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Friday, June 29, 2007

FVSU gets $2.3 M grant

Fort Valley State University will receive a $2.3 million federal grant for the upcoming fiscal year.
U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, announced Wednesday that the university was selected by the U.S. Department of Education to receive the grant under the Historically Black Colleges and the Universities Institutional Aid Program. Fort Valley State is one of three public historically black colleges and universities in Georgia.

"I am very pleased that Fort Valley State University is the recipient of the this grant," Bishop, whose district includes Fort Valley, said in a written statement. "These funds will go a long way toward enhancing the institution's ability to continue providing quality education to its students."

The annual amount of the five-year grant will vary based on appropriations allocated to the Department of Education. The grant's purpose is to assist in the creation or enhancing of academic resources, financial management, endowments and physical facilities.

"These funds will be used to strengthen academic programs and other initiatives in support of the university and our students," Fort Valley State president Larry E. Rivers said.

Fort Valley State spokeswoman Cindy Gambill said specifics have yet to be worked out, but the grant will likely be used for academic services, endowment and facilities. This is the first time the institution has received the grant.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wildcat Commons, FVSU's newest residential village, has plenty of amenities

Never one to miss a chance to recapture the days of his youth at Fort Valley State University, university President Larry E. Rivers spoke Tuesday of his freshman dormitory stay in 1969.
Rivers told a tale of three guys sharing a 12-by-12 room with no air conditioning, when a fan was considered a luxury. Communal bathrooms were a norm, while privacy was virtually nonexistent.

It's almost a certainty Rivers will retell the same story of his days in Jeanes Hall on the Fort Valley State campus when students return in the fall.

However, 950 students will have a totally different experience at the Wildcat Commons, the university's newest residential village, where private rooms and air conditioning will be the norm.

"I'm a little jealous, but I'm very happy for the students," Rivers said. Hell, you and me both, bruh!

The $44 million project, funded by the FVSU Foundation, the FVSU Property LLC and the University System of Georgia, includes five student housing buildings and a clubhouse, all on nine acres of land. Construction on the living facility began in July 2006.

Larry E. Odom, the capital projects coordinator for plant operations, credited construction contractor H.J. Russell and Co. for building the Wildcat Commons on schedule.

"These buildings are ready to be occupied," Odom said, adding that the buildings had received certificates of occupancy.

Terrance Smith, interim vice president for student affairs, said many of the amenities of the Wildcat Commons came at the request of students.

"The student body made their requests very clear and very bold," Smith said.

Those requests resulted in a clubhouse that includes a 250-capacity movie theater, a convenience store, a media lounge and recreation area, conference rooms and office space.

A tour of one suite provided insight into the spaciousness and privacy awaiting students.The four-bedroom suite, which was already decorated, provided a glimpse of how students will be living. One room was decorated with black and pink accents to show how a female coed might live. Another room contained various blue and gold Fort Valley State paraphernalia representing a male coed's living quarters.

A third room was left unfurnished with just the dark wood bed with a mattress and a desk set to show exactly what students can expect upon arrival at the new dormitory.

The Wildcat Commons is expected to house a cross section of students, from freshmen to graduate students. The minimum cost for a suite-style apartment is $1,625 per student, per semester for the three-bed, two-bath suite. A two-bedroom apartment, the most expensive, will cost $2,425.

However, Demetrius Smith, general manager for the property, said the students will receive a multitude of benefits, including secure facilities requiring keycard access. Smith said each building contains eight handicapped-accessible rooms.

Furthermore, the buildings are so technologically advanced that a student will be able to determine the status of their laundry at the laundry room via their cellular phone, personal digital assistant or laptop computer, avoiding multiple laundry excursions.

The students also will be in close proximity to the school's health and physical education complex where they can go for a swim or play on the softball field.

"It's centered around getting these students more involved and more active," Smith said.

Daniel K. Wims, the university's executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs, said the wait for new dorms on campus has been long and hard. But it was worth it.

"These are not just residence halls," Wims said. "These are living, learning centers."

And the students want to live and learn there. Rivers said the dormitory is already booked up.

