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Saturday, December 27, 2008

UDC Law students investigate fees

Most students know that the cost of enrollment at college involves more than just tuition. Every year, the University of the District of Columbia charges a variety of additional fees, including the student activity fee. The purpose of the fee is to fund student activities and fund student support budgets.

Some UDC students are concerned the math doesn't add up and that there is money missing from the budgets funded by student fees.

The problem started in 2006, when the UDC Board of Trustees voted to increase student activity fees from $25 to $35 for undergraduates, and from $110 to $210 for law students. Although the fee went up, the amount accounted for by the University's annual budget did not. Over the last two years the fund imbalance has grown to an estimated $2.2 million for the undergraduates, and $60,000 for the law school.

Students have been told by law school administrators that the unaccounted funds are not available to fund the activities of student organizations, because it has been "absorbed" into the university's budget.

Robert Maxwell, UDC Law student, has requested six years of budget history on the student activity fees. These requests, however legitimate, has not been honored. Maxwell has been asked by the law school's Student Bar Association to form a task force of students to pursue this investigation and solve the unexplained budget problems. To accomplish this, he may have to look for answers beyond the UDC administration, since the university's budget is actually approved by the D.C. City Council.

Nevertheless, holding the university accountable for the money is a priority for students. Alexander Beraud, a second-year law student and senator in the Student Bar Association, sees this as a matter of deep concern. "We need to quell the vast outcry among the student body," says Beraud, "and ensure that the student organizations, which represent the interests of students, are properly funded."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Final bell may have tolled at Morris Brown

After enduring the conviction of its president on charges of embezzlement Morris Brown College has managed to endure. It has kept going despite losing its accreditation and seeing its enrollment, once near 3,000, plummet to 56 students.

Now, Morris Brown faces additional challenges to pay $1.5 million in critical bills may not make it.

Stanley Pritchett, acting president of the 127 year-old school said Saturday, they lack money to pay faculty and staff salaries, utilities and other operating expenses.

The school’s financial troubles intensified last week, when the city of Atlanta shut off water service to the campus.

The city said Morris Brown owes about $380,000 in water bills, some dating to 2004. When the school fell behind on a payment plan to reduce the debt, the city cut off the water — and, perhaps, Morris Brown’s future.

The campus simply cannot reopen unless the water comes back on, Pritchett said. “You’ve got to have basic services.”

School officials are scheduled to meet with bankers on Monday, hoping to secure a short-term loan, said Rhonda Copenny, a Morris Brown trustee. The college continues to work on a long-term restructuring of its $32 million debt.

Without “bridge financing,” Copenny said, the school is no more than three weeks away from closing permanently.

Even with a short-term cash infusion, the college faces tough obstacles, court records indicate. Contractors have filed several liens over unpaid bills.

A real-estate broker hired to arrange commercial development on campus has put filed a $230,000 lien. A plumbing company that had already filed a $116,000 lien escalated the case by suing the school Dec. 17.

The city, too, filed liens to prevent Morris Brown from selling property before making good on its water bills.

On Dec. 12, the last day of the fall semester, city officials told the school to pay the full $380,000 immediately or they would terminate water service, Pritchett said. City workers turned off the spigots Dec. 15.

Pritchett said he has appealed for leniency from Mayor Shirley Franklin and has talked with two of her aides, “but as of this date, I have not been able to get any kind of flexibility in resolving it.”

City officials say they gave Morris Brown plenty of chances. Once a customer defaults on a payment plan, though, the account becomes due in full.

“The city doesn’t renegotiate,” said Janet Ward, a spokeswoman for the Watershed Management Department.

Franklin’s spokeswoman, Beverly Isom, said, “This problem has been apparent for some time. I don’t think it’s because they don’t have water that Morris Brown has financial problems.”

This potentially fatal blow comes as Morris Brown has begun something of a rebirth. Last spring, the General Assembly allowed the school to begin accepting students who receive the state’s HOPE scholarship. Enrollment this fall more than doubled to about 240.

“The institution has been a major part of the landscape of this community,” Pritchett said, “and it certainly deserves to remain a viable part of the community.”

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lawmakers suggest Elizabeth City consider name change

A NC state lawmaker asked the Elizabeth City State University Board of Trustees to study a possible name change for the university to reflect ECSU’s regional appeal.

State Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, emphasized that his recommendation is only that ECSU officials study a name change.
“I’m not suggesting anything other than they look into it and weigh the pros and cons,” Owens said.

It’s unknown what type of reception Owens will get. Already, four key alumni leaders have signed a letter opposing changing the school’s name.

The school’s name has changed a couple of times in the past. After starting out in 1891 as a Colored Normal School, the school was renamed Elizabeth City State Teachers College in 1937 before again being renamed Elizabeth City State College in 1963. In 1969, the college’s name was changed again — this time to ECSU.

Although one proposed name for the university is the University of North Carolina at Elizabeth City, others such as Northeastern North Carolina University have been suggested, Owens said.

The lawmaker said other campuses in the UNC System have benefited from name changes. When Pembroke State University, for example, changed its name to UNC-Pembroke the school saw a dramatic increase in enrollment, Owens said. A similar change for ECSU might make it easier to raise money and to recruit faculty and staff, he said. ECSU trustees should talk to UNC-Pembroke about its experience with the name change, he said.

ECSU is making great strides in the past few years, adding master’s degree programs and growing the enrollment, Owens said. He added the school had benefited from $100 million in capital improvements during the last several years. Owens said he wanted to see both ECSU and College of The Albemarle continue to grow and become stronger. City Councilwoman Betty Meggs, a member of the university’s Board of Visitors, said Saturday she hadn’t made up her mind about the proposal to study changing ECSU’s name. “I can see pros and cons in it,” she said. Meggs said she had heard the argument that a name change might make it more likely that someone from, say, Chicago might choose to attend the university.

“Nobody knows where Elizabeth City is if they’re from way off from here,” Meggs said.

Travis Faulcon of Littleton, one of the graduates at ECSU’s commencement ceremony Saturday, said following the ceremony that the name of the university wasn’t important to him.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Faulcon said. “I got the best education possible here. So the name change — it doesn’t matter.”
Faulcon earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and plans to become a public health director.
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Morehouse takes on saggy pants, cursing

Morehouse President Robert Franklin, who was named president last year, instituted the practice of giving every freshman a tie and a blazer in the college’s primary color, maroon, as a tangible symbol of the image of a gentleman in higher education.

Morehouse is one of several historically black colleges taking action recently to improve dress on campus. Overt dissent on the Morehouse campus has been minimal, but a smattering of bloggers nationally have suggested that schools might be trying to take away students’ freedom of expression.

Profanity and exposed boxers are not exactly part of the stereotype of Morehouse, whose distinguished alumni have included actor Samuel Jackson, director Spike Lee, theologian Howard Thurman, Olympian Edwin Moses, former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan, current Morehouse President Franklin. And, of course, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sagging pants seem inconsequential in comparison, but dress and language help create the campus atmosphere, Franklin said.

“The fact is a significant percentage of our students arrive at Morehouse with a preppy orientation and understand the importance of presentation of themselves,” Franklin said. “Some of the students themselves are surprised to discover a small number of students who arrive with a different, almost thuglike, orientation in dress, speech and social behavior.”

Some students don’t seem to be aware of their language, said William Tweedle, director of Hubert Hall at Morehouse. “They don’t know they’re cursing. They don’t know they’re using the n-word the way they use it.”

Likewise, Tweedle said, “I understand that baggy pants and a certain level of sagging is part of culture, but showing your drawers, your underpants, is unacceptable.”

