AJC On Campus: Jimmy Carter’s Emory talk, UGA pushes COVID testing

September 14, 2016 ATLANTA: President Jimmy Carter, who just had his three month MRI and a clean bill of health, shares a laugh as he conducts his annual Town Hall with Emory University freshmen at the Woodruff P.E. Center on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, in Atlanta. The former president, who'll turn 92 in two weeks, answers just about anything the students want to know during a Q & A session. Carter jokingly told students they may want to abstain from the election, but then recommended voting Democratic. Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com
September 14, 2016 ATLANTA: President Jimmy Carter, who just had his three month MRI and a clean bill of health, shares a laugh as he conducts his annual Town Hall with Emory University freshmen at the Woodruff P.E. Center on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, in Atlanta. The former president, who'll turn 92 in two weeks, answers just about anything the students want to know during a Q & A session. Carter jokingly told students they may want to abstain from the election, but then recommended voting Democratic. Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Many leaders at Georgia colleges and universities have spent recent months thinking about how to address concerns about racial inequity on their campuses.

In this week’s AJC On Campus, we report on one local university’s introspective look on the subject, a U.S. senator from Georgia weighing in on what she believes are racially discriminatory practices at colleges nationwide, a vice-presidential candidate’s conversation with Black college students and more.

Jimmy Carter speaks at Emory

Former President Jimmy Carter’s 39th annual town hall on Wednesday with Emory University students was different this year. Carter, 96, didn’t appear in person because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead he pre-recorded a six minute conversation with his grandson, former state senator and Georgia gubernatorial nominee Jason Carter.

The former president had an interesting take when asked about his faith in the nation amid the pandemic.

“I certainly do. If we could get back to the president telling the truth that would be enough for me,” Jimmy Carter said.

Kamala Harris talks to HBCU students during Atlanta visit

Democratic vice-presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris talked for about 20 minutes to a group of students from Atlanta’s historically black colleges and universities during her visit to the city on Friday. Harris, who is hoping to become the first Black and woman vice president, graduated from Howard University, a HBCU in Washington, D.C. Harris and the 17 students talked about voter suppression concerns, the importance of HBCUs and other issues. Harris later visited Morehouse College for a drive-in rally. The Biden-Harris and Trump-Pence campaigns have touted plans to help HBCUs (there are nine accredited schools in Georgia) and are trying to appeal to young voters in this election. Here’s more about Harris' day in Atlanta and a local campaign stop Friday by Donald Trump Jr.

East Georgia State College’s president to retire

East Georgia State College president Bob Boehmer has announced his retirement, effective Dec. 1, University System of Georgia officials announced Friday. Dawn H. Cartee, who most recently served as director of the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education and Hotel, has been appointed interim president. Cartee was the former president of Ogeechee Technical College in Statesboro. East Georgia State, located in Swainsboro, last year had about 2,700 students.

UWG update

Brendan B. Kelly began his presidency at the University of West Georgia in March 2020. PHOTO CREDIT: University of West Georgia.
Brendan B. Kelly began his presidency at the University of West Georgia in March 2020. PHOTO CREDIT: University of West Georgia.

Some University of West Georgia faculty are at odds with their new president, Brendan Kelly, over the university’s budget, a reorganization plan and other matters. The faculty senate there voted on Oct. 16 by about a 2-to-1 ratio in favor of a no confidence resolution against Kelly, who took office in March.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley, whose office oversees operations at UWG and 25 other schools, is siding with Kelly in the dispute.

“President Kelly has the full support and confidence of the Board and me," the chancellor said in a statement. "We are disappointed that some faculty have pursued conflict over a few dubious claims. We agree with the Student Government Association leadership, and urge faculty to work through the established governance channels so that UWG continues to improve, builds for the future, serves its students, and fulfills its mission to the community and state.”

The entire faculty will take a vote Nov. 2-9. A no vote would not force Kelly from office, but it wouldn’t help him.

More University of Georgia students seek COVID-19 tests

August 20, 2020 Athens - Students and faculty members wait in line at COVID Surveillance Asymptomatic Testing center at Legion Field as the University of Georgia started classes for the fall semester on Thursday, August 20, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
August 20, 2020 Athens - Students and faculty members wait in line at COVID Surveillance Asymptomatic Testing center at Legion Field as the University of Georgia started classes for the fall semester on Thursday, August 20, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The University of Georgia on Wednesday reported more than 2,000 students were tested in a recent five-day stretch on campus for COVID-19, the highest participation total since the semester began in mid-August. UGA has ramped up its social media campaign for students to be tested in recent weeks, so the strategy may be working. The negative test result rate was 98.77%, UGA reported.

