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Struggling HBCUs Seek Online Schooling Solutions…

August 22, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) Two historically black colleges, faced with almost constant obstacles to stay afloat and continue their missions, are adding to their game plans in their efforts to bring in more degree-seeking students and their dollars.

Atlanta’s Morris Brown College is launching a full, Internet-based degree program in organizational leadership and management. Students can begin taking classes online next week, said its president, Stan Pritchett.

“We really believe this will be a major step in the process of restoring our stability,” Pritchett told Akiit.com. He projects the college will have 120 students in its campus-based degree programs when classes start next week and from 300 to 500 students enrolled online before the end of the year.

In Dallas, Texas, Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell is introducing a new academic calendar that gives students longer breaks so that they can work to help pay for their schooling.

Sorrell said the college has to come up with new ideas to attract students because “we’re the little guy.”

Morris Brown, a 128-year-old institution affiliated with the AME Church, has struggled since losing its accreditation in 2002. With the loss of accreditation came a drop in student enrollment, making it difficult for the college to maintain financial stability, Pritchett said.

During the last school year, the college’s water was turned off because of a delinquent bill.

Students in online classes will pay tuition at rates similar to on-campus students. They don’t have to pay room, board and other campus expenses, and the college doesn’t have to provide accommodations for them. The college will provide online books, a communication platform and a link to professors.

Morris Brown will be the first HBCU to offer a full degree program through Education Online Services Corporation, said Ben Chavis, co-founder and president of the company.

“When we looked at the enrollment of people in programs offered by the major online colleges, we learned that about 40 percent of the students are black, but none of those major online higher education programs are affiliated with black colleges,” Chavis told Akiit.com.

The company is working to set up online degree programs with other HBCUs and has signed a memorandum of agreement with Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, Chavis said.

“By the end of the year, we want to have online degree programs established through five HBCUs,” said Ezell Brown, co-founder of the company.

Written By Denise Stewart


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