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Friday, July 28, 2006

Hampton J-School Wins Round in Accreditation Battle

After a vigorous and sharply worded appeal from the leaders of Hampton University, an appeals board recommended July 25 that the university's Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications be given full accreditation for the 2006-07 academic year, pending a revisit by the accrediting council before May.

The recommendation still must be approved by the full accrediting council. Dean Tony Brown sent out an e-mail later in the day with the words "A Landmark Decision" in the subject line, saying, "We won."

The school had been granted "provisional" accreditation in May, meaning the school would have up to two years to come into compliance with accreditation standards.

That decision was attacked by Brown and University President William R. Harvey. Both sharply criticized Jannette Dates, the dean of the John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University who led the four-person accrediting team from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

"Some team members didn't want to be confused with the facts . . . so they didn't listen," Harvey said.

"Critics -- many of whom are black -- are jealous of our program," Brown said. "Some are trying to advance their interests or the interests of their organization. We will fight all of it," he said, going on to cite the school's accomplishments and saying it expected a record enrollment in the fall.

The team visited Hampton in January and found the school to be noncompliant on two of the nine council standards. It found the school out of compliance with the standards for "Mission, Governance and Administration" and "Scholarship: Research, Creative and Professional Activity."

The team cited such problems as not having a clear evaluation process for faculty, an unsettled campus atmosphere and faculty members not having enough voice in administrative matters.

Harvey selected Brown as dean five days after the former school leader, Christopher Campbell, resigned in 2004.

At the appeal, held in an Arlington, Va., hotel meeting room, Brown, Harvey, and Provost Joyce Jarrett cited what they called inaccuracies in the accrediting team's report and unethical behavior by team members.

The accrediting team has been under fire by Hampton's leadership since the team's findings were disclosed in the "Richard Prince's Journal-isms" online column of Feb. 3, in which an unnamed member of the site team spoke with the columnist. That disclosure, three days after the visit, violated the council's policy against revealing information about reports prior to their completion, they said.

Steve Geimann of Bloomberg News, a former president of the Society of Professional Journalists, told the council in May, "I was the guilty party. I spoke to a reporter. I did apologize to the president [of Hampton] for speaking out of turn."

At the appeal, Harvey called the revelation "disrespectful, unprofessional, and just plain wrong.

"Our confidence in the [accrediting] process has been shaken . . . by the unethical behavior," he said.

Harvey said Dates tried to "dismiss and trivialize" the disclosure without owning up to it for the "egregious behavior" it was. He said the "agenda-driven" team came with negative, preconceived notions.

With a weary look, appeals board chairman Charles Edwards, dean of the Drake University School of Journalism and Mass Communication, listened as Harvey listed his professional accomplishments, including chairing several academic committees.

"This is not about you," Edwards said, urging Harvey to get to the "substance" of the meeting.

In response to Harvey's comments, Dates said, "I have chaired about 15 sites," referring to site visits. "I think the report speaks for itself. I stand behind the report."

Faculty turnover also became part of the discussion. In addition to Campbell's resignation, seven faculty members left after the 2005 spring semester.

Dates said the high turnover was a sign of turmoil at the school. Harvey disagreed.

"There have been some problems in the past. There is no turmoil and there hasn't been for two years," he said.

Brown said all seven of the faculty members shouldn't be grouped together.

"It makes it sound more ominous than it is," he said.

Brown said one of the members is on a leave of absence, another left for professional reasons, another had to relocate when his wife became sick, and another followed a director who had gone to a different program.

None of the seven had signed a new contract for the 2005-06 year. Jarrett said contracts for the following academic year are typically handed out around May and faculty members have 10 days to respond.

Edwards said he was concerned about the poor quality of the school's self-study, performed as part of the accreditation process.

The study listed accomplishments of the faculty over the past six years, since the last accreditation evaluation. But most of the faculty members on the list were no longer with the university.

Dates said the list was disorganized and did not differentiate between current faculty members and those who had left, or between part-time and full-time staffers.

Brown and Harvey agreed that the self-study needs improvement.

After nearly four hours of discussion, appeals board member Merrill Rose, an independent strategic communications consultant in New York, moved that the council continue full accreditation status for one year, during which the school would pursue reaccreditation.

"Neither the site team nor the school gave their best effort to the accrediting process," she said.

