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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Yarbrough named new president at Savannah State

Dr. Earl G. Yarbrough Sr. has been named president of Savannah State University by the Board of Regent, yesterday.

Yarbrough currently serves as a full professor at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Va.. He previously served as that school's provost and vice president for academic and student affairs.

Yarbrough is expected to begin his new post in July.

“Dr. Yarbrough was an extremely impressive finalist with two decades of experience as an academic administrator. He already has made significant contributions to three historically black universities, and we have every reason to believe he will do even more for Savannah State,” said Regent Elridge McMillan, chair of the Regents' Committee charged with interviewing the finalist.

In 2004, while a tenured professor of industrial technology at Virginia State University, Yarbrough completed a year-long fellowship in Washington, D.C., with the Kellogg Foundation Minority Serving Institution Leadership Program that prepares minority professionals for the challenges and rigors of becoming university presidents, chancellors or other senior leadership roles in higher education. He has also completed the Harvard University Institute for Educational Management.

Yarbrough also has administrative experience at two other public historically black universities, having served as the first dean of the School of Technology at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, N.C., from 1986 to 1998 and chair of the Industrial Technology Department at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in Pine Bluff, Ark., from 1984 to 1986.

As dean at North Carolina A&T, he built a student support center and played a key role in obtaining state funding for a new $8 million building, received more than $15 million in research grants and contracts, equipment and scholarships, added undergraduate and graduate programs, and established several 2+2 articulation agreements. As a department chair at the University of Arkansas, Yarbrough increased student enrollment in industrial technology programs by 25 percent and developed and implemented a successful technology transfer and symposium program.

Yarbrough earned a Ph.D. in industrial education from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, in 1976, a master of arts in industrial studies from California State University at Los Angeles in 1974 and a bachelor of arts in industrial education from Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan., in 1969.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A&T audit finds financial abuse

Misuse of funds. Forgery. Nepotism. Widespread overspending and poor oversight.

These were among the findings of internal auditors called in to investigate financial irregularities at N.C. A&T, according to a report obtained by the News & Record on Friday.

About $2 million has been misappropriated, overspent, illegally solicited or misused in recent years, auditors allege. Among the report's recommendations: an investigation into possible criminal conduct.

Velma Speight-Buford, the chairwoman of the A&T Board of Trustees, said some of the report's findings reflect on former Chancellor James Renick's "management and leadership style," but the board ultimately is responsible for the problems.

"I personally take responsibility for the board not doing its job," she said Friday. "The board was not asking questions."

Among the audit's key findings:

* Employees in the Division of Information Technology and Telecommunications (ITT) misappropriated $87,514 between May 2004 and February 2006 by diverting IBM rebates into an account at the A&T Foundation.

* The report alleges that Rodney Harrigan, the former vice chancellor for the division, misused rebate funds and approved spending on "highly questionable purchases," including a beach cottage rental, holiday celebrations, tickets to athletic events and theater memberships for him and his wife.

Harrigan was arrested in December and charged with obtaining property by false pretense and embezzlement of state property.

* The mother of Harrigan's executive assistant received a vendor contract after the vice chancellor "assisted the Bid Committee with evaluating the vendors." The committee originally ranked the woman third for the job, but after the vice chancellor's input, the assistant's mother was bumped to the top spot and selected.

The mother was later prepaid $18,000 for work that she hadn't performed, a claim supported by falsified documents, the report says.

* Employees in the ITT Division solicited and accepted money from vendors in violation of state law and university policy, the report alleges, with nine vendors giving $1,750 over an eight-month period.

* The former program manager of a naval research grant for the College of Engineering misused as much as $500,000, approving large stipends for tuition, travel and fees that benefited herself and family members.

The manager paid a $66,733 stipend to her husband for the 2005-06 academic year — triple the highest stipend paid prior to his entry in the program.

She told auditors her husband's costs were higher, in part, because "he found the housing arranged by the Navy to be inadequate."

He instead stayed in a Courtyard by Marriott for $5,500 a month, "almost three times more than the amount of the next highest fellow's lodging," the report states.

The report alleges that the program manager, who was fired, also forged the signatures of the dean and assistant dean of the College of Engineering and used grant money for one or both of her daughters to attend conferences in Jamaica and California.

And, according to the report, the manager overspent the grant's budget for a symposium by $17,000, including buying 200 laptop bags, 192 embroidered golf shirts, 500 Aster pens, 150 duffel bags and other items. Some of the items were recovered from her home after she was terminated.

Computer equipment and other electronics bought with grant money, worth $11,583, remain missing.

The university has started a criminal investigation into the manager's actions.

* Throughout the university, numerous grant funds were overspent or not spent for their designated purpose. A large number of A&T's 500 grant funds had incorrect balances.

"During our review we observed the deterioration of sound operating process and the lack of sufficient management oversight and review necessary for strong institutional research compliance," the report says.

* A sample review of 12 state operating funds found $896,588 in excess expenditures in 49 accounts.

* Employees allegedly used procurement cards to charge a variety of prohibited items, including Phil Chang Golf Tournament clothing for $1,053.

* $240,000 in proceeds from a Pepsi contract were improperly deposited into the Chancellor's Discretionary Fund in 2003 and 2004.

* $55,142 in pay increases were given to five administrators near the end of Renick's tenure at the university. One employee received a $17,250 raise in violation of UNC system policy.

The News & Record obtained the report, dated May 18, from the UNC system after A&T officials refused to release it to the newspaper.

The university, in a response to the audit report, said it has already taken steps to correct some of the failings, including:

* Requiring all signatures be made in writing, not with a signature stamp.

* Providing comprehensive training for staff members who work with grants and contracts.

* Putting policies in place to ensure that no one person has control over all aspects of a financial transaction.

* Providing regular updates on polices regarding conflicts of interest, the use of procurement cards and the acceptance of gifts and favors.

