Welcome to The Roadmap, an ASBN Exclusive created to educate entrepreneurs, CEO, and leaders across the country on the importance of planning their business exits. In this episode, host Ted Jenkin sits down with Dr. Kevin James, president of Morris Brown College from Atlanta Georgia, to discuss his journey and further elaborate on the non-profit business sector.
Atlanta is well renowned for a variety of things, but most notably for the accredited HBCUs Morehouse, Spelman, and Morris Brown. Unfortunately, Morris Brown College was given its own death sentence in 2002 when it lost its accreditation as a result of financial mismanagement. HBCUs are already underfunded. But, Morris Brown fell from having over 3,000 students to only 50 overnight due to the president at the time using government funding to make the ends meet, which is illegal. In 2022, after Dr. James took over as president, he made history by restoring the school’s accreditation.
According to Dr. James he notes, “accreditation is synonymous with quality.” He continues by saying that the education department has created standards for quality that serve as trustworthy indicators, including those for financial aid, physical management, physical stability, educational outcomes, academic rigor, staff, and facility amenities, among others. Therefore, in regard to nonprofits, Dr. James notes, “use what you got.”
Reaccreditation entitles the institution to once more submit an application for federal education funds, which could be used for Pell Grants, on-campus housing, and student financial aid. This is true as long as the university continues to adhere to all federal requirements. For smaller HBCUs dealing with funding and enrollment, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Morris Brown’s return serves as a beacon of hope.
Although the majority of state universities and community colleges are often charities, the institution is nonetheless set up to serve purposes rather than make a profit. Dr. James claims that since Morris Brown, known for having the best academic program in hospitality management, endured a hard reset, “we’ve collaborated with the Hilton hotel.” They invested $40 million in an on-campus hotel to generate revenue and use a sustainable business model to provide jobs for students as soon as they graduate. Making Morris Brown the top hospitality and management program in the nation, completely changing the college and the city of Atlanta.
“People love a good comeback story." — Dr. Kevin James
Given that no university has ever emerged from bankruptcy, the alliance and James’s new tuition requirements will provide the competitive edge it needs to keep up its re-accreditation. For instance, Dr. James has set out to guarantee the institution has the most affordable tuition in the entire state of Georgia. He adds, “the pell grants or other loans will lead to our students having little to no debt at the end of their senior year.”