Your Ad Here

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Williams resigns as prez of Edward Waters

Claudette Williams, the 28th president of Edward Waters College, has resigned to become a vice president with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

In 2007, Williams became the first female president of the school, where she inherited problems with accreditation and declining enrollment.

"Certainly the college is in a stronger, better place," said Williams from her office Friday afternoon.

Williams says during the past three years the school has made improvements to aging infrastructure and the college's enrollment that had been declining has been stabilized.

This year nearly 900 students are enrolled at Edward Waters College.

Ex-Jacksonville sheriff Nat Glover will serve as interim president. A search committee has been formed to review candidates for the position.

In her new job, Williams will coordinate the development and implementation of programs and policies to aid institutions in meeting accreditation and improving education.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Texas Southern trying to manage $4.9 mil cut

Texas Southern University, like many historically black colleges across the country, is facing new realities in budgetary management. As the State of Texas tightens its belt on spending, TSU projects institutional cuts to reach nearly $5 million.

Proposed cuts include $700,000 through a hiring freeze; $450,000 through reduced business travel; $1.1 million through cuts in office supplies, utility costs and other operations; $1.6 million through a cut of 28 staff positions; $1 million through cutting six faculty positions. Those may be done through attrition or retirements.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Mississippi HBCU merger dies in Legislature

The most controversial part of Governor Haley Barbour’s legislative agenda – the merging of universities – died a quiet and not unexpected death Tuesday.

The proposal was not taken up in committee in either chamber of the Legislature. Tuesday was the deadline for bills to be passed out of committee in the chamber where they originated.

Normally it is not safe to say an issue is dead for the session because of various methods of getting around the committee process, such as amending legislation on the floor of either chamber.

But both the House and Senate Universities and Colleges committees chairs said Tuesday they do not see a mechanism to revive the merger proposal during the 2010 session.

In November, to deal with the state’s budget crunch, Barbour had proposed merging Mississippi University for Women in Columbus with nearby Mississippi State University and placing the three historically black universities – Mississippi Valley State University, Alcorn State University and Jackson State University – all under the JSU umbrella.

In the House, Universities and College Committee Chair Kelvin Buck, D-Holly Springs, said early on he would not consider legislation to merge universities.

On Tuesday, his Senate counterpart, Doug Davis, R-Hernando, said he did not bring up the legislation in his committee because “as of right now at this time, I don’t think the votes are there to pass it.”

The other most notable proposal Barbour made in November called for consolidation of 152 school districts into 100. But the governor has formed a commission to study the issue and to make a recommendation in early April.

Monday, February 01, 2010

JSU Prez stands by his HBCU merger plan

Despite a public backlash, Jackson State President Ronald Mason Jr. has reiterated his stance in favor of merging Mississippi's three historically black universities.

"I know the challenges we face today - we could stop the merger and still end up losing the schools," he told a group of about 300 students who gathered on campus Wednesday. "If not this, then what?"

Mason, speaking by phone from Washington, received several "boos" from students as he explained his idea to consolidate Alcorn State, Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State into a new "Jacobs State University."

"This really would be a model for the next generation of HBCUs," he said. "I've thought about this a lot."

Mason, who has led JSU since 2000, has been recognized nationally as one of the top HBCU leaders. In 2008, he received the Thurgood Marshall College Fund's Education Leadership Award - the highest individual honor given to a current leader of a public HBCU.

He publicly opposed a similar merger proposal made by Gov. Haley Barbour in November.

But in a 34-page presentation obtained by The Clarion-Ledger recently, Mason suggests creating a single university would be better than letting "financially weak ASU, MVSU, JSU become weaker" in the state's budget crisis.

The university system is preparing to lose more than $180 million in appropriations by 2012 because of the budget crisis and the end of federal stimulus dollars.

"In my mind, if we don't come together, we could end up dying apart," Mason said.

Mason said his idea was not ready to be made public. He had discussed it with selected state leaders and alumni. "I've just been picking people's brains," he said.

But lawmakers Wednesday condemned Mason for making the suggestion.

"Whether it be President Mason or Gov. Barbour, we think it shows a clear lack of wisdom," said House Universities and Colleges Committee Chairman Kelvin Buck, D-Holly Springs. "It is a position that we cannot support and will not support."

Sen. David Jordan, D-Greenwood, said he felt betrayed by Mason's decision to suggest a merger behind closed doors.

"We have a Philistine among us," said Jordan, a Valley State grad. "The only thing (Mason) needs to close is his mouth."

Other alumni expressed a similar disapproval.

"Alcorn State and Valley State will merge with Jackson State the day after Mississippi State and (the University of Southern Mississippi) merge with Ole Miss," Alcorn alum Matt Thomas said.

Rep. Billy Broomfield, D-Moss Point, said he received an e-mail with the PowerPoint presentation last week.

"He (Mason) didn't realize how ludicrous it was," said Broomfield, who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus.

Despite two Senate bills that propose mergers, Bounds said the merger idea is a nonissue. The bills have not been taken up.

"The House has made it abundantly clear that they will not take this up," he said. "The most productive thing we can do now is find out how we deal with the cuts we face."

Alcorn State President George Ross said Wednesday he does not believe the university's future is at stake.

"We're having to make some tough choices that we maybe would not have made otherwise," he said.

Jackson State University President Ronald Mason's suggestion to create a single university out of the state's three historically black colleges includes the proposal to rename the school Jacobs State University.

The proposed name would honor H.P. Jacobs, who is one of the founding fathers of JSU.

A former slave, Jacobs went on to become a minister and doctor who founded the Mississippi Baptist Convention and Natchez Seminary, which eventually would become Jackson State.

"I just thought he was a great symbol of black people being able to overcome," Mason said.

His PowerPoint presentation on the merger notes that Alcorn State and JSU are both named after "slave owner/segregationists."