The A&T Foundation also has developed new policy guidelines and documentation for the use of unrestricted funds.

And the Board of Trustees plans to "place a considerable amount of attention on governance, board ethics and fiduciary effectiveness" during its retreat in August.

The university's response to the report acknowledges that the breadth and magnitude of the findings "threatens its viability."

"Early on, we realized that we had a serious problem of ethical behavior...," the response states. "It is abundantly clear that the condition we are trying to rectify here developed over time and reflects failures at several specific levels."

Attempts to contact Renick and interim Chancellor Lloyd V. Hackley on Friday were unsuccessful.

Transparency and clean audits will be key to regaining any trust that has been lost among A&T's constituencies, said Jeff Davies, the chief of staff for UNC General Administration.

"Clearly there are some serious things noted in the audit that needed to be addressed," Davies said Friday.

"The important thing here in my mind is that people have come forward and identified the problems, and once they are identified they can be fixed."

Speight-Buford said she hopes the university can get back on track.

"There are some things in there that shouldn't have happened," she said. "Well, none of it should have happened."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

McGee named VP for Research and Compliance at Howard

Oliver G. McGee III, Ph.D., has been appointed vice president for Research and Compliance by President H. Patrick Swygert, effective July 1, 2007.

McGee will oversee all aspects of the research and sponsored programs administrative enterprise. Working closely with the provost and vice president for Health Sciences, he will shape academic and fiscal research policies, manage the process for the submission of proposals and the subsequent administration of grants, contracts and cooperative agreements awarded to Howard University and Howard University Hospital, and represent the University’s research interests to federal, state and local governments, industry, foundation, consortia, and other national and international constituencies.

Currently, McGee is a professor of civil engineering at The Ohio State University (OSU) and former chair of OSU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Geodetic Science. He is the first African-American full professor and departmental chair of OSU’s College of Engineering. As department chair, McGee led a large research enterprise with 150 individuals under his supervision, and managed research and development budgets in excess of $20 million.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A&T recinds naming building after former Chancellor

The N.C. A&T board of trustees has rescinded its prior decision to name the university's new School of Education building after former Chancellor James Renick.

The board made its decision Monday during a closed session.

Board chairwoman Velma Speight-Buford said the matter was brought back to the trustees by a board member after it was discovered that the trustees, who approved the honor two years ago, didn't follow the proper procedures. She declined to name the board member.

"It was procedural," Speight-Buford said. "When we did it, we didn't follow procedure."

She also declined to provide more details until proper notifications — including one to Renick — had been made.

The trustees' discussion — which resulted in a 5-2 vote to rescind with one trustee abstaining — was long and lively, Speight-Buford said.

Part of the conversation centered on internal audits requested by interim Chancellor Lloyd V. Hackley in late 2006.

Those audits were spurred by poor internal checks and financial irregularities.

A report on those audits was sent to UNC system President Erskine Bowles earlier this week, Speight-Buford said.

Although the audits were a topic of conversation during Monday's board meeting, mention of them was not made in the final vote to take Renick's name off the building, she said.

Earlier this year, Renick defended his almost seven year tenure at A&T, from July 1999 to May 2006.

"I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of the faculty, staff and students at North Carolina A&T State University while I was chancellor," Renick said in a statement. "During that time, state officials annually conducted a rigorous series of financial audits of the institution.

Those audits, which remain part of the public record, found no serious financial irregularities."

Speight-Buford left open the possibility that the building's naming could be revisited by the board.

The university's trustees voted two years ago to name the School of Education building after Renick, an honor that is unusual but not unheard of for a sitting administrator.

At the building's groundbreaking in November 2005, Renick called the honor the "highlight of my professional life."

Renick left the university last year to take a position at the American Council on Education.

The 58,000-square-foot School of Education building, which is under construction, is scheduled to be completed in December.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Software helps SC State offer on the spot admission

Students across the state are getting admitted to South Carolina State University on the spot.

Dr. Antonio Boyle demonstrated software to the university’s board of trustees that greatly enhances the recruitment, admissions and scholarship process.

Essentially, the software allows the admissions office to be fully functional off site. Equipped with laptops and a printer, Boyle and other admissions staff are able to go to high schools and other venues, input a student’s academic information, get them approved and print acceptance letters on site. Scholarships can also be offered on the spot.

“At West Ashley High School, we were on the spot with that technology and able to offer a student a presidential scholarship,” Boyle told the trustees. “He was on his way to the College of Charleston. Now he’s coming to South Carolina State. We go in there cold. Those who haven’t applied on the spot, we can showcase our institution.”

Boyle said they take admissions to places where they are historically known to have success, such as Columbia and Charleston, and to places like Atlanta where growth areas for S.C. State are. They are also able to go to nontraditional sites such as Greenville and Spartanburg and more rural areas and offer them a chance to consider S.C. State.

“We go out and get what we’ve gotten before and then some,” he said “Then we go to places we have not gone.”

“That makes us competitive,” President Dr. Andrew Hugine said. “The numbers are looking real good and will look even better.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Memphis gives LeMoyne-Owen $3 million

Memphis City Council members agreed Tuesday to help bail out financially struggling LeMoyne-Owen College, pledging to give the private school $3 million over the next three years.

Robert Lipscomb, chairman of the school's board of trustees and chief financial officer for the city, pleaded LeMoyne's case before a joint meeting of the council's Housing & Community Development and Economic Development & Tourism committees.

"A lot of people have written the college off; I'm not willing to do that," said Lipscomb, a LeMoyne graduate.

"If we allow LeMoyne to close ... I think it would be the worst indictment on our leadership," he said, calling the school a local institution.

Lipscomb said he met with the governor April 17 and requested $1 million from the state in support.

Lipscomb said Gov. Phil Bredesen initially questioned how he could justify giving taxpayer funds to the historically black college or any private college, for that matter.

