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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Flake to step down as Wilberforce president

Wilberforce University President Floyd Flake has resigned from the university, effective June 30, the university announced Friday.

Flake, president since 2002, announced his resignation in an e-mail sent to faculty and staff Thursday.
"It is with a profound sense of joy and reservation that I hereby tender my resignation as the 18th president of Wilberforce University," Flake wrote.

"I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Wilberforce University," he continued. "As both an alumnus and as president, I am richer as a result of interactions with students and nurturing faculty members who provided me the tools for success in life."

Flake, an ex-Congressman, is widely credited with pulling the school out of financial emergency when he joined the historically black college six years ago.

But he came under fire last year when the faculty voted no confidence in him in March, saying he was "rarely present on campus."

Flake commutes two days a week to Wilberforce from his home in Queens, N.Y., where he is pastor of the Greater Allen A.M.E Cathedral, one of the largest churches in New York with 23,000 members.

In response to the faculty's charge, he said he was hired to raise money through his political connections and turn around the financially ailing institution.

"You can't raise money in any better place than New York," he told the Dayton Daily News in an October interview. "I indicated I could only be here about two days a week, and no one ever thought differently."

Flake, who is paid $210,000 a year at Wilberforce, served in U.S House of Representatives from 1987 to 1997, representing his Queens district.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thieves steal NCCU band instruments

With its biggest performance of the year fast approaching, N.C. Central University's marching band has been crippled by the theft of at least two dozen instruments.

Fourteen sousaphones and a selection of other instruments were stolen from the band room in at least two thefts stretching back to November, said Jorim Reid, NCCU's band director. The instruments were taken from locked rooms, and the thieves left the sousaphone cases, so it wasn't immediately apparent that the instruments were missing, Reid said.

Now, with the high-profile, annual Battle of the Bands showcase set to start Jan. 26 in Atlanta, Reid is trying to patch his band back together. The loss of sousaphones, in particular, is a blow to a 180-member band that relies heavily on the large brass instruments. There are 16 sousaphone players in the band.

"I really don't know what we're going to do," Reid said. "It's kind of like driving a four-wheel car with three wheels. You won't go very far. It's like heavy metal with no lead guitar."

Along with the sousaphones, thieves took trumpets, trombones, flutes and piccolos, some of which police have already recovered from area pawnshops, Reid said. NCCU police detectives could not be reached Tuesday, and Reid said he doesn't know how thieves accessed the locked band rooms at least twice.

The sousaphones and some of the other instruments are university property, but some of the smaller ones were owned by students, said Reid, who spent part of Tuesday on the phone trying to find instruments to borrow for the coming band showcase. The stolen sousaphones are valued at $3,000 each; buying them new could run as much as $7,000, Reid said.

Sousaphones are large big-belled tubas that wrap around the body. They are most often purchased by schools, music groups and churches, but there is also a market for individual instruments, particularly on the Internet, said John Simonetti, who works at The Tuba Exchange, a tuba sales and repair shop in Durham.

Still, unloading 14 stolen sousaphones may not be easy, Simonetti said.

"It's not like stealing a television or stereo or something everyone has in their household," he said.

The Battle of the Bands showcase will be held at Atlanta's Georgia Dome. It is a popular event for historically black colleges and universities. NCCU's band is one of 10 invited to the event this year, and one of two from North Carolina; Winston-Salem State University will also be represented.

Reid said Tuesday that his band still plans to perform at the showcase. The band's booster club and alumni base will travel to Atlanta as well, said Norma Petway, NCCU's director of alumni relations. The booster club has raised money in the past for band uniforms and may be called on now to raise money for new instruments, she said.

"There is a sense of pride [in the band]," she said. "When it's time to get band uniforms, the alums get together. They're very loyal."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Rudley selected president of TxSou

Texas Southern University all but ended a 19-month search for a new president Friday, turning to a familiar face and known problem solver to rehabilitate the proud but chronically troubled school.

Regents voted 9-0 to name John Rudley, the University of Houston's interim president, as the sole finalist for the top job at Texas' largest historically black university. State law requires the governing board to wait 21 days before finalizing the appointment.

