Your Ad Here

Friday, October 26, 2007

Chemistry Dept at Hampton gets $1 million in grants

The Hampton University Department of Chemistry recently received four grants from three different government agencies. The grants, which total over $1 million, will help the department's continuous effort to support new programs, improve facilities and to advance the instruction that students attain from the program.

"Undergraduate research, mentoring and the preparation of students for graduate work are central to the department's activities and initiatives," said Dr. Isai Urasa, chairman of the HU chemistry department. "These grants will provide the department with new resources and opportunities that are needed to maintain the trend that has been established."

These grants were provided by the following agencies:

U.S. Department of Education, $420,111 - The three year grant will support forensics chemistry program. As more students become interested in forensic chemistry, the grant will help to cultivate the program. The grant will also aid in the establishment of a new forensic chemistry research laboratory.

The National Science Foundation, $308,000 - The grant, from the Major Research Instrumentation Program, will be used to acquire a 400 MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer. The instrument will allow students to study molecular compounds, their structure and how they form. The extremely powerful and sophisticated instrument will provide enhanced data for students.

The National Science Foundation, $120,000 - This grant supports the creation of a computation and simulation laboratory. The lab, which will be completed in a few months, allows students to simulate situations and chemical reactions prior to performing experiments in the lab. The practice of computation and simulation are important tools; this preparation allows for a better-designed experiment.

The National Institutes of Health, $221,566 - This renewed grant, as a part of an on-going international research training program, will continue to fund opportunities for students and faculty to assist three universities in Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania in Africa. The summer program consists of 10 to 15 students from different universities. The program which began at HU in 1995, allowed a total of 13 students to travel to Africa and embark on biomedical research this past summer. The 10-week study allows students to incorporate science with social and cultural experiences.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

UDC may return $18M in unspent funds

The troubled University of the District of Columbia is preparing to return up to $18 million in unused funds to the city.

Officials discovered the idle funds after reviewing their expenses for fiscal 2007, sources said. The university is raising students’ tuition by 40 percent in part because it claimed it was cash-strapped.

University spokesman J. Michael Andrews said officials were still reviewing the fiscal 2007 budget.

“We’re not finished yet,” he said. “But it looks, preliminarily, like there may be some underspending.”

The university was chartered in 1974 as D.C.’s only public college. It was designed to give poor and working-class students a shot at a top-flight education, but it has struggled for decades with mismanagement. Almost 25 provosts have come and gone since it opened.

The latest disclosure comes at the same time that federal and city authorities opened criminal investigations into the university’s spending. The D.C. and U.S. Department of Education inspectors general have been told millions in federal and local grants were lavished on no-bid contracts to cronies of top school officials, and millions more were wasted on programs that didn’t deliver promised results, sources said.

In June, the university’s board of trustees fired President William L. Pollard, but it left his command staff in place.

Last month, members of the university Senate sent blistering letters to acting university President Stanley Jackson and Mayor Adrian Fenty, demanding the replacement of Provost Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke and a top-to-bottom review of the university’s finances and academics.

The Sept. 27 letter to Fenty asks him to fix what the faculty calls a “debilitating state of affairs” that is “an impediment to the well-being of the University.”

Both Jackson and Reuben-Cooke couldn’t be reached for comment.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ex-Tx Southern pres. could be tried again in March

Ousted TSU President Priscilla Slade's attorney said today he's not sure he'll be able to represent her again if prosecutors insist on retrying his client on financial mismanagement charges.

Defense attorney Mike DeGeurin said he remains hopeful that prosecutors will dismiss charges alleging Slade spent more than $500,000 of Texas Southern University's money on personal expenses.

"This case should not be retried," DeGeurin said. "I hope that when the dust settles, reason will prevail and there will be no need for another trial."

Prosecutors said they would not consider dismissing the charges.

"There's no chance that will happen," Assistant District Attorney Donna Goode said.

State District Judge Brock Thomas said he was considering setting the retrial for March 24, but DeGuerin said he could not yet commit to a second trial because of obligations to other clients.

Thomas scheduled a Nov. 9 hearing to give DeGeurin time to decide.

DeGeurin represented Slade in the two-month trial that ended a week ago in a mistrial after the jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked at 6 to 6.

If convicted, Slade faces a punishment ranging from probation to life in prison for the first degree felony.

DeGeurin has maintained that no crime was committed, that Slade was using university money to enhance TSU's image in the community and to court donors. The state's largest historically black university has long suffered financial hardship, testimony showed.