There are two other historically black private colleges in Tennessee -- Lane College in Jackson and Fisk University in Nashville -- and both could use the help.

But Lipscomb said the governor later seemed swayed after he suggested that the state could match funds that city and county governments chip in.

After a "rally for rebirth" at LeMoyne last month that resulted in $500,000 in pledges, the school reported that it still needed about $3 million to cover basic costs through June.

The resolution initially had requested that city and county government each contribute $500,000 a year for three consecutive years with the state offering matching funds.

But on Tuesday, the council's joint committees boosted the city's commitment up to $1 million a year. According to the council's resolution, the first payment from the city would occur "no later than July 1."

The matter still must pass the full council, but 10 of the 13 council members attended the committee session and voted to lend the city's support. The Shelby County Commission hasn't yet considered the request.

In years past, city government routinely gave grants to local nonprofit groups. The city's budget crunch two years ago forced the city to scrap nearly $2 million of support to 60 agencies.

Councilman Rickey Peete, a graduate of Morehouse College, a historically black college in Atlanta, urged fellow council members to support LeMoyne.

"I hope that my colleagues will look beyond race and petty politics and vote for this resolution," he said.

Councilman Brent Taylor, one of three white members attending the council committee, asked for and received assurances the college would respond by providing the city with research help and other in-kind assistance.

"That would help us make the case to constituents that this is not just a handout, but they're doing something for us," he said.

Councilman Myron Lowery, another LeMoyne graduate, stipulated that the city money be used only to pay down the school's debt and he requested a full reporting of how the money is spent within 90 days of receipt.

"I'm always concerned that money goes into a bottomless pit," he said.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Del. State awards first doctorate

Delaware State University awarded its first doctorates Sunday and graduated a record number of students who received other degrees.

Paul "Frank" Gibson of Dover and Ben Kamau of Middletown received their doctorates in mathematics and physics, an interdisciplinary program.

Twenty-two more students are working toward doctorates in the math and physics program, and two more are entering in the fall, said Fengshan Liu, chairman of the department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics.

The doctoral program in math and physics started in 2003. The educational leadership program began its doctoral program in 2004, but it has not yet turned out any graduates.

The conferral of a record 529 degrees moved at a fast clip on the windy, sun-drenched morning, until Gibson and Kamau were recognized at the end; they received a standing ovation. Gibson's cap blew off in the wind as he accepted his diploma, but he swiftly recovered it.

Kamau arrived in the United States seven years ago from Kenya, where he taught mathematics at Egerton University. On Sunday, 30 members of his family attended the ceremony, including his parents and daughter, who traveled from Kenya for the event.

Kamau is the first in his family to earn a doctorate.

"I never imagined," said his father, Joseph Mungai, as Kamau translated into English. "God is great. The day has come."

Gibson, a longtime math professor at DSU, studied applied mathematics, writing his dissertation on the relationship between algebra and probability.

Gibson had the pleasure of graduating alongside his stepdaughter, Jingsi Gao, who received her master's degree in applied mathematics. He said they encouraged other as they worked.

Gao said she respected her stepfather's time at home, and went to him for help mainly during his office hours.

"He enjoys math. He loves helping students. He can just sit there and do math for one day, without any interruptions," Gao said. "He's very ambitious."

Defense grant

The math and physics program benefited from a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. That allowed Kamau to study 3-D computer modeling, such as facial recognition software, for his dissertation. The grant paid for Kamau's full scholarship.

Liu said the school also does research for the Defense Department on ground-penetrating radar, which helps identify land mines and bombs in caves and tunnels. Researchers there also work with video cameras that are able to scan for unusual activity in crowd situations, Liu said.

Kamau said he's looking for a faculty job in which he can research, teach and "give back to the community."

He's considering DSU as one of his options.

Gibson said he came close to getting his degree several times, including at the University of Delaware and Temple University, but never quite finished. This time, with the encouragement of his wife, a computer science lab technician at DSU, he was able to finish.

He said he got up every morning at 5 and worked through his weekends, continuing to teach all the while.

Gibson, 65, has been teaching at DSU since 1976. He said he'll continue to teach and write some articles.

"Mathematics is really for young people," he said of the rigorous calculations. Math is about seeing patterns, he said, which remains his strength.

Gibson's two daughters finished the requirements for their degrees, one in music, the other in art education, earlier this school year at DSU.

Del. treasurer addresses crowd

The large number of graduates was reflected in the robust attendance of family and friends at Alumni Stadium, where they packed the bleachers and huddled around the perimeter fence.

Commencement speaker Jack Markell, Delaware's state treasurer, urged graduates to try to cut through the clutter of everyday life, look for the beauty around them and keep their senses attuned to injustices in the world. "Every age has this massive moral blind spot that we don't see, but our children will," he said.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What the hell is going on at Coppin?

Baltimore Examiner Editorial:

Security lapses, laziness, abuse of taxpayer-financed vehicles and general incompetence. These are just a few of the charges, three repeats, the Office of Legislative Audits levels against Coppin State University in a report released earlier this week.

Among the most egregious findings is the fact that of 20 students monitored with delinquent accounts, all were allowed to register for classes against University System of Maryland policy. Who needs to work for a scholarship when you can get a free education without doing anything? The horrible thing about the problem is that the previous audit in 2002 found the same issue.

We wonder how many students have graduated without paying.

Other outrages include the fact that the school barely made an effort to collect back due fees — which as of June 30, 2006, were $5.4 million, or almost 10 percent of the yearly budget in 2006. It waited up to 31 months to notify the Department of Budget and Management’s Central Collection Unit, which it is supposed to do immediately — to help the school retrieve accounts receivable. We wonder what the school could be doing with that money.

Coppin also did not try to reconcile some accounts receivable with its general account for three years — leaving $6.8 million in discrepancies unresolved. Another major issue is lax security on databases holding sensitive student information. The school responded to that issue in the report with, “security privileges have been updated to reflect job duties.” What does that mean? Why should students trust the administration? Can it prove the integrity of all of its student records?

