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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.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A&M to offer buyouts to 280 employees

In effort to deal with state budget cuts Alabama A&M University will offer buyouts to nearly 300 veteran employees.

The A&M board of trustees voted unanimously to offer six months' pay to 280 employees who have 25 years' experience or are age 60 with 10 years' experience to leave.

Charles Rucker, vice president for business and finance, said he estimates 43 will take the buyout, leading to net savings of $1.8 million by the end of fiscal 2011 and $2.7 million by the end of fiscal 2012.

The buyout would be paid this year and next to spread the cost, but trustees authorized borrowing up to $1 million from A&M's contingency fund this year if the offer proves more popular.

A&M is coping with a 7.5 percent state budget cut this fiscal year. Combined with drops in enrollment, school President Andrew Hugine Jr. says the university's funding is down $18 million over the past two years.

Groundskeeping to be outsourced
Board members also approved outsourcing groundskeeping, custodial services and facilities management to Aramark, the company now handling food service on campus.

The three-year contract is for $4.86 million, Hugine told the board, but Aramark has promised to make $1 million a year in "retrofits and upgrades" to the campus over the life of the deal.

The first of those upgrades will be installing call boxes around campus to improve student safety, Hugine said.

A&M employs 115 people in custodial, grounds and facilities jobs now. They will meet with Aramark executives and A&M administrators Monday to learn their future.

Administrators said Aramark has promised to give A&M employees a chance to work for the company, but the school expects at least some will retire or seek work elsewhere.

Search for Southern U system president yields 13 applicants

The Southern University System has an initial pool of 13 applicants seeking to become the next system president.

Southern now plans to narrow that list next week with the aid of the DHR International search firm of Chicago.

Interviews will begin in March, they said.

Committee Co-Chairman Domoine Rutledge said there are a few “exciting” potential candidates who also could join the list, although he refused to give any names.

“It’s a good pool as far as I’m concerned,” said Rutledge, president of the Southern University Alumni Federation. “Obviously, there are some who are better than others.”

The goal is to select a new president in mid-April.

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

The applicants are vying to replace former President Ralph Slaughter, whose contract ended in June and remains in litigation with Southern.

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

The new applicants are:

Belinda Childress Anderson, former Virginia Union University president in Richmond, Va. She resigned in June.
Mohammad Bhuiyan, director of the Fayetteville State University Center for Entrepreneurship in North Carolina.
Robert Jennings, former Alabama A&M University president in Normal, Ala. He stepped down in 2008.
Gerald “Jerry” Jensen, CEO of the Siskin Children’s Institute in Chattanooga, Tenn. He is a Southern law graduate.
Carolyn Meyers, Norfolk State University president in Virginia. She is leaving Norfolk at the end of June.
Kenneth Reeves, business executive and former assistant director of the Texas A&M University 12th Man Foundation.
Dr. Kevin Stephens Sr., New Orleans Health Department director. He is a Southern and LSU graduate.
The previous nominees and applicants in the pool are Adesoji “Soji” Adelaja, director of the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute in East Lansing, Mich.; Charles Green, former Bermuda College president; Leonard Haynes III, U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education senior adviser; Roosevelt Newson, former Bowie State University provost in Maryland; Karl Wright, former Florida Memorial University president in Miami; and Marvin Yates, Southeastern Louisiana University vice president for student affairs.