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Just Missing Minority Hiring Goal May Not Prove Costly for Nebraska University

LINCOLN, Neb. — Even though the University of Nebraska system fell one person short of a state-required target for minority faculty members in 1999, it may not lose any state funding.
Officials at the university say the three-year average for adding minorities meets the target required by a 1997 state law. Eleven minority faculty members were added last year. The goal was 12.
The three-year average was 12.3. The university says in the report that is above the annual benchmark.
An aide to State Sen. Deb Suttle of Omaha, chairwoman of the Legislature’s Special Committee on Gender and Minority Equity, said last month that the committee will meet in early February to determine whether to recommend withholding funding.
The law passed in 1997 sets annual benchmarks and requires the university to be in the top half of its peer institutions in employing female and minority faculty members by August 2002.
Missing a benchmark means the university could lose 1 percent of its state funding. This year that would be $3.5 million.
“I’m not sure if anything should be done about it,” Mrs. Suttle said. “I don’t know that I see any problems.”
Lori McClurg, director of the state’s Department of Administrative Services which received the university’s report, said she would recommend that no funding be cut.
“I think the University has met their cumulative goal given to them by the Legislature,” she says, adding that the university is making significant efforts to recruit and hire minorities.
University President L. Dennis Smith said in the report that he expects there to be even more increases in minority hires in the years to come.


Oprah Also a Big Hit as    Northwestern Instructor

CHICAGO — Oprah Winfrey was such a big hit with Northwestern University business students that she and partner Stedman Graham have been invited to teach another class.
Winfrey, who taught a class called “Dynamics of Leadership” last fall at the university’s J.L. Kellogg School of Management, has accepted an offer to teach again next fall. She has received reviews that were among the strongest of any professor, says Assistant Dean Rich Honack.
“Students said she truly provided a class they learned something from,” he said.
Winfrey, who co-taught the class with longtime beau and businessman Graham, told the university’s student newspaper that she gave herself a B as a teacher, but wants to improve.
“I gave myself a B and I’m coming back to get an A because I now know how to get it,” The Daily Northwestern quoted Winfrey as saying.

Georgia President: Diversity is Here to Stay
ATHENS, Ga. — The University of Georgia will remain a place where diversity is valued so that its graduates are well prepared to live in a world with citizens of every background, Dr. Michael Adams, the university’s president, said in his annual address about the state of the school last month.
Adams reiterated that the university will continue to use race as a factor in its admission policies, despite an ongoing lawsuit seeking to overturn the practice.
“Justice compels us to help this state find a way to serve all its people educationally,” he said. “And justice compels us to act in a way that maintains our standards and our ideals while offering a chance that otherwise would not be offered.”
Adams also called for increasing the number of students who spend at least one semester studying abroad as a way to create a “self-sustaining culture of internationalization” at the university.
“Our students need an understanding of and appreciation for people who are different from them,” Adams said. “Not in a competitive or comparative way that results in one culture or set of traditions being valued over another, but in a way that recognizes that ignorance can breed fear, which can breed hatred, which can breed violence.”


Fort Valley’s Students May Have to Repay Grants
ATLANTA — Some Fort Valley State University students who received grants may have to give the money back after an audit that showed potential fraud in the school’s financial aid office.
Fort Valley State President Dr. Oscar L. Prater says school officials are reviewing each case, with the possibility that students who received improper grants could be asked to repay the money. Those who received loans are already repaying them.
“This is a conscientious and continuous effort to seek out the areas of concern,” Prater said after a presentation to the state Board of Regents audit committee last month. “We are committed to ensuring that this does not happen again. We want to maintain the fiscal integrity of the school.”
After a routine annual audit originally uncovered the discrepancies, a further review of records from July 1, 1998, to June 30, 1999, found at least 42 instances in which students were given more financial aid than their need demonstrated.
Auditors concluded that $242,589 was provided to students who had not shown they needed it and said another $623,995 probably should not have been approved.
State officials also say the department’s director violated rules by unilaterally approving aid for students employed by the department. And they said time sheets for students in a federal work-study program either had no supervisor’s approval or were approved before the work period ended.
The central Georgia school is revamping the financial aid office and only two of the eight employees working at the time of the audit are still there, Prater told the committee. Four of the departed employees are no longer with the school, he said while presenting his “re-engineering” plan for the financial aid office.
The committee took no action, but it met for nearly an hour behind closed doors to discuss the future of former financial aid director Jeanette Huff, who has been transferred to the school’s student affairs department.
The meeting was closed after board member Connie Cater of Macon asked why Prater did not simply ask for Ms. Huff’s resignation and before Prater could respond. Neither Prater nor Lindsay  Desrochers, the university system’s senior vice chancellor for capital resources, would comment on the nature of the discussion in executive session.
Both Prater and Desrochers say a criminal investigation is still possible. Since the funds included federal grants and loans, the case has been turned over to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General.
Prater said that the school will no longer allow workers in the financial aid office to receive grants or loans and is implementing a policy that student loan officers cannot handle the cases of friends or family members.


ETS’ Dr. Nancy Cole To Retire
PRINCETON, N.J. — Educational Testing  Service President Nancy S. Cole announced last month that she intends to retire as soon as a successor can be named.
The announcement was made at the ETS’ January meeting of the Board of Trustees. Cole had served as president for six years.
“This is a great loss to all of us at ETS,” said A. William Wiggenhorn, chair of the ETS board and president of Motorola University. He praised Cole for helping guide the ETS through a number of institutional challenges, including the transformation of its test administration services from the  traditional  pencil and paper model to the new  computerized systems. 
“These recent accomplishments are the building blocks of ETS’ future,” Wiggenhorn said.
ETS Board Vice Chair Debra W. Stewart, vice chancellor and graduate school dean at North Carolina State University, will head the search committee to  find a sucessor for Cole .
Other search committee members include: Richard E. Cavanagh, president and chief executive of The Conference Board; Julius L. Chambers, chancellor of North Carolina Central University; Paul A. Elsner, Chancellor Emeritus, Maricopa Community Colleges; N. Gerry House, superintendent Memphis City School; Arthur E. Levine, president of Teachers College, Columbia University; Gary H. Stern, president, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis; and Blandina Cardenas, associate professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Texas-San Antonio. 
“While we have exciting and challenging work in progress, I feel I can leave ETS now,  secure that we are well-positioned to serve the education needs of the new century,” Cole said.     



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