After years of accepting blatantly false vehicle log reports of state cars the administration finally reported mileage discrepancies to the Attorney General in March. According to the audit one vehicle log from December 2005 showed a car had been driven 4,400 miles in six days — in an around Baltimore City and County. Talk about lying as an art form. This would be funny if it weren’t such an outrageous abuse of taxpayer dollars.

How could President Stanley Battle, who leaves to head North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro this summer, allow such incompetence, not to mention criminal activity? The response should be clear: Cut off state funding — $21 million of its $61.5 million budget in 2006 — to the school until it can prove it’s cleaned up its management and oversight. Given the report’s findings one would wonder why alumni would consider giving to their alma mater.

And before the General Assembly raises taxes — as it’s leaders keep saying is necessary to fix the projected $1.5 billion structural deficit — it should wade through all of its Department of Legislative Services audit reports and total the waste in every state agency. $21 million here and there adds up to a lot of money — maybe enough to offset any need for a tax increase — right Senate President Miller and House Speaker Busch?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Some faculty, students want CAU president out

The chorus of dissent at Clark Atlanta University, an institution that has struggled to emerge from financial and institutional crisis in the last five years, is growing louder -- just in time for graduation.

In the last three months, faculty and student groups have been calling for the ouster of President Walter Broadnax, who will speak at Monday's commencement ceremony.

On Tuesday, some faculty, students and alumni say they plan to hold a press conference to again ask for Broadnax's "immediate removal."

Members of the board of trustees, which oversees the school, have said they will continue to support him.

Last month, more than 80 percent of faculty members cast a vote of "no confidence" in Broadnax, who, in his five-year tenure, has taken a series of unpopular steps he said were needed to stave off financial crisis. He slashed staff and academic programs and re-structured the school, and announced plans to phase out the library and engineering schools, among others, a decision that caused contention on the fractious campus.

In recent months, students have held protests on campus, complaining that they are not getting enough for their steep tuition costs.

Last month, six Clark Atlanta graduate students sued the school for breach of contract, saying it failed to offer the courses necessary for them to earn their degrees in a timely fashion. The students, who were enrolled in the African-American Studies & Africana Women's Studies programs at Clark Atlanta, said in the suit they have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars pursing degrees "they cannot obtain because CAU's financial woes have resulted in severe faculty under staffing of the program." The suit was filed in late April in Superior Fulton County Court.

Broadnax has said when he arrived on campus in August 2002, he found a university that was millions of dollars in debt and collecting only half the tuition students owed. The school had overspent the previous year's $100 million budget by $7.5 million.

Juanita Baranco, chair of the Board of Trustees, said Broadnax has the "full support of the board." Baranco said the school is continuing its financial recovery.

"There is a lot of tension between Dr. Broadnax and the faculty," she said. "But when you're in the middle of doing a turn around, when you have to shut down programs, that is not unusual."

Baranco declined to comment on the specifics of Broadnax's contract. She said board will soon an appoint an executive vice president of operations who will handle the day-to-day running of the school to allow Broadnax to spend nearly all of his time on fundraising endeavors.

"I am not saying Dr. Broadnax is perfect, but he took us through a very difficult time," she said. Clark Atlanta continues to improve, she said.

"We are in a difficult situation but not an impossible one."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Trustee says President's poor leadership harms Ala. State

By Joe L. Reed

According to experts in trusteeship, the two most important duties for a university's board of trustees are to protect the integrity of the university and select a quality president.

I believe that the members of the board of trustees of Alabama State University have failed in both respects. I must speak out concerning the nature of these failures. I know that there are some people who will never forgive me for what I say; however, the future of ASU and the students it must serve is far more important than how some individuals may pass judgment.

Obviously, I am very proud of ASU as an institution and few would challenge my commitment to serve the university. My involvement with ASU began in 1958 when I enrolled as a freshman and worked as a custodian in Kilby Hall for 25 cents per hour. I literally flushed the toilets others would not flush and cleaned the floors others made dirty.

I became active in the affairs of the university and served as student body president my senior year, and later I served as president of the ASU National Alumni Association. My service to ASU culminated with my election as chairman of the ASU Board of Trustees in the 1990s. I am still a member of the board. For more than 45 years, I saw it as my duty to lobby the Alabama Legislature and the federal government for ASU, at my own expense, to gain funding and help ASU improve and grow.

Recently, the ASU board agreed to extend the contract of its president, Dr. Joe A. Lee, for two years. I originally voted for Dr. Lee to become president of ASU, even though I had been previously warned not to support him by people who had a deeper knowledge of Dr. Lee -- but a search committee had recommended him. I accepted that recommendation and voted for him.

I now believe that I made a mistake. I could not vote to extend his current contract, nor did I vote for his extension two years ago.

I want to believe that Dr. Lee is an upright, Christian gentleman, and a fundamentally honest family man, who would make a good next-door neighbor; however, he has not been an effective president.

The record shows that Dr. Lee has brought no vision to ASU. Practically every ASU program was in place when he arrived. Most of the buildings that are under construction on campus were on the drawing board before his arrival.

The one facility initiative to renovate six dormitories appears to be headed toward huge cost overruns and long delays. Poor management has led to this project becoming a fiasco, resulting in expensive lawsuits against ASU. Strong presidential leadership would never have allowed a routine construction project to become an embarrassment to the institution.

Dr. Lee has not been adept at handling personnel. We have numerous vacancies, including two vice presidents. We have been forced to call upon retired professors to fill vacant positions. Last year, he summarily terminated several upper-level administrators without discussing their dismissals with them. To this day, these positions remain without a permanent appointment and are being filled on an interim basis.

