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Friday, December 18, 2009

Texas Southern University returned to probation

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools recently placed Texas Southern University back on probation just six months after lifting the punishment. The probation was reinstated because TSU failed to provide the accrediting body with an official audit of its finances or of its financial aid programs, a spokeswoman for SACS said.

TSU President John Rudley said he expects this latest probation to remain in effect until June 2010, as official state audits will not be available until January.

SACS placed TSU on probation in late 2007 after a series of financial and management problems were discovered at the university. That probation was lifted in June although the accrediting commission continued oversight of financial aid and sponsored research programs at TSU. That oversight was scheduled to end this month until SACS officials re-imposed the probation. SACS officials, who noted that TSU remains accredited despite the probation, are scheduled to visit the Houston campus in April 2010.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hampton prof appointed to Air Force post

Jarris L. Taylor, associate director of HU's Honors College, has been appointed deputy assistant secretary for Strategic Diversity Integration of the U. S. Air Force by President Barack Obama.

"As a 20-year retiree of the United States Air Force, to be called to duty once again to serve our country is a blessing and privilege," Taylor, who began work this week in his new post said.

According to the Air Force Web site, he will be responsible for directing all plans and programs affecting diversity integration for Air Force military and civilian personnel. He will provide leadership, strategic direction and oversight to all levels of the Air Force to ensure a diverse and inclusive force.

A 1995 HU alum, Taylor joined the Air Force in 1985 and retired in 2005, then became an adjunct professor at Regent University and Norfolk State University. In 2006, he was appointed an associate director of both HU's honors college and HU William Harvey Leadership Institute.

According to HU, Taylor is the university's fourth alum to work in a top spot in the Obama White House. Others include 1993 graduate Dana Lewis, who is a personal aide to first lady Michelle Obama; 1993 graduate Danielle Crutchfield, who is director of scheduling for Obama; and 1993 graduate Jamesa Moone, human capital director in the Office of Management and Budget.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Alcorn president resigns to take top job at CMU

George E. Ross, president of Alcorn State University will be leaving the school in March to return to Central Michigan University as president.

Ross was CMU’s vice president for finance and administrative services before coming to Alcorn in January 2008.

“I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve Alcorn State University and the state of Mississippi during such a transformative time in the university’s history,” Ross said in a press release. “While I did not actively seek the presidency at Central Michigan University, I believe it is a unique opportunity.”

Central Michigan has an enrollment of 27,000 students. Alcorn has 3,339 students enrolled currently.

Several local Alcorn alumni pointed to positive steps taken under Ross’leadership, including beginning construction on a new dormitory in Lorman and implementing a plan to offer education degrees at the Natchez and Vicksburg campuses.

Ross replaced former President Clinton Bristow, who died suddenly in 2006. Between Bristow and Ross, Malvin Williams served as interim president.

Ross’ departure comes on the heels of a proposal from Gov. Haley Barbour to consolidate Alcorn State, Mississippi Valley State and Jackson State into one university. But the proposal is one that hasn’t gained much traction with legislators and one that doesn’t worry the alumni much, Grennell said.

“I’m not in favor of the governor’s plan, and I would think this will not play a role,” he said. “I believe alumni will play a major role in (preventing) that process.”

Monday, December 07, 2009

Southern fires Pete Richardson after 17 years

Pete Richardson, the football coach at Southern University for 17 years, was fired today along with most of his staff.

Richardson had a 134-62 record in his 17 years at Southern. That included four, 11-win seasons and one 12-win season.

Richardson was named the Black Coaches Association's Coach of the Year in 1998, five-time Southwestern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, Washington D.C.'s Pigskin Club's Coach of the Year three times and the 1999 Nokia Sugar Bowl Louisiana Coach of the Year.

But the Jaguars fished this season 6-5, 3-4 in the SWAC, including losing their last two games. The two setbacks included a 31-13 drubbing by Grambling in the Bayou Classic, the most lopsided loss in that contest since Richardson took over at Southern in 1993, and a 30-25 loss to Texas Southern to close out the season.

The Jaguars also haven't won a conference title since 2003 and by Richardson's own standards, this season was another disappointment.

Prairie View defeated Southern 16-14 on Oct. 22, all but eliminating the Jaguars from the championship race.

In a meeting last week with LaFleur and chancellor Kofi Lomotey, Richardson was given permission to pursue other opportunities.

Richardson had another year on his contract, which pays him $205,000 annually. The school said in a news release that the total compensation had not yet been worked out.

No timetable has been set for bringing in a new coach, although LaFleur said that the process would begin immediately.

Friday, December 04, 2009

David Wilson to become next prez of Morgan State

David Wilson, a son of Alabama sharecroppers who earned a doctorate from Harvard and supervises Wisconsin's 13 two-year colleges, will become the 12th president of Morgan State University, school officials announced Thursday.

Wilson will replace Earl S. Richardson, who plans to step down at the end of June after 25 years.

"The more I dug into Morgan, the more I realized this was a great opportunity to continue building a pre-eminent urban research institution," Wilson said in an interview.

He said he was impressed with Morgan's faculty and its production of African-American engineers and scientists. Wilson plans to expand the university's doctoral programs, focusing on the "intractable challenges facing urban America."

"There is something very special about Dr. Wilson that when you meet him, you know he's the real thing," said Kweisi Mfume, a Morgan graduate and member of the university's board of regents. "He's a visionary with impeccable credentials, and all of his life experiences have prepared him for this moment."

Wilson, 54, grew up in a shanty in rural Alabama, the youngest of 10 children and the first in his family to attend college. He did not go to school full-time until the seventh grade because his family needed him to pick cotton and okra two days a week. But he remembered reading the magazine articles his family plastered to the walls of their home to keep out the wind and cold.

"In a lot of ways, I traveled the world without ever leaving the walls of that shanty," he said. "After that, I did whatever I could to be touched by the magic of education."

He attended Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Alabama, and said historically black institutions hold a special place in his heart. "They are absolutely central to the competitiveness of this nation," he said. "We have to provide opportunities so that every American citizen can achieve his or her greatest potential. We have to make sure that no one gets left back."

In addition to supervising the University of Wisconsin system's two-year colleges, Wilson led its extension system, which helps to apply university research in dozens of communities around the state. He oversaw an annual budget of more than $300 million.

He said his experience dealing with a state legislature and governor will help in Maryland as he seeks public funding for Morgan, which endured a contentious legislative audit in 2008. Mfume, a former congressman, predicted that legislators "will rave about him and really enjoy him."

Before taking the Wisconsin job in 2006, Wilson served as Auburn University's first black vice-president, helping to forge ties with poor, rural sections of Alabama.

"Morgan has experienced phenomenal growth under the leadership of President Richardson and we were looking for someone who could continue that momentum," said Dallas R. Evans, chairman of the university's board of regents. "We believe Dr. Wilson is the person who can take us to the next level of excellence and productivity."

After receiving a bachelor's in political science in 1977 and a masters in education -- also from Tuskegee -- in 1979, he went on to earn a pair of graduate degrees from Harvard: a masters in educational planning and administration in 1984 and a doctorate in administration, planning and social policy in 1987.

His three-decade career as a college administrator has included time at Tuskegee, Radcliffe College, Kentucky State University and Rutgers University.

With 7,000 students and an annual budget of $200 million, Morgan is a public institution known for its engineering school, choir and band among other programs.

Wilson, a single father of one, said he will begin his transition to the new job in January, trying to make connections with state leaders during the upcoming legislative session. He will take the job officially on July 1.

Asked if Wilson will steer his alma mater in a new direction, Mfume said: "I believe Earl Richardson came along at a tough time for the university and laid quite a foundation," he said. "But now, I believe Dr. Wilson is the educational architect to come in behind him and put up a superstructure."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

MS Gov. proposes to merge state's three HBCUs

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has proposed combining the state's three public black colleges into a single institution, Jackson State University. While Barbour said that campuses would continue to exist at what are now Alcorn State University and Mississippi Valley State University, the proposal marks the most dramatic state challenge in recent years to the continuation of some public black colleges -- and the move comes in the state whose higher education system was the subject of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that governs college desegregation.