Tweedle and Franklin’s efforts predate the recent presidential election. But President-elect Barack Obama’s win has boosted the backlash against the sartorial and linguistic byproducts of the hip-hop culture.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, an activist, former presidential candidate and radio host, is among those taking note. Sharpton, long a critic of vulgar rap lyrics, recently told the Chicago Tribune, “You can’t be using the b-word, the n-word, the h-word when you have Barack Obama redefining overnight the image that black people want to have.”

“Obama Won; Now Pull Up Your Pants” was the headline on a post-election column by Justin M. LaGrande, lifestyle editor of The Gramblinite, the newspaper of the historically black Grambling State University in Louisiana. “Obama isn’t sagging his pants,” LaGrande wrote.

Obama himself said in an MTV interview shortly before the election that he opposes laws and ordinances — such as one proposed by an Atlanta city councilman last year — that would control dress.

“Having said that,” he added, “brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing.”

Morehouse freshman Gregory Brito, 18, looks to the president-elect as a role model, but he is struggling to live up to the image.

Brito, who is from New York, doesn’t wear sagging pants but, he said, “I’ll be honest. I curse. I say ‘n…..’ I need to have time to transition from using the word to not using it. I come from an urban area. That’s the way we talk.”

Some African-Americans have argued that by using the racial epithet themselves, they take away its power to be used against them. To Brito, it’s just a slang term of address.

But since being at Morehouse, and especially since Obama’s election, he said, he would prefer not to hear or say it.

“African-American men and men of color can’t make excuses anymore,” Brito said. “It’s hard, though.”

Ray Hayes Jr., a 20-year-old Morehouse junior from Chicago, said he gave up sagging pants and the n-word in high school.

“A lot of guys use profanity here,” he said. “A lot of guys sag their pants. They say it’s a fashion statement.”

Hayes disagrees with some observers who say the vestiges of hip-hop culture were already going out of style.

“I don’t think it was going out of fashion at all,” he said. “I think it was going to get worse as time went on. Guys who weren’t doing it would fall into the trap and start doing it.”

The Morehouse campaign is effective, said freshman Paul Daniels, 17, of Raleigh, because it is linked to the college’s illustrious legacy.

Franklin, he said, “doesn’t condemn the n-word or sagging or cursing. … He’s teaching us why we shouldn’t do it.”

When freshman Ryan Hobbs, 19, of Fayetteville wears his maroon blazer, he’s conscious of its message. Receiving it was a rite of passage, he said.

“The blazer and the tie made me feel like I was really a man of Morehouse, accepted into the brotherhood,” he said. “Morehouse has produced great, great individuals. I want to be another added to that list.”
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Monday, December 08, 2008

Norfolk State joins Apple's ITunesU

Norfolk State University is now on Apple iTunes U, which allows users to easily search, download and play course content. NSU is the first institution in the Commonwealth of Virginia to be listed in the universities and colleges directory on the main iTunes U site.

Students, faculty and staff can access the latest news and events, lectures and student productions on the iTunes U store front. Using computers or media players, the campus community can connect to NSU at anytime from any location. Learning can take place inside or outside the classroom—on-the-go or from the comfort of a residence hall, office or home.
Currently, the site offers training tutorials, 90-second lectures from NSU faculty, appearances by guest lecturers and the Spartan Report, the university’s weekly Webcast.

You can visit Norfolk's ITunes site by clicking here

Monday, December 01, 2008

Georgia Senator recommends merging two HBCUs

The chairman of a key state Senate committee wants the University System to consider merging historically black public colleges with nearby white-majority schools to save money.

Georgia Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Seth Harp to recommending merging two of the state's three historically black public colleges as cost savings move. Harp suggested Savannah State University be merged with Armstrong Atlantic University in Savannah, and Albany State be merged with Darton College, both in Albany.

“I think it’s a bad idea,” said Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), who has taught political science at two historically black private colleges, Morehouse and Morris Brown.

But Harp said the University System, which has 35 public schools and a $2.3 billion state budget this year, will have to make some hard choices to come up with budget cuts that could top $200 million.

And he said in two cities, Savannah and Albany, white- and black-majority schools are part of the legacy of segregation.

“The white schools were begun as segregation schools. It’s time Georgia closed that ugly chapter,” Harp said during a hearing on the University System’s budget Monday.

Consolidating the schools would reduce administrative costs and potentially cut duplication of similar academic programs.

System Chancellor Erroll Davis (an African American) said the decision won’t be based solely on financial considerations.

“You can make obvious arguments about the economics of it, but I don’t think economics will drive the decision,” Davis said. “It’s going to be a political decision, not an economic decision.”

Davis said if the “body politic” wants the Board of Regents to look at mergers, it will.

Fort asked why Harp doesn’t suggest merging Georgia Tech and Georgia State University, since they are so geographically close.

He predicted Harp will get a stiff fight from the alumni of historically black schools if the idea moves forward.

“Alumni associations for these blacks schools are very protective of their legacy,” he said.

Michael Lomax, the former Fulton County Commission chairman who now serves as president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, said the idea of merging colleges is not a “thoughtful or timely suggestion.”

State leaders should be trying to see that every college is operating at capacity, Lomax said.

“Fill up those seats and you have fewer beds to fill in jail,” he said. “Fill up those seats and you have fewer people seeking public assistance.”

The idea has come up before. Twenty-five years ago, former Gov. Joe Frank Harris suggested the state consider merging historically black colleges with other nearby state colleges to achieve court-ordered desegregation.

The state instead made a commitment to make other changes including enhancing facilities on the three historically black campuses and encouraging students at the two-year Darton College to transfer to Albany State for four-year degrees.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Southern Board questions chancellor's pact

Southern University Chancellor Kofi Lomotey’s job was threatened Friday during a Board of Supervisors meeting when some Southern board members took issue with the longevity of his employment agreement.

A handful of board members said that Lomotey should be an “at-will” employee, who can be fired without cause, as opposed to having a three or four-year guaranteed contract.

“If he (Lomotey) doesn’t accept it,” said board Chairman-elect Tony Clayton of Port Allen, “then we move on and find another chancellor.”

The board ultimately decided to postpone a decision until the Dec. 12 board meeting.

In September, the board approved a $295,000 a year pay package in an employment letter for Lomotey that included a four-year term.

Southern University System President Ralph Slaughter said some board members decided four years guaranteed was too long.
Lomotey agreed to shorten his term to three years, Slaughter said.

Clayton and board members Dale Atkins, of New Orleans, and Johnny Anderson, of Baton Rouge, who first brought the issue up Friday, criticized Slaughter for not bringing a formal written contract back to the board for approval.

“There was never a consensus on the term and length,” Anderson said, noting that previous chancellors at Southern have been at-will employees and “served at the pleasure of the board.”

Slaughter said Lomotey’s employment letter, which was approved by the board in September, amounts to a contract.

Board Chairman Myron Lawson, of Alexandria, said he never signed any employee agreement. But Lawson said he wants Lomotey to have a formal, written contract.

Board members asked board attorney, Winston DeCuir, if there is a valid contract agreement with Lomotey.

“You’re asking me to make some very important decisions without a lot of information,” DeCuir said.

“It makes me wonder if we have a Watergate or a Southern-gate,” Anderson said.

Clayton also asked Lomotey for a “cease and desist” on all hiring and firing at the main Baton Rouge campus until they can discuss the direction of the university.

Lomotey has made several administrative changes since taking over as chancellor in July.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Howard nursing students & faculty at odds

Fifty Howard University nursing students took to the streets with picket signs and a list of demands concerning problems they were facing with their curriculum.

Within 24 hrs after the protest, College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Allied Health Sciences and Howard University President Sidney Ribeau met with students to work toward a resolution to the students call for a better education and a responsive administration.