Appeals board member Charles Elmore, chair of the Mass Communications Department at Savannah State University, seconded the motion. However, Edwards said he thought it would be better to give the council more flexibility in deciding how to handle the situation.

The final motion, to have the school receive full accreditation for the 2006-07 academic year pending a revisit of the matter by the end of the school year, was approved by all three members.

Brown stood up from the meeting table, a smile on his face. Harvey circled the room, shaking hands and smiling as well.

"I'm very, very happy. I don’t know of another occasion where this has happened, where the appeals board has voted to do that, so I was very happy. It’s hard to say I expected it. The reason we appealed was that we felt we were in compliance all along. I’m happy the appeals board agreed," Brown said later.

"We will continue to do what we’re doing and like other programs, we will try to do it better. That’s what you do in this business. The fact that an accrediting team felt that we were not in compliance is their opinion. We have our own opinion and in this instance I am happy that our opinion was confirmed by the appeals board."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Dillard delays classes until Sept. 25

Banking on the hope that the worst of this year's hurricane season will have passed by then, Dillard University has pushed back the starting date for fall-semester classes to Sept. 25: a month later than usual.

With this revision in the academic calendar, Dillard officials hope to avoid a repetition of last year when, less than a week after classes began, Hurricane Katrina's approach forced them to shut down the Gentilly campus and evacuate about 2,200 students.

Delaying the start of the fall semester to late September -- later than any other local institution of higher learning -- was a strategic decision "to reflect the realities of the environment," said Walter Strong, Dillard's vice president for institutional planning and advancement.

"We just revised our academic calendar to reflect the fact that by that point in time, 80 percent of the hurricane season will likely be behind us," he said. "It represents to us a much better time for the opening of classes, and that's going to be our approach from here on."

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's records of hurricanes that have hit the New Orleans area, 75 percent of them, including all of the most destructive storms, have struck in either late August or September.

So while starting school in September doesn't completely avoid the height of hurricane season in Louisiana, starting late in the month has history on its side. State climatologist Barry Keim has said research shows that the pinnacle of the Gulf Coast hurricane season is Sept. 10, and that three weeks before and after that date -- Aug. 20 through Oct. 1 -- are when the biggest storms have hit.

"All the signature storms for the Gulf Coast -- Betsy, Camille, Gilbert, Andrew, Katrina -- occurred during that time period," Keim said at the start of this year's hurricane season.

With Dillard's calendar change, the fall semester won't end until January, reversing a trend several decades old to let students finish their final exams before the December holiday break.

"That was the biggest lament," Strong said.

But the delayed exams mean that "students . . . will have that extra time to prepare for them during the Christmas holiday," he said.

"We wanted to give students and faculty a bit of a break," she said. "Next year we're going back to our regular time frame, in the middle of August."

Weather had no bearing on Xavier's schedule, Dotson said.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

HU to appeal journalism accreditation decision

An accrediting council in June decided the school was out of compliance in two of its nine standards.

HAMPTON -- Officials from Hampton University will be in Chicago on Tuesday to appeal the findings of a group that did not fully accredit the journalism school earlier this year.

Tony Brown, dean of the school, said the school was not treated fairly because the four-person team that visited HU in January failed to follow its own rules when examining the school and then leaked confidential information about its findings to the media.

Last month, HU's Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Mass Communications told the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications that it planned to challenge the provisional accreditation it received in May. The council found the school out of compliance on two of its nine standards, but Brown said the journalism school meets all of them.

Receiving accreditation from the council adds prestige to the school.

Brown did not speak publicly about the council's decision until this week.

He is miffed that one member of the accreditation team spoke to a reporter about the team's findings before the report became official.

Brown said leaking that information, which he called unprofessional, calls into question the professionalism of the team and its findings.

"You can't completely dismiss it," Brown said of the leak, "because it clouds the integrity of the process."

Brown also disagrees with a finding that HU did not make clear to faculty the process by which he was hired days after a former journalism school dean abruptly resigned in 2004.

HU officials said the process is clear and was explained to the site team.

The team also asserted there is inadequate scholarship among the school's faculty. Brown said the team threw out the work of the previous faculty members over the past six years, but he is not sure why.

He said the chair of the site team told the school it did not have enough faculty members with Ph.D.s. He called that "a violation of their own rules" because the team's report states it cannot tell a university how to make up its faculty.

An independent, three-person board will review HU's appeal, but the accrediting council will make the final decision.

