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2012 August 6 - 12:00 am

NEWS BRIEFS:

  • Former College Head Admits to Theft Charges

FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) — The former head of a New Jersey community college who resigned amid allegations of financial irregularities pleaded guilty to misconduct and theft charges.

Peter Burnham, 68, who stepped down in 2011 as president of Brookdale Community College, faces up to five years in prison after entering his pleas as part of a deal with Monmouth County prosecutors.

Burnham pleaded guilty to charges of official misconduct, using his college-issued credit card for personal use and depositing a $20,000 student loan for his son into a personal bank account. As part of his plea deal, Burnham must repay $24,000 to Brookdale and reimburse the student loan.

Burnham had drawn scrutiny from officials over contract perks he received in addition to his $216,000 salary.

Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said Burnham improperly obtained more than $40,000 worth of meals, alcoholic beverages, airfare, hotel stays, clothing, electronics, tuition assistance and other items of value. Many of the purchases were made on college-issued credit cards and improperly listed as business-related expenses, Gramiccioni said.

The Brookdale Community College Board of Trustees had approved unpaid administrative leave for Burnham at an emergency meeting in March 2011 after an investigation was launched into expenses associated with his office.

Burnham had come under fire from Monmouth County officials over perks he received beyond his salary, including a country club membership, a new vehicle and up to $40,000 in tuition assistance to send his two children to private universities.

Sex Offender Sues To Return To Mich. School

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — A convicted sex offender with excellent grades is suing to get back into a Detroit-area college, which expelled him when it learned about his record.

Michael Branch says his rights were violated when Henry Ford Community College kicked him out of school last year. Branch’s parole officer had no problem with him attending the school if he stayed away from a campus day care facility. He’s now off parole.

Branch served a prison sentence for having sex with a 15-year-old girl in 2004. He said he believed she was older.

Henry Ford Community College officials declined to comment. Branch says he had a 3.7 grade point average while pursuing a degree in heating and cooling. The case is pending in federal court.

  • Interim Maine President Agrees To Stay On

CALAIS, Maine (AP) — The search for a new president of Washington County Community College in eastern Maine has concluded without finding a nominee.

The Maine Community College System’s trustees plan to reopen the search next January.

In the meantime, the interim president of the college, William Cassidy, will remain in that position through the coming academic year.

Maine Community College System President John Fitzsimmons says Cassidy will stay on through next June. Cassidy served as president of the Calais college from 2003 to 2009 and returned to the college on an interim basis this July 1, when President Joyce Hedlund retired.

Cassidy’s career in education has spanned three decades at both the secondary and post-secondary levels.

  • Saginaw Promise Gives College Aid To 100 grads

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) — The newly launched Saginaw Promise college scholarship program says it’s giving financial support to about 100 graduating seniors from the Saginaw School District.

The Promise is giving $2,000 a year for students entering a four-year program and $1,000 yearly for a two-year college.

Mlive.com says the amount each student gets is less than the Saginaw Promise originally intended.

When it launched, the Saginaw Promise said it would give $3,500 in tuition each of the first two years of college at a two-year institution, and up to $8,000 in tuition each of the first two years at a four-year institution.

The Saginaw School District says the graduation rate increased about 9 percent after creation of the scholarship program.

  • Colo. Tuition Up As State Stipend Decreases

DENVER (AP) — State auditors say Colorado college students are paying more for higher education now than they did when lawmakers approved a stipend program to fund students instead of institutions.

The audit looked at the College Opportunity Fund that took effect in 2006. The program’s goal was not to decrease tuition costs. But it changed the state’s funding mechanism so students attending in-state schools got a stipend, rather than those funds going to colleges.

The audit found that the stipend amounts for students have decreased during the bad economy, while enrollment has grown. The stipend amounts have also not kept up with inflation.

The stipend amount for students per credit hour dropped from $80 in 2006 to $62 in 2011.

  • Ohio Remedial Students Steered To 2-Yr. Colleges

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — The University of Akron has referred some applicants to community colleges for remedial education as part of a new admissions policy.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that UA officials referred more than 120 students with low ACT scores to community colleges near their homes for remedial education in English and math.

The university says the recommendation is part of a new admissions policy, and those referred students could later be admitted to UA if they pass the courses.

The policy comes before a new Ohio law kicks in that will limit state payments for remedial classes to some four-year universities like UA.

  • Mass. Student Jailed on Gun Charge

BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) — A Cape Cod Community College student who brought a loaded gun to campus has been found guilty of carrying a firearm without a license and carrying it on school grounds.

Jason Whitehead of Yarmouth was sentenced to serve 18 months of a 21/2-years jail sentence.

Prosecutors say the 23-year-old Whitehead will receive credit for time served and the remaining year will be suspended for five years. He must also undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Whitehead was arrested March 19 after a college security guard spotted ammunition inside his vehicle and called police.

Police say Whitehead made comments about the end of the world and said the gun was for his protection.

His lawyer told the Cape Cod Times that Whitehead did not plan any violence and is remorseful.

  • Bankrupt Texas College Planning For Fall Classes

JACKSONVILLE, Texas (AP) — Despite being mired in bankruptcy, the state’s oldest junior college has announced it plans fall classes and what it calls “a revitalized academic program.”

According to a statement, Lon Morris College officials say they will offer “a complete core curriculum” with on-campus and online classes.

Restructuring officer Dawn Ragan says tuition has been cut by a third while still offering financial aid and scholarships for some programs.

Officials with the 158-year-old United Methodist junior college filed a Chapter 11 petition for bankruptcy protection July 3.

The college furloughed most faculty and staff in May as the president resigned.

Jacksonville is about 120 miles southeast of Dallas.

  • Wyo. College President Won’t Get Pay Raise

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) — The president of Central Wyoming College isn’t getting a raise.

The Riverton Ranger reported that the Board of Trustees has voted to keep Jo Anne McFarland’s salary at $167,775 a year. They did agree to give her 10 more vacation days.

The decision followed a lengthy discussion behind closed doors by the trustees.

The board says their decision doesn’t reflect any lack of confidence in McFarland but was instead of reflection of today’s economic climate.

Central Wyoming College is one of seven public community colleges in Wyoming.

  • Tenn. Valley Colleges Align To Aid Economy

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — More than 30 community colleges in the five-state Tennessee Valley Corridor have formed an alliance to work more closely together on grants and economic development.

Lou Rabinowitz of Roane State Community College proposed the unified effort with a goal of securing more national grants, improving workforce development programs and better serving employers in the region.

The project is called the TVC Community College Consortium.

Colleges from 10 congressional districts in Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia will be participating.

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