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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Former Albany State President named interim President at Tn State

Tennessee State University has named Dr. Portia Shields, former president of Albany State University, as interim president, she starts work on Jan. 2, 2011.

TSU’s current president, Melvin Johnson, announced in July his plans to retire on Jan. 1.

Shields who was chosen from a pool of candidates listed with the Registry for College and University Presidents, a national search service that assists universities and colleges around the country as they seek exceptional leadership during transition periods has been signed to an 18 month contract with an option for it to be extended or shortened. She also can not become a candidate for permanent president.

Most recently Shields served as chief executive officer and chief academic officer of Concordia College in Selma, Ala., from November 2007 to December 2009. While there she improved academic programs and institutional effectiveness, raised campus academic standards, and enhanced the college’s financial operations.

She helped Concordia address accreditation concerns. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges initially placed Concordia on probation for issues concerning 17 different requirements and standards. In its most recent report, SACSCOC cited only two issues remaining for the college to address.

Sheilds becomes the first female leader in TSU's 98-year history.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tuskegee U. Veterinary School to be beneficiary of $1.6 million gift

The Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine recently was designated as a beneficiary in a $1.6 million planned gift from Tuskegee alumni Dr. Matthew and Roberta Jenkins. The funds are made available through a remainder unitrust, and the University will receive 50 percent of the net assets at the time of distribution.

The couple formed the Matthew and Roberta Jenkins Family Foundation in 1984. It has been responsible for providing a number of scholarships across the country to students, colleges and institutions.

Getchel L. Caldwell II, vice president for university advancement, underscored the significance of the gift.

"Tuskegee alumni have long heard the call to structure and create planned gifts for their alma mater," he said. "The Jenkins' gift is a sterling example of alumni giving and will serve as another great example of Tuskegee pride."

Dr. Tsegaye Habtemariam, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health at Tuskegee, said students will indeed benefit from the gift.

Matthew Jenkins, a former member of the Tuskegee University Board of Trustees, received the doctorate in veterinary medicine from Tuskegee in 1957. Roberta Jenkins, received an institutional management degree from Tuskegee. is

The Jenkins currently reside in Long Beach, Calif. They are the parents of three children and have six grandchildren.

The Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine (TUSVM) historically was established in 1945. TUSVM graduated its first class of fully qualified veterinarians in 1949. Since then, it has graduated more than 70 percent of the black veterinarians in the U.S.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Howard U. fires football coach

Howard University fired football coach Carey Bailey last Monday, according to a source who requested anonymity because details of the financial settlement are still being worked out.

Bailey, who just completed his fourth season, has two years remaining on his contract.

Howard went 8-36 under Bailey, including 2-30 in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference games. The Bison's season-ending 59-35 loss at home to Delaware State on Nov. 20 was their 27th consecutive MEAC loss and marked their third consecutive winless league season. The only game Howard (1-10, 0-8 MEAC) won this season was against Division II Lincoln University.

The Bison had the second-worst offense in the league, averaging 18 points per game. Despite all-MEAC first-team selection Keith Pough, they also had the worst defense in the league, allowing 37.5 points per game.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Fred Humphries to speak at Sav State fall commencement

Frederick S. Humphries, Ph.D., president emeritus of both Tennessee State and Florida A&M Universities, will be the guest speaker at Savannah State University's fall 2010 commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Dec. 11 at Tiger Arena.

About 170 students will receive undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Humphries graduated magna cum laude from FAMU in 1957 with a B.S. in chemistry. Humphries was also a distinguished military science graduate and is reported to have been the first black officer commissioned into the Army Security Agency, the Army's signal intelligence branch from 1945 to 1976, according to SSU.

After two years in the military, he entered the University of Pittsburgh as a teaching assistant in chemistry, became a graduate research fellow in 1960 and earned his doctoral degree in chemistry in 1964, the first black student in university history to earn a doctorate in that discipline.

The Tennessee Board of Regents named Humphries president of TSU in 1974. Humphries and others argued in U.S. District Court that expanding the predominantly white UTN alongside the traditionally black TSU fostered competition for white students and perpetuated segregation, according to SSU.

The court ruled the two schools should merge, with UTN placed under the administration of Humphries and TSU. TSU became the surviving institution, and Humphries earned a national reputation for fighting for historically black colleges and universities and opportunities for minorities.

Humphries left TSU in 1985 to serve as president at FAMU. While at FAMU Humphries served on the Board of Directors of several Fortune 500 companies, Wal-mart Stores, Brinker International (the parent company of Chilli's and On The Border restaurants, and others.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ex-Clark-Atlanta President paid $1.1 million

Former Clark Atlanta University President William Broadnax was paid $1.1 million for the 2008-09 fiscal year, his last year in office. That put him among the 30 top-paid presidents of private colleges in the nation. The payout to Broadnax was more than 1 percent of the university's $86.6 million operating budget.

During his tenure at CAU, Broadnax's annual pay and deferred compensation, usually totaled more than $400,000 a year, among the top if not above the pay range at comparable institutions, said a college compensation expert.

CAU, with an enrollment of 3,800 students, has struggled financially in recent years, even before the recession.

The news outraged current and former professors, among whom Broadnax had been deeply unpopular.

"That is criminal," said retired professor Bob Holmes. "On what basis did the board of trustees agree to that? It's not a golden parachute because he didn't have a contract after five years. ... The alumni association should file a lawsuit against the board for malfeasance."

Broadnax contended his compensation package was closer to $800,000 than $1.1 million although he was unable to give an exact figure. He said he was guaranteed a retirement package when he became president because he had left a secure position at American University and would have to make unpopular decisions at Clark Atlanta. He is currently the Distinguished Professor of Public Administration at Syracuse University in New York.

The 66-year-old said the university had drained its endowment of $40 million for operating expenses before he came aboard and was teetering on bankruptcy. He had to to fire faculty and eliminate programs.

"What you see is the honoring of a contract," he said of his compensation. "They (the trustees) understood it was giong to be a fairly rough road if I did the things that needed to be done

"The only reason Clark Atlanta is still around is because of the steps we took and they were tough."

Clark Atlanta spokeswoman Donna Brock said the reported payout to Broadnax of $1,158,537 was correct and part of it was contractual. She didn't know the amount.

Ray Cotton, an expert on compensation for university presidents, said some of the pay may have been in the form of deferred compensation, but he questioned the wisdom of awarding that much to Broadnax.

“The fact of the matter is he received that amount of money in one fiscal year," said Cotton, a lawyer based in Washington. "With regard to Clark Atlanta peer institutions, that is an extraordinarily high number."

Only one other metro Atlanta college president came close to Broadnax's compensation. Emory University President James W. Wagner also received slightly more than $1 million.

Brock said current CAU President Carlton Brown does not have a retirement package.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fisk VP could lead Alcorn

Fisk University Provost Dr. M. Christopher Brown could become the next president of Mississippi's Alcorn State University if all goes as planned. Brown has served as Fisk Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost since July 2009.

Last week Brown, who is 35- years old, was selected as the the "preferred candidate" for the Alcorn presidency by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning commission.

Brown must now attend a series of campus meetings, leading up to a final vote by the Mississippi College Board

He previously served as Vice President for Programs and Administration at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, Director of Social Justice and Professional Development for the American Educational Research Association (AERA), as well as Executive Director and Chief Research Scientist of the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute of the United Negro College Fund. Dr. Brown has held faculty appointments at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Former NSU President is "preferred" candidate for JSU job

Carolyn Meyers, a past president of Norfolk State University, was named Monday as the preferred candidate for president of Jackson State University.

