Saturday, September 14, 2002

Legislator: Make Ky. State part of another school

School plagued by scandal after scandal, he says

By The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT - A state senator says Kentucky State University's financial and academic problems may merit taking another look at an old idea of making it part of another school.

        Other legislators said KSU deserves to stand on its own and one questioned whether racism played a part in the most recent debate.

        State Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville, said KSU has the highest amount of state funding per student of Kentucky's eight public universities, the lowest teacher-student ratio and performs the worst, facts that have long been the case.

        During a meeting of the General Assembly's Program Review and Investigations Committee, Mr. Seum said that if conditions don't improve at KSU, the state's only historically black university, it might be time for further action, including closing the university and putting it under the University of Kentucky.

        “There's been scandal after scandal after scandal,” Mr. Seum said. “Others are inclined to think what I'm thinking.”

        Rep. Gippy Graham, D-Frankfort, chairman of the review committee, said KSU's problems weren't severe enough to do away with the institution.

        “KSU will stand,” Mr. Graham said. “KSU will go on in my opinion. Our purpose is to help it get going in the right direction.”

        Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, is not a member of the committee, but is an alumnus of KSU and the Senate's only black member.

        “I wonder if there are racial overtones,” said Mr. Neal, who stressed he didn't want to jump to conclusions about motivation.

        This isn't the first time such a proposal has surfaced. In 1981, the Council on Higher Education (now the Council on Postsecondary Education) considered a proposal to turn KSU into a two-year community college operated by UK. That proposal failed unanimously when the full council voted on it after a public outcry from KSU supporters who contended the university's problems were a product of neglect by the state.

        William Wilson, chairman of the KSU board of regents, scoffed at the idea.

        “If this were any other institution that had problems, they wouldn't think of moving it under another banner,” Mr. Wilson said, somewhat angrily, after the hearing. “Scandals are at every university.”

        KSU had come under fire for audits showing mismanagement of university funds, while the school had a 36 percent pass rate on the national teacher certification exam this year.

        In addition, the school has come under investigation from the U.S. Department of Education and the FBI.

        In June, the board fired controversial President George Reid, in part because of his use of public funds for private expenditures.


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