Trouble at Morris Brown College

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Brothers and Sisters,

Please take note that one of our AME colleges, Morris Brown in Atlanta, Georgia, is in dire straits. How they got there is up for debate. The pressing fact is that we need not let one of our institutions go under. Please copy and paste the following link into your web browser and read up on the issues concerning MBC. Then, keep the schools new president in your prayers. Finally, call the school, or Bishop Cummings' office (6th Episcopal District) and see where you should send your financial contributions.

In His peace,

-- Anonymous, October 10, 2002

Answers

Thanks for letting us know what is going on. This is a terrible situation. As a parent all I can think about are the students. I hope we will all pray for Morris Brown. I know little about Morris Brown college can someone share a little about this school. What program is it known for and if we have students or alums on the board please share your experience. Thanks

-- Anonymous, October 10, 2002

Regarding the AME institutions:

Is there a time when they are required to file a status report with the AME Connection, such as General Conference?

Are they required to keep their respective Bishops or General Board aware of college finances?

How did the crisis at Morris Brown occur without the Connection knowing? Are we ostriches with our heads in the ground, or are the colleges run independent of the church?

Someone, please explain.

-- Anonymous, October 11, 2002


May I raise this question? How did our forefathers and mothers with very little financial resources, but were strong in faith could build this institution and others and today, we drive expensive vehicles, live in estates homes and wear the finest of fashions; we as Blacks say we are poor, but we are the number one consumers in America! This school should have never gotten into this state in the first place and with all the money in Black hands, it should be able to get out of the situation overnight! Give us a good Sunday go to meeting outfit and will be done! God help us in our thinking and stewardship!

-- Anonymous, October 11, 2002

Dear Sister Wheatley,

Amen, Amen, and Amen again. It makes my blood boil when I think about the inertia that too many of us black folks have about economic development in our community. The other races in the world look at us and see our enormous collective wealth and have no respect for us because we don't use it wisely.

-- Anonymous, October 14, 2002


Speaking as an AME the trouble with Morris Brown College is the AME Church. It is the Bishop's responsibility to oversee AME colleges. I am not pointing a finger at the currect bishop but if you want to find the corruption look for the money trail. We cannot continue to throw good money after bad bailing this school out if there is to be no accountabily at the top.

-- Anonymous, October 19, 2002


Brother Washington you might be an AME but if you know anything about our AME institutions are any institution that have a board. Bishop Cummings is the Chair of the Board at Morris Brown. He does not have the time to see tot he every day operations of the school. They have hired a qualified president in Dr. Charles Taylor and if he is smart once he get s a hndle on everythign he would be collecting money left and right. His Vice presidents should be competent enough to handle the everyday operations of the school. He and the Institutional Advancement V.P. need to be on the road four days a week speaking and collecting money from around the world for the school from various sources. THAT IS HOW YOU HAVE MONEY FOR YOUR SCHOOL AND KEEP AN OPEN RELATIONSHIP WITHTHE COMMUNITIES abroad.

-- Anonymous, October 21, 2002

I attended Morris Brown in 1992. I think itís a travesty on the part of the administration at Morris Brown. It's especially sad because the college is an HBCU. But the mishandling of funds has happened at other HBCU as well. What Morris Brown needs is a President that can run the college like a business. They need someone who has familiarity in fund raising, and strong accounting practices. It seems that those appointed to the position cant seem to turn the college around. This may seem bad to say, but maybe they need to look outside of African Americans for this position. I'm not saying there are no African American's who possess these qualities, but it hasn't seemed to work so far. There were talented people who oversaw President Clinton's financial planning and forecasting when he was in office. One of which is newly appointed president at Columbia. They need someone of this caliber to lead the college out of the red, and on the road to financial growth. It's sad to see a college that was founded in 1881 to only have $77,000 in their account. If it werenít so sad it would almost be funny.

-- Anonymous, October 29, 2002

Article - CNN 11/04/2002 Web Posting in the Education Section

Historically black Morris Brown College in trouble By ERRIN HAINES Friday, November 1, 2002 Posted: 2:50 PM EST (1950 GMT)

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ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- The financial mess at Morris Brown College is so bad that the cafeteria sometimes runs out of food, computer labs carefully ration paper, and laptop computers that cost students $1,500 each never arrived.

The historically black college founded by former slaves is more than $23 million in debt and could be forced to close in a crisis that is being blamed on its past president and her ambitious efforts to enlarge Morris Brown and raise its profile.

The school looks at people not for where they came from, but for where they're going. -- Derrick Boazman, Atlanta councilman and Morris Brown graduate The 2,500-student college, whose alumni include civil rights leader Hosea Williams and teachers and politicians across the South, has been on probation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and could lose its accreditation after a committee review that began Monday.

