Commission Dismisses Discrimination Complaint Against Alabama-Birmingham
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The state Ethics Commission has dismissed complaints against the president of the University of Alabama-Birmingham and another school official, saying the allegations of discrimination do not fall under its jurisdiction.
A local activist had filed a complaint against Dr. W. Ann Reynolds, the school’s president, and George Perdue, assistant vice president of minority business development, saying the university discriminates against Black-owned businesses.
Richard A. Peters, director of Concerned Citizens for Racially Free America, also alleged that the university awarded contracts to women who served as fronts for businesses actually operated by their White husbands.
“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” says university spokeswoman Dale Turnbough, adding that neither Reynolds nor Perdue will comment on the allegations or the ethics complaint.
University officials say contracts with minorities and female-owned businesses have increased. The number of minority vendors rose from 10 in 1988 to 257 in 1998 and female vendors jumped from 156 to 426 during the same time period.
Appeals Court Upholds Confiscation of Kentucky Yearbook
CINCINNATI — Kentucky State University administrators did not violate the First Amendment rights of two former students by forbidding distribution of a school yearbook and allegedly meddling with the student newspaper.
That’s the word from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here, which ruled last month that former students Charles Kincaid and Capri Coffer failed to prove their allegations against the university. Their lawyer says he will appeal.
The university’s lawyer, J. Guthrie True, contends that administrators were not trying to control the yearbook’s content. Rather, he says, halting distribution was “only an effort to assure that the students were producing a quality yearbook.”
In an earlier ruling, U.S. District Court Judge James Hood found the yearbook was not a public forum protected by the First Amendment, that its content did not rise to the level of public speech and that the two students lacked standing to pursue claims about the student newspaper.
The students accused the administration of trying to keep “negative” news out of The Thorobred News campus newspaper and of forbidding distribution of the 1992-94 student yearbook, The Thorobred.
The students’ attorney argued that administrators never consulted with the student publications board about confiscating the yearbooks and transferred the student publications coordinator out of that job after she insisted students should control editorial content.
Alabama State Trustee Puts
His Money Where His Mouth Is
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — An Alabama State University trustee became so frustrated last month with a drawn-out debate over whether to cut a dropout prevention program that he opted to pay for it out of his own pocket.
Trustee Larry Vines last month wrote a check for $121,372 to keep the program alive for at least another year. “I’m a night school boy. I came up on the poor side of the tracks. I can relate to them,” the Birmingham lawyer says.
Alabama State is one of several historically Black colleges participating in the statewide program along with Alabama A&M University, Bishop State Community College, Miles College, Stillman College and Talladega College.
Alabama State’s program, the “Joint Project on Dropout Prevention,” is part of a partnership with the local Montgomery school district. It uses college students as tutors to help younger students who are struggling academically.
The board of trustee’s finance committee had recommended cutting funds for the program. That, coupled with the reallocation of other funds, would have allowed the university to give all employees a 3 percent to 5 percent pay increase.
Mississippi’s Big Three
Getting The Big Bucks
JACKSON, Miss. — The state college board here approved lucrative raises for the presidents of Mississippi’s three comprehensive public universities and smaller raises for the presidents of five regional universities, including three historically Black schools.
At historically Black Jackson State University, Dr. James E. Lyons Sr., the school’s president, received an increase of $34,468 to bring his salary to $150,000. At Mississippi Valley State University, Dr. Lester C. Newman’s increase of $21,766 takes his salary to $134,000. And at Alcorn State University, Dr. Clinton Bristow Jr. received a $21,676 raise to up his salary to $134,000.
But those salaries still fall far below what the presidents at the comprehensive universities receive. That’s in part because the college board left undisturbed the supplements that those presidents receive from private campus-based foundations. Foundation leaders had argued that putting restrictions on privately funded supplements would make it tougher to attract and retain top people.
As a result, Mississippi State University President Dr. Mack Portera is provided — by his school’s foundation — with a $150,000 supplement, including a $50,000 one-time bonus. The new raise brings his total pay package to $300,000.
University of Mississippi Chancellor Dr. Robert Khayat gets a $130,000 supplement from the Ole Miss Foundation to boost his annual package to $280,000. And University of Southern Mississippi President Dr. Horace Fleming receives a $50,000 supplement to bring his new package to $200,000.
Photographer Donates King Collection to University of Texas
AUSTIN, Texas — The photojournalist who was the personal photographer for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has donated his archive of photographs to the University of Texas-Austin.
The collection of Flip Schulke includes more than 300,000 original images. An exhibit of 60 of his photos of King and his family opened late last month to coincide with the unveiling of a new statue of King on the university’s campus.
“This is an incredibly important collection of photographs. It constitutes the largest single archive of photographic images of Dr. King and his family,” says Don Carleton, director of the university’s Center for American History, which will house the collection.
“Dr. King allowed Mr. Schulke to take candid photos of his daily life, and many have never been seen by the public. It will be an outstanding researching and teaching resource for our students and faculty,” Carleton says.
