Morehouse College Strategic Plan

The Next Hundred Years:

Toward Character & Capital Preeminence

This plan provides Morehouse College a compelling direction for the next three years.  Like all other institutions of higher learning, Morehouse College must assess its own history and development and determine where it sits in the greater society now and in the years ahead. Much of Morehouse College’s success in the last 149 years has evolved because of its ability to assess its strengths and weaknesses and match those against the trends of the greater society.

In 1967, Edward A. Jones wrote A Candle in the Dark, a comprehensive history of Morehouse College over its first hundred years. Drawing on and including remarks outlining the vision of Benjamin Mays, president of Morehouse from 1940 to 1967, A Candle in the Dark concludes with cautions, aspirations, and directives for the College over the next hundred years. Together, Jones’s and Mays’s ideas serve as a prophetic endorsement of the theme of our current strategic focus. Jones shares:

Morehouse had begun as an elementary school ministering to the needs of freedman athirst for knowledge and eager to function as free men in democratic society. Its first building was an unpretentious Black church; its first students, a handful of adults not granted the opportunity to learn to read. As its students’ educational levels advanced, so did the school’s curriculum. But whether as an elementary school, or as a college, Morehouse addressed itself through its educational program to one overall objective: the making of men. Its unique achievement is that it took in Black boys and prepared them for graduate school, professional school, and for life—and all this in a segregated society.

Jones continues by pointing out the importance of education in his time and the need for all institutions to plan carefully if they are to prepare students in ways that are relevant. His charge could not be more germane today. Information is ubiquitous, technology permits a greater diversity of engagement, and the range of possibilities and options for many students is expansive. Concurrently, we have seen widening disparities in K-12 schools’ capacity to provide a quality education, and college costs continue to rise. The result has been a growing inequality in access to today’s knowledge and innovation economy.

These factors demand that we think differently about how we educate the next generation of citizens. It is in our institutional DNA to take on these inherent inequities. To this point, Mays shares that “this is easier said than done.” He continues:

The future of Morehouse is not written in the stars. Whereas during its first century Morehouse was considered first rate as a segregated institution, it must in its second century be first rate for all….

Morehouse’s future will depend in large measure on the imagination and creativity of its President, faculty, and Board of Trustees. New ideas must be developed by which new programs and new and better ways of executing those programs will make support relatively easy to obtain. Faculties must be secured that are not afraid to experiment and to depart from the ‘beaten path of yesteryears.’ … Morehouse’s ability to secure funds in its second century will rely on the quality of its educational programs, the effectiveness of its teaching, and the caliber of its student body.…

The same methods and ways of doing things will not suffice. Colleges which are averse to change will not command support.

But these things cannot be done without greater support. With the right programs, Morehouse must increase its endowment… for plant expansion, scholarships, and special projects. … In the first century, we could say, ‘No college could have done so much with so little and so few.’ In the second, we must say, ‘No college could have done any more with what it had than Morehouse.’

Nearly 50 years after President Mays’ leadership, our call to achieve character and capital preeminence identifies these same commitments—character preeminence is “the making of men,” with attention not just to the intellectual, but to the emotional, social, and ethical development of world-class leaders. Capital preeminence means moving beyond “[doing] so much with so little” to having the physical, technological, human, and financial infrastructure to provide the best conditions and environment for that full development.

Jones and Mays make clear the necessity of Morehouse in their time and throughout the College’s history. We insist and affirm that Morehouse is needed now and into the future as much as in its first 150 years. There is simply no other institution as poised for success in “the making of men” of both intelligence and character than Morehouse College. This strategic plan is bold in its insistence that character preeminence is of even greater value today than ever before—so much so that it is worthy of the centrality it is given in this plan. Morehouse has developed men of great character and accomplishment, and this plan recognizes that the world needs more such men.

But the plan also recognizes that this “cannot be done without greater support” and improved stewardship of resources. Higher education is besieged with disruptive change and, as Mays instructs, it is imperative that we think imaginatively, experiment, and develop new programs and new ways of doing things. This strategic plan supports that principle, but just as critically, embraces our powerfully unique mission.

This plan outlines the task to steer a path towards institutional renewal during a time when the higher education community at large continues to face unprecedented challenges and legitimate questions about its long-term future. Just as several companies crumbled in the wake of the Great Recession, experts project that a similar thinning of institutions will occur in higher education over the next decade. Only those institutions able to increase operational effectiveness and efficiency, and fully prepare its students to boldly face the demands and rigors of the 21st century will survive and be successful. Morehouse will be one of these institutions by realizing character and capital preeminence.