AJC On Campus: Morehouse probe widens, USG’s award, UGA’s $224M score

There were a few personnel changes on the higher education front in Georgia in the last week: some involuntarily.

Here’s a breakdown of those actions and other issues in this week’s AJC On Campus.

Regents remix

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Tuesday two new members on the powerful Board of Regents, the group that sets policy for the state's largest colleges and universities. The new members will replace two longtime members Nathan Deal tried to reappoint before he left the Governor's Mansion in early January. Here's our report on the changes.

Morehouse employee suspended

Morehouse College announced Wednesday it suspended official DeMarcus Crews without pay after a student went to Twitter hours earlier with his complaint that Crews sexually harassed him last year and said the school ignored his claims. The all-male college said a day later that its expanding its investigation to look at more employees accused of misconduct.

Paine College president retires

Jerry Hardee came out of retirement from a distinguished career in education to help the Augusta-based historically black college regain its footing as the school faced losing its accreditation. The school recently announced Hardee, who just turned 80, is retiring from Paine. Cheryl Evans Jones, the provost and vice president for academic affairs, will be interim president. Hardee made progress on the accreditation front. The Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) last year gave Paine "candidacy status" so it now has all the rights of a fully-accredited college. The candidacy is for a period of five years.

University System of Georgia gets big award

The University System of Georgia got a major honor this week from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association for its work to get first-year students on track to graduate on time and efforts keep tuition costs manageable. The state's top political leaders all congratulated the system for the honor.

University of Georgia’s fundraising haul

The University of Georgia officials said this week they raised more than $200 million for the third consecutive year. Georgia’s flagship university said it raised $224 million in new gifts and pledges for the fiscal year that ended June 30. The majority of its 71,000 donors were alumni, UGA said in a news release. Private giving created 17 new endowed faculty positions in the last fiscal year. UGA in recent years has started fundraising campaigns for scholarships for rural and low-income students and said the donations have helped.

Private student loan interest rates rising

There's been a lot of discussion recently about student loan debt. On Tuesday, One reason why: interest rates are increasing for some borrowers, according to new research. LendEDU released a report that showed interest rates are increasing for students taking out private loans. The average interest rate for students who had someone cosign a loan increased from 9.74% last year to 9.81% this year, LendEDU found. The average interest rate for students who didn't have someone cosign a loan increased from 9.69% last year to 10.63% this year.

It pays well to graduate from Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech can be pricey, particularly if you're an out-of-state student, but there's a big payoff once you graduate, according to a CNBC study. The news outlet ranked Tech as the fifth-best payoff of any public school in the nation. CNBC based its rankings on net cost and how much money graduates make. The median salary for graduates with 10 years of experience on their job was nearly $131,900.

Two Georgia presidents make top paid list

Credit: Alyssa Pointer & SCAD

Credit: Alyssa Pointer & SCAD

Speaking of pay, two presidents of schools in Georgia recently made the top 10 lists of highest-paid college presidents in the country. Georgia Tech president G.P. “Bud” Peterson ranked 8th among public college presidents while Savannah College of Art & Design president Paula S. Wallace ranked eighth among private college presidents.

Sea turtles aplenty in South Georgia

Georgia Southern University researchers predicted it, and it’s happened. They’ve found a record number of sea turtles nests along St. Catherine’s Island this year. “This year, we have officially broken our all-time record number of nests, which was 322 and set in 2016,” said Jaynie Gaskin, executive director of the Georgia Southern University Sea Turtle Program at St. Catherine’s Island. “As of July 12, we recorded 327 nests. We knew the 2019 season was going to blow the 2016 season out of the water when we recorded 99 nests on June 1. That was up from 46 nests recorded on the same day in 2016.” Gaskin attributes the increase to ongoing conservation efforts. The increase is good news. Nearly all species of sea turtles are endangered, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Sixty-three Georgia students receive College Board scholarships. More available

College Board officials are eager to get more Georgia students to get involved in an effort that could result in students receiving up to $40,000 in scholarship money. The organization, best known for administering the SAT, has a program called the College Board Opportunity Scholarships. Students are eligible to receive scholarships if they complete six steps, such as improving their SAT score, applying to the colleges they're interested in attending and filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The scholarships range from $500 to $40,000. Sixty-three Georgia students thus far have won scholarships. "The deadline for the first step of the scholarship is coming up and we would love to sign up as many students in Georgia as possible," said College Board spokesman Jerome White. Click here for more information.