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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.”


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