The final decision, which could take weeks, could make or break the school, because a loss of accreditation means students would no longer be eligible for federal financial aid. And more than 90 percent of Morris Brown's students rely on it to cover the $10,200-a- year tuition.

"Morris Brown is the bedrock, the core of what is good about Atlanta," said City Councilman Derrick Boazman, a 1991 graduate. "The school looks at people not for where they came from, but for where they're going."

Founded by members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1885, Morris Brown is one of the six historically black schools that make up the Atlanta University Center, which also includes the better- known Spelman and Morehouse colleges.

Morris Brown takes many students from poor backgrounds. Many return to their hometowns as teachers.

Current school officials blame the problems on former President Dolores Cross, who has acknowledged using more than $8 million in federal student financial aid to pay faculty salaries and other bills -- which could be a violation of federal law.

"When the money came in, we paid the vendors," she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "When you have a college that is 82 percent tuition-driven, when money comes in, you pay bills. You take care of faculty."

In addition, the U.S. Department of Education has accused the college of obtaining federal financial aid for students who dropped out or were otherwise ineligible. The department has demanded Morris Brown repay at least $5.4 million.

Cross, who resigned in February, declined to be interviewed by The Associated Press. But she has said the financial problems started long before she arrived in 1998.

Among the alleged financial missteps under Cross was a decision to make more money and get more recognition by moving the athletic program from Division II to the bigger-school Division I. But Morris Brown's teams had trouble finding opponents willing to travel to a school with such small facilities.

The men's basketball team had to crisscross the country, playing 21 of 30 games on the road.

"That was an extremely expensive undertaking," said Jim Rogers, executive director of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. "We encouraged them not to move in that direction, but they went ahead and did it anyhow. When you give advice and people ignore it or don't hear it, this is an example of what happens."

Cross was also faulted for expanding enrollment without adding housing space.

In 1998, the school had 588 freshmen. By 2000, freshman enrollment had swelled to 820. Last year, 400 students had to be put up in hotels around the city for lack of dorm space, and the college shouldered the costs of shuttling them to and from campus. College spokeswoman Veronica Shaw said no students are living in hotels this year.

Two dorms had been scheduled for construction but were never built. School officials blamed problems with obtaining financing. The Wall Street rating firm Dun & Bradstreet recently gave its worst possible credit score to Morris Brown.

Among other problems: Some students last year said they never got the laptops they paid for. It turned out Morris Brown never paid the company that supplied them. In December, the supplier sued the college for $4.2 million.

The school is working on a recovery plan that could include tuition increases, job cuts and cutbacks in athletics and other programs.

Some students interviewed fiercely defended their school and expressed confidence in its future.

"I'm not going to transfer. I don't think anyone's planning on leaving because of this. It's made us closer," said freshman Derrick Jones. "We came here for the whole black experience, and this is great. At some regular schools, black students don't get a chance to excel, but at historically black schools they do."

Laresha Pope said: "It's the responsibility of the government, the society and everyone to make sure this school stays open because it's such a historical place. This university has so, so much to offer to society, and that's not being covered. We don't get any help from anywhere."



-- Anonymous, November 04, 2002


In Laresha Pope's own words: "It's the responsibility of the government, the society and everyone to make sure this school stays open because it's such a historical place. This university has so, so much to offer to society, and that's not being covered. We don't get any help from anywhere." Apparently Ms. Pope is unfamiliar with the now defunct Bishop College of Dallas, TX. Many of Bishop's supporters made the same arguments as hers for remaining open but reality prevailed over emotion. While the fiscal condition of Morris Brown College is rapidly resembling that of a financial black hole, Ms. Pope's lamentation that it is the responsibility of government to keep MBC open is mypopic and incorrect. The ultimate determination for whether or not should MBC remain open will rest with the AMEC and the free market for higher education services. Colleges are not immune from declaring "Chapter 11 status". There is no way current and future students are best served if a school of higher learning cannot maintain the perfunctory expectation of accreditation. The risks to the students are just too enormous. Finger-pointing about blame is a useless exercise to deflect accountability. Furthermore, this problem did not start with President Cross. Responsiblity must be accepted by all past Presiding Prelates of the 6th District. I have concluded with deep angst that closure is a preferred alternative or perhaps merging with a sister intstitution. The Richard Allen Travel Agency closed earlier this year and I can't recall hearing not even a near whisper of protest or concern when this subsidiary of the AMEC went out of business. QED

-- Anonymous, November 04, 2002

Now Bill...I am an alumni of Mo B and was in the thick of the situation. Dr. Cross made some bad business decisions along with her buddy Dr. Singh, Financial Aide Director. They used crooked accounting tactics to paid her staff which made very high salaries. I know what I am talking about. I don't think the answer is to close down Morris Brown College, but to bring an economist like yourself to straighten out the mess and streamline operating costs. You and/or your staff should remain there for about a year to make sure the changes are implemented. They didn't steal the money. Just used it wrong.

