AJC On Campus: Colleges want change to LGBTQ bill; hazing bill advances

UGA releases commencement schedule
October 16, 2020 Athens - Graduates and their families stay in the stands during the 2020 Spring Undergraduate Commencement ceremony at Sanford Stadium in Athens on Friday, October 16, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)



October 16, 2020 Athens - Graduates and their families stay in the stands during the 2020 Spring Undergraduate Commencement ceremony at Sanford Stadium in Athens on Friday, October 16, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Federal and state lawmakers pushed ahead on bills last week that could significantly impact the operations of several Georgia colleges and universities.

One could change an act that has had deadly consequences on some students. Some colleges worry another could severely hurt single-gender schools.

Here’s the latest in this edition of AJC On Campus:

Morehouse, Spelman colleges say bill may hurt federal funding

The presidents of Morehouse and Spelman colleges wrote Georgia’s U.S. senators on Thursday warning of possible unintended consequences from a bill in Congress designed to extend federal civil rights protections to the LGBTQ community.

The proposed Equality Act “could render single-sex private educational institutions ineligible to receive federal funds or render them unlawful entirely,” the presidents wrote senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. Spelman’s mission is to educate Black women while Morehouse’s mission is to educate Black men.

The Atlanta colleges asked for an amendment to the bill that includes an exemption for single-sex institutions of higher education. Without the amendment, Spelman spokeswoman Joyce Davis said: “The impact would be significant: If single sex colleges are disqualified from federal funding, they would cease to exist.”

U.S. House lawmakers passed the bill last week. A Senate vote is pending.

Other single-gender colleges in Georgia include Agnes Scott in Decatur and Wesleyan in Macon. Agnes Scott said in a statement it will also follow this issue closely.

Warnock is working with the colleges to help resolve the issue, Davis said late Friday. Ossoff’s staff is working with Warnock’s team to address the issue, a spokesman for Ossoff told us.

We’ll stay tuned.

UGA’s commencement plans

The University of Georgia is planning to do its commencement a little differently this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The ceremony will be split over three days, Thursday, May 13 through Saturday, May 15, at 7:30 p.m. in Sanford Stadium. Tickets will be required for all ceremonies, with information at commencement.uga.edu.

Here’s the current schedule:

  • Thursday, May 13: Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Terry College of Business
  • Friday, May 14: College of Environment and Design, College of Pharmacy, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, School of Social Work
  • Saturday, May 15: College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, College of Public Health, Early College of Education, Odum School of Ecology, School of Public and International Affairs, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources

UGA postponed its in-person commencement last year to October because of the pandemic.

Emory’s commencement speaker

Dr. Anthony Fauci says he and other federal officials will work to make sure any COVID-19 vaccine released to the public is as safe as possible. Fauci discussed vaccine safety and other issues during a Sept. 24, 2020, discussion organized by Emory University. Courtesy of Emory University

Credit: Emory University

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Credit: Emory University

Speaking of commencement, Emory University announced Wednesday that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s point person on the coronavirus pandemic, will address the graduates. Read more here.

Hazing bill update

The Georgia state senate voted Friday in favor of a bill that would stiffen criminal and civil penalties against those involved in hazing on college campuses. Here’s our report about the vote.

UGA raises $4.5 million for professorship

The University of Georgia said last week it has raised $4.5 million to establish the John H. “Johnny” Isakson Chair for Parkinson’s Research and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar position, named after the former U.S. senator who was diagnosed with the disease in 2019.

January 16, 2020 - Atlanta - Gov. Brian Kemp greets former U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson as he arrived to deliver his second State of the State address as the Georgia 2020 General Assembly continued for it's fourth legislative day. The governor and the house honored former U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson during the session.  Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

Credit: Bob Andres

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Credit: Bob Andres

Isakson was the final donor to the cause.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced the creation of the professorship in 2020. The researcher will develop better treatments, medicines, and a better quality of life for Parkinson’s patients. The incoming scholar will also be the director of UGA’s forthcoming Center for Brain Science and Neurological Disorders.

Study: Pay gender gap at Georgia’s top universities

We reported a couple of years ago about the gender gap in salaries among faculty at Georgia’s colleges and universities. Last week, two groups released a report that found few women are the top earners at the nation’s top schools, including some in Georgia. The report found women were just 10% of the top earners at Georgia State University and Georgia Tech. The University of Georgia and Emory University were at 20% each. The report was organized by the Women’s Power Gap Initiative at the Eos Foundation, the WAGE Project and the American Association of University Women. You can read the report here. The report recommends state and federal leaders to push for greater transparency of diversity data at the university level.

USG Chancellor search meetings

The University System of Georgia has scheduled several listening sessions starting next week for the public to share feedback about the ongoing search for the next system chancellor. The current chancellor, Steve Wrigley, is retiring, effective July 1.

The chancellor is one of the most important jobs in state government. The chancellor helps set policy and the budget for Georgia’s largest public universities and also plays a major role in choosing the presidents of those schools.

Here’s the public schedule:

Input on the search can also be submitted anytime through an online survey available at http://www.usg.edu/chancellor_search/.

The College Board’s “Real Talk” with HBCUs

The College Board, the folks who administer the SAT, have scheduled sessions Wednesday and Thursday to connect Black students, parents, and educators with admissions representatives from some of the country’s Historically Black Colleges & Universities. Morehouse and Spelman are among the Georgia colleges scheduled to participate. The sessions are titled “Real Talk: HBCU Edition.” Register here.