Barbour stressed that the merged institutions would survive in some form, he also said that this reorganization should result in the elimination of many programs, which supporters of black colleges fear will come largely from their institutions. The governor's budget statement said that all of the state's public colleges would see "a rationalization of class offerings.... Every university would be expected to reduce costs by consolidating or eliminating programs not pulling their financial weight." (The plan in total would turn eight universities in the state system into five.)

"I think this would be another act of discriminating against black colleges," said Julius L. Chambers, a leading civil rights lawyer who is president emeritus of a historically black institution, North Carolina Central University.

Chambers noted that mergers of black educational institutions in the South have not historically gone well for black students and educators. "What happens to the faculty at black colleges" when programs are consolidated? he asked. And if the consolidations result in smaller branch campuses where Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley are now full institutions, "how do you ensure that the same number of minority students end up in college? Why aren't they asking questions about minority enrollments?"

Not only is the governor making the proposal, but some powerful legislators have also been talking up the merger idea, not restricting it to black colleges (although other lawmakers are likely to oppose any mergers). Many advocates for black colleges fear that shortages in state budgets could lead to an increase in such proposals.

Any merger of black colleges in Mississippi would have particular political significance because of United States v. Fordice, a 1992 Supreme Court decision that found Mississippi had failed to desegregate its higher education system. The decision specifically encouraged the state to consider mergers and to cut down on duplication of academic programs as a means of desegregating -- but the decision did not order mergers.

The theory behind these suggestions is that duplication of academic programs at historically black and predominantly white institutions encourages white students to enroll at one set of institutions and black students at another -- and that the elimination of these choices will lead to a situation where black and white students enroll at the same institutions.

But supporters of black colleges have another theory about mergers: that they have consistently resulted in the elimination of options at institutions with a history of serving black students. Justice Clarence Thomas, while concurring with the Fordice decision, warned in a separate opinion that there was a danger of interpreting the ruling in ways that could hurt black colleges.

Writing that "I think it undisputable that these institutions have succeeded in part because of their distinctive histories and traditions," he argued that states should not assume that the path to desegregation would be found with fewer historically black institutions. "It would be ironic, to say the least, if the institutions that sustained blacks during segregation were themselves destroyed in an effort to combat its vestiges," he wrote.

Mississippi eventually settled the case not with mergers, but with a pledge to spend much more money on improving programs at black colleges so that they would be better able to serve all students. But not all of the promises made in that settlement have been carried out. Just this month, The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., reported on how the state's pledge to create a $35 million private endowment to support black colleges never gained more than the initial $1 million that was used to start the endowment seven years ago, and that many in the state assume the promised funds will never be provided.

In light of the state's pledge to desegregate by building up black colleges, it's "truly shocking" that the governor would propose merging the three black institutions into one, said Marybeth Gasman, an associate professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania who has written extensively on the history of black colleges.

"I don't think you can take the Fordice settlement out of the equation," she said. "They settled the case by saying that they were going to bolster the HBCUs. They didn't provide the money and now they are going to merge them?.... This is money that has been long, long owed to black colleges, and now they are going to take so much away from them."

Because black colleges never got all the money they were owed, Gasman said, they will be at a disadvantage in programs reviews of duplicative programs. "This raises all kinds of suspicions in light of the state's history with its black colleges," she said.

Further, she questioned the idea that it makes educational sense to merge Alcorn and Mississippi Valley into Jackson State. While they are all historically black, she noted that they aren't right next door to one another (Alcorn is 80 miles southwest of Jackson and Valley is 100 miles north of Jackson) and they differ in campus environment, with Jackson State focused on an urban mission and the other two located in rural areas.

"These institutions are very different, and they are 80 or more miles apart," Gasman said. "Why are they being asked to consolidate? One can assume that they are similar because they are historically black, but that neglects the diversity of these institutions."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Black male enrollment on the rise at Tenn State

Tennessee State University is bucking a national trend of fewer black males on college campuses. Since 1999 black male enrollment at TSU has increased by 53 students from 2381 to 2434 in 2004.

Last year a little more than 100 black males were freshman at TSU, and this year there were more than 500.

"One of the largest freshman classes that we've had in over 5 years," said interim director of financial aid office Amy Wood.

Wood believed several factors contributed to the enrollment bump. Included among them, increased marketing and no doubt the economic downtown.

"They're realizing that the planning has to start a little sooner," said Wood.

TSU has also seen an overall enrollment bump. The university has a combination of nearly 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

System president: Grambling should offer course at other locations

Grambling State University could be facing some shake-ups in its course offerings and how it markets itself to increase enrollment.

It definitely could attract more students by offering its most popular courses at locations other than its campus, said Randy Moffett, president of the University of Louisiana System.

The issue was raised Monday by Tony Clayton, a member of the Southern University Board of Supervisors and member of the Postsecondary Education Review Commission.

"The perception is my campus (in north Baton Rouge) is located in a high-crime area and Grambling is located in a high-poverty area," Clayton said, "which makes it hard to attract a lot of diversity in students."

Both historically black institutions could prosper by moving some courses to alternative sites, Clayton said. Southern University at Shreveport proved that by moving its nursing program to downtown Shreveport, where it now has a 50 percent white enrollment.

In testifying before the panel, Moffett agreed that "oftentimes perception is reality," so Grambling is somewhat limited in attracting students because of its location. But answering another panel member's question, Moffett said he would never propose moving the campus.

"Focusing on a limited number of programs might be something we need to look at," he said, adding that GSU has the highest graduation rate of computer science majors and has successful nursing and teacher preparation programs.

Grambling could draw more students by establishing satellite sites and offering online courses, Moffett said.

"It's the least active of our eight universities" in offering distance learning, he said. "Grambling needs to open its eyes up and make the university more accessible to students in other places"» Take the product where the students are."

Committee member David Longanecker, president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education that is based in Boulder, Colo., said he has examined Grambling and "the numbers look troubling. That's an institution that to be a strong institution needs exceptional consideration and funding. It's clearly struggling to maintain enrollment."

Part of the problem, he said, is "its location. They almost had to make the circle smaller so the two institutions in that region would not overlap. I understand the tradition and history of that institution, but it's a troubling set of numbers that you face."
Moffett agreed.

"It is the most challenged university in our system" and although Louisiana Tech has shared some faculty members with Grambling, to make further improvements the ULS board will "look at some collaborative partnerships with nearby institutions," including the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

But other changes could be necessary, he said, such as being "systematic in what we might eliminate" and "how and where they recruit."

"We don't have a magic solution," Moffett told the panel.

Marc Musick of the Southern Region Education Board, said he believes Moffett and the UL System "are on the right track" to improving all of the schools in the system.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Band members injured in bus crash

A dozen students and a bus driver were treated for injuries after three buses carrying members of the Grambling State University marching band were involved in a traffic crash in southern Arkansas on Friday.

Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler says none of the injuries appear to be life-threatening.

Sadler says four buses from the school in north Louisiana were near Fordyce, Ark., on Friday when the second bus slowed. The two trailing buses each hit the bus ahead.

In all, 126 students were aboard. The injured were taken to a Fordyce hospital.

Grambling was traveling to Little Rock where the Tigers were to take on the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions at 1 Saturday in Little Rock.

Fordyce is about 65 miles south of Little Rock.

Second such crash in recent weeks
The Grambling crash was the second such accident in recent weeks involving an HBCU band. On October 31, a charter bus carrying 42 members of the Morehouse College marching band tipped over after it skidded off Interstate 75, injuring several students on their way to a football game.

