Your Ad Here

Friday, April 21, 2006

Tn. State to beef up campus security

Tennessee State University intends to spend millions of dollars over the next five years to boost campus security with gated entrances and additional surveillance cameras to monitor more than 500 location points on campus, officials said.

The university's Blue Ribbon Commission on Campus Safety released a 100-plus page report yesterday during a press conference detailing security plans after the Halloween slaying of a man delivering food on campus last year.

"Tennessee State University is a safe campus," said Melvin Johnson, the school's president. "We saw the need for some improvements in safety. … We believe the work that the commission has pursued will be a gauge of where we are heading."

TSU has spent about $162,000 on more campus manpower since the shooting, officials said. That’s part of $2.1 million spent on campus security since 2001. The university has also been conducting safety measures such as random I.D. and vehicle checks on campus and has cameras already monitoring 128 location points.

"When we started (in 2001) it was to protect certain residence halls. Now, it has grown campuswide," said Samuel Polk, director of facilities management at TSU.

TSU's Blue Ribbon Commission was composed of representatives from Metro Police, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, TSU students and faculty and the community.

The recommendations would be implemented in several phases over the next few years. Some of the changes to come are:

• Security organization restructuring.

• Electronic proximity key cards for access to specific campus buildings for faculty and students.

• Additional surveillance cameras, security booths and emergency phones.

• A new surveillance system, along with staff to manage it.

• Relocation of campus security to a central location.

Officials hope the blue-ribbon commission's recommendations will serve as a model for other schools.

"I think we've put together a very comprehensive report that can be implemented," said Mark Gwyn, director of the TBI.

A Meharry Medical College official who worked on the commission said the medical school was considering adding surveillance cameras to monitor its campus as a result of the group's findings.

"The cost of safety, you really can't measure it," said Richard Briggance, chief of security at Meharry. "The commission has helped me and Meharry become safer."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

2 former Morris Brown Officals Headed to Court

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Atlanta in the trial of two administrators who federal officials say were responsible for the financial breakdown of Morris Brown College.

Former president Dolores Cross and former financial director Parvesh Singh, who lives in Indiana, will be tried in court on federal charges that they defrauded the government, the historically black college and its students.

The 121-year-old school also faces civil lawsuits filed by former and current students. One lawsuit accuses the school of defaulting on a $13 million property bond. Attorneys involved in the case say it could lead to foreclosure on some of the college's most historic buildings.

Morris Brown has an enrollment of just 44 students. It lost its accreditation in 2003 and has continued to operate as a scaled-down version of its former self.

The school offers three degree programs and employs nine faculty members. Students are no longer eligible for state or federal aid.

Cross, who lives in Chicago, and Singh were charged in December 2004 in a 34-count indictment that accused them of defrauding the school, the U.S. Department of Education and hundreds of students

Monday, April 17, 2006

TSU Regents vote to fire Slade

Priscilla Slade's seven-year run as president of the state's largest historically black university headed to an end tonight when Texas Southern University regents voted to fire her on the grounds that she misspent school money.

Slade's contract guarantees her the right to a public hearing before the firing becomes official and her attorney said she plans to request one. The hearing must be scheduled within a month.

The regents' decision comes two months after TSU's governing board began looking into Slade's use of university money to furnish and landscape a $1 million-plus home she built near Memorial Park last year. An internal audit released earlier this month concluded that Slade spent nearly $650,000 over the last seven years on maid services, car repair bills, improvements to her former home and other expenses not allowed under her contract.

Slade, 54, and her attorneys have defended her spending as necessary to promote the university and generate nearly $40 million in donations in recent years.

TSU regents had planned to make their decision on Slade's future on May 5, but moved the meeting to today shortly after Slade began stating her case publicly and courting support from black community and political leaders. Regents had asked her to stay silent until after the private lawfirm they hired to review her expenses had finished its work.

In interviews, Slade has pointed out that TSU was on the verge of losing its independence because of poor management when she took over in 1999. Since then, the school's enrollment has nearly doubled to 11,600 students.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Howard Professor named among 20 best

Dr. Winston Anderson, Department of Biology, Howard University, has been named among the 20 best scientists in academia by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Anderson will receive a $1 million research grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

In an effort to promote research in the classroom, HHMI seeks to provide its recipients with the necessary resources to help transform their creativity and innovative ideas into action.

“Professor Anderson is one of our outstanding scientists, and I am truly delighted that he has been selected for this high honor,” said Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert.

