Tennessee’s Knoxville College offers opportunity to graduate debt free

If you are the parent of a high school graduate who may have given up hope on entering college in September, hang on until you hear from me. If you are the parent of a high school graduate who may have given up hope on entering college in September, hang on until you hear from me.

Even if you’re convinced that you don’t have sufficient funds and your child’s high school grade-point average is too low, there is an opportunity afloat for enrollment this September at my favorite Black college.

If you inquire immediately—and I do mean immediately—there is still a chance for enrollment at the college that gave my father an opportunity to become an revered educator, and later inspired my older brother, the late retired Atlanta University President Dr. Thomas D. Jarrett, to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, and in 1954 boosted him to a visiting professorship at Oxford University.
This special offer is from historically Black Knoxville College, a small 127-year-old institution in East Tennessee. It was the spiritual climate at this little college that urged its students to respect their Black history. That climate also ushered me into serious journalism when I served as editor of the Aurora, our campus newspaper.

Please pass the word about this offer.

But first you must hear this story about what can happen when two Black men convert a routine chat into something real.

A few Saturdays past an idea struck me while riding on the Chicago Daily Defender float in the 73rd Annual Bud Billiken parade. I began to wonder how many of the thousands of young adults who lined Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, would actually get a chance to attend college this year. I suspected that many already had lost hope because of a money shortage or low grades.

So I called Ronald E. Damper, a fellow alumnus and founder of the Damron Corporation that made business news a few years ago when Damper signed a big contract to supply prepared tea for the McDonald Corporation. Ron is a Knoxville College (KC) alumnus and fellow member of its board of trustees. Eventually, Ron and I got specific. We asked ourselves a simple question: “Why can’t we do for this generation what others once did for us?”

Then we stopped talking and took action.

We called Dr. Barbara Hatton, the creative president of our college who recently launched a unique “work-study program” that guarantees a college education “where you graduate debt free.” Her program has reduced the cost of a semester from $5,000 to $1,400 per student, including room, board and books.

But the applicant must be willing to work and study.

This means almost five months of college education for $1,400 or $2,800 for the year, which need not be paid at one time. Dr. Hatton will accept a $600 enrollment deposit with the remaining $800 paid in four monthly installments of $200.

Knoxville College is the only Black institution among the nation’s total of eight colleges that offer the work-study advantage. This program is made possible by financial grants from corporations and individuals.

Enrollment requirements include a high school diploma, and a minimum 2.0 average on a 4.0 scale. A few students with grades slightly below 2.0 may be considered if each can get three letters from educators who will support their potential. The college will provide tutors for such students, if accepted.
Knoxville College has never had huge student enrollments, which has proven advantageous to the individual student. Current student-to-teacher ratio is 11 to 1, which means that bright students who may have been handicapped by earlier circumstances can get more attention.

That is one reason why Knoxville College has produced thousands of graduates who symbolize its emphasis on excellence. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, the brilliant Black scholar and syndicated columnist, spent his early college days at Knoxville College. He has served on its trustee board along with KC graduate George E. Curry, the editor-in-chief of the National

September 2, 2002
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