Morris Brown College
MottoTo GOD and Truth
TypePrivate, HBCU[1]
Religious affiliationAfrican Methodist Episcopal Church[2]
PresidentDr. Stanley J. Pritchett
LocationAtlanta, Georgia,
United States[2]
Campus21-acre (84,984.0 m2), Urban[2]
ColorsPurple and Black
SportsDiscontinued 2003
MascotWolverines and Lady Wolverines
Morris Brown athletics logo

Morris Brown College (MBC) is a private, coed, liberal arts college located in the Vine City community of Atlanta, Georgia, United States. It is a historically black college affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Although Morris Brown College is not a member of the Atlanta University Center Consortium, it is located within the Atlanta University Center (a district designated by the Atlanta City Council).

In 2002 it lost its accreditation and federal funding due to a financial mismanagement scandal during the 1998–2002 tenure of Dolores Cross as school president. The United Negro College Fund also terminated its support for the college.[3]

In August, 2012, Morris Brown filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in an attempt to prevent foreclosure and sale of the school at auction.[4]

File:Morris Brown College 3971751108 b1d2ef3d9b o.jpg


Morris Brown offers baccalaureate degrees in Management, Entrepreneurship and Technology (for traditional students) and Organizational Management and Leadership (for Adult Degree matriculants).[2]


As of 2011 Morris Brown is in a "Self-Study" phase of the accreditation process with Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools and is looking to reapply in October of 2012. Until 2003, Morris Brown was accredited by a regional accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Morris Brown was more than $23 million in debt and was on probation in 2001 with SACS for shoddy bookkeeping and a shortage of professors with advanced degrees. In December of 2002, SACS revoked Morris Brown's accreditation. Almost eight years later, the college settled its nearly $10 million debt with the Department of Education.[5]



The Morris Brown Colored College (its original name) was founded by African Americans affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which had expanded in Georgia following the American Civil War. The North Georgia Annual Conference of the AME Church on January 5, 1881, passed a resolution to establish an educational institution in Atlanta for the moral, spiritual, and intellectual growth of Negro boys and girls. The school formally opened its doors on October 15, 1885, with 107 students and nine teachers. Morris Brown was the first educational institution in Georgia under sole African-American patronage.[6] For more than a century, the college enrolled many students from poor backgrounds, large numbers of whom returned to their hometowns as teachers.

Fountain Hall, originally known as Stone Hall when occupied by Atlanta University, was completed in 1882. It is closely associated with the history of the college and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. After Atlanta University consolidated its facilities, it leased the building to Morris Brown College, which renamed it Fountain Hall.[7]

Criminal scandalEdit

Eighty percent of the school's 2,500 students received financial aid from the federal government, which gave Morris Brown $8 million a year. A federal criminal case against the former president, Dolores Cross, and the financial aid director, Parvesh Singh, proved the pair had embezzled a great deal of the federal aid and diverted it to ineligible college costs, such as personal staff, instead of subsidizing the students.

In 2002, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools revoked the college's accreditation because of its financial problems. Cross and Singh were charged in December 2004 in a 34-count indictment that accused them of defrauding the school, the U.S. Department of Education, and hundreds of students. The pair, who had first worked together at a college in Chicago, Illinois, were convicted of using the names of hundreds of students, ex-students, and people who were never enrolled to obtain financial aid for the school.[8]

During the time Cross held the college presidency, from November 1998 through February 2002, Singh obtained about 1,800 payments from federally insured loans and Pell grants for these students, who had no idea they would be responsible for paying off the loans, the indictment said.[9]

At the time of the 2004 indictment, Cross was teaching at DePaul University in Chicago.[10] On May 1, 2006, Cross pleaded guilty to fraud by embezzlement.[11] She agreed to pay $11,000 to the Department of Education in restitution. Singh pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement.

Morris Brown College's Herndon Stadium was the site of the field hockey competitions during the 1996 Summer Olympics. The stadium is designed to seat 15,000 spectators.[2]

On January 3, 2007, Cross was sentenced to five years of probation and one year of home confinement for the fraud. Cross, 70 years old, suffers from sleep apnea and has had a series of small strokes, factors the judge took into consideration. Singh, 64, also received five years of probation but 18 months of home confinement. An additional factor the judge considered was that the embezzled funds were not used for personal profit, but to prop up the school's poor finances.[8] However, the initial indictment said Cross had used the funds to finance personal trips for herself, her family, and friends.[12]

The prosecutor, U.S. Attorney David Nahmias, said at the sentencing: "When the defendants arrived at Morris Brown, the college was already in serious financial condition. Thereafter, these defendants misappropriated ... money in fairly complicated ways in what appears to have been a misguided and ultimately criminal attempt to keep Morris Brown afloat."[3]

Uncertain futureEdit

The school has $22 million in long-term debt and $5 million in short term debt. Both the alumni association and the African Methodist Episcopal Church have pledged to keep the school from closing. As of January 2009, Morris Brown has 240 students.[13]

Morris Brown College, at one point reduced to an enrollment of just 44 students, continues to operate as a scaled-down version of its former self.[14] In 2004, Dr. Samuel D. Jolley, who had been the school's president from 1993 to 1997, agreed to return to the presidency to help the college's attempts to recover.

