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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Alcorn State University Meets Nonblack Enrollment Goal

Alcorn State University became the first historically black college in Mississippi to meet a controversial enrollment goal that was included in the $503-million plan to settle the state's long-running college-desegregation lawsuit.

As part of the settlement, which cleared its final legal hurdle a year ago, Mississippi's three public historically black universities must assemble student bodies that are at least 10-percent nonblack for three years in a row before they can control their portions of two endowments that have been created under the settlement. The endowments are expected to grow to a total of $105-million by the end of the 17-year plan.

During talks over the settlement plan, some national desegregation experts expressed doubts about how quickly historically black institutions would be able to diversify and questioned whether the enrollment goal was reasonable or fair.

But Alcorn State has been able to reach the plan's target, having increased its nonblack student population to 10.5 percent from 6.7 percent over the past five years. Meeting the settlement's goal means that the university can now map out an investment plan for its share of the endowments and can spend any interest that those funds earn.

Alcorn State received its first round of funds this fall, about $1.7-million. Administrators of the institution said that the money, and their control of it, not only strengthens Alcorn State's finances but also helps to improve potential donors' confidence.

The state continues to set aside funds from the endowments for Mississippi's other historically black colleges, Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State Universities, but the state maintains control of that money. Those institutions have also increased their nonblack-student enrollments, but they have not met the 10-percent threshold.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Norfolk Alum Donates $1M to Alma Mater

Norfolk State University announced the largest gift in its history: a $1 million donation by alumnus Ernest Hodge , who co-owns 20 auto dealerships, mostly on the East Coast.

Norfolk State “gave me the foundation to achieve the things that I have achieved in my life,” Hodge, 56 , who is based in Atlanta, said this week . “It’s good that you give back to those organizations.”

The donation will be used to start a center for entrepreneurship in Norfolk State’s School of Business, said Alvin Schexnider , the interim president of the historically black university. The center will begin by sponsoring lectures by successful businesspeople, he said.

Hodge graduated from Norfolk State in 1975 with a degree in business administration and marketing.

He called himself an “average” student. “As you grow,” Hodge said, “you get more serious about your life and your future.”

Hodge had his eye on sales. “I never wanted anyone to tell me how much money I could make,” he said. “I wanted to decide that myself. In sales, you can do that.”

Hodge’s donation is the largest single gift in the university’s 71-year history, said Paul Shelton , the vice president for advancement. Former NSU President Marie McDemmond last year pledged to donate a total of $1 million to NSU.

Hodge’s record-setting gift also illustrates the sharply differing abilities of colleges to raise funds. While his donation is the largest for Norfolk State, it would be just a trickle at other universities.

Shelton noted, however, that Norfolk State is undertaking its first major fund drive. Hodge’s gift, he said, brings the university more than two-thirds of the way toward its $15 million target.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Stillman College Experiencing Enrollment Growth

Stillman College President Ernest McNealey said he expects enrollment at the college will increase in the fall semester, bucking a decline in students since 2000.

“All of our numbers are dramatically up," McNealey said after speaking to the Tuscaloosa Rotary Club on Tuesday.

Applications have doubled and the number of students admitted to the college has increased by 50 percent, he said.

Stillman had a record 1,530 students in 2000, but enrollment at the private college has dropped by 48 percent. In fall 2005, about 800 students enrolled, college officials said.

The historically black college has been focusing on quality instead of quantity, McNealey has said.

In his speech Tuesday, McNealey said people outside the college have not always understood Stillman’s mission.

“We are trying to provide an elite, quality education for poor kids to turn the American paradigm on its head," he said.

Almost 90 percent of the college’s students qualify for a full federal loan, and about half come from homes with less than $35,000 in family income.

Stillman’s mission is to provide structured and quality education to students who can least afford it, he said.

“We think it’s important that for kids that have had a difficult life to have their expectations raised," McNealey said.

That success of that depends on finding more reliable donors, he said.

At $17,100, the college’s annual tuition is lower than most historically black colleges in the region, but it is higher than all state public institutions.

“It’s critical to the interest of the institution, but we serve kids who simply cannot afford what we provide," McNealey said.

He said one change that has occurred since his arrival in 1997 has been the shrinking number of students coming from Tuscaloosa and Jefferson counties. In 1997, about 78 percent of students came from the two counties. Today, 14 percent are from Jefferson County. McNealy said Tuscaloosa County has had a similar decline.

However, students from outside Alabama and other parts of the state are coming in larger numbers, he said. A renewed emphasis on recruiting students from outside the state has meant less time recruiting nearby, he said.

Now, recruiting efforts are beginning to pay off, he said.

“It always takes a bit of time for the message to take a hold when you go into new places," McNealey said after the meeting.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Morehouse Graduates Its Largest Class Ever

From the first day on campus, every one of them was told he was destined for greatness and could achieve no less.

They would become Morehouse Men.

Now, the Atlanta historically-black college is graduating 540, the largest graduating class in the history of the school whose alumni include Doctor Martin Luther King Junior and actor Samuel L. Jackson.

