Historically Black Knoxville College in Tennessee has reopened for business. But there are no students on campus. The college is only offering classes online.
Knoxville College was founded in 1875 by the United Presbyterian Church of North America. At its peak in the 1960s, enrollments reached 1,200 students. After losing its accreditation in 1997, the college sought to become a “work college.” After some initial success, this effort also lost momentum.
The college took out a major loan in 2003 and used the 39-acre campus as collateral. In 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency seized control of what had been the college’s science building because of the presence of toxic chemicals that had not been properly stored.
By 2015, there were only 11 students enrolled for the spring semester. That spring, Knoxville College announced that it would not hold any classes for the 2015-16 academic year as it attempted to reorganize. No classes have been held since that time.
Additionally, the college’s officials have hired historic preservation planner, Lindsay Crockett from the East Tennessee Development District, to help add 11 buildings on campus to the National Register of Historic Places. Currently, the campus itself is already on the register. Trustees of the college want to expand their district to include other newer, abandoned buildings, which could potentially bring grant opportunities from the historic preservation fund.
Officials at Knoxville College hope that these efforts will help the institution became a four-year residential college once again.