December 2020

Top Story

Big Changes Anticipated in Higher Ed
During the 2020 campaign, President-elect Joe Biden promised to nominate a teacher to replace Secretary DeVos. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris pledged to forgive student loan debt for HBCU graduates. The Biden-Harris team vowed to level the field for HBCUs and bring in research grants. Now that they have been elected, the HBCU community and the entire country is abuzz with anticipation. The list of possible nominees to head the department of education is distinguished and diverse. It includes:
President-elect Biden is expected to rescind the restrictions that keep international students at bay. He is also expected to take immediate action to protect the so-called Dreamers, whose status remains uncertain. Although a US District Judge recently ordered the DACA program restored, another court case challenging its constitutionality will be heard before the inauguration.
The speed and scope of the anticipated changes may depend heavily upon the composition of the United States senate. An adversarial relationship could be problematic. Much rests on the result of the rough and tumble senate runoff taking place in Georgia. Read more.

Other News

Stimulus Bill Discussions Resume
Congressional leaders, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell, who had been at loggerheads over stimulus funds, resumed talks after weeks of inaction. Legislators are under pressure to provide relief before temporary regulations governing student loan payments, unemployment benefits, and rents expire on December 31, 2020. They are also facing a possible government shutdown if a spending bill is not passed this week. However, Congress is expected to pass a bill to extend that deadline. A bipartisan bicameral committee proposed a $908,000,000 stimulus bill that appears to have the support of President-elect Biden. Read more.

Loan Servicing Forbearance Put on Hold
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos extended the administrative forbearance for federal student loans to January 31, 2021. The Department of Education had already instructed federal student loan servicers to postpone the resumption of billing. Under federal law, servicers had until December 8, 2020, to issue bills due on January 1. 2020. Read more.

Institutions Spend Cautiously
In an apparent rebuff of requests for additional funds, Secretary DeVos unveiled a new Department portal that tracks CARES Act spending. Data show institutions have not yet exhausted the funds already allocated to them. The Secretary offered this as proof additional funding is not needed. However, administrators say they fear violating the complex restrictions that govern spending. The cost of adjustments and the loss of primary and auxiliary revenues may surpass CARES Act funding. Read more.

DACA Restored
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ordered the federal government to restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The secretary of Homeland Security had shortened DACA work permits and stopped accepting applications. Earlier this year, the federal government estimated that 216,000 of the approximately 454,000 undocumented immigrant students enrolled in postsecondary institutions are DACA-eligible. Read more.

Judge Rules Against Latest Restrictions on H-1B Visas
US District Judge Jeffrey White blocked a federal government attempt to impose new restrictions on H-1B high-skilled foreign worker visas. Judge White ruled that the government was not justified in circumventing the required rulemaking procedures. In October, Judge White blocked a H-1B Visa rule that suspended new visas for foreign workers.  Read more.

College Scorecard Updated
The Department of Education added second-year post graduation earnings and cumulative loan data to the college scorecard website. Read more.

Degree Embedded Industry Certifications
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, and Workcred, an affiliate of the American National Standards Institute, have been working to find ways to align and embed certifications with bachelor's degree programs. The participants have made available a framework they developed for embedding certifications and certification pathways in healthcare, cybersecurity, and manufacturing bachelor degree programs. Read more.

Athletic Scholarships Tied to Persistence
Research conducted by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education suggests athletic scholarships provide an important economic buffer for students. Black student athletes graduated at a significantly higher rate than black students in general. The research confirms data released by the NCAA. However, as the NCAA acknowledged that accuracy is compromised by the flawed method used to calculate the federal graduation rate. Read more.

Webinar Series
NASPA Region III wound down its HBCU Webinar Series, which ran from September 30 through November 19, 2020. The series concluded with a session on accountability and sustainability at HBCUs. The series was coordinated by North Carolina A&T State University Director for Student Affairs Assessment and Staff Development, Dr. Kellie Dixon. Recordings are available online. Watch.

Third Annual National Summit for Sustainability of HBCUs
The National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation hosted the first virtual National Summit for Sustainability of HBCUs. Participants included Wells Fargo, Quest Diagnostics, Cocoa Cola Company, ED Choice, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, the UNCF, the TMCF, 100 Black Men of America, NAFEO, and HBCU administrators. Panel discussions covered the pandemic, corporate philanthropy, social justice, and HBCU sustainability. Read more.