According to SGA Vice President Kellen Moore, the meeting with Ribeau tackled the list of demands presented by the nursing students at Tuesday’s protest.

Among the nursing students concerns were the ineffective teaching methods of professors.

In addition, the meeting worked toward prioritizing the students’ concerns. At the town hall meeting, students and administration participated in an open dialogue.

“It is now time for the college’s administration, faculty and students to work together to ensure the success of the program,” said HUSA General Assembly Vice-Chair Corey Briscoe. “The outcome depends on everyone meeting in the middle and upholding their responsibilities.”

In 2007, nursing students walked out of examinations, which threatened accreditation, in protest of the shoddy education they believed they were receiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

VUU president to resign

Virginia Union University President Belinda Childress Anderson announced today that she plans to step down to pursue new opportunities.

Anderson, the 11th president of the small, historically black university in Richmond, did not give a reason for her decision.

In a statement, she said she wanted "to make way for the university to secure new leadership positioned to meet new challenges."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Morehouse police chief faces assault charges

Morehouse College's chief of police is facing charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and pointing a gun at another person in Lamar County.

Vernon Worthy was booked into the Lamar County Detention Center after a warrant application hearing on Monday that lasted nearly four hours before Chief Magistrate William Thomas. He was expected to be released on $5,000 bond.

Worthy was not arrested in the incident, which happened earlier this month in Barnesville, but his accuser, Nathaniel Rooks, filed an application for a criminal warrant.

No date has been set for a grand jury hearing in the matter. Worthy was ordered by the judge to have no contact with Rooks or his family as a condition of his bond.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Charges dropped against former A&T employee accussed of embezzlement

Prosecutors have dropped embezzlement charges against a former N.C. A&T official, Guilford County District Attorney Doug Henderson said today.

Rodney Harrigan, A&T's former vice chancellor for information technology and telecommunications, had been charged with embezzlement for allegedly misusing more than $70,000 in university funds.

Harrigan approved purchases that appeared to have no business purpose, according to an audit.

Prosecutors determined that there was no criminal intent and that Harrigan did not realize personal gain, Henderson said.

"The money was used for a variety of purposes," Henderson said. "But it never went into his pocket."

In September 2007, Henderson sent the audit to the State Bureau of Investigation to examine. He received their findings late last week and said he will review the report before deciding whether any more criminal charges will be filed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lincoln U (PA) receives $4M NIH grant

Lincoln University (PA) has received a 5-year/$4M award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) aimed at improving its research infrastructure. The award began on September 30, 2008 and ends on the 30th of June 2013.

The overarching goals of the award are to strengthen the research capability and infrastructure of Lincoln, to create a group of well-trained faculty researchers with expertise in biomedical research with emphasis on cancer, stroke and other diseases that disproportionately affect minorities, and to generate a pipeline of minority students who will choose to continue their education in biomedical research, allied health and medicine after graduation. An increase in the pool of minority biomedical researchers and health-care professionals will contribute significantly to the elimination of health disparities.

Specifically the award will enable Lincoln University to do the following:
1. To strengthen the research administrative structure at Lincoln University.
2. To expand the academic programs that impact manpower development in health disparities including the introduction of a B.S. degree program in Nursing.
3. To establish academic research programs in health disparities. The number of faculty engaged in quality research focused on health disparities will increase. In the first year of the grant, three new projects will be started. In subsequent years, the grant will award three faculty up to $25,000 each to carry out research in areas related to health disparities.
4. To enhance research facilities and technological environment. This award will enable Lincoln University purchase a Quadropole Time of Flight mass spectrometer (Qq-ToF), a cryostat, bioanalyzer, neuroimaging system and other research equipment. In addition, Neuroscience and Scientific Writing courses will be introduced at Lincoln University.
5. To enhance student competencies and preparedness to pursue advanced studies after graduation.
6. To promote educational experiences and opportunities that encourage students to pursue research careers.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Jackson State prez gets Ed Leadership Award

Ronald Mason Jr. , Esq, President, Jackson State University was recently honored the 2008 Education Leadership Award presented by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Mason, has been president of JSU since 2000 and holds a bachelor's and juris doctorate from Columbia University. He has led JSU through an impressive academic restructuring and campus revitalization that has expanded into the West Jackson communtiy . Most recently, Jackson State University announced plans to creating a mixed-use development center adjacent to the campus.

The Educational Leadership Award is the highest individual award presented to a sitting president or educational leader of a public HBCU. It is presented annually to an educational leader who has demonstrated outstanding business, academic and visionary leadership through effective management of his or her institution. Nominees are submitted by philanthropic, board, government, alumni, students and educational leaders nationally.

"Dr. Ronald Mason, Jr. has a decorated career in Higher Education and Community Development that directly supports one of our nation's gems and member university, Jackson State University and its 9,000 students," said Dwayne Ashley, President and CEO, Thurgood Marshall College Fund. "He has demonstrated the outstanding business, academic and visionary leadership of Justice Thurgood Marshall, making him a fitting choice for Educational Leadership Award recipient."

Thursday, November 06, 2008

UDC President disbands faculty senate in power struggle

Allen L. Sessoms did not take long to make his presence known at the University of the District of Columbia. Less than a month after taking office as the university’s president, Sessoms announced that he was disbanding the faculty senate. The group had been established in 1995 to enact bylaws and advise the provost and president. Sessoms claimed that the group did not perform the duties with which it was entrusted and did not keep records of what went on at senate meetings.

Some members of the faculty stated that the action was taken in retaliation for criticisms of the manner in which the presidential search had been conducted. Sydney O. Hall, professor of public health and leader of the faculty senate, was the only member of the trustees’ presidential selection committee to vote against hiring Sessoms.

Prior to taking his new position, Dr. Sessoms was president of Delaware State University.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rivers taking FVSU to new heights

In what can only be classified as a "State of the University" address, Fort Valley State President Larry E. Rivers summed up the university’s status Tuesday in just eight words.

“Fort Valley State University is solid and sound,” Rivers told a gathering that included state legislators at the Agricultural Technology Conference Center to hear an update on the university’s efforts.

This year, the university has much to tout. It broke a fall enrollment record of 3,024 students, set in 1996, with a new record of 3,055 students. That number also was a 19 percent increase over the 2,562 students who enrolled in fall 2007.

The president’s next goal is 5,000. To get that number, however, he said the college needs more money.

“I just need support and more state allocation for financial aid,” Rivers said.

In the past 30 months, the university has set out on a $110 million capital improvement plan. Ground was broken last month on the $16 million third phase of Wildcat Commons, the university’s newest dormitory.

Rivers said a fourth phase in the university’s housing plan is in the works. It would add more rooms to the Wildcat Commons as well as renovations on Huntington Hall, to be used for administrative offices, and Ohio Hall, to be used for living space.

During the presentation, Rivers asked for help from the state Legislature.

He pushed for diversity at his institution and asked the lawmakers to do so as well.

“Anyone, regardless of race, color or creed, has an opportunity to matriculate at Fort Valley State University,” Rivers said.

Rivers said he wants the university to be able to implement competitive programs such as nursing and a Department of Veterinary Medicine for large animals.

State Rep. David Lucas, D-Macon, said he has pursued getting such programs for the university before. He said they are vital in attracting the diversified student body that Rivers desires.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

NC A&T fires football coach

Lee Fobbs Jr. is out as North Carolina A&T's football coach.

The school said Monday that it fired the coach, who had a 2-28 record in two-plus seasons. Running backs coach George Ragsdale has been chosen interim coach for the rest of the season.

The Aggies (2-6, 0-4 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) lost all 22 games during Fobbs' first two seasons before opening this season with a win over Division II Johnson C. Smith. The win snapped a 27-game losing streak.

