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Monday, February 09, 2009

CAU cancels classes amid layoffs

On the heels of a mid-semester "restructuring" that left 70 faculty members and 30 other staff unemployed, officials at Clark Atlanta University Monday abruptly cancelled classes. University officials classes were cancelled as it prepares to revise class schedules. The school said that all physical education classes had been canceled for the semester.

A letter to students from the university’s academic affairs office said that class schedule changes in the School of Arts and Sciences “will be made available to you shortly,” but that class schedules in the schools of Education, Business and Social Work would remain unchanged.

Clark Atlanta isn’t the only higher educational institution feeling the sting of a floundering economy.

On Friday, Clark Atlanta president Carlton E. Brown announced that an “enrollment emergency” exacerbated by current economic conditions required 100 faculty and staff members to be laid off.

Monday’s unscheduled holiday didn’t give any joy to some students.

“I’m very concerned,” said Carlos Leavitt, 24. “I’m worried Clark Atlanta is going to implode.”

A graduate student who is finishing his master’s thesis in American history, Leavitt was one of more than a half-dozen students and university employees interviewed on campus Sunday.

Ernest Moore, the university’s director of student housing and judicial affairs, called the staff reductions “a necessary action to address some old issues.

“It’s something that schools across the country are dealing with,” Moore said. “It’s regrettable, but necessary.”

This decade has been a difficult one for Clark Atlanta. A series of financial difficulties led to complaints and periodic protests. The university eliminated its engineering program over faculty and student objections. Enrollment has fallen from more than 5,000 at the start of the decade to less than 4,000 now, and about 200 students didn’t show up for this semester, citing financial difficulties.


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