All Articles Tagged "morris brown college"
The Berean Institute has been evicted from its home in North Philadelphia, according to a letter sent to the school’s president, Dr. Lorraine Poole-Naranjo, dated September 6. The school was founded in 1899 as a vocational school teaching trades like carpentry and barbering to African-Americans.
Last week, the gas and electricity was turned off at the facility, which is leased in part by a job-training company called ABO Haven. That company had stopped paying rent ($9,000 per month) in April after it learned that Berean couldn’t enter into a commercial lease. ABO has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the school for damages caused by the lack of utilities.
According to the letter sent to Dr. Poole-Naranjo, Berean hasn’t had a lease for its space since 2010, hasn’t paid rent since 2006 and owes $310,778.08. The school also owes $40,000 to the Philadelphia Water Authority.
A spokeswoman for the school says Berean lost its state funding in 2008 and has been struggling financially. A former chairman of the school’s board, former Common Pleas Judge John Braxton, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the school had been slated to shut down in 2008.
Despite the problems, Dr. Poole-Naranjo promises Berean will continue. “This is just bricks and mortar,” she said, adding that the school will move to another building.
While it’s not an HBCU, The Berean Institute has strong historical ties to the black community. Only recently, Morris Brown College, an HBCU founded by the AME Church more than a century ago, filed for bankruptcy. It faces foreclosure.
University of Pennsylvania professor and author Marybeth Gasman has offered a few suggestions for how Morris Brown College can solve its financial problems in The Washington Post. It was announced last week that the HBCU would be selling pieces of its assets, including its administration building, on September 4. In a bid to prevent a full-on foreclosure and complete auction sale, the school filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week. The school is in debt for more than $30 million.
According to its Chapter 11 filing, the school also owes its staffers three months in back pay. In some cases, faculty members and professors are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Many staffers and faculty members are still coming to work despite not being paid and not knowing when they will be.
Gasman highlights four issues that have contributed to the school’s hardships: the African Methodist Episcopal church, which founded and runs the school, needs to pledge fully to its financial and academic revival; revamp the board; rally alumni dollars; and they need to commit to educational innovation if they’re going to compete with the stellar HBCUs, like Morehouse and Spelman, that it’s currently competing with.
She makes some drastic recommendations, such as turning the school into a community college or a charter high school that will feed other universities with students. The schools currently only has a few dozen students enrolled. (Also, back in 2004, radio host Tom Joyner offered to buy the school! Gasman suggests they see if that offer is still on the table.)
We reached out to Morris Brown College for any information about how the school is handling its affairs but haven’t heard back. While it would be sad to see a 131-year-old school shut down, that’s exactly what Gasman also suggests if there isn’t full support for its turnaround. What do you think?
Morris Brown College, founded in 1881 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, is facing foreclosure, and will be auctioning off its assets, including its administration building, on September 4.
Morris Brown has been in dire financial straits for about 10 years, with its student body dwindling from 3,000 to just 50. The latest step towards foreclosure was brought on by the investors’ move to call in $13 million in bonds tied to the school. The school pledged property, like the administration building, to secure the bonds.
“There is the need to raise millions of dollars to counteract that deficit,” Benjamin Harrison, a spokesperson for the Sixth District African Methodist Episcopal Church, which oversees the school, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Morris Brown isn’t accredited, so it’s not eligible for federal funds. In 2003, it lost its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools under a haze of fraud (the president of the school at the time, Dolores Cross, pleaded guilty to embezzlement) and high debts.
“This is heartbreaking and not only a sad day in the life of Morris Brown, but in black academia,” said former Atlanta City Councilman and alum Derrick Boazman.
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The Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta stepped in as the next generous benefactor to rescue Morris Brown College from financial peril. On Sunday the congregation signed a $22,000 check over to the school’s president to help eliminate the university’s debt to the U.S. Department of Education, BET.com reports.
“This May, Morris Brown inked a deal with the federal government that would allow the college to settle its $9.9 million debt for just $500,000. The Department of Education gave Morris Brown until August 24 to make good on the offer. The hefty debt is part of the more than $30 million owed by the college to various creditors and ultimately what caused the college to lose its accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2003. Morris Brown accumulated the debt after years of failing to refund unused federal student aid money,” BET.com reports.
As the deadline approached, Rev. Dr. Marvin Moss began a month-long fundraising effort on the school’s behalf that brought in $22,000 from special offerings and online donations from members. Although the payment will ease Morris Brown’s standing with the Department of Education, the process is far from over. The administration will have to wait out a lengthy re-accreditation procedure that could take up to five years.
