On Wednesday, Concordia College announced that it will be closing its doors permanently at the end of this semester. Concordia, a private HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in Selma, Ala., has faced financial, recruitment, and other challenges in recent years. The college, founded in 1922, currently enrolls around 400 students.
In our 20 years of existence, the Tom Joyner Foundation has assisted every four-year HBCU in America, including Concordia College. In July 2005, Concordia was our “School of the Month”- a program where we dedicate the bulk of our efforts towards raising awareness and scholarship dollars for a specific HBCU for a whole month. The campaign generated over $115,000 in scholarships and additional support and, since then, the Foundation has continued to support Concordia and its students.
The Tom Joyner Foundation commends Dr. James Lyons, president of Concordia, for his leadership over the last several months. In recent years, we’ve enjoyed opportunities to work with him and his administrations at the University of the District of Columbia and Bowie State University. Leading a private institution with troubles, like Concordia’s, is a thankless task and the Foundation knows that the decision to close the college was difficult to reach and even more difficult to announce, in person, to the students and faculty.
Enough can’t be said about the need for institutions like Concordia College. HBCUs like Concordia specialize and excel in giving opportunities and support to students, regardless of race or economic backgrounds. We know Concordia, like other HBCUs, offers students, who are the first generation in their families, an opportunity to go to college and open the door to students that come from academically challenged backgrounds.
With the closing of Concordia, there’s still work to be done. You can still help. Currently, Concordia has hundreds of freshmen, sophomore, and junior students who will need assistance, financial and otherwise, with transferring soon and efficiently so they can enroll in another accredited college or university for the upcoming fall semester. We do not want the end of Concordia College to be the end of its students’ pursuit of education.
Whether it’s through the Tom Joyner Foundation or Concordia, please donate to assist these students with scholarships to help with the new costs and fees, and other financial challenges, that they’ll encounter while transferring to a new college or university to continue their education.
For HBCU alumni and supporters, the closing of Concordia College should be a much-needed call to action to recognize and respond to the challenges that our schools have in 2018 – and quite honestly, in the years ahead. Admission standards, tuition costs, and financial aid criteria have changed in the last 20 years and small private HBCUs, like Concordia, need our support in many ways- donations, recruitment assistance, and student mentoring are just a few examples.
The ranks of HBCUs continue to decrease as the last five years have seen the closing of Knoxville College (Knoxville, Tenn.) and St. Paul’s College (Lawrenceville, Va.). While it seems that the sun has set on Concordia College, this is the time to support its students and all other students attending the 100+ remaining HBCUs in existence.