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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.