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2010 December 13 - 12:00 am


  • Ex-Chancellor in Ala. Sentenced To Prison Term

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge sentenced former two-year college system Chancellor Roy Johnson to six-and-a-half years in prison for his corrupt activities that ensnared others in the schools and the Legislature.

After imposing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre ordered Johnson to pay $18.2 million, forfeit his home and report to prison Dec. 28.

During the sentencing, Johnson apologized and said he is prepared to pay for his crimes.

U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said Johnson used his position as the highest-ranking official in Alabama’s two-year colleges to steer state contracts to people who would pay him bribes.

“He scoffed at the public’s trust and engaged in criminal conduct that involved elected state officials, college presidents, lobbyists, public employees and numerous contractors,” she said.

Johnson, 64, a former legislator, was chancellor from 2002 until 2006, when he was fired as the massive corruption scandal was exposed.

Johnson had pleaded guilty to 15 counts and cooperated with investigators. Prosecutors said his degree of cooperation, involving a dozen cases, is unprecedented in Alabama’s northern district.

Johnson testified against five defendants, including state Sen. E.B. McClain, state Rep. Sue Schmitz and former State Fire College executive director William Langston, who were convicted. Prosecutors said he also provided cooperation that led to several guilty pleas, including former Southern Union Community College interim president Joanne Jordan.

  • N.C. Fund for Needy Students Running Low

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The state fund that provides grants for low-income students to go to North Carolina colleges and universities is running low.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that the fund gave students more than $210 million this year. But only $34 million in lottery money is guaranteed for next year.

And major increases in tuition for the past 10 years is quickly depleting the primary source of financial aid funding — North Carolina’s unclaimed property fund. State Treasurer Janet Cowell says that fund will run out of money in 2012 if withdrawals continue at the current level.

About 90,000 to 100,000 low- to middle-income students receive state grants that do not have to be repaid. Most of those students also still have to use loans for room, food and books.

  • Wash. College Plans To Build Nursing Center

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — Everett Community College is buying a motel to build a nursing and health services center on the property.

The Herald newspaper reports the college paid $2.3 million for the Royal Motor Inn and plans to tear it down this summer.

Design work is already under way on the new 70,000-square-foot nursing and health sciences building. The entire project may cost about $44 million to build. College officials are optimistic they will win funding from the Legislature for the rest of the project next year. They hope to open the new building in 2013.

  • Utility Building Solar Project on Michigan Campus

MONROE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Detroit Edison is building a $3 million solar panel installation on the campus of Monroe County Community College.

The installation is part of the electric utility’s SolarCurrents pilot program that aims to install photovoltaic systems on the property or rooftops of customers.

Detroit Edison and the school announced in July the signing of a 20-year agreement that includes installing the 500-kilowatt system. The company says the solar installation is expected to be operational in March.

The school is the first educational institution to participate in the program from the subsidiary of Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. The campus is located in Monroe Township, about 35 miles southwest of Detroit.

  • Iowa Colleges Set Record For Enrollment

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Community colleges in Iowa are seeing record enrollment with nearly 106,600 students at the state’s 15 community colleges’.

The all-time high enrollment is included in a report released by the Iowa Department of Education. Enrollment at the schools is up 4.8 percent from last year.

Officials say the economic downturn contributed to the increased enrollment but that there also has been a growth in the number of high school students taking college level courses at community colleges in Iowa.

Four of the schools saw enrollment increase 10 percent or more from last year. Three of the schools saw single-digit declines in enrollment.

  • Recovery Funds Go To Schools Hit by Hurricanes

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The state has approved spending $24 million in federal disaster funds on several school systems in southeast Louisiana damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The money will go to schools in Lafourche, Plaquemines and St. Tammany parishes and to Delgado Community College in New Orleans and Southern University at New Orleans.

But the bulk of the new funding goes to Plaquemines — nearly $11 million — and St. Tammany schools gets $8.5 million.

Denis Rousselle, the head of schools in Plaquemines, says the money will help the parish deal with a population shift to Belle Chasse.

  • Wyo. College Faculty Group Seeks Review

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Laramie County Community College Faculty Senate has asked for a review of the college’s organization, saying the school might have too many administrators and not enough instructors.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported the Faculty Senate voted to ask the trustees for an outside review.

The senate says the current structure isn’t conducive to learning and contributes to morale problems. The senate is also critical of the way academic programs are funded.

College President Darrel Hammon says the numbers of faculty and administrators should be reviewed before anyone draws any conclusions.

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