"Morris Brown", a song by Atlanta hip-hop duo OutKast off their 2006 release Idlewild, features a performance from the Morris Brown College Marching Wolverines.
The school hoped to have 107 students in the fall of 2006, the same number when the school opened in 1881, but failed to meet even this modest goal.[citation needed] Tuition in the fall semester of 2006 was $3,500, but without accreditation, students cannot obtain federal or state financial aid for their tuition and other school expenses.

By February 2007, MBC had only 54 students in two degree programs, supported by 7 faculty and staff employees.[15] Despite this, after the sentencing of two former administrators, the chair of the college's board of trustees, Bishop William Phillips DeVeaux, issued a press release stating the college would move forward and that "This sad chapter in the college's history is now closed."[3]

In addition to civil lawsuits filed by former and current students, Morris Brown faces a civil suit for defaulting on a $13 million property bond, a case that eventually could lead to foreclosure on some of the college's most historic buildings, including its administration building, attorneys involved in the case say. The complaint asks for $10.7 million in principal owed on the loan agreement, $1.5 million in interest and a per diem of $2,100 for each day Morris Brown does not pay.

In December 2008, the City of Atlanta disconnected water service to the college because of an overdue water bill.[16] The debt has since been paid and the service restored.

The 2002 film Drumline and the 2007 film Stomp the Yard were partly filmed on the campus of Morris Brown. In 2006 Warner Brothers filmed We Are Marshall in the football stadium.
Radio personality Tom Joyner made several offers to buy the troubled college from 2002 through 2004, during the worst of the accreditation and fraud crises. In 2003, his charitable foundation gave the school $1 million to assist with its immediate needs.[10]

The school faces foreclosure in September 2012.[17]


The college briefly had a NCAA Division I athletics program, until it lost accreditation.

Notable alumniEdit

This is a list of notable alumni which includes graduates, non-graduate former students, and current students of Morris Brown College.

Name Class year Notability References
Eula Adams executive vice president for First Data Corporation [18]
George Atkinson former NFL defensive back for the Oakland Raiders [18]
Isaac Blythers president of Atlanta Gas Light Company [18]
Thomas Byrd television, film and stage actor [18]
Derrick Boazman 1990 local Atlanta radio talk show host and former Atlanta city councilman [1]
Ezell Brown Educational entrepreneur, founder of Education Online Services Corporation [18]
Gloria Etchison (Cain) 1968 wife of Herman Cain [18]
Marilyn Cunningham-Kenoly 1979 Chief Information Officer Kenoly Emerging Technologies, LLC [18]
Donte Curry former NFL linebacker for Carolina Panthers and Detroit Lions [18]
Albert J. Edmonds Retired Lt. Gen. of the United States Air Force [18]
Tommy Hart former NFL defensive end for the San Francisco 49ers [18]
Alfred Jenkins Former NFL and WFL wide receiver Atlanta Falcons 1975–1983 and Birmingham Americans 1974
Ezra Johnson former NFL defensive end for the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts [19]
James Alan McPherson Pulitzer Prize-winning author [18]
Billy Nicks former head football coach of Morris Brown and Prairie View A&M University [18]
Sommore Comedian and member of the Queens of Comedy [18]
Hosea Williams civil rights activist [18]


  1. "List of HBCUs -- White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities". 2007-08-16. Retrieved 2008-01-03.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Visitor". Morris Brown College. Archived from the original on 2008-01-08. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Ex-president of Morris Brown gets probation". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 2007-01-04. Retrieved 2007-01-04.[dead link]
  4. Atlanta Journal Constitution (August 25, 2012). "Morris Brown College seeks federal protection, hopes to prevent auction of campus". Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  5. Associated Press (August 23, 2011). "Morris Brown pays off debt to US government". Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  6. "Morris Brown College founded". The African American Registry website.
  7. "Stone Hall, Atlanta University". National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Former college president gets probation for $3.4M embezzlement". Associated Press. 2007-01-03. Archived from the original on 2007-01-06. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  9. "Federal Indictment Accuses Former Morris Brown President and Aid Officer of $5-Million Fraud". Chronicle of Higher Education. 2004-12-10. Retrieved 2007-01-04.[dead link]
  10. 10.0 10.1 Powell, Tracie (2004-12-30). "Former Morris Brown College president, financial aid director indicted for fraud". Black Issues in Higher Education. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  11. Romano, Lois (2006-05-01). "Morris Brown College". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
  12. "Ex-President of Morris Brown College Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 2006-05-01. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  13. Shelton, Stacy (2009-01-03). "Water flowing again at Morris Brown". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
  14. Incomplete citation for May 2006 article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  15. Jones, Andrea (2007-02-24). "Morris Brown Marks 126 Years". Metro News, 1B. (Atlanta Journal Constitution).
  16. "Water Shut Off At Historic Atlanta College For Unpaid Bill". WSB-TV. December 21, 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2009.
  17. Ernie Suggs (August 24, 2012). "With foreclosure looming, Morris Brown College on the brink". Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  18. 18.00 18.01 18.02 18.03 18.04 18.05 18.06 18.07 18.08 18.09 18.10 18.11 18.12 18.13 "College Information". Morris Brown College. Archived from the original on 2007-12-21. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  19. "Ezra Johnson Statistics".

External linksEdit

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