It took months of cross-institutional collaboration, but East Tennessee’s only historically black college and university (HBCU) is on track to regain accreditation. The college expects to submit an application for approval in April.
Knoxville College (KC), a private institution, lost its accreditation in 1997. It has since regained chartered status in Tennessee, which allows them to grant credentials. If the school succeeds in regaining accreditation, as those involved believe it will soon, students will have access to federal and state funding options, including the Tennessee Student Assistance Award, which offers no-repayment financial aid to students from low-income schools. – income background.
“KC lost its accreditation for several reasons, one of which is financial stability. Student financial aid is one of the largest channels of state dollars to an institution,” said Dr. Brittany Mosby, director of HBCU Success, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s health and sustainability arm of the state’s seven private and public institutions. HBCUs. “For the 2021 school year, about $10 million went to HBCUs in the state through financial aid, up from $12 million the year before. This is one of the reasons why accreditation is so important.”
KC leaders such as Dr. Dasha Lundy, executive vice president and chief operating officer, hopes to follow in the footsteps of other HBCUs that have reaccredited through TRACS, the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, such as Paine College in November 2022 and Morris Brown College (MBC) in April.
Lundy said the inspiration was Dr. Kevin James Brown, President of MBC.
“He’s done it, so we can do it too,” Lundy said. She reached out and asked Brown if he would help KC in its mission to regain accreditation. “[Brown] he believes in HBCUs, so he said yes. He had been through it and knew the pitfalls. He knew how to lead a team. If we were to do it alone, it would take longer.”
Lundy said it was Brown who reached out across town to connect with the University of Tennessee (UT) Knoxville. Dr. J. Patrick Biddix, Professor and Program Coordinator of the Administration of Higher Education Ph.D. program at UT Knoxville, said he is excited to partner with KC, not only so his students can gain hands-on experience in the accreditation process, but also to help an institution as important as KC.
“KC has been a part of the Knoxville community for 150 years,” Biddix said, recalling an amazing moment he and his team of ten graduate students experienced while walking through McKee Hall on the KC campus, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the commencement address in 1960.
“You can teach students what it’s like to work at public or private institutions, but an HBCU is special. It’s different, it’s needed, it’s necessary,” Biddix said. “HBCUs have a tremendous history. A lot of learning has taken place for students beyond accreditation to understand the importance and necessity of HBCUs in this country.”
KC was founded in 1875 by the United Presbyterian Church for the education of newly freed men and women. By the mid-20th century, KC had become a liberal arts institution with a reputation for organizing social justice movements such as sit-ins. Lundy, who is also the District 1 commissioner for the Knox County Commission, wants the institution to once again be the star of their community’s north.
Biddix’s team of graduate students, dubbed the “A-Team” by Lundy in a nod to accreditation and ’80s superheroes, began working with KC leadership and Brown in June 2022. UT Knoxville converted their work for graduation credits. For months, the A-Team gathered around long tables covered in institutional materials as they began to discuss, compile, and collate the information needed for the rigorous accreditation process. Some materials, such as the faculty and student handbook, had to be created from scratch and then reviewed by the KC Board of Trustees for approval.
“The process of creating and understanding the materials, parts of the accreditation process, and the opportunity to work with the Board of Trustees for approval and review — that’s an incredibly valuable experience for students,” Biddix said.
Biddix, Lundy, Brown and the A-Team are now in the final process of reviewing the hundreds of documents that make up their application for accreditation, “going through the cracks,” Lundy said.
“It was a long journey.” I’m thankful for the team that keeps us going. It wasn’t easy,” Lundy said, adding that the partnership KC, UT Knoxville and MBC have built is a testament to the power of what institutions can accomplish when they come together to “educate, empower and uplift communities.”
“When we think about retention rates, especially for black males — HBCUs are still significant. We may not have a billion dollar endowment, but we can count on the help of our sister institutions,” Lundy said. “And that’s what it’s all about. We are here to serve people. It’s a collaboration to show that institutions can come together and not care about who’s taking students from whom – it’s about lifting people up and giving education to more people.”
Liann Herder can be reached at email@example.com.