The driver of the bus lost control while trying to avoid another vehicle that was moving into his lane. Thirteen band members were taken to area hospitals in ambulances with non-life-threatening injuries. The other 29 were also taken to hospitals as a precaution.

The bus was one of three chartered by Morehouse to go to AlbanyState University for a football game.

Roads were wet from rainy conditions, and weather was likely a contributing factor in the accident.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Norfolk president is a finalist for Morgan job

Norfolk State University President Carolyn Meyers has been named one of three finalists for the top post at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

The announcement comes as Meyers, who is in her fourth year at Norfolk State, has come under scrutiny by its Board of Visitors. She was the subject of a lengthy closed-session meeting last month, along with reviews of internal audits.

Morgan State's Board of Regents is expected to announce a new leader by Dec. 15 and have the person in place by the first of the year.

Enrollment at Norfolk State increased 10 percent this year from 6,325 last fall, and many supporters hail Meyers' vision to continue to increase enrollment and raise the academic profile of incoming students.

Critics, however, have said Meyers hasn't pushed the university far enough in the areas of technology and research and in forging better partnerships with cities to advance the school.

Meyers, NSU's fourth president, has spent more than 30 years in higher education, including positions at North Carolina A&T State University, Georgia Tech and the National Science Foundation. She holds mechanical engineering degrees from Howard University and a chemical engineering doctorate from Georgia Tech.

Another finalist for the Morgan State post is Calvin Jamison, who is the vice president for business affairs at the University of Texas at Dallas. A former Richmond city manager, he also held faculty and administrative positions at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The other candidate, David Wilson, is chancellor of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin Extension and has more than 30 years in higher education.

Morgan State, like NSU, is a historically black college, with about 7,000 students. MSU is one of Maryland's four public research universities.

The finalists will visit Morgan State's campus this month. The new president will replace Earl Richardson, who will step down Dec. 31 after 25 years as president. The search process began in January and included the review of more than 100 applications, according to Morgan State news releases.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

S.C. State faces $6M shortfall

S.C. State University efforts to meet its funded enrollment of 5,102 students this fall fell short 557 students short. At final count SC State's fall enrollment total 4,545 students, 343 fewer than last fall.

State enrolled fewer new students than expected and had fewer returning students come back. The enrollment drop was a jolt to the school's goal of having 6,000 students by 2014.

The drop in enrollment is contributing to the school's already nagging financial challenges and raising questions about its enrollment procedures and 2014 plans.

"I'm concerned about the number," S.C. State president George Cooper said during an interview in his office last week.

Roughly 300 new and transfer students who were expected to enroll never did, said Charles N. Davis, S.C. State's vice president for student affairs. Another 900 full-time and part-time students - including 118 seniors - who were expected to return to school did not, David said.

"A lot of it was finance," Davis said. "They just didn't have the finances to close the loop."

Some students, Davis said, did not attend because they were as little as $1,200 to $1,800 short of what they needed to attend S.C. State.

Cooper said the school looked for ways to help, but, ultimately, could not enroll students who could not pay.

"We show compassion," he said, "but we also have to make a business decision."

SC State has relied on state money, in large part, that has been cut as legislators struggle to balance the state budget.

The most recent cut, which erased $729,343 from the school's budget, gave the university less flexibility to help its students, which traditionally have come from some of the state's poorest households.

Cooper said student surveys have shown the university needs to improve its enrollment process.

"(Students) tell us they have to go to too many places to get things done," he said. "We've had some customer service sessions on campus with faculty and staff. We can do better."

There are plans to centralize student services, but Cooper and Davis also said the surveys showed some factors are beyond the university's control.


Now, the university must focus on closing a $6 million deficit in its $70 million education and general budget, caused, in part, by the drop in enrollment.

A budget committee of the school's board of trustees recently suggested a series of actions - 10-day furloughs, job cuts, position freezes and the use of contingency and federal stimulus money - to plug the gap.

The full board is scheduled to consider those recommendations at a meeting next month.

That meeting is also likely to continue a conversation administration officials and board members have been having about the appropriate size of the university.

To get to 6,000 students by 2014, the university would have to increase its enrollment by 1,455 in five years - a tall order considering the school's enrollment has decreased in each of the past two years.

A bigger enrollment, Cooper said, does not necessarily mean more revenue, especially if the additional students have unmet financial needs the university would be compelled to meet.

"That could be a train wreck," Cooper said.

One source of support the university has been able to count on is its alumni, Cooper said.

S.C. State's alumni, some of whom have endured furloughs and cuts in their own pay, gave the university $770,000 during the fiscal year that ended on June 30. That was an increase of 23 percent from the previous year.

As he sat at a conference table in his office Thursday, Cooper said he was looking forward to the Homecoming game on Saturday, when the university planned to announce an anonymous donor has given $250,000 to S.C. State.

That gift is the largest one-time gift from an alum in the university's history, Cooper said.

The gift is particularly important, Cooper noted, because it is unrestricted, giving administrators the discretion to use it in whatever ways they think best serves the university.

Three-quarters of S.C. State's unrestricted gifts go to need-based aid, helping the university prevent the type of sharp enrollment declines it is dealing with now.

Cooper said increased alumni giving is part of the answer to the challenges faced by S.C. State, but the difficult economic climate leaves him with no clear blueprint for success.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Grambling president calling it quits

Grambling State University president, Horace A. Judson, announced his decision to step down effective Oct. 31. Judson served in the position for five years, and cited family reasons.

“The extraordinary progress that has been achieved in every facet at GSU over the past five years has been validated. I believe that this is a good juncture for me to complete my tenure and focus on my family,” said Judson. “I am proud of all that has been accomplished, and I consider it a privilege to have served as President of GSU.”

“Dr. Judson’s presidency came at a pivotal time in Grambling’s history, and we are grateful for his innovative leadership that will leave many lasting positive changes,” said UL System Board Chair Elsie Burkhalter.

Hired in 2004, Judson’s five-year tenure at Grambling saw many successes including stabilizing enrollment, early introduction of admissions standards, higher ACT scores of incoming freshmen, the creation of Grambling’s Center for Mathematical Achievement in Science and Technology, leadership in the area of service-learning and tremendous upgrades to campus facilities.

Judson who has been under fire since taking the top job at the Louisiana school. His retirement followed Grambling State's Faculty Senat no-confidence vote.

Basically, it’s déjà vu all over again. Judson's tenure followed a similar fate at Plattsburgh State University in Pennsylvania.

Judson resigned as president of PSU in late 2003 following criticisms from students and faculty that he was ignoring their input, isolating himself from the college and community and making poor choices in hirings and firings.

Students and faculty hit him with no-confidence votes before he left his post at Plattsburgh State.

Judson assumed the presidency at Grambling in July 2004 and has been at the center of controversy since.

Constitutionally charged with hiring university presidents, the UL System Board discussed next steps at its Oct. 23 meeting.
Situated on a 383-acre campus in the small town of Grambling, the historically black university has almost 5,000 students.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ala. State carrying $172m in debt

Alabama State University has about $172 million in debt -- enough that it is spending $11.5 million annually just to service it. It has the highest debt-per-student ratio in the state. And some students and administrators think that's a good thing.

The ASU board of trustees voted in late July, just weeks before school started, to increase tuition by 21.8 percent partially to help retire some of the debt.

But while ASU senior Kio shana LaCount may not like a tuition increase, she also didn't like sitting in classrooms with no air conditioning when temperatures climbed above 90 degrees outside. She remembers, as a freshman living in the dorms, moving her belongings up and down five flights of stairs because the elevator was not working.

Those memories are why LaCount believes renovations and building projects at the university are a "necessary evil" even though they have led to increased fees, tuition and room and board for students.

The debts that Alabama State University has accumulated in trying to build facilities to accommodate its student popula tion are also leading to in creased fees, tuition and room and board, said Freddie Gallot Jr., ASU's vice president for fi nance.

