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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.