Knoxville College future in flux after city condemns buildings
- Volunteers and employees working to reestablish operations at the historically black Knoxville College will not be permitted back onto campus after city officials condemned the school's two remaining operational buildings last week, citing health and safety concerns.
- The college, which suspended classes last fall and saw a drop in enrollment following the revocation of its accreditation in 1997, faces multiple code violations in electrical and plumbing systems and foundational integrity. In 2014, federal officials removed hazardous waste from the campus, which had been vandalized several times over years.
- Trustees had planned to reopen the school under a mixed-use development project and as an online degree destination, but no formal schedule or details have been released.
The industrial model at large is claiming many schools due to issues connected to deferred maintenance of facilities. Too many small liberal arts institutions miscalculated the long-term value of upgrading and building new facilities in the hopes of attracting students while missing that online learning and community college access were quickly claiming millions of students over the last decade.
To avoid this kind of rapid decline into bankruptcy or closure, school leaders should take a careful assessment of enrollment and funding trends to react to what regional and national demands for education are and will be into the near future. The notion that a college has seen bumps before and has survived cannot be relied upon when considering future budget cuts.
- Knoxville News Sentinel Knoxville College officials forced to leave campus