The first day of classes for than 2,100 Morehouse College scholars begins Wednesday, Aug. 21 as incoming and returning students prepare for an exciting new academic year that will include a wider selection of majors, an expanded data science program, and a business class taught by Shaquille O’Neal.
The new enrollment is composed of approximately 630 freshmen and transfer students who joined their brothers as men of Morehouse after Parents’ Parting Ceremony last week. The traditional ceremony, which was held on Aug. 15, marks the time when students formally take leave of parents and guardians to “enter the gates of the House.”
During the annual ceremony, African drummers called incoming students to gather at the Crown Nave of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel. Freshmen and transfer students, entered the building, wearing their white Morehouse dress shirts and ties for the first time. They circled the Howard Thurman obelisk and filed by two lines of upperclassmen who watched over them.
Some new and transfer students admitted to being anxious about the ritual of becoming a man of Morehouse and the responsibilities that come with the title. “I’m nervous, but a good nervous,” said freshman Ethan Strader of Smithfield, Va.
This year’s Parents’ Parting Ceremony included: the ringing of the historic 1787 Silver Bluff Springfield Baptist Church Bell; a rousing solo by singer Brian Emmanuel Perry; the Umuzi-Ikahya Community Dance Company, performing a work choreographed by Dance Elder Donna Eugenia Thomas Walker; and a ceremonial urn set afire to symbolically rid incoming students of things they want to cast out of their lives. Also onstage was the Thurman Chest, which friends and family filled with notes about their hopes and dreams for the Class of 2023. The Class of 2023 will read the notes during their Commencement Week.
The first leg of their journey begins this week as they declare majors and begin their studies.
This academic year, there are lots of new classes to consider. Morehouse has expanded its academic divisions to provide more options for students and opportunities for advisement. The College will also continue to explore online courses for those who need make-up classes to stay on track to graduate in four years.
The new academic divisions are: Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, Humanities, Life Sciences, Business Administration and Economics, Mathematics and Computational Sciences, Creative and Performing Arts, and Experiential Learning & Interdisciplinary Studies.
The first phase of Morehouse’s new online program launch was tested over the summer. Ninety-two students enrolled in six courses, including Physical Science, Intro to Philosophy and Ethics, and College Algebra I. The next phase of the program will occur in the spring or summer of 2020.
“We are focused on student success, and we want to focus on virtual classes over the summer to ensure that our students graduate on time,” said Kinnis Gosha, Hortenius I. Chenault Endowed Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science. “If they miss out on a course in the academic year, they will be able to make it up in the summer even if they are not on campus.”
Other new classes and academic programs for 2019-20:
- Students can earn a degree in art history and minor in curatorial studies through the new Atlanta University Center Collective for the Study of Art History & Curatorial Studies.
- The AUCC Data Science Institute will provide classes that will prepare students to meet the growing demand in the marketplace for data scientists and data analytics experts.
- The Morehouse Center for Educational Studies will develop a talented pipeline of world-class educators, innovators, policymakers, and researchers who are equipped to transform and improve educational outcomes in urban communities. Students will also learn how to use their entrepreneurial talents to open their own schools.
- Students can take the “My Brother’s Keeper Master Class: Black to Business” class, which will feature visiting industry experts. The class will be taught by associate professors Dr. Bryant T. Marks and Dr. Belinda White, as well as visiting professor, Dr. Shaquille O’Neal, an NBA legend and TNT sports commentator who was an early investor in Google and Apple.
- No matter what classes scholars select, Lawrence E. Carter Sr., dean of King Chapel and professor of religion, and College archivist, advises new and returning students to remember to strive for excellence this academic year. He said that men of Morehouse are here because of someone else who had faith and confidence in them.
“You have come to a great river, with powerful waters, taking everything in its path. That river is now rushing before you,” he told students gathered at Parents' Parting Ceremony. “Your goal is not to go down the river but to cross over it, standing up. To navigate across successfully, you will have to be strong enough, free enough, and determined enough to resist the currents in this river.
“Let go of unbridled materialism …and dependence on fitting in with the crowd,” he added. “Let go of bad habits that don’t serve you. And with your head, heart and hands, take hold of faith and courage. Make your Morehouse journey a quest for quality. Be the very best you can be.”
Shakia Harris-Dorsey, a teacher whose son, Rodney Dorsey, is in the Class of 2023, shared similar advice with her son. She bid a tearful good-bye to him, but is thrilled about his future as a man of Morehouse.
“It’s bittersweet; I know he will be fine here,” she said. “Rodney wanted to come here to complete his inner self. He has this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and now he’s working on it.”