Federal Student Aid Conference
The Department of Education held its annual Federal Student Aid Training Conference online. The conference provided student financial aid professionals with technical information needed for compliance. The event also provided participants with a preview of the revamped student aid website and new mobile app. Secretary DeVos gave the keynote address. An estimated 14,000 people attended the four-day affair. Read more.

Settlement in College Rankings Investigation
The Department of Education has reached a settlement with Temple University for allegedly boosting the ratings of Fox School of Business by submitting false information to U.S. News & World Report. The University says that when it discovered inaccurate information had been submitted for certain programs it withdrew those programs from ranking consideration and established protocols to prevent reoccurrence. Under the agreement, Temple will pay $700,000 to the Department of Education. Read more.

Universities Hacked
At least 14 universities in the United States were victims of a phishing campaign aimed at harvesting student credentials and university funds. Research suggests that hackers timed their attack to take advantage of the chaos that is characteristic of the first few days of the term. Read more.

Faculty Burnout
As the pandemic drags on, concern for the mental and physical health of faculty is escalating. According to recent surveys, stress, fatigue, increased workloads, health concerns, increased family responsibilities, and job insecurity are factors contributing to burnout. During a Chronicle of Higher Education webinar, college presidents spoke about how helping employee take advantage of unused existing benefits, including child and elder care, boosts retention. Stress, already common among adjunct faculty, is devastating tenured and tenure-track faculty as well. Read more.

Marijuana Legalization
The United States House of Representatives has passed a bill legalizing marijuana on the federal level. The decriminalization movement has gained advocates who see marijuana as a potential source of revenue for states. Legalization may also increase the opportunities and scope of research. Several HBCUs are currently involved in cannabis research and commercialization. Read more.

Student Financial Aid

2020 Virtual FSA Training Conference

The FSA Training Conference was held December 1-4, 2020. The conference highlighted recent and pending updates under the NextGen FSA Initiative, including:

On the first day of the conference, a discussion on professional judgment covered adjustments to expected family contribution, adjustments made to cost of attendance, and the pandemic considerations. The video may still be available here.

On the final day of the conference, a training officer discussed the top 10 compliance audit findings. She stressed the importance of administrative capability and internal controls. Video of the session may be available for viewing. The top ten findings were:

  1. Student Status: Inaccurate/Untimely Reporting
  2. Repeat Finding: Failure to Take Corrective Action
  3. Return of Title IV (R2T4) Calculation Errors
  4. Verification Violations
  5. Qualified Auditor's Opinion Cited in Audit
  6. Student Credit Balance Deficiencies
  7. Entrance/Exit Counseling Deficiencies
  8. G5 Expenditures Untimely/Incorrectly Reported
  9. Pell Grants Overpayments or Underpayments

Grants, Awards, Gifts
Claflin University received a gift of $250,000 to establish a scholarship fund from the family of Ms. Linda Hill. Ms. Hill served as a member of the faculty for 46 years. She passed away in April 2019. Read more.

Howard University received two $250,000 gifts. The School of Business Center for Excellence in Supply Chain Management received $250,000 from Ryder System, Inc. to support supply chain management education with scholarships, paid-internships, and curriculum. The University also received a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to investigate the impact of digital manipulation and disinformation on Black Communities. Read more.

South Carolina State University was awarded educational grants from the Department of Education to support its substance abuse and mental health services programs. $2,000,000 from IBM as part of a collaborative effort to improve learning and technology resources. Read more.

North Carolina A&T State University has entered into an agreement with Arch Mortgage Insurance Company to create the Arch MI Scholars Program. The program will provide scholarships and paid internships for high-achieving students. Upon graduation, students will be eligible for a paid fellowship at Arch Mortgage and Insurance Company. Read more.

Phil Mickelson and Charles Barkley prevailed over Stephen Curry and Peyton Manning in Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Change, a celebrity golf tournament that raised funds for Minority Serving Institutions. Tuskegee and Jackson State Universities will receive donations from the winning pair. Howard University, Grambling State, Southern University at New Orleans, and Lane College will receive donations pledged by Manning and Curry. Turner Sports will donate to Bennett College and WarnerMedia will make donations to Morehouse College, Howard, Alabama A&M, Hampton, and Winston-Salem State Universities. The awards will be used to fund sports and/or journalism programs. Read more.

Bank of America awarded Paine College a $65,000 grant that will be used to integrate Hybrid Interactive SMART technology with Blackboard Collaborate. The Bank also disbursed $1,000,000 each to Morgan State, Florida A&M, Delaware State University, Prairie View A&M University, and Tennessee State University. The awards are part of the bank's commitment to advance equity. Read more.

