Meharry Welcomes Vanderbilt as New Managing Partner of Hospital
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt University Medical Center wants to become a third player in the year-old partnership between Metro General Hospital and Meharry Medical College. Under the plan announced last month, Vanderbilt would run the hospital and share with Meharry teaching, research, and patient care at the 126-bed publicly owned hospital. “This alliance joins two distinguished academic health centers in a strategic, synergistic partnership that will surely set the standard for cooperative efforts by other institutions nationwide.” Meharry’s President John E. Maupin Jr., D.D.S., says, “This is important … because I don’t think there’s a medical school in the country that can stand by itself unless it has a lot of resources.” “We have found that the strengths of our institutions are very complimentary, and we fully expect this alliance to grow and expand to provide a more secure quality future for Meharry and Vanderbilt,” John E. Chapman, M.D., dean of the Vanderbilt School of Medicine, adds.The plan is expected to be approved by the City Council and Vanderbilt is expected to take over May 1. Under the three-year agreement, Vanderbilt will appoint the top three hospital administrators and will pay $395,000 a year to cover their salaries. Two current administrators have been moved to positions at the city’s long-term care facility. A quasi-governmental hospital authority made up of current members of the hospital board will raise and distribute money for the facility, and hospital staffers will remain city employees. Before joining up with the city in January 1998, Meharry could barely afford to maintain its teaching hospital — a key part of its mission to educate and treat underserved minorities. While Meharry’s hospital was woefully underused, Metro General’s antiquated building was so crowded there sometimes were eight patients to a room. Now the city operates its hospital in a gleaming tower it leases on the school’s campus for $4 million a year. But the hospital still is struggling under the burden of health-care cutbacks. Nashville officials hope the addition of Vanderbilt to the alliance will allow General Hospital to keep providing care to those who can’t afford it.
SAN FRANCISCO — University of California (UC) regents marked a changing of the political guard last month with formal farewells to three Republican appointees whose nominations were withdrawn by Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. Several regents bemoaned the loss of the departed trio, nominees of former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, as a sign that appointment to the board has turned into a partisan free-for-all. “I am confident that Gov. Davis will give us outstanding replacements for those three people. Nevertheless, I think the political fallout from this is very costly,” says Regent John Davies, chairman of the board. The three regents whose names were withdrawn — Carol Chandler, John Hotchkiss, and Ralph Ochoa — had been dogged by political turmoil from the start. Wilson announced the appointments of Chandler and Hotchkiss hours before a controversial 13-12 vote in November 1997 to extend benefits to same-sex partners. Wilson voted “No,” as did Chandler, Hotchkiss, and Ochoa, whose appointment had been announced the day before.The appointments were later derailed when the Democrat-controlled Senate indicated it would not review the nominations within the one-year time limit required for confirmation. There have been other signs that the advent of the state’s first Democratic governor in 16 years may mean changes for the board. The day after the election, Regent Bill Bagley, who opposed the board’s controversial 1995 vote to repeal affirmative action, sent colleagues a memo asking, “Did this board, in all good conscience, perceive the unintended consequences of its July 1995 action?” A new vote on affirmative action would be largely symbolic because voters have since passed Proposition 209, which bans race-based admissions in all state education. Bagley has not made a formal proposal to the board and says it might be some months before he decides whether to do so.Davis, who has the power to appoint four regents now and five more during his term, has not announced his picks. Two other Wilson appointees, Stephen Gould and Joanne Kozberg, also were pending when Davis won election last November. Davis withdrew Gould’s name but left Kozberg on the board. A seat on the 26-member UC Board of Regents is one of the most prestigious and far-reaching appointments a governor can make because the term lasts for 12 years. Davis, who as lieutenant governor was a regular at regents meetings, has not attended the two meetings held since he was elected governor. But, as is customary, he has outlined a proposed budget for next year, one that could mean the first student fee increase in six years. The spending plan would give UC a $118 million increase in state funds over the base of $2.3 billion provided for 1998-99, including $11.6 million toward a Davis initiative to help improve public schools. The proposal trims $50 million in state support for UC and rejects an additional $70 million request for libraries, instructional technology, maintenance, and other special needs. However, UC officials say the budget proposal probably was constrained by forecasts of smaller economic growth and the figures may get better when the economic forecast is updated in May. Davis also has made an early recommendation on admissions policies. He is endorsing a plan, under consideration for more than a year, to admit the top 4 percent of graduates in each high school (see Black Issues, Jan. 21, 1999). The plan, which is expected to increase slightly the number of Blacks and Hispanics eligible for UC, is expected to be discussed at the next regents meeting and voted on in March. In recent years the process for nominating members to the California board of regents has become increasingly contentious. In 1994, Lester Lee, a Chinese American businessman nominated by Wilson, was rejected by the Senate. Democrats charged he was a “rubber stamp” for Wilson and had backed hefty student fee increases while supporting pay raises for administrators. Then in 1997, two years after the controversial affirmative action vote, the Senate voted along party lines to oust the board’s chairman, Tirso del Junco, rejecting his reappointment by Wilson.
