KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knoxville College alumni came to town for homecoming this weekend. Board members met Friday to discuss problems with city codes and plans to revitalize the campus. This college was once a vibrant university, but no students have taken classes there for more than a year.
Most of the buildings are run down, boarded up and some considered to be a health risk. To add to that, there have been several recent fires on campus. However, it wasn’t always like this.
“Oh, it was so vibrant. Everything was alive,” said Connie Kelly, a Knoxville College alum.
Kelly said all the dorms on campus were full to capacity when she was a student. Today, they are all empty.
“It is really really sad. It’s sad,” said Kelly.
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The boarded up windows and dilapidated buildings make it hard for some alums to imagine the school making a comeback.
“I mean look at it. I’ve never seen them boarded up like this before,” said Kelly.
Kelly thinks the school is pretty much gone. However, there was a possible glimpse of hope on Friday. A board meeting was held on campus to discuss the college’s future. Ideas were kept tight-lipped for only alums to speculate.
“I just want to know where we are and what are we doing,” said Kelly.
Despite being kept in the dark, some alums are not losing hope.
“It can happen. We just need people to get on board,” said Lonnie Gallaher, a Knoxville College alum.
“We can not let history die,” said Janice Nzie.
The history is a big reason Nzie is not giving up. Knoxville College is a historically black university and some alums believe it is worth fighting for.
“Knoxville College catered to those that came from places where they normally wouldn’t get that nurturing,” said Nzie.
Nzie said the university can come back better than before.
“Now we can revamp,” said Nzie.
Other alumni are not as optimistic.
“So much that has to be done. I don’t see how they would have students here for a while,” said Kelly.
The board plans to meet with members of the Alumni Association Saturday to go over those plans. Members said it will be a private meeting.