Garza Takes Leave from ACE to Lead New Organization
WASHINGTON — Hector Garza, vice president of the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Division of Access and Equity programs, will take a two-year leave of absence to start a new organization to encourage partnerships between colleges and elementary and secondary schools.
Garza, who also served as director of ACE’s Office of Minorities in Higher Education, will become the first president of the new non-profit organization — the National Council for Community and Educational Partnerships. His leave of absence will begin January 1, 2000.
ACE officials say they will begin a search immediately for a director of the Office of Minorities in Education, which publishes the influential Annual Status Report on Minorities in Higher Education and hosts the ” Educating the Nation” conference.
Earlier this month, Garza’s office hosted a conference for presidents of color in to promote unity among the three minority higher education associations — the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, the Higher the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.
Under Garza’s leadership, the office also held workshops for colleges to help educators craft affirmative action policies and programs that could survive legal challenges.
Minister’s Nomination to Head SUNY Campus Stirs Controversy
NEW YORK — The Rev. Calvin O. Butts, pastor of one of New York City’s largest and most influential churches has been formally nominated to be president of the Old Westbury campus of the State University of New York (SUNY). If his nomination is approved, Rev. Butts will remain as pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church.
According to The New York Times, Old Westbury’s College Council, an advisory board, issued its recommendation earlier this month to the chancellor of SUNY. The chancellor, John W. Ryan, said he would probably approve it and send it to the board of trustees for approval. The board was to take up the nomination later this month so that Butts could assume the post by the start of the fall semester.
But the nomination has stirred controversy on campus because it came just eight days after the search committee held its first meeting. The faculty senate has charged that the search was rushed and has political overtones because of Rev. Butts’ ties to New York Gov. George E. Pataki. The governor appointed Butts as an unpaid member of the board of the Empire State Development Corporation, a state-financed economic development agency.
The faculty senate sent a letter to Pataki criticizing the college council for violating SUNY’s guidelines for selecting presidents. Those guidelines call for a national search and the development of a list of 20 candidates. Gretchen Johnson, president of Old Westbury’s senate also questioned the timing of the nomination, as it comes just as the state legislature passed a law allowing nearly 200 acres of the 600-acre campus to be transferred to the university’s foundation for leasing to private sources.
NAACP Adopts Resolution Rejecting Racist Mascots
CHICAGO — The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) passed a resolution last month in New York that rejects the use of Native Americans and “all historically oppressed people and their cultural traditions” as sports mascots and symbols.
The resolution grew out of a longtime fight at the University of Illinois to ban Chief Illiniwek, the school’s mascot, says a spokesperson for the NAACP’s Champaign chapter.
The association also is asking members to stop purchasing items with Native American sports logos and to support local efforts to ban the use of Native American people and images as sports names and logos.
Imani Bazzell, of the NAACP’s Champaign County chapter, says her branch has worked unsuccessfully for several years to convince the university to give up Chief Illiniwek, a 73-year-old tradition featuring a student who performs in Indian regalia at halftime of football and basketball games. The national resolution came about, Bazzell says, after her branch took an existing resolution against the use of Native American symbols and added language asking local chapters to take concrete steps to stamp out the practice.
Tribal Colleges Fighting Stagnant Federal Funding
BISMARCK, N.D. — Ron McNeil, the president of Sitting Bull Community College in Fort Yates who has seen pipes burst and shoot water all over the school’s library, is worried about proposed federal budget cuts that threaten tribal colleges now operating in dilapidated buildings.
In addition to the roof leaking, fires have started because shoddy wiring cannot keep up with the school’s electrical demands. And, the foundation is sinking into the ground.
But McNeil and other college officials are fighting a congressional spending plan that would reduce funding for tribal colleges. In his 2000 budget, President Clinton called for a $7.1 million increase for tribal colleges, but a congressional committee changed it to maintain existing funding.
“Every time it rains, we wonder where we’re going to have to put the bucket,” says McNeil, whose great-great-great-grandfather was the legendary Sioux chief, Sitting Bull.