The school's mission of educating black men is flying in the face of troubling statistics about black males and post-secondary education.

The high sense of self-worth typical of Morehouse Men is often attributed to the legacy of its longest-serving president: Benjamin Elijah Mays, who died in 1984.

The son of sharecroppers from Ninety Six, South Carolina, he led the school from 1940 to 1967, transforming it from a humble college founded soon after the Civil War to prepare freed black men for the ministry and teaching.

Today, Morehouse stands as the largest private, liberal arts college for men, and one of only four all-male colleges in the country.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

LeMoyne-Owen Gets $500,000 for Scholarships

LeMoyne-Owen College has been awarded $500,000 for scholarships by its founder, the United Church of Christ.

But the school, $6 million in debt, cannot use the new scholarship money for debt relief. LeMoyne-Owen had been placed on “probation with good cause” by the region’s accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, because of persistent financial problems.

The school must raise at least $1 million by the end of June to cover operating expenses, Wingate said, adding that he’s considering layoffs as a cost-cutting measure.

“This (scholarship grant) will go a long way toward the education of students," LeMoyne-Owen president Dr. James Wingate told the Commerical Appeal newspaper. “(The funds) should help those individuals interested in the greater good for those who are interested in the college in the long run. But if you're more interested in your job and security you may not be interested in that.”

LeMoyne-Owen once had up to 1,200 students but enrollment now is just over 800. Officials are in the middle of a recruiting effort to raise that number to 1,000 -- the level it needs to meet expenses. The scholarships could help the school in its recruitment efforts.

The college traces its roots to a school for freed slaves set up in 1862 by the American Missionary Association, a New England abolitionist group that helped free the survivors of the Amistad slave ship.

The school moved to Memphis in 1863 and became the LeMoyne Normal and Commercial School in 1871, created by the missionary association with a $20,000 donation from Francis J. LeMoyne, a Pennsylvania physician.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fayetteville State Positions Itself to take advantage of BRAC

Dr. T.J. Bryan, the chancellor of Fayetteville State University, is anticipating the possibilities from military growth in the next five years.

“I see our role as being a key one,” she said. “We certainly hope to participate in the higher education of the soldiers.”

Fayetteville State is developing a number of master’s programs that will appeal to the officers, she said.

“But most of the folks at Fort Bragg are going to be noncommissioned officers,” she added. “We have a number of bachelor’s programs that already appeal to them.”

The university has increased the number of full programs it offers online, she said.

“The programs that we put online are determined by the interest of the military,” she said. “The first three are sociology, psychology and criminal justice. Those were the programs that were most popular with the military.”

Fayetteville State’s Fort Bragg program offers nine-week semesters that are more compatible with military schedules than the traditional 18-week semesters.

“We want our military personnel to be able to complete a Fayetteville State University degree any time, anywhere,” she said.

She points out that Col. Al Aycock, Fort Bragg’s garrison commander and the base’s key spokesman during the Base Realignment and Closure process, has a degree from Fayetteville State. His resume says he has a master’s in education from Fayetteville State University with induction in the Kappa Delta Pi honor society.

“Need I say more?” she said.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Albany State gets $100,000 for scholarships

Despite shrinking and fluctuating federal and state funding, at least Albany State University knows where $100,000 for scholarships and educational materials is coming from: Security Bank and Trust Company.

ASU President Everette Freeman and Security Bank President and CEO Mark Lane announced Wednesday a five-year partnership that will net the university $20,000 a year.

"Security Bank's very generous contribution to Albany State is an investment in the youth of our community, and consequently, an investment in the future of our community," Freeman said.

The first check will go toward, among other things, the National Youth Sports Program, a summer athletic and academic program, which has lost most of its federal funding for this summer.

ASU spokesman Carlton Fletcher said the program might not receive the same $5,000 it's getting this year in the subsequent four years.

Lane, in donating the money, stipulated that not all the money go into scholarships or scholarship programs, Fletcher said.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll Davis, in Albany last month to visit Albany State and Darton College, said the funding pot "is not going to grow as fast as it needs," so schools will need to seek other funding sources, such as private donors.

"Dwindling financial resources are impacting institutions of higher learning across our state and nation," Freeman said. "Yet even greater demands are being placed on colleges and universities. Private sector support such as the money pledged by Security Bank will help ASU not just keep, but hone, its competitive edge as it continues its mission of producing high-achieving, socially-conscious and enterprising citizens of the world."

Friday, May 05, 2006

St. Aug.'s College to help Barber-Scotia stay open

In an effort to rebound from recent troubles, Barber-Scotia College officials announced they have forged a partnership with Saint Augustine's College in Raleigh.

Under the deal, Saint Augustine's will pay Barber-Scotia for classroom space for an adult-education program.

The affiliation will allow students to get federal student aid through Saint Augustine's. Federal aid was a major sticking point since Barber-Scotia lost accreditation two years ago. This semester, Barber-Scotia has no students.

After a luncheon at Faith Hall, Barber-Scotia announced other steps to move forward.