"The reason the university went out to the (bond) market to borrow this kind of money was to improve life on campus," Gallot said.

The renovations and building, which have included improvements to the student center, library, education building, dormitories and athletic fields on campus, are about the quality of life on campus, he said.

"In my opinion, this has been a wise investment for the university," Gallot said.

The university is in the midst of a massive building program that includes a $25 million student services center, a $27 million addition to the Levi Watkins Learning Center and a new $6 million Hornet football complex.

LaCount said it is frustrating to look at hundreds of dollars in charges on her bill from the university "for renovations of facilities we are never going to get to use" while she is a student. But, she said, the expansion is very important to the universi ty.

Gallot said, when using bonds to pay for building projects, the university pledges to repay the debt through "tuition and fees and room and board."

ASU borrowed $35 million in 2009, $37 million in 2008 and $41 million in 2006, he said. The debt service for the $35 million the university borrowed in 2009 is $2.4 million.

"All of the previous bond issues were supported by tuition and fees," Gallot said. " ... The university did increase tuition and fees to do that."

The university, Gallot said, still maintained an 'A' credit rating from Moody's and Standard & Poor's as of the university's most recent rating in August. He said the rating is based on the size of the debt, ability to repay the debt, management of the university and the financial condition of the university.

The almost 22 percent in crease in tuition ASU trustees passed on to students this summer "in part was the result of the debt service," Gallot said.

Ken Mullinax, director of public information at ASU, said the university does not have any plans in the near future to increase tuition again.

Before the latest tuition in crease, Gallot said ASU was one of the three most affordable of the 12 public universities in Alabama.

"The most recent increase changed that a little bit," he said.

Trustees raised tuition for in-state students from $2,304 per semester to $2,808.

The percentage increase looked high because tuition had been low, Gallot said, but he said ASU was still a good deal for those wanting an education.

"We are still considered rea sonable," Gallot said.

About 80 to 85 percent of the students at Alabama State receive some form of financial aid, Gallot said.

Before university administrators look at moving forward with tuition and fee increases, he said they research whether the financial aid will cover the costs.

Stanley Giles, president of the Student Government Asso ciation at ASU, said he knows quite a few students are upset about the increase in tuition, but he said he has not spoken to anybody who was not able to re-enroll this fall.

"It is a concern of students, but I don't think it's hindered any students, to my knowledge, from actually getting their edu cation," said the senior market ing major from Little Rock, Ark.

The increased tuition has not led to a dramatic decrease in enrollment. The enrollment dropped from 5,695 students in the fall of 2008 to 5,554 students this fall, according to figures from the university.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A&T distances itself from "homecoming" concert

N.C. A&T has withdrawn its name and financial sponsorship from its annual homecoming concert at the Greensboro Coliseum, Chancellor Harold Martin said Tuesday.

With the recent controversy over gang-affiliated rapper Gucci Mane headlining the show, Martin said he felt the school had to make a "moral stand."

"We could not replace Gucci Mane on the bill at this late date," Martin said. "It is my understanding that more than 6,000 tickets have already been sold. So we made the decision that we would remove our institution's name from all advertising, all marquees, all tickets, and we would withdraw financial support from the show so that we would not be in any way, shape or form associated with his message or his image."

The Oct. 31 show will go on, but will now be put on exclusively by production company Diamond Life Concerts.

"We felt this was something we had to do to protect our name and the values of our institution," Martin said. "I've really enjoyed the conversation that has been generated about this and it's the kind of conversation we need to be having more proactively. And we will - we'll continue to have conversations about who we are and what we value."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Louisiana's higher education formula seems unfair to Southern

A member of the panel looking at ways to revamp Louisiana's public college systems questioned the state university budgeting formula Tuesday and suggested it could be shortchanging Southern University.

The comments from Lezli Baskerville, an appointee to the Postsecondary Education Review Commission, came in a wide-ranging discussion the panel had about university funding in the state as it considers recommendations for cutting costs amid years of projected budget woes.

Baskerville said the commission should consider whether to recommend that cuts fall more heavily on schools with larger endowments and more private donations, instead of colleges like Southern, which has fewer resources to cushion the blow.

"If you treat things equally, they will not necessarily be equitable," she said.

Colleges received budget cuts this year at least partially based on a performance-based formula that uses benchmarks — like student graduation rates, curriculum costs and research work — rather than just student enrollment.

The three-campus Southern University System, the nation's only historically black university system, took a larger percentage cut than the three other public college systems in the state, said Baskerville, president of the National Association For Equal Opportunity.

Southern's course offerings and smaller number of graduate students contributed to the size of cut the system received under the funding formula, said Donnie Vandal, deputy commissioner for finance for the Board of Regents. He also noted that Southern's funding levels have been high when compared to similar institutions.

Baskerville said without comparability in funding, state officials shouldn't expect comparability in the performance of schools.

"We've got disparities in faculty salaries, disparities in infrastructure, disparities in a range of things, including outcomes," she said. "Everything in the chain of getting to the outcome is not equal."

She also said it costs more to educate students who are low-income, first generation college students, who she said make up a larger portion of the student population at Southern, compared to many other schools.

The 13-member higher education commission is combing through the details of Louisiana's university systems, looking for efficiencies, cost-cutting moves and restructuring ideas. The panel, created by the Legislature, is packed with national and regional higher education experts. Its report is due to the Board of Regents by Feb. 12.

The commission hasn't made any recommendations so far. State Sen. Ben Nevers, chairman of the commission, said recommendations to merge or close campuses, restructure governance or make cuts will be debated in later commission meetings, which are scheduled monthly.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Morgan protests planned online Ph.D. program

Morgan State University has objected to the creation of a doctoral program for aspiring community college administrators at the University of Maryland, University College, raising questions about how the state will handle competition between traditional universities and their online peers.

Morgan offers a similar degree and has told the Maryland Higher Education Commission, which would have to approve the program, that UMUC could lure students away, in violation of civil rights precedents set by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Though the standoff is reminiscent of Morgan's 2005 fight to prevent Towson University and the University of Baltimore from creating a joint MBA program, it's complicated by UMUC's status as a predominantly online institution.

The higher education commission has already said that UMUC can offer the program to students outside Maryland. So if Morgan wins this fight, a state university could offer a doctorate to students from 49 states but not to students from Maryland.

"It doesn't make sense," said William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. "I'm not aware of another instance in which an online degree has been considered duplicative of a face-to-face program. I think there's an important principle at stake here."

Secretary of Higher Education James E. Lyons Sr. said he will deliver his decision on the matter at the commission's next meeting in late September. UMUC could then appeal to the commission if Lyons decides against its request.

"This is a very complicated issue," Lyons said. "Far more so than the MBA issue with Towson."

Lyons said he is looking at many issues, from the possible demand for the program to the similarities between courses at each university. He asked the attorney general's office for an opinion on the civil rights implications.

He downplayed the potential impact on overall relations between traditional and online programs.

A Morgan spokesman did note that classes for the university's doctoral track meet on weekends and that the program, which has 69 students, is geared to working people, much like the proposed UMUC program.

Kirwan said UMUC created its program at the request of the American Association for Community Colleges, which forecasts a growing need for administrators because of booming enrollment and the impending retirement of many current campus leaders.

UMUC, based in Adelphi, is a perfect candidate to meet the need because of its flexible course schedules and worldwide reach, the chancellor said.

If Morgan's objection stands, Kirwan said, "it puts at risk the ability of an institution to deliver programs in areas where online degrees are needed."

One member of the Board of Regents, David Nevins, said a duplication dispute involving an online program was inevitable.

"All of us need to adapt for a changing world in which where one lives is less important and traditional classroom programs will be supplemented by online programs," he said. "It's probably good that this came up now, because we need to decide how we're going to deal with this as a state."

The Supreme Court has traditionally opposed the duplication of programs at historically black universities, arguing that it promotes segregation.