WASHINGTON — A bipartisan panel urged broad expansion of military and veterans benefits last month, including a new GI Bill promising full college scholarships in exchange for four years of active duty. The scholarships would cover any institution of higher education, from inexpensive community colleges to Ivy League schools. Veterans groups applauded the ambitious package, which also calls for more generous terms on VA home loans, better health services, and a tax-deferred investment program for the military. But it could face a multitude of jurisdictional disputes in Congress and among federal agencies. “Some programs have simply become outdated,” said Anthony J. Principi, chairman of the congressionally appointed Commission on Servicemembers and Veterans Transition Assistance. In all, the 12-member panel recommended 100 changes, representing the biggest projected overhaul in benefits since the 1950s. Eligible beneficiaries include some 26 million veterans and 8.4 million in the military. Butch Miller, national commander of the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans’ group, applauded the proposals, saying they would “get the nation back on track.” “The danger signals are clear. We need to make some fundamental improvements in the benefits available to our servicemembers and our veterans,” he said, noting that some of the recommendations — particularly the GI Bill overhaul — would essentially restore benefits available to returning World War II soldiers that have eroded since. If adopted by Congress, the government would pay for full college costs for veterans who served at least four years on active duty, regardless of the cost; plus pay a $400-a-month stipend for up to 36 months. And, the Pentagon could transfer this benefit to other family members as a re-enlistment incentive. The program “will open the door of the military to a much broader cross-section of America’s youth,” Principi says. The measure would repeal the $1,200 contribution now required from all enlistees to qualify for the current GI Bill program. That program pays just $538 a month toward a college education.
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The University of Rhode Island (URI), strained by racial tension, has hired a new affirmative action director familiar with campus unrest. Louis S. Francis Jr. was among more than a dozen Black University of Rhode Island students who barricaded themselves inside the administration building for nearly 24 hours to protest the treatment of minority students in 1971. Blocking doors with chains, chairs, and filing cabinets, the protesters refused to leave until officials listened to their concerns. “There was an insensitivity to the growing needs of a minority population,” Francis told The Providence Journal. “We felt that we were not embraced.” Francis became a law school graduate, a successful businessman, and a vice president of the Rhode Island NAACP. Now, he returns to his alma mater to once again tackle minority issues as URI’s new director of affirmative action, equal opportunity, and diversity.The announcement came a month after unrest that was sparked by the publication of a controversial cartoon in the student newspaper, The Good Five-Cent Cigar. A group of Black activists alleged the cartoon’s publication reflects racism on campus.Although the newspaper says the cartoon was misunderstood, one of the managing editors has resigned to take another job. A journalism professor who is on the newspaper’s advisory board says she hopes the move is not seen as a win for critics of the paper.The Cigar had its funding temporarily cut off in December by the Student Senate after members of the Brothers United for Action (BUA) accused the newspaper of racism. BUA members say the editors acted irresponsibly late last year when they published a year-old editorial cartoon examining a White professor’s attitude toward affirmative action (see Black Issues, Dec. 24, 1998). Patrick Luce’s decision to take a full-time job as a reporter at The Warwick Beacon comes as the BUA, a group of activist students, most of whom are Black, is considering impeachment proceedings against Luce and two other editors at the URI newspaper. Luce, 21, said his move was not prompted by the BUA’s attack on The Cigar. “I had planned on leaving anyway,” Luce told The Providence Journal. Linda Levin, a URI journalism professor who is on The Cigar’s advisory board, said she is concerned that Luce’s departure will be misinterpreted. “My concern is that the campus will see this” as pressure exerted by the BUA against Luce and the newspaper’s other editors, Elizabeth Barker and Timothy Ryan, Levin said. “It’s not.”Francis, 47, will develop and oversee affirmative action and equal opportunity programs to ensure diversity on campus. He succeeds Sylvia Peters, who will take a teaching job at the university.Francis is currently executive director of the Providence-based Minority Investment Development Corp., where he helps find loans for minority businesses. After earning a bachelor’s degree in 1973 from URI, Francis earned a law degree from George Washington University School of Law, and helped write legislation for treating toxic waste while at the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington, D.C.
DURHAM, N.C. — North Carolina Central University is in such dire straits that the biology department cannot even buy enough frogs for students to dissect, the school’s chancellor says. Dr. Julius Chambers took members of the state Advisory Budget Commission on a campus bus tour last month after a tour of the Lee Biology Building. The chancellor is seeking $12.3 million from the state, including $8 million for the biology department.NCCU has 5,700 students, and enrollment is expected to double by 2007, Chambers says. Last year, NCCU sought $14 million for health and safety improvements and received $2 million. “We have 20 professors and only 10 labs…. We cannot teach biology under these conditions,” Chambers told the lawmakers. “I was appalled when the department chair told me that we didn’t have enough frogs for students to dissect.” Commission members were sympathetic but made no promises.
GRAMBLING, La. — Accusations that a Grambling State University student was the victim of a violent hazing incident are being examined by the university and have resulted in criminal charges being filed in the neighboring town of Ruston. Kevin C. Davenport, 24, of Blytheville, Ark.; Carlton P. Smith, 27, of Lake City, Fla.; and Derek Hampton of New Orleans were arrested last month by Ruston Police and charged with hazing. The victim was a prospective Kappa Alpha Psi pledge. The student, Jonathan Williams, claimed he and a dozen other pledges were slapped and beaten with canes and paddles over a two-day period at a house in Ruston. Williams said he was treated at Grambling State’s infirmary for bruises and swelling from the whippings. Dr. Ruby Higgins, vice president for student affairs at Grambling State, said the university will discipline the students in accordance with its policy. However, she did not say what form the discipline would take.
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