not hinge on a SACS decision.

"We don't want Howard community to feel that the efforts were for naught," Hamilton said. "The accreditation loss was not due to academic, but financial inadequacies. We will recover."

According to the Commission's statement on the Morris Brown appeal, the policies allow for no further appeal of this decision. An institution can reapply for membership at anytime, however, an application should be submitted only if and when an institution has corrected the deficiencies that caused its loss of accreditation.

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