17 HBCUs that didn’t make it


Five HBCUs have completely closed since 1989. Several others, including Knoxville College, Barber-Scotia College and Morris Brown College, with only 55 students enrolled, remain open in name only after having been stripped of their accreditation.

» GO DEEPER: Perilous times for black colleges 

» COUNTERPOINT: HBCUs healthier than grad rates indicate

» FULL COVERAGE: The entire "HBCUs: A Threatened Heritage" series

Here is a closer look at 17 black colleges that have closed: 

Avery College: 1849-1873. Pittsburgh. Not much is known about Avery other than a historical marker that reads in part, “to provide classical education for Negroes.” The school’s 1873 closing might have been tied to a financial panic. 

Guadalupe College: 1884-1936. Seguin, Texas. Established by the Guadalupe Baptist Association for black students. Fire destroyed the campus in 1936. 

Western University: 1865-1943, Quindaro, Kan. The first black college established west of the Mississippi. A fire in 1924, followed by dwindling enrollment, forced closure in 1943. 

Storer College: 1865-1955: Harpers Ferry, W.Va. Founded by New England philanthropists, the school lost state funding after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. 

Leland University: 1870-1960. New Orleans/Baker, La. After a hurricane destroyed the campus in 1915, the school moved to Baker. The school struggled financially. 

Campbell College: 1890-1964. Vicksburg and Jackson, Miss. The African Methodist Episcopal Church started the school “to give students a thorough education.” Poor finances closed it in 1964. 

Kittrell College: 1886-1975. Kittrell, N.C. The AME school was twice shut down for financial problems before closing for good in 1975. 

Daniel Payne College: 1889-1979. Birmingham. Named in honor of Daniel Payne, the sixth bishop of the AME Church, the school went bankrupt in 1978. 

Friendship College: 1891-1981. Rock Hill, S.C. Founded as a “place for young African-Americans to be educated so that they could move forward in society as ministers and educators.” Financial mismanagement forced the school to close in 1981. 

Prentiss Institute: 1907-1989. Jefferson Davis County, Miss. When Prentiss opened, students paid in eggs, chicken and produce. It became a private two-year college in 1955. A decline in enrollment forced the school to close in 1989. 

Mississippi Industrial College: 1905-1982. Holly Springs, Miss. The Colored Methodist Episcopal Church opened the school to train students in Christian ideals. The advent of community colleges forced the college to close in 1982. 

Bishop College: 1881-1988. Dallas. Founded in Marshall as a college for black Baptists, Bishop moved to Dallas in 1961. It suffered financially through the ’70s and ’80s before closing. 

Natchez Junior College: 1884-1989. Natchez, Miss. Formed by the Baptist State Missionary Convention as Natchez College, it stopped giving bachelor’s degrees in the 1960s and became a junior college before closing in 1989. 

Morristown College: 1881-1989. Morristown, Tenn. Hard times forced the school to merge with Knoxville College in 1989, becoming Knoxville College-Morristown Campus. Knoxville had its own issues and closed the school in 1994. Three years later, Knoxville lost its accreditation. In 2015, the college suspended classes until fall 2016 but never reopened. It remains indefinitely closed. 

Mary Holmes College: 1892-2004. Jacksonville, Miss. Having started as a high school for girls, it became a two-year private college in 1959. Financial problems forced the school’s board to declare bankruptcy and close in 2004. 

Lewis College of Business: 1928-2013. Detroit. The first HBCU in Michigan, Lewis specialized in business-related majors. It closed in 2013. 

St. Paul’s College: 1888 – 2013. Lawrenceville, Va. The last HBCU to close, St. Paul’s struggled with financial issues for years until it lost its accreditation in 2012. A last-ditch effort to merge with another school failed, and the school closed a year later. 

* In the 1950s, Florida opened a series of 11 black junior colleges after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. All were abruptly closed after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.




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