But A&T has now lost six straight and is coming off a 42-7 loss to Delaware State. The Aggies have been held to seven or fewer points in four of their last five games. The only exception was a 28-27 loss to rival North Carolina Central, which is in the second year of its transition to Division I.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ft. Valley breaks ground on new science building

Fort Valley State officials recently broke ground for the construction of a $16.8 million academic building that will focus on biology and chemistry.

The 59,000-square-foot facility will contain seven biology teaching labs, five chemistry labs, a geology lab and a physics lab. In addition, it will have four regular classrooms, an 80-seat auditorium and research labs for faculty, among other amenities.

University president Larry E. Rivers said the building should be completed by the middle of next year and will serve as a vital recruitment tool as the university grows toward its enrollment goal of 5,000 students.

"We need this $20 million state-of-the-art science buildng because we are growing by leaps and bounds," Rivers said.

As several speakers noted during the groundbreaking, the building has been decades in the making and was made possible through funding from the state Legislature.

State Rep. Lynmore James (D-Montezuma) said he has watched the university grow and finds it imperative that its needs, such as the science building, are brought to the General Assembly's attention.

"What we're doing is for the future of the state and for the future of this nation," James said.

Senior chemistry major Geoffrey Turner will not get to enjoy the new facility, he noted, but said the present one provided him with the foundation necessary to graduate in May and pursue pharmacy as a career.

The new building, he said, will allow those who follow to go even farther.

"I'm excited for them, but a bit jealous also," Turner said.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

SSN's of thousands of Tenn. State students breached

A flash drive containing the social security numbers of more than 9,000 Tennessee State University students was recovered on Monday, September 15 after being missing for more than five days.

TSU President Melvin N. Johnson confirmed that a student, who had used the flash drive for saving a homework assignment, returned the drive at approximately 9 p.m. on Sept. 12.

Johnson did not indicate whether the student tampered with the information on the device, but informed the university that the flash drive is back in the university's possession and that state auditor would investigate further.

A financial aid counselor reported the flash drive missing Tuesday morning, Sept. 9, after discovering that it was no longer in her possession, administrators said.

The flash, which contained financial records of TSU students dating back to 2002. "The loss of this data is unfortunate," said Tennessee State Provost Robert Hampton. University personnel began notifying students the same week about the security breach, although no attempts to use the data had been discovered, administrators said.

Students’ reactions ranged from disappointment to anger.

"I think it's irresponsible. I really think that someone misplaced it, but that kind of stuff should be closely guarded," said Charity King, a senior nursing major from Nashville, Tenn.

"I feel that it is ridiculous and irresponsible for them to be unorganized, unorthodox and unprofessional," said Damarrion Fleming, a mechanical engineering major from Louisville, Ky.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

White WSSU coach fired for using the "N" word

Nick Calcutta, the offensive coordinator at Winston-Salem State, has been fired.

Calcutta had been suspended last week by Chico Caldwell, the school's athletics director, for using a racial epithet in a team meeting, according to several sources.

Calcutta, 50, has been an assistant coach at several schools for the last 18 years, with most of those stops being at historically black universities. Among the schools Calcutta spent time at were Howard, S.C. State, Savannah State, Delaware State and Tennessee State.

Calcutta was in his second year as offensive coordinator at WSSU.

Last week, Blount, who worked with Calcutta when they were both assistant coaches at Howard in the late 1980s, would not comment on the distraction that Calcutta's suspension would have on the Rams. On Saturday, with Blount calling the plays as offensive coordinator, the Rams lost 16-13 to Savannah State at Bowman Gray Stadium.

In a statement released by WSSU, Blount was vague about Calcutta's firing.

"We have a long season ahead of us, and improving the young talent on our football team is where we will focus our attention," Blount said.

Frank Williams, the father of Branden Williams, a freshman quarterback, said that from what he heard from his son and other players, Calcutta got along great with all the players. It was Calcutta who recruited his son, he said.

"Nick was the coach we talked to all the way through the process," Frank Williams said. "And we never had any problems at all."

"It's going to be a distraction that they don't really need right now," Frank Williams said.

Still, Williams, said he believes things will be fine.

"I think it's a bump in the road," Williams said. "I think the other coaches will do a real good job of keeping everybody together and keeping their minds on the right thing and that's the rest of the season."

Despite the dismissal, Caldwell praised Calcutta's ability as a coach.

"Coach Calcutta is a good man and an excellent football coach," Caldwell said in the statement. "This is an internal matter we feel could not be resolved without further distractions to the football program. This is tough on all of us and it takes a tough man with character to put the good of the program above himself and his family.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A&T awarded get Engineering Research Center from NSF

North Carolina A&T State University has been awarded an Engineering Research Center (ERC) from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The ERC is considered the “crown jewel” among NSF awards. In the past 25 years, only about 30 ERCs have been funded by NSF.

This year, over 143 proposals were submitted from universities for NSF’s most prestigious award. Of those, only 34 were selected for full proposal submission. A&T’s selection marked the first time ever an HBCU had been invited to submit. Of the 34 full submissions, eight were chosen for sight visits. Five of those eight were selected to receive the award. A&T has made history by becoming the first HBCU ever to receive an ERC.

The ERC at A&T will conduct research in the areas of biomedical engineering and nano bio applications and is in partnership with the Universities of Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. It also has a global technical partner in Germany’s Hannover School of Medicine and a global cultural and outreach partner—the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India. California State University at Los Angeles will serve as an outreach partner in the USA. The funding is approved for 10 years with an amount of almost 20 million dollars over the first 5 years, with the possibility of extension for 10 years.

NC A&T will also start a new department of bioengineering in conjunction with this ERC. The department will offer BS, Masters and PhD degrees in bioengineering.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Long financial aid lines plague Southern U. registration

Sundae Hays got in line at 4 a.m. Friday at Southern University to have her loans processed so she could pay her tuition.
By 5 p.m., she was still waiting and had at least a few hours to go, the Las Vegas native said.

“It’s so aggravating,” a cold and exhausted Hays said while waiting in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. “They’re moving so slow. It’s really frustrating.”

Long registration waits, particularly for financial aid, have been such a problem this week that new Chancellor Kofi Lomotey opted to keep registration open an extra day starting 8 a.m. today so more students can pay up before classes begin Monday.
Long lines are not new for Southern, but students said the wait times are worse than ever this year.
The new chancellor said he was completely caught off-guard by the problematic process and has vowed to fix things for next semester.

“We’ve had some challenges to say the least,” Lomotey said. “We have a process that needs to be changed, and we’re going to ensure this doesn’t happen next time. “We’re very sorry that this occurred,” he said.

Lomotey said he will consider all options for the future, including more automated or online systems.
“I was very surprised,” he said. “But the nature of it is not something we can change midweek.” Also, there is a shortage of financial aid advisers at Southern that must be quickly rectified, he said.

Southern Student Government Association President Jamal Taylor said he is very concerned about the problems and the students affected are “rightly frustrated.”

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Incoming President sees a Med School in UDC's future

The man tapped to be the next president of the University of the District of Columbia yesterday outlined an unprecedented overhaul of the long-troubled institution, calling for turning part of the existing school into a community college, creating an honors four-year program and adding graduate programs that could include a medical school.

Allen Sessoms, 61, now president of Delaware State University, said he plans to implement a "total reconstruction" of UDC.

His goals include finding a new home for UDC's accredited law school, "which is in a space that is awful," and establishing major academic programs that meet the needs of industries such as hospitality and tourism, defense and health. In the long term, he said, UDC should also have a medical school.

UDC was created to serve as a vital avenue of social and economic advancement for needy District residents. But it has suffered from instability, with 15 presidents and interim presidents and more than 26 provosts. The most recent president, William Pollard, was forced to resign last year because the governing Board of Trustees felt he was not making changes quickly enough.