The American Indian Higher Education Consortium says the spending plan would actually reduce funding by more than $220 per American Indian student because tribal college enrollments are increasing so rapidly. The group says it would result in the lowest per-student budget since tribal colleges began receiving federal funding nearly 20 years ago.
On top of that, North Dakota’s five tribal colleges don’t receive money from the state, which means they rely heavily on federal government aid.
Tribal college leaders were in Washington last month to try to get the federal funding restored.
McNeil says it’s unfair for the government to implement stagnant funding levels at the same time that tribal enrollments are soaring.
“A funding reduction of the magnitude proposed by Congress will jeopardize the very existence of tribal colleges, and thereby the health of our entire community,” he says.
Needy Students Can Keep Excess Grant Money in Arkansas
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Although a new state law says colleges and universities cannot award public financial aid to students over what it costs them to attend school, state education officials say they will allow needy students who get a federal Pell grant to keep it.
The $3,125 Pell grant is based on need, and university officials pleaded with members of the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board last month to exempt the grants in figuring a student’s total financial aid package in complying with the new law. University of Arkansas System President B. Alan Sugg and others said low-income students needed the Pell grants for unexpected and miscellaneous costs, such as car repairs, transportation, and clothing expenses.
At a meeting in Stuttgart, the board incorporated the 1999 law into its rules and voted 4-3 to exempt the Pell grant. Higher Education Director Lou Hardin said afterwards that the exemption would affect less than 100 students in Arkansas — those who get enough financial aid to cover their attendance costs but also receive a Pell grant because they come from low-income families.
But the new rule also will affect those needy students who’ve qualified for financial aid — other than the Pell grant — that exceeds the cost of attendance, he said, adding that those students will not be able to receive the extra aid.
Hardin said the board’s “spirited debate” over the exemption request resulted from ambiguity in the language of the new law regarding the definition of “total financial aid package.” It was unclear if federal funds should be included or not, he said.
The board voted 4-3 against a measure to include the grants, then approved Hardin’s recommendation to exempt the grants.
Hardin said the purpose of the new law was to keep colleges and universities from attracting students by giving them more money than they needed to attend school.
Illness Forces N.C. Central’s Chambers to Take Leave
DURHAM, N.C. — Julius Chambers, chancellor of North Carolina Central University (NCCU), will take a leave of absence to treat an undisclosed medical condition, university officials said late last month.
Chambers, 62, told his staff that he will undergo surgery early this month and that he expects to be away for up to six weeks, university officials say.
“I’m worried about him,” Provost Eugene Eaves says.
But David Hoard, vice chancellor of development, suggested there was no great cause for concern.
“It’s a routine operation,” Hoard says. “It’s nothing super-serious.”
In Chambers’ absence, the university will be managed by a five-member team made up of the four vice chancellors and George Walls, special assistant to the chancellor. Eaves will attend NCCU trustees’ meetings and serve as the university’s liaison to the board.
Chambers, who became chancellor in 1992, is not expected to return to NCCU until after the first day of classes and is reportedly working with vice chancellors and staff leaders to ensure that registration runs smoothly. The first day of classes is Aug. 17.
Auburn Workers Stage Protest March Over Minority Wages
AUBURN, Ala.. — Singing “We Shall Overcome” and carrying signs reading, “What’s AU afraid of ? — The truth,” about 50 current and former Auburn University employees marched down College Street last month to protest what they say is discrimination in the workplace.
The marchers alleged inequities in pay, work hours, advancement opportunity and unfair hiring practices in the facilities division, which employs a mostly Black staff of custodial, landscaping, waste, and construction personnel.
“Employees are promoted through the buddy system … the good ol’ boy system is alive and well,” says electric shop employee Steve Kirk, who is White. “We’re supporting the other workers who have been racially discriminated against.”
The workers marched in front of the AU president’s, William Muse, Samford Hall office.
