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BI News Brief

Minority Enrollment Continues to Drop at California Medical Schools
OAKLAND, Calif. — University of California officials have appointed a task force to investigate why minority enrollment is dropping at the system’s five medical schools.
In 1993, 103 Black and Mexican American students enrolled at University of California medical schools. This fall, the total was 59. That is a 43 percent drop, something university officials want explained — and reversed.
“The continuing decline in enrollment of underrepresented students is particularly disturbing in view of the increasing diversity of the state and the university’s prior record in this area,” task force chairman Cornelius Hopper said in a written statement.
The university’s five medical schools enrolled 569 first-year students this fall. A total of 196 admissions offers were made to underrepresented minority students, a 30 percent increase over the 151 admissions offers made last year. However, acceptances dropped to 63 from last year’s 72, a decline of 12.5 percent.
The university considers Blacks, Mexican Americans, American Indians and Puerto Ricans as underrepresented minorities. The breakdown for this year’s class is 36 Mexican Americans, 23 Blacks, three Puerto Ricans and one American Indian.
School officials say data prepared by the American Association of Medical Colleges show that as recently as the early 1990s, four of the university system’s five medical schools ranked within the top eight medical schools nationally in terms of underrepresented minority graduates.
The decrease comes three years after affirmative action was repealed in the system’s graduate admissions, a decision later repeated statewide with passage of Proposition 209. The proposition forbids considering race or gender in all public education.

Grambling Finds Lost Financial Records
GRAMBLING, La. — Grambling State University financial records believed to have been lost in the switch to a new computer system now have been found, and the university hopes to deliver a financial report to the legislative auditor soon, a university spokesman says.
In an unrelated development, a federal bankruptcy judge has set a December deadline for filing claims against  Grambling’s foundation, raising the possibility that the organization’s bankruptcy filing could be resolved by the end of the year.
In a letter last month, state Legislative Auditor Dan Kyle said the records for the fiscal year that ended in June were lost because the university staff did not know how to support or maintain the computer system installed in 1998.
The records either were deleted or could not be restored to their original format, and the university had been unable to prove that its bank accounts were balanced for the entire fiscal year.
Kyle also said his office still had not received financial statements for the fiscal year that were due on Sept. 1.
“It was our goal to try to meet a date,” Dr.  Steve A. Favors, Grambling’s president, says. “But we discovered it was impossible to do it without a comptroller.”
Thelma Jones, the university’s former comptroller, left to take a job in Baton Rouge earlier this year. The former vice president for finance, Melvin Davis, also left the university recently.
Kyle said that his staff would not resume the audit until someone at Grambling was available on a daily basis to answer questions.
Meanwhile, bankruptcy Judge Henley Hunter has issued an order informing people and businesses that claim they are owed money university’s foundation they have until Dec. 15 to become part of the case. The foundation filed filed for bankruptcy protection June 18. The case likely will be settled in late December or early January, according to bankruptcy attorney Barry Kuperman.
Court records revealed in June that Grambling’s foundation, which mainly raises scholarship money, had assets of $556,900 and liabilities of $187,023. The 30-year-old organization has operated independent of the university since the early 1990s.
Russell LeDay, special assistant to the university president in matters regarding the bankruptcy, says Grambling will consider establishing another foundation.
Meanwhile, 13 Grambling students will get their scholarships funded even though the foundation is in bankruptcy. The scholarships total about $7,000, LeDay says.

Urban League Upset Over University’s Lack of Support for Boycott
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Columbia Urban League chairman wants the University of South Carolina to move the National Black Family Summit out of the state to support an NAACP boycott or risk losing co-sponsorship of the event.
Dr. David Swinton, in an Oct. 1 letter to the university’s dean of social work, Frank Raymond, says that the Urban League will not co-sponsor the summit if it is held in South Carolina. The event typically draws hundreds of social workers, government officials and others to South Carolina.
In addition to chairing the Columbia Urban League, Swinton is the president of Benedict College and the author of a proposal for the state’s seven historically Black colleges and universities to join the boycott.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which maintains that the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism, earlier this year called for an economic boycott of South Carolina until the flag is taken down from the Statehouse.
Columbia Urban League President James T. McLawhorn says that when the NAACP pressed the boycott this summer to start Jan. 1, league and university officials “jointly decided to talk to the hotel chain about being relieved” of the contract for the March conference. In early August, McLawhorn said representatives of the Myrtle Beach hotel said it would cost $62,000 to break the contract.
“We don’t have close to those kind of reserves,” McLawhorn says, adding that after the national Urban League board said it didn’t want to be part of the conference, its local chapter began talking about ways it could break the contract.
Just two weeks ago, Swinton says, league board members persuaded the hotel chain to drop the penalty and move the conference to North Carolina, Georgia or Florida. But the university told the chain it did not want to cancel, he says.
“We thought we were partners. It never occurred to us that the university thought that it didn’t matter what position we took. Obviously they feel that we’re a junior partner, and our position doesn’t matter,” Swinton says.
Dr. John M. Palms, the University of South Carolina-Columbia’s president, wrote Swinton and told him that the university, as a state agency, “does not have the liberties enjoyed by private entities on matters of public concern, including the Confederate battle flag.”

