The AJC’s past coverage of efforts by Morris Brown College to regain accreditation

Morris Brown College presses the hard reset button

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Morris Brown College presses the hard reset button

News on Friday that the U.S. Department of Education will allow students at Morris Brown College in Atlanta to apply for federal financial aid is a major step in its ongoing effort to regain its accreditation.

Understanding the news includes the context of events dating back nearly two decades.

In 2003, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools revoked Morris Brown’s accreditation because of the school’s ballooning debt. Its president and financial aid director were put on probation after pleading guilty to embezzlement charges.

Morris Brown filed for bankruptcy in 2012, but the college continued to operate to the bemusement of some and cheers of others.

Founded in 1881 by the Georgia Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and named for one of its bishops, Morris Brown was the first institution of higher education in Georgia created by Black people for Black people.

The college is located near downtown Atlanta in a collection of HBCU colleges and universities that also includes Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University.

Previous AJC articles about Morris Brown College

From 2013 - Morris Brown fails key test; historic college loses its accreditation

From 2018 - Morris Brown: How an Atlanta HBCU fell into bankruptcy

From 2020 - Morris Brown and Paine colleges seek new path after financial troubles

From April 2021 - Morris Brown College granted ‘candidacy’ for accreditation

From May 2021 - Morris Brown College’s ‘hard reset’

From December 2021 - Ossoff seeks federal support for Morris Brown College

Morris Brown College timeline

1881 Founded by the Georgia Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and named for one of its bishops. It is the first HBCU in Georgia that was founded by Black people for Black people.

1912 The college receives a state charter and becomes Morris Brown University.

1928 The school’s rapid growth and financial practices force Morris Brown into bankruptcy.

1941 Morris Brown joins the Atlanta University Center, a consortium of the area’s historically Black colleges.

2003 The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools revokes Morris Brown’s accreditation because of the school’s ballooning debt.

2012 The college files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and erases tens of millions of dollars in debt.

January 2020 The African Methodist Episcopal Church board’s Executive Committee voted to forgive more than $4 million in debt owed by the college.

November 2020 The Virginia-based Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools accepted the college’s application for accreditation.

April 2021 TRACCS approved the college’s candidacy for accreditation.

November 2021 The college announces that U.S. Department of Education will allow students at Morris Brown College in Atlanta to apply for federal financial

ExploreMorris Brown: A timeline of the life and near-death of an HBCU institution