If formally named president, Meyers would be the first woman to lead Jackson State. Meyers must now attend a series of campus meetings, leading up to a final vote by the Mississippi College Board.

Former JSU President Ronald Mason left at the end of June to take over the Southern University System, based in Baton Rouge, La. Former professor Leslie McLemore has been interim president.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bethune receives grant to develop new masters program

Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) has received a $250,000 grant from the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund to support the identification and acquisition of library resources for a new graduate program in Integrated Environmental Science (IES).

DuPont has given the university more than $3.5 million since 1948.

""The masters in Integrated Environmental Science will be the second master's degree planned by B-CU faculty since 2004, "said B-CU President Trudie Kibbe Reed. While the university has already purchased new library resources for the new program, this grant will ensure B-CU's vision for the program will become a signature degree offering."

B-CU has taken an innovative approach in the development and implementation of its new IES programs.

Recognizing the field of environmental studies/science is, by definition, interdisciplinary – encompassing elements from the sciences (biology, chemistry, ecology, geology), humanities (philosophy, ethics), and social sciences (economics, geography, sociology, law) as well as policy analysis and other fields of study – B-CU's bachelor's and master's degree programs in IES are designed to expose students to multiple disciplines and help them develop the skills to make important linkages and assessments across the sub-fields.

B-CU's programs seek to fill this need and stand as a model in the newly developing field of IES. The curriculum has been reviewed by upper-level employees of NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Estuarine Research Reserve system, the U.S. Geological Survey, and incorporates the proposals of the Environmental Systems and Sustainability Roundtable, a national effort to develop standards for interdisciplinary environmental programs in higher education.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

N.C. A&T to offer motorsports technology degree

N.C. A&T University gained approval to establish a bachelor's degree program in motorsports technology.

The program will train students to work with team owners, corporate sponsors and others in the motorsports industry.

The university already has a motorsports concentration in its department of manufacturing systems.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

NC A&T names Hilton interim AD

Earl M. Hilton III has been appointed interim athletics director at North Carolina A&T State University, effective Monday, Oct. 25. Hilton most recently served as assistant vice chancellor of student affairs and has also served as the associate athletics director. The announcement was made today by Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr.

“Earl will assume the leadership of our athletics program as we launch an aggressive, national search for a new athletics director,” said Chancellor Martin. “He has extensive experience in athletics and an abundance of expertise in NCAA compliance, budget oversight and personnel management. I am confident in his ability to manage our athletics program until a new athletics director is selected.”

Prior to coming to N.C. A&T, Hilton was assistant athletics director at Buffalo State University and academic counselor for athletics at Texas Tech University. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Lamar University in political science; Master of Public Administration degree from Texas Tech University and Juris Doctorate from Texas Tech University.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Growth is the order of the day at Albany State

Albany State University Vice-President for Fiscal Affairs Larry Wakefieldwas beamed with pride as he talked about the schools record enrollment in an address at the Albany Rotary Club.

“We’re seventh in the state among Georgia schools in retention rates and eighth out of 35 in six-year graduation rates,” Wakefield told the gathered Rotarians. “We’re quite proud of that.”

Wakefield then went into detail about the progress being made on Albany State’s master plan for expansion.

“Our new student center should open next year,” Wakefield said. “The building costs $15.8 million and will add 60,000 square feet to our dining hall.

“We recently broke ground on two new residence halls. The buildings will add 600 new beds and will be for freshmen and the other for upper classmen. The building should open by August of next year and cost $23 million.”

Wakefield said the university is especially excited about the Ray Charles Language, Performing and Visual Arts Center becoming closer to reality.

“The beauty is this is all state money,” Wakefield said. “We have $28.7 million budgeted for the building and another $1.8 million for design.”

Wakefield said that eventually all the buildings located in the lower campus’ flood plane will be replaced by new buildings on the upper campus, then razed, leaving the lower campus as an expansive greenspace.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

VIBE Magazine story rocks Morehouse community

The October issue of VIBE Magazine, which hit newsstands October 12th), takes a look at the dress code put in place at Morehouse College targeted at the small group of active and vocal cross dressers at the traditionally all-male Black college.

Not surprisingly, the article has drawn record-breaking traffic online at Mean Girls Morehouse.

In an email sent to all Morehouse students and alumni, Morehouse College President Robert Franklin stated, "As president of this institution, as a Morehouse graduate and as a father, I am insulted by what is to be published. Addressing our young men as “girls” is deeply disturbing to me, no matter what the remainder of the article may say. Morehouse has for 140 years developed men—men who are equipped to live and contribute to an increasingly diverse, global and complex world."

The VIBE article takes a look at the ever-present tensions on the Morehouse campus between the school’s hyper-masculine attitude and its gay students. Writer Aliya S. King profiles several current and former Morehouse students whose flamboyant gay tastes pose an affront to the campus of 3,000 students. The article—provocatively titled “Mean Girls of Morehouse”—is based on the apparently self-titled group of gays known as the Plastics and some of the same ones targeted by the school last year with its “Appropriate Attire Policy.”

The school’s lack of tolerance came under fire after a gay-bashing in 2002 and again in 2006 when allegations of an anti-gay firing surfaced.

Friday, October 15, 2010

NC A&T AD fired, Track Coach retires following students death

Wheeler Brown, the athletic director at North Carolina A&T University has been fired, today, following the death of a student during an unsanctioned track tryout.

Brown, an A&T graduate and former football player, first came to the campus in 2002 as the department’s associate athletics director for internal affairs and compliance. He served as interim AD from November, 2007 until being named permanent AD in August, 2008.

Track coach Roy Thompson — a 26-year A&T employee — has since announced his retirement effective December 1.

An autopsy released Thursday showed that 20-year-old Jospin Milandu died as a result of complications from sickle-cell disease. Milandu was one of 29 students at a A&T track tryout who had not been given a physical, an NCAA violation. A newly designed mandatory screening test which all Division I college athletes began undergoing this fall would likely have revealed the sickle-cell trait, which can lead to sudden death during strenuous exercise.

An athletic trainer was absent during the, Aug. 19 tryouts, which is against school policy. It was 82 degrees and cloudy, on the day the tryout were held the autopsy said.

Deborah Calloway, will take over Brown's duties until another athletic director is named.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tuskegee gets grant to help new farmers and ranchers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded $675,750 to Tuskegee University as part of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

Nationwide, the number of new farmers and ranchers is increasing.

Many of these new farmers lack the years of experience held by most farm operators. To close this gap, the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program at Tuskegee University provides education, mentoring, and assistance to these beginning farmers and ranchers.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cheyney U. sees jump in first-year enrollment

Cheyney University (PA) has enrolled one of it's largest first-year classes in recent University history. 6.6 The school saw its first year enrollment increase by 46.6 percent this year over last year. Overall, the University’s total enrollment has increased by 6.6 percent over last year’s enrollment.

The University’s president, Dr. Michelle Howard-Vital expressed extreme pleasure with the University’s reported enrollment numbers, and further states, “This demonstrates that families recognize the value we offer for an undergraduate education that will prepare young adults to be competitive and responsible citizens in a global economy.”

The University attributes the increase in first-year students to enhanced marketing and recruitment efforts. Cheyney expects to grow to approximately 2,000 students by 2012.