Food for thought. If this country can send billions to other countries, then it certainly can do whatever it can to make sure our colleges remain open. Charity begins at home. Wouldn't it be wiser to invest in education rather than jails?

-- Anonymous, November 05, 2002



I will be a graduating senior from Morris Brown College in May of 2003. I'm extremely saddened by the present status of this historically prestigious institution. However, I'm a firm believer in "GOD", and I don't believe he brought us thus far to abandon us. Although we're going through a rough time right now I'm just continuing to walk out on faith, and be optimistic about our present situation. I encourage those who can give to do so, and those who desire to give but are financially unable to remain prayerful. For those adversaries who have no faith, and are counting down the days until we close...you'll be waiting for a lifetime because Morris Brown College will continue to a "haven for all hungry souls".

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2002

LaTrice thank you for your holy spirit filled statement. I did my undergrad work at the College of New Rochelle a small private catholic college outside of New York City. Though the main campus was on beautiful lush grounds. The college has an innovative program called "The school of new resources" this program was for non traditional students and those who worked during the day. Classes were help from 5 Pm to 10 Pm every night. The campus I attended was headquartered in the Ny theological seminary building. When I attended in the late 1980's our campus has 500 students. We had such support and 99 percent of the students were african-american. I bring this up to say that it is the Morris Brown, and colleges like the college of new rochelle that are producing leaders. I think of these colleges as incubators for leadership. I had to bring my daughter to class with me many times, for I didn't have a baby sitter. The professors would say hello to Danielle and that is was o.k for her to be there the most important thing was that I was able to attend school. Some of us need to be in institutions where there is flexibility and understanding. I am proud to say that 90 percent of the students from that program go on to graduate school, with over 40 percent going to IVY League schools. I am an alum of princeton seminary. My campus did not have a swimming pool or all the extras, but we did have the best professors in the field. You are right we do need to keep Morris Brown open and as Dr. Cole said in another post we as a connectional church will have to truly claim Morris Brown as our own. For it is! Congratulations on your upcoming graduation and thank you for standing on faith!

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2002

It is so sad and unsettling that this situation is happening at Morris Brown. I just watched a recap of a new movie about Marching Bands on "Ebert and Roeper" movie reviews, in which the great marching band portrayed is from Morris Brown College.Seems to me that there are many avenues that this historically black college could and should have taken to prevent this situation.The past leaders of the school seemed to focus more on superficial matters more than the real important issues, that a college should provide for it's students. Marching Bands, Athletic Divisions are secondary to educating the students and providing housing for comfort and a positive learning environment. You do not expand a school enrollment if you have not perfected the environment for the smaller enrollment population. Networking is key and the person leading the institution should not be incompetent in business matters.The problem with Morris Brown has been around for many, many years and realistically the rumors and academic standards have been in question by students of color years ago. Competing with Moorehouse and Spelman in the immediate community perhaps did not help, but there is a need for a Morris Brown and the leaders shuld have perfected Their uniqueness as opposed to taking on the task of fashioning the institution after bigger more well endowed schools.The past leader involved herself in what amounted to ego," teachers first" and very poor judgement, which resulted in perhaps but hopefully not, irreconcilable damage. If you do not know, reach out, network. It is good to have lofty ideas, but you must also know and research the consequences of the ideas as it pertains to the whole! There is no excuse for recieving momies from agencies, ( especially the government), and using it for inappropiate purposes, with no accountability.It has the appearance of stealing and it brings undue attention to our schools and our leadership as a people. However, other schools have faced similar scandals (CUNY York College of New York,and white college Adelphi of New York) and bounced back from the brink of disaster. Focus and determination, networking and positive leadership as well as recognizing that Morris Brown is a Business and should operate as a business. Do not try to compete with the rankings in U.S. News and World Report,because historically black Div.I schools cannot compete with Duke or other white power houses. Often the academics faulters, i.e. powershouse Div.I Grambling University is now on probation and face the same plight as Morris Brown. Educating our youth of color is the main purpose for the development of black institutions and we cannot afford to lose our focus by looking at the appearance of "the grass being greener on the other side." Morris Brown is in my prayers, we must each remember that the successful outcome of this historically black institution afftects each and every person of color in this country.GOD Bless Morris Brown.

-- Anonymous, December 15, 2002

I hope that Morris Brown college does not close it's doors and remain open. This school has helped many students that could not get into other colleges. MBC has opened it's doors to those who wanted to attend a college that would take them. I support MBC because this school has supported me. I wish the best for my school.

-- Anonymous, December 23, 2002

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