(Lon Morris College photo)
JACKSONVILLE (August 11, 2012)—Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, which is Texas' oldest junior college, begins classes this fall with only a handful of faculty and students after a failed effort to boost enrollment and revenue by resurrecting the school’s football program.
Lon Morris officials decided in 2009 to resurrect the football program after nearly 70 years.
The move more than tripled enrollment to about 1,000 by 2010, but the college found itself burdened not only with the expense of the football program, but also of waves of students who couldn’t pay the bills.
The 158-year-old private two-year college filed for bankruptcy, dropped all of its sports programs and furloughed all but about a half dozen faculty members.
Officials estimate about 100 students remain enrolled at the Jacksonville campus.
Despite the circumstances, the college issued a press release Saturday that expresses optimism for the fall semester, promising “a revitalized academic program” that will put the school on a path to the future.
"We have a strong group of leaders who are committed to the students, and potential students, as well as to the success of Lon Morris," said David Hubbard, dean of students.
"They know the community and most importantly, they have relationships with our students and their families, and can provide the insight and assistance families need to help them in the decision making process."
The college has reduced tuition by 33 per cent in lieu of discounts and unfunded scholarships and continues to offer financial aid and funded scholarships for some programs, said Dawn Ragan of Bridgeport Consulting, the college’s chief restructuring officer.
"LMC is a survivor," Hubbard said.
"Now, we are ready for the future. The students enrolling for the fall semester will be setting the stage. We have been educating young men and women for over 150 years and will continue to do so. It's only going to get better from here."