Commencement updates

The University of Georgia on Friday said it will hold its fall 2020 commencement ceremony, scheduled for Dec. 18, online. UGA said it made the decision out of concern of a spike in COVID-19 cases as the weather gets colder. UGA held a commencement ceremony for its spring semester graduates at Sanford Stadium on Oct. 16.

October 16, 2020 Athens - Graduates and family members sing Alma Mater as they 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 family members sing Alma Mater as they 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)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Kennesaw State University said last week it is holding ceremonies for students who graduated in the spring, summer and those graduating in the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters during the week of May 10–14, 2021.

More Georgia State University students withdrawing from classes

The Signal, Georgia State University’s student newspaper, had an interesting report last week that found more students are withdrawing from classes than they were at this point last school year. More than 8,800 students have dropped one course or multiple courses between Aug. 24 and Oct. 13 this year, as opposed to about 7,950 students who dropped a course or multiple courses between Aug. 26 and Oct. 15 of the fall 2019 semester. The article quotes students who dropped classes because of various problems with online learning and other issues. University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley is pushing for more in-person classes next semester, saying many hybrid courses aren’t working. Click here to read the article.

Loeffler voices concern about racial segregation on campuses

Newly appointed U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler waves toward supporters following a press conference in the governor's office at the Georgia State Capitol Building, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to the U.S. Senate, to take the place of retiring U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)
Newly appointed U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler waves toward supporters following a press conference in the governor's office at the Georgia State Capitol Building, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to the U.S. Senate, to take the place of retiring U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Georgia U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler on Thursday co-signed a letter with U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, to Attorney General William Barr asking his office to investigate what they described as “an alarming trend of apparent racial segregation in schools in the United States” that may violate the federal Civil Rights Act.

They wrote some college administrators have allowed separate events or meetings for whites and “Black, Indigenous People Of Color,” an increasingly-used term that the senators described as “a politically correct neologism.” The letter does not mention any such incidents in Georgia or Arkansas. Loeffler, who is vying for support from conservatives in her election campaign, sits on the senate’s Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committee.

We’ll see if this letter becomes part of a new battle by conservatives, such as their concerns about speech rights on college campuses.

Emory University continues work on address racial justice

Gregory Fenves became president of Emory University in August 2020. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.
Gregory Fenves became president of Emory University in August 2020. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

Emory University President Gregory Fenves on Thursday said the school has created an endowment that can support two scholarships to students descended from enslaved peoples. Its tuition is about $53,000 a year. The scholarships — which would begin in fall 2022 — are part of several initiatives to address concerns about racial inequity at Georgia’s largest, private university. A task force is also looking at whether the names of some buildings should be changed, ways to support student descendants of the Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) nations on whose land Emory was built, addressing campus police policies and a new general education requirement that focuses on race and ethnicity for undergraduate students.

Facebook on the flats

FILE PHOTO: The Facebook app logo is displayed on an iPad next to a picture of the Facebook logo on an iPhone on August 3, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: The Facebook app logo is displayed on an iPad next to a picture of the Facebook logo on an iPhone on August 3, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Credit: Carl Court

Credit: Carl Court

You may remember we mentioned here a few weeks ago that Facebook created a new way for students at various colleges in Atlanta and elsewhere to connect with each other. The social media giant is doing some work on one Georgia campus as part of a pilot program and planning more classroom instruction at other colleges. Facebook is co-teaching and funding a course at Georgia Tech this semester aimed at closing the gap between what’s being taught in graduate-level computer science courses and the deep learning techniques that are applied today by scientists and researchers. Facebook announced last week it is collaborating with U.S. universities that serve significant populations of Black and Latino students to co-teach and fund graduate-level online deep learning courses.

Homecoming

This year's Georgia Tech Wreck Parade, held Oct. 11, 2020, was recorded so viewers could watch from home. GARRETT SHOEMAKER/ Technique
This year's Georgia Tech Wreck Parade, held Oct. 11, 2020, was recorded so viewers could watch from home. GARRETT SHOEMAKER/ Technique

Credit: GARRETT SHOEMAKER/ Technique

Credit: GARRETT SHOEMAKER/ Technique

The pandemic has changed another school year tradition: homecomings. The AJC took a look at how area high schools and colleges are finding different ways to celebrate. Read more here.

Back to Jimmy Carter

Carter said during his conversation with his grandson that Emory students ask some tough questions. Here are a few questions and responses from prior town halls.

Q: Is it the government’s responsibility to make higher education affordable?

A: My own hope in the future is that the government will never get involved in trying to decide the quality of what’s taught or the subjects that are taught or the priorities that are taught, but will do everything they can to make it possible for all qualified students academically and determined by their ambition to get a higher education no matter what the wealth or social status or the education might be of the student’s parents.

Q: If you could describe the U.S. in one word what would it be?

A: Searching.

Q: Which actor would you want to play you in a movie?

A: I think Jon Stewart.

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