A group of 20 members of Howard University’s faculty and staff has issued a letter of support for President Wayne Frederick, who this week faced pressure from student activists calling for his resignation, and other sweeping changes to policy and culture.
Archives for March 2018
Elizabeth City State University will bump up its plans to install a new chancellor, announcing that a previous June 1 start date for incoming interim chancellor has been scratched in favor of an April 9 first day on the job for Karrie Dixon.
Howard University students lived out a time-honored campus tradition today, taking over the university’s administration building and threatening to remain until demands are met and changes are made in the school’s administration.
We are about to learn a hard lesson―the hard way―Howard is not invincible.
Truthfully, I wish that I was writing something different. But I am not. [Read more…] about The “Whistleblower” Who Gambled with Truth & Service
Dr. Frederick discusses the university’s recent response to allegations of financial aid mismanagement, and headlines surrounding demands issued by student activism group HU Resist.
Multiple employees have resigned or have been fired from Howard University in the last six months amidst an internal investigation into improper tuition assistance grants being made to former employees in the school’s financial aid office.
Officials confirm that a story posted anonymously to the Medium network last night, implicating former Howard University Associate Financial Aid Director Brian Johnson and former financial aid student worker Tyrone Hankerson, is but a partial view of the school’s effort to resolve personnel issues and financial controls in the office responsible for overseeing accounts for more than 9,600 students at the flagship private black college.
Records and notes secured by the HBCU Digest reveal that the investigation into the office’s management and oversight began in August 2016 to audit all grants, stipends, and reimbursements awarded to university employees over a nine-year period spanning 2007-2016.
That audit revealed that a trend of disbursement irregularities that began in 2007, with grants being awarded after the conclusion of academic terms, to students not in good academic standing, and remissions for ineligible courses were among the flagged deposits.
A closer inquiry revealed several former university employees at the heart of most of the flagged disbursements. Derek Kindle, former HU director of student financial services and current director of financial aid at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was identified as the awarding party for many of the flagged grants, but was not implicated in any internal documents as a source of criminal behavior, or fired as a result of the investigation.
Interviews with four former students and personnel confirm that the full internal review concluded in September 2017 and followed a report from Howard President Wayne A.I. Frederick to the US Department of Education about the discovered improprieties. Former bursar Doemini Mosley and former Donor Relations Manager Siah Willie, who received more than $100,000 in refunds to support travel and personal expenses which she claimed were related to academic work at the university, were terminated as a result of the investigation’s findings.
Former financial aid officers Anthony Montgomery and Teresa Julien were also terminated for illicit receipt or awarding of grants to ineligible employees, as a part of six total firings stemming from the investigation.
The internal review also coincided with a June 2017 conversation between Dr. Frederick and a yet-to-be-named Howard student who worked in the financial aid office and offered to give the president’s office information on the illicit disbursement to employees in exchange for an appeal of several grades which would allow clearance for graduation. The president’s office rejected the offer on the grounds that the university has already initiated its own investigation which yielded two of the names referenced in the Medium article.
And according to a source close to the financial aid office, Dr. Frederick also sought keep issues of academic concern separate from the investigation into financial impropriety.
In a statement released this morning, Dr. Frederick outlined the new controls established in the office to deter future fund mismanagement.
As part of these reform efforts, significant new policies and procedures have been implemented to strengthen Howard’s internal controls with respect to the awarding of financial aid, including:
• Annual budgets for each category of financial aid are now loaded into the University’s Banner student information system by the University Budget Office consistent with the University’s overall Financial Aid Budget.
• Approval for all awards of University Grants are now reviewed and approved by the Budget Office prior to being awarded by the Financial Aid Office
• Approval for all donor-designated scholarship awards are now reviewed and approved by the Controller’s Office prior to being awarded by the Financial Aid Office.
• Approval for all grant-funded financial aid are now reviewed and approved by the University’s Grant Accounting Unit prior to being awarded by the Financial Aid Office.
• Access to the Banner financial aid module has now been limited to a small number of appropriate senior University individuals, with adequate third-party review and appropriate segregation of duties.
• An annual reconciliation of awarded financial aid to approved financial aid is now being conducted.
• Management has established proper reporting relationships and segregation of duties within the Financial Aid Office.
• Management is in the process of hiring for all remaining open positions in the Financial Aid Office and enhanced training on policies and procedures will be provided both to new hires and continuing employees.
• A new Associate Provost for Enrollment Management and a new Chief Compliance Officer have been hired by the University.
University officials did not provide information on if the university has or intends to file criminal charges against the former students and employees involved in the case.
Shaw University announced plans this week to sell the frequencies for its historic radio station WSHA. The proceeds, according to university leaders, will go to revitalize its department of mass communications and transform its curriculum and training facilities into a 21st-century learning laboratory for students.
Predictably, folks with fond memories of and closed pockets to the radio station are rejecting the potential sale. And a recent editorial about the sale in the Raleigh News & Observer sums up the reality behind Shaw’s savvy business move, and the same old sad love songs people have for HBCUs which do what they must to survive and compete.