It is has been at least six years since a university appealed the council's decision, said Susanne Shaw, its executive director.

Brown said it would be easy for the school to "just shut up and fix them," which would get it fully accredited in two years.

"But we're going through with this," he said, "because we were not treated fair."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Morehouse researcher explores how black males see themselves

David Wall Rice started teaching at Morehouse College a year ago and students seemed excited to hear what the 33-year-old educator had to say.

Recently, a group of sophomores and juniors from Morehouse and Spelman colleges talked with Rice about how black males view themselves in light of negative statistics and stereotypes.

"People in other countries, they see [rapper] 50 Cent, and they think that's how we are," one student said.

Referring to rappers, another student said, "When it pertains to videos, most people don't look at what they're saying. What they're saying isn't as important [as] what they're showing. They stereotype us based on those images."

The athlete. The entertainer. The hustler. Rice said young black males are popularly viewed in these categories.

But Rice doesn't look at statistics or hip-hop icons to define who black males are. He's asking the young men what they think of themselves.

"It becomes very important to have individuals participate in defining themselves instead of having these templates that are placed on top of them," Rice said.

Studies by experts at Columbia, Princeton and Harvard universities show that finishing high school is the exception for black males, unemployment is common and prison is almost routine.

Studies showed that in 2004, 21 percent of black men in their 20s without a college education were in jail. More than half in inner cities don't complete high school, according to The New York Times.

"Well, that doesn't tell me who black males are," Rice said, in response to the studies.

Rice began his research four years ago after reading a number of scholarly articles that, he said, primarily focused on the negative aspects of black males.

He said he doesn't dispute the negative statistics but feels research must be expanded to include positive aspects, giving a fuller picture of black males.

Rice did case studies two years ago during a two-month span.

Six black males, ages 14 to 18, from different socioeconomic backgrounds, gave personal accounts of how they saw themselves despite statistics, negative media coverage and even the comments of comedian Bill Cosby.

"They have a very sophisticated understanding of who they are and how they fit into the constellation of American success," he said.

Dr. Jann Adams, chairwoman of the psychology department, describes Rice as a "rising star" in the department who is bringing a new perspective to the school.

"I think at Morehouse he's the first person to do work of this nature . . ." she said.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Benedict may delay paying its employees

College was more than $100 million in debt in 2005 audit

Benedict College employees’ next paychecks might be delayed by four days, until Aug. 4.

Brenda Walker, Benedict’s vice president for business and finance, announced the possible paycheck delay in a July 14 memorandum to the faculty and staff.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this potential delay may cause,” Walker wrote. “Thank you for patience and understanding.”

For the past year, Benedict has been struggling to cover a roughly $2 million operating deficit. The shortfall is mostly because of a disappointing 2005 fall enrollment of 2,552 students, which was about 150 fewer than expected.

But federal audits obtained by The State newspaper show Benedict has been experiencing cash-flow problems for three out of the past four years.

And over that time frame, Benedict’s debt has swelled to more than $100 million.

Benedict trustee William Whitney said the board met in Charleston for three days last week but wasn’t told the college might miss a payday.

“I knew we had financial difficulties,” Whitney said. “To be honest, we didn’t get any numbers. But the message was very clear that we are having financial difficulties.

“Our problem is a lot of short-term debt.”

Whitney, of Greenville, said the college has been trying to arrange a long-term refinancing package.

According to certified public accountants Cherry Bekaert and Holland in an audit dated Nov. 2, 2005, Benedict had debt and other liabilities totaling $101.2 mil-lion as of June 30, 2005, and $35.5 million in total assets.

The historically black institution has experienced cash short-ages for several years. It had operating deficits in three of the four most recent years for which audits are available. In the year ended June 30, 2005, Benedict’s expenses exceeded revenue by $2.2 million.

Benedict president David Swinton has been cutting costs to try to address that deficit.

He slashed salaries by 7.5 percent and eliminated such programs as the Benedict Academy, a partnership with Richland 1 school district that allowed rising freshmen at C.A. Johnson to spend time studying on the college campus during the summer.

Swinton said last fall he also would discontinue some contracts with outside vendors.

Audits show Benedict also has had problems making pension payments on time.

The State obtained details of Benedict’s financial reports to the U.S. Department of Education under the provisions of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

Federal auditors reviewing its financial performance noted the school had delayed depositing employee contributions to their pension program as long as three months.

