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Dolores Cross is an educator and university administrator who became the first female president of Chicago State University (1990) and Morris Brown College (MBC) (1998–2002). In 2006, she pled guilty to one count of embezzlement in connection with the misapplication of federal funds provided to MBC.
Dolores Cross was born in Newark, New Jersey. After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Education from Seton Hall University in 1963, Cross obtained her Master of Science in education from Hofstra University and later received a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1971.
Cross is a former professor and university administrator, teaching at Claremont University, becoming vice chancellor for student affairs at City University of New York, serving as the president of the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation and later becoming the first female president of Chicago State University in 1990. President Bill Clinton appointed Cross to the steering committee for his America Reads initiative. She was elected vice-chair of the American Association of Higher Education and has received eight honorary degrees from various universities. Cross moved from the presidency of Chicago State in 1997 to the presidency of the GE Fund, a non-profit wing of General Electric. Shortly after that, she accepted the position as the first female president of Morris Brown College.
Morris Brown College tenure
When Cross arrived at Morris Brown College, it was financially troubled. During her tenure, she worked to increase the academic standards of the college and to address its formidable financial issues.
While she was President, Morris Brown College allegedly obtained $3.4 million in federally insured student loans and Pell grants in the names of ineligible students, including some who never attended the college, some who were enrolled part-time and others who had already left. The money was allegedly used to pay the school's operating costs.
As with all such loans, the responsibility for paying back the loans fell on the students. Due to its ongoing financial issues, the school eventually lost its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. After the loss of accreditation, MBC students became ineligible for many government grants and loans. The school nearly closed in 2003 as its enrollment dropped.. The school will face foreclosure in 2012.
On January 3, 2007, Cross was sentenced to five years of probation and a year of home confinement for her role in fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in federal student aid for the college. In addition, the college’s financial-aid director at the time the fraud was committed was also sentenced, to five years of probation and 18 months of home confinement. The prosecutors and her lawyers agreed to a plea bargain. The light sentence meted out by the judge was based on her age (70), her medical condition (she suffered from sleep apnea and had a series of transient ischemic attacks or small strokes) and the fact that she did not profit personally from the crime.
- "Former Morris Brown College president, financial aid director indicted for fraud", December 30, 2004, in Black Issues in Higher Education. Accessed via online archive service January 4, 2007.
- "With foreclosure looming Morris Brown College on the brink". Atlanta Journal Constitution. August 22, 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
- Morris Brown College May 1, 2006, Washington Post.
- Ex-President of Morris Brown College Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement, The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 1, 2006.
- Former President of Morris Brown College Draws Light Sentence in Fraud Case, The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 3, 2007.
- "Federal Indictment Accuses Former Morris Brown President and Aid Officer of $5-Million Fraud" December 10, 2004 in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Accessed summary January 4, 2007.[dead link]
- "Ex-president of Morris Brown gets probation" January 4, 2007 in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Accessed January 4, 2007.[dead link]