In the 1992 case United States v. Fordice, the Supreme Court held that, barring "sound educational justification," duplication of specialized and graduate academic programs at historically black and white colleges violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

Morgan President Earl S. Richardson has used civil rights arguments to block more than a dozen proposed programs at area colleges in his 25 years at the university, including history and education programs at Towson and an electrical engineering major at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. His effort to block the Towson/UB MBA program was unsuccessful, though the battle spread to the state legislature and local courts.

Morgan's MBA program has actually grown since then, from fewer than 30 students in 2005 to 86 this year, though the Towson/UB program is much larger.

Richardson has always said that he's interested in protecting a principle, not in obstructing the plans of other universities.

"Until and unless you stop duplicating programs, you will continue to have a racially segregated program of higher education in Maryland," said Aderson B. Francois, a professor at the Howard University School of Law.

Francois is assisting a coalition of Morgan alumni and others in a court case that seeks to eliminate the Towson/UB MBA program on civil rights grounds. Though he didn't know the specifics of the UMUC issue, he said he sees no reason why an online program would be different than a face-to-face one under the Fordice precedent.

"Online or not, all that matters is whether it's a non-core program that would duplicate an existing program" at a historically black college or university, he said.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Paul Quinn gets temporary injunction to maintain accreditation

Paul Quinn College won a temporary yet significant battle in preventing the college from having its accreditation removed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Inc. (SACS). Attorneys for the school secured a preliminary injunction that allows it to maintain its current accreditation status.

The document from the Atlanta Division of the United States District Court stated: “Paul Quinn College … is hereby reinstated to membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Inc ., (SACS-COC), in the same status it was in immediately before the action to remove it; that is, as a member on Probation.”

The injunction is pending until the final outcome and resolution of Paul Quinn’s case will be resolved. It’s not sure at this point of what further actions will be taken by SACS or the North District Court. The injunction will allow Paul Quinn to remain accredited during the pendency of its litigation against SACS – challenging efforts to remove accreditation from the 137-year-old college. As a result of the Aug. 27 order, Paul Quinn may continue to award degrees and distribute federal financial aid to students. Fall classes will begin as planned on October 5.

“The injunction allows Paul Quinn to continue serving students and the community in its full capacity, and represents another step toward securing the long-term future of this college,” said William A. Brewer III, partner at Bickel & Brewer Storefront and lead counsel for Paul Quinn. The law firm filed the injunction on Aug. 25 in Atlanta.

The accreditation dispute involving Paul Quinn has become among the most closely watched cases in higher education. SACS’ Commission on Colleges notified the school on June 25 that it was removing it from membership in the organization, and that decision was affirmed by an appeals committee on August 24.

The following day, the Bickel & Brewer Storefront filed a lawsuit in Atlanta federal district court and a motion seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.

The Storefront argued that SACS had violated Paul Quinn’s common law and statutory due process rights and that removing the school’s accreditation would represent “catastrophic and irreparable harm” for the institution, the oldest historically Black college in Texas. The filings demonstrate the extraordinary recent progress the school has made in its financial and administrative management – and cite ongoing concerns that SACS “made multiple material factual errors in connection with its assessment of [Paul Quinn’s] financial condition.”

The Storefront alleged that SACS violated the Higher Education Act by denying Paul Quinn the opportunity to “present new and significant financial information” relating to its accreditation appeal.

Paul Quinn President Michael J. Sorrell hailed the developments as a signal that the college would ultimately prevail in its legal challenge and ongoing pursuit
of accreditation.

“This is an incredibly important day in the history of Paul Quinn College,” said

“The message for our students, faculty, alumni and supporters is that we remain fully accredited, confident in our future, and focused on our goal of becoming one of America’s great small colleges.”

In spite of significant improvements under Dr. Sorrell, who took over as president in 2007, SACS still voted to revoke the school from its membership in June.

Paul Quinn immediately appealed and made their appeal presentation on Aug. 18. When SACS formally informed the college that it is upholding its decision on Aug. 25, Paul Quinn immediately filed for the injunction. Two experts hired by Bickel and Brewer, an accountant and a former higher education policy executive, both assessed that the school had actually complied with SACS’ requirements. An excerpt of the filed complaint reads: “The Decision that the College had not demonstrated its financial stability or availability of financial resources was based on erroneous findings with respect to the College’s account payables, operations and Maintenance costs, budget deficit and financial plan. Besides those erroneous factual determinations, there existed no other substantial evidence to support the Commission’s negative findings as they related to the College’s finances.”

The complaint further argued that SACS “Violated the due process rights by failing to follow its own standards and policies in reaching the decision to revoke the College’s membership,” plus that the college will suffer “irreparable harm” if accreditation is not granted.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Grambling faculty at odds with university president

Grambling State University's Faculty Senate delayed a no confidence vote on university President Horace Judson for the second time in a week.

Instead faculty senator fought among themselves over senate rules and procedure, and discussed whether the resolution could legally be presented than the resolution's actual merits.

Senate President Matthew Ware, who formed the three-member committee that created the resolution, said the meeting served its purpose.

"Don't think we didn't accomplish something today — we got through all of the discussion — so we'll be ready to vote at the next meeting," he said.

The resolution marks the first time in the school's 108-year history that faculty has moved for a resolution of no confidence in the university's president, Ware said, calling the meeting "extraordinary."

Similar to Tuesday's meeting, when only 14 of 40 senators showed up for a regularly-scheduled meeting, Thursday's meeting was sparsely attended.

Only a few more senators showed, along with a few faculty, all of whom were invited to attend the meeting.

Jimmy McJamerson, a history professor who helped draft the resolution, attributed the low turnout to senators' fear of reprisal from the administration.

"At historically black schools, if the person doesn't like you, he will fire you," McJamerson said. "That's the reason you don't have the majority of senators here."

Nonetheless, the Senate had a quorum and went forward with the meeting.

Martin Ayim, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Sports and Leisure Studies, said he opposes the resolution and wants faculty to air their grievances directly.

"If you are a faculty member and have a problem with the administration, go and talk to them," Ayim said.

"This resolution was drawn up over the summer and school has just started. We need more time. This is not the Grambling way. The intent might be good, but the process has been flawed. Let's dialogue with the administration and look at other ways of doing this," Ayim said.

McJamerson spoke out in favor of the resolution.

"It is a disgrace and a shame that the administration has treated Grambling and its faculty like they have no purpose at all," he said.

Early in the meeting, McJamerson, the Senate's parliamentarian, called campus police after he ruled that a faculty member who showed up in place of an absent senator would not be eligible to vote because the Senate does not allow proxy voters.

The man continually interrupted McJamerson and two police officers showed up. But they said the meeting was public and the faculty member had a right to be there.

The officers stayed in the room for the rest of the meeting.

The no-confidence resolution features a litany of allegations against Judson and his administrative team, including charges they have repeatedly refused to acknowledge and act upon the faculty's role of shared governance; the administration has usurped the faculty's role in developing the academic curriculum;

Judson has displayed an indifference to the concept of "Town and Gown" and through his actions sought to distance the university from the Grambling community; the administration had repeatedly and disproportionately favored administrators and staff over faculty with regard to salary adjustments; the administration hired people who do not have the best interest of the university in mind; the administration has not provided the appropriate resources for schools and colleges working toward re-accreditation; and the administration required faculty to work three weeks in August but only paid them for two weeks.

A no-confidence resolution carries only symbolic power, but it would be a strong statement from faculty against the leadership of Judson to the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. School presidents serve at the pleasure of the board.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

NCCU Law named best value by law magazine

For the second consecutive ranking, the North Carolina Central University School of Law has been ranked as the No. 1 Best Value Law School in the Nation. The ranking by the National Jurist Magazine is based on affordability, bar passage rate and job placement.

