Morehouse College

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Morehouse College
Morehouse college seal.png
The academic seal of Morehouse College
MottoLatin: "Et Facta Est Lux"
Motto in EnglishAnd there was light[1]
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Men's college
Endowment$130 Million [2]
PresidentDr. John Silvanus Wilson, Jr.[3]
LocationAtlanta, Georgia, USA
Campus61 acres (25 ha), Urban[4]
Former namesAtlanta Baptist Seminary
Atlanta Baptist College
NewspaperThe Maroon Tiger
ColorsMaroon      and White     
AthleticsNCAA Division II SIAC[5]
NicknameMaroon Tigers[5]
MascotThe Maroon Tiger
Annapolis Group
Oberlin Group
A stylized bell tower rendered in maroon, with the text "Morehouse College" in black
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Coordinates: 33°44′48″N 84°24′55″W / 33.74667°N 84.41528°W / 33.74667; -84.41528

Morehouse College
Morehouse college seal.png
The academic seal of Morehouse College
MottoLatin: "Et Facta Est Lux"
Motto in EnglishAnd there was light[1]
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Men's college
Endowment$130 Million [2]
PresidentDr. John Silvanus Wilson, Jr.[3]
LocationAtlanta, Georgia, USA
Campus61 acres (25 ha), Urban[4]
Former namesAtlanta Baptist Seminary
Atlanta Baptist College
NewspaperThe Maroon Tiger
ColorsMaroon      and White     
AthleticsNCAA Division II SIAC[5]
NicknameMaroon Tigers[5]
MascotThe Maroon Tiger
Annapolis Group
Oberlin Group
A stylized bell tower rendered in maroon, with the text "Morehouse College" in black

Morehouse College is a private, all-male, liberal arts, historically black college located in Atlanta, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Along with Hampden–Sydney College and Wabash College, Morehouse is one of three remaining traditional men's liberal arts colleges in the United States.

The mission of Morehouse College is to develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service. A private historically black liberal arts college for men, Morehouse realizes this mission by emphasizing the intellectual and character development of its students. In addition, the College assumes special responsibility for teaching the history and culture of black people.

Morehouse has a 61-acre (250,000 m2) campus and an enrollment of approximately 2,100 students. The student-faculty ratio is 16:1 and 100% of the school's tenure-track faculty hold tertiary degrees. Along with Clark Atlanta University, Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse School of Medicine and nearby women's college Spelman College, Morehouse is part of the Atlanta University Center. In 1881, both Morehouse and Spelman students were studying in the basement of Atlanta's Friendship Baptist Church.

Morehouse is one of two black colleges in the country to produce Rhodes Scholars, and it is the alma mater of many African-American leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.



Just two years after the American Civil War, the Augusta Institute was founded by William Jefferson White, an Atlanta Baptist minister and cabinetmaker, with the support of the Rev. Richard C. Coulter, a former slave from Atlanta, Georgia, and the Rev. Edmund Turney, organizer of the National Theological Institute for educating freedmen in Washington, D.C.[6] The institution was founded to educate African American men in theology and education and was located in Springfield Baptist Church, the oldest independent black church in the United States. The school received sponsorship from the American Baptist Home Mission Society, an organization that helped establish several historically black colleges.[6][7] The Institute's first president was Rev. Dr. Joseph T. Robert (father of Brigadier General Henry Martyn Robert, author of Robert's Rules of Order).

Morehouse's History at a glance
1867Augusta Institute established[6]
1879Institute moved to Atlanta and name changed to Atlanta Baptist Seminary[6]
1885The seminary moved to its present location[6]
1897The school was renamed Atlanta Baptist College[6]
1913School renamed to Morehouse College[6]
1929Morehouse entered into a cooperative agreement with Clark College and Spelman College (later expanded to form the Atlanta University Center)[6]
1975The Morehouse School of Medicine established
1981The Morehouse School of Medicine became independent from Morehouse College

Early years[edit]

In 1879, the institute moved to its own location and changed its name to the Atlanta Baptist Seminary.[6] It later acquired a 4-acre (1.6 ha) campus in downtown Atlanta. In 1885, Dr. Samuel T. Graves became the second president. That year the seminary moved to its present location, on land donated by prominent Baptist and industrialist, John D. Rockefeller. In 1890, Dr. George Sale became the seminary's third president. The following year, the college's Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society was founded. In 1975, Dr. Gloster established the Morehouse School of Medicine, which became independent from Morehouse College in 1981. Gloster also established a dual-degree program in engineering with the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Michigan and Boston University.[8]

A view of an entrance to the campus' courtyard.