And plans call for an expansion of the centers. Rivers said the university is looking at a $25 million to $35 million project to add 450 more beds, as well as a dining facility and a bookstore.

Rivers said the promise and creation of a modern, state-of-the-art, secure dormitory will assist in the university's efforts to recruit more students.

He said he is even willing to spend a night in the dormitory to get a taste of college life for 24 hours.

"It almost makes you want to go back to college and get, for me, a fifth degree," Rivers said.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Newman out as President at Mississippi Valley

Mississippi Valley State University President Lester Newman today announced his resignation effective July 15.

Newman, Valley’s fifth president, has come under fire for months from MVSU faculty and alumni who called for his firing.

Many were critical of his “micromanagement’’ leadership style, and claimed he was a poor manager and exhibited unprofessional behavior toward MVSU supporters, including staff.

"I'm glad this matter is finally resolved so we can focus on providing our students the education they deserve, because that's the reason we're here," said Michele Crescenzo, vice president of MVSU's Faculty Senate.

On Wednesday, the College Board met with Newman for an hour behind closed doors. Officials said no action was taken, but the board president Dr. Stacy Davidson said higher education leaders were attempting to reach an amicable solution to satisfy all parties.

Davidson said he wishes Newman well as he explores other opportunities.

The College Board plans to name an interim president at the historically black Itta Bena institution.

“I have a great love for Mississippi Valley State University,’’ Newman said in a news release posted on the school’s Web site today.

Earlier this year, Faculty Senate leaders overwhelmingly endorsed a “no-confidence’’ resolution critical of his leadership.

As a result, Newman named a special faculty panel to look into concerns at Valley.
That 10-member group urged the College Board to dismiss Newman.

“It is my hope that the faculty, staff, students, and alumni will continue the journey that we started toward pre-eminence and will move the institution to new and greater heights,’’ Newman said.

He’s held the $183,750- per-year job at MVSU since July 1998.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Elias Blake, former President Clake College, dead at 77

Elias Blake Jr., former president of Clark College (now Clark-Atlanta University), advisor to U.S. Presidents and the Congress, and longtime education and civil rights advocate died recently at his home in Washington, DC. He was 77 years old.

Blake was a trailblazer, on the American higher education landscape, who broke new ground advocating for equality of opportunity and access to higher education for African American students during a lengthy career in higher education policy and research.

Among his many achievements, Blake is credited with several pioneering studies on reducing student attrition and improving retention and graduation rates at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Much of Blake’s research laid the foundation for the development of Title III of the Higher Education Act.

In the early 1970s he played a pivotal role in organizing a first ever meeting between a sitting U.S. President (Richard Nixon) and the presidents of HBCUs to discuss ways the federal government could better assist the colleges in serving the needs of the nation and carrying out their mission.

During his 10-year presidency at Clark College, he oversaw a period of steady growth in enrollment, programmatic offerings and the college’s finances. Blake strengthened the academic foundation of the college and made it an attractive partner for a merger with Atlanta University, forming Clark-Atlanta University.

Prior to launching full speed into his higher education work, Blake served on a design team which was responsible for creating Upward Bound, the nation’s first pre-college program.

Blake was the braintrust behind the Adams v. Richardson case which found ten states in violation of the Civil Rights Act for supporting segregated schools. The states were ordered to work actively to integrate institutions, so long as that integration was not carried out at the expense of HBCUs, which were deemed to play an important and unique national role in the education of African Americans. Adams v. Richarson forced states to make significant public investments in HBCUs and laid the groundwork for the landmark United States v. Fordice case.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

UDC president to step down at end of the month

The president of the University of the District of Columbia will step down at the end of this month after five years as head of the city's public university.

William L. Pollard resigned yesterday, the board chairman said. But sources said that he was asked to leave when his contract ends June 30. Some people on campus were shocked; Pollard and the board had agreed to another five-year contract in October.

"We've had five great years," Pollard said in a statement released yesterday evening. "We've made great progress here and have much in which we can take justifiable pride, but now is a good time to transition to new challenges as I round out my career."