“We are again honored to receive this recognition,” said Raymond Pierce, dean of the NCCU School of Law. “Our law school continues to take pride in the ability to provide a quality and affordable legal education for persons seeking to enter the legal profession.”

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Paul Quinn loses accreditation appeal

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools announced Monday that an appeals panel had upheld the commission's decision in June to terminate the accreditation of Paul Quinn College. The appeals committee found that in revoking the ailing Dallas college's accreditation, the commission had neither made procedural errors nor made an "arbitrary nor unreasonable" decision -- the only grounds on which an institution can successfully appeal a decision by the commission, under the Southern association's policies. Under SACS rules, Paul Quinn's accreditation is now revoked, which means that students cannot receive federal financial aid. (Most Paul Quinn students now qualify for and receive such aid.) Paul Quinn officials could not be reached for comment on Monday, but a lawyer for the college previously had said that the historically black institution would file a lawsuit in federal court if its appeal was unsuccessful.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Howard grads make more than other HBCU grads

Graduates of Howard University in Washington, D.C., earn higher salaries than graduates of any other Black college or university as well as some premier non-Black institutions of higher learning according to a study by salary research company PayScale.

Howard graduates have an average starting salary of $50,300, ranking the school 100th on the list of colleges and universities with the highest starting salaries. The university ranked just ahead of Penn State, Northwestern, and the University of Texas.

The study found that graduates of Loma Linda University in Los Angeles earn the highest starting salaries of any undergraduate college or university in the nation. Graduates of the university have an average starting salary of $71,400.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranks second with graduates earning an average starting salary of $71,100. Other colleges and universities in the top 10 include Harvey Mudd College, CalTech, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, Polytechnic Institute of New York University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Rose-Hulman Institute.

Among Black colleges, the lowest average starting salary was for graduates of North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C., who had an average starting salary of $35,600.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A&T must compete with peers

Chancellor Harold Martin gathered N.C. A&T staff and faculty together Wednesday for the beginning of what he called “a very frank discussion.”

After the crowd gave the traditional call of “Aggie Pride,” Martin asked them to take a hard look at the school of which they are so proud — and how it stacks up against its peers.

“You should always know against whom we’re competing,” Martin told the capacity crowd at Harrison Auditorium. “That’s what peers should be used for: to determine how well or how poorly we’re doing.”

Martin then presented a slide show comparing A&T to 14 peer schools approved by the UNC Board of Governors in 2006.

The schools included UNC system cohorts like ECU, UNC-Charlotte and UNCG, but also schools like the University of Massachusetts and Florida A&M University. In many ways, the comparison was not flattering.

Martin pointed out that to be considered a doctoral, research intensive university an institution should be granting a minimum of 20 doctorates each year.

In 2006-2007, the last school year for which the school had compiled complete information, A&T gave just six. That’s far fewer than the 74 granted at UNCG in the same period and well below the peer group average of 39.

The number of master’s degrees given by A&T during 2006-07 was 324, well below the group average of 891. UNCG awarded 906 master’s degrees in the same period and UNC Charlotte, also a peer institution, granted 976.

Martin said he wanted to see the school increase the number of degree programs offered, which lagged well behind the peer average for number of bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate programs.

The figures brought audible gasps from some in the audience, most of whom said they didn’t even know A&T had such a list of peers.

A&T compared better in terms of student performance, with its freshmen entering with an average grade point average of 3.11 on a 4.0 scale. That was higher than the group average of 3.0, but beneath all the other UNC systems schools on the list.

And though its 19 percent of students graduating in four years matched the peer average, A&T was well below the UNC system average of 26. It also scored below all the other UNC schools on the list.

Other areas in which Martin said he’d like to see A&T improve: faculty pay and, surprisingly for a historically black college, diversity.

About 88 percent of A&T’s student body is black — a much higher percentage than many of its traditionally white-dominated peer schools’ percentage of white students. Just 7 percent of A&T’s students are white, 1 percent Asian, 2 percent Hispanic and 2 percent of other ethnicity.

“We have to make commitments in being more involved in diversity at our university,” Martin said to applause. “We must be more diverse.”

Though the crowd was shocked by many of the numbers, Martin’s suggestion that the school has untapped potential for improvement was met with furious applause. Martin said he’ll work with staff and faculty in the coming semester to improve key benchmarks and move toward putting A&T in the top 25 percent of its peer universities.

“I don’t think we have a choice,” Martin said. “I think we have to elect to compete. And I want to continue to have a conversation with you about how we do that.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Feds forgives $11.7M in Tx So debt

Texas Southern University President John Rudley has crossed the final item off the to-do list he created when he took the top job at the historically black university in early 2008.

The U.S. Department of Education has decided to waive $11.7 million in debt owed the federal government by Texas Southern University. The debt had lingered for 13 years, through three presidential administrations, and started out as a $40 million penalty issued by the education department in 1996, following its finding that TSU couldn't prove all federal financial aid went to eligible students.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, interceded on TSU's behalf.

“It was a steep mountain to climb,” the Jackson Lee said Monday.

The decision means TSU can instead use that money to improve its academic programs, said Provost Sunny Ohia.

“We still have a lot of work to do, with growing our enrollment and improving the quality of our academic programs,” he said.
Boosting online programs

One initiative will be to expand the number of programs offered online, Ohia said, noting that online programs are a good option for people who work full time but are expensive to create.

The original penalty was reduced to $15.7 million in 1998 during the Clinton administration. Talks continued throughout the administration of President George W. Bush, even as the school paid off almost $4 million of the debt.

Jackson Lee said a settlement appeared imminent several times but apparently lost momentum when responsibility was shifted around the department.

TSU argued that the Department of Education relied on a faulty statistical analysis to determine how many ineligible students received financial aid; Jackson Lee said school administrators provided records to support its claim that the problem was less widespread than it originally appeared.

She met with Education Secretary Arne Duncan soon after he was appointed by President Barack Obama, and he named a new team to reconsider the issue.

Jackson Lee said the reorganization begun under Rudley played a role in the decision, as did TSU's focus on underserved students, one of the Obama administration's priorities.

Department of Education officials did not return telephone calls Monday to explain their decision, or why the matter took so long to resolve.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

FVSU expecting record enrollment

When it comes to Fort Valley State University’s enrollment, President Larry E. Rivers — a man with notoriously high expectations — does have a limit in mind.

“It would take a massive construction effort to accommodate more than 5,000,” Rivers said.

University officials don’t expect to reach that number this fall, but they plan on being closer than FVSU has ever been. Between 3,800 and 4,200 students are expected to attend FVSU this fall. About 1,500 will be freshmen. So far, 1,400 freshmen have paid housing deposits, Rivers said.

Last year, the university enrolled 3,106 students, a record for the institution. Until then, the school’s highest documented enrollment was 3,024 in 1996, according to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.

Terrance Smith, the university’s vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, said FVSU is ready to accommodate the massive influx with recent improvements to the campus.

The most recent phase of Wildcat Commons was completed in July. The $16 million, 126,430-square-foot student housing complex features four-bedroom suites and semi-suites with two bathrooms, along with units of two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and three bedrooms and one bathroom. The dorm is expected to house about 378 students. Smith said the university also purchased University Villas, an apartment complex with 136 bedrooms adjacent to the school.

Student housing isn’t the only concern school officials addressed to help accommodate the expanded enrollment. A 10,000-seat stadium is expected to be completed by the middle of this month. The university also plans to extend its class schedule, with more evening classes being offered. A contract was signed with a new food services provider to bring in additional dining options and the central dining area will be open from 7 a.m. until midnight.

“We’re poised for another successful year,” Smith said.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Reinvented UDC set to open this fall

The University of the District of Columbia reopens later this month amid the most far-reaching changes in its 32-year history.

When classes resume Aug. 26, DC's only public college will operate as two entities, both effectively new to the District: a two-year community college, open to all, and a four-year "flagship" university with selective admissions and tuition comparable to state universities in Virginia and Maryland. The schools will have separate faculties and student bodies.

