There were some interesting developments pertaining to colleges in Georgia, but much of it took place in various courtrooms and at the state Capitol.
Here’s what happened and other noteworthy news and notes from the AJC’s weekly On Campus roundup.
Lawmakers review bills designed to help students in need
Georgia lawmakers heard two intriguing pieces of legislation its authors hope will help students. One Senate bill would give students grants with the agreement that they would pay the money back with a specific portion of their future earnings. The official term is “income sharing agreements.” A bill in the House would specify ongoing efforts to prevent the state from revoking various business licenses if the person has fallen behind on their student loans. AJC Political Insider columnist Jim Galloway described it as “the most millennial of bills.” Lawmakers had little to quibble about the House bill, but said the Senate bill needs some work.
New developments in KSU cheerleader lawsuit
The controversy surrounding some African-American cheerleaders at Kennesaw State University who knelt during the National Anthem in silent protest of police brutality in 2017, and the reaction to it, was back in the news last week. You may remember that one of the cheerleaders last year sued some heavy hitters in Cobb County, including Sheriff Neil Warren and former state lawmaker Earl Ehrhart, for what the student felt was a discriminatory effort to curtail her speech rights when they complained about it to KSU’s president. The AJC reported Thursday that Warren was using taxpayer dollars to fund his legal defense. Later Thursday, the judge in the case ruled Ehrhart and Warren should not be part of the lawsuit. Read more about that here.
Speaking of courtroom drama
A federal court judge on Friday issued a split decision in the ongoing accreditation battle between Paine College and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The association, better known as SACS, wanted to revoke the college’s accreditation in 2016, citing its concerns about Paine’s finances and a decline in enrollment. Many colleges and employers do not recognize degrees from unaccredited institutions. Paine sued, and the case is still in the courts. Friday’s ruling gives Paine more time to litigate. The college says it’s in much better shape now and hopes to strike an agreement to keep its accreditation. We’ll stay tuned.
Let’s go back to the state Capitol, where the new governor and lieutenant governor said three last-minute re-appointments by outgoing Gov. Nathan Deal to the state Board of Regents were improperly done. The longtime board members are apparently out. We’ll see who the new governor, Brian Kemp, picks for this powerful board, which oversees the state’s largest public colleges and universities and will determine Georgia Tech’s next president.
Georgia Tech mental health conference
Georgia Tech has had trouble helping students grappling with the intense pressure to succeed at the renowned research institute and those dealing with mental health issues. In some instances, the situations ended tragically. The school is hosting a conference this weekend. Students from nine schools, experts and others will be on campus to share advice and best practices. The goal? “To improve mental health care at Tech by learning about the programs and policies that have worked elsewhere,” according to an article about the conference on Georgia Tech’s website.
Dining virus at Georgia College
Georgia College briefly shut down its campus dining facilities last week after several reports of stomach pain by an unspecified number of students. The school was unsure last week what caused the illnesses, but urged students and staff to thoroughly wash their hands, noting it’s flu season.
Emory University parts ways with instructor
Emory told the AJC last week an instructor is no longer on the payroll after the student newspaper, the Emory Wheel, reported the faculty member, Laura Corvino, posted some comments on her Facebook page and elsewhere deemed by some as extremely anti-immigrant and racist. The blog post included comments such as “I hate Muslims” and “I don’t wanna live among non-whites, it feels unsafe and uneasy,” the Wheel reported. Corvino, who taught a certificate program course, told the Wheel she was fired. She wouldn’t confirm she authored some posts, but stressed the importance of speech rights.
Let the commencement announcements commence
The first sign that we’re getting closer to graduation is when schools start announcing their commencement speakers. Emory was the first to reach out, announcing Monday that Andrew Young, the former U.N. ambassador, Atlanta mayor and human rights activist, will give the commencement address this May. He’ll also receive the President’s Award for his years of service to humanitarian causes.
AJC Gwinnett County education reporter Arlinda Smith Broady shouted out some schools that made the Advanced Placement District honor roll in the weekly Education Notebook. Click here to read more about it.