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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ala. A&M board to interview finalist in presidential search

Alabama A&M University Board of Trustees plan to meet in Birmingham this Saturday to consider and possibly choose the university's new president.

The presidential search at AAMU has bee narrowed down to three finalist --- Dr. Lawrence Davenport, Dr. Andrew Hugine Jr., and Dr. Rodney Smith.

Davenport has served as Executive VP at Florida Atlantic University, while Hugine was most recently president of South Carolina State University, and Smith serves as VP for Administration at Hampton University.

Alabama A&M has been without a full-time president since last March, when the board fired former president Dr. Robert Jennings. The search for a replacement was complicated for months by a fight between Gov. Bob Riley and the state Senate over seating four of his appointees to the trustee board.

The state Supreme Court resolved that fight in Riley's favor last month.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Former A&T Chancellor cleared of wrong doing

Former North Carolina A&T Chancellor James C. Renick and Anna Anita Huff, a program manager, were accused of misusing university funds, but now both are not found to be in violation of any laws nor did they personally spend the misused funds. Renick left the university in 2006 to take a position at the American Council on Education in Washington.
“The funds in both cases were spent for the good of the university and any violations of UNC system policy did not rise to the level of breaking the law,” Guilford County District Attorney Doug Henderson said.

The State Bureau of Investigations was called in and now months later both Renick and Huff have been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Following a through audit and months of investigation, where several employees including Huff had been fired and charged with criminal offenses. The audit showed the Renick and Huff spent the money in question for legitimate expenses, including stipends, tuition, travel insurance and laptop computers according to the report.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

SU comes to terms with B.R. Chancellor's contract

The Southern University System Board and Baton Rouge Chancellor Kofi Lomotey have come to terms on his contract. The Southern board had been fighting over the original stated length of four years and whether to make him an at-will employee who can be fired at any time.

After a behind-the-scenes sit downs with Lomotey, the board leadership agreed to a compromise 30-month deal that runs through the end of 2010. The deal gives Lomotey the same $295,000-per-year pay package he was originally given.

Board member Richard Caiton, of New Orleans, was the only dissenting vote. He had wanted Lomotey to be made an at-will employee.

Lomotey said he was “elated” to finally have the controversial issue behind him.

Also see: Board questions chancellor's contract

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

TSU must cut $9M from budget

Tennessee State University could face furloughs and layoffs in the next year as the school faces a proposed 15 percent cut in state money as well as declining student revenues.

TSU President Melvin Johnson delivered the news last week in his "State of the University" address.

In TSU's report to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission this week, the school planned to use layoffs, voluntary furloughs and possibly larger classes to reach the $9 million in cuts to the school's budget. State higher education funds overall probably will decrease at least 15 percent, or $181.6 million, in the next fiscal year.

Johnson did not give specifics when asked about layoffs or furloughs, only saying all plans were on the table. The school laid off 10 employees last year.

After Johnson's address, faculty and staff members proposed possible cuts and savings, including an online warehouse for departments to keep running inventories of office supplies and renting out university spaces for conferences.

Revenue from students will be increasingly important, Johnson said, as state appropriations decrease. Johnson displayed a chart that showed $57.1 million, or 56 percent, of the school's budget came from student tuition and fees.

The tuition revenues were down $6.8 million from last year as enrollment dropped nearly 700 students to 8,400 this fall. Johnson fired the financial aid director and reassigned several top officials after students complained about student services.

As of late Thursday, about 750 students had not paid or had not confirmed their registration on the school's intranet, meaning their schedules for the spring semester would be dropped. The school switched to the Banner student registration system in the fall, resulting in confusion over changes in requirements.

All students who had not paid or confirmed their registration by mid-December were notified by e-mail to their TSU accounts and by phone, said Cynthia Brooks, TSU vice president of business and finance.

Candace Carr, a senior nursing student, received an e-mail from the school when she hadn't confirmed her schedule. She took care of it that day.

"It went smoothly," Carr said. "My sister had the same system at her school (University of Tennessee-Chattanooga), so she told me I needed to confirm my classes."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cuts shave $2 million from Southern budget

Ten Southern University (Baton Rouge) faculty will lose their jobs as result of state budget cuts this month.

Most of the faculty members losing the jobs contracts ended in December and were not renewed. Southern had sent letters to as many as 100 faculty members on Christmas eve notifying them that they would be laid off.

“Rather than under-notified, we over-notified,” explained Chancellor Kofi Lomotey apologetically as to why termination letters were hurriedly sent out to too many employees, including a handful of tenured faculty.

Southern had braced itself for an expected $4 million in mid-year cuts, but were relieved to only be hit with a $2 million cut.

Still, Lomotey warned additional layoffs could be necessary after the spring semester if budget cuts increase.

To deal with the budget cuts, Southern imposed a hiring freeze that will save nearly $500,000 in the spring, according to Lomotey’s budget reduction proposal. Another nearly $900,000 will come from saved salary and benefit costs from personnel reductions. The last $600,000 in savings will come from cutbacks in travel and supplies and equipment purchases.

Classes cut
The budget situation forced Southern to cut about 125 class (sections) from the spring semester, about half of those were in the College of Science.

SUBR Chancellor Kofi Lomotey said students enrolled in the classes are being counseled and moved into other course offerings. Any impacted students set to graduate will be offered independent study to ensure no one is kept from graduating on time, he said.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Water restored at Morris Brown, for now

A judge ordered the City of Atlanta Friday to reconnect water service that had been off since Dec. 12, but he said the Department of Watershed Management had court-approval to cut off service again if the school did not make it’s next scheduled payment of $214,000 by Feb. 17.

On January 4, the dorms open for the spring semester, which starts in less than two weeks, because the water was on.

Still, the school is facing another crucial deadline. On Tuesday, Jordan Hall, which contains classrooms and the Ruth Hall Hodges Art Gallery, is to be auctioned on the Fulton County Courthouse steps to satisfy several liens against the property by the city of Atlanta, a real estate broker and a plumbing contractor.

“The issue of the water problem is not the only problem at Morris Brown College,” said acting President Stanley J. Pritchett Sr.

Pritchett said negotiations continued with the bond holder to delay the sale to settle those liens. He said selling the property now would not reflect the true value of Jordan Hall, which sits on the edge of the Morris Brown campus.

By Saturday evening, donations of more than $47,000 for the day had been tallied. That number did not include a stack of checks still to be counted or the $10,000 four-time Olympic Gold Medal winner Angelo Taylor has promised the school he graduated from in 2006.

“It’s home,” Taylor said. “This school holds a great tradition.”

Also see: Water shut off at Morris Brown