Giving Tuesday was very successful this year. Elizabeth City State University received a $50,000 unrestricted grant from the Duke Energy Foundation during Giving Tuesday. Johnson C. Smith University's campaign raised over $30,000. Claflin raised over $57,000. Advocacy and other groups including the UNCF, the TMCF, the National Black MBA Association, the National HBCU Foundation, HBCU Heroes, HBCU Sports, and the HBCU Campaign Fund helped to raise funds.

Jackson State University received a $100,000 grant from the Southern Company Foundation to install HyFlex and other advanced technology in classrooms. Its College of Education and Human Development was awarded a $999,975 grant from the Department of Education to educate students to serve the special-needs population in Mississippi. The University also won a $420,000 award from the CDC Foundation to develop a marketing campaign aimed at reducing COVID in hard hit counties in Mississippi.

Gun Violence Research Project
The National Collaborative for Gun Violence Research awarded The Thurgood Marshall College Fund $1,000,000 to investigate gun violence in urban settings. The TMCF, and researchers from Delaware State University, Coppin State, and Texas Southern Universities will conduct the study. Read more.


Jackson State University named alumnus Thomas K. Hudson, JD, its next president. He had been serving on an interim basis since February 2020. Read more.

South Carolina State University Board of Trustees has agreed to extend the contract of President James E. Clark for another two to four years. Read more.

Voorhees College President Dr. W. Franklin Evans will assume the presidency of West Liberty University in West Virginia on January 1, 2021. Read more.

Carver Bible College named Pastor C.L. Jordan, president. Pastor Jordan comes to Carver from Louisville, Kentucky where he leads two churches. His tenure begins February 1, 2021. Read more.

Morehouse College executive vice president and chief business officer , Gerald L. Hector has been named the senior vice president for Administration and Finance at the University of Central Florida. His tenure begins January 4, 2021. Read more.

South Carolina State University appointed Dr. Joshua Idassi to be the state's leader for sustainable agriculture and natural resources. Dr. Idassi most recently served at the University from North Carolina A&T State University. Read more.

Talladega College named April R. Clark, associate vice president for institutional advancement. Ms. Clark comes to the College from St. Augustine's University, where she served as director of development .Read more.

Harris-Stowe State University named Dr. Edward Hill associate provost for academic affairs. Dr. Hill comes to the University from Wilberforce University where he served in a similar capacity. The University also named James Fogt as chief innovation officer of its new Center for Academic Innovation and Technology Transfer. Read more.

Rust College announced Dr. Ishmell Edwards will retire, effective June 1, 2021. After earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Science from Rust College in 1971, Dr. Edwards stayed on and served in various capacities. He is currently the athletic director and vice president for college relations. His doctoral dissertation at the University of Mississippi was on the history of Rust College. Read more.


Delaware State University President Dr. Tony Allen has been named the Chief Executive Officer of the Biden-Harris Presidential Inauguration Committee. Dr. Allen served as special assistant and speechwriter for Mr. Biden during the 1990s. Read more.

Allen University sent its students home with personal protective equipment care packages. The packages contained washable cloth masks, disposable masks, hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, written material, and non-perishable food items. Read more.

Alcorn State University's Library won the Best Year-Round Effort by an Individual Library to Publicize Library Services in General award during the 2020 Mississippi Library Association's Virtual Conference. The award acknowledged the outreach programs the library provides for students and the community. Read more.

North Carolina A&T State University Professor Dr. Brandis Phillips' expertise was featured on Wallet Hub, a personal finance website. Dr. Phillips, a CPA, is an associate professor of accounting and finance and a published authority on technology. Read more.

Spelman College has named a scholarship for Helen Smith Price, a trustee and alumna. The Helen Smith Price, C’79, Endowed Finish Line Scholarship is supported by Cocoa-Cola and will provide need-based awards to high achieving students. Read more.

St. Philip’s College faculty member, Irene Young, has won the Alamo Colleges District award for Outstanding Efforts on International Education. The award acknowledges her work in international studies. Dr. Mordecai Ian Brownlee, Vice President for Student Success at the College was chosen by a panel of national community college leaders to participate in the Executive Leadership Institute (ELI). Read more.


