ATLANTA, GA (WALB) – WALB is taking a deeper look at a bill that could greatly impact Albany’s only state university.
WALB News 10′s Asia Wilson has been tracking the controversial legislation and the withdrawn senate bill (SB 273) along with a new bill (SB 278) that has been proposed.
Senate Bill 273 indicates the names of three historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, would change to a uniform name. They would be called the Georgia Agricultural and Mechanical University System (Georgia A & M).’ Now, under the new version, Albany State, Savannah State and Fort Valley State universities would keep their names but operate under the new system.
You may remember us telling you Tuesday about five senators withdrawing the bill, including Freddie Powell Sims, because they did not want the schools’ names changed.
The new bill states the Georgia A & M System will still stand and include a government-appointed team to make annual visits to the schools and inspect them regularly.
We’re working to get clarification from the bill’s author on who will make up that team.
Georgia A & M will have the power to appoint and remove professors, consolidate or suspend institutions, merge departments and more.
Why the HBCU bills were created
The bill’s author, Senator Lester Jackson, said that right now, the Board of Regents has lobbyists from schools in the University System of Georgia, voicing issues at the Capitol every day, but not for HBCUs.
Senator Jackson said the Board of Regents and the University System of Georgia currently have one African-American out of 19 people on the board.
Jackson said this led him to drafting the bill to bring more attention and conversation about the needs of Albany State, Fort Valley State and Savannah State universities. He wants to form the Georgia Agricultural and Mechanical University System.
Senator Jackson said the five drivers pushing this proposal are decline in enrollment, historical under-funding, low endowment, lack of student and alumni involvement with the selection of presidents and lack of equity compared to other universities.
“Our main avenue is to work with the university system. We want to be included in the university system but we want equity. We want the same things that the other institutions are getting. We want help in recruiting the best and brightest,” said Jackson.
Jackson said the schools combined only have a little over 12,000 students, which is why he wants a board of trustees for the state historically black college system that models after other states like North Carolina A & T and Florida A & M.