As a part of its' new outreach effort Cheyney hopes to begin offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs in nearby Philadelphia at 7th and Market Streets inside Philadelphia’s Mellon Center; as well as offer more online course offerings in order to remain competitive and convenient for students of the 21st century. Cheyney University is also working to develop partnerships with a variety of organizations and agencies to respond to the need to increase the college-going rate of citizens in the Philadelphia region and to provide skills training through various workforce training programs.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Texas Southern looking out of state for students

Frustrated by the university's reputation in Houston, Texas Southern University president John Rudley is aggressively courting students from out of state. "A lot of local kids, had such a negative opinion of Texas Southern," said Rudley. "I couldn't get them to come here."

California and Louisiana have proven especially fertile recruiting territory. But Rudley has also pursued students from his hometown of Benton Harbor, Mich., arguing that Texas' largest historically black university had something to offer students from a small town in an economically depressed state. Now there are nearly three dozen TSU students from Benton Harbor, population 11,000.

Other historically black schools also are recruiting from outside their geographic regions in an attempt to grow enrollment, said Marybeth Gasman, an associate professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania who studies the schools.

Many of the schools, including Texas Southern, have relatively low admission standards as part of a commitment to make higher education more accessible. But Rudley also has launched scholarships and special programs for honors students in order to attract better students.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gilbert Rochon named 6th president of Tuskegee

Dr. Gilbert L. Rochon has been named the sixth President of Tuskegee University. He will take office on Nov. 1. Rochon comes to Tuskegee from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.

Rochon currently serves as a senior research scientist at the Rosen Center for Advanced Computing and director of the Terrestrial Observatory at Purdue. The Observatory is a real-time satellite ground station for interdisciplinary multi-sensor remote sensing. Additionally, he served as Associate Vice President for Collaborative Research and Engagement at Purdue.

Rochon earned his bachelor's degree in English from Xavier University (New Orleans); a Master of Public Health degree from the Yale University School of Medicine; and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Rochon has held several positions in education, health, and community and national agencies. His resume includes: director of the Dorchester Mental Health Center, Boston State Hospital, Boston, Mass.; associate professor and director/chair of the Conrad N. Hilton Endowed Professorship, Urban Studies and Public Policy Institute at Dillard University in New Orleans, where he established joint BA/MS degree programs in collaboration with counterparts at Columbia University (Urban Planning), New School for Social Research (Public Policy) and State University of New York, Stonybrook (Coastal Oceanography); and researcher and investigator in divisions of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Rochon has an extensive background of international research. He is currently an adjunct professor at the Mah Fah Luang University, Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Rochon, a native of New Orleans, has been the recipient of many research fellowships, including the Fulbright Senior Specialist Research Fellow, International Nutrition Fellow, the Dwight David Eisenhower Faculty Fellow, and the Dorothy Danford Compton Fellow.

Rochon has published and/or collaborated on more than 135 articles in peer-refereed professional journals. He is the founding editor of the Journal of Terrestrial Observation. He also serves on many review panels and advisory boards in the areas of his scientific specialization.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ronald Walters dies at 72

Ronald W. Walters, a longtime professor of political science at Howard University and the University of Maryland, and one of the most respected public intellectuals on matters of race, civil rights and public policy, died Friday at age 72. He had been suffering from cancer.

Dr. Walters won worldwide acclaim as the author of many books, including works on black presidential politics, pan-Africanism and the resurgence of white conservatism.

After 25 years at Howard, Dr. Walters became director of the African American Leadership Institute at Maryland and frequently appeared wrote for the popular press and appeared on television programs discussing major issues of the day. In 1984, he was a key adviser to the presidential campaign of Jesse Jackson, and he had been a major intellectual force behind the Congressional Black Caucus since the 1970s.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

SWAC/MEAC Challenge renewed thru 2013

Walt Disney World Resort has announced that it will continue as sponsor of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney through 2013. The Resort and ESPN made the joint announcement the day after the 2010 event drew the second lowest attendance in the events seven year history.

“As a company that values diversity and supports education, we are proud to renew our commitment to the MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney,” said Eugene Campbell, vice president of minority business development for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “The MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney is more than a game – it’s a weekend long celebration for our community filled with events that encourage young people to achieve their dreams.”

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney, an ESPN Regional Television (ERT) owned-and-operated event, features football teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Walt Disney Resorts and ESPN are all owned by the Walt Disney Companies.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Virginia State University Business School Buys E-Textbooks for Students

Why do students have to pay for college textbooks? Couldn't the reading material be considered part of the college infrastructure paid for by officials as part of tuition, like classroom buildings and course-management systems?

Virginia State University is experimenting with that idea this fall, with a new effort to give free e-textbooks to students in its business school for eight core courses. The university recently negotiated a deal with upstart publisher Flat World Knowledge that treats buying e-books like buying campuswide software—with the institution paying a small per-student fee. The university plans to formally announce the deal Tuesday.

Student complaints about the high cost of traditional textbooks drove the university to try the giveaway. "For our accounting books senior year, there's nothing under $250," said Mirta Martin, dean of the Virginia State University business school. "What the students were saying is we don't have the money to purchase these books."

Last year Ms. Martin became so frustrated from hearing stories about students who were performing poorly because they could not afford textbooks that she made a pledge that no needy student would go without a book. She asked community officials and others to donate to a fund to pay for books of students who came forward asking for financial help, and last year that project paid for $4,000 worth of books for students. But Ms. Martin felt that philanthropic model was not sustainable, so she began reaching out to publishers to see if the institution could get some sort of bulk rate that would allow the institution to pay for textbooks for all students.

The university found Flat World Knowledge, which offers free e-textbooks to students and makes money by selling study guides and printed versions.

In its standard model, Flat World offers free access to its textbooks only while students are online. If students want to download a copy to their own computers, they must pay $24.95 for a PDF (a print edition costs about $30). But the publisher offered the business school a bulk rate of $20 per student per course, and it will allow students at the school to download not only the digital copies but also the study guide, audio version, or iPad edition (a bundle that would typically cost about $100).

"It's a really significant shift in the business model of the publishing industry," argues Eric Frank, president and co-founder of Flat World Knowledge, who compared the new approach with the way colleges buy software licenses.

Professors at the university spent the last few months frantically reviewing Flat World's available textbooks to see which ones to adopt, as part of a curriculum review that was already under way.

If the experiment goes well, the business school will hope to add more courses next semester. Ms. Martin says her hope is to give away e-books for students in about 30 courses by about 18 months from now.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Elizabeth City State launches mobile giving campaign

Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) has partnered with The Elizabeth City State University Foundation to launch a new program designed to capture donations via text message. To power its mobile platform, ECSU through The ECSU Foundation has partnered with Denver based Mobile Accord, Inc., the premier provider of mobile technology to the non-profit sector. The mobile giving channel is supported by AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint/Nextel, T-Mobile and US Cellular representing the vast majority of US mobile users.

ECSU is one of several universities in the United States to embrace the mobile giving channel allowing donors to connect with the organization and contribute funds through text messaging. Cell phone users will have the opportunity to instantly react to fundraising appeals and confirm their donation by simply sending a text message. The donation is charged to the donor's regular monthly cell phone bill and is separated from other transactions and identified as a non-taxable donation.

