Trying to keep up and report on the casualties of our failing economy has become a full-time gig. Recession this, Recession That…don’t look now but this ish is waaaay worse than a recession. This is a depression baby. Recessions are when Fortune 500 companies lay off a few thousand people not when some of the countries most historic universities can’t pay their bills.
However that’s exactly what has happen to Morris Brown College, one of the nation’s most reknown Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The school’s Frederick D. Jordan Hall was foreclosed on yesterday and sold for $900,000. In comparison, investors originally bought the building for $13.1 million in 1996.
Like so many other black schools, Morris Brown has been hit tremendously hard by the waining economy. Traditionally HBCUs lack the big endowments of larger institutions, and, as a result, rely primarily on tuition fees for funding. HBCUs enroll 14% of all black college students but only make up 3% of the over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States. Morris Brown like so many HBCUs caters to students from low-and middle-income families which are finding rising tuition costs increasingly unaffordable and thus not enrolling.
Spelman College one of the most reputable HBCU’s experienced a 3% drop in enrollment, as well as a significant decrease in endowment at the beginning of the spring term. As a result Spelman eliminated 35 staff positions and cut its operating budget by almost $5 million.Down the block, 300 of Clark Atlanta University’s 4000 students didn’t return for the spring term because of unaffordable tuition costs. To fill the gaps 70 faculty members were cut and the school’s arts and science classes were eliminated.
While the full effects of the economic downturn’s wrath have yet to be felt nationwide, the trickle down has fully gripped black students in search of higher education. With no end in sight, we could unfortunately be looking at residual effects with a sharp rise in black unemployment, poverty, homelessnes, illiteracy, single parent households and drug abuse. It might seem like a small thing but think about the effects long term.