But for the church, the slow payoff will be worth it. “We recognize the historical significance of Morris Brown College to our community and the world,” Moss said in a statement. “We are grateful that our Cascade members have answered the call during these tough economic times. We are called to be a light in the community so we are pleased to participate in this vital way.”
(AJC) — Cascade United Methodist Church gave Morris Brown College $22,000 Sunday to help the historically black college raise $500,000 to settle a debt with the U.S. Department of Education.
Good news has emerged in the saga of Morris Brown College: The U.S. Department of Education has an agreement pending with the school to settle nearly $10 million in debt for pennies on the dollar. According to the Associated Press, the Education Department said that it will forgive more than $9.4 million in debt if Morris Brown can manage to pay the remaining $500,000. If the deal is approved, it would be a
major colossal victory for the financially embattled institution, giving the administration a chance at a fresh start.
According to the AP, Morris Brown College President Stanley Pritchett said, “This is a game-changer for the college. There are other financial challenges, but this will help to open the door…to resolving our other issues.”
Issues indeed abound at the university, from struggles to keep accreditation to a revolving door of presidents. But none have been as crucial and high-profile as the school’s finances. It is hard to forget about the city threatening to shut off their water and the former president’s crucifixion in the media. The Atlanta Post spoke with former (and infamous) Morris Brown President Dolores Cross, who’s efforts to improve the school’s finances eventually led her to a state issued house arrest ankle bracelet.
This is great news, however, for the historically black institution to finally have a chance at a clean slate. Finally.
(AJC) — Morris Brown College is expected to settle nearly $10 million in debt for pennies on the dollar in an agreement pending with the U.S. Education Department, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press. In the April 7 letter, the Education Department said it will forgive more than $9.4 million in debt, provided Morris Brown pays the remaining $500,000. The deal would help the historically black institution overcome a major hurdle in its efforts to regain accreditation. ”We have been working on getting this debt addressed for a year,” said Morris Brown College President Stanley Pritchett. “This is a game-changer for the college. There are other financial challenges, but this will help to open the door … to resolving our other issues.”
She was a myriad of firsts. The first black woman on a tenured track at Northwestern University, the first black woman to serve in a cabinet position in New York State, the first black woman to be associate vice provost for academic affairs at the University of Minnesota, the first female president of Chicago State University and – infamously – the first female president of Morris Brown College. Now, after years of silence during the aftermath of her career-ending relationship with the financially forsaken HBCU, Dolores Cross is speaking out again.
Cross began writing Beyond the Wall: A Memoir after she had been stripped to nothing but time, the truth and an electronic ankle bracelet; a not-so-friendly reminder of the one event in her 30 year career that she’d like to forget. The ex-president of the college founded by ex-slaves had literally become shackled to a strict perimeter and a heavy past. She treated the year-long confinement as a cocoon, where she retreated to write about her experience and explore what happens when one finds herself – literally and figuratively – stuck.
“In Beyond the Wall: A Memoir, I use the marathon metaphor ‘hitting the wall’ to describe how my moving ahead came to a halt when confronted with ill-founded criminal allegations, the media’s rush to judgment and betrayal,” she said. Cross has been loosening herself from sticky situations since she became homeless as a 13-year-old. While most incoming college presidents are negotiating salaries, she faced the possibility of not having one at all; prompting her to begin the first of many projects she would embark on independently for the benefit of the university. She applied for and received a grant from the General Electric Fund that would sponsor her salary for the first two years of her presidency. She had every intention of never being a financial burden to the university, but years later, Morris Brown’s money problems became her personal cross to bear – one that she would later be publicly nailed to.
Aside from the revolving door of presidents at Morris Brown in the 10 years prior to Cross’ induction, the university was suffering the effects of a $3.2 million structural deficit. Additionally, in 1998 they were given an $8.2 million audit disallowance from the U.S. Department of Education, that was coupled with other issues, including plummeting enrollment and a chronically weak technology infrastructure. Then they lost accreditation and things began to fall apart from there; who could forget that $380,000 unpaid water bill?
“There were some things I did not know coming into my presidency,” Cross said. “Bottom line, there were problems at Morris Brown College long before I arrived.” After a long battle with the Department of Education, mutiny from some of her trusted cabinet members, federal charges of fraud and financial irregularities, and being the media’s scapegoat, Cross eventually plead guilty to misapplying $26,000 in student financial aid to cover other operating expenses. The other charges were dismissed. She was sentenced to a year of house arrest, five years probation and 500 hours of community service.