When Pollard arrived, the school had financial problems, run-down facilities, declining enrollment and low morale. Under his leadership, the school enrolled and retained more students, established a development office and added student services, spokesman Michael Andrews said. During Pollard's tenure, the law school was accredited for the first time, and the school has been reaccredited.

But sources said the board was concerned about management problems, including fundraising and maintenance issues and long-standing problems in the athletic department involving financial aid and academic eligibility.

Asked what Pollard's greatest accomplishments have been at UDC, board Chairman James W. Dyke Jr. said: "I think the fact that he was there for five years brought an era of stability to the university. That was very important, given in the past there has been significant turnover.

"He made a real good effort to reach out to students. He has obviously done a good job there. He has moved the university forward, brought stability. Now we're trying to build on that foundation to bring the university to the next level of excellence."

Dyke said the school faces a number of challenges, including launching a capital campaign "and getting our administrative house in order." The administration, with monitoring from a committee of trustees, is working on a plan to address problems in the athletic department in response to an NCAA investigation, he said.

"If we're going to continue to grow and progress," Dyke said, "we have to see a different UDC . . . a different campus plan, a campus that's friendly to students and alumni . . . more engaged with the District with respect to workforce training."

He said the board has been talking with the D.C. Council and the mayor about opportunities to improve UDC, including updating technology and records maintenance and studying the administrative structure.

Pollard did not return messages left for him yesterday evening.

"I'm shocked," said William Kellibrew IV, the senior class president. "I'm not happy about the situation. I think we've had a really great leader, and the school has definitely benefited from his work. . . . The university just at this point lacks a long-term vision. Where are we going if they keep removing presidents every few years?"

Stanley Jackson, a former District deputy mayor who came to UDC this year as chief of staff and senior vice president of operations, will take over day-to-day matters while the board launches a search for a new president.

In the meantime, Dyke and trustee Donald N. Langenberg, a former chancellor of the University System of Maryland, will work with the administration on operational and academic issues.

Dyke said the mayor's office and the council have been asked to take part in the search for a new president -- along with faculty members and others at the university -- including helping UDC officials identify prospects.

"We think it's important that the council and mayor be part of this process so they have a vested interest," Dyke said.

Continue reading; UDC President quits

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Judge bars SU supervisors from action against president

A federal judge barred the Southern University System from taking action against embattled suspended President Ralph Slaughter hours before interim president and longtime chancellor Ed Jackson announced he is leaving Southern in July.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Tyson signed a temporary restraining order Friday morning preventing the university from “taking any action affecting Dr. Slaughter’s employment status pending further order of this court.”

Before the Southern University Board of Supervisors went into executive session Friday at the end of nearly nine hours of meetings to discuss Slaughter’s lawsuit against the university, Jackson announced he is taking a one-year sabbatical effective July 6, when Slaughter is slated to return. If Jackson returns, it would be as a professor and chancellor emeritus.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Alabama A&M president under review

Members of Alabama A&M's Board of Trustees remain tight-lipped about the future of university president Dr. Robert Jennings. The members met behind closed doors Saturday for what was announced as an open meeting to the public.

After a 17 month tenure, Dr. Robert Jennings was evaluated by Alabama A and M's board of trustees. His first review was held Saturday at a Marriott Hotel in Birmingham.

That meeting was supposed to be open to the public; but, for an hour and a half, board members discussed Jennings' review behind closed doors.

It was closed because the discussion centered around good name and character.

While state law allows for boards to meet privately about those matters, other discussion is required to be open to the public.

Until Jennings is presented with the findings of the review, details will not be made public.

That could come as soon as June 22, when the board is scheduled to meet again.

Prior to assuming his role as the tenth president of 130-year-old Alabama A&M University in January 2006, Dr. Robert R.Jennings served as Executive Vice Presidentand Chief Operating Officer of Future Focus 2020, Babcock Graduate School of Management, Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N. C.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

SC State's Clyburn center gets $254,000 grant

The South Carolina State University James E. Clyburn University Transportation Center has been awarded a $254,000 grant from the S.C. Department of Transportation. Funds for this grant were provided by the U. S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. The grant provides On-The-Job Training in highway and transportation careers.

