Georgetown Tennis Coach Pleads Guilty To Charges in College Admissions Scandal

Former Georgetown University tennis coach Gordon Ernst will plead guilty to accepting more than $2 million of bribe money in exchange for helping unqualified kids from wealthy families get into the elite school, reports ABC News.

Gordon ErnstGordon ErnstAfter fighting the charges — including conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery — for more than two years, his decision to plead guilty comes as the first trial of the infamous college admissions bribery scandal is underway. As part of the plea deal, Ernst has promised to ask for no less than a year in prison, and prosecutors have agreed to recommend a sentence of no more than four years, according to ABC.

Ernst was arrested in March 2019, along with more than four dozen others involved in what's been called "Operation Varsity Blues," a scheme that used rigged test scores and fake athletic credentials to get students admitted. As part of the scheme, Ernst took bribes from admissions consultant Rick Singer in exchange for designating unqualified students as tennis recruits.

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Former Basketball Coach Sues a California College For Discrimination and Corruption

A former basketball coach at California's Mt. San Antonio College is suing the school, saying it allowed discrimination and corrupt behavior to continue for years, reports the San Francisco Gate.

763980 060315 Mt Sac SignAccording to the Gate, the lawsuit's plaintiff, Clark Maloney, alleges that the school "covered up" a former men's basketball coach's improper sexual relationships with multiple women's softball players; widespread academic fraud within the sports programs; misappropriated athletics funds; and the spreading of false rumors intended to harm Maloney's reputation.

Maloney left in 2019, alleging the situation caused him severe stress and anxiety that led to health problems. He is seeking "no less than $2 million" in compensatory damages.

A Mt. SAC spokesperson declined to comment to San Francisco Gate on the lawsuit.

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ASALH Kicks Off Virtual Conference With Focus on the Black Family

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) will host its 106th Annual Meeting and Virtual Conference from September 14- September 30th.  

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.As part of the conference, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr of Harvard University, will receive ASALH's Inaugural Luminary Award and a "Retrospective Plenary" will focus on his work. 

Other speakers will include musician John Legend, Dr. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham of Harvard and the president of ASALH, and award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson. 

Thus year's theme is "The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity." 

  “No single word is more illustrative of our humanity—of who we are—than the word ‘family.’ It stands at the heart of human relationships, representing the essence of ties that bind people together by blood, by race, by social affinity, by national heritage, and by religious conviction," said Higginbotham. "We constitute, for example, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and descendants of ancestors. We claim fictive kin in aunts, uncles, and cousins not actually related to us by blood. We cherish the sisterhood and brotherhood of our sororities and fraternal organizations. People identify their national heritage with familial imagery, such as homeland, Motherland, or Fatherland. And we form the ‘household of faith’ as ‘brothers and sisters’ who look to the Fatherhood and Mother-heart of God. The history of the Black family is an integral part of our nation’s heritage. Black family traditions of foodways and the arts, of sports and music, to name just a few, have been a significant progenitor of American culture and identity."    

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A Faculty Retreat Could Be What Scholars Need In These Challenging Times


The Labor Day Holiday brings the start of a new academic year at colleges and universities around the nation. This is a time for academics to begin a term with fresh possibilities in our work as teachers, researchers, and citizens. I experienced the breadth and depth of new beginnings at my school’s faculty retreat as I transitioned from one university to another.  

Looking across the physically distanced auditorium, I was no longer the only or one of the only Black professors at the fall academic year faculty retreat. Most of the faculty were Black identified. This is an important fact because the latest data from the U.S Department of Education say that 5% of Black faculty are tenure-track or tenured in colleges and universities across the nation. However, 57% of faculty at HBCUs identify as Black. Put another way, there is a 1 in 2 chance that students at Black colleges will be taught, mentored, and/or advised by a Black faculty member.  Dr. Tryan L. McMickens

I have been fortunate to participate in many faculty retreats over the past decade as a mid-career professor and administrator in higher education. None have felt as affirming, loving, encouraging, and supportive as the one I participated in at my new intellectual home - North Carolina Central University's School of Education. None have captured the nuance of these times; the theme "Perplexing Times in Education" centered the realities that Black and other minoritized communities are facing due to COVID-19, ongoing anti-Black racism, and the effects of the January 6th insurrection. None have included a multi-generational, solutions-oriented approach to long standing issues that Black children have faced in schools.  

I had a strong sense of belonging at the half-day retreat and the other occasions that I've interacted with students, faculty, and staff. Knowing that this intellectual community was built just for me to thrive, to be challenged, to be supported, and to help educate a new generation of higher education leaders was evident throughout the faculty retreat. An ethic of care was thematic across the speakers, the gestures, and the ways the event was designed. 

Gestures involved retrieving name tags, which had faculty member's honorifics displayed (i.e., Dr. Alice Bob; faculty rank; retreat theme); listening to greetings from administrators who centered the active institutional mission of “truth and service;” recognizing the accomplishments of students and faculty; welcoming new faculty; and honoring emeritus faculty for their storied careers. An affirming experience occurred when two musical selections were led by a soloist who brought nearly all participants to their feet after singing Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’s “Wake up Everybody” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.”  A lunch with a dessert nourished the soul as the final gesture to end the retreat. These symbolisms and gestures were followed by content that focused on the issues that we as educators face today. 

