Morris celebrates 114 years as HBCU during Black History Month

Morris College in Sumter strives to provide quality education to its students and a family culture.

Morris College is a private Baptist college, which was founded and operated by the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina in 1906, then established in 1908.

The college received a certificate of incorporation from the State of South Carolina on April 12, 1911. Originally, Morris College provided education at the elementary, secondary, and college levels. The college curriculum included liberal arts programs, training for teacher certification, and a theological program.

In 1915, the Bachelor of Arts was awarded to the first two college graduates. The institution discontinued its teacher certification training program in 1929, its primary school in 1930, and its secondary school in 1946.

The college then operated only as a junior college in the early 1930s, but resumed a full four-year program in 1933.

CREATING A ‘FAMILY’ CULTURE

For Nigeria Myers, President of the Morris College Student Government Association, attending Morris gave her the opportunity to find herself.

Myers, a criminal justice major with a minor in Christian education, said she decided to date Morris because she wanted to be close to her family and ‘didn’t want to be labeled as a statistic’ – meaning that ‘She feels treated like family at Morris.

She transferred from Greenville Technical College and said coming to Morris felt like it was a new season for her.

“I got lost in Greenville, and when I decided to come back (to Sumter), I knew I wanted to represent something in life, and Morris gave me that opportunity and to unlock things in me that I didn’t know they were there,” Myers said.

After graduating, Myers plans to attend law school at the University of South Carolina and eventually practice criminal, civil, and/or trust law.

“When I came to Morris, I always had aspirations in law,” Myers said. “I knew I wanted to be a cop or a lawyer. Back in high school, I went on bike rides and was very intrigued by the law from an early age. Other family members have come to Morris, such as my grandfather who graduated in 1977, and cousins ​​who recently and currently went to Morris. In my immediate family, I will be the first graduate.

Talique Cobb, a junior and vice president of the Morris College Student Government Association, majors in mass communication and wants to become a social media marketer after graduating, with aspirations to move into politics and career. stand for election statewide.

“I love the connection I have with faculty and staff, and they help me get through it every day,” Cobb said. “When I was in high school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do in life and I realized that I really liked talking to people. I wondered what kind of work I could do that would suit me. When I was a senior, I started learning about HBCUs that have degrees in mass communication, but I still didn’t know if college was for me.

His mother really pushed him to try it, Cobb said.

“Looking back, I really appreciate my mom for guiding me,” he added. “She let me know that my life is mine and she is a great guide in my life. She told me that somehow I had to do something with my life.

Tah’Ajaih Goodwine, first assistant principal and student leader of the Morris College Student Government Association has always had a passion for working with children, so she decided to major in early childhood education.

After graduating, Goodwine would like to work as a preschool and kindergarten teacher for a few years, then work toward getting her master’s degree and moving into an administrative role with a school district.

“My goal is to see children succeed, and I never want to be the teacher who fails a child,” she said.

Goodwine’s grandparents also went to Morris and his uncle went to another HBCU.

“I loved (Morris) after my visit,” Goodwine said. “My senior year in high school, everyone was getting ready for college. I was just living through life and didn’t realize that the time to decide was coming as quickly as it was. I took a step back and originally wanted to do speech therapy but after watching a grade school and being in class and giving a lesson from that moment I realized this was what what I wanted to do.

For Jeremiah Robinson, a junior at Morris College, going to an HBCU had a different meaning for him because he is in the minority.

“I applied for five of the seven HBCUs in South Carolina,” Robinson said. “I wasn’t too far from home, but not too close either. Here, I’d rather be 1 in 15 than 1 in 65. Here, you’re family and people know you by name, and people never thought of me as an outcast. The opportunities are endless.

Robinson majors in business administration and aspires to become a district manager or above at one of his favorite restaurants, Olive Garden.

People ask him if he regrets attending an HBCU, and the answer is no, Robinson said.

“All of my teachers are willing to help, and I’ll be crying at graduation because I’ve always been treated like family here,” Robinson said. “University is an experience of internal growth, and I’m right in the middle of it. Life changes for the better, just enjoy it.

FAST FACTS ABOUT MORRIS COLLEGE

College enrollment has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Morris College Dean of Academic Affairs Jacob E. Butler.

In recent years, enrollment has been between 500 and 600 students, down from around 1,000 before the pandemic.

“We hope the pandemic subsides and students who have suspended enrollment will re-enroll soon,” Butler said.

The college has expanded distance offerings to allow more students to take courses online, Butler said, but this form of learning doesn’t work for all students.

The transition to remote learning can also be costly, Butler said.

“Now we are part of the education landscape and trying to balance the scale to determine how many students to accommodate with virtual learning and what percentage of those students will be face-to-face or online,” a- he added. “We are still trying to navigate through it all. The pandemic has given us a way to look at what we do and how we do it and reassess everything. »

Butler said Morris is for students considering college, especially first-generation students.

“We pride ourselves on providing the education you need in a smaller, more intimate setting with the ability to build strong relationships with more personal attention,” Butler said. “At the same time, the student we educate and graduate goes out into the world and has a substantial impact.”

Many Morris students live in three college counties, so they can return home on weekends and meet family obligations while attending school, he added.

Another reason students turn to schools like Morris is that students who may need a bit more academic support when they’re attending college for the first time, Butler said.

“I am a product of an HBCU and never thought I would have the opportunity to give back to an HBCU through employment,” said Juana Davis-Freeman, Dean of Student Affairs at Morris. Middle School. “I would like to think back to my 23 years working at Morris where I made a difference in the lives of students. We meet students where they are and take them where they want to be.

Another big part of student life at Morris College is its Greek life, Davis-Freeman said.

OCCUPY A ‘UNIQUE POSITION IN THE AMERICAN SOCIAL ORDER’

Currently, the college offers degree programs leading to the bachelor’s degree with majors in Biology, Biology/Secondary Education, Business Administration, Christian Education, Forensics, Criminal Justice, Cyber ​​Security, Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, English, English/Secondary Education, Health Sciences, Liberal Studies, Mass Communications, Mathematics, Mathematics/Secondary Education, Organizational Management, Pastoral Ministry, Recreation Administration, Social Studies/Secondary Education, and Sociology.

Morris is ranked #1 in the state for its theology and religion programs and also well known for its criminal justice program.

Morris College achieved the goal of full accreditation by the College Commission of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools on December 13, 1978.

On January 1, 1982, Morris College became the 42nd member of the United Negro College Fund, the nation’s largest and most successful black fundraising organization.

Notable Morris College alumni include J. David Weeks, now a Sumter attorney, SC House of Representative representing Sumter County District 51, and former chairman of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus; Ernest Finney, Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court; and the former president of Morris College for 43 years, Luns Richardson.

Tuition and fees for non-internal students for the 2021-22 school year, including insurance for two semesters, are $15,450, not to exceed 18 hours per semester and $22,466 for housing and meals.

For more information about Morris College student life and how to apply, visit Morris.edu.

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