Beth Cabrera shakes hands with Georgia Board of Regents Chairman Don Waters after a press conference at Georgia Tech on June 14, 2019. Her husband, Angel Cabrera, right, was introduced as the incoming president of the school. University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley, second from the left, spoke at the news conference about why Cabrera was hired. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM.

AJC On Campus: New presidential hires, programs and scholarships

Summer officially began on Friday, and while there are not many students on campus, it doesn’t mean there isn’t much happening. In recent days, Clark Atlanta University hired a new president and Georgia Tech’s incoming president visited the campus.

Here’s our round-up of some things that took place in the last week in this week’s AJC On Campus.

Presidential searches & transparency

The state’s Board of Regents named one finalist, Ángel Cabrera, for the Georgia Tech job and hired him one week later without naming the other candidates for the position. Some students and experts say this is not a transparent process. Others say this is the best way to get top-flight candidates to raise their hands for such jobs. Here’s our report about the debate surrounding how public colleges are selecting presidents.

UGA rural scholarships

University of Georgia’s arch in downtown Athens serves as the university’s primary symbol for recognition and is the focal point of North Campus. AJC FILE
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

There’s been some conversation among educators in recent years that many colleges and universities aren’t doing enough to recruit students from rural America. The University of Georgia last week announced the George W. Strickland, Jr. Foundation gave the school $400,000 to establish four scholarships, prioritizing students from 16 rural Georgia counties. Fifteen percent of UGA’s undergraduate students are from rural counties, and they graduate at lesser rates than fellow students, according to a 2017 task force report on student learning and success. The UGA Foundation will match — dollar for dollar — each of the four $100,000 scholarships to establish an endowed, need-based scholarship for undergraduate students. 

Dual degrees partnership

Students make their way to their classes on the Atlanta University Center in 2017.

A Syracuse University official contacted us last week about an interesting partnership with three historically black colleges and universities in Atlanta. The three schools - Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse and Spelman colleges - agreed on an arrangement that allows some of its students to spend their first three years working toward undergraduate degrees in Atlanta and finishing their degree during their first year of law school at Syracuse. Syracuse said it pitched the idea to the Atlanta HBCUs. The students can jointly get master’s degrees during their final years at Syracuse. Syracuse law school dean Craig M. Boise said in a statement: “This is one of the ways we can address the legal profession’s need for more diversity among the ranks of lawyers.”

Report: HBCUs “punching above their weight”

The UNCF used that boxing metaphor in a report released Tuesday to make the case historically black colleges and universities are doing an above-average job in educating African American students, despite lacking financial resources and big-time donations from philanthropic foundations. The 36-page report found, for example, that although HBCUs make up about 12% of Georgia’s four-year colleges and universities, they award 23% of all bachelor’s degrees to African American students in the state. The report urges federal officials to increase funding, offer more low-interest loans for campus infrastructure projects and money for pilot programs in science, technology, engineering and math courses.

Shorter University under scrutiny

The agency in charge of authorizing accreditation for most Southern colleges and universities recently put Shorter University on warning status for failing to comply with some core financial requirements. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges put the Rome, Ga., school on warning status during its June 13 meeting. Shorter University spokeswoman Dawn Tolbert told the Rome News-Tribune the warning is based on a 2018 financial report. She said the school has sold several properties over the past few years as well as closing a number of continuing adult education satellite campuses in the Atlanta area. Tolbert said the long-term leases from campuses were a major financial drain. Shorter’s next review will be in June 2020. Schools that lose accreditation have difficulty federal financial aid for its students. Also, degrees from an unaccredited school may not be recognized by other schools.

Capella University opens campus in Atlanta

Capella University has opened its first Campus Center in Midtown Atlanta. The facility is at 805 Peachtree St. The center will provide learners access to enrollment counselors, academic advisors and study spaces to collaborate, university officials said. Capella, a for-profit school, offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as many certificate options, that span over 50 programs and 132 specializations.

Debt relief for former ITT Tech students

Nearly 500 former ITT Tech students in Georgia who say they were coerced by the for-profit school into taking student loans with high interest rates will receive an estimated $4.1 million in debt relief, according to a nationwide settlement announced Thursday by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. The for-profit school, which had four campuses in Georgia, shut down in 2016 due to financial problems. Here’s our report on the deal.

Chinese exchange program

Georgia Southwestern State University is partnering with a Chinese university that will bring 100 computer science students to study here each year. The program will begin enrolling students in Fall 2019 to study their first three years at Zhoukou Normal University. In their fourth year, eligible students can come to Georgia Southwestern State to complete the program. The first cohort of students are expected on campus in Fall 2022 with a new class following them each subsequent year, officials said.

Education Notebook

Cobb County schools started back to school Monday. In this photo, students arrive for class at Mountain View Elementary School on Sandy Plains Road in Cobb County. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM.
Photo: John Spink/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Students will like the results of this recent research: they’re more engaged in school if they don’t have to come to class too early. AJC Education columnist Maureen Downey wrote about the study in this week’s Education Notebook. Read her report here.

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