Accreditation News
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) lifted sanctions from two HBCUs during its annual conference. Benedict College and Denmark Technical College had their accreditation restored to good standing. Two other HBCUs are on track to accreditation with the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges (TRACS) and one has already earned it. Dr. Cheryl Evans Jones, president of Paine College, announced TRACS elevated the institution's candidacy to the accredited status. Although it is now fully accredited, its suit against the SACSCOC is still pending. Morris Brown College President Dr. Kevin James announced that TRACS approved its application for accreditation. TRACS will visit the Morris Brown campus in January and hold a vote on the College's candidacy in April. Bennett College President Suzanne Walsh, JD, announced the College has advanced from applicant status to candidate status with TRACS. It remains accredited with SACSCOC, although its dispute with that accreditor is unresolved. TRACS is recognized by the Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education. The Department of Education removed the distinction between regional and national accrediting bodies. It can take about five years to complete the TRACS accreditation process. Read more.

Please note our office will be closed December 24-25 and
December 31, 2020- January 1, 2021.

Texas Southern University Jesse H. Jones School of Business has partnered with the Texas Bankers Association to launch the Future Bankers Leadership Program. The program includes a commercial banking concentration, internship opportunities, and exposure to industry executives and mentors. Plans are underway to expand the program to include fintech, banking compliance, and governance, and other initiatives. Read more.

Howard University announced a new Bachelor of Arts to Juris Doctor joint degree program will be open to incoming freshmen. The program provides a pathway for eligible students to complete both their Bachelor of Arts and their Juris Doctor degrees in six years. Read more.

North Carolina A&T University launched its online Transfer Credit Articulation Tool. The tool makes it easier for students to make informed decisions when considering a transfer. It provides real-time credit evaluation of courses taken at other institutions. Read more.

Lincoln University President Dr. Brenda Allen signed an articulation agreement with Delaware County Community College President Dr. L. Joy Gates Black. The agreement establishes a pathway for qualified Delaware County Community College graduates to transfer to the University as juniors en route to completing a baccalaureate. Seventeen of the College's associate degrees are covered by the agreement. Read more.

Morgan State University Board of Regents approved a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechatronics Engineering. The Regents also approved a Ph.D. in Secure Embedded Systems and a (3+2) Year Dual Bachelor of Science Degree program offered in partnership with Purdue University. Read more.

Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University (TSU) launched the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Medical, Dental Accelerated Pathway Program. It prepares qualified students at Tennessee State to gain early acceptance at Meharry medical or dental school. The program's namesake, a TSU alumnus, was the first physician to successfully implant a defibrillator in a patient. Read more.

Florida A&M University has secured initial accreditation for its Master of Health Administration Program. The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education accreditation opens up additional opportunities for graduates of the program. They will be eligible for otherwise restricted fellowships and residencies. Read more.

Grambling State University launched Grambling Global Academy. The academy offers low-cost online courses to help adults finish their bachelor's degree. Read more.


Southern University's Athletic Director, Roman Banks, announced Chris Crenshaw will serve as interim head coach for baseball. Mr. Crenshaw is currently serving as the assistant baseball coach. Former head coach, Kerrick Jackson resigned, to accept the position of president of the Major League Baseball Draft League. Read more.

Coach Oliver Buddy Pough will continue to lead South Carolina State's football program through December 31, 2021. He has been with the University 18 years. Read more.

Bowie State University's assistant athletic director for media relations Mr. Gregory Going announced he will retire in May 2021. He has been with the University since September 2003.] Read more.

Paine College has partnered with Augusta National Golf Club to launch a women's golf program. The partnership will also fund the Lee Elder Scholarships for the men's and women's golf teams. Lee Elder was the first African American to compete in the Masters Tournament. Read more.

Benedict College has partnered with Blaze Fire Games, a digital content provider, to launch an eSports club and provide access to related certificate-level courses. The Benedict Tigers have begun hosting and competing in tournaments. Read more.

Teams from 20 HBCUs competed in the first HBCU eSports Homecoming Classic. The event was held online and included live performances and a half-time show. Winners received cash and scholarships. Read more.

Basketball Schedules in Flux due to the pandemic. Basketball games have been postponed and even canceled due to COVID concerns. Surveillance testing is performed regularly and though not common, positive COVID results have occurred. Read more.

Universities Exercise Caution Virginia State University has opted out of basketball citing pandemic concerns. Florida A&M University has opted out of 2021 spring football, volleyball, and indoor track and field. The women's basketball team has also opted out for the spring due to the pandemic. Read more.

Singer Beyoncé Knowles Carter and interactive fitness platform, Peloton, have partnered to bring themed workouts to HBCUs during homecoming. Peloton awarded two-year memberships to students at 10 HBCUs. Read more.