Indiana Hopes Free College Will Build National Guard Ranks
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana National Guard will offer recruits full college tuition in a plan approved recently by the State Budget Agency that is designed to attract and keep National Guard personnel.
The state will fork over about $1.8 million for the first year of grants to Indiana Air and Army National Guard recruits, who have in the past defected to Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky to obtain similar benefits, officials say.
“It … took a good five years to come through,” says Sen. Allen Paul, R-Richmond, a proponent of the plan. “It was not easy.”
The program will, in effect, fill the gap left by other state and federal tuition-reimbursement programs that offer partial payment for attending state colleges and universities. It will also, proponents argue, enable the organizations to attract more recruits interested in attending college, a prerequisite to becoming an officer.
“I know for certain that the students and the National Guards are absolutely excited about the” program, says Nick Vesper, director of policy and research for the State Student Assistance Commission, which will administer the grants.
Applicants must have graduated from high school, live in Indiana and be enrolled in their first associate’s or bachelor’s degree program at a state college or university. Officer candidates must have at least 60 college credits, a requirement that some believe has, over the years, squeezed the supply of the National Guard’s future leaders.

Florida Bombing Suspect Loved Explosives, Former Boss Says
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A former boss of a man charged with setting off two small bombs at Florida A&M University says the suspect loved explosions and talked vaguely of some sort of national revolt.
Lawrence Michael Lombardi, 41, is being held on federal bomb-making charges in Tallahassee in connection with the two small blasts at the historically black university.
Lombardi’s boss when he worked at a morgue in Columbus, Ohio, in the 1980s says he wasn’t that surprised his former employee was charged in the crime.
“He loved explosions,” William Stranges, who supervised Lombardi when both worked for the Ohio State University Hospital morgue, told The Columbus Dispatch.
And although it was vague, Stranges says Lombardi also talked of preparing for some sort of revolt. “He said, ‘The way this country’s going, we’re going to have some uprising,'”Stranges recalls.
No one was injured in either explosion on Aug. 31 and Sept. 22, and the damage was slight. Both explosions were accompanied by racist calls to a local television station and sparked a massive security presence at the school.
FBI officials say that Lombardi admitted making one of the calls, but has denied being the bomber. He has pleaded innocent. Federal prosecutors plan to take the case to a grand jury.
Stranges says he doesn’t remember Lombardi making racist remarks in particular — although co-workers at other places he worked told investigators he was no stranger to making racist remarks.
Lombardi has lived in Tallahassee for five years. He is originally from Columbus and went to Ohio State, before finishing college at a mortuary school in Cincinnati. He is a licensed embalmer.
Lombardi worked as a morgue attendant at the Ohio State hospital from December 1981 to August 1983, according to school records. “He was sort of a survivalist-type individual, preparing for doomsday,” Stranges recalls.
According to FBI officials, Lombardi worked for a short period for a local distributing company and stocked vending machines on the Florida A&M campus. Lombardi’s attorney, R. Tim Jansen, did not immediately return a telephone calls seeking comment.
One possible piece of evidence in the case has been discounted by investigators. Initially, they thought a cigarette paper fragment at the scene of the second bombing might be connected to Lombardi because they thought it was the same brand as his wife smokes.
The FBI acknowledged in a court filing recently that a lab analysis shows the fragment doesn’t match Cathy Lombardi’s cigarettes.
“It makes you wonder what else have they put together that might not be true,” Jansen told The Orlando Sentinel in an interview about the case earlier this month.

Engineering School Cited for Gender and Racial Bias
PROVIDENCE, R.I. —  The engineering college at the University of Rhode Island has been cited for bias against women since a female professor reported sexual harassment and discrimination at the school. Now, the university is considering hiring a new associate dean of diversity at the college.
The move was recommended by the Diversity 2000 Committee, formed by the college’s dean, Dr. Thomas Kim, in response to a faculty union grievance.
In a report this spring, the committee said there was “convincing evidence of sexual harassment in the College of Engineering, to include unprofessional behavior, a climate that is often hostile to women and a lack of corrective action taken for such behavior.”
The university’s president, Dr. Robert L. Carothers, says that “there were significant problems with regard to both racial and gender bias in the college, and that we have a process under way to attempt to address those problems.”
An account of bias surfaced when Deborah V. Pence, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering from 1996 to 1998, reported sexual harassment and discrimination at the college. The grievance filed by the university’s faculty union alleges that Kim violated the union’s contract with the Board of Governors for Higher Education by “allowing and encouraging a hostile environment for women faculty and possibly for other faculty.”
The American Association of University Professors has been pressing the grievance since last year against Kim. Carothers and the state’s commissioner of higher education both have rejected the grievance, which is now before the American Arbitration Association.

University of Montana Indian Students Protest Columbus Day
MISSOULA — University of Montana police stopped a demonstration earlier this month against the Columbus Day holiday by members of an American Indian student club because of excessive noise, officials say.
The Kyi-Yo group set up a tepee on the university campus, participated in prayers and traditional drumming and listened to speakers discuss the holiday from the American Indian point of view.
The demonstration ended when security officers told the Kyi-Yo members to break up the gathering because they were making too much noise, says campus police Sgt. Charles Gatewood.The group had agreed to limit the ceremony to curb disruption to other students.
 Kyi-Yo members contend Columbus Day should be used to remind people of American Indians’ plight ever since the continent’s discovery by Europeans.
Posters announced the demonstration by showing a picture of Columbus slashed with splashes of red paint. The poster read: “Christopher Columbus was not a hero. Do not celebrate  the day which started the longest ongoing genocide in the history of humanity.”                                                                                                                                                                                  

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