“The college is continuing it work on its financial restructuring efforts, however, the timing of the filing was necessitated by a foreclosure proceeding on certain dormitories scheduled to proceed Tuesday, July 3,” the school said in a statement.
By filing for bankruptcy, the statement continued, Lon Morris College can put off legal or collection actions as it tries to find a viable future.
The voluntary chapter 11 petition, filed in federal court in Tyler, Texas, and posted on the Tyler Morning Telegraph website, estimated the school’s liabilities as between $10 million and $50 million, and estimated its number of creditors as between 200 and 999.
Major creditors include Pioneer College Caterers, owed more than $575,000, and the UMC’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, which made a $250,000 loan to the school.
Lon Morris is exploring partnership or a “transaction” with another higher education institution, the statement said.
“Lon Morris continues to receive strong support from many of its creditors, as well as its faculty and employees, and the general community,” said Dawn Ragan of Bridgepoint Consulting, who is serving as chief restructuring officer for the school, in the statement. “We are operating with core staff, and continue to work on a modified academic program that will continue compliance with the SAC accreditation policies for the upcoming year.”
Lon Morris College is the oldest private two-year school in Texas and has been the gateway to higher education for many UM pastors. But the school was unable to meet three consecutive payrolls this spring, leading to the furloughing of most employees and cancellation of summer classes.
Officials succeeded in boosting enrollment in recent years, in part through adding academic programs and re-starting a football program, but income has consistently failed to meet expenses.
“The college has experienced negative cash flow in recent years by overextending itself in an attempt to increase enrollment, taking on significant debt,” the statement said.