Morris Brown College regains full accreditation after 20 years as unaccredited institution

Atlanta’s Morris Brown College has received full accreditation after two decades of being an unaccredited institution. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

After two decades of dwindling enrollment and financial struggles, Atlanta’s Morris Brown College is now fully accredited. The Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACCS) voted this week to grant Morris Brown full accreditation.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) revoked Morris Brown’s accreditation in 2002, due mostly to financial mismanagement. Enrollment went from 2500 to about 40 students at one point. The college filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and sold some of its property to the city and Friendship Baptist Church to relieve some of its debt.

In 2019, the board of directors hired Kevin James to lead the floundering school. Since then, James has worked to secure funding, hire faculty and add degree programs. Now that it’s accredited, the school can also receive federal financial aid.

“Many thought that this feat was impossible, but due to our strong faith in God, our hardworking and wonderful faculty and staff, the support of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, our dedicated alumni and our resilient spirit, we were able to achieve full accreditation,” James said in a press release. “This is just the beginning!”

Because Morris Brown is newly accredited with TRACCS, president Tim Eaton says the school will undergo annual financial audits and another evaluation after five years.

“President James and his team are to be commended for what they’ve done for the institution,” Eaton said. He also noted that James took a wise approach by keeping the school and programs small. Eaton said TRACCS didn’t evaluate Morris Brown based on what the school had to offer more than 20 years ago.

“That’s not the same institution we looked at,” he said. “We only had to accredit what they had done.”

The restoration of the institution is significant. Morris Brown was founded by formerly enslaved members of Big Bethel AME Church in the 1880s. It was the first college in Georgia to be owned and operated by African Americans.