Schulke, a leading innovator in underwater photography and photographer for deep sea adventurer Jacques Cousteau, also has photographed numerous national and international figures, including President John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Hoffa, Pope Paul and Muhammad Ali. His work has been in many magazines, including Life, National Geographic and Ebony.
Much of Schulke’s work is documented in three of his books — Martin Luther King Jr.: A Documentary from Montgomery to Memphis; King Remembered and He Had a Dream. He was the only photographer allowed into the King home following the assassination of the civil rights leader.
He was also one of three photographers allowed in the Ebenezer Baptist Church to record King’s funeral. It was during the funeral that he made the close-up photo of a grieving Coretta King, which Life magazine ran on its cover.
Report Reaffirms California Colleges Headed for Enrollment Boom
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s public colleges could gain nearly 750,000 students by the year 2010, straining the state’s three college systems and its budget, a new report warns.
Education officials have talked about the so-called “Tidal Wave II” for years — a projected 500,000 additional students they predicted would pour into public colleges over the next decade because of population growth.
But a report issued today by the California Postsecondary Education Commission projects the surge will be even higher — an unprecedented 714,000 additional students, 36 percent above fall 1998 enrollment.
“This will be the largest number of students, anywhere, at any time, in any state, seeking public college enrollment,” says Warren Fox, executive director of the state commission, which coordinates and plans for higher education.
California’s population growth is the biggest factor, but economic expansion and educational changes such as class-size reduction and ending social promotion also will play roles, the report says.
The new projections come as state officials and lawmakers discuss what state government must do to accommodate the expected growth in the University of California, California State University and community college systems.
The Postsecondary Education Commission enrollment report projects that each of the state’s three college systems will gain 30 percent more students by 2010. The number of California students at public colleges is estimated to rise from 1.99 million in fall 1998 to 2.7 million by 2010.
The University of California system will increase from 173,570 to 229,724, the California State University system from 349,804 to 479,485 and the state’s 106 community colleges from 1,475,000 to 2,003,918, the report estimates.
The report did not cover California’s private colleges, which had about 209,000 students last year. The commission predicts changes in the racial and ethnic makeup of the public college population, including:
n A significant increase in Hispanic and Asian students. The Hispanic student population is projected to grow from 14 percent to 18 percent of students at UC, from 24 percent of students to 27 percent at CSU and from 26 percent to 30 percent at community colleges. The percentage of Asian students is likely to grow from the current 35 percent to 41 percent at UC, from 23 percent to 25 percent at CSU and from 17 to 18 percent at community colleges.
n A decline in the percentage of White students, from 47 percent to 43 percent.
n No substantial change in the percentage of Black and American Indian students, at 6 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
Former Scholarship Suit to Be Part of Alabama Desegregation Suit
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Plaintiffs in a now-dismissed lawsuit that claimed Alabama State University’s scholarships for White students are discriminatory will be allowed to intervene in a larger, long-running desegregation lawsuit, a federal judge ruled.
“This is what I’ve been waiting for for three years,” said Jessie Tompkins, the lead intervening plaintiff, of U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy’s granting a motion for Black students to join the case.
Tompkins’ separate lawsuit, filed while he was a graduate student at Alabama State, was dismissed in May 1998. He was on scholarship at Alabama State for three years, but claims he was told his award was terminated because the historically Black university needed to recruit White students.
He had asked a judge to strike down the school’s Diversity Scholarship Program, which is for White graduate and undergraduate students with at least a 2.0 grade-point average or a General Equivalency Diploma.
Court-ordered scholarships for Whites at Alabama State began in 1992 and increased in 1995, when Murphy ruled that the university and Alabama A&M University in Huntsville needed to recruit more Whites. White enrollment at Alabama State since then has increased from 1.2 percent to 10 percent of the total student population.
Murphy accepted the students’ claims that the existing class of plaintiffs in the desegregation lawsuit, which was filed in 1981, does not represent them. A magistrate had earlier recommended Tompkins’ lawsuit be part of the desegregation suit, which includes Alabama State and Alabama A&M.
“I think anybody’s got a right to intervene,” says state Rep. John Knight Jr., lead plaintiff in the desegregation lawsuit.
Knight said other outcomes of the lawsuit, besides minority scholarships, include court orders for five institutions to hire Black faculty members and a change in state funding formulas. ASU received $15 million to upgrade its facilities, Alabama A&M became a part of the Cooperative Extension System and both schools received new degree programs.
The desegregation case is currently in a three-month discovery period.
Judge Rules New York City Cannot Withhold Funding for
City University System in Remediation Dispute
NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani lost another round in his high-pitched, high-stakes battle with the City University of New York system over remedial education.
State Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman ruled late last month that city officials have no authority to force the university system to bend to their will and test all remedial students. The city had threatened to withhold funding.
But Stallman killed a 1999-2000 city budget provision that would have required students in remedial classes in CUNY’s six community colleges to pass tests before taking regular college courses.
The provision would have let the city withhold $88.2 million that had been included in the budget for CUNY unless it adopted the testing requirements by the beginning of this month.