It is a time of cautious optimism for many UDC students, who spent part of the winter protesting proposals to raise tuition and to end UDC's longtime policy of open enrollment for four-year students.

The new president, Allen L. Sessoms, saw a need to transform a campus of dilapidated buildings and sometimes directionless students. Enrollment had dwindled from 15,000 in the 1970s to 4,700. The graduation rate among full-time, first-time students was in the single digits.

"When I got here, it was pretty clear that the university was not meeting the public trust. It was not meeting expectations," Sessoms said, speaking last week in an office permeated with the smell of fresh paint.

Sessoms, a physicist trained at Yale, came to UDC in fall 2008, leaving the presidency of the historically black Delaware State University.

The school's $3,770 tuition and open admissions suited a community college, Sessoms reasoned, but not a university. Seventy percent of students arrived in need of remedial reading or math. The seasoned faculty taught rigorous courses. "When you graduated from UDC, you knew something," Sessoms said. But almost no one graduated.

Sessoms created a separate community college, preserving the traditions of low tuition, open admissions and remedial course work to serve the large numbers of students who graduate from Washington area high schools either unable to afford a state university or unprepared for college-level work.

The tuition is a flat $3,000 a year, with no nonresident surcharge, a policy that Sessoms said is "probably unique" among community colleges.

The university, in contrast, has been pruned of remedial course work. To gain admission, students have to show they are college-ready. An applicant with a 2.0 grade-point average, for example, would need a composite SAT score of at least 1400 of 2400 points to gain admission.

Sessoms initially proposed to nearly double the university's tuition in a single year. Students protested loudly, pitching tents outside the Northwest campus and turning their backs to the president en masse at one winter meeting. The school settled on a compromise that phases in the increase over two years. University students who live in the District pay $5,370 this year; students from the Maryland or Virginia suburbs pay $6,300; those from out of the region pay $12,300. Next year, the rates are scheduled to rise to $7,000, $8,000 and $14,000, respectively.

UDC will help current students who cannot pay the higher tuition, at a cost of $1 million this year in additional student aid, Sessoms said. He said the sharp increase "will put us where we need to be," with further increases only to cover inflation.

He said UDC tuition rates remain relatively low. According to figures provided by UDC, Bowie State University, for example, charges in-state students more than $6,000 and out-of-state students more than $17,000, and George Mason University charges more than $8,000 and $24,000, respectively.

The new plan "appears to have been somewhat accepted" by the student body, said Dale Lyons, the student member of the board of trustees. "The impact still hasn't hit everybody."

Sessoms said applications are up from about 2,000 at this time last year to 2,300 this year: 800 for the community college and 1,500 for the university. Schoolwide enrollment could reach 3,000 in the community college and 3,500 to 5,000 in the university.

Incoming students now apply separately to each school. Current students can choose to attend either. Those who wish to remain in the university but require remediation will have two semesters to catch up. Anyone still needing remedial help will be moved to the community college.

The higher tuition will fund a $40 million student center, the first at UDC, and building renovations to include interactive classroom technology and updated labs.

"For the first time in 30 years, there's going to be a significant investment in our physical plant," Sessoms said.

The community college will be organized around a central "hub," probably in Ward 7, in eastern Washington, with as many as six satellite locations in the city. Five satellite facilities will be open this school year. The headquarters is scheduled to move from the Van Ness campus in Northwest to the new hub next year.

Students decried the run-down state of the UDC campus even as they marched through it last winter to protest the tuition increase. Now, as they begin to see their tuition dollars at work, antipathy has softened. "I don't think there's any student who ever agrees with any tuition increase," said Teneriffe Mapp, 27, a junior. "For me personally, if there's progress that goes along with that tuition increase, then it's easier to masticate on, easier to digest."

Johnson, 25, said the work has lifted her spirits: "Those gray walls, they really took a toll on your psyche. And one day I walk in, and they're canary."

Students note other improvements: a new Web site offers online admissions and insurance forms, providing easy access to services that used to engender long lines.

Students seem to be torn over the higher standards imposed on the university. Johnson said she always felt "one of the best things about the university was the open enrollment." But she said that policy is "one of the things that keeps us from the quote-unquote prestige."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Albany State alumni giving is up by 32%

Alumni giving at Albany State University is up by 32% over last year as the school took in $509,494.37 in donations, eclipsing its $500,000 goal.

“We just reached out a lot more often, particularly during the end of the year, than we have before,” said Mildred Johnson, director of development. “So often people get something in the mail and they intend to give, but time passes and they don’t. Following up with them to remind them is the best way to get people to react.”

Along with the "ask", ASU sent potential donors a "Donor Bill of Rights" to emphasize how serious the Institutional Advancement staff takes its fiduciary obligations.

“We wanted them to know that we would be wise stewards with their money,” Annual Giving Officer Sherrell Byrd said. “We would be transparent with their records or receipts and be more than willing to answer any questions they may have.” Johnson and Byrd also attributed the increase in alumni donors to a stronger push in their marketing efforts. Emails, mailings, name recognitions and thank-you letters were all generated in record numbers from the office.

The Institutional Advancement staff works alongside Alumni Affairs to ensure the participation of the local, state and national alumni chapters in alumni giving. A phone-a-thon that featured the alumni chapters doing the calling was conducted earlier this year. “We really utilized the many different forms of communication,” Byrd said.

“Nothing expensive, but rather staying in their faces.” According to Johnson and Byrd, there is more work to be done and zero room for complacency. Johnson mentioned that securing a trustworthy relationship with donors is vital for future progression. “I am excited that we exceeded our goal but I am not satisfied,” Byrd commented. “My push now is not only to continue the same vein of educating donors, but cultivating more donors as well. I will not stop until we get 10,000 donors.”

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Paul Quinn isn't dead president says

Paul Quinn College may have lost accreditation – a potentially fatal blow to the 137-year-old institution – but its president is stubbornly optimistic about the prospects for survival.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools voted to strip Paul Quinn College of its accreditation, citing financial and academic troubles. That means its students cannot receive federal or state financial aid, and the college cannot award degrees.

Sorrell said the college, which ended last semester with 375 students, will appeal the association's ruling. Until that appeal is decided, the school can still award degrees and class credits.

"Paul Quinn College is open and in the business of educating our students," he said.

The accrediting agency determined that Paul Quinn lacks sufficient financial resources or stability. It also cited problems with "institutional effectiveness," which focuses on whether students learn what they are supposed to.

While losing accreditation is a major blow, it's not necessarily a death sentence. Texas College, another historically black institution in Tyler, lost its seal of approval in the mid-1990s but regained it a few years later.

The historically black college, which is affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, has struggled for years with finances, academics and leadership. Under Sorrell, the school has seen spikes in applications and donations. Enrollment has dropped, although Sorrell said that's largely because of tougher academic standards.

Paul Quinn College moved from Waco to the former campus of Bishop College in 1990. Bishop had closed in 1988 after filing for bankruptcy and losing its accreditation.

Dallas businessman Comer Cottrell bought the 130-acre Bishop property, thinking it might be a good site for educating troubled youths. The idea didn't pan out, and Paul Quinn approached him about relocating to Dallas, he said.

Cottrell, who sits on the school's board of trustees, said he was saddened by the loss of accreditation. "We desperately need a college of that type here," he said. "That's how you develop leaders for your community."

Cottrell said the school's governance has hampered operations for years. "We've always had preachers in leadership," he said of the board. "They don't know what they're doing."

Board chairman Gregory Ingram, presiding prelate of the area African Methodist Episcopal Church, rejected such talk. "That's absolutely wrong and an unfair statement," he said. The current board is a "mosaic of interest groups" helping the school rebound, he said. "What prevailed in the past is not the Paul Quinn today."

Cottrell also blamed Dallas' black leaders and residents for the school's troubles. "It's our responsibility," he said. "There's enough money in the Dallas African-American community to take care of that campus."

