board of trustees, historically black colleges african methodist episcopal church, Invest Atlanta, Judge Barbara Ellis-Monro, Local, morris brown college, National, News, Rev. Dr. Preston W. Williams II -

Morris Brown’s Bankruptcy Gets College On Financial Footing, But Still Struggling For Students

board of trustees, historically black colleges african methodist episcopal church, Invest Atlanta, Judge Barbara Ellis-Monro, Local, morris brown college, National, News, Rev. Dr. Preston W. Williams II -

Morris Brown’s Bankruptcy Gets College On Financial Footing, But Still Struggling For Students

morris_brown1-1Atlanta’s historic Morris Brown College, which has been mired in financial troubles for more than a decade, has “victoriously emerged from bankruptcy” and will graduate 21 students in May.

“This is a bittersweet ending to a long and complex process,” said Rev. Dr. Preston W. Williams II, Board of Trustee chairman. “Bitter, because we had to sell property that had historical significance to so many people. Sweet, because we emerge from bankruptcy fully functional and current with all of our debt obligations.”

“Thus, as is the case with much of life, we must accept the bitter with the sweet and keep pressing forward.”

It will be difficult to press forward, even with the reprieve. The school has only 35 students enrolled, making many wonder why go through the fight of staying open. And with its accreditation gone, how will it attract new students? That was not addressed in the postings by Williams on the website.

While many HBCUs have had difficulty attracting funding and keeping students, no case is likely more severe than Morris Brown’s.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Morris Brown filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in August 2012  to prevent foreclosure and sale of the school at auction.

The school sold 26 acres of property and buildings to InVest Atlanta and Friendship Baptist for $14.7 million, but retains ownership of the school’s administration building, Griffin Hightower Classroom building and Fountain Hall.

Friendship Baptist is one of two churches that was sold to make way for the future $1.3 billion Atlanta Falcons stadium that will be steps from the Morris Brown property.

Williams said the college has remained in operation throughout the Chapter 11 reorganization process, and received financial support from alumni, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, trustees, staff and faculty.

Williams also confirmed that Morris Brown is scheduled to graduate 21 students on May 16. But while there is “great joy and thankfulness” that the school is on its way to solvency, the 134-year-old college has to regain its accreditation to attract more students after most exited the school en masse when the accreditation was lost. And they have not returned.

This bankruptcy action, approved at a confirmation hearing last week, and confirmed by a signed order of Judge Barbara Ellis-Monro, will allow the college to exit bankruptcy and move forward to regain its accreditation.


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