Jurors deliberated almost a week before being dismissed. The jury's foreman said the jurors who voted not guilty wanted to know more about how the checks and balances in the process were circumvented before convicting.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Spelman gets $10 million gift from Lehman Bros.

Lehman Bros. Holdings Inc. yesterday announced it is making a $10 million donation — the largest in the firm's 157-year history — to Spelman College.

The donation to the historically black, all-female Atlanta college — which also is the single-largest corporate donation Spelman has received — will create the Lehman Bros. Center for Global Finance and Economic Development at the school.

In addition to the development of an interdisciplinary program that will ultimately become a major, Lehman's gift will be used to hire new faculty, establish scholarships and create a Chinese-language instruction program, said Beverly Daniel Tatum, Spelman's president.

"For me, this is yet another step in identifying a place where black women have been underrepresented and creating new opportunities," Tatum said in an interview Tuesday. She noted that in the past the school addressed gaps in nursing, sciences and mathematics that needed a pipeline of black women.

New York-based Lehman Bros., an investment banking powerhouse that reported total assets of $605.9 billion at the end of the second quarter and more than 28,300 employees worldwide, said it's making a statement that corporations can help drive change.

"It's because there are so many elements that have contributed to why there is underrepresentation in the financial services industry among women of African descent and other segments of the population that we created a partnership," Scott J. Freidheim, Lehman's co-chief administrative officer, said in an interview.

"We think it is a wonderful opportunity to create a corporate-academic partnership that helps in one of the most important issues that the country faces today."

As part of the agreement, Spelman students will be paired with mentors from Lehman and be tapped for international and domestic internships.

The center, which will be housed in Spelman's Milligan Building, is expected to launch next fall as an interdisciplinary curriculum, school officials said. The goal is to spin it out as a stand-alone major by 2013. The Chinese-language program was included because of the center's global focus, officials said.

"This is not just about any one of the elements that we're going to accomplish together," Freidheim said. "This is about creating a model that will hopefully serve as a wonderful example of how to make a difference."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

J-State lifts band suspension

Following protests and public outcry from students and alumni, Jackson State University officials have lifted a suspension on the university's band, the Sonic Boom of the South.

Dr. Velvelyn Foster, vice president of academic affairs and student life for the university indefinitely suspended the 280-member band on Oct. 10 following allegations of "mental hazing" from some parents and students who were not band members.

In a press release on the university's Web site, Foster stated that the university's investigation "revealed some instances of overzealous student band leaders and some members."

"Some students were required to do sit-ups and crunches if they did not perform their musical parts or marching routines correctly," Foster said. "We also found that some members of the band might have felt pressure because of the high expectations of excellence required of band members."

According to university officials, the band has been placed on probation for one year, but will perform at the Oct. 13 football game in Baton Rouge, La. against Southern University. Any further infractions during the probationary term will result in an automatic suspension. Foster also stated that band members might have to attend student decorum and anti-hazing seminars.

Anthony Hales, 23, a 2007 graduate of Jackson State University, said the university has a history of acting before investigating. "I could understand if they had solid proof or witnesses, but to go off of hearsay is down-right wrong," he said. "JSU has a history of acting before they investigate. If you look at the case a few years back involving the alleged rape by the basketball team, JSU suspended and arrested a group of young men all because of a frivolous story and later had to reinstate them."

Although this was the first time in the band's 65-year history that it had been suspended, the university made national headlines in 1991 when football coach C.W. Gordon took strong action by suspending four athletes and expelling two others from the team for alleged hazing. The Eta Eta chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi National Band Fraternity was suspended in 1992 when a member of the fraternity was accused of hazing freshman band members. The organization was suspended for seven years, but is now reinstated.

Jackson State University has a strict no-tolerance policy in place regarding hazing, which includes suspension and expulsion for parties found guilty. Hazing is a crime in the state of Mississippi and is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. If an injury results, the punishment is increased to a fine of $2,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mistrail declared in case of Ex-TxSo President

The jury ended up split 6 to 6, but stood united Friday and said they cried and prayed while deliberating the fate of ousted TSU President Priscilla Slade before declaring they were hopelessly deadlocked — resulting in a mistrial.

"They just didn't get to the heart of the case," foreman Charles Schweppe said of the prosecution's case, which accused the former Texas Southern University leader of using school money for her personal benefit.

State District Judge Brock Thomas declared a mistrial in the eight-week trial after jurors for the fourth time in three days informed him they were deadlocked.

Prosecutors say they plan to retry Slade. Defense attorneys preferred an acquittal, but said the hung jury was a blessing.

Slade, 56, was charged with misapplication of fiduciary property of more than $200,000. Prosecutors said she spent more than $500,000 of TSU money on a lavish lifestyle.

