Here’s an occasional look at what’s been going on at Georgia’s colleges and universities.
Turnover at Georgia schools
Monday was the start of a very busy for the human resource folks at several Georgia colleges and universities. Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson announced his plans to retire and teach after nearly 10 years on the job. University System of Georgia officials named an interim president at Georgia Gwinnett College and a finalist for the job at Georgia Southern University, but that person, Kyle Marrero, is the current president of the University of West Georgia. The Technical College System of Georgia promoted Erica Godbee Harden, executive vice president of Oconee Fall Line Technical College, to president.
Colleges bracing for shutdown impact
Georgia colleges and universities are nervously watching the shutdown, worried that an extended funding lapse could stall pending research grant applications. While some major research agencies such as the National Institutes of Health previously received funding from Congress, others have been largely shuttered, including the National Science Foundation. Emory University said it has about 50 pending NSF grants. A Morehouse School of Medicine spokeswoman said the school is watching carefully and noted that roughly 70 percent of its annual research funding of $26.6 million comes from federal grants, although its biggest sources of funding at the Department of Health and Human Services remain operational.
The Georgia Board of Regents approved a proposal Wednesday to make Gov. Nathan Deal a guest lecturer for a three-year term, starting in March. His term as governor ends Monday. Deal, a former state senator and congressman, will teach undergraduate political science students and those interested in law, primarily at the University of Georgia. Deal’s likely annual salary, $120,000, has rankled some ethics watchdogs and University System faculty.
Student loan debt up, up, up in Georgia
Georgia saw its total student loan debt increase from $19.8 billion to $57.2 billion since the Great Recession, according to a study released this week by Experian, one of the major companies that tracks credit scores. Only three states had a higher increase: South Carolina, North Carolina and Kentucky. Metro Atlanta had the second-highest percentage increase in student loan debt of any region. Additionally, loan borrowers in Georgia are complaining more about issues with their lenders. Only six states filed more complaints last year, according to a report released this week by LendEDU, a consumer finance company that frequently conducts research on such topics. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called rising student loan a “crisis” in a recent speech in Atlanta.
Kennesaw State University officer says he was wrongly fired, sues the state
A former Kennesaw State University police department corporal filed a lawsuit in federal court this week against the state Board of Regents, saying he was wrongly terminated. The former officer, Dakarai Mason, a member of World Mission Society Church of God, sent a letter to the church last year welcoming it to start a student organization on campus. Police previously investigated claims the church was involved in human trafficking and found no wrongdoing, the lawsuit says. An inspector said Mason sent the letter to cover up the church’s illegal activities and he was fired, the lawsuit said. A Regents spokeswoman said they had not yet received the complaint and declined comment.
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