Boarded store fronts, vacant land and aging homes dominate the scene along and around Simpson Stuart Road, where Paul Quinn is located. Development of that part of southeastern Oak Cliff has long been an unrealized vision.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hampton University president seeks $35M for geothermal heating

Hampton University President William Harvey wants $35 million, and he's not shy about asking for it.

He personally handed a proposal to install a geothermal heating system to U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Poneman, who was on campus Friday for Sen. Mark R. Warner's Virginia Summit on Energy Opportunities.

HU is seeking stimulus money to replace its coal-powered steam plant that was built in 1868.

Before Warner introduced Poneman to the nearly 500 people at the summit, he said there is no one who is "more passionate, more relentless, more committed to getting things done than Bill Harvey."

Harvey does it through force of personality, Warner said, adding, "How many of you have been in a meeting with Bill Harvey where Bill Harvey is after something?"

Warner held up a letter addressed to U.S. Energy Secretary Steve Chu in which he supports HU's proposal for the $35 million for a geothermal heating system.

After speaking at the summit, Poneman said geothermal energy is a new process that he doesn't know much about but is certainly an area of promise.

Virginia is allotted $130 million this year for energy programs and grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

HU would be the first university to replace an existing heating system with a geothermal one.

Harvey said having Poneman on campus to personally see the smokestack that emits 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year boded well for his proposal.
"To have the deputy secretary of energy come here, and be able to 'kick the tire,' so to speak, I think that will have tremendous impact to come," Harvey said.

HU will replace its steam plant no matter what, he said, even if it has to do so building by building.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Grambling gets unqualified audit, continues to make progress

Grambling State University President Horace Judson says the school is taking the necessary steps to rectify accounting problems brought to light by a recently released report by the Louisiana legislative auditor.

“I’m happy with what we’ve done,” Judson said.

“But we’ve got to do more.”

The most recent report found that GSU understated its operating loss by $1.3 million for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2008, inaccurately reported and misclassified many account balances, submitted an inaccurate Annual Fiscal Report for the second straight year, could not locate nearly $1 million worth of property, conducted business with vendors and other institutions without having current valid contracts, did not adequately report athletic revenues and did not effectively pursue the collection of funds owed the university.

Although the report highlighted myriad accounting problems, the audit was still unqualified, meaning auditor’s were able to accurately assess the school’s financial health.

Unlike other area schools who are audited every other year, GSU requested to be audited every year and has done so since Judson took over in 2004.

“We’re trying to achieve excellence, every year we put ourselves to the test,” Judson said.

Judson said that doing an audit every year makes keeping up with new accounting standards that are added each year difficult for the school’s staff.

Frequent turnover in the business department likely also led to some of the errors cited in the report, Judson said.

Randy Moffett, president of the University of Louisiana system, said GSU is moving in the right direction to correct the findings of the audit.

“We are pleased with Grambling’s unqualified audit, which shows improvement over last year,” he said.

“The university responded appropriately to all findings, and system staff continues to work closely with university staff to ensure continued improvement.”

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tx. Southern gets off probation

Texas Southern University cleared a major hurdle in recruiting and fundraising last week when its accrediting body agreed to take the school off probation.

“It’s a big deal,” said President John Rudley, who took office in January 2008, one month after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed TSU on probation for a series of financial and management missteps.

The impact is mainly symbolic: Parents who were reluctant to send their children to TSU because its accreditation was in doubt now can feel secure, Rudley said.

“The value of our degrees has been affirmed,” he said.

Belle Wheelan, president of the association’s commission on colleges, said her board voted to lift the probation Thursday morning, two days after Rudley and a team of TSU administrators presented evidence of their progress.

Rudley announced the news to his school’s board of regents soon after.

Gregory Maddox, interim dean of the TSU graduate school and a member of the administrative team that worked to end the probation, said he never thought the school actually would lose accreditation.

“But it certainly has been bad for morale,” he said. “Now we can go about the business of being a university. We’re not under the burden of having to constantly prove what we’re doing.”

The biggest step came earlier this year, when auditors were able to complete their tally of the school’s financial position. That took almost two years — the first firm hired for the job gave up because the financial records from previous years were in such a mess.

The financial problems and shoddy recordkeeping were highlighted when Rudley’s predecessor, Priscilla Slade, was accused of spending $500,000 in school money on herself. She is on probation.

Rudley said the school would have an annual outside audit for the next five years to ensure its finances remain clear.
“We don’t ever want to get in that position again,” he said.

Now, he said, TSU can go about the business of being “a normal university.”

That doesn’t mean no problems. The TSU library is inadequate for a school of its size and ambition, but the Legislature didn’t approve a request for $46 million in tuition revenue bonds to build and furnish a new one. Only the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston was authorized to issue tuition revenue bonds, used for university construction, during the session that ended this month.

That will be TSU’s top priority when the next session begins in 2011, Rudley said.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Paul Quinn loses its accreditation

Paul Quinn College has lost its accreditation because of financial and academic problems, officials announced yesterday – a devastating blow that jeopardizes the future of the tiny liberal arts college in southern Dallas.

Colleges need accreditation to award degrees and offer students federal financial aid. That seal of approval is also usually needed for student credits to transfer to other colleges.

It ultimately could force Paul Quinn's 440 students to find another school.

"They had made progress ... but they ran out of time before they could come into compliance on everything," said Belle Wheelan, president of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Paul Quinn, one of eight historically black colleges in Texas, was put on probation two years ago. It still fell short in three areas: financial resources, financial stability and institutional effectiveness – essentially a college's ability to teach students what they need to know.

"They didn't have enough money. They were in debt," Wheelan said.

President Michael Sorrell said he was disappointed by the decision.

"We're absolutely going to file an appeal," he said. "One of the issues folks need to understand is that we made a phenomenal amount of progress."

For instance, he said the college expects to have a surplus of more than $200,000 at the end of this fiscal year.

Paul Quinn had failed a federal test of financial responsibility, based on last fiscal year. Colleges in that situation face extra federal scrutiny and must post letters of credit so they can continue to receive and award federal student aid.

It's unusual for colleges to lose accreditation. Wheelan said the last time that happened with her agency was in 2007, with St. Andrews Presbyterian College in North Carolina, also because of financial problems. Later, however, a federal judge ordered the accrediting agency to reinstate the school's accreditation.

Sorrell is Paul Quinn's fifth college president since 2001. A businessman, lawyer and political consultant, Sorrell was widely considered the best shot at turning around the long-struggling school.

In two years, he has instituted a number of changes, including a business-casual dress code, tougher academic standards and more aggressive recruiting.

"He made great progress. He just didn't make enough progress," Wheelan said.

With classes in summer recess, the 130-acre campus was mostly vacant Thursday. A guard at the front gate denied access to anyone without an appointment.

William Baker, a sophomore education major, said he struggled with college in Muskegon, Mich., and followed two family members to Paul Quinn. He said the Dallas school has served him well.

"It's a school where you are identified by name, not just number. Anytime I needed anything they were there. It's very family-oriented. The president was always walking around, shaking hands, checking on students," he said. "He always had an open-door policy."

Sorrell said he did not want to speculate on what loss of accreditation means for faculty and students.

"I want to stop short of rendering opinions on things like that until we've exhausted the appeal process," he said.

Dallas ISD trustee Ron Price is a Paul Quinn graduate. He said he was disappointed that the campus lost accreditation, and he noted that it often leads to a college's closing.

"My heart goes out to those 400-plus students who put their time, energy and resources into the college," he said.

Baker, 21, last year's sophomore class president, said he will transfer if future classes won't count toward a degree.

"But I'm going to continue to believe I'll come back here in September," he said. "Even though we are struggling, I believe it will turn around."

The college's loss of accreditation appears to have nothing to do with quality of the school's academic programs.