During the trial, jurors heard testimony about some of the purchases, including tens of thousands in furniture, $40,000 in fine china, crystal stemware and silverware settings for 25, and $100,000 in bar tabs over six years at Scott Gertner's Skybar and Grille.

After staring at each other across the room for almost two months, Slade and the jurors met face to face on the courthouse steps afterward and wished each other well.

"Good luck to you," Schweppe said.

"God bless you," Slade said.

Schweppe later agreed with defense attorney Mike DeGeurin's assertion that TSU needs someone like Priscilla Slade.

"She did a lot of good things for the university; unfortunately, she did some bad. They need someone like her so they can get the right things done," Schweppe said.

Facing a bank of television cameras, Slade thanked DeGeurin and her supporters.

"We knew from the beginning that the truth would set us free," Slade said. "I am just grateful that God truly answers prayers."

DeGeurin spoke glowingly of the jurors and his client while backhanding prosecutors.

"Every expenditure that they were criticizing — sometimes, often sarcastically — was an investment in Texas Southern University," DeGeurin said. "Dr. Slade's dream for Texas Southern University was working. Everything that she did was consistent with that dream. It was working."

He said he had hoped for a total not-guilty verdict, but that he talked to jurors and six were convinced of his client's innocence.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Jurors deadlocked in ex-Tx Southern president's trial

Jurors said Thursday they remain deadlocked in the Houston trial of Texas Southern University's former president accused of misspending school funds to decorate her homes.

Jurors are in their third full day of deliberations in the trial of Priscilla Slade. A day earlier, jurors said they were deadlocked but state District Judge Brock Thomas told them to continue.

Thomas says he will ask the jury to continue deliberating.

Prosecutors say Slade misspent more than half a million dollars of TSU funds. Her attorneys say all her purchases were legitimate. If convicted, she faces up to life in prison

For back ground see: ex TSU pres. want's trial moved

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Morehouse president wants to develop socially conscious "Renaissance Men"

In unveiling his vision for the country's only historically black, all-male college, newly confirmed president Robert Franklin said it's time to take our people to the next level by producing brothers of character who will graduate and make a difference.

Franklin said he wants the 2,800 young, black men under his stewardship to understand that they carry with them "the hopes and prayers of a lot of people." In the next few months, students are supposed to read King's sermon, "Three Dimensions of a Complete Life," "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?"

The 1975 alum also wants to "begin a conversation about a culture of dignity and decorum" that includes encouraging respect for women and a proposed dress code. "We want Morehouse Men to look the part, act the part, talk the talk, and walk the walk," Franklin said. He is also placing a priority on strengthening the school's relationship with the surrounding community, which sits in the shadow of downtown Atlanta and is black and economically depressed.

Franklin's most recent book, "Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities," published this year, calls on the black church and historically black colleges to play a role in improving such communities. "We will be exporting this message to the surrounding community," Franklin said, adding that he has invited young men who live near campus to visit Morehouse. "We want to make being smart cool again." He hopes to continue successful fundraising efforts at Morehouse. Last year, the school capped a $119 million capital campaign boosted by the acquisition of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers, which are owned by the college.

Being a Morehouse grad, I am totally feeling what the brother is trying to do and applaud him big time for stepping up to the plate and assuming this responsiblity. We'll be watching and keeping you updated on what's jumping off in Atlanta

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hazing allegations silence J-State's Sonic Boom

Jackson State University has canceled an upcoming performance by its marching band, Sonic Boom of the South, while the school investigates reports of hazing.

School officials said today that the alleged hazing was mental and was reported by people outside the band.

It is said to have happened to two or three band members. The schools is looking at five alleged perpetrators.

"We take hazing allegations very seriously," said Velvelyn Foster, vice president of academic affairs and student life. "Therefore, we have decided to hold performances."

University officials have informed bandleaders that the 220-member Sonic Boom will not perform at the Oct. 13 football game in Baton Rouge, La., against Southern University.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

SC State researcher awarded NSF grant

A associate professor at SC State University, and her research team have recently been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of $320,000 to study the use of gold nanoparticles in biomedical applications. Gold nanoparticles are brightly colored, making them easy to locate and monitor, and have the ability to adhere to many different types of molecules. The team will utilize the attributes of gold nanoparticles to investigate the possibility of adhesion to other molecules that are known to separate large groups of proteins, a potential cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Rahina Mahtab, and her team, will involve minority women in the research, promoting the hands-on approach to training in the use of modern spectroscopic equipment. According to Dr. Catherine Murphy, a University of South Carolina professor and a collaborator in this research, “The team of professors on this project are all women, and we are all very interested in keeping women scientists in the professional pipeline by mentoring them at an early stage.”

