By Janelle Ward
United States Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) appeared at Morris Brown College Tuesday afternoon to announce a federal funding package he secured to help equip the HBCU with the resources needed to support its growing student body.
The package, totaling $2.9 million, will be used to expand the college’s educational curriculum, refurbish buildings on campus and invest in the “pipeline” that transitions graduates into the workforce, according to Morris Brown’s president, Kevin James. The grant is the largest the college has received in the last 20 years.
“I recognize the extraordinary role that this institution has played in our state’s history, and even more importantly, the extraordinary importance of this institution in training the next generation to succeed, in providing an opportunity to access high-quality education for students across the metro region, across the state, across the southeast and across the country,” Ossoff said during the press conference.
Both Ossoff and James credited Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) for helping to secure the federal funding for the college. Morris Brown offers degree programs in business, music, psychology and general studies, four departments that President James said will be expanded upon using funding from the grant. The president teased an upcoming partnership with Hilton, which will give students of Morris Brown’s new hospitality program hands-on experience in working within the industry. The school is also in the process of developing its technology programs, which include instruction pertaining to gaming and computer science.
A portion of funds will also be dedicated to restoring Morris Brown’s educational facilities. President James said $500,000 will be reserved solely for the rehabilitation of Fountain Hall, a historical landmark on campus dating back to the late 19th century.
“We absolutely need Fountain Hall to be restored,” James said. “And we’re just starting with these funds to continue to ensure that we move Fountain Hall in the right direction.”
Morris Brown College has witnessed significant levels of growth and expansion over the past few years under James’ supervision. The president said the HBCU served 20 students when he first assumed the interim leadership position in 2019. The school’s populace now consists of more than 270 students, and James said he expects Morris Brown’s enrollment to surpass 400 students this upcoming fall semester.
The college also re-secured its accreditation last year, on top of restoring federal financial aid opportunities as well as benefits for attending veterans.
Since being sworn into office at the beginning of 2021, Sen. Ossoff has dedicated much of his political platform to investing in the restoration and development of HBCUs. The senator has worked with colleagues across party lines to supply minority-dominated institutions with the funding needed to support academic programs and as a result, further diversify the country’s workforce.
“When I was running for the Senate, I came to Morris Brown College and made commitments to President James about the support that I would provide because I believed in President James – his vision and his leadership,” Ossoff said. “We are well on our way through this renaissance that President James has led.”
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