The college is required to de-posit participants’ contributions with the plan custodian as soon as reasonably possible, but no later than the 15th business day of the month following the payday. The school eventually made the payments.

Whitney said he had never been told about the late payments to the pension plan.

“The college has had a cash-flow shortage in the year under audit and through the audit report date” of June 30, 2005, the auditors’ report states.

The federal auditors also noted that on Dec. 1, 2005, the college obtained an additional line of credit of $1 million, unconditionally guaranteed by the chairman of the college’s board of trustees, Charlie Johnson of Louisville, Ky.

Efforts to reach Swinton were unsuccessful.

Benedict College spokeswoman Kymm Hunter declined to be interviewed. She issued the following statement:

“The two-week advance notice of a possible change in the payroll date was attached to the employee’s July 15, 2006 paycheck. The memo which was dated July 14, 2006 was sent in an effort give employees an ample amount of time to make financial arrangements, if necessary, as well as to apologize for any inconvenience the potential delay may cause.”

Classes at the school resume Aug. 16

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Johnnetta Cole to leave Bennett College in June

Johnnetta Cole, who took over as president of troubled Bennett College for Women in 2002, plans to end her five-year term with a bang, announcing Tuesday that Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou will headline a benefit gala for the school this fall.

In remarks at a state-of-the-school briefing, Cole said she will stick to her original plan and retire from the school's presidency in June. She said she first wants to see the historically black school finish off a $50 million fundraising campaign to secure its future.

That effort is being co-chaired by Angelou and former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., and has passed the halfway mark, Cole said.

Now, Cole said, she hopes Winfrey — who she called an "extraordinary force in American and international affairs" — can help give a big boost to the effort.

During four years as president, Cole, the former president of Atlanta's Spelman College, has helped stabilize Bennett. When she took over in 2002, the school was running a $2 million budget deficit and was on academic probation.

She scored an early coup when she recruited Dole to lead the big fundraising campaign; Dole's wife, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., had become concerned about Bennett after visiting the school during her 2002 Senate campaign.

Frustrated by internal dissent at the college, Cole said in April 2005 that she would resign as president. But an outpouring of support changed her mind and she decided to stay.

Last fall, Bob Dole and former President Bill Clinton — on whose transition team Cole served in the early 1990s — hosted a fundraising event for the campaign at the college.

In her remarks Tuesday, Cole said the U.S. Department of Education recently gave the school's financial aid program an excellent rating and that the school has seen significant growth in alumnae giving and has renovated three historic campus buildings.

"How privileged I am to be the president of this ever so special institution that has such an important mission, and that has come this far by faith, by hard work and by the support of so many friends," she said.

Bennett was co-educational when it was founded in 1873, but became a private school for black women in 1926. The school has a current enrollment of 570.

Michelle Howard-Vital named Interim Chancellor at WSSU

Michelle Howard-Vital, associate vice president for academic affairs for the 16-campus University of North Carolina, has been named interim chancellor of Winston-Salem State University. The appointment, effective July 17, was made by UNC President Erskine Bowles. Howard-Vital, who is being introduced to the WSSU community by campus leaders and trustees this morning, will succeed Harold Martin, who is stepping down as WSSU chancellor to become UNC senior vice president for academic affairs.

“Given her extensive administrative experience, knowledge of our University and state, and demonstrated integrity, I am confident that Dr. Howard-Vital will do a fine job in leading WSSU during the search for a permanent chancellor.” President Bowles said in announcing the appointment. “I am grateful that she has accepted this important assignment.”

A native of Chicago, Howard-Vital holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English language and literature from the University of Chicago, as well as a doctorate in public policy analysis from the University of Illinois at Chicago. As UNC associate vice president, she has worked on a team responsible for program planning and coordination across the 16 campuses and provided guidance to post-secondary institutions seeking state licensure for degree programs, among other duties. Prior to joining the staff of UNC General Administration in 2003, Howard-Vital served for nearly a decade as vice chancellor for public service and continuing studies and associate provost at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she created and delivered online professional development programs and initiated a new fund-raising system, among other accomplishments. Earlier in her career, she had served as associate vice president for academic programs and dean of the university college at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, and as dean of continuing education and non-traditional programs at Chicago State University.

