Photo: AJC file photo
Photo: AJC file photo

On Campus: Morris Brown gets an interim president, UGA sells Costa Rica campus

Many of the problems a President has to face have their roots in the past.

Former President Harry Truman uttered those words, and some college presidents in Georgia may be thinking that after being asked to answer about past photos of students in blackface.

Here’s our breakdown of that issue and other stories happening at some metro Atlanta campuses and around Georgia in the weekly AJC On Campus:

Reckoning with the past

Emory University’s president announced last week it’s creating a commission to review how publications depicted people of different backgrounds after the AJC contacted the school to get a response to finding some photos of students wearing blackface in yearbooks. The AJC found similar photos in yearbooks of several other Georgia colleges and universities. You can read more about it here.

Presidential comings & goings

Atlanta-based Morris Brown College announced Monday that Kevin James, who recently served as interim CEO of the 100 Black Men of America, will be its interim president, starting March 1. The prior president, Stanley Pritchett, resigned in December. Also, Clark Atlanta University’s former president may soon have a new job. Ronald A. Johnson, who resigned in December, was named last week as one of four finalists for the presidency of Southwest Minnesota State University. Johnson and the other finalists are scheduled to visit the campus this week for interviews.

Pension fund shortchanged?

A state agency released a report Friday that concluded the University System of Georgia has underfunded the Teachers Retirement System by at least $600 million between 2008 and 2018. No way, the University System said. They cite a 1999 TRS actuary’s report recommending that the college system no longer be required to make the payments because the retirement program was at or near full funding. Click here to read more. 

Perimeter campus progress

Georgia Perimeter College celebrated its 50th and final graduation at the Georgia World Congress Center in 2015. AJC FILE PHOTO.

Georgia State University reported last week its three-year graduation rate for its Perimeter campus has more than doubled since 2016 from 6.5 percent to 15 percent. They also said Perimeter students either successfully earning their associate degrees or transferring to bachelor’s degree programs is at a record 58 percent. How are they doing it? The university says through Freshman Learning Communities, in which students pick a potential pathway of learning, such as business, and take courses that help them learn more about the field. GSU says its approach has resulted in fewer students dropping out and earning more credits.

Help for Dreamers

You may be surprised, maybe not, that the White House and Congress have not resolved what to do about “Dreamers,” students brought to this country illegally. In the meantime, one group with a mission to help those students announced its offering scholarships to Oglethorpe University students who fall under “Dreamers” status and meet certain academic requirements. Here’s a short story about it.

Talk about studying abroad

The University of Georgia’s main campus in Athens is a lovely place, but since 2001, some students have had the chance to study on its campus in Costa Rica.

Open-air classroom at UGA's Ecolodge San Luis and Research Station in Costa Rica.
Photo: AJC FILE PHOTO

That’s changing somewhat after UGA announced Monday it has agreed to sell the campus to the Council on International Educational Exchange, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit study-abroad and intercultural exchange organization, according to its website. 

Helping Hands

This mural, titled "Helping Hands," on a wall of the Atlanta University Center's Woodruff Library depicts four children walking to school with the "helping hands"of civil rights legends such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Congressman John Lewis. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

Atlanta University Center students may notice something new on campus. Local artists completed a mural on one wall of the AUC Woodruff Library. The mural, titled “Helping Hands,” depicts four African-American children walking to school. Underneath the students are the hands of six civil rights leaders: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, Stacey Abrams, Ella Baker and Alonzo Herndon.   

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