"Virtually anyone using a privately owned mobile phone can make a $10 donation to the university by sending the text message ECSU to 50555. This new technology will allow ECSU to connect with constituents, acquire new donors, and dramatically extend our overall reach through this vital new channel," said William Smith, vice chancellor for the Division of Institutional Advancement.

Elizabeth City State University and The ECSU Foundation representatives will launch the mobile giving program on August 28, 2010 during the halftime of the home, football game against Johnson C. Smith University. University and The ECSU Foundation representatives will repeat this mobile giving request at future games and fundraising events.

Friday, August 20, 2010

NCCU students want new Union bldg.

Students at N.C. Central University want a new student union.

"What we have now is too small. It's just not big enough for us anymore, not in the year 2010," said Dwayne Johnson, the NCCU Student Government Association president. "We really need a new union."

The current Alfonso Elder Student Union was built in 1968 and last renovated in 1992, it has one main floor, a lower level and a total of 39,575 square feet.

That's not nearly enough, Johnson says.

"We have about 130 student organizations now, and there are about seven to nine rooms available in the union," he explained. "There's not enough places for everybody to meet. And there's nowhere to hold events or to just hang out with friends. The place is just too small."

On the lower level, there's a bookstore, a post office, a game room, a small snack bar, a billiards room and even a small meditation room. An annex with bowling lanes, built more than 40 years ago, adds another 5,800 square feet.

NCCU already has more than $100 million in construction projects under way on campus, including construction of a massive parking deck, a new residence hall and a new nursing school building.

Johnson said he understood that the push for a new student union is unlikely to bear fruit in the immediate future.

"But I think we can begin to make progress," he said. "We need to get people talking about this. We need to set the groundwork. Whether this takes five years or 10 years, we need to get this started."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Housing crunch leaves student homeless at Southern

More than a few Southern University students say arrived on campus last Thursday to find they didn't have a dorm assignment.

Ashton Bush has a lot on his mind as he heads back to class. He didn't think finding a place to sleep would be one of them.

"I've been paying $8,500 every semester," said Bush. "This is gonna be the eighth time staying in an apartment, a lot of time it's a struggle."

Bush, who is originally from Houston, arrived at Southern with a car full of belongings, but no place to put them. He says that he filled out the housing applications and paid the fee on time.

Larry Harvey found himself in a similar situation. He says he doesn't have family in Baton Rouge to help him out and really needs a dorm room.

"So, the only I thing I could do was pay my fees, go to housing and figure out if something could be done, if I could get into something," said Harvey.

What he found was a 15-page waiting list.

"There's nothing we can really do," said Harvey. "Just get your name on the waiting list and we'll call you and let you know what's going on."

The seniors took their concerns to Southern's Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Dr. Mwalimu Shujaa. Shujaa says as of today, there were 117 open slots for housing, but it was just a matter of sifting through the wait-list.

"Now in addition to that we are making contact with a housing complex very near the campus," he said. "We worked with them before to accommodate students we were not able to house on campus," said Shujaa.

Bush says he and Harvey were told the school is trying to get them a place to stay.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, Bush says he had not yet heard anything from the provost. If he doesn't get a room tonight, he's relying on friends to help him out.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

NCCU to welcome 1,400 freshmen this fall

N.C. Central University is expecting to welcome 1, 400 freshman this fall -- among the largest freshmen classes the school has ever had. The new class begins moving in this week, and the university apparently has enough on-campus housing space to accommodate them all.

"We have reserved enough spaces," said Kevin Rome, NCCU's vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management.

"Right now, we're at capacity, but we should be fine. The only problem would be if we have a large number of students in the next day or two who haven't already confirmed that they are coming. We don't expect that, but there's no way to predict that now."

The 1,400 first-year students would tie the record set last year as the largest entering class. Those figures are about 30 percent higher than any previous classes.

NCCU, traditionally shy of on-campus housing, had to struggle with the size of the class last year. The university ran out of on-campus options and had to house around 300 students for the first semester at the Millennium Hotel.

There are no plans to do anything similar this year, even if more students do show up this week, Rome said.

"We are no longer in the business of providing off-campus housing," he said.

"We've decided not to house any students off-campus. We will make every attempt to keep them here based on what vacancies we have. If we can't accommodate them here, if we have 20 or 30 students we didn't anticipate, we will work with the students to identify off-campus housing possibilities."

The university was able to meet its enrollment goal and keep the Class of 2014 at the record-setting number of 1,400 students despite tuition increases totaling $548 a year for undergraduates who are North Carolina residents.

"I don't think the increases have had a major impact on enrollment here," Rome said. "It is, of course, a significant increase for some students, but when you factor in financial aid, the impact is not as great as it is at, say, UNC Chapel Hill."

At the end of its session this summer, the state Legislature agreed that the additional funds brought in by tuition increases at UNC system campuses could remain with the schools and be used for financial aid.

At NCCU, around 90 percent of students receive some kind of financial aid and more than 50 percent are eligible for the need-based federal Pell Grant financial aid program.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Tuskegee upgrades architecture department to stand alone school

On the eve of his departure as president, Tuskegee's Dr. Benjamin F. Payton announced that the Board of Trustees approved his recommendation to elevate the Department of Architecture at Tuskegee University to School status.

The new school was given the name the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture, in honor of the first black to graduate in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Taylor set up the architecture program at Tuskegee in 1892, at the invitation of founder, Booker T. Washington.

"This move reinforces the University's efforts to increase visibility and strength in that area (architecture)," Payton said. "The action should also serve as a strong statement of the University's commitment to the program over the long haul."

Current architecture department head, Dr. Richard Dozier, has been named the first dean of the new school.

Architecture was a department within the College of Engineering, Architecture and Physical Sciences. The dean of the College, Dr. Legand Burge, stated that he is "fully supportive of the action of the trustees and the president. It is the right direction in which we should be going."

Tuskegee University began offering certificates in architecture under the Division of Mechanical Industries in 1893. The four-year curriculum in architecture leading to the Bachelor of Science degree was initiated in 1957 and the professional six-year program in 1965. The program is fully accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Enrollment up Albany State works through growing pains

The largest incoming freshman class in Albany State University history is causing on-campus housing problems, forcing school officials to boost dorm room occupancy from two to three students. The housing crunch is temporary and will be alleviated next fall with the construction of two new residence halls.

Incoming freshmen at ASU are required to live on-campus unless they live within 50-miles of the university.

“Over the last five years we have experienced enormous growth at Albany State University,” ASU President Everette Freeman said. “The Board of Regents has asked that we open wide our doors. Perhaps 1,000 freshman will be on campus this fall, and our growing pains are causing housing problems.”

ASU will break ground on two new dorms on Aug. 20. Construction is scheduled to be complete by Aug. 18, 2011. In addition, the school is also building a new student center. Total cost for the three buildings-- $48 million. Students will pay for part of the costs with a $100 fee to fund the new construction. The remainder will be paid for with grant money.

“Tripling up the freshmen is not an easy decision, but we really don’t have any other choice,” VP for Fiscal Affairs Larry Wakefield said. “A year from now we will have the new residence halls. We hope this is a temporary problem.”

“Many of the incoming freshmen had their own single rooms at home. They will now have the opportunity to meet more of their classmates. We think they will gel, for community and learn to live together, ” said Freeman

“Some may ask ‘what’s in it for Albany?’” Freeman said. “Not only will three new buildings add to the local economy, but studies have shown that our students contribute roughly $52 million a year to the local economy.”

