In the middle of 350 happy supporters of Morgan State University, gathered yesterday on a sunny campus green to celebrate the new accreditation of Morgan's business school, Winfred Bryson remembered the business books he found in the library when he arrived to teach in 1937.
All four of them. Two copies of the same book published in the 1890s, a statistics text, and another donated by one of the last unpaid heads of the New York Stock Exchange. He would be convicted of embezzlement in 1938, three years after leaving the Big Board post.
"After that, they paid presidents of the New York Stock Exchange," Mr. Bryson said.
It's a little different now. Morgan has beefed up its business faculty, is close to completing a renovation of the business school headquarters, and landed a $1 million gift from alumnus Earl G. Graves. And last weekend it formally gained accreditation from the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business, only the seventh historically black school to gain that recognition.
"We've been looking forward to this for the eight years I've been here," said Otis Thomas, dean of the Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management. "The school has been preparing for much longer."
The AACSB's move puts Morgan among 299 accredited programs, of an estimated 1,200 business programs nationwide. The university hopes the designation will mean the school gets more attention from prospective corporate partners, donors and faculty, and its graduates more attention from headhunters.
"Accreditation will open doors to greater job opportunities and admission to top graduate schools," senior accounting major Joy Crump said. "Morgan State will open even more doors."
Mr. Graves, chief executive of Black Enterprise magazine and a 1957 Morgan graduate, agreed.
"It's not always right or fair, but sometimes those credentials count for a lot," he said. "The opportunity to succeed on our merits is all I ever wanted."
Mr. Thomas and university President Earl S. Richardson said the accreditation was the product of millions of dollars of investment in facilities and of tough decisions to upgrade a faculty once short on instructors in key disciplines and light on formal academic credentials.
"As people came up for review, we didn't renew them," said Mr. Thomas, explaining how he added nine accountants with doctorates to the faculty, as well as five terminal degree holders to a marketing staff that had no doctorates and strengthened the information technology faculty -- all while adding only about 10 positions to a faculty that now numbers 42.
Mr. Richardson said renovation of the school's headquarters in McMechen Hall will be done in time for the fall semester, at a cost of more than $6 million.
Mr. Thomas said it will have the latest in teleconferencing and video technology.
But the head of the accreditation team from AACSB said the school's culture, more than facilities, impressed the people who made the decision to grant Morgan its new designation.
David L. Shrock, dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, said close ties between Morgan students and staff stood out.
"The thing that struck me most was the faculty's dedication to making things work," Mr. Shrock explained, citing a policy of long faculty office hours and a strong career-placement effort. "That's an overriding thing that adds on to what you would find at a lot of schools."
Practical matters aside, yesterday's ceremony was mostly a day for emotion and pride.
Mr. Thomas spoke of the school "getting a stigma off our back [so] we can move ahead."
State Sen. Clarence W. Blount, a Baltimore Democrat, said black-oriented institutions must keep improving in times of racial unease. "Black institutions around the country must survive," Mr. Blount said. "They're going to be saviors of our generations yet unborn."
But Mr. Thomas said there's still work undone. The school plans drives to boost research publications by its faculty, to push into executive education programs in which the school sells programs to companies looking for short-term training for their managers, and to keep improving a student body whose average SAT scores he estimated have improved 150 points in eight years, but are still a relatively modest 860.
"Recognition is fine," said Mr. Blount, who is majority leader of the Maryland Senate. "The thing that will keep things together is the product we turn out."
Pub Date: 5/02/96