In 1906 Dr. John Hope became the first African-American president and led the institution's growth in enrollment and academic stature.[6] He envisioned an academically rigorous college that would be the antithesis to Booker T. Washington's view of agricultural and trade-focused education for African-Americans. In 1913, the college was renamed Morehouse College, in honor of Dr. Henry L. Morehouse, corresponding secretary of the American Baptist Home Mission Society (who had long organized Rockefeller and the Society's support for the College).[6][7] Morehouse entered into a cooperative agreement with Clark College and Spelman College in 1929 and later expanded the association to form the Atlanta University Center.[6]

Dr. Samuel H. Archer became the fifth president of the college in 1931 and selected the school colors (maroon and white) to reflect his own alma mater, Colgate University. Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays became president in 1940.[6] Mays, who would be a mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr., presided over the growth in international enrollment and reputation. During the 1960s, Morehouse students were actively involved in the civil rights movement in Atlanta.[6] Mays’ speeches were instrumental in shaping the personal development of Morehouse students during his tenure.

In 1967, Dr. Hugh M. Gloster became the seventh president. The following year, the college's Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society was founded. In 1975, Dr. Gloster established the Morehouse School of Medicine, which became independent from Morehouse College in 1981. Gloster also established a dual-degree program in engineering with the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Michigan and Boston University.[9]

Modern history[edit]

Dr. Leroy Keith, Jr., was named president in 1987. In 1995, alumnus Dr. Walter E. Massey, became Morehouse's ninth president. His successor, Dr. Robert Michael Franklin was the tenth president of the College. In November 2012, Dr. John Silvanus Wilson Jr., an alumnus of Morehouse College, was announced as the institution's 11th president.[10]

In 2007, Morehouse graduated 540 men, one of the largest classes in its history.[11] On May 16, 2008, Joshua Packwood became the first white valedictorian to graduate in the school's 141-year history.[12][13] In August 2008, Morehouse welcomed a total of 920 new students (770 freshmen and 150 transfer students) to its campus, one of the largest entering classes in the history of the school.[14]

Morehouse celebrated several historic milestones in 2013. 100 years ago, in 1913, Atlanta Baptist College was renamed Morehouse College after Henry Lyman Morehouse, corresponding secretary for the American Baptist Home Mission Society. 2013 is also the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, when Morehouse graduate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., class of 1948, delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington, D.C. The year also marks the 50th anniversary of King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail." The College also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the "A Candle in the Dark" Gala, which honors some of the world's leaders and raises scholarship funds for Morehouse students.

In May 2013, President Barack Obama became the first sitting president in three quarters of a century to deliver a commencement address in Georgia when he took part in Morehouse College's 129th Commencement ceremony. Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a summer commencement address at the University of Georgia in 1938. President Obama received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the College.[15]

Administration and organization[edit]

Morehouse's official sister school, Bennett College, is located in Greensboro, North Carolina, the institution is physically located and socially intertwined closest with Spelman College, often considered the sister school but it is not. The two schools socially intertwine in events with the agreement of Bennett College. Bennett College for Women and Morehouse College are Brother and Sister institutions via the close and historic friendship of Bennett College for Women President Dr. David Dallas Jones and Morehouse College President Dr. Benjamin E. Mays. Spelman College represents Bennett College in various events. Morehouse and Spelman colleges have strong historical ties to each other: many Morehouse Men and Spelman Women intermarry by tradition.[citation needed]


Morehouse is located on 61 acres (25 ha) campus near downtown Atlanta.[4] The campus does not have a comprehensive sustainability program, but does operate recycling programs for paper, toner and ink jet printer cartridges.[16]


Graves Hall, Century Campus, and Mays' Tomb.
Kilgore Campus Center.
Historic Chapel Bell outside of Sale Hall.


Obelisk in front of King Chapel dedicated to Howard Thurman, world famous theologian and civil rights leader.

A bronze statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. stands at the eastern portion of the main entrance plaza of the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel. Inscribed in the base of the statue are the words of Dr. King.

An obelisk named in honor of Howard Thurman stands at the western end of the main entrance plaza of King Chapel. The base of the Thurman Obelisk contains the remains of Dr. Thurman and his wife. The obelisk also houses a carillon.

The grave sites of two presidents of Morehouse College are located on campus:


Morehouse College is accredited by the Commission and Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Students may choose from over 26 majors and may participate in the Morehouse College Honors Program which is a four-year comprehensive program providing special learning opportunities for students of outstanding intellectual ability, high motivation, and broad interests.

