Date of Award

7-3-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Philo Hutcheson - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Joel Meyers

Third Advisor

Dr. Deron Boyles

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Linda Buchanan

Abstract

HAVEN FOR ALL HUNGRY SOULS: THE INFLUENCE OF THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH AND THE SOUTHERN ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS ON MORRIS BROWN COLLEGE By Serena Celeste Wilson Morris Brown College is a small, private historically Black college located near downtown Atlanta, Georgia. The College is the only post-secondary institution in Georgia founded by Blacks for the purpose of educating Blacks. The relationship between Morris Brown College, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools presents an untapped area of research regarding the how external regulatory and fiscal contributing bodies influence the internal mission, culture and management of an institution of higher education. Morris Brown College presents a unique case because, since its founding, it has maintained a close affiliation with the Church that established it. Yet, in recent years, its financial existence has been dependent upon the receipt and use of public funding—which is intricately tied to accrediting standards and oversight. In 2003 the College lost its accreditation. This study employs an ethnographic case-study qualitative research design to explore how the College’s relationship with these bodies influenced the institution’s organizational structure, fiscal management, and administrative culture and identity. The study’s findings indicate that the College’s relationship with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools was largely reflective of the values, ideals, and perspectives of who represented the College at any given time. The College’s relationship with its founding body, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was primarily maintained through the placement of Church members (largely clergy) on the College’s board of trustees, and evidenced in the College’s ideology and mission. Although an autonomous operating body, the College’s relationships with these two bodies are complicated by the institution’s reliance on continued financial support from the Church, and validation (in the form of accreditation) from SACS. While healthy working relationships with both bodies are not mutually exclusive, the internal planning, governance, and evaluation of the College must necessarily consider the values and expectations of these (and other) external entities.

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