AJC On Campus: Critics say stimulus lacking, UGA desegregation 60 years later

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Not good enough.

That’s the message from several education groups regarding a congressional economic stimulus plan that includes about $23 billion for the nation’s colleges and universities.

We take a look at some of the criticism, how the pandemic is impacting college enrollment and the University of Georgia’s plans to celebrate an important milestone in its history in the latest edition of AJC On Campus.

Higher education funding in stimulus bill not enough, critics say

Several groups whose job it is to advocate for colleges are loudly voicing their displeasure about the $900 billion pandemic relief bill that Congress has sent to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature into law. They don’t think the $23 billion proposed for the nation’s colleges and universities is enough to help the schools through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Their overarching point: while they supported the bill being passed, they think it’s imperfect.

“(T)his deal provides just a fraction of the needed support. And while the deal supports vaccine distribution and longer term COVID-related research, no funding is allocated for other research activities at a time when researchers and labs across the country desperately need emergency support to address the substantial expenses and losses related to the global pandemic,” said Association of Public and Land-grant Universities President Peter McPherson.

Seven public Georgia universities, including its five largest, are in the association.

Only one member of Georgia’s congressional delegation, Republican Jody Hice, voted against the bill.

Some groups, like the American Council on Education, are hoping President-elect Joe Biden will work out a more expansive deal to send more money to colleges. Stay tuned.

Education secretary to employees: “Be the resistance”

Continuing with what’s happening in the nation’s capital, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reportedly had a message for staffers that made news in some circles.

DeVos, who will leave the position next month, held a virtual meeting to discuss the transition to the Biden administration. News reports surfaced late Monday that Biden will nominate Connecticut education commissioner Miguel Cardona to lead the department.

“Let me leave you with this plea: Resist,” DeVos said, the news site Politico reported. “Be the resistance against forces that will derail you from doing what’s right for students. In everything you do, please put students first — always.”

DeVos declined to discuss the remarks with Politico.

Morehouse School of Medicine embarks on effort to train more Black doctors

Morehouse School of Medicine President Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice speaks frequently about the lack of Black doctors in America, particularly male doctors.

Rice and her team on Thursday announced a partnership with CommonSpirit Health, which operates 137 hospitals nationwide and 1,000 care sites across 21 states, committing $100 million over the next 10 years to train more Black physicians and work toward health equity for underserved communities. Read more about it here.

The vaccine effort

Speaking of Dr. Rice, she rolled up her sleeve Friday to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot, in part, to encourage other African Americans to get the vaccine when they’re eligible to do so.

Meanwhile, Gov. Brian Kemp was scheduled to drop by Emory University Tuesday afternoon to discuss distribution plans for the Moderna vaccine. Emory played a significant role in developing the vaccine.

Support for Morris Brown, HBCUs

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

U.S. senate candidate Jon Ossoff is planning a stop at Morris Brown College on Tuesday for a rally to raise support of the school and other Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The college, located near downtown Atlanta, is trying to regain its accreditation.

Ossoff, a Democrat, has been a supporter of the college’s accreditation effort and has written a plan to help HBCUs that includes making four-year degrees debt-free for students, particularly those who attend HBCUs since a larger percentage of those students come from low-income households.

Republican incumbent David Perdue, a member of the senate’s HBCU Caucus, has touted his legislative work to help the schools, particularly amid the pandemic.

There are nine accredited HBCUs in Georgia.

The coronavirus and college enrollment

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a report last week that offers a revealing picture of how the pandemic may have impacted college enrollment nationally during the fall semester.

Here are some of the interesting numbers:

  • Undergraduate enrollment declined by about 560,000 students.
  • Enrollment of first-year students declined by 13.1%.
  • Graduate enrollment increased by about 98,000 students.
  • Enrollment at private for-profit four-year institutions grew by 5.3% over last year.

TCSG creates new career academies

Technical College System of Georgia officials announced Monday they will spend $9 million to establish new College and Career Academies in Appling, Evans and Union Counties.

Three of Georgia’s technical colleges will partner with local education systems to establish the academies. The colleges are Coastal Pines, Ogeechee and North Georgia technical colleges.

UGA’s historic celebration

Next month marks the 60th anniversary of desegregation at the University of Georgia. The school has scheduled a host of events you can find here.

The university, to some resistance, enrolled its first two African American students: Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton E. Holmes on Jan. 9, 1961. Hunter, who later married and is now known as Charlayne Hunter-Gault is became a renowned journalist and civil rights activist. Holmes became an orthopedic surgeon and associate dean of Emory University’s medical school before his death in 1995.

Here’s an AJC report about the 50th anniversary celebration.

UGA & the Divine Nine

University of Georgia President Jere Morehead last week announced a proposal to put markers on campus to recognize the nine historically Black fraternities and sororities, also known as the Divine Nine.

The recommendation came from discussions by a presidential task force on race, ethnicity and community.

“This has been a project that Black students at UGA have worked on for quite some time as I became aware of this goal well over 43 years ago when I first arrived on campus,” Victor K. Wilson, Vice President for Student Affairs, who served as chair of the task force, said in a statement. “I can still recall many of these conversations as a student at UGA. To be a part of this becoming a reality will rank as one of my proudest moments as a graduate of this institution as well as a sitting vice president at my alma mater.”