Stallman ruled that CUNY’s board of trustees was created by the state Legislature, which gave the board exclusive power over academic requirements and university governance.
The challenge to the city’s budget provision was filed by Diana Perez, a remedial math student at Bronx Community College who argued she would be harmed if CUNY’s budget were cut and if new exam requirements were adopted after classes had already begun.
Perez also argued that state law mandates that the city must unconditionally contribute almost $80 million to CUNY for the next academic year. Stallman agreed, saying that “the city’s obligation to pay the state-determined amount is ministerial, not discretionary.”
The city’s contribution to CUNY is based on rules and a formula established by the state when it took over the higher education system in 1979 during the city’s fiscal crisis.
Based on those rules, Stallman said, the city is required to match its 1998-99 appropriation of $79.4 million this academic year. That constitutes about one-fourth of CUNY’s operating budget.
Small Local Minority Population Hurts University of
North Carolina Mountain Schools’ Diversity Efforts
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The University of North Carolina’s three mountain campuses are working to improve Black student enrollment, but low minority population and support in the region make it difficult to attract students.
The University of North Carolina-Asheville, Appalachian State University and Western Carolina University have the three lowest percentages of Black students among the 16-campus university system.
While African American enrollment stands at 10.2 percent for the 10 historically White campuses, the percentages for the three schools range from 2.9 to 4.7 percent. Despite an awareness of the gap and efforts by the three universities, the numbers haven’t improved noticeably in the past 20 years.
Rick Collins, the vice chancellor of academic affairs at Western Carolina, says he knows his school will continue to struggle to recruit as many Blacks as other schools. Black enrollment in the system stands at 20 percent, compared with North Carolina’s 22 percent African American population.
“I don’t think it’s crucial for us to necessarily reflect the racial composition of the state,” Collins says. “I do think it’s important to get a notable presence.”
Part of the difficulty in attracting Black students likely is linked to the overwhelmingly White population near the schools, officials say. For instance, a mere eight Black students were among the 272 high school students who graduated in 1997 in one county, Watauga. In Jackson County, home to Western Carolina, there was one Black among 193 seniors in 1997.
Louisville President Apologizes Again
for Secret Service’s Behavior
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville’s president says that he’s disappointed the U.S. Secret Service still has not apologized for its agents bursting in on a Black student scholars meeting with guns drawn.
Dr. John Shumaker made the comments late last month during a meeting here with African American students and teachers in which he offered a second apology for the incident in late August.
Officials with the Secret Service’s Louisville office apologized after gun-wielding agents stormed the meeting and mistakenly apprehended a student they believed to be a suspected counterfeiter they had pursued onto the campus.
But the Louisville office’s chief agent has defended her agents’ actions, calling them appropriate — a response that prompted Shumaker to ask U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell to raise the issue with officials at the U.S. Treasury Department, which oversees the Secret Service.
The young man arrested at the meeting of the Woodford Porter Scholars group was not the counterfeiting suspect. He later was arrested on a warrant for an outstanding traffic violation. The incident outraged the campus’ Black community, which makes up about 10 percent of the university’s enrollment.
Some Black students and instructors are using the incident to point out larger racial problems at the school. Tensions came to a head late last month when more than 200 protesters held a sit-in outside Shumaker’s office.
Students and faculty are demanding a series of reforms, including more tenured Black professors, more courses and programs devoted to African and African American culture and history, a greater emphasis on recruiting and retaining Black students and a greater voice in the university administration.
NCAA: Prop 16 Doesn’t Discriminate Against Black Athletes
PHILADELPHIA — NCAA lawyers argued in court here earlier this month that the college athletic association’s freshman eligibility requirements for Division I athletes do not discriminate against African Americans.
A federal appeals court panel is expected to decide by next spring whether the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Proposition 16 violates federal statutes. It sets minimum eligibility for freshmen in the association’s 302 Division I schools.
U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Buckwalter struck down Proposition 16 in March, ruling that “it had unjustified disparate impact on African-Americans.” The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later stayed the decision pending a full hearing.
“Standardized tests are a prime reason for African-Americans not qualifying under Proposition 16. There is a disparate impact that the NCAA cannot escape,” Andre Dennis, lead lawyer for the four plaintiffs, told the three-judge panel.
But NCAA lawyer David Bruton argued that the objectives of Proposition 16 — which include increasing graduation rates ¾ are legitimate, and that test score cutoffs were related to that objective.
Under Proposition 16, the NCAA requires freshmen athletes to have a high school diploma and a minimum grade-point average in 13 core academic courses. The GPA is contingent on an indexed, sliding scale with a student’s score on either the SAT or ACT college entrance exams.
Athletes scoring less than 820 on the SAT, or 16 on the ACT, cannot participate, regardless of their other academic credentials. During a meeting of its Division I board of directors in August, the NCAA said it would make no changes to freshman eligibility requirements while the case is pending.
Much of the hearing revolved around whether the NCAA directly received funding from the federal government. If so, Dennis argued, then Proposition 16 must be amended to conform with Title VI, the section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that forbids discrimination.
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