The scientists whom we have selected are true pioneers—not only in their research, but in their creative approaches and dedication to teaching,” said Thomas R. Cech, HHMI president. “We are hopeful that their educational experiments will energize undergraduate science education throughout the nation.”

“This award represents an important step in continuing a quality undergraduate research program at Howard,” said Anderson. “It will allow us to identify talented students to participate in cutting-edge research at the University, mainstream research sites, and African research sites focusing on tropical diseases such as malaria. Hopefully, these seed funds will be used to develop a HHMI collaborative core laboratory in the biology department which will focus on undergraduate research in the biomedical sciences with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in computational mathematics, biophysics, genomics, proteomics, basic cell biology, and molecular biology.”

Professor Anderson’s plans include: giving his predominately African-American undergraduate students “a competitive edge” for entering biomedical science careers, and having an intensive mentoring and summer exchange program that will take students to African countries such as Ghana, Ethiopia, Mali, or Nigeria to study tropical diseases and ethnopharmacology—the use of indigenous plants for medicinal purposes

Friday, April 14, 2006

Lincoln reinstates football and band

If all goes according to plan, Lincoln University (in Chester Co, PA) will soon awaken to the sounds of football pads cracking and a marching band.

Lincoln, a school that counts Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes among its alumni, yesterday announced that it plans to revive a football program that was dropped after the 1960 season because of budget cuts. It also will form a marching band.

The university plans to field a club team in 2008 and a varsity team in 2009 that will play on the Division II level in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

"The university has an honored tradition of providing opportunities for students," Lincoln president Ivory V. Nelson said in a press release. "We believe the marching band will provide music opportunities for our young men and women, and that our football program will attract young men who want to be successful in the classroom as well as on the field of competition."

Founded in 1854, Lincoln, which has 2,278 undergraduate and graduate students, first fielded a football team in 1894. The university's board of trustees voted on Saturday to revive the program.
"It's going to bring a different atmosphere to Lincoln. We can watch the team practice, and there will be a band. The environment will change," said Frank "Tick" Coleman, the schools start quarterback from 1935-1938.

Coleman said he and other alumni have been pushing Lincoln to restore football for decades.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dreadlockgate Causes Essence Chief to Dis Hampton

Essence magazine’s Susan L. Taylor backed out of a speaking engagement a Hampton University, a private, historically black university in Hampton, Va, after learning that a department at the university had instituted a strict no-braids, no dreadlocks policy for its students.

“I recently withdrew my participation in the 28th Annual Conference on the Black Family at Hampton University. It has always been important for me to honor my commitments, so I feel it’s imperative to explain my actions,” Taylor began in a statement to BV Buzz via e-mail. “I began receiving E-mails from numerous sources advising me of disturbing regulations disallowing locks and braided hairstyles for Hampton students. One such e-mail included an Associated Press story headlined: ‘University Bans Certain Hairstyles for Students.’ As a businesswoman and public figure who has proudly worn my hair braided for more than 25 years, I was incredulous and felt insulted. My executive assistant, Debra Parker, contacted the university for clarification, and when she was advised that this was the school’s policy, I easily made the decision to cancel my visit.”

When contacted for comment, a university spokesperson clarified the school’s newly implemented rule. “It’s not a School of Business policy. It’s a policy for the 5-Year M.B.A. Program. It has a very strict conservative dress code that affects only 150 students—not all of the students in the school of business programs or all of Hampton’s students. Like the R.O.T.C. program or certain companies with certain dress codes, students know what the rules are going into the 5-Year M.B.A. Program,” explained Yuri Milligan, Director of University Relations. Taylor still believes that the program’s policy misses the mark and has challenged the university’s president, Dr. William R. Harvey, to re-examine the issue. “Dr. Harvey, I strongly recommend that you reconsider this policy and invite informed image consultants to address students in your business program about how to make individual style work in the corporate environment. Perhaps the greatest challenge your students will face in the work world is remaining whole and true to themselves in environments that are often hostile to African-Americans. Staying connected to our community and culture is critical. Trying to transform themselves to fit into hardly welcoming environments has scarred countless numbers of Black people,” she said.

Dr. Harvey’s office referred calls to Milligan who couldn’t respond to Taylor’s letter to the university president. “I don’t know anything about that,” Milligan said.

Though Taylor did not speak at Hampton, she is in the lineup on the revamped Pantene Total You Tour. She’ll be joining fitness guru Donna Richardson Joyner, ‘America’s Next Top Model’ winner Eva Pigford ‘Girlfriends’ star Jill Marie Jones and Tom Joyner Morning Show personality Myra J. The eight-city tour kicked off in Houston April 1 and has dates scheduled in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Atlanta and New York City.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Audit doesn't look good for Tx. Southern Pres.