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

NC A&T faculty member charged with inappropriately touching teen

A N.C. A&T faculty member was arrested Saturday in Raleigh on a charge he inappropriately touched a 15-year-old girl while attending the Omega Psi Phi fraternity convention.

Javelin Hall, 36, of Greensboro, was arrested about 1:45 p.m. in the 300 block of Fayetteville Street, said Jim Sughrue, a spokesman for Raleigh police.

Sughrue said officers were working a street festival in the area that was part of a convention for the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, which Hall was attending.

Someone who witnessed the alleged incident approached police and identified Hall as a suspect, and he was taken in to custody, Sughrue said.

Hall was charged with felony indecent liberties with a minor and placed in the Wake County jail on a $25,000 bond.

According to N.C. A&T, Hall had been employed at the university as an adjunct faculty member teaching writing from August 2009 through May. His contract was set to be renewed at the university on Aug. 11.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Architecture school at Southern could fall to budget ax

Kofi Lomotey, the Chancellor of Southern University Baton Rouge said, he faces the prospect of having to close the school of architecture next fall because of further state budget cuts. Campus spokesman Ed Pratt said the university is still exploring methods to keep it open, including reaching out to alumni for financial help.

Lomotey said he would have to give a year's notice to faculty before ordering the closure of the architecture school so they and students can shop around for other universities. The school of architecture averages about nine graduates a year. Sixteen of the campus' 88 programs have been recommended for termination or merger.

In the past two years, the campus has seen its budget reduced by 22 percent -- roughly $19 million, including the $4.8 million reduction the school took this year. The cuts resulted in layoffs last year and possibly lead to another 50 staff and administrative job cuts this year, the chancellor said.

Southern University Baton Rouge faces a loss of $7 million in federal stimulus money next year and probably more reductions in state money.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Southern U gets its own "app"

Students at Southern University can access news, sports scores or even financial aid information on their iPhone using the new “Jag App” the university recently launched. The app is available for download for free.

Southern has made the next step in social networking by putting the app in its mix along side Facebook and Twitter.

Southern Student Government Association President Demetrius Sumner said many students get most of their news through their phones.

“It’s a great attempt by Southern to meet students where they are,” Sumner said of the brand-new Southern University System iPhone app.

Schools in the Southern System, including those in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport, are the first public colleges in the state to unveil an iPhone app.

Tulane University released a similar app in March and LSU plans to go online with its own by early September.

New Southern President Ronald Mason Jr. said the Jag App will be a great way to communicate with Southern constituents — parents, students, alumni, faculty and staff.

“We’re out front,” Mason said, joking that he is “a little too old” to be an expert on iPhone apps.

Southern has started out with just the iPhone app, but could still move beyond to programs for BlackBerry and Android smartphones as well.

Heath Price, LSU assistant vice chancellor of finance and administrative services, said LSU’s plan is to release iPhone and BlackBerry apps nearly simultaneously for the start of the fall semester.

“That’s the model now — it’s all going toward the apps,” Price said. “It’s amazing how many kids on this campus use iPhones or iPod touches.”

The $40,000 LSU app programs completed by the Blackboard software company will feature LSU news, videos, directories, maps and even GPS tracking for campus bus services.

The only thing missing will be LSU sports news. Price said LSU athletics has a contract with Verizon, which is a competitor of the AT&T-based iPhone.

“We’ve run into some of those little quirks,” he said.

Southern and Tulane have similar iPhone apps created by Tulsa, Okla.-based Straxis, which has done apps for more than a dozen colleges.

Rachel Hoormann, Tulane’s director of web communications, said the Tulane app is already very popular, noting that the only complaints are from BlackBerry users upset that it is only available for iPhones.

“We wanted to give people easy access to frequently read info … in your pockets,” Hoormann said.

Southern’s Jag App came a lot cheaper, costing less than $5,000 that was paid with private funds, according to the university.

Former Southern interim President Kassie Freeman said Straxis offered quality service at an affordable cost with a quick turnaround time.

“It’s big for us to release it in the summer,” said Freeman, currently the Southern System’s vice president for academic affairs.

She said the unveiling of the new app coincides with new student orientation and last week’s national alumni conference.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hampton cancer center lauded as a "jewel"

The new Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute doesn't open until next month, but already area leaders are lauding it as a jewel.

On a recent tour U.S. Sen. Mark Warner marveled at the treatment that will be offered at the 98,000 square foot, $225 million center.

The center piece of the building is a three-story 90-ton machine which will be used to precisely target and kill cancer cells.

Cynthia Keppel, the institute's scientific and technical director, showed them the main control room, where technicians will work to monitor the dose of the proton beam to cancer patients.

There are five treatment rooms and the capacity to treat 170 patients per day, Keppel said. Unlike traditional radiation therapy, proton therapy directly target tumors, doesn't affect surrounding healthy tissue, and minimizes side effects, she added.

Typical treatments are given once a day for 39 days and take about 20 minutes each, she added. Actual radiation time is a minute.

HU has been awarded $9.4 million in federal funds for the center since 2008 for equipment, research and high-level staff, said Bill Thomas, associate vice president of governmental affairs.

In April, Gov. Bob McDonnell restored $510,000 in state aid for HU that was originally cut by state legislators. Restoring that amount for a full $1 million over two years honors the commonwealth's commitment to support the institute and the resulting economic benefit it brings to Hampton Roads, he said.

Warner applauded HU President William R. Harvey for his "audacity" to have the grand vision of creating the center. Seeing it go from idea to construction to patient treatment within six years is amazing, Warner said, adding that the institute adds one more jewel to the crown of HU.

The center is the first of its kind in Virginia and one of eight in the United States.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Hampton launches online campus

Hampton University just launched a virtual campus that offers a myriad of associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees.

The web-based courses can be taken through HamptonU Online beginning Aug. 2, and are targeted to working adults who need the flexibility of online courses.

Offerings include three doctoral degrees, two master's degrees, eight bachelor's degrees, two associate degrees and two certificate programs. Undergraduate courses are $425 per credit hour and graduate courses are $600 per credit hour.

"We are trying to take the expertise and strong programs found on campus and make them available to people which Hampton University hasn't touched yet," said Cassandra Herring, dean of the College of Education and Continuing Studies.

HU's online doctoral degree program has also expanded from its existing doctorate in nursing. It now offers doctorates in business leadership and in educational leadership and management.

Student support services such as admissions, financial aid, registration and IT help desk will be offered 24/7. The online campus is led by Cristi Ford, director of distance education.

Ford said bachelor's degrees can be achieved in as little as three years if a student completes his or her required course work every term.

Five academic sessions will be held throughout the year, two in the fall, two in the spring and one in the summer.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Board hurting SC State

from the State Newspaper
They have hired and fired presidents with head-rolling dispatch. They have publicly feuded. And they have passed the chairman’s gavel like rolls at a Thanksgiving Day dinner.

Along the way, South Carolina State University’s board of trustees has damaged the university in the eyes of key supporters in the General Assembly and some disappointed and embarrassed alumni. The trustees also have raised a new set of questions about the school’s leadership just months before the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools launches its re-accreditation examination.

“I have consistently fought for resources for S.C. State,” said state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg. “They make it tougher and tougher to convince people that we are worthy of assistance.”

While Cobb-Hunter and others have been vocal about their frustrations with the university, there was an eery silence from the school’s most prominent graduate, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., as the board decided against renewing the contract of President George Cooper and then, two weeks later, reversed that decision.

