Should This HBCU Be Saved?

Morris Brown could barely pay its water bill. Endowments are down at Spelman and Morehouse. Passing a collection plate might not keep some historically black colleges afloat.

KNOXVILLE COLLEGE: Financial and accreditation challenges.

Knoxville College in Tennessee is trying to raise $7 million to get out of pressing debt. In December, the accrediting agency that reviews colleges placed Alabama A&M University on probation and continued probation for Texas Southern University because of financial problems at the schools.

PAUL QUINN COLLEGE: Eliminating some classes.

Paul Quinn College in Dallas is at risk of losing its accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, partly because of problems with its financial stability and resources. A revival to benefit the college, which is affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, is set for the week after Easter. College president Michael J. Sorrell, in a letter at the beginning of the current semester, told students some classes with low enrollment had been eliminated, and other steps were taken to make the institution more efficient. The changes were necessary because of an upcoming accreditation review in June and because of the downturn in the economy.

SPELMAN COLLEGE: Losing students over winter break.

Spelman College in Atlanta—one of the wealthiest HBCUs with an endowment valued at $340 million in 2007, according to the college’s Fact Book—announced an anticipated 4.8 percent budget deficit next year. The prestigious college is eliminating 35 positions, including six faculty slots in its restructured education department.

MOREHOUSE COLLEGE: Plunging endowment.

Morehouse College in Atlanta has historically had an impressive endowment. But like most universities, its endowment is down and so is enrollment, college president Robert Franklin told the Associated Press in an interview last month. Enrollment has dropped by 8 percent compared to last year, and the endowment is down to $110 million from a high of $150 million.


This article contains corrected and updated information about layoffs and enrollment at  Spelman College.