“Michelle’s expertise is a perfect fit to lead our next chapter of growth, while advancing the goals set forth in our strategic plan,” said Kevin Myatt, chairman of the WSSU Board of Trustees. “Among other great qualities, her successful experience as dean of continuing education programs and dean of a ‘university college’—both critical initiatives at our institution—will bring valuable insights as we expand learning opportunities for nontraditional students and strengthen the foundational education for undergraduates.”

For the immediate future, Howard-Vital plans to continue executing WSSU’s strategic plan, under which enrollment has nearly doubled over the past six years, to more than 5,500; freshman SAT scores have climbed nearly 70 points; and the campus has been transformed through a $45-million building program made possible by the 2000 Higher Education Bond Program, as well as other investments in capital construction and renovation. Last month, the campus announced the formation of its University College, a program to provide individual assistance to first-year students, helping them make a smoother adjustment to campus life and their new learning environment.

“WSSU’s leadership, faculty, and staff have charted a clear path forward and made tremendous progress establishing the school as a premier national university with recognized centers of excellence in health services, science and technology, teacher education, and financial services,” said Howard-Vital. “I look forward to maintaining the momentum, while lending my talents to drive further advancements in academic quality, particularly in our University College, graduate studies and research, and non-traditional programs.”

The co-author of a text on educational leadership and the author and/or co-author of numerous articles, reviews, professional presentation, and grants, Howard-Vital has served on the NC State Board of Education since 2001. She also has participated in the development of North Carolina’s first virtual high school and is completing a three-year term on the Specialty Studies Board of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. She has received numerous awards from educational and public service organizations, including the Alumni of the Year Award from the School of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and recognition as one of the most notable alumni of the University of Chicago.

Howard-Vital and her husband, Geri R. Vital, have one daughter, Madelyn.

FVSU breaks ground for new dormitories

Fort Valley State University is getting all new dorms for its students.

At a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday morning on campus, hundreds of administrators, students, alumni, politicians and building project officials celebrated the beginning of construction.

By the 2007 school year, the $42 million project is expected to be complete with six new buildings, including an amenity facility with a convenience store, office space and indoor recreation area. The five dormitories will have about 950 beds in a complex on nine acres.

Developing the residential village aligns with the university's recruitment efforts, said Fort Valley State University President Larry E. Rivers.

"Parents want to see their children in clean, state-of-the-art facilities," Rivers said.

Since Al Foster, the director of plant operations, has been at Fort Valley State, $500,000 has been spent each year to repair dorms, including fixing air conditioning, replacing tiles, renovating bathrooms and putting in new windows, he said.

Foster said the new housing, coupled with academic programs, can only mean more students for the institution.

Monday, July 03, 2006

LeMoyne-Owen trustees resign

Trustees of LeMoyne-Owen College have agreed to resign, allowing the cash-strapped school to receive an anonymous $2.5 million donation and meet today's deadline for covering operating expenses for the year.

Last week, an anonymous donor pledged to give the college $1.5 million by the end of the month and an additional $1 million in a matching grant-- if the school's trustees resigned.

All but three of the college's 30 trustees -- including Mayor Willie Herenton and board chairman Robert Lipscomb -- have submitted their resignations, Lipscomb said Thursday. Trustees who hold seats specially designated for alumni and churches weren't asked to leave.

Lipscomb said the board already had decided to restructure itself before it received the donor's request.

"We have the opportunity to renew ourselves," Lipscomb said. "We already decided that we needed new people in our seats."

The $2.5 million donation gives the city's only historically black college, which is more than $6 million in debt, more time to address its financial and accreditation problems.

Last December, the college was placed on "probation with good cause" by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Officials with SACS will return in October to evaluate the college's financial progress and reconsider its accreditation status.

Earlier this month, school president James Wingate resigned, citing in part frustration over the inability to chip away at the school's $6 million debt.

Lipscomb said trustees who submitted their resignations will remain on the board until their replacements are chosen. The new trustees will hire a new president and work to resolve the college's financial problems.

Lipscomb hopes new board members will focus on finding a specific niche for the university.

"Our progress isn't going to happen overnight, but it will happen," he said.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Morehouse Awaits King Papers

The just-acquired papers of alumnus Martin Luther King Jr. will attract scholars to Morehouse College, says President Walter E. Massey.

Morehouse College stands to gain much more than the 10,000 documents in the collection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. bought by a coalition of business leaders, individuals and philanthropic leaders in Atlanta.