Clyburn has offered no public comments about the goings-on at S.C. State despite several requests for comment.

As the third-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Clyburn is well-positioned to direct federal money to S.C. State. And he has. But Clyburn was furious with the board’s decision in 2007 not to renew the contract of Cooper’s predecessor, Andrew Hugine. The congressman has been equally frustrated with how the university has proceeded with plans for a new transportation center that bears his name and not accounted for millions of dollars it has received.

Board members, prompted by questions raised by The (Charleston) Post and Courier, voted last week to review spending on the transportation center. State Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, said Friday that he had the required five signatures from lawmakers to launch an audit by the state’s Legislative Audit Council, the investigative arm of the General Assembly.

Meanwhile, legislators, who already have imposed large budget cuts on S.C. public colleges and universities, said next year could bring even bigger cuts. That would make S.C. State’s financial situation – it was one of the few schools in the state to order faculty and staff furloughs to deal with budget cuts and an unexpected drop in student enrollment last fall – even more strained.

Into this vortex again steps Cooper, the fired and rehired president.

Thursday’s vote may have extended Cooper’s stay at S.C. State, but board members – even those who initially voted to renew his contract – have been far from effusive in their praise of the president they hired two years ago.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

SC State rehires president it just fired

The South Carolina State University Board of Trustees has agreed to reinstate Dr. George Cooper as its president, officially revoking the appointment of Interim President Judge Merl Code.

The board voted not to renew Cooper's contract on June 15, and on Monday appointed Merl Code as interim president.

School officials say the addition of two new board members, attorney Robert L. Waldrep Jr. and alumna Patricia Lott, changed to the vote to reinstate Cooper, 8-5. Previously, the board had voted 7-4 not to renew Cooper's contract which expired yesterday.

Cooper had an earned a D+ on his performance evaluation
Cooper had earned an average score of 2.56 on a scale of 1 to 5 on his more recent performance evaluation. The evaluation required trustees to rate Cooper on 15 aspects of his performance including whether he: maintains a professional image in state government; is prepared and informed when making budget and program requests to the state legislature; and has a positive influence on employee morale and performance.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Judge declines to serve as SC State interim prez

Merle Code, the South Carolina Municipal Judge that SC State officials recently appointed to serve as the schools interim president has decline to take the position.

With several new board members in place, the SC State is seeking to reinstate George Cooper who was fired last month.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

HBCUs best at training doctors serving the poor

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reveled that medical schools at historically black Morehouse, Meharry, and Howard Medical schools ranked first, second, and third in a study of 141 training institutions that produce the highest percentage of physicians practicing in under served communities.

The study was conducted from 1999 to 2001 by a group of George Washington University researchers led by Fitzhugh Mullan, M.D. and rated the schools in "social mission" categories - the percentages of graduates entering primary care practice, working in areas with shortages in health care providers and serving underrepresented minorities.

Harvard, widely regarded as the nation's most prestigious medical school, was 67th; John Hopkins was 122nd, and the University of Pennsylvania was 29th. Vanderbilt, a top-tier southern school, ranked next to last. No highly ranked school was included in the top 10.

Morehouse, only 35 years old, presented its first class of graduates in 1985.

Reached in his Washington, D.C. office, Mullan said the data was "a bit of a surprise for some people, but we thought we should be upfront and not set the black schools aside with any asterisks that would say, 'Yes, they did well in these categories, but ... '"

Mullan's team didn't use its findings to recommend what other colleges should do to improve their scores, he said, "because they all have different missions; some may choose to say 'This is our mission, and we're fine with it,' but we asked all of them to take a look at the findings and spend some effort to consider or reconsider their mission."

Medical schools, Mullan reminded the study's readers, "are the only institutions in our society that can produce physicians; yet assessments of medical schools, such as the well-known U.S. News & World Report ranking system, often value research funding, school reputation and student selectivity factors over the actual educational output of each school, particularly regarding the number of graduates who enter primary care, practice in underserved areas and are under-represented minorities."

Meharry's president, Wayne C. Riley, said the study's results demonstrate "that there are 20 institutions that excel in training physicians who are African-American, Latino and Native American, and that at the top of that list, graduating students at a much higher rate, are historically black medical schools."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

City Council gives thumbs up to new Hampton U dinning hall

The Hampton City Council voted 6-0 to grant Hampton University a use permit for a new $25 million, 115,000-square foot dining hall to serve the campus.

The use permit was granted with five conditions. These include that the sole use of the building will be as a student dining hall and there can be no third-party rental of the building.

Outdoor lighting should face downward to avoid glare to neighboring properties.

According to Joy Jefferson, HU's associate vice president for development, Hampton University will break ground on the waterfront property as soon as it raises the money to build the facility.

The new dining hall will replace the "big caf" and "small caf" eateries in Virginia-Cleveland Hall, a which was built in 1874 and is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Architectural renderings of the project show a futuristic building with brick and curved glass on the front and an all-glass back facing the Hampton River on Queen Street.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tuskegee president likely to extend stay for a month

Tuskegee University president Benjamin F. Payton has decided to extend his stay by at least a month while the University searches for his successor.

Payton said the June 30 deadline marking his retirement from the presidency isn’t as set in stone as once believed. “I put a date on the wall,” Payton said. “I told them June 30, but then I considered staying until July 31.”

Though his bags are mostly packed – moving trucks have been seen at Grey Columns – Payton is likely to remain at TU in either an interim or advisory role after the June 30 deadline. Rumors suggest the candidate chosen to replace Payton in the presidency is not yet available to assume the role, though these are unconfirmed at this time.

In fact, the announcement Payton could remain is the only information about the search straight from the horse’s mouth. The TU Presidential Search Committee, headed by board chair Andrew Brimmer, announced at the onset of the search nothing would be released until the end. They weren’t kidding.

Payton did say he and his wife, Thelma Payton, will leave Tuskegee for houses in New Jersey and Florida.

“We’re going to run away from the hurricanes to New Jersey and away from the snow to Florida,” Payton said.

In its 128 years of existence, TU has had only five presidents – Payton, being the fifth, is serving in his 28th year. He announced his intention to retire in March 2009.

“I’m sure whatever decision is made, it will make for a smooth transition,” Payton said. “Things are going to be fine, it’s just going to take a little bit of getting used to.”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Morehouse ranked among "most grueling" colleges

The Huffington Post, one of the nation's leading blogs, has named Morehouse College as one of the nation's "most grueling colleges". Morehouse joins MIT, Johns Hopkins University and the United States Naval Academy on the list of the ‘Most Grueling Colleges.’

The Huffington Post had the following to say about Morehouse, "the alma mater of Martin Luther King, Jr., Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson is committed to upholding standards of excellence. “Morehouse men” must follow a dress code and choose between 35 areas of study. Courses in pre-med biology are notoriously difficult, and many of the Atlanta college’s students opt for pre-law, pre-med or pre-dentistry tracks."

Forbes Magazine recently named Morehouse as one of the “10 Great Schools for Networking".

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Howard makes pitch to move its hospital and health colleges to Walter Reed

Howard University has submitted a $1.1 billion plan to move its hospital and health sciences operation to the nearby Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus after the facility closes next year.

University officials say the ambitious proposal would bring a top-notch teaching hospital to an underserved area.

"We're very excited about the possibility," said Eve Higginbotham, senior vice president and executive dean for Health Sciences. "We believe it would be a win-win for the District." A recommendation is expected to be made to the military in June or July.

