Georgia State University students stand behind the lecterns the Democratic Party presidential candidates used for their Wednesday night debate in Atlanta. The students assisted organizers with various logistics.
Photo: Georgia State University.
Photo: Georgia State University.

AJC On Campus: UWG changes, int’l enrollment drop, Blank’s big check

The primary job of a college or university is to teach students about a potential career and help them graduate. Several local colleges and universities announced progress in recent days on that front, with assistance from big-time donors.

Here are details about some of this, changes at the University of West Georgia, and a new report on an enrollment decline in one key area in the latest AJC On Campus:

Busy times at the University of West Georgia

University of West Georgia doctoral student Lori Jordan Fountain was one of more than a dozen students who participated in a candlelight vigil on its Carrollton campus to protest against possible faculty cuts. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM.

November has been an interesting month for the University of West Georgia. First, the university sent notices to some faculty members that their contracts may not renewed because of a budget gap. The university held a meeting on its Carrollton campus a few days later to discuss the university’s finances and to apologize for how it initially explained the situation. No faculty cuts, students said at the meeting.

Meanwhile, some students accused a Carrollton police officer of using excessive force during an arrest.

On Wednesday, an announcement came that its interim president, Micheal Crafton, is resigning at the end of the semester. Crafton is returning to the faculty, a statement said. Stuart Rayfield, the University System of Georgia’s Vice Chancellor for Leadership and Institutional Development will become interim president until a new president is announced. A national presidential search is currently underway, system officials said.

International student enrollment decline

The number of international students taking college courses declined last year by about 20,000 students, to 872,214 nationwide, according to an annual report released Monday. New international students also declined for the third consecutive year. In Georgia, the number of enrolled students increased by about 4% to more than 23,000. Many educators say the national decline is a problem because these students often serve as teaching assistants and many stay in the United States to start businesses.

More money for Morehouse

Main entrance to Morehouse College

Morehouse College, which recently disclosed some financial troubles, is eager to have more weeks like this on the fundraising front. On Monday, the Atlanta college announced it received a $1 million grant to recruit and retain faculty. (Neighboring Spelman College received two grants totaling $1 million for the same purposes.) On Tuesday, Morehouse announced it has received $2 million from the Mitchell Kapor Foundation to recruit students, expand academic programs and fund scholarships. The foundation’s goals are to improve diversity in the technology industry.

Democratic presidential candidates everywhere

Students at the Atlanta University Center campuses have plenty of opportunities this week to learn about some of the Democrats running for president who are in town for their big debate Wednesday night. Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., held a rally Monday evening at Morehouse College. Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has a midday rally Thursday at Morehouse. Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has a rally Thursday evening at Clark Atlanta University.

Georgia State students help with debate set up

Speaking of the debate, 40 Georgia State University students are working as showrunners, production assistants, public relation specialists and lighting assistants for the debate.

Anti-abortion group vs. Georgia State

Students walk past graphic abortion photographs during a Cerated Equal organizational event at Georgia Tech’s campus in Atlanta on Monday. The Created Equal organization visited the campus with large photographs and video of aborted fetuses. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

You may remember a group called Created Equal, which describes itself as anti-abortion, recently posted signs of what it says are aborted fetuses on Georgia’s four largest, public universities to sway students to their side. The organization is angry at Georgia State officials, who they say sent a message to students before Created Equal’s visit that disparaged the organization and complained that some faculty tried to censor them. Created Equal wants an apology.

College Scorecard changes

Federal education officials have updated its College Scorecard website, which contains detailed information about the nation's colleges and universities.

The U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday it has updated its College Scorecard website, which contains information about student outcomes, costs and demographics. Browsers can now look up median incomes of graduates in various majors and student debt for any school. The website also has acceptance rates, median ACT/SAT scores and enrollment by the largest majors. The University System of Georgia added similar information to its website earlier this year.

UGA increases emergency financial support for graduate students

The University of Georgia is tripling the size of a special emergency fund to support critical and unexpected financial needs of its graduate students. President Jere Morehead said he will set aside $100,000 this year, and another $100,000 next year, in private funding to support the Graduate Student Emergency Fund. The fund provides one-time financial assistance to enrolled graduate students facing temporary hardship related to an emergency situation. Students can get up to $2,000 from the fund. UGA has nearly 7,500 master’s and doctoral students this fall, a 15% increase from five years ago, state data shows. 

Clayton State’s financial campaign update

Clayton State University said it has surpassed a goal it set for a three-year fundraising campaign. The university raised nearly $16 million for its Greater In Mind campaign, which it said is used to improve affordability. The initial goal was $12 million. 

Arthur Blank Foundation’s $50 million contribution

Arthur Blank. FILE PHOTO.
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

We typically focus on metro Atlanta colleges, but wanted to share this additional item. The Arthur Blank Family Foundation has agreed on a $50 million grant to Babson College to establish the Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Arthur Blank is a graduate of the college, located in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The foundation said it awarded Bobson the grant not only because of Blank’s connection with the college, but because of its work to grow entrepreneurial leaders.

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