There is definitely something going on at King University (formerly King College) in Bristol, Tenn. A Jan. 28 post on King 1867, a site purportedly administrated by a group of very unhappy but anonymous faculty members, has suggested that the administration at King has attempted to orchestrate a media blackout. King 1867 is not the only webpage or Facebook page set up to articulate displeasure with the direction that King President Greg Jordan has taken the 147-year-old Bristol institution. A few of these are:
Fire Greg Jordan Facebook Group
There are even very professional-looking Facebook memes for students and alumni to download to express these sentiments. You can view those here.
So, why are the students, alumni and faculty of King University so upset with President Greg Jordan and the current direction of their Alma mater? There have been meetings on campus such as this one covered by WJHL.com. Basically, the complaints stem from the college focusing attention and capital away from the historic Bristol campus. Rumors have circulated that the satellite campus in Knoxville was going to be the main campus, but the administration has denied that.
King has reformulated their vision for the school to incorporate online degrees, adult studies, and satellite campuses in several cities. Alumni, students, and faculty seem to feel that the hard-earned academic degrees, which were worth a financial sacrifice, are being dumbed down and cheapened. Most students leave King University with a substantial debt load in school loans.
Well-respected faculty members have found their contracts were not renewed, according to many posts circulating. The professors at King's main campus are being quoted that they are forced to stretch themselves thin to cover the new online courses.
This outward thrust at King College began several years ago with the Academy at King High School and the King Medical Center project. Both of these projects are now either defunct or in the hands of another institution. Many at King felt that attention and resources should have been spent on the basic infrastructure of King which appears to be crumbling in places. Potholes, crumbling sidewalks and lack of parking are a few issues that many feel have been overlooked at the institution now dubbed King University.
It may be that those who would keep the traditions that made up the complexion of King College for 147 years are hanging onto the past. It could be that continuing in that direction would leave King with the same fate as Virginia Intermont College, which has been on the verge of closure for several years due to financial distress. It costs money to run a college, and maybe Dr. Jordan and the Board of Trustees had no choice.
But, in fairness to those who will be paying for their very expensive and formerly-respected degrees from King College or King University for many years to come, destroying the traditions of academia in order to continue operating would indeed be much worse than just shutting the doors completely.
Maybe there will be a middle ground.