Drs. Mahtab and Murphy have worked together on past research projects, receiving a seed grant as part of the SC EPSCoR/IDeA Collaborative Research Program.

Monday, October 08, 2007

BET's College Hill heads to Atlanta

BET’s “College Hill,” that network’s equivalent to the highgly successful MTV “Real World” reality show has started filming its fifth season in Atlanta. It helps the city has a major African-American presence, is the hub for hip hop and has several respected historically black colleges. BET is also shooting its upcoming hip-hop awards at the Atlanta Civic Center and the Keyshia Cole reality show in that city.

The 2008 show will follow the lives of four male and four female college students who are sharing a local house. BET has already shot at a local hair salon and Young Jeezy’s birthday party. College Hill Season Five is set to tape through November and air in the spring of 2008.

“College Hill” has been one of BET’s most successful original series to date. The fourth season typically drew 1.3 million to 1.5 million viewers a week earlier this year, with the finale surpassing 1.8 million.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

NCCU urged to aim higher

N.C. Central University's new chancellor asked a lot of his constituents.

He wants students to amp up their academic expectations considerably. He wants faculty and staff to call people back when they leave a message.

And everyone should pick up litter, lest they become too accustomed to living and working on a sloppy campus.

These were among the demands Charlie Nelms laid out for the NCCU community during his first universitywide address; they come from his initial observations after two months as the institution's new leader.

In a 25-minute address, Nelms said he wants NCCU to become the top liberal arts college in the Southeast -- a lofty goal for an institution struggling to retain students. Nelms' arrival has coincided with a new push by the UNC system to improve retention and graduation rates at the state's public universities. Nelms told students Friday that he expects all students who enroll to graduate.

"Unless you have graduation as your destination, you shouldn't be here," Nelms said. "We're deceiving ourselves if we settle for less than that."

UNC system campuses measure graduation rates over six-year spans. At NCCU, just 49.3 percent of students who enrolled in 2000 graduated within six years; the system average was 59.3 percent.

U.S. News & World Report released its first ranking of the nation's top historically black colleges this week. NCCU placed 16th out of 70, in a three-way tie with Bennett College and Elizabeth City State University.

Nelms spent a good deal of time Friday talking about customer service -- the very basic answering of phones and returning of messages that students expect but don't always get. Everyone on campus, he said, needs a "new attitude" in terms of service and courtesy.

"If you get a call from a student, return the call to the student," he said, eliciting one of the largest rounds of applause all morning.

To that end, all NCCU employees -- starting with administrators -- will undergo service training provided by the university's human resources department, Nelms announced.

Nelms also has apparently been frustrated by litter on campus. He challenged everyone who lives or works on campus to adopt the block around their dorm or place of work, a commitment to help clean things up.

"We won't leave newspapers on the floors of our classroom just because you didn't put it there," he said. "Appearance does matter."

That particular lesson may take time to sink in. As the McLendon-McDougald Gymnasium emptied after Nelms' address, attendees left plenty of convocation programs -- and a few soda bottles and the like -- scattered on chairs or on the ground.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Enrollment up at Albany State

Preliminary indications suggest that Albany State University’s fall semester enrollment this fall could be the school’s largest to date. ASU’s fall population reached 4,019, officials stated, a 2 percent increase over the fall 2006 count of 3,927 and a 20 percent increase over 1997 enrollment.

An official figure won’t be available until late October.

The population increase didn’t occur on its own; that is, Albany State put systematic effort into it.

“We focused in and targeted our market group,” Valencia Price, vice president of enrollment management and student affairs, said Friday afternoon during a brief phone interview from Tennessee, where she was traveling.

Though in her administrative role for just two months, Price, previously a consultant, developed the school’s new strategic, enrollment-growth plan.

“We determined in which direction our market should run and solely focused on that group ... (primarily) first-generation students and the nontraditional students,” which she said includes second-career students.

Since the arrival of ASU President Everette Freeman, the university has initiated a series of Memorandums of Understanding with technical and two-year colleges as a means of smoothing out the transfer process and facilitating enrollment growth at ASU.

Freeman didn’t leave student recruitment to others, but also participated in that process by getting out there himself.

“I think that’s Dr. Freeman being Dr. Freeman,” Price said, “and I think that’s him understanding the process.”

The plan stretches for about three years, she said, and will naturally require tweaking here and there.

The next objective is targeting students residing along Georgia’s border states, she said.