Concordia College celebrates last college graduation

Concordia College celebrates last college graduation
Concordia College held its final graduation as it will be shutting its doors for good. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Concordia College held its final graduation as it will be shutting its doors for good. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

SELMA, AL (WSFA) - It was hot inside the gymnasium. Those in attendance were fanning themselves with their programs and some were wiping away their tears. It would be the last time the Julius and Mary Jenkins Center Gymnasium would be used for Concordia College's graduation ceremony. Why? Because Concordia College in Selma is closing its doors for good.

"We're doing all that we can, because this is emotional. It's very difficult, and if you're a parent, and you've got children in school in college, and you're paying tuition, and then I stand up and make an announcement saying that we're going to close, that's difficult and it was difficult for me to do," said Concordia interim president James Lyons.

They've long been struggling with finances and after years of searching for an investor and no luck, the institution has no choice but to shut its doors.

"To lose a historically black college or university, given the mission of these institutions, it's even more difficult than losing an institution in general," said Lyons. "I've talked to a couple of people about that and given the focus of a historically black college, when you lose one, you've lost a lot."

Concordia College in Selma is one of the 12 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Alabama.

Saturday was the colleges 92nd graduation and over 150 students walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

"I'm very ecstatic, because this is the last graduation here at Concordia, because they're closing, so I'm sad but happy at the same time," said graduate Shane Sellers.

"I feel like this is a moment for history, you know? And I mean, I'm still trying to sink it all in, so it's like it's kind of mind boggling in a way so I wish nothing but the best for the transfers and everybody else," said Darius Ford. He got his degree in elementary studies with a focus in recreational sports.

But what about the students currently enrolled at the college?

"We did all that we could to try to provide other opportunities for our students. We had a transfer fair and many of our students attended it and some of them were admitted on the spot," Lyons said.

Currently, around 400 students are enrolled at the college and they have less than 100 faculty and staff members.

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