Dr. Lisa Delpit, noted educationalist and “MacArthur Genius” recipient, provided insights on "reimagining excellence in troubling times." Delpit discussed how curricular content out to be connected to student’s cultural and intellectual backgrounds and lived experiences, to their communities, and to experiences outside of the classroom. Delpit linked this body of work to Dr. Asa Hilliard's remaking of the African mind and Afro-centrism which affirmed what it is vital about the role of HBCUs in creating conditions that enable Black students to thrive. Appreciating student’s brilliance, their special gifts, and shifting the onus to faculty to develop student’s gifts and brilliance is aligned with what HBCUs have been doing for generations.   

I am convinced that connecting curricular content to student’s lived experiences will help me build an inclusive learning environment and help students thrive as learners and emerging higher education professionals. I am equally persuaded that appreciating the brilliance and gifts of my students will provide them a deep sense of belonging, increase their self-worth, and allow me to connect and learn from them about their own interests, knowledge, and experiences in the education profession. 

As a higher education scholar and teacher, I often leave conversations centered on P-12 education with lessons learned. I believe that there ought to be more synergies between P-12 and higher education to help tackle these longstanding inequities that exist and that there should be more collaborative opportunities that will positively change the outcomes of individuals and institutions in P-20 education.  

Identifying educational problems and generating solutions from a multi-generational perspective was also an organic theme that emerged. There was a discussion on how to help teachers understand the humanity of Black school-aged boys. Scholars have consistently found that Black boys are more likely to be suspended and treated inhumanly in schools. At the retreat, a parent, education faculty, and the presenters modeled how to create conditions that enable student success for Black school-aged boys. This experience was seminar-like where problems were identified, multiple pathways to solutions were offered, and encouragement was embedded throughout the threaded conversations from a non-deficit perspective. It speaks to the value-added nature of what HBCUs do well. 

An educator shared their perspective as a parent navigating a school system where they felt their child was not being respected and they felt like their concerns as parents was also overlooked. The presenters affirmed their perspectives, noted that they don't have all the answers, and indicated that often P-12 schools are harsh places for Black children and are a microcosm of society-at-large, which contends with anti-Black racism and white supremacy daily.  

I concluded the faculty retreat with a list of new Afro-centric readings, multi-generational perspectives, and an abiding commitment to educate the next generation of higher education professionals at one of the nation's exceptional historically black universities. This type of physical, social, and intellectual space was needed as I embark on my 11th year in academia contending with enduring pandemics, climate change, an eviction moratorium, wildfires, hurricanes, and the withdrawal of a 20-year war that America started. As I reflect on my faculty retreat, I’m left with hope over fear because of the nuanced knowledge added to my toolkit.  

Dr. Tryan L. McMickens is an award-winning associate professor of Higher Education and Program Coordinator of the M.S. in Higher Education Administration Program at North Carolina Central University.  You can follow him on Twitter @DrTLMcMickens 

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New Report Calls on Congress to Appropriate $40 Billion to Boost HBCU Endowments

A new report from The Century Foundation tracks how more than a century of spending inequities — from 1890’s Morrill Act establishing federal funds for land-grant institutions all the way through to federal funding cuts to HBCUs in 2015 and numerous policies in between — have negatively impacted endowments at historically Black institutions.Denise SmithDenise Smith

The report found that the average endowment at non-HBCUs was 3.5 times larger than the average endowment at HBCUs. At private institutions, the gap is more than 7 times larger.

Denise Smith is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, a two-time HBCU alumna, and author of the report. She said national leaders are quick to extol the virtues of historically Black colleges and institutions, but their actions rarely line up with the rhetoric.

“HBCUs right now are having a moment,” she said. “I think it’s an opportunity now to not only give praise, but also for action to match that praise.”

She expressed support for the Ignite HBCU Excellence Act, which has bipartisan support and would provide additional funds for infrastructure, technology, and education at HBCUs, but said Congress needs to do more. In her report, Smith recommends that Congress appropriate $40 billion of the $53 billion needed to eliminate parent and student debt, which she says is a direct result of the chronic underfunding of these institutions.

“Given the historic injustices and underinvestment in Black communities specifically and the colleges and universities that serve them, the proposals [of Congress and the Biden administration] do not go far enough,” the report’s introduction reads. “Now is the moment for a historic investment that will bring unprecedented resources to HBCUs, giving them the stability and financial independence that will propel them from this moment of recognition to excellence that endures.

“While we’re excited about their investments and the recommendations that they’ve made, we need to ask for more in order to see the playing field leveled,” Smith said.

Still, despite the funding and wealth disparities, HBCUs continue to be vehicles of upward mobility for African-Americans. And while Smith says she’s seen many proposals focus on increasing aid to institutions, she says discussion around boosting institutional endowments is often missing from the national conversation.

 “Much like the racial wealth gap, our ongoing short-changing of HBCUs and failure to address historical funding gaps have forced HBCUs to operate today at a severe disadvantage. It’s time to fix that,” she said. “Public policy has created the higher ed system as it is — public policy created these ginormous disparities between HBCUs [and PWIs], so it’s imperative that public policy is required to fix them.”

Dr. Leonard Haynes III, a former HBCU administrator and previous executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, says the conversation cannot stop at funding. To truly right the historical wrongs, he says, HBCUs have to be brought into key conversations around addressing strategic priorities facing their immediate locations, states, and the nation. Calling them “underutilized assets that should be engaged to address critical priorities,” Haynes said, “Failure to properly engage HBCUs as a key part of a compelling strategy compromises the national security.”

It’s also time to look beyond the deficit narrative that’s been projected on the institutions, Smith added, and “continue to tell the story of our successes and what the institutions do so well."

"No longer should we continue to have this conversation about relevancy, but we should be uplifting and highlighting the successes we’ve had in the communities," she said. "Being able to tell our story well is key.”

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