The goals and objectives are to prepare unemployed, underemployed, minorities, females and other economically disadvantaged individuals for meaningful employment opportunities in the transportation construction industry.

“These opportunities will include employment on highway and bridge construction projects, in the commercial trucking industry, and in other aspects of the transportation industry,” said Lamar Tisdale, technology transfer and training coordinator.

The program is designed to assist construction contractors in meeting the requirements of 41CFR60-4.2 and Executive Order 11246, which set forth goals and timetable for minority and female participation on construction projects.

“Construction contractors have often expressed difficulty in recruiting minorities and females for construction related jobs,” said Bill McGhee, on-the-job training coordinator. “A segment of this program is recruiting and providing pre-employment training as a mean of increasing the number of minority and female employers in the transportation industry.”

“There are three (3) components to this program,” added McGhee. “(1) Pre-employment training for highway construction workers, (2) Commercial drivers’ license training and (3) Heavy Equipment Operated Training.”

“With one in six jobs in the country being transportation related, this program will also assist in meeting the transportation challenges of the 21st Century, prepare individuals for traditional and nontraditional careers in transportation, and provide needed trainees to the construction industry,” said Tisdale.

Dr. Reinhardt Brown, interim executive director of the Clyburn University Transportation Center, and Lamar Tisdale, technology transfer and training coordinator and the grant’s principal investigator, are the administrators for the grant.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Clark Atlanta wins court approval to close E-Dept.

Clark Atlanta University has the authority to shut down its engineering department to help deal with a budget crisis, the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled today, in a unanimous decision that upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit to block the closing.

The lawsuit, which presented the unusual phenomenon of a department’s faculty members and students suing their own university, followed a decision in 2005 by Clark Atlanta’s president, Walter D. Broadnax, to close several programs in the face of a cumulative $25-million debt. The plaintiffs said Mr. Broadnax’s decision had not been based on a real financial crisis, and the move had hurt the department immediately, even though it was not due to close until 2008.

The courts disagreed. In its ruling, the Supreme Court said that the correct response for the students and faculty members was “not to interfere in the control of the university” but to “seek damages for any individual harm they allege they have suffered.”

Monday, June 11, 2007

Nelms is new chancellor at NCCU

Indiana University administrator Charlie Nelms is the new chancellor at N.C. Central University.

The UNC system's Board of Governor, Friday morning, approved the hiring of Nelms, who is currently Indiana's vice president for institutional development and student affairs. He replaces James Ammons, who leaves the Durham campus after six years for the presidency at Florida A & M University.

Nelms is a longtime university administrator with two previous stints as a campus leader, serving at various times as chancellor of the University of Michigan - Flint and Indiana University East, the latter a fast-growing commuter campus.

UNC system President Erskine Bowles, who selected Nelms from three finalists, could barely contain his glee Friday.

"I am delighted!" he said. "I am thrilled. This is great!"

At Indiana, Nelms has been tasked with a number of broad initiatives, such as increasing financial aid and boosting minority enrollment at Indiana's main campus in Bloomington.

A native of Arkansas, Nelms has long expressed an interest in leading a historically black university, colleagues said this week

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Lane college experiencing growth spurt

Lane College is thinking big these days.

The college has invested $10 million in three new construction projects - two residence halls and a dining hall - that will open this fall.

Lane is streaming its campus radio station, 98.7 FM WLCD (Wonderful Lane College Dragons) to listeners on the Internet.
And in the upcoming school year, school officials expect the student body to increase from 1,420 to an estimated 1,600.

President Wesley McClure said the historically black, private, Christian college will continue to expand not only in numbers but also in how it reaches and serves the community.

The Lane Evening Accelerated Program - known as LEAP - will add 100 students in the fall semester, McClure said.

The program began in the spring semester this year with 200 students. The college offered free tuition for the spring and summer semesters to the first 100 students who had never before attended a college or university.

"Many of the LEAP students made the honor roll and out-performed some of our regular students," McClure said. "They are more serious, and they brought a balance to the academic program that was sorely needed."

Students in the accelerated evening program choose from five courses of study - business, sociology, criminal justice, computer science and interdisciplinary studies.