James Crabb, who says he worked at Auburn for more than 12 years before quitting, joined in the protest. He says he was making $7.24 an hour when he quit.
“I know they kept Blacks over here down on the pay scale, so I had to leave,” says Crabb, who now is employed by Auburn Public Works. “They weren’t paying me well enough to feed myself.”
The university denies its practices were discriminatory, but acknowledges problems in advancing its employees’ careers.
“While in any organization the size of Auburn University, there may be incidents that raise legitimate claims of racial or gender harassment or discrimination,” Muse said in a statement, “the general concerns raised by facilities division employees do not appear to be of that character.”
Muse says the university will come up with a plan by Oct. 1 to address the workers’ complaints.
Board Renews Bristow Contract At Alcorn State University
JACKSON, Miss. — The contracts of Clinton Bristow Jr., Alcorn State University’s president, and two other higher education officials were renewed by the state College Board last month.
The University of Mississippi’s chancellor, Robert Khayat, and the Commissioner of Higher Education, Thomas Layzell, also had their contracts renewed by the board. All received four-year contracts that go through 2003. Final salaries will be determined when the College Board meets this month.
“The board places high priority on having strong and effective leaders at its universities and in the commissioner’s office,” says Ricki Garrett, the board president,”We are delighted that Clinton Bristow, Robert Khayat, and Thomas Layzell have agreed to serve another four years in their most challenging positions.”
Former University Accountant Sues Citing Racial Discrimination
MINNEAPOLIS — A former financial aid accountant is suing the University of Minnesota and three staff members for more than $200,000, alleging that supervisors discriminated against her based on her race, denied her equal pay, and falsely accused her of criminal behavior, according to a story in the Minnesota Daily.
Ruth White-Jarrett, who worked for more than three years in the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, named the University in six counts of discrimination, defamation, and retaliation, according to a civil complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court last month.
Sheryl Spivey and Paula Rossin, her former supervisors and administrators in the office, and Rebecca Colberg, the office’s human resources assistant director, were also named as defendants in the lawsuit. White-Jarrett is seeking $50,000 in punitive damages from each defendant because their actions represented a “deliberate indifference and a reckless disregard” for her rights, according to the complaint.
The suit details the former accountant’s tumultuous relationship with the defendants, culminating with an arrest by the university’s police department. White-Jarrett claims Colberg falsely accused her of stealing university property.
She was “embarrassed and humiliated by the unlawful, illegal detention, which defamed her and held her out before all co-workers and other University staff as a criminal,” the suit states.
The arrest followed White-Jarrett’s termination in February 1998. According to the lawsuit, she was fired “in direct retaliation for complaining of discrimination and unequal pay.” Prior to the firing, White-Jarrett filed a complaint with the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action after learning that a new accountant was earning $6,000 more than her $25,764 salary, the suit states.
White-Jarrett also alleges that she was denied equal pay and subjected to harassment because she refused to raise Spivey’s credit card limit at Dayton’s, where White-Jarrett worked as a part-time employee. Spivey allegedly asked for the raise in her credit limit one month after White-Jarrett started working in the office.
Shortly before her termination, White-Jarrett received one oral warning and had her telephone removed from her office, according to the complaint.
Thomas Schumacher, associate general counsel for the University, says, “I am confident that the case will be dismissed,” adding that a university motion to dismiss the lawsuit is expected to be heard in two months.
None of the other principals involved would comment on the case.
Technical College Improves Minority Enrollment Numbers Systemwide
MADISON, Wis. — Aggressive recruiting increased the number of minority students who participatde in Wisconsin’s technical colleges by 39 percent during the 1990s, a report says.
The number of minorities participating in programs and classes at the state’s technical colleges was 43,012 in 1998, up from 30,860 in 1990, according to the Wisconsin Technical College System Board. Participation includes both enrolled students and a small number of others who take part in career counseling and other programs.
About 10.1 percent of the student population were racial and ethnic minority members in 1998. It was about 7.3 percent in 1990. The percentages are estimates since a certain number of students each year fail to report their racial or ethnic makeup.