Texas Southern University President Priscilla Slade spent nearly $650,000 during the past seven years on personal purchases not allowed under her contract, according to the school's internal auditor.

The report, released Thursday to the Houston Chronicle under the Texas Public Information Act, shows that Slade used university money for donations to her church, automobile repairs, a full-time maid and maintenance and upgrades for her previous residence in Missouri City.

The four-page report concludes that $647,949 of Slade's spending is not permitted under the contract and questions the legitimacy of $25,713 worth of other purchases, including Christmas gifts for TSU regents. The analysis shows that the president and her staff followed the university's policies on one purchase, a $64.30 vehicle registration fee.

Slade has declined to comment. Her attorney, Ron Franklin, acknowledged that she has first-class tastes, but said there is a historical precedent at TSU for every expense she made.

"They were the kind and nature of expenditures that have been permitted in the past and were permitted under her contract," he said.

Members of TSU's governing board asked for the audit after learning that the university spent roughly $286,000 on furniture, landscaping and security for Slade's newly constructed Spanish-style house near Memorial Park.

The nine-member board, appointed by the governor, will meet May 5 to decide the future of Slade, who is on paid leave pending the outcome of the internal audit and an outside investigation. The Harris County District Attorney's Office also is looking into the spending.

TSU Board Chairman J. Paul Johnson declined to comment Thursday, citing the university's ongoing inquiry. But David Diaz, a regent and Corpus Christi attorney, said, "It doesn't look good. There is so much of it that bothers me deeply."

$143,000 in maid services
Until the new report, no detailed accounting had been done of Slade's spending, even as bills came in for exercise classes and golf lessons, a remodeled bathroom and new air conditioner at the president's house and moving expenses.

It was unclear how much of Slade's spending has been deemed appropriate thus far.

The spending in dispute includes $154,528 in home furnishings, $143,636 in maid services and $48,363 in china, crystal, silverware and other serving pieces from Neiman Marcus.

Franklin defended the expenses as related to Slade's many roles, including diplomat, advocate and fundraiser for the historically black institution of 11,000 students.

The china and silverware, in particular, may be used for events at her house, but are kept at the university, he said.

Slade wants the university to be seen as first class in every way, Franklin said.

"If (the purchases) are excessive in some people's minds, then she will certainly accept that opinion," he said.

"She would plead guilty to that. There are not bean bag chairs in the law school. There are leather couches. There is not Crate & Barrel china in the boardroom. It's expensive china."

The University of Houston and Texas A&M University provide houses for their presidents, but TSU is part of a growing number of universities that do not.

Slade is expected to entertain donors in her home and receives $48,000 annually for housing expenses, which is intended to cover mortgage payments and property taxes and supplements an annual salary of more than $260,000.

Her contract provides up to $50,000 annually for travel, entertainment and other expenses related to university business. It also says the expenses "shall be reasonable," and subject to approval of the board chairman.

The audit does not address whether Slade exceeded the contractual limit on appropriate business-related expenses. Records previously released by TSU and not included in the audit released Thursday show Slade additionally spent more than $100,000 last year on travel, entertainment, meals and other items that would seem to be covered by the $50,000 cap in her contract.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A&T dedicates new Science Building

North Carolina A&T will dedicated its new science building, the home of the chemistry and psychology departments, last week. The 74,100-square-foot building cost $21.8 million and was paid for with bonds for higher education that voters approved in 2000. Students, faculty and staff started moving in at the beginning of the semester.

The new building will allow students to make more contributions to research and discovery, and prepare students for graduate work, which often requires a substantial amount of research experience, said Michael Plater, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The facility has a number of observation labs for experiments for psychology students and faculty, and chemistry majors will use better equipment than what's found in a lot of corporate chemistry labs, Plater said.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Miles Names French as New Pres.

George French Jr., a Miles College administrator who has been serving as interim president, has been named the 13th president of the school.

The college's board of trustees tapped French for the post Wednesday.

He had served as interim president since the death of Albert Sloan last November.

French served as the school's director of institutional planning and development. He also directed the offices of alumni affairs and public relations, but his chief responsibility was to raise money for the college, according to a press release.

French headed the largest capital fund drive in the history of the college, raising more than $10 million. He was also responsible for recent construction projects totaling nearly $24 million in renovations and new buildings across the campus.