Higginbotham said that if the bid is successful, the project would be built in three phases, starting in 2012 and ending in 2017.

The new hospital would probably be financed through a partnership with a private hospital management company, according to the proposal. Other money would come from fundraising, leveraging non-core assets and other means.

The university is one of 23 organizations, including charter schools, arts programs and food pantries, that have expressed interest in the land.

When Walter Reed closes, its medical operations will be shifted to a campus at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and an Army hospital being built at Fort Belvoir.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuskegee plans $20M, 500 bed housing complex

Tuskegee University, Sunday, announced plans to construct a new $20 million, 500 bed, dorm named for retiring president Benjamin F. Payton. The new facility will provide living spaces, study halls, labs and lounges for freshmen and sophomore students.

The dorm will have cutting-edge technology throughout, and offer suites as well as more traditional singles and doubles, and includes strong emphasis on physical as well as intellectual fitness.

Monday, May 10, 2010

President Obama delivers Hampton U. graduation address

President Barack Obama returned to the Hampton Unversity campus yesterday to give a commencement speech in which he cited the struggle of African Americans to gain the right to an education.

President Obama's presence at the podium was met with a roar of clapping and cheering and a shout from the crowd: "I love you." "I love you back, that's why I'm here," the President replied.

In his commencement speech, he said the founders of Hampton University and all historically black colleges knew that the inequality wouldn't vanish overnight but that an education was the place to start.

He quoted Frederick Douglass, saying that "education ... means emancipation," and told graduates that their college degrees are more important than ever, because high school diplomas are no longer a ticket to a solid middle-class life.

"All those checks you or your parents wrote to Hampton will pay off," he said. "You are in a strong position to out compete workers around the world."

Obama spoke of disparity in academic achievement, with blacks being outperformed by their white classmates, and rich students outperforming poor students, no matter their skin color. All Americans have a responsibility to change that, he said.

"Be role models for your brothers and sisters," Obama told graduates. "Be mentors in your communities. And when the time comes, pass that sense of an education's value down to your children."

President Barack Obama accepted an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Hampton University after the speecch. He also was given an athletic jersey with "Hampton University" on one side and "President Barack Obama" on the other. "He promised me he's going to wear it, so you'll see it on TV," Hampton University President William Harvey said.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Southern taps JSU's Mason for top job

The president of Jackson State University in Mississippi was picked today to be the next president of the Southern University System.

Ronald Mason Jr. was selected on a vote of 14-2 by the Southern Board of Supervisors.

Mason was one of three finalists for the post. Leonard Haynes III, senior advisor in the U. S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education, got two votes for the job.

The selection followed interviews today of all three finalists. Also considered was Robert Jennings, former president of Alabama A & M University.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Payton takes Tuskegee to new heights

Since coming to Tuskegeee University in 1981 Benjamin Payton he has fostered innovation and academic excellence, playing a key role in helping the University become the outstanding institution of higher learning that it is today. Payton came to then Tuskeegee Institute during its 100th anniversary succeeding Luther Foster, who had served as president for 28 years.

Payton became only the fifth president in Tuskeegee's 129 year history, and his path to the presidency was an unlikely one. He program officer of higher education at the Ford Foundation in New York, NY, and after the search committee had already gone through over 300 applicants and couldn't find anyone they felt was the right fit to continue the the legacy of Booker T. Washinton and his three successors, they approached Payton.

After some cajoling by his mentor Benjamin Mays, Payton agreed to be considered. "He told me, 'You know, it won't hurt to have them review your resume,'" Payton, 77, recalled. "He also said 'It won't hurt you and it, won't hurt them.'"

When Payton arrived in Tuskegee in 1981, he knew a big job lay ahead in many areas, but he also was aware that the challenges confronting him paled in comparison with what Booker T. Washington faced when the school opened in 1881

From Institute to University
Replacing "Institute" with "University" was one of Payton's early moves. When an aide returned to campus from a student recruiting trip and told him about problems encountered at the college fair, he knew something had to be done.

"He said students would walk by the table he was at, take one look at the 'Tuskegee Institute' sign and keep walking," Payton said. "Some would stop long enough to say they wanted to go to a university, not a community college."

In 1982, a year after he assumed office, Payton learned first-hand what his recruiter had told him.

He was accompanying then-Vice President George Bush as an educational adviser to Africa and extended to West Germany, Bermuda and Cape Verde islands.

In an interview with Jet magazine, Payton said he found that those he talked to didn't know what kind of school Tuskegee was and often asked Bush why he picked someone from a "community college" as one of his key advisers.

Bush got so tired of hearing those comments that he eventually introduced Payton as president of "Tuskegee University." That quickly got the attention of those who might have dismissed Payton as someone from a small school without nationally known credentials.

It took a few years, but Payton's recommendation to his board of trustees eventually bore fruit and, in 1985, Tuskegee Institute became Tuskegee University.

It would be the beginning of many major changes and improvements on campus.

Much-needed face lifts came quickly, thanks to generous donations and grants. Deteriorating buildings were torn down and replaced with modern dormitories and classroom structures while beautification projects turned the eyes of visitors accustomed to more drab surroundings.

Once his feet were firmly on the ground and he had the solid backing of trustees, Payton launched one project after another and Tuskegee University's star rose higher and higher.

He saw to it that the school, with an enrollment of about 3,000 students, never had problems with accreditation. He restructured TU's academic programs into five colleges, initiated the school's first doctoral programs and led the way for development of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.

Capital campaigns that at times lagged behind optimistic goals soared past them under his leadership with more than $200 million raised. Two of his proudest accomplishments involved establishment of an aerospace science and engineering program and development of a national center for bioethics research and health care.

The bioethics facility, which is housed in a former hospital, came as a commitment from then-President Clinton, who issued a national apology for a controversial study of syphilis-infected men from Tuskegee and Macon County.

"It was a monstrous thing to do," Payton said. "People call it the 'Tuskegee Experiment,' but, it wasn't Tuskegee that did it, it was the United States Public Health Service and it went on for 40 years. The apology was long overdue."

Payton said the result of the study, the apology and the aftermath was a national policy that no experimentation could be done with human beings without that person's consent.

His drive to support doctoral programs has attracted the best and brightest students in the country. They focus on materials science and engineering as well as integrated biosciences.

Those two academic disciplines might be a bit over the heads of people without a clear understanding of basic math, but for Tuskegee University, it put the school on a level with the top schools in America.

"It was clear to me that if Tuskegee University was going to come into its own, it must reach for the stars and seek to be the best in sculpting out new areas of instruction," he said. "It was important to pick areas where we were already strong and engineering was one of them."

Asked if he ever thought he'd spend as much time as he has at Tuskegee University, he broke into a big smile.

"I didn't think of it in terms of time," he said, in a rich baritone voice cultivated through years of public speaking and, as a young man, occasional theatrical work. "I've always been mission-driven, hoping I could make significant contributions in the position that I occupied."

It's also his belief that it doesn't matter how long anyone stays at a job, "it's how effective you are in what you're doing."

"Actually, there was just so much to do that I forgot about the time," he said. "My years here have been driven by a sense of strategic moves in forwarding the development of this university."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Southern finalist down to three

The search for a new Southern University System (SUS) president has been narrowed down to three. Tuesday, SUS interviewed four candidates in public interviews and expects to select a new president on April 30.