“On the one hand, we’re pleased that there is an increase and it’s a pretty significant increase — but that’s because we’ve been working at it,” says Deborah Mahaffey, director of student and support services for the system.
The technical college system includes 16 colleges with multiple campuses. It spent $464,000 in 1998 to recruit minority students, says LaVerne Dixon, the head of minority recruitment for the system. The state has been funding aggressive efforts for the past several years, including partnerships with local community groups and churches, she says.
Minority enrollment at Madison Area Technical College grew by 69 percent in the 1990s, from 2,265 students to 3,842, says Calvin Williams, affirmative action officer for MATC. That number represents 7.6 percent of the 50,053 students enrolled in MATC in 1998. It also is higher than the estimated 6.8 percent minority population within the 12-county area served by MATC, Williams says.
Recruitment of minority faculty members also needs to be improved, says Keith Krinke, affirmative action director for the technical college system. He says 6 percent of the 3,300 full-time staff are members of a minority group, compared with an available labor pool of 10 percent.
UDC’s Jones Joins New Coaching Team at Norfolk State University
NORFOLK, Va.— Quickly moving to fill the void left after four Norfolk State University coaches were sacked for misusing funds (see Black Issues, Aug. 5, 1999), the institution has announced that it has found replacements for three of them, according to The Washington Post.
Wil Jones, the athletic director and men’s basketball coach at the University of the District of Columbia, was hired as Norfolk State’s men’s basketball coach. He had been at UDC for 20 years, compiling a 234-145 record. Jones led the Firebirds to the NCAA Division II national championship in 1983. Last season, his team was 14-12.
“I am on an emotional roller coaster,” Jones told The Post. “I love UDC. I love the men who play for me. But this is an opportunity I have worked hard for, an opportunity to coach in Division I.”
Jones, who was also a former assistant men’s basketball coach at the University of Maryland before going to UDC, was given a four-year contract. Specifics of the contract were not disclosed.
The job reunites Jones with Orby Moss, Norfolk State’s newly hired athletic director who held a similar position at UDC in 1979 — when he also hired Jones as basketball coach.
“I hired Wil because we worked together and because I know of his abilities,” Moss says. “He has been a winner every place he has gone.”
Jones will be taking over a team that was 15-12 last season and returns all five starters. The 59-year-old coach will fill the position vacated in June by acting coach Melvin Coleman. Coleman and three other coaches resigned June 29 after an internal audit disclosed irregularities in the athletic department’s travel accounts.
Norfolk State officials also named two other coaches — head track and field coach Floyd Conley, and men’s cross-country coach Kenneth Giles.
‘Derogatory’ Language at Core of
Former Instructor’s Lawsuit
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kenneth E. Hardy, a former instructor at Jefferson Community College, has sued the school claiming that he was not rehired after a student complained of being offended by words he used during a lecture.
The instructor said in his federal suit that the college’s decision not to rehire him last fall violated his rights to free speech and academic freedom. The suit, which did not name the words, said the language was part of a class analysis of “socially controversial words” during a lecture in Hardy’s “Introduction to Interpersonal Communication” class in July 1998.
“It’s political correctness run amok,” says Hardy’s attorney, Glenn A. Cohen, who refused to say what the words were — only that they were “gender and racially derogatory…. I don’t want to be any more inflammatory than is necessary.”
The student is not named in the lawsuit, and Cohen declined to reveal the student’s name, saying the issue was how the college handled the situation, not the student’s complaint. He did divulge, however, that the student is Black. Hardy is White.
Hardy, who has been an instructor at the school since 1995, also teaches at the University of Louisville, where Cohen says he uses the same curriculum.
“This is a lecture and a classroom subject matter he’s taught for years and it’s always been well received by students,” Cohen says. “This is the first time a complaint has been registered.”
Jefferson President Richard Green, Academic Affairs Dean Mary Pamela Besser, and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
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