In 2008, the student body consisted of 2,500 black-non-Hispanic, 66 non-resident aliens, 9 Hispanics, 7 white-non-Hispanics, 4 native Americans, and 21 unidentified race or ethnicity.[19] Morehouse College has received considerable attention as an outstanding national leader among liberal arts colleges from an array of media and ranking agencies. CNN quoted Sterling Hudson, the former dean of admissions, as saying, "Like every other college, we're interested in diversity. So, if a white student becomes interested in Morehouse - of course we are going to treat him like any other student."[20]

Morehouse sponsors "Project Identity," a federally funded program to stimulate interest among high school students to attend college. Project Identity conducts Saturday and summer programs for high school students to give minority students exposure to college academic life.[21]

High School juniors in the Atlanta area may gain admission into Morehouse's Joint Enrollment program which allows a high school senior to enroll in Morehouse classes and earn credits toward both a Morehouse degree as well as a high school diploma.[22]

Division of Business Administration & Economics[edit]

Division of Humanities & Social Science[edit]

Division of Science & Mathematics[edit]

Historically black colleges and universities, which grant bachelor's degrees to 30 percent of the African Americans who pursue majors in science and engineering, continue to play a critical role in this regard. Since the 1989-90 academic year, the number of degrees awarded by the member institutions of The College Fund/UNCF have increased 64 percent in biology, 39 percent in mathematics, and 31 percent in physics and chemistry. At Morehouse College, more than 1/3 of our graduates are in science and engineering. And, last year at Morehouse, we received federal support to establish a Center of Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Education. The Center's mission is to increase the number of underrepresented groups pursuing careers in science, mathematics and engineering by providing scholarships and recruiting male and female high school students to participate in intensive summer programs, and by providing professional development activities and research experiences for public high school teachers.


Library and collections[edit]

Morehouse College, along with other members of the Atlanta University Center, share the Robert W. Woodruff Library.[34]

Morehouse College is home to a 10,000-piece collection of original documents written by Martin Luther King, Jr. (referred to as the King Collection). The set was valued by the Library of Congress as being worth between $28 to $30 million and was originally scheduled by his family to be auctioned off to the general public in 2006, but private donors in Atlanta intervened and offered a pre-auction bid at $32 million. On June 29, it was announced by Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, a key catalyst in the buyout, that a new civil rights museum would be built in the city to make the documents available for research, public access and exhibits. Coca Cola donated a land parcel valued at $10 million in order to assist with the development of the project. The collection includes King's 1964 Nobel Prize acceptance speech.[35][36][37][38]

Student life[edit]

Regulation of student conduct[edit]

In October 2009, Morehouse College initiated a campus wide attire policy that prohibits students from wearing women's clothes, jewelry on their teeth, pajamas as classroom attire, tight fitting caps or bandannas on their heads, or pants which hang below the waist at official college-sponsored events. This dress code is part of the Five Wells which holds that "Morehouse Men are Renaissance Men with a social conscience and global perspective who are Well-Read, Well-Spoken, Well-Traveled, Well-Dressed and Well-Balanced."[39] Dr. William Bynum, vice president for Student Services was quoted by CNN as saying, "We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress [in] a way we do not expect in Morehouse men."[40] These remarks and the attire policy itself have been the source of great controversy both on and off the campus. President Franklin personally sent out an email to the schools' alumni, clarifying that the university's attire policy is not intended as an affront to gays.[41]


Morehouse College offers organized and informal co-curricular activities including 78 student organizations, varsity, club, and intramural sports, and student publications.[42] Perhaps among the most notable of Morehouse's current students is Stephen Stafford II, a home-schooled student who matriculated at age 11 and is scheduled to graduate when he turns 16 in 2012.[43]

Morehouse is a NCAA Division II school and competes in numerous sports, including football, baseball, basketball, cross country, and track & field. They also offer club and intramural sports and over 75 student organizations and activities.

Morehouse Marching Band[edit]

The Morehouse College Marching Band is known for their halftime performances which combine dance and marching with music from various genres, including rap, traditional marching band music, and pop music. They have performed at Super Bowl XXVIII, the Today Show, and at Atlanta Falcons home games. They gave the halftime show during the 2013 NCAA Men's National Championship basketball game. Affectionately known as the "House of Funk" they march alongside the Maroon Mystique Color guard (flag spinning) squad and Mahogany-N-Motion dance team.

Mock Trial Association[edit]

2005–2006 Morehouse College Mock Trial Team after it obtained an "Honorable Mention" award in their first appearance at the American Mock Trial Association National Championship Tournament in 2006

In 2005, Morehouse College became a member of the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA).[44] The school is one of only four competing teams to come from a historically black college and is also the only all-male team in the AMTA.

From 2006 to 2010, Morehouse consecutively won their regional championship competitions, and thus received direct trips to the AMTA national championship competitions in Iowa, Florida, and Minnesota.[45]

Glee Club[edit]

Founded in 1911, the Morehouse College Glee Club has a long and impressive history. The Glee Club performed at Martin Luther King Jr.'s funeral, President Jimmy Carter's inauguration, Super Bowl XXVIII, and the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The Glee Club's international performances include tours in Africa, Russia, Poland and the Caribbean. The group also appeared on the soundtrack for the movie School Daze, directed by notable Morehouse alum (c/o 1979), Spike Lee. Most recently, the Morehouse College Glee Club was invited to perform at the ABCUSA 2011 Conference in Puerto Rico. Also, the glee club studio-recorded a song for Spike Lee's "Red Hook Summer" entitled Zachary and the Scaly-Bark Tree.

The Maroon Tiger[edit]

The college's weekly student-run newspaper is The Maroon Tiger. Originally founded in 1898 as The Athenaeum, it was renamed in 1925. American poet and writer Thomas Dent was a contributor while he attended from 1948 to 1952,[46] as was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The 2008–2009 staff sought to expand the newspaper into a news organization by creating Morehouse's first television news program, Tiger TV, and advancing online news coverage.

National fraternities and honor societies[edit]

Morehouse College has chapters of several national fraternities and honor societies:



Honor Societies[edit]

Religious organizations[edit]

Campus religious organizations include the Atlanta University Center Catholic Student Coalition, King International Chapel Ministry, Martin Luther King International Chapel Assistants, King Chapel Choir, Muslim Students Association, New Life Inspirational Fellowship Church Campus Ministry, and The Outlet.[42]


Morehouse Tigers athletics logo

In sports, Morehouse College is affiliated with the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II. The mascot is the Maroon Tiger. Morehouse College competes in football, baseball, basketball, cross country, tennis, track & field and golf.

The Morehouse swim team is called the Tigersharks. From 1958 till 1976 the swim team had 255 wins and only 25 losses, with over 15 SIAC championships, making it the most winning sports team in Morehouse history.[47] It beat Emory University and Georgia Tech in dual meets in different seasons. The team also appeared in Jet and Ebony magazines, Black Sports, and Sports Illustrated throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and is presently being considered as honorary inductees into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Actor Samuel L. Jackson was once the team statistician and apprentice swimmer. Some of the swimmers had competed in NCAA and NAIA competition at various times throughout the team's history. The team was disestablished in 1976, and the funds were transferred to build the Morehouse School of Medicine,[citation needed] which separated from Morehouse in 1981.[48] During the years of 1966 to 1970, their star butterfly swimmer was Bobby Garcia, now filmmaker Robert G. Christie ( His film, The Sobbing Stone, was nominated Best Feature Drama at the Sabaoth International Film Festival in Milan, Italy in 2006. He is now writing a screenplay of his years at Morehouse, soon to be made into a major motion picture.

Notable alumni[edit]

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering "I Have a Dream" at the 1963 Washington, D.C. Civil Rights March.

Morehouse alumni include notable African-Americans such as: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., theologian Howard Thurman, businessman and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, filmmaker Spike Lee, filmmaker Robert G. Christie (a.k.a. Bobby Garcia), actor Samuel L. Jackson, entrepreneur and creative genius Stephan B. Hall, Gang Starr rapper Guru, Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses, Lloyd McNeill, Jazz flutist, USPS Kwanza Stamp designer, the first recipient of Howard University's MFA Degree, former Bank of America Chairman Walter E. Massey, the first African-American mayor of Atlanta Maynard Jackson, Major League Baseball first baseman and 1969 World Series MVP Donn Clendenon, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan, and former United States Surgeon General David Satcher.

According to Morehouse's own "About Us" page, Morehouse was the first historically black college to produce a Rhodes Scholar. The school's first Rhodes Scholar, Nima Warfield, was named in 1994, the second, Christopher Elders, in 2001.[49] A third, Oluwabusayo "Topé" Folarin, was named in 2004. Morehouse has been home to seven Fulbright Scholars, Damon M. Lombard (1995), John Thomas (2004), Jason T. Garrett (2006), Morgan C. Williams, Jr. (2006), Lasean Brown (2008), Eric R. Baylor (2008) and Wendell H. Marsh (2009).[50][51]

Since 1999, Morehouse has produced five Marshall Scholars, five Luce Scholars, four Watson Fellows and 2010 White House Fellow, Erich Caulfield.[52][53] Previous Watson Fellows include, Craig Marberry '81, Kenneth Flowers '83 and Lynn P. Harrison III '79.

President Barack Obama holds an honorary doctorate of laws from Morehouse.[15]


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External links[edit]