Questions about housing the collection and accessibility to the papers linger, but the college, in acquiring the papers, is positioning itself for change and improvement in opportunities for scholarship, facilities and perceptions of the college, its officials said.

"We have, in our long-range campus development plan, plans for a facility that would house the papers we already have, so we'll have to go back and visit those long-range plans, but we're going to do that in conjunction with the mayor, other universities and the Atlanta History Center before we make any final plans," said Walter E. Massey, Morehouse College president.

The Morehouse community is celebrating the acquisition as a homecoming. The news came after Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin assembled a coalition of business and civic leaders to donate money to obtain the collection before a scheduled June 30 auction at Sotheby's auction house in New York.

The collection, bought directly from the King family for $32 million on June 23, includes some 10,000 documents of the late thinker and social activist, according to Sotheby's. The auction was canceled.

"Obviously, the papers are priceless," the mayor told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The key is to establish Atlanta as the home of civil rights and human rights. Getting the papers shows that the entire community is embracing that legacy."

When the auction was first announced, former ambassador Andrew Young, who collaborated with King during the civil rights movement, was quoted as saying, "this is a cheap city if it does not come up with enough money to keep that heritage here."

"It can only enhance Morehouse's reputation, nationally and internationally, and carries the Morehouse tradition of our alumni, prominent, well-known alumni, be[ing] closely connected with the college," Massey said in a June 26 interview, just before catching a flight to New York to view an exhibit of the collection at the auction house.

"It's another recognition that we are among the finest colleges in the world, the fact that this kind of collection would be entrusted into our oversight," said Massey.

"One of the reasons that the city was able to make a deal to buy the papers before going to auction was that the family really wanted [it] to come to Morehouse, and they are very pleased," he said.

There had been speculation that the papers would be housed in other Atlanta locations. However, Massey dispelled that concern.

"At first, there was some discussion of putting together a consortium with Emory" University, "the Atlanta History Center and other institutions, but in the end everyone decided that it would be more straightforward, just cleaner and better if Morehouse owned the papers, and then Morehouse would work with other institutions in the future. And the president of Emory himself supported that," Massey said.

"The mayor is interested in building a civil rights museum in the city that might house some of the papers or an exhibit," he said. If that happened, Morehouse would likely comply with a request to house the papers at the museum, or at least exhibit them there, according to Massey.

Left unsaid was whether Morehouse might be a possible home for that museum.

Despite the assurances of access to the collection, some students fear they will not be able to use the documents as undergraduates.

"First, where are they going to hold it?" asked Steven Ford, a senior history major from Houston and a research assistant for two years, speaking of the collection.

"And how is Morehouse going to make it available to the public? In the past, for students as well as faculty," he said, the archives "really have not been accessible or been easy to get to. I think Morehouse really needs to upgrade the work that they're trying to do because it's not just students that are going to [be] accessing these papers, but people around the world."

Ford noted that he had been able to research the personal documents of John Hope, the third president of Morehouse. "Just researching him was a really good experience for me," he said. "I learned a lot about not just him, but the time that he lived and the people that worked around him," said Ford. "So, I can't even imagine being able to look at some of Dr. King's work. It would be a really good opportunity and I think that if I had the chance, I would really enjoy it."

Ford is correct in thinking some students would have limited access, according to a leading professor and researcher of history at Morehouse, Alton Hornsby Jr. "Collections of this sort are very carefully guarded, and generally speaking, many of the major collections are unavailable to undergraduates," Hornsby said.

Yet Hornsby recognized the research benefits of King's writing for Morehouse students. He and others said Morehouse has many scholars and serious students who would be eager to use this opportunity to engage in scholarship.

"I would hope, as some of us on the faculty have tried, to expose undergraduates to original research," he said. "It enhances their academic composition while they are undergraduates and it is a leg up once they are in graduate school. I would hope that at some point that serious upperclassmen doing serious research would be given access."

Morehouse College already houses the Howard Thurman and the John and Lugenia Hope papers, among others, in a number of locations.

The Thurman papers are in Sale Hall, the same building where King once attended daily chapel. The Hope papers are in the Robert W. Woodruff Library, which according to Massey, will be the immediate home of the King papers.

The library serves the Atlanta University Center Consortium, the world's largest and oldest consortium of historically black colleges and universities: Clark Atlanta University, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Morris Brown College and Spelman College.

This newest acquisition spurs the need for a single location to house a more comprehensive archive, Massey said.