The three finalist in rank order are Ronald Mason, president, Jackson State University; Leonard Haynes, III, senior adviser, U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Edcuation, and Robert Jennings, former president, Alabama A&M University.

The search committee is expected to meet with each of the candidates individually, and before deciding on a new leader to oversee Southern's three campuses, law school and agricultural center. The main campus is in Baton Rouge.

Friday, April 09, 2010

JSU President throws is hat in the ring for Southern top job

Ronald Mason,Jr. president of Jackson State University is one of two new applicants to lead the Southern University System.

Clarence Newsome, the former president of Shaw University in North Carolina is the other.

The Southern president search committee still must screen their experience and backgrounds before it is certain that Mason or Newsome will be interviewed Tuesday, said Murphy Bell Jr., search committee co-chairman.

“They both have some exciting credentials,” Bell said.

Southern’s stated goal is to choose a new president by the end of April. Interviews were originally scheduled for this week, but were postponed until Tuesday. Bell said it is possible more could still apply.

Mason has headed Jackson State one of Southern’s top rivals for 10 years. The public Mississippi college, along with Southern, is one of the nation’s largest historically black colleges and enrolls nearly 9,000 students.

Mason is currently embroiled in controversy over his support of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s proposal to merge Jackson State, Alcorn State University and Mississippi Valley State University into one historically black college.

In November, Barbour proposed the merger. Then in January, The Clarion-Ledger obtained a presentation by Mason supporting a merger similar to Barbour’s plan.

He (Mason) has done a lot of impressive things at Jackson State,” Bell said, declining comment on the merger proposal by calling it a Mississippi issue.

At Shaw, Newsome resigned last year with Shaw in the midst of an ongoing financial crisis and more than $20 million in university debt.

Shaw, a private college, has more than 2,500 students.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Southern U. System president search delayed

Southern University is delaying its president candidate interviews until next week in anticipation of new applicants and concerns about the state’s spending freeze on travel, university officials said Monday.

The interviews were scheduled for today.

Southern Board of Supervisors Chairman Tony Clayton said he still have a new system president selected by the end of April.

Interviews are now scheduled for all day April 13 on campus.

Five candidates have made have been advanced to the interview stage. Clayton said he expects at least three more to join the field by then. He declined to give names.

The five candidates scheduled for interviews are:

Carolyn Meyers, outgoing president of Norfolk State University in Virginia.
Leonard Haynes III, senior adviser in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.
Robert Jennings, former president of Alabama A&M University in Normal, Ala.
Marvin Yates, Southeastern Louisiana University vice president for student affairs.
Yates is a former Southern University chancellor, and Haynes was a Southern executive in the 1980s who has previously applied for the president position.

Ironically, the delay could end up costing Southern more money because of short notice in canceling or postponing travel plans.

Search committee co-chair Murphy Bell emphasized that no one else has officially applied, except for Southern professor and former agriculture dean Leroy Davis. Bell said it is not decided if Davis will be interviewed.

Southern University System spokeswoman Katara Williams also confirmed, “they’re still talking to people. There are some more people who may potentially apply.”

The Southern University System oversees three academic campuses, a law school and an agricultural center.

Kassie Freeman, who has not applied, is serving as interim president.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Morehouse to host it's first gay pride

Students at Morehouse College will host the school's first-ever Gay Pride Week and have invited multi-media "maven" B. Scott a gay African-American TV/Radio personality and Internet sensation.

Scott will be speaking on the “Out & in the Spotlight” panel is one part of the pride week events, hosted by Safe Space, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization. Scott will be discussing his experiences as being an out gay out man in the entertainment industry; the importance of loving and accepting oneself; and how being gender non-conforming—not adhering to society’s rules about dress and activities for people that are based on their sex—has shown the need to help expand society’s views of what being LGBT is in this country.

“I was honored when Morehouse College asked me to speak at their first Pride Week,“ said B. Scott. “It is encouraging that they have decided to acknowledge the LGBT community in a positive way on their campus, which is the first step in creating an environment of acceptance and equality.”

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tennessee State faces accreditation hurdle

Tennessee State University's accreditation could be at risk this year unless it proves professors adequately test students, administrators make results-driven decisions and instructors have the right credentials to teach their subjects.

The university is in the early stages of its Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation reaccreditation process. Outside groups have issued scathing reviews of TSU and suggested the school lacked an evidence-based culture and does not providing basic services.

TSUl officials maintain that they will have no problem earning reaccreditation, and added the issues raised in the school's initial review are typical of most universities going through the process.

A team of educators from peer institutions will visit TSU later this month to conduct interviews, review documents and verify the information. A final decision will be made in December.

"Just because they have something written in the compliance certification does not mean they are in trouble," said Belle S. Wheelan, president of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
"They have a chance to clean up those things. That's the first blush."

The initial report raised questions about the university's financial resources because the school's most recent audit wasn't ready at the time the documents were due. Providing a copy of the audit will clear the school in those categories, TSU officials said.

Other concerns were more complex.

The university came up short in a key area because it didn't show that students are consistently tested on what they have learned. In addition, there wasn't evidence that student assessments were used to make budget decisions or to make programs better.

School officials said almost all degree programs had assessments in place and they were making decisions based on the information collected from those assessments, but the university did not have a uniform system for requiring and collecting that information.

"We have planning and assessments throughout the university, in some areas better than others," said Timothy Quain, TSU's accreditation liaison.

In response to the concerns, the school this year will standardize the assessment process, collect the data and show how they are tied to budgeting and planning. That will happen for the first time in June.

Faculty Qualifications

Another issue involved the qualifications of the school faculty.

In four programs, too few courses were taught by professors with doctorates. In other cases, the university didn't produce proof that instructors had the proper credentials.

TSU officials say they will respond to this concern by recruiting more qualified faculty and by collecting resumes and documents that prove existing faculty have the proper credentials.

Charles Manning, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, said the state does not get involved in the reaccreditation process until the on-site team issues its report. He said he believes TSU will correct any issues raised.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Auditors cite Alabama A&M for mistakes

State auditors cited Alabama A&M University this week for $171,316 shown on its books but not found in its bank acount at the end of the 2008 fiscal year.

Auditors also cited the university for bypassing a certified low bidder and buying goods from another vendor and for eight other unresolved issues from previous audits.

The audits were conducted by the State Examiners of Public Accounts. The latest, for the fiscal year 2008, was posted on the examiners' Web site Friday.

The audit found that "the university's General Fund cash account on the general ledger balance did not reconcile with the bank statements at year-end. The reconciliation incorporated adjustments not made to the general ledger at year-end resulting in a difference of $171,316.00."

Auditors recommended A&M "post all adjustments at year-end to ensure that general ledger balances and bank statement balances have been reconciled and are in agreement."

Still unresolved from previous years, auditors reported that A&M:
• Improperly adjusted its general ledger student receivables control account at the end of FY 2008.
• Had not completed a physical inventory of capital assets in recent years.
• Did not support its bank reconciliation with an accurate list of outstanding checks.
• Did not make necessary adjustments to its accounting records in a timely manner.
• Allowed students to register and attend class while still owing unpaid balances from prior semesters.
• Had fixed asset subsidiary account balances that did not support amounts presented in the financial statements.
• Did not keep records of revenue collected for athletic events or deposit them in a timely matter.
• Did not obtain required vendor disclosure statements for all bids and contracts exceeding $5,000.