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Lon Morris officials and students speak about financial woes


POSTED: Thursday, April 7, 2011 - 5:29pm

UPDATED: Friday, May 25, 2012 - 4:34pm

After rumors of bankruptcy at Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, a spokesperson from Lon Morris agreed to sit down for a one-on-one with us to clear things up.

Tommy Ferguson, the Vice President of Business Affairs, says employees should get their March 31st paycheck by 5:00 p.m. Thursday. "At this point in time, our cash has dwindled to the point where we had to delay payroll....we delayed it five days," he says.

When we asked if officials knew if financial problems were coming, Ferguson said, "We knew there would be some, but we didn't know the extent."

He also says rapid growth and getting new sports like football added up the financial woes.  "When you bring in three times as many students, you have to have more professors, you have to have more people to mow the grass."  He says they built a new dressing room for the football team, and while they were at it, they built a dressing room for every sport.

School leaders met with the staff Wednesday at Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, but students say they want answers. "I'm confused, i don't know what to expect," says student John Florence.

Students wanted to speak with us Wednesday, but were told by officials they would get in trouble.  Thursday, they called our station wanting to talk off campus about the situation.

They say some teachers are frustrated that they didn't get their last paycheck. "I talked to one of my teachers today, as a matter of fact, i just talked to her....she just said she told me she hadn't got her money," says Florence.

One student, Scottie Agnew, says, "They're bringing all of these players in and bringing all of these sports in and getting all of this money, so my question to Lon Morris is...where is our money going?"

We've been told by several students that some refund checks--or money given back to students after tuition costs are paid--haven't been handed out. "I don't know if they're taking the money the students are supposed to be getting and paying the teachers or what," says  Florence.

Ferguson says he cannot comment on refund checks because he doesn't know enough about it.

Officials are doing all they can to keep the college running, but they say its not unusual for private colleges operate on edge.  Ferguson says, the possibility of Lon Morris going bankrupt is always there since it's a private college.  He says, "One of our employees stated yesterday that he's been here 22 years, and in taht time period, the college was gonna shut down five times....and it's still alive."

There is a team of officials looking at options to get financially stable.  Those options include furloughs, rearranging and cutting jobs, and cutting programs.

Lon Morris officials say they are currently making plans to speak with students about the situation.

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This is what happens when priorities change in an organization. When I attended the emphasis was placed on religion and the arts. After I left Lon Morris administration decided sports and co-ed dorms were a priority. Obviously people who pay to go to a christian college want their children in a moral environment (i.e. girl dorms and boy dorms separate). Now the place looks like a dump but the football field looked nice. They need an administration change and a reevaluation of priorities.

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