Save the Date: 2021 WPG HBCU Forum will be held March 8-9, 2021

Event:Campus Technology Distance Learning Summit
Date:On Demand

Event: African American Board Leadership Institute Board Talks
Date:On Demand

Event:Campus Technology Distance Learning Summit
Date:On Demand

Event:Leadership in Higher Education Virtual Conference
Date:October 1-December 31, 2020

Event:TurningFASB Accounting Standards into Innovation
Date:December 9, 2020



Event:Nonprofit Quarterly' Webinar Strategy Meets Standards: Turning FASB Accounting Standards into Innovation
Date:December 9, 2020 at 4:00PM - 5:15PM ET

Event:CHEA 2021 Annual Conference
Date:January 26-28, 2021

Event:NASFAA Leadership Virtual Symposium
Date:February 2-March 2, 2020

Event:ACE/AIEA Internationalization Collaborative 2021
Date:February 12, 2020

Event:WPG HBCU Forum 2021
Date:March 8-9, 2021


WPG Special Report

Institutions Prepare for Spring



The Pandemic Wildcard
In an attempt to discover how the pandemic has impacted colleges, the Chronicle of Higher Education partnered with Ad Astra, and the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College to conduct a survey. The results indicate the pandemic has exacerbated preexisting inequalities and problems. It has taken a huge financial toll on colleges and universities by depressing revenues while ratcheting up costs.


The de-densification of residence halls, canceled sports, closed dining halls, and a decline in enrollment reduced revenue to a trickle. At the same time, institutions faced a rise in operating costs, including personal protective gear, medical equipment, software, and hardware. They also had to pay heightened sanitation and construction costs associated with retrofitting classrooms, workspaces, and residential halls. The CARES Act provided some relief but the funds were not unrestricted. Institutions had to be cautious and as a result, a sizable amount of the funds remain unspent. Those that could, drew down on their endowments. Others reduced staff and eliminated programs. An Inside Higher ED survey of business officers showed many believe cost-cutting measures like layoffs, salary and benefit reduction, and program cuts will help their institutions survive the pandemic-recession and make them stronger overall. Additional strategies and insights for improving post-pandemic stability were discussed in Audit Considerations and Strategies for the Post-Pandemic Viability of Higher Education Institutions


Cautious Approach
During the fall it was not uncommon to hear about a university sending students home due to a spike in positive tests. Although there were very few fatalities, each one was devastating. Now, as spring semester draws near, institutions are using different approaches. Some plan to reopen fully and others, are developing their own hybrid options specifically tailored for their institution. Of the large state systems, New York will have face-to-face instruction on all of its 64 campuses, while all 23 California State University campuses will be virtual.


For HBCUs, the decision to reopen campuses or continue remote instruction is especially difficult. They need to serve students who may lack the resources to benefit from remote instruction without putting them at risk. Institutions largely switched to remote instruction or pursued hybrid approaches that allowed some students to remain on campus. North Carolina A&T State University, one of five HBCUs in the University of North Carolina System, will hold spring registration virtually and enforce strict policies on campus residency.


Hampton University announced early on that it was sticking to remote instruction for spring. Clark Atlanta University and Spelman and Morehouse College are each adopting a model that allows some students to return to campus. While some institutions have canceled spring break, others have not. HBCUs and other institutions have proven to be able to adapt and innovate, so if an outbreak is severe, it is likely they will revert to a virtual or hybrid model. Most institutions are conducting surveillance testing and enforcing CDC guidelines. They are prepared to make adjustments as necessary. Johnson C. Smith astutely advised students to "remain flexible and be prepared for change."


Recovery Initiatives
It’s difficult to look beyond the pandemic when just navigating through it is such a daunting effort. Institutions are intricately connected to the communities and demographics they serve. Last May, the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities published Revitalizing America Post COVID-19: Roadmap to Activate HBCU Revitalization Ecosystems for an Inclusive, Competitive and Enduring National Economic Recovery. The document promoted utilizing the US Department of Commerce's Economic Development Awards (EDA) as a cornerstone for economic recovery planning. In a recent three-part webinar series, representatives from the EDA provided information on ways in which HBCUs can utilize EDA resources. The EDA website provides links to the slides and recordings. The website also features several case studies that can be used to see how the various grant program works.

About This Publication
WPG HBCU News is a monthly email published by the Wesley Peachtree Group, CPAs (WPG) as a service to the sector. It provides short summaries of news articles, government regulations, and announcements found online.

WPG HBCU News is available at no cost to HBCU administrators, trustees, and senior stakeholders. It is not intended as legal or financial advice. