The Continuing Woes of Historically Black Knoxville College in Tennessee

Historically Black Knoxville College in Tennessee was founded in 1875 by the United Presbyterian Church of North America. At its peak in the 1960s, enrollments reached 1,200 students. After losing its accreditation in 1997, the college sought to become a “work college.” After some initial success, this effort also lost momentum.

In 2015, there were only 11 students enrolled for the spring semester. That spring, Knoxville College announced that it would not hold any classes for the 2015-16 academic year as it attempted to reorganize.

The college took out a major loan in 2003 and used the 39-acre campus as collateral. In 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency seized control of what had been the college’s science building because of the presence of toxic chemicals that had not been properly stored.

Most of the buildings on campus were shuttered with only the library and McMillan Chapel remaining in use. Four staff members continued to work in the basement of library hoping to get the college back on its feet through the establishment of online programs.

Now the city of Knoxville has ordered college officials to leave campus as it deemed the library and chapel as unsafe for occupancy. College officials hope to renovate a wing of the chapel so they have a place to continue their work.

 

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