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Morris Brown College Loses Accreditation Bid

Times Staff Writer

Morris Brown College, one of the nation’s oldest historically black schools and the only one in Georgia founded by African Americans, lost its fight to regain accreditation Monday but won’t shut down, officials said.

The financially troubled school had appealed a December decision by the Southern Assn. of Colleges and Schools yanking accreditation -- a ruling that renders students ineligible for federal aid and probably makes them less-attractive candidates for graduate schools.

The association said its appeals committee, which held a closed-door hearing in Atlanta last week, found no grounds for reversal of the revocation, which was based on the school’s debt and other financial problems. The school would have had to prove that the decision was not handled properly.

Officials at the college, founded by the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1881 and opened four years later, vowed to stay open. “We are clearly disappointed by the ruling,” said AME Bishop Frank C. Cummings, who chairs the school’s board of trustees. “But Morris Brown will survive.”

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The college president, Charles E. Taylor, said the school would raise money while applying for new accreditation. “The college has weathered very difficult times before,” Taylor said in a statement.

But the school, less famous than nearby Spelman and Morehouse colleges, must figure out how to keep its students, most of whom receive aid.

After the accreditation ruling, about 1,000 of the 2,500 students switched colleges or sat out the spring semester. School officials squeezed the semester into seven weeks, holding commencement in mid-March, to make sure students finished before the Wednesday hearing.

The school hired Taylor in September to reverse management problems. Since then, the school has trimmed workers, restructured debt and launched a fund-raising drive that officials say has garnered more than $3 million. But the appeals committee was not allowed to consider such factors.

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Andrew Young, former Atlanta mayor and former U.N. ambassador, argued on the school’s behalf: “Morris Brown offers ... opportunities for many students who are underserved by other institutions.”


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