AJC On Campus: Morehouse’s big gift, Kemp fills college board slots

Even those who aren’t so rich can follow the example of billionaire Robert F. Smith, shown at the May 19 Morehouse College graduation, and donate money to help college students. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

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Even those who aren’t so rich can follow the example of billionaire Robert F. Smith, shown at the May 19 Morehouse College graduation, and donate money to help college students. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Much of the conversation beforehand surrounding the Atlanta University Center commencement ceremonies focused on some folks planning to come from Kansas to protest. The focus quickly shifted when billionaire investor and philanthropist Robert F. Smith announced in his commencement speech at Morehouse College that he would pay the student loan debt for each graduating senior.

Here’s more about that and other news in this week’s AJC On Campus.

Board appointments

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Tuesday some appointments to two key agencies that oversee public higher education in Georgia.

Kemp named Carvel Lewis, Artesius Miller and Lisa Winton to the Technical College System of Georgia Board of Directors. Lewis is the board chairman of the Unified Government of Georgetown-Quitman County. Miller, who has a doctoral degree in educational administration, teaches at Morehouse College and is superintendent of the Utopian Academy for the Arts, a charter school in Ellenwood. Winton co-owns a Gwinnett County business and has been active in STEM education and workforce development. All three filling vacancies.

The governor tapped Edward Pease, David Perez and Thad Thompson to the Georgia Student Finance Commission. Pease runs a real estate development and investment firm. Perez is the chief operating officer of a multi-family real estate firm and Thompson runs a financial planning company. Perez and Thompson are replacing members whose terms expired. Pease is filling a vacancy.

Morehouse’s surprise gift

Morehouse College commencement speaker Robert F. Smith's announcement that he'll pay the student loan debt for the entire graduating class of 2019 made international headlines. Click here to see how this will work and here to read about how the new graduates plan to pay it forward.

Pell Grant cut

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Astronaut Buzz Aldrin and the American flag on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission July 20, 1969. NASA hopes too return humans to the lunar surface by 2024, including the first-ever woman.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin and the American flag on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission July 20, 1969. NASA hopes too return humans to the lunar surface by 2024, including the first-ever woman.

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Astronaut Buzz Aldrin and the American flag on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission July 20, 1969. NASA hopes too return humans to the lunar surface by 2024, including the first-ever woman.

Critics are blasting a plan announced by the White House earlier this month to redirect $1.9 billion from a Pell Grant surplus and use the money for other projects, primarily a NASA effort to put astronauts back on the moon. Pell Grants are a primary funding source for college students. The Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (the University System of Georgia is a member) wrote in a May 14 letter to Congress the move would be “deeply misguided and contrary to the national interest.”

Emory in the news

Emory University, as it often does, had a busy week. On Monday, it held a community meeting to discuss its plans to build a $1 billion medical development in Brookhaven. We reported this week about the project and its overall master plan. On Thursday, Emory announced its hiring the first female law school dean. Also Thursday, news emerged that two Emory researchers are no longer working there after they did not disclose money they were taking from Chinese sources, and that the two did more work for research institutions and universities in China than they had let on. One of the researchers, Li Xiao-Jiang, disputed Emory's claims, saying in an article on the Science Magazine website that he and his wife disclosed their research activity every year to the university.

Mercer school of medicine expansion

The Mercer University School of Medicine announced this month it’s expanding its Columbus-based school from a two-year to a four-year campus. The school has begun recruitment of new faculty and scientists for the expanded medical school campus, which is scheduled to enroll its inaugural class in August 2021. The school was created in 1982 to help meet the medical needs in South Georgia. Many parts of rural Georgia lack an appropriate number of doctors. The AJC has chronicled the problem. Some South Georgia counties have no pediatrician, psychiatrist or OB-GYN.

The College Board’s new SAT measurement

For more than a year, the folks who manage the SAT have quietly worked with about 50 colleges and universities nationwide, including some in Georgia, on a new way to measure some academic, financial and other characteristics of students taking the exams. The College Board calls it the Environmental Context Dashboard. Others have labeled it an "adversity score." Emory University, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia participated with the College Board. Click here to read more about it from AJC GetSchooled columnist Maureen Downey.

Spelman’s whiz kid

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Sydney Wilson and her father, Byron Wilson.CONTRIBUTED

Sydney Wilson and her father, Byron Wilson.CONTRIBUTED

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Sydney Wilson and her father, Byron Wilson.CONTRIBUTED

Sydney Wilson turned 14 this month. While many kids her age are preparing for high school, Wilson is getting ready for college. She'll soon start her freshman year at Spelman College. Here's a story about her academic journey.

KSU’s new look

The Georgia Board of Regents recently approved Kennesaw State University's request to spend $1.8 million to give the main entrance to its Kennesaw campus a facelift. Here's our report on the effort.