Dr. Lee to refuses to implement a long-standing board instruction to recommend an in-house legal counsel to reduce the exorbitant amount ASU is paying to outside lawyers.

To his detriment and the university's detriment, Dr. Lee has no firm connection to the community or the institution. This shows in his inability to raise our endowment.

Under the Knight consent decree, the state of Alabama will match contributions to ASU's endowment up to $1 million per year. The board ordered Dr. Lee to develop a plan to raise funds, but he has failed. Although ASU continues to struggle to recruit students despite its vast network of alumni and supporters, Dr. Lee has not tapped into that reservoir of good will for funding support or to bring the best and brightest to Montgomery.

Because of administrative ineffectiveness, ASU lost out on an opportunity to receive between $4 million and $6 million because of a failure to write a short, simple proposal on economic development. Troy University, Tuskegee University, Jacksonville State University, Wallace State Community College and Bishop State Community College and some other universities received millions of dollars through this program. These universities got money. ASU only got presidential excuses.

It is unfortunate that Dr. Lee has placed himself in this position. It is beyond reason for the board to continue Dr. Lee's contract when every evaluation he has received has been less than satisfactory. Incredibly, the board voted unanimously at its February 2007 meeting not to extend his contract.

The chairman notified him of this decision and Dr. Lee was preparing a letter stating that he would not accept a renewal of his current contract. In an about-face, the board chairman told him not to submit the letter and started lobbying other board members to retain Dr. Lee.

Dr. Lee has compromised the presidency of ASU and diluted its influence. He has lost the confidence of the faculty, the trust of the students and the support of many alumni. To keep Dr. Lee as president does a disservice to the entire university family.

I am saddened to say that I am not optimistic about the future of a place that I hold near and dear to my heart, a university that has helped educate generations of students and improves our state. Our university cries out for help, but a majority of the board ignores the pleas.

For the sake of Alabama State University, time has come for the alumni to come forward to demand new leadership and a vision for the future of the university.

Joe L. Reed is a former chairman and a current member of the Alabama State University board of trustees

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Howard U. president plans smooths transition

H. Patrick Swygert, who announced his retirement as Howard University president in the wake of criticism from the Faculty Senate, has pledged to work with the Board of Trustees and the community to ensure a smooth transition to his successor. His retirement is effective June 30, 2008.

Swygert told the Howard commumity he had put the school in a sound direction and felt it was time to think about the next phase of his life. He wanted to announce his decision now, he said, to give a proper farewell to the senior class, graduating May 12.

"We just finished a great capital campaign. What better time?,'" said Swygert who has held Howard's top position for 12 years.

Swygert initiated and completed a list of projects to better the university, the Howard community and the surrounding Washington community. When he took the position in 1995, he became the university's fourth president in six years. Since then, Swygert has overseen the completion of two computer labs, the I-Lab and the Commuter I-Lab, construction of the Louis Stokes Health Library and the Howard University Law Library was completed under his administration as well.

This March, the Campaign for Howard, a $250 million fundraising campaign for the university, was completed 10 months ahead of schedule.

The university has phased through two strategic plans, called Strategic Frameworks for Action, and in his letter, Swygert said that he intends to continue with Strategic Framework for Action III during his final academic year at Howard.

"I think he's made his impact on the university and he really has the university's best interests at heart. I think that's why he's going to work on the Strategic Framework for Action III, because the other two have been really successful," said Marcus Ware, incoming 2007-08 Howard University Student Association president.

Swygert's memo to the Howard community mentions other accomplishments, including the addition of 142 tenure-track faculty members, an A+ credit score rating by Standard & Poor's and an Intel Corp. ranking of Howard as among the top 24 wireless universities in the country.

Swygert spearheaded community improvement and development.

"We can join as well in celebration of the LeDroit Park Initiative, now a nationally recognized model for university- community neighborhood revitalization efforts," Swygert wrote. The initiative, created in 1996, seeks to improve the surrounding neighborhood.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Winfrey speaks to Howard Grads

A tearful Oprah Winfrey accepted an honorary docorate and gave a 20 minute commencement address at Howard University Saturday.

It happened under a huge blue-and-white tent, amid the cheers and applause of 2,200 soon-to-be graduates of the nation's most prestigious black university.

School President H. Patrick Swygert handed Winfrey an honorary doctorate in humanities, declared her a "citizen of the universe" and added, "We now name you a daughter of Howard University."

And the media mogul, philanthropist, actress, producer and educator welled up, as the students and their families applauded and frantically snapped pictures of her.

"You can receive a lot of awards in your life, but there is nothing better," she said before breaking off to catch an emotional breath, "there is nothing better than to be honored by your own."

She delicately wiped tears from beneath her eyes and accepted a handkerchief from Swygert, who later promised to add it to the university's permanent archives.

Then she delivered a 20-minute commencement address in which she hammered home one of her well-known themes: "I'm here to tell you today, 'Don't worry. Don't worry about it. Relax. . . . All you have to know is who you are.' "

Her grandmother, a maid, once told her, " 'I hope you grow up and find some good white folks to work for.'

"I regret that she didn't live past 1963 and see that I did grow up and get some really good white folks working for me," she said.

Continue reading: Oprah at Howard

Friday, May 11, 2007

SSU's mass communications program accredited by ACEJMC

Savannah State University's mass communications program has earned accreditation by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC), the organization that oversees external review and accredits programs for professional education in journalism and mass communications at colleges and universities in the United States.

The announcement was made on May 4, 2007, during the organization's national meeting in Portland, Ore., where the SSU mass communications program was one of 14 to achieve accreditation. The SSU program met the requirements for all nine standards, which range from mission and governance to assessment of learning outcomes.

The SSU mass communications program becomes the second in Georgia to earn approval by the ACEJMC.

While professional accreditation is not required, meeting national standards is considered an important quality benchmark that further defines Savannah State's comparative advantage in the marketplace.