Glenn Lewis, the board's chairman, said Rudley emerged as the leading candidate because of his extensive background in higher education finance, edging former state lawmaker Anthony Hall, the city of Houston's chief administrative officer.

Both candidates had ideas for turning around the 9,500-student university, Lewis said, but Rudley "showed us that he has the ability to implement his vision. I think his résumé speaks for itself."

TSU has been without a permanent president since the board fired Priscilla Slade amid a spending scandal in June 2006.

Rudley received his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Toledo and master's and doctoral degrees from Tennessee State University.
His wife, Docia, is a professor at TSU's Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

"It is a singular honor to be selected as the next president of Texas Southern University, and it is one that I do not take lightly," Rudley said in a statement. "I am privileged to have the opportunity to return to this great institution."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Detroit HBCU may close its doors

The only historically black college in Detroit may have to shut its doors.

Classes are scheduled to resume January 14 at Lewis College of Business. But the school has lost its accreditation, and is trying to recruit a president and has just a few dozen students enrolled.

According to news reports, some staffers at the 80-year-old school haven't been paid since October.

Last year, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), an accrediting agency, concluded that the school was unable to meet two of its criteria for accreditation: leadership and evidence that it can respond to future challenges.

“I thought that the withdrawal of accreditation was too harsh,” says Allen. “Student learning should be the major criteria for whether a school should maintain its accreditation. The HLC said Lewis met the student learning requirement

”School officials challenged the HLC’s findings, arguing that the information was vague and misguided. In a statement, former interim president, Dr. Violet E. Ponders, said Lewis “does not believe the HLC decision to withdraw its accreditation is ‘just or serves the community.’”

Lewis lost the appeal but was granted permission to start the reaccreditation process in 2008. Meanwhile, so many tuition-paying students have left that it isn't certain how long Lewis will remain open.

Losing accreditation is suicide for many collegiate institutions, especially for HBCUs, where the majority of students receive some type of federal financial aid. Without accreditation students are ineligible for federal financial aid. Additionally, some graduate institutions and employers will not recognize a degree from an unaccredited college.

Dr. Walter McMurty Jr., chair of Lewis’ Board of Trustees, argues that even in the absence of accreditation, Lewis still has a lot to offer its students, including a dedicated staff that temporarily went without paychecks and a rigorous curriculum.

“The only thing we lost is our Title IV funding. Now, that is not a small thing, but everything that was here before is still here,” McMurty says.

Lewis has since hired a team of evaluators to conduct a “self-study” of the institution. This team was designed to identify the school’s weakness and generate solutions. School officials say the team’s findings will dictate the timetable for a reaccreditation proposal. “It could take anywhere from 18 months to three years,” McMurty says.

Like most historically Black colleges, an important history is woven into the fabric of Lewis’ founding. Lewis was founded at the beginning of the Great Depression in 1928 by Dr. Violet T. Lewis. She sought to establish a postsecondary institution for young Black adults, particularly women. In the early days, Lewis trained many of Detroit’s Black professionals including the first Black accountants, bank tellers, stenographers and switch board operators.

Administrators at Lewis are hoping that alumni, local businesses and churches will champion its cause.

Despite the current situation, Lewis’ presidential search is moving forward, and the school is currently considering four candidates. McMurty hopes the new leadership will usher in a new wave of popularity and financial stability for Lewis.

During the past 79 years, more than 32,000 students have attended Lewis and nearly 13,000 have graduated. While enrollment currently hovers at a meager few dozen, the resolve for survival is present among the faculty.

“We owe it to our students, especially to those who have stood beside us to regain our accreditation as soon as possible,” Allen says.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

UMES to offer Pharm. D. degree

Maryland regents recently approved a new three-year Doctor of Pharmacy degree for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES). Students will be eligible for admission into the program, if they hold a relevant degree or after successful completion of the pre-pharmacy curriculum, which consists of two years of coursework.

The UMES Pharm.D. Program, is expect to start with an initial student enrollment of 55 in 2009, and expand to 210 by the fourth year of the program.