The college offered competitive financial incentives to encourage enrollment in the new program, said Marla Pruitte, assistant vice president of evening and outreach programs.

"We've received so much positive feedback about the program," Pruitte said. "We just want to keep the word out there."

McClure said the college has begun to feel the financial impact of offering free tuition to such a large number of students.

Tuition and fees for a Lane College student are $3,810 per semester, according to college officials. Students can earn a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree.

"We're offering education to people who would not have had access to education otherwise," McClure said. "This is a community investment, and the community will see the benefit of this overtime."

An additional $2 million project, Tower Place, is set to open next spring. Tower Place will offer a luxury eating experience, a business center and a computer cafŽ for students and the community, McClure said.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

MVSU president under fire for firings

Two Mississippi Valley State University professors were fired weeks after they served on a faculty committee pressing for the ouster of President Lester Newman.

Losing their jobs effective immediately were professors Vickie Curry and Orian Cathey, who were among 10 on the panel slamming Newman's "micromanagement" leadership style.

Professors said they learned of the dismissals over the weekend.

University officials insisted Monday the two nontenured professors were dismissed because they didn't complete their terminal degrees within five years. "It has nothing to do with their serving on the committee," said MVSU spokeswoman Debbie Montgomery.

While some may question the timing of the move, Montgomery said being president at Valley "is not a popularity contest."

Newman created the Valley panel in March after a Faculty Senate-led endorsement of a no-confidence resolution of his leadership in February. He allowed Valley professors from various colleges and the Faculty Senate to pick its members.

Curry initially said Monday her release was the result of "retaliation" but later said she had no comment.

The next faculty member who may be gone wasn't on the panel. Today, Valley officials are expected to confirm rumors that popular MVSU Athletic Director Lonza Hardy, who's served the school six years, has resigned. He couldn't be reached Monday.

Curry, wife of fiscal affairs administrator Andre Curry, represented the College of Education on the panel. Cathey, who taught math, represented the Faculty Senate. Cathey could not be reached.

In their report sent to Higher Education Commissioner Tom Meredith in late April, the committee recommended Newman "be restrained from hiring or firing personnel and from taking vindictive action" toward the panel.

University presidents report to Meredith.

Meredith and the state College Board had little to say about the latest upheaval at Valley. "The board continues to assess the situation at Valley, and next steps will be announced once they are determined," said board spokeswoman Annie Mitchell.

Montgomery said Newman has pushed since 2000 to upgrade academic standards among faculty.

Two years ago, less than 50 percent of Valley faculty held doctorates, and that figure is up to 69 percent, she said. Having terminal degrees is a key standard for accreditation agencies when sizing up colleges. Newman seeks to get the figure to 75 percent, Montgomery said.

She said two other Valley faculty members on one-year contracts also didn't have terminal degrees and their contracts were not renewed a few days ago. She wouldn't release their names.

Sam McNair, a member of the committee and former Faculty Senate president, said he expects Newman to fire other Valley employees perceived as critics. "I might be one to go," said McNair, on the faculty for more than 30 years.

More changes could be ahead since Newman in the fall also unveiled plans for an administrative reorganization. Many predict it will be unveiled this week.

Word of the latest shakeup at Valley didn't please Carolyn Upkins of Ridgeland, president of MVSU's National Alumni Association.

She said she's concerned the struggle between faculty leaders and Newman could hurt enrollment and alumni gifts to the historically black university.

A recent telephone poll of 32 national alumni leaders, including its executive board, showed the majority had no confidence in Newman's leadership, Upkins said. "I want and the national alumni want what's best for MVSU," she said.

Still, the four faculty members departing as a result of the president's actions are a tiny fraction of the 400 at the university, school officials note.

Newman earlier said he has no plans to resign from his $183,750-per-year leadership post.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fisk hires seasoned fundraiser

Fisk University has hired a season fundraiser, Dr. Sulayman Clark,as vice president for institutional development. Sulayman cut his teeth in fundraising at Hampton University and has helped Morehouse, Tuskegee, and most recently, North Carolina Central raise millions of dollars for their endowments.

Sulayman joined the Fisk staff in April of this year.

“[Clark] is a seasoned fund-raiser, somebody the [Fisk] president ought to pay attention to,” says Ted Easler, president and CEO of The Easler Group, a Georgia-based fund-raising consultant to colleges and universities. “I hear a lot about the sale of the artwork, but I don’t hear and read about them raising money by traditional means.”

Clark’s arrival is the first bold fund-raising move by President Hazel O’Leary beyond the proposed art sale. Most of her nearly three-year tenure has been focused on containing costs, halting the drain on the school’s endowment and selling the art as a part of Fisk’s long-term revival plan. The small but prestigious historically Black college was once considered one of the “Black Ivy League” universities in the United States.

“There’s no magic formula, and I have no pixie dust,” Clark says. “But I have every confidence we have all the tools we need. Fisk is, has been, and remains, a jewel.”

Clark, a Philadelphia native with a doctorate from Harvard University, says Fisk has pledged to make a “sizeable investment” in its historically underfunded development office, and he plans to have it “fully funded and fully staffed” within several months.

He adds that he has a “pretty aggressive fund-raising plan” to present to the Fisk board. Clark is not involved in the art sale controversy, and he says his work will remain independent of that process.

“Our salvation does not lie in that sale,” says Clark, whose specialty has been capital campaigns and scholarship endowments. “Our salvation is in expanding the resource base. Fisk is worthy of fresh investment, independent of the [art] collection process.”

Seasoned as he is at fund raising, Clark faces myriad challenges in trying to reverse Fisk’s fortunes.

On the home front, Fisk competes with a lengthy list of other colleges in the area, including Vanderbilt University and Belmont University. The two traditionally White private colleges are the primary beneficiaries of the region’s wealthy benefactors, including several who serve as Fisk trustees. Despite its deep roots in Nashville, Fisk has never shared in the city’s largesse.

“Nationally, Fisk is in a “catch-up mode” at a time when solicitations for money are skyrocketing.

Fisk’s endowment has shrunk to approximately $8 million, from a high of $30 million in the 1960s. By comparison, Hampton has accumulated an endowment in excess of $200 million. Howard University boasts an endowment of $443 million. Tiny Bennett College for Women has raised $25 million for its endowment since 2002.

Clark echoes those opinions. He emphasizes he is not a one-man-band and is confident that O’Leary, the Fisk trustees, faculty and staff will buy into and participate in a well thought out fund-raising plan.

“This is a team sport,” Clark says.

Monday, June 04, 2007

After 13 years JCSU President calling it quits

Johnson C. Smith University President Dorothy Cowser Yancy will leave the school June 30, 2008, for a career in consulting.

"I am leaving on a high note," Yancy said Friday morning at a press conference. "I have accomplished everything I mentioned in my inaugural address 13 years ago with the help of the JCSU Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni and university friends."

The announcement came during a Friday morning press conference when she announced that the university had raised $80.6 million during its $75 million captial campaign, which is scheduled to end on June 30.

Yancy was named president of the Charlotte university in 1994, becoming the first woman to hold the post.

For the past six years, U.S. News & World Report magazine has ranked JCSU as a top-tier institution among colleges that offer bachelor's degrees. The latest ranking placed JCSU at No. 30 among 106 colleges in the South that were ranked.

JCSU, founded in 1867 as Biddle Memorial Institute, has an enrollment of about 1,500 students and confers bachelor's degrees to hundreds of students each year in 27 majors.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Goldman Sachs to endow $2M chair at Morehouse

Goldman Sachs, the New York investment firm, has announced plans to donate $2 million to Morehouse College to endow The Goldman Sachs Leadership Chair in Civil and Human Rights, a position that will oversee the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection.

Last year, Morehouse received the 10,000-piece collection of King's handwritten sermons and speeches, including the "I Have A Dream" speech and Letter from Birmingham Jail. King is a 1948 graduate of Morehouse. The endowment will be formally announced June 5.

Morehouse's relationship with Goldman Sachs spans nearly 100 years when John Hope, the first black president of Morehouse and Walter Sachs, the son of one of the founders of Goldman Sachs, played significant leadership roles at the NAACP.