"Te ACEJMC stamp of approval is an assurance of quality to students, parents and the public,"said Jane M.Gates, interim vice president for Academic Affairs. "The accreditation validates that we are offering a degree that is relevant and valuable."

The ACEJMC does not compare or rank programs; instead, each institution?s program is measured on how effectively it meets the goals and challenges identified by the faculty and others when measured against the national standards. For Savannah State, the initial self-examination was a five-year process that will now be reviewed every six years to maintain the ACEJMC accreditation.

At SSU, the mass communications program is one of four undergraduate degree programs that have been designated as Centers of Academic Excellence based on student demand and market relevance. The mass communications program has grown to become one of the five most popular undergraduate study areas based on program enrollment. Students in the mass communications major select one of three concentrations: print journalism, radio/television and public relations/advertising.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

NCCU law school may get extra $2.5M

North Carolina Central University's law school is in line to receive an extra $2.5 million from the state this year, if the budget being debated in the General Assembly holds.

The money would help the school deal with enrollment growth and reduce its current reliance on federal grant money to pay many members of its support staff, NCCU law dean Raymond Pierce said Wednesday.

Federal grants accounted for about 30 percent of the law school's roughly $12 million operating budget last year, a percentage share that ABA officials criticized because the school might be forced to cut support jobs during a period of rising enrollment if it were to lose those grants.

But with the $2.5 million allocation and the proceeds of a $1,000 tuition increase, the school should be able to change that, Pierce said.

"We're not going to be able to move everybody off grants onto state dollars, but we'll be able to move enough to satisfy the ABA," Pierce said.

The push for the state allocation, and the tuition increase, began last year after the school received a letter from the ABA's accreditation team. The bar inspects the law school's programs and facilities once every seven years.

ABA pressure following an earlier accreditation review contributed to NCCU's decision to build the Turner Law Building, the law school's new headquarters off South Alston Avenue. This time, inspectors fretted about the stability of the law school's funding.

Over the winter, NCCU and UNC system officials responded by coming up with the plan to request both a tuition increase and extra money from the General Assembly. That came, according to UNC system documents, after they discarded the idea of using tuition alone.

At one point, officials pondered raising the school's tuition by $6,000 for new students and $3,000 for existing students. But they concluded that that wouldn't jibe with the school's mission or the system's desire for "reasonable tuition increases."

The UNC Board of Governors signed off on the plan, including the budget request, over the winter. Gov. Mike Easley, an NCCU law alumnus, supported the idea in his budget proposal even though he stopped short of going along with the full amount.

Still another NCCU law alumnus, state Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham, senior chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, pushed for the money once budget deliberations began in the House chamber. The full $2.5 million appeared as a line item in the preliminary draft of the House budget released on Monday.

So far, the request has encountered smooth sailing in the chamber. "No one seemed to have any problems with that," said state Rep. Larry Hall, D-Durham.

There was some grumbling about "pork" from outside the General Assembly when a list of potential budget earmarks that included the law school money leaked out of the advance deliberations, but even some of the UNC system's usual critics are holding their fire.

"If it's to comply with accreditation requirements, if it truly is, that is an existing state asset," said John Hood, president of the Raleigh-based John Locke Foundation. "Pork has to be in some way distinguishable from other things. One useful definition would be a project that has almost entirely local effects and yet is funded by a higher level of government. [The law school is] not a Durham institution, it's a state institution."

Hood added that his colleagues at the foundation would likely regard NCCU -- which he called a commuter school that serves many students who work full-time -- as "a more efficient conveyor of legal education" than some other institutions.

The school's plan, if the money comes through, is to shift some of its grant funding into other initiatives, including an effort to build ties with NCCU's push to develop expertise in biotechnology, UNC system documents say.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bishop College's former financial aid chief, 13 others, accused of theft

Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. announced charges Tuesday against 14 people in the alleged theft of more than $45,000 in federal financial aid from Bishop State Community College.

The Mobile college's former financial aid head, Charles Weymon Holloway, was charged in connection with more than $14,000 of that amount. Thirteen of the 14 charged are college employees.

The announcement comes two days before college President Yvonne Kennedy was expected to appear before the state school board to defend her job. But Renee Culverhouse, who requested Kennedy's presence, resigned as interim chancellor on Tuesday, and it remained unclear late Tuesday what effect that might have on the Thursday meeting.

"I have conferred with the president, and the college has no official statement with reference to the arrests," college spokesman Herb Jordan said Tuesday. "Prayers go out to all who are affected by today's announcement."

Jordan declined to answer further questions about the charges or say whether Kennedy planned to appear before the state school board Thursday.

Tyson's office had previously charged 13 other people with theft from Bishop State. With the addition of today's charges, a total of 27 people are accused of stealing more than $201,000 in financial aid and sports program money from Bishop State, according to Tyson's office.

"I think almost every single employee in the financial aid office has been caught up in this at this point," Tyson said. "Not every last one, but virtually every last one."

Financial and academic practices at the college have also come under the scrutiny of the FBI, the state's two-year college system, the U.S. Department of Education and Bishop State's accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS.

SACS has placed Bishop State on probation, though the school remains accredited.

Kennedy has not been charged, and her lawyer, J. Cecil Gardner, has said there is no cause for her removal as president.

"Just because someone hasn't been indicted does not mean they shouldn't be fired," said Randy McKinney of Orange Beach, one of three Republicans on the nine-member state school board to have called for Kennedy's removal as president.

Kennedy, a Democrat, represents parts of Mobile in the Alabama House.

McKinney said that Tuesday's charges underscore Bishop State's problems.

"I think it's just a further indication of a leadership void that has existed at Bishop State Community College for several years," McKinney said.

He added that he is not sure how Culverhouse's sudden resignation Tuesday might affect efforts to remove Kennedy but said it could "unfortunately" cause further delays.