Allstate insurance representatives presented a $10,000 check. And a newly formed group, "The 1867 Society," is asking each alumnus to donate at least $1,867.

The college hopes to raise $100,000 at fund-raising events this weekend.

Historically black Barber-Scotia, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), was founded in 1867 as a seminary for the daughters of freed slaves.

Although a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) committee said the school's debts could be close to $1 million, Barber-Scotia officials today said that amount is lower now.

"We worked diligently with our vendors to come up with a payment arrangement, or to forgive our debt," said Thomas Robinson, chairman of the Barber-Scotia board of trustees.

Mable Parker McLean,BSC's interim president, said the school may return to a four-year, liberal arts program in the future. She also said she's interested in starting an after-school intervention program for middle-schoolers.

"Barber-Scotia over 139 years has never been a liability. It has always been an asset," McLean said.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

NCCU Business School Regains Accreditation

In just four months, North Carolina Central University NCCU)
has regained its School of Business accreditation from the Association of
Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

“We are extremely pleased about this news,” said Chancellor James H. Ammons.
“The time frame in which our accreditation was regained says a lot about the leadership in the School of Business and the commitment of the faculty, staff and students. In four months, we completed a process that normally takes from 12
to 18 months. Throughout this process, we were confident that our program was comprehensive and met the standards outlines by ACBSP. The regaining of our accreditation validates our position.”

During its April meeting last week, the ACBSP Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to grant accreditation to the NCCU School of Business. NCCU will be presented with its certificate of accreditation during the ACBSP Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois on June 18, 2006. According to Steven Paschal, director of accreditation for ACBSP, his association was impressed with what they found at NCCU.

“During our site visit we found that the school did an excellent job in the areas of leadership, strategic planning and student learning outcomes,” said Paschal. “I would say that it is the fastest that I’ve ever seen anyone gain accreditation. They did an excellent job and worked very very hard.”

In late November 2005, the ACBSP informed NCCU that its accreditation would be withdrawn effective December 31, 2005. This action did not result from any academic deficiencies, but from an administrative oversight.

Provost Beverly Washington Jones, with support from Chancellor Ammons and the Board of Trustees, provided new leadership for the School of Business in January 2006, recommending Bijoy Sahoo as interim dean.

At that time, Sahoo was serving as assistant vice chancellor for Strategic Planning and Continuous
Improvement in the Division of Academic Affairs. The University then launched a new search for a dean.

“This is a great day for the Division of Academic Affairs,” said Provost Jones. “Dr. Sahoo and the faculty in the School of Business did an outstanding job in achieving this goal. We wanted our peers to know that we were not just about conforming to minimum standards, but that we have a passion for excellence. It was truly a team effort.”

Sahoo said he made regaining ACBSP accreditation his priority as interim dean and worked with faculty, staff and students to undergo this process.

“It made us better and gave us an opportunity to examine who we are,” hesaid. “With this announcement today, we are getting the recognition that we are due.”

According to Sahoo, high on the list of priorities for the School of Business now that it has regained its accreditation is to complete its search for a new dean and to continue to pursue additional accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate and Schools of Business International (AACSB), which is considered the premier accrediting association of top business programs.

Harold Sellars, senior vice president for Mechanics and Farmers Bank and a member of the Board of Visitors, said that he not only feels excited about the regained accreditation, but also relieved that this process was completed successfully in such a short period of time.

“While this has been an unfortunate incident, what has happened to regain the accreditation reflects more on the leadership, faculty and staff we have in the School of Business,” Sellars said. “ This says that we have competent people. With this behind us, the board of visitors has high expectations and we are looking forward to the school pursuing the AACSB. That’s also been one of our goals.”

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Former Morris Brown President pleads guilty

The former president of Morris Brown College pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling federal funds that were intended to cover student tuition.

Delores Cross, 69, who was president of the college from November 1998 until February 2002, entered the plea in front of U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes at a morning hearing.

Monday's plea agreement dismisses 27 other counts Cross was facing in connection with the case. Had she gone to trial on the single count to which she pleaded guilty, Cross could have faced up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

Instead, prosecutors are asking that Cross receive a recommended sentence of 10 to 16 months in prison. Her attorneys indicted in court that they would seek a lesser sentence of zero to six months because of an undisclosed medical condition.

The prosecution and defense agreed she will pay $11,000 in restitution.

Parvesh Singh, former director of financial aid and enrollment services for Morris Brown College, pleaded guilty last week to one count of theft of federal financial aid funds, admitting to stealing tens of thousands of dollars from unwitting students and the government.

As part of the plea agreement, Singh, 64, had been expected to testify against Cross.

He pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining more than $92,000 using the names of students who did not the meet the requirements for full-time enrollment or never attended classes.

Under a December 2004 federal indictment, Singh faced 34 counts of fraud. The remaining counts will be dismissed as part of the agreement. According to a December 2004 indictment, Singh and Cross fraudulently obtained $3.4 million in federally insured student loans and Pell grants to cover in part a $3.3 million credit debt and school expenses.

Singh's attorneys emphasized he did not directly benefit from the stolen funds.