Anyone who either currently attends or has attended Clark-Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Morehouse College would have something to say about this proposal to merge the schools of the Atlanta University Center into a new Atlanta University.
With the recent events of so many struggling HBCUs such as Bennett College and Paine College, the AU Center should be seriously considering ways to sustain a more cohesive institution to withstand these types of economic and financial shortfalls.I like the Atlanta University name better than my own comical name ClarSpelHouse University of Atlanta. 😛
Clark College and Atlanta University merged out of necessity. Atlanta University, as a standalone graduate school, suffered declining enrollment and its budget was under exigency. Clark was the most logical choice and the school that would benefit the most from a consolidation with Atlanta University.
Fourteen years later in 2002, Morris Brown lost its accreditation due to financial aid fraud, massive debt and embezzlement of public funds. In 2009, Clark Atlanta University was forced to fire 55 faculty members in response to what was deemed a budgetary and enrollment emergency. In the past few years Morehouse College suffered declining enrollment, budget shortfalls, a Moody credit rating drop and declines in national rankings of best black colleges.
These issues did not arise without cause. After the Civil Rights Act of 1968, schools became increasingly desegregated and this in turn made for more competition for the historically black colleges. With the Atlanta University Center schools operating independently, they make themselves increasingly more vulnerable.
The Atlanta University Center, with the right guidance, planning and strategy (not to mention sizable funding) could become the largest most prestigious black college in the country. If they could forego hubris, ego and status in order to look to the future, they could become a new Atlanta University that stands shoulder to shoulder with other city named schools such as New York University, Boston University and University of Chicago.
It would be the Howard University of the South. It's time for the antiquated, some would even say sexist and old-fashioned structure of all male and all female collegiate learning environments to end. This is not to dismiss the great legacy and work these schools have done, but to honor them by charting a new sustainable course where the legacy of these institutions can thrive.
Take the University System of Georgia’s recent mergers and consolidations, for example. The USG has aggressively moved to consolidate several of its state college and universities of recent years. Over the past six years, the USG has merged or consolidated 20 of their public colleges and universities in an effort to streamline and restructure its system of schools as a cost saving measure.