Tyson in his Tuesday news conference noted that Holloway is "the most senior official" at Bishop State that has been charged, adding that charge was "probably the most disappointing."

The $14,646 that Holloway is charged with stealing is the second highest amount in this third round of arrests.

Holloway was removed last October as director of financial aid at the college, but continued as director of the school's Carver campus.

Tyson said that while his investigation into Bishop State financial aid is not yet over, the end could be near.

"We'll be finished, maybe, by next week," Tyson said, adding that any new revelations could prolong the investigation.

Tyson declined to comment on whether he had any evidence against Kennedy.

"When and if we obtain probable cause to believe that she committed a crime, then you will hear about it," Tyson said. "It's probably not appropriate for me to comment on ... whether or not there is any evidence."

In January, Tyson said he did not have a "shred of evidence that implicates Dr. Kennedy in a crime."

Tyson said Tuesday that his refusal to talk about whether evidence has been found to implicate Kennedy was not meant to suggest any change in her status.

"I just simply am trying to be faithful to the standards that I'm supposed to operate under," he said.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

SU President placed on two months leave

The Southern University Board of Supervisors suspended the system president today for two months while an internal investigation is conducted into sexual harassment allegations against the former board chairman.

Southern University System President Ralph Slaughter was ordered at a special meeting to step down with pay through July 5 and cooperate with the investigation to be conducted by Southern Human Resources Director Lester Pourciau, who also is the university’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission coordinator.

Former Southern Board Chairman Johnny Anderson is accused of alleged sexual harassment of multiple Southern University employees.

Anderson, who also is the governor’s assistant chief of staff, stepped down as board chairman April 21, along with former Vice Chairman Myron Lawson, to avoid any appearance of influencing investigations.

The allegations against Anderson came to light in November after Slaughter sent a letter to state Sen. Charles Jones, D-Monroe, asking for an external investigation because Slaughter argued he did not feel comfortable investigating Anderson, since Slaughter works for the board.

Slaughter has faced criticism for taking the allegations outside of the university.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Morehouse president leaves strong financial legacy

Walter Massey was a shy, black boy from Hattiesburg, Miss., when he arrived as a 16-year-old freshman at Morehouse College.
Nearly 40 years later, he returned to change the school that changed him. He served as Morehouse's president for 12 years but will step down in June.

During his tenure, a fund-raising campaign brought in $119 million in three years, and he helped the school land the collection of more than 7,000 handwritten notes, letters and sermons by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. -- the most famous alumnus of Morehouse, the nation's only historically black all-male college.

After presiding over his final commencement May 20, Massey, 69, and his wife, Shirley, will move to Chicago.

Robert Franklin -- an Emory University professor and former president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta -- has been named Morehouse's 10th president.

Massey became a Morehouse student almost by chance.

As the story goes, he had driven a group of students to take a test for early admission. ''When I got there, they said, 'As long as you're here, you might as well take the test, too','' Massey recalled. ''It was life-changing, to say the least.''

He developed confidence at the school. ''There was this sense that there was certain kinds of behavior you were expected to adhere to,'' said Massey, whose bachelor's degree is in physics and math. ''And it gave us all the sense that as a Morehouse student, you would be able to compete with anybody in the world.''

As he leaves, Massey has much to be proud of. Two Marshall scholars graduated under his watch. Morehouse also produced two Rhodes scholars. All of Morehouse's tenured faculty now hold doctorates.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Former TxSU CFO found guilty, could do serious time

Quintin Wiggins, 46, was convicted of one count of misapplication of fiduciary property over $200,000. He faces a sentence ranging from five to 99 years or life in prison.

The jury was set to begin hearing testimony in the trial's sentencing phase shortly after the guilty verdict was announced.

The verdict came after three weeks of testimony and three days of deliberations in the court of state District Judge Brock Thomas.

Harris County prosecutors contended that Wiggins acted criminally when he allowed the use of university funds for such expenditures as furniture, landscaping and a security system for Slade's home.

Defense attorney L. Mickele Daniels told jurors, however, that he may have been negligent, but that he did not intentionally break the law.

He relied on the advice of others for some purchases and did not know about other expenditures, they said.

Wiggins resigned in March last year after the TSU Board of Regents placed him on paid leave in connection with the investigation.

Slade, 55, who was fired in June, is scheduled for trial on Aug. 10 on two counts of misapplication of fiduciary property over $200,000.

She was fired after TSU attorneys concluded that she had failed to follow university policies and state laws while spending more than $260,000.

A criminal investigation concluded that more than $1.9 million was spent during her tenure on such purchases as artwork, club memberships, spa treatments and sports tickets.

Former TSU Vice President Bruce Wilson, 53, charged with one count of misapplication of fiduciary property, is set for trial on Sept. 28.

Del. State presidents says state's 2-year scholarship undermines 4-year schools

Two years ago, more than 70 percent of Delaware State University's freshman class was made up of in-state students - a number that pleased university president Dr. Allen L. Sessoms, who said he wants the college to cater to Delawareans.

This school year, however, in-state enrollment for incoming freshman dropped to 29 percent, and Dr. Sessoms is afraid that the downward trend will continue next year.

While overall enrollment is up at DSU, Dr. Sessoms said he is disappointed to see that fewer Delawareans are choosing the school.

He attributes the problem to Gov. Ruth Ann Minner's Student Excellence Equals Degree program, which provides tuition to Delaware students who enroll fulltime in associate's degree programs.

Economic impact

Not only does Dr. Sessoms think SEED is limiting students' economic potential, but he also thinks it could be limiting the state's economic future.

"Sending students to what in some sense is a limited future doesn't help Delaware companies," he said.

Gerard McNesby, vice president of finance with DelTech, disagreed that students are hurting themselves or the local economy by enrolling in associate's programs instead of four-year universities.

He stressed that nurses, paramedics, automotive technicians and other valued professionals throughout the state hold associate's degrees.