But Joseph M. Sansom, a former deputy state treasurer and a member of WSHA’s advisory board, said the station is popular, but listeners are not sufficiently supportive. “They want to listen and enjoy, but they don’t want to give anything,” he said.
If that’s the case, listeners should pay up. WSHA is worth keeping. Through the station, people listen to Shaw and Shaw listens to Raleigh. Along with music, WSHA offers public affairs shows featuring state and local officials and activists. It lives up to its motto, “Serving the community like no other.” Computers playing contemporary Christian music programmed elsewhere won’t replace that.
Many HBCUs face this exact same challenge of high fondness and low finance to support the operational missions of television and radio stations, printing presses and other auxiliary extensions of the academic enterprise. A little more than a year ago, Howard University flirted with selling the broadcast spectrum of its campus-based television station WHUT. Had it received anything close to the $460 million it was projected to receive ina federal auction, it would’ve been gone.
It didn’t. The station still stands. There’s still no clear direction on how the station can or should become a profitable part of the HU School of Communication’s student training infrastructure, but stakeholders are happy. For now.
Shaw doesn’t have nearly the community pushback, or potential for investment in its jazz station as Washington D.C. had for Howard’s television station. A petition calling for the school to keep the station earned 1900 signatures. Howard potentially selling its TV station earned a story in the New York Times, and a treatment on the dissonance between a major part of the school’s identity versus its need to secure resources in support of its existence.
And so goes the reality for HBCU administrations who wrestle with culture versus cost. No one can stand the irreparable damage our culture will take when we lose a school like Cheyney, like Stillman, like Bennett, or any other HBCU; not one of these campuses has announced receipt of a multi-million dollar gift from alumni or a major benefactor, and throngs of new students aren’t rushing the doors.
And what’s worse; we think that the harrowing fate of closure is limited to “those little HBCUs” which few rarely think about in the landscape of HBCU culture. Check back with Fisk, Grambling, Southern, Johnson C. Smith, Saint Augustine’s, Lincoln (Mo.), and Mississippi Valley State in a few years and see how many millions each school has earned in giving or tuition revenue in comparison to their operational costs and debt servicing.
Shaw is making a savvy business move not to pay down debt or to make payroll; it is reinvesting in student success. That’s a fundraising target for which Shaw alumni have demonstrated their continuing commitment.
Until the support for WSHA matches that, alumni, listeners and anyone else who wants to have a say in the future of the station ought to be willing to buy it – because Shaw students and their families are putting hundreds of thousands of dollars and faith into a degree that deserves to give them return on investment beyond nostalgia over a struggling jazz station.
We talk with Dr. Jenkins about WVSU’s role in a key workforce development initiative, the benefits of being one of the nation’s most diverse HBCU campuses, and the attraction of the rural HBCU mission.
[Read more…] about HBCU Digest Radio – West Virginia State President Anthony Jenkins
Alcorn State University President Alfred Rankins is headed back to another familiar place, returning to the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning as its first black commissioner of higher education. Dr. Rankins, who previously served deputy commissioner, was vaulted to two HBCU presidencies from that post; an interim appointment at Mississippi Valley State University, and a permanent appointment at Alcorn State.
Rankins is the latest in a recent succession of state university systems promoting black executives to lead HBCUs from within the system ranks.
Albany State University Interim President Marion Fedrick, who previously served as the University System of Georgia’s Vice-Chancellor of Human Resources. She replaced Art Dunning, who prior to leading ASU had turns in the system office leading its divisions of services and human resources as an assistant or senior vice chancellor.
Savannah State University President Chery Dozier Davenport, who served as an associate provost and chief diversity officer at the University of Georgia prior to her HBCU appointment.
Fort Valley State University President Paul Jones, who served as senior vice president at Georgia College and State University.
Elizabeth City State University outgoing Chancellor Thomas Conway, who had an eight-year term of service as vice-chancellor at Fayetteville State University, but who spent 32 years at North Carolina State University.
North Carolina A&T State University Chancellor Harold Martin served as UNC System senior vice president prior to his chancellor appointment, but also served as chancellor of Winston-Salem State University.
There is a drawback to this kind of direct feed from systems into HBCU presidencies; in some cases, leaders have been selected without the benefit of a search or input given by the campus community.
In other respects, students and alumni have growing concerns about the investment of leaders who have worked closely with system leaders who have not always held black college campuses in high regard. Elizabeth City State, Albany State, and Alcorn State have all fallen victim.
In the end, there is little pushback for system leaders who appoint or who pipeline presidents into black colleges with little examination of institutional fit or skill for the job. But until there is pushback from students and alumni, more public colleges will find this kind of culture soon arriving at their institution – for better or worse.
Dr. Cohen shares insight about her journey as a transfer student, how to engage young people to consider STEM careers, and the importance of advocacy for training young scientists.