State’s Oldest Junior College Wants To Sell Much Of Its Property

Lon Morris College (File)

TYLER (October 8, 2012)—Lon Morris College, a 158-year-old United Methodist School in Jacksonville, is seeking permission to sell a "substantial amount" of its property in East Texas after filing for bankruptcy earlier this year.

The college suspended its fall semester because of its deep financial troubles.

The school filed an application Sept. 28 in federal bankruptcy court seeking permission to sell much of its property that says Lon Morris has an estimated 112 acres of real estate with various buildings, including dorms, a library, a chapel, and admission buildings.

The school is seeking to sell those to pay creditors as well as former employees.

At a hearing scheduled for Oct. 31, a judge may decide on the college's request.

The school would have begun 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 school’s football program after nearly 70 years in a bid to boost enrollment.

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 school filed for bankruptcy, dropped all of its sports programs and furloughed all but about a half dozen faculty members.

Officials estimated only about 100 students remained enrolled.

Despite the circumstances, the college issued a press release on Aug. 11 that expressed optimism for the fall semester and promised “a revitalized academic program” that will put the school on a path to the future.

The college had reduced tuition by 33 per cent in lieu of discounts and unfunded scholarships, and had planned to continue to offer financial aid and funded scholarships for some programs.