"DelTech produces a highly qualified, highly educated and well-paid workforce," he said.

Lisa Hastings, a spokeswoman for the college, said the average annual salary for someone with an associate's degree in Delaware is $50,000.

Additionally, she said DelTech graduates are hired by 517 employers in the state.

"We're certainly serving the needs of the businesses depending on us," she said.

Dr. Sessoms agreed that DelTech graduates go on to hold important jobs, but he said they're usually not the kinds of careers that drive the economy.

"People with associate's degrees tend to work for people," he said. "(DSU) is trying to create entrepreneurs who have people work for them."

Dr. Sessoms said he would prefer to see the SEED program expanded to include four-year colleges and universities.

He said he understands there isn't enough money in the SEED program to completely fund four-year degrees, but he believes that students who qualify for the scholarship should have the choice to put the money toward a bachelor's degree.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Voorhees College Ordered to Pay $500,000 in Sexual Harassment Case Against its President

A jury late last week found that a former Voorhees College professor was sexually harassed by the college’s president Lee E. Monroe and that Voorhees College “acted with malice or with reckless indifference to the federally protected rights” of the former professor.

Dr. Moreen B. Joseph brought the civil lawsuit against Monroe and Voorhees College, alleging that Monroe sexually harassed her and the college did nothing about it.

The jury awarded Joseph punitive damages of $400,000 and compensatory damages of $100,000.

According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina, Orangeburg Division on July 13, 2004, the Louthian Law Firm of Columbia, representing Joseph, alleged that she was subjected to “lewd, gross and suggestive language of a sexual nature and unwanted touching” by Monroe for a period of several months in 2002 and 2003, creating a “hostile work environment.”

Monroe and Voorhees College, represented by Evans Taylor Barnette of McCutchen Blanton Rhodes and Johnson, denied all of Joseph’s allegations.

Joseph claimed that Monroe “repeatedly made unwelcome sexual advances and implied that if she would agree to his sexual advances, she would benefit personally and financially.”

The complaint went on to state that Monroe suggested to Joseph that if she “received his sexual advances favorably, that she would continue to prosper as an employee of the college and implied that if she did not go along with his advances that she would regret that decision.”

Joseph claimed that she “consistently and adamantly rejected ... Monroe’s advances and, as a result, she was retaliated against, culminating in the loss of her position and more than $70,000 per year in income.”

The complaint stated that Monroe and the college “discriminated against and harassed (Joseph), retaliated against her and caused her to suffer damages because of her sex (gender), all in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as amended.”

As a result of Monroe’s conduct, Joseph claimed that she “suffered and continues to suffer severe emotional distress, psychological injury, mental suffering and humiliation.”

The complaint also alleged that Monroe “unlawfully placed his hands on the body of (Joseph) in a sexually suggestive and offensive manner, thereby inflicting a battery upon her person.”

However, the jury Thursday found that Joseph had not proven her claim of battery.

Joseph also alleged that Monroe’s actions and conduct were “pervasive and ongoing and known to the Board of Trustees and other officials” at Voorhees College. The complaint stated that she reported the sexual harassment and assault and battery to appropriate officials at Voorhees including the Human Resources Office and the Board of Trustees.

In answering the complaint, Monroe and Voorhees College denied “each and every allegation” related to sexual harassment and assault and battery.

The defendants, in their answer, acknowledged that Joseph notified one or more college officials, including Monroe, of “claimed sexual misconduct but failed to follow college policies and procedures with regard to investigating said wrongful conduct.”

The answer to the complaint also stated that Joseph was not “terminated or constructively discharged by (Voorhees College). Rather, (Joseph) voluntarily quit and terminated her employment with Voorhees College,” and it called for the suit to be dismissed.

In commenting on the jury’s decision, Don Fowler, Voorhees College Board of Trustees member and spokesperson, said, “The proceeding was disappointing but there are additional steps before the final determination is made in respect to this proceeding. We continue to have faith and confidence in Dr. Monroe, and I will not have any other comment until the court has concluded all of the steps in this process.”

Herbert W. Louthian, attorney for Joseph, said, “I feel that the jury was very conscientious in their approach to the case. They were attentive, they were diligent, they did their duty and, in so doing ,they have helped us protect the lives of women in the workplace.”

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Robert Franklin choosen as Morehouse's 10th president

The Morehouse College Board of Trustees has named Dr. Robert Michael Franklin Jr. the 10th President of Morehouse College. Franklin will officially take office on Monday, July 2, succeeding Dr. Walter E. Massey (Morehouse class of 1958), who will retire June 30, 2007.

Franklin currently serves as presidential distinguished professor of social ethics at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He is leader, in the Office of the Provost, for the university's strategic theme focused on "Confronting the Human Condition." He also is a senior fellow in the Center for Interdisciplinary Study of Religion in the School of Law. From 1997 to 2002, Franklin served as president of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), which is part of the Atlanta University Center consortium. He also has served as theologian in residence at The Chautaugua Institution in New York.

"We are fortunate to have someone of Dr. Franklin’s national stature -- a man who exemplifies the best qualities of a Morehouse man, the one who rose to the top among a distinguished pool of candidates," said Willie J. Davis, chairman of the Board of Trustees. "In selecting Dr. Franklin, great consideration was given to the strength of his moral and spiritual character, his experience as an educational and administrative leader, and his ability to attract funds and friends to the College."

"At a time of social crisis in African American communities and throughout the nation, the educational mission of Morehouse is more urgent than ever before," said Franklin. I am both humbled and energized by the Boards' invitation to serve the College that has produced extraordinary change agents and thought leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Maynard Jackson, Julian Bond and Spike Lee."

A 1975 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and religion, Dr. Franklin earned the Masters of Divinity in Christian Social Ethics, Pastoral Care from Harvard Divinity School, and the Ph.D. in Ethics and Society, Religion and the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago Divinity School.