By Alexis Taylor
Special to the AFRO
For well over a century Morgan State University (MSU) has served as a beacon of hope to ancestors discontent with back-breaking labor in Southern fields and Northern factories.
What began as the Centenary Biblical Institute in 1867 is now a globally recognized research institution, turning out more than its share of engineers, lawyers, fiery legislators, teachers and internationally known businessmen and women.
Now, 154 years after its founding, Morgan State University is poised to receive the largest freshman class the national treasure has ever accepted.
“Morgan is doing a lot right and people are recognizing that,” said vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Success at Morgan, Dr. Kara Turner. “All of the accolades, brand new buildings, awards that our students are winning, the rankings on our academic programs, we are doing things well and people are paying attention to that.”
HBCUs across the nation have been garnering more and more attention as social justice movements like Black Lives Matter continue to grow and noted celebrities and politicians celebrate their HBCU alma maters.
“There is an increased focus right now on HBCUs in general, which is helping us and our sister institutions,” said Turner. “Vice President Kamala Harris and high profile graduates of HBCUs are proudly proclaiming where they come from. Students want to be in a place where they feel they will be nurtured, cared for and supported. Morgan offers all of that.”
The university experienced a slight drop in enrollment last year due to the pandemic, but an unexpected rebound to the tune of 14,600 applications has given way to a record-breaking year for the MSU Office of Admissions. Visibility also increased in December 2020 after a $40 million donation from MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos.
Statistics provided by MSU show that undergraduate admissions applications increased 58 percent from 2019. Historically, Morgan expects no less than 1,600 students in the entering class. This year, more than 1,500 new students had already paid their enrollment deposit for the Fall 2021 semester by the third day of May.
Requests for housing are up 54.6 percent and even the School of Graduate Studies has seen a 9.6 spike in admissions.
Though Mason Davies had already decided to attend Towson University, the 17-year-old reversed course after receiving a tour of the MSU campus.
“Up until that moment I hadn’t really considered Morgan much but that was a huge turning point,” said Davies, a graduate of Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Md. “I was looking for a university and I wanted it to be small, but too small. I really wanted to get to know the professors and people who can support me.”
Davies said he was swayed by the bold MSU legacy of creating change. The tour guide told him about Read’s Drug Store and the role MSU played in the Civil Rights Movement.
In fact, the university is now developing the very shopping center where Morgan students risked their freedom and lives for equality.
Davies had also heard about the MSU sociology program. The school was listed among the “Top 45 Master’s in Sociology Degree Programs for 2021” by Intelligent.com, an online ranking system for institutions of higher learning and their offerings.
Janie Hughes, a 2021 graduate of Western High school, said Morgan is “black history at its finest- even just looking at the name of the buildings.”
“There’s a story and a legacy for them all.”
Hughes is a former American Idol contestant and said the prestigious Morgan State University Choir was also a big factor in her decision.
“Their choir is amazing! Their music program is outstanding and the campus is beautiful- those were all things that were on my list,” said Hughes. “I know that Morgan State University will have many learning opportunities for me to grow into the musician that I know I will be.”
The MSU class of 2025 will begin their journey on Aug.23, 2021.
Due to the pandemic, students are expected to be fully vaccinated when they arrive. Incoming students are reminded to check their emails to stay abreast of updates and important information.
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