Struggling Morris Brown College Announces New President
Beset by financial and academic difficulties, struggling Morris Brown College turned to a familiar face in hopes of launching a new era at the historically Black school.
Dr. Samuel D. Jolley, the school’s president from 1993 to 1997, was announced as the school’s new president, taking the helm of an institution working to fix its finances and regain valuable accreditation.
“There is a tradition here that will not die and will not lay dormant,” said Jolley, the executive director of the Atlanta University Center, which includes Morris Brown and other historically Black institutions. “Yes, we have a lot of hard work to perform.”
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools took away Morris Brown’s accreditation last year amid revelations of debt, mismanagement in the financial aid office and leadership turmoil (see Black Issues, April 24, 2004).
The school was more than $27 million in debt and had an endowment of about $5 million. Without accreditation, Morris Brown lost federal and state financial aid and enrollment declined. From a high of 2,547 students, 225 enrolled last fall. It has been operating on private donations and funds from the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which founded the school in 1881.
Students and alumni say they remember Jolley’s first tenure as a time of growth and believe he can turn the school around.
“It’s like a breath of fresh air over the whole campus,” said Chester Strickland, a Morris Brown senior and vice president of student government. “This is a process we’re going to have to go through, but we’re holding on and we’re going to evolve.”
Gov. Sonny Perdue spoke at the announcement, voicing his support for the troubled college.
“Morris Brown College is one of Georgia’s great treasures and it’s a treasure we want to keep,” Perdue said.
Jolley has been executive director and CEO of Atlanta University Center — home to six schools — since 1998.
During his first term as Morris Brown president, Jolley worked to eradicate a $6.5 million deficit and help fully restore accreditation after the school was placed on probation by SACS. He holds a doctorate in education from Indiana University, a master’s degree in math from Atlanta University and a bachelor’s in math from Fort Valley State College.
— Associated Press
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