A majority of the school's freshmen need math and reading remediation, and the student population has dwindled from a peak of 15,000 in the 1970s to about 5,700 this past fall. The median age of faculty members is 63, with only 4 percent younger than 30. The median length of service is 32 years.

Read more at: Med School for UDC

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Del. State president heading to UDC

Allen L. Sessoms announced Aug. 13 that he is accepting the chief executive post of the University of the District of Columbia.

In leaving Delaware State University after a little more than five years, Dr. Sessoms said serving as the institution’s president has been a fulfilling experience. “DSU has progressed tremendously and we can all be proud of the improvements academically, infrastructure-wise, in athletics and in the image of the University,” Dr. Sessoms said. “As a result, we have enjoyed a significant increase in the visibility of the institution over this period and its future looks great.”

The University of the District of Columbia, has a total enrollment of over 5,700 students, is the nation’s only urban land grant institution of higher education. UDC offers 21 associate degrees, 43 undergraduate degrees, nine master’s degrees and is also home to the David A. Clarke School of Law.

Dr. Sessoms’ final day as president of Delaware State University will be Aug. 31. The DSU Board of Trustees will decide soon on the path it will take to launch a presidential search process and how it will address the vacancy on an interim basis.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hampton to launch black skin research center

Hampton University is bringing together researchers and clinicians to focus on understanding skin in people of color at the sub-cellular level, and addressing the disparities that exist for patients and practitioners in this field.

Hampton plans to bring together a group of researcher from diverse scientific and medical disciplines to focus their research on better understanding skin of color, its disease and aging processes. The hope is to improve the care and treatment for this growing population.

Dr. David McDaniel, MD, a dermatologist with more than thirty years research and clinical experience, and Dr. Valerie Harvey, MD, a practicing dermatologist who has focused on ethnic skin will serve as co-directors of the new center. Both are faculty members at Hampton University.

The center will be housed in the new 20,000 square foot Hampton University Research Center.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fisk meets financial challenge

Fisk University beat the clock to raise $4 million in unrestricted funds before a June 30 deadline in order to access a $2 million challenge grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Mellon Foundation, which gave Fisk $1 million outright during the school year, had issued the challenge to help the school raise additional funds.

"Thirty-four percent of contributions in support of the Mellon Foundation Challenge came from Middle Tennessee and it is clear that with the help of our alumni, the community of faith, government leaders, as well as our corporate and foundation partners we can claim great victory this year," said university president Hazel R. O'Leary in a press release.
Total fundraising for the year is expected to exceed $8.3 million.

The special fundraising effort was prompted by acute, if not unprecedented, financial struggle at the school.

In November 2007, Fisk was in danger of not being able to make its payroll after the middle of December, according to John Donohue, executive vice president of development for The United Negro College Fund. UNCF partnered with Fisk in the fall to help with fundraising at the request of the Mellon Foundation, Donohue told Black College Wire in February.

In a effort to raise money, Fisk sought to sell portions of a 101-piece art collection gifted to the university in 1949 by renowned artist Georgia O'Keeffe. Those plans were thwarted by legal challenges from the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, heir of the O'Keeffe estate.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Delaware State adds three new Ph.Ds

Delaware State University will offer three new doctoral programs ---Applied Chemistry, Neuroscience and Optics--- beginning this fall. The school will also offer a new master’s degree program in Applied Optics.

All four new degree programs – all unique to the state of Delaware. The new programs will increase the university’s doctoral degrees total to five and graduate degrees to 22.

The Ph.D. Program in Applied Chemistry will focus on several areas of applied chemistry including polymer chemistry, biochemistry, environmental chemistry, and hydrogen storage.

The degree program will include course work and a required independent research project in their chosen field. There are a variety of ongoing research projects in the department in which students will be involved. A Ph.D. dissertation based on independent publishable original research must be completed and defended in an oral presentation.

Only a very few universities offer high quality Ph.D. programs in Applied Chemistry in the United States, and DSU now has the only one in Delaware.

The Ph.D. Program in Neuroscience will give DSU students an opportunity to receive a doctorate in the fast-growing and opportunity-rich area of brain research.

DSU's program will link with faculty researchers at the University of Delaware and the A.I. duPont Children’s Hospital to provide students access a broad range of research training opportunities. The 60-credit hour doctoral program will require research dissertation that must be defended.

This Ph.D. program at DSU in is the only biology-based neuroscience doctoral degree program in Delaware.

In addition to the three new Ph.D programs, DSU also already offers doctoral programs in Educational Leadership, as well as Interdisciplinary Mathematics and Mathematical Physics.

Monday, June 09, 2008

NCCU dedicates new $20M biotech building

North Carolina Central University today dedicated its brand new $20 million Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise facility.

The facility, which covers 52,000 square feet, was funded by Golden LEAF, an economic development foundation that is responsible for management of one half the funds North Carolina receives as part of the national tobacco lawsuit settlement.

The institute, which goes by the acronym BRITE, will be used for training of biotechnology and biomanufacturing workers. It includes classrooms, laboratory and office space.

“BRITE is dedicated to providing biotech and pharmaceutical sciences education to our North Carolina Central University students,” said NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelm. “Our goal is to provide BRITE students with an education and skill set that will give them a strong competitive advantage in the biotech/biomanufacturing workplace. This is accomplished through innovation in curriculum developed by BRITE faculty and strategic placement of students in industrial internships.”

Faculty is being recruited from biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

BRITE is part of the NCBioImpact, a statewide job force development partnership that includes Golden LEAF, the Biotech Training & Education Center on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, the North Carolina Community College System BioNetwork and the North Carolina Bioscience Organization.

Monday, May 19, 2008

CAU appoints Brown as next President

The Clark Atlanta Board of Trustees Friday appointed Dr. Carlton E. Brown as the university’s third president, effective August 1, 2008.

In July 2007, President Walter D. Broadnax appointed Dr. Brown as Executive Vice President and Provost of Clark Atlanta University. The Board appointed Dr. Brown as interim president in February 2008 when Dr. Broadnax announced his retirement, effective July 31, 2008.

“The Board has full confidence in Dr. Brown’s ability to lead Clark Atlanta to the next phase of its growth and development as a competitive force in higher education, “said Board Chair Juanita P. Baranco. “His previous Presidential role and his outstanding performance at Clark Atlanta over the past year is impressive and gives the entire CAU family strong confidence in his leadership, which translates into confidence in the future of this university.”

“Dr. Brown brings considerable experience and expertise as a former college president, and he has the vision to take Clark Atlanta to the next level of prominence,“ said Trustee Brenda Tolliver, president of the Clark Atlanta University Alumni Association. “He has engaged alumni and we welcome him wholeheartedly to the CAU family.”

The Board decided not to form a national search committee to identify the university’s third president as previously announced after observing Dr. Brown’s result‐oriented management style, strategic problem‐solving skills, student advocacy, faculty dialogue, and a strong ability to build relationships among critical internal and external constituencies over the past year. In addition, the Board believes that Dr. Brown embodies the leadership qualities needed to successfully represent the university in its fund‐raising activities in the business and philanthropic community locally and nationally.

“I am honored to be given the opportunity to bring my particular mix of talent and CAUexpertise to helping Clark Atlanta University embrace its future greatness and achieve prominence in the higher education arena,” said Dr. Brown. “This is a particularly significant moment for me and I look forward to continuing my life’s work in preparing the next generation of leaders

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Howard taps Ribeau as 16th president

Sidney Ribeau (reh-BOH') will become the 16th leader of Howard University come August. He will succeed H. Patrick Swygert, who is stepping down in June after 13 years at the helm of Howard.

Ribeau has been president of Bowling Green State for 13 years. The Ohio school has been recognized for its residential learning communities and innovative graduate programs under Ribeau's leadership.

Swygert was credited with bringing stability to Howard.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Morehouse gets first white valedictorian in 141 yrs.

From his first day at Morehouse College -- the country's only institution of higher learning dedicated to the education of black men -- Joshua Packwood has been a standout.

His popularity got him elected dorm president as a freshman. His looks and physique made him a fashion-show favorite. His intellect made him a Rhodes Scholar finalist. His work ethic landed him a job at the prestigious investment banking firm Goldman Sachs in New York City.

But it's his skin that has made all of this an anomaly. This month, Packwood is set to take the stage and address his classmates as the first white valedictorian in Morehouse's 141-year history.

The 22-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., will graduate on May 18 with a perfect 4.0 GPA and a degree in economics.

He could have gone elsewhere, to a school like Columbia, Stanford or Yale, but his four-year journey through Morehouse has taught him a few things that they could not, and he makes it clear that he has no regrets.

"I've been forced to see the world in a different perspective, that I don't think I could've gotten anywhere else," he said.

"None of the Ivies, no matter how large their enrollment is, no matter how many Nobel laureates they have on their faculty ... none of them could've provided me with the perspective I have now."

Morehouse Recruiter Thought He Was White

When Packwood applied to Morehouse, he had frequent conversations with George Gray, an alumnus who was a recruiter at the school. Gray was impressed by Packwood's credentials and spent months trying to talk the sought-after senior into choosing Morehouse over other elite schools.

"He had outstanding numbers," said Gray, now director of admissions at historically black Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark. "He was the kind of kid we were looking for to be a presidential scholar."

After several conversations, Packwood began to suspect that Gray had no idea that he was white. His suspicions were confirmed when one of Gray's calls caught Packwood in the middle of track practice.

"Don't let the white kids walk you down," Gray quipped.

"Wait," Packwood responded. "You know I'm white, right?"

Silence. Uneasy laughter. Confirmation.

"The challenge was to get the best student that we could, and Josh definitely fit that," Gray said.

And for Packwood, knowing that he had been picked on his merits, and not as a token white recruit, made the difference.

"That said I could come here and, ironically, be accepted for who I am," Packwood said. "I thought I made the right decision then, and I know I made the right decision now."

It was not as if this was the first time Packwood experienced life in the minority. He was among the few white students in his class at Grandview Senior High School in Kansas City, Mo. He has mixed-race siblings and his mother was married to a black man. Packwood's experiences growing up have helped him navigate black culture while remaining comfortable with his own complexion.

Packwood's mere presence on campus wouldn't make history at this school founded by a black minister and cabinetmaker two years after the end of the Civil War. Howard Zehr, Morehouse's first white student, graduated in 1966, and there have been dozens of other whites on campus since.

And so Packwood turned down Columbia University, postponing his dream of living in New York City. He ignored some in his family who warned that he might not have the same opportunities he would have as a Columbia graduate, and headed South.

Packwood still laughs when he remembers his first day on campus, wandering the grounds in pajama pants and getting stares from black classmates who wondered if the freshman wasn't a wayward student from Georgia Tech, Georgia State or perhaps Emory University.

After convincing the photographer to take his student ID, Packwood headed to his room in Brazeal Hall. Shortly after, his roommate arrived with his mother. Four years later, Packwood still can't get over the irony: After years of being one of a few blacks at majority-white schools in Dallas, Phillip Smithey had come to Morehouse to get the "black experience."

Instead, he was sharing a room with the only white guy in his class.

Facing Social, Academic Challenges

When he came to Morehouse, Packwood was sweating a bit under his swagger, which is why he was reluctant to run for president of his dorm at the end of his freshman year. The novelty was wearing off, but Packwood didn't want his new friends to think he was the white guy trying to "act black" or take over their school.

Classes proved to be a challenge socially and academically when the discussions shifted to issues of race. Once, Packwood was asked to sit on a panel about interracial relationships. Though he had dated black girls since high school, he spent the first hour of the panel getting warmed up, feeling out the crowd and trying to couch his thoughts.

"It was kind of heated, and there were very strong views on both sides," he said. "But eventually I realized they put me on the panel not to just pander to the crowd, but to voice my opinion."

Packwood said such exchanges taught him a lesson.

"Sometimes I kind of wanted to hold back," he acknowledged.

"A lot of the professors and students have been like, 'No, don't hold back. We want your perspective here. If we're not going to get it from you, it's going to be very difficult for us to get it somewhere else."'

Both students and faculty, he said, seemed to appreciate his honesty.

"The few times I have held back and tried to pick my words wisely or even go against what I truly believe, that's when I've caught the most flak," he said.

With each semester, Packwood's grades remained high, his confidence grew and his resume became more impressive. Summers were spent on Wall Street at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, he studied abroad in London and Costa Rica, and his studies have taken him to China and Switzerland.

He also drew attention with his looks -- some Atlanta University Center coeds took to calling him "Tom Cruise." His photo album on Facebook shows a smiling Packwood posing with dozens of young, black women who fill his page with notes.

As Morehouse embraced him, Packwood became an unlikely ambassador for the school.

"Josh Packwood is Morehouse," the college's president, Robert Franklin, said in his inauguration speech in February. "He happens to be Euro-American and brings much appreciated diversity to our campus."

Wendell Marsh, a junior English and French major who is black, said talking to Packwood as a high school senior helped make up his mind to come to Morehouse.

"Right now we live in a time where people say the black institution is obsolete, that you can get a better education at a majority institution," Marsh said. "To see a white guy who had declined Harvard for Morehouse, I figured it was good enough for me."

Packwood raised "the bar for everyone," said Stanton Fears, a senior economics major.

"The best man got it, that's how I look at it," Fears said. "It's about equality here, too. If he wants to come here and make a name for himself, he should be allowed the same types of things we're allowed."

Being surrounded by black men for his undergraduate career has taught him more about diversity, Packwood said.

"I've been here for four years and yet, I cannot give you the definition of black," he said. "I cannot tell you what a black man is. I really learned to look much deeper. It takes a lot of effort to know people."

Congratulations From Classmates

Shake. Lean. Embrace. Release. The soulful ritual is repeated several times as Packwood greets his fellow classmates on one of his last days on campus. Some congratulated him amid the buzz that he might be named valedictorian. There were those who thought there would be some bitterness, but animosity for Packwood's accomplishments was scarce that day.

Brandon L. Douglas, a junior business major who met Packwood as an intern on Wall Street after his freshman year, said Packwood has been a standout not for his skin, but for his successes on campus.

"He kind of sticks out, but he's still relatable and he works with all of us," Douglas said. "You don't see a skin color with him anymore. You start looking more at his character."

Douglas' words echo the most famous words of Morehouse's most famous alumnus, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in his "I Have A Dream" speech. Not far from where Packwood is standing looms a towering statue of King, his bronze finger pointing toward the horizon.

It's just a coincidence, but on this day, King is pointing toward Packwood.

Friday, May 09, 2008

NCAA accuses Alabama State of 668 rules infractions

The NCAA has accused Alabama State University of 23 rules violations, alleging widespread use of ineligible players, grade changes and recruiting misdeeds and charging the school with lack of institutional control.

The NCAA's notice of allegations, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, gave the university until June 27 to respond and culminated a nearly five-year investigation.

The alleged violations occurred from 1999-2003 and most involved the football program, including the participation of 25 players who were ineligible because they hadn't completed the required percentage of coursework toward their degree.

The NCAA charged Alabama State with lack of institutional control, particularly within the football program, and said coaches, athletes, faculty and administrators were not properly educated on NCAA rules.

None of the coaches or the five athletic directors or interim athletic directors mentioned still work at Alabama State, said attorney Kenneth Thomas, who represents the university.

Head football coach L.C. Cole, who is charged in five of the allegations, was fired and the university self-reported a number of violations in August 2003.

The NCAA said Cole "failed to maintain an atmosphere of compliance in the program" and named him in five violations, including improper contact with two recruits at a restaurant and with the mother of another player who was at the University of Tennessee.

"I don't have any comment about it," said Cole, now coaching in the Canadian Football League. "I've moved on and whatever comes out of it comes out of it."

The names of student-athletes and prospects were redacted before the NCAA documents were released.

Among the allegations:

-The grades of eight football players were changed without the approval of faculty members and administrators.

-"Numerous" athletes were allowed to play, practice and receive financial aid while ineligible in football and men's and women's basketball. Fourteen ineligible football players were allowed to participate in a total of 495 spring workouts or practices.

-Alabama State coaches improperly provided meals, lodging and transportation to prospects and players. Prospects also attended a party at a student-athlete's apartment that included strippers, and were given money for tips.

The NCAA indicated that the Committee on Infractions will hear Alabama State's case during its Aug. 8-10 session. Thomas said the university would meet the June 27 deadline for a response.

"The aim of the university is to respond and cooperate as fully as possible with the NCAA," he said.

NCAA Crissy Schluep said the governing body can't comment on pending cases.

Monday, May 05, 2008

UDC gets props from US News

The University of the District of Columbia’s law school is surging in the U.S. News & World Report specialty ranking for the “clinical training” category. The UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, which won full accreditation from the American Bar Association only three years ago, has tied Stanford for 13th place (and clobbered 19th-ranked Harvard) on the 2008 list.

“It is a very big deal,” says dean Shelley Broderick, who notes that UDC law is the only law school in the United States without its own building (the school operates on two floors of a building at the university’s Van Ness campus). “If you look at how richly resourced the other programs are, you know we’ve got it going on at UDC.”

A legal clinic is a teaching method in which law students, under faculty supervision, learn the trade by representing actual clients in court. Broderick says that UDC requires more clinical credit hours than any other school in the country. The school’s predecessor, the Antioch School of Law, pioneered clinical legal training from its co-founding in 1972 by current UDC faculty member Edgar Cahn. Most law schools nowadays offer a clinic of some kind.

Broderick hopes the national recognition will “help us win the hearts and minds of those funding major capital projects” so the school can have its own home. She says the school wants to share a space near D.C. court buildings with other providers of legal service to the poor.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shots fired; GSU campus closes

An all too familiar scene occurred at Grambling State University last Friday as the the campus was locked down at 3:30 p.m. following two fights and three gunshots being reportedly fired into the air. No one was injured, a GSU official reported.
Five people were originally taken into custody shortly after law enforcement officers from throughout the area arrived on campus.

Michael McKinley, Ph.D., executive assistant to GSU President Horace Judson, said the campus would remain in lockdown through the night and no one will be allowed on campus without proper identification.

Of the five arrested, two were issued summons for disturbing the peace by fighting.

"The three others were jailed — two for resisting arrest and disturbing the peace and the third for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute," McKinley said. He did not know the names of those arrested or if they were students.

McKinley said the fights began around 12:45 p.m. and law enforcement had things under control by 2:30 p.m.

Campus officials said during an afternoon news conference that the Firstcall Network that sends emergency text messages to students was activated at 2 p.m.

GSU and Louisiana Tech University implemented the system last month to notify students of campus incidents.

Natalia Stroman, a GSU senior, said she was on campus when she heard numerous gunshots fired earlier this morning.

She said some men got into a fight Thursday night at a local nightclub and again on campus Friday.

"From my understanding, the shooting wasn't at anyone, it was in the air," Stroman said. "It happened before the police got there."

As she talked from her cell phone around 3:45 p.m., screams could be heard coming from students as police herded them into dormitories for safety measures.

Other campus buildings were locked and students were forced outside.

Students said police in bulletproof vests were on campus armed with tear gas and K-9 Units.

"Everything just escalated and they shut campus down," Stroman said.

Monday, April 14, 2008

TxSU regents eye new admissions standards

For decades, Texas Southern University has accepted almost anyone who wanted to enroll, but that may be about to change.

Regents got a preview on Friday, including the possibility that students who don't meet the new standards could be shifted to a community college for a year or two before transferring to TSU.

Other suggestions involved moving the school's best teachers to first-year courses and even making class attendance mandatory.

"We're not talking about closing doors," said James Douglas, interim provost and senior vice president. "We're talking about creating a different structure."

Douglas, a former TSU president and longtime law professor there, briefed regents on the ideas being considered as part of new college President John Rudley's attempts to overhaul the school.

Other options include requiring minimum scores on the SAT and ACT — currently, students don't even have to take the college entrance tests — and requiring those who don't meet the standards to attend a summer program.

Regents will vote on the issue May 9. Even if changes are approved, few could take effect before fall 2009, Douglas said.

Open admissions is a popular way to make college accessible for students from the neighborhoods around TSU. But it also is blamed for the low graduation rate — just 16 percent of TSU students earn a bachelor's degree within six years, compared with 55 percent of college students statewide.

Higher standards could help with that but would probably cause enrollment to drop, as well. And that could mean less state funding.

Board Chairman Glenn Lewis of Fort Worth said the governor's office has seemed receptive to granting a temporary reprieve from any financial repercussions caused by higher standards. Still, there have been no guarantees.

Enrollment has been dropping even with open admission. The number of first-time freshmen dropped from 1,980 students in 2005 to just 1,288 last fall.

Students who didn't meet the higher standards could be shifted to a community college under Douglas' vision. He said talks about the idea have started with several community college systems but nothing has been signed.

He also has recommended strengthening the school's remedial education classes. That, too, could ultimately mean more people graduating from TSU.

"Right now, we have too many students leaving with a debt," he said. "We're not going to remove the debt, but we want to make sure they leave with a diploma."

Monday, April 07, 2008

Ala. A&M fires president

Dr. Robert Jennings, the president of Alabama A&M for a little more than two years, was fired by the school's board of trustees by a 7-1 vote last week.

The board voted to dismiss Jennings immediately, but did not name an interim president.

Jennings had served since January 2006 as Alabama A&M's 10th permanent president. A trustee committee had investigated allegations that he violated school policies in the hiring of an executive assistant in 2006, later paying the assistant for time spent away from campus, and possibly predating a computer memo in the matter.

There were also complaints that Jennings did not provide enough information to the board or communicate well enough with them about a number of major changes he made, and to which some faculty bitterly objected.

Jennings has said, through an attorney, he will challenge the firing in court.

Rather than immediately appoint an interim president, trustees voted Monday to adopt a motion offered by trustee Judge Lynn Sherrod that establishes a "transition team" and plan to run the school for a couple of weeks.

Revolving chaos
For the past several months, a special board committee has been looking into allegations that Jennings had improperly arranged to pay a former executive assistant for time that was actually spent attending a graduate course in Minnesota.

Since 1984, the year Richard D. Morrison retired after leading the university for 24 years, seven presidents have served nine terms as president of Alabama A&M. Over and over again, for reasons ranging from scandal to board dissatisfaction, the president's office at A&M has been no better than a revolving door.

Casual observers suspect A&M problems stem from its board. "It's the board, and always has been the board," said one. During one presidential search, many years before this current configuration of the board existed, I was told that the board was advised by a committee of community leaders it had created who the top candidates should be from a list of possible presidents.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Tennessee Regents deny TSU request to grant honorary degrees

Tennessee State University's governing board voted not to grant honorary degrees to students expelled for participating in the civil rights era's now-revered but then controversial Freedom Rides.

The Tennessee Board of Regents denied a waiver that would have granted 13 of the 14 black students expelled from TSU in 1961 the degrees they were denied the chance to earn.

The 7-5 vote — one member abstained — placed Tennessee at odds with at least six Southern schools and school systems that have atoned for politically motivated expulsions.

Regents had concerns about denigrating the value of an honorary degree by awarding so many at one time and recognizing a "one-time act of courage" with what is intended to be a lifetime achievement award.

"There is something sacred about honorary degrees," said Richard Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and a nonvoting member of the regents board. "The board, in their judgment, did not feel like this was an instance where you should grant honorary degrees."

The Freedom Rides were orchestrated and often-integrated bus journeys designed to challenge segregation in areas of the sometimes violent deep South unwilling to accept a Supreme Court order calling for the integration of interstate travel facilities.

In 1961, downtown Nashville had already been the scene of mostly student-led sit-in protests. After a group of Freedom Riders from another state were attacked and beaten by a mob, students from several Nashville schools opted to continue the Rides, said Kwame Leo Lillard in a January interview. Lillard was a student at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State University — as TSU then was known — who helped to organize the Nashville riders.

The Nashville students were arrested in Mississippi and, while still in jail, were sent letters advising them that they would face expulsion under terms of a year-old rule created during the administration of Gov. Buford Ellington — a self-described segregationist who later renounced that viewpoint.

Since the 1990s, at least six Southern schools — including Vanderbilt and Fisk universities in Nashville — have denounced their decisions to expel students for participating.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Unpaid bills force Howard to halt publication of newspaper

Forty eight thousand in unpaid bills have forced Howard University officials to halt publication of the school's student run newspaper the Hilltop. The Hilltop, the nation's only black run daily newspaper, owes the Washington Times more that $48,000 in outstanding printing costs.

Drew Costley, a Howard senior and The Hilltop's top editor for the 2007-08 academic year, said administrators "went against protocol" and independently decided to stop publication of The Hilltop indefinitely after it was revealed that the newspaper owed its printer, The Washington Times, $48,000 for printing during the fall semester.

Costley said the decision to stop publication resulted from an "illegal vote" taken without a quorum at a March 6 meeting of the policy board that governs the paper.

Ron Harris, director of the office of communications, confirmed that publication of The Hilltop has been suspended. "The university administration is not happy that school newspaper is not being published. They're having conversations right now to discuss how did this happen, are there systemic problems, and what do we need to change to make sure it doesn't happen again." Harris also said discussions were underway to determine if the printing bills could be paid.

During the March 6 meeting, Costley said administrators suggested stopping publication, but Costley said he motioned to continue publishing through March 21.

According to Costly of the $48,000 owed to the printer, $20,000 is at least 120 days outstanding and the remaining $28,000 is between 60 and 90 days late.

Costley said in December 2007, he found out that the business staff had not sent out invoices to advertising clients for a month and a half, causing $40,000 to $45,000 in lost revenue.

The Hilltop had a $250,000 budget and a staff of 40 people.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Huston-Tillotson bucking gender gap trend

Black women make up about 60 percent of all African-American enrollments in higher education. They constitute an even larger percentage of African Americans who go on to complete bachelor’s and graduate degrees.

At the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, black women make up more than 61 percent of all students. At several HBCUs, they are more than 70 percent of all African-American enrollments.

Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, is the exception to the rule. There, the student body is roughly equal among men and women. But this year, nearly 58 percent of the entering class is made up of men. In the fall of 2004, only 43 percent of the entering class was male.

The university has made a concerted effort to increase male recruitment. It has added majors in scientific fields that it believes will be particularly attractive to black men. And probably most important, it has established a scholarship fund earmarked for black male students.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Broadnax to retire from CAU

Walter Broadnax, who has led financially strapped Clark Atlanta University for six years, will retire in July, university officials confirmed today. He announced his retirement at the annual Board of Trustees meeting.

Broadnax arrived at an institution in crisis in 2002 and immediately began making changes to try to get the school out of debt. He slashed staff and cut programs, and faced off against some faculty who opposed the changes.

At the time, Broadnax said he was trying to avoid a situation like that of Morris Brown College, another Atlanta University Center institution that lost its accreditation. During Broadnax's tenure, the school was re-accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and got out of the red.

He replaced retiring president Thomas Cole, and was only the second person to lead Clark Atlanta in the nearly two decades since the merger of Clark College and Atlanta University.

Broadnax's time at the helm was marked by controversy as well as milestones. Many of his faculty members repeatedly called for his ouster. This fall, the university again implemented hiring freezes after fewer students than expected enrolled at the school.

Broadnax said in a statement that he was sad to leave.

"These past six years have been very rewarding for my wife Angel and me, and we will miss the students and the special contact we have had with the many extraordinary people in the CAU family," Broadnax said. "While it is difficult to leave this wonderful job at CAU, I am ready for the new and exciting opportunities that come with retirement."

Monday, February 11, 2008

ASU president Lee resigns

After seven years of leadership that was at times tumultuous, Alabama State University president Joe Lee plans to resign May 31.

The announcement, which Lee made during a scheduled board of trustees meeting Friday, caught most of the trustees, administrators and alumni off-guard.

Trustees later voted to move quickly into the search process and gave board chairman Elton Dean the authority to begin forming a search committee. Dean said he expected to start the committee within the next week.

"We hope to have a wide range of people involved in this process," said Dean, who was the only trustee to say he had some idea of Lee's intentions. "(The committee) won't just be comprised of people at the university and trustees. This university is important to the community, so we'll go outside the university for recommendations."

Lee's resignation puts an end to a tenure that was filled with controversy and growth.

Over the past three years, Lee has led ASU through a $125 million building campaign that has transformed the campus. There is a new forensics science building and a renovated dining hall already standing. A new student union building, additions to the library, a life science building and a college of education building are all either under construction or set for construction.
The school has received a variety of awards and recognition during Lee's tenure -- most notably the reaffirmation of a 10-year accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. ASU also saw enrollment soar to a new record high.
But there has been plenty of turmoil as well.

Lee was a major player in the removal of former football coach L.C. Cole, and the ensuing fallout left many alumni and fans calling for the president's removal at rallies and protests.
The ensuing NCAA investigation stemming from Cole's firing is still ongoing, making it the longest investigation in NCAA history. ASU was chastised by NCAA officials in 2006 because school officials were unable or unwilling to meet NCAA demands for documents and records.

There were reported financial problems during Lee's tenure. An audit in 2003 found that the school had paid more than $500,000 in bank overdraft fees. Two subsequent audits also found serious accounting mistakes.
In 2006, the Montgomery Advertiser uncovered evidence showing the director of ASU's Acadome, Jim Parker, had skimmed money and lied on timecards and reimbursement forms. Records also showed that Lee had allowed Parker to operate virtually unmonitored for several years, despite the fact Parker had been accused five years earlier by the Alabama Ethics Commission of fraudulent activity.

Also in 2006, one of the school's senior accountants was arrested and eventually pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from university accounts.

Lee's contract at ASU also came up for renewal in 2006. The board of trustees first voted not to renew the contract, then returned months later with a decision to give Lee a two-year extension.

"I thought he handled things OK, but I also thought some things could have been handled better," said trustee Herbert Young, who voted against giving Lee the extension. "Dr. Lee was a good man and I believe he tried to do the right thing. My vote then was because I felt as though we could find someone who might handle the business of moving ASU forward a little better."

But Young said he believes Lee was good for ASU.

"He led us through a period of tremendous growth," Young said. "That says a lot about him, I think. I think that's what he'll be most remembered for here."