Dr. Kevin E. James serves as the 19th President of Morris Brown College, a historically black college founded in 1881 in Atlanta, Georgia. The institution is the only college in Georgia established solely by African American patronage. Dr. James became the college leader while it was under duress and lacking recognition from the United States Department of Education as an institution in good standing. The institution lost its accreditation in 2002-03. Dr. James was serious about the historical legacy of Morris Brown and was on a mission to re-accredit the institution. As an executive leader with years of business experience, he understood that re-branding the institution while staying close to its mission was vital. Therefore, he initiated #TheHardReset, a campaign to restore Morris Brown to compliance and recognition by the Department of Education.
After two years of diligent restructuring, Morris Brown College secured “Candidate Accreditation Status” by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) on April 13, 2021. The institution complied with the standards and criteria to be deemed a quality institution. The school was evaluated by an on-site peer review team which determined that the institution provided sound instruction and appropriate student services. The college became eligible to apply to the U.S Department of Education to participate in financial aid programs and Title IV funding. Title IV funding was restored in December 2021 after almost 20 years. Such funding was desperately needed to support the students and the overall mission of the college.
Dr. James made history by leading the institution to become the first HBCU to regain accreditation candidacy after a nearly twenty-year hiatus. He drew from his 22-year career as a higher education administrator, professor, executive business leader, and motivational speaker to fulfill his role as the Chief Executive Officer of the college. He is responsible for the leadership and management of all aspects of college operations. Dr. James is also responsible for the development and execution of the vision and strategic direction for the college, in concert with the Board of Trustees. To execute his preliminary vision of re-accreditation, he built a strategy around several core pillars: academic strength, governance, financial solvency, alumni partnership, and community engagement. Dr. James is committed to the legacy of Morris Brown, which empowers the community through education. He understood such empowerment could only be delivered through the pillars previously listed.
Dr. Kevin James announced a partnership that has people rethinking what Morris Brown is capable of. On February 25, 2021, Hilton Hotels Worldwide and the global investment firm CGI Merchant Group agreed to partner with Morris Brown in developing a $30 million dollar hotel. A major component of the agreement was the ability to train students in the hotel and its restaurants. Construction began in fall 2021 on a 150-room hotel under the Tapestry Collection by Hilton.
As President, Dr. James has stabilized finances, increased fundraising, expanded and revised academic offerings, successfully guided the institution through TRACS candidacy accreditation, and led the college in reaching record-breaking enrollment increases in the past twenty years. Under his leadership, Morris Brown College has been completely transformed and revitalized.
Prior to his post as President, Dr. James served as Interim CEO of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc., internationally headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The mission of 100 Black Men of America is to improve the quality of life and enhance educational and economic opportunities for all African Americans.
Dr. James has been featured on CNN, CBS, NBC, Fox, US News, Forbes, Black Enterprise, The Root, NewsOne, The GRIO, HBCU Times, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta Business Chronicle, Atlanta Voice, Atlanta Magazine, and The Atlanta Tribune just to name a few.
Dr. James was named 2021 College President of the Year by the Georgia Greater Black Chamber of Commerce and one of Atlanta’s Most Powerful Leaders by Atlanta Magazine. In 2020, he received the Winthrop University Alumni Professional Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to higher education. Additionally, he received the 4 Brighter Futures Foundation, Inc. Chairman Award, was a Georgia Leadership Character Award nominee, Mentor of the Year for 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc., and Morris Brown College was named Top 10 Smaller HBCU that is Rising #4 by the HBCU Campaign Fund. Moreover, he was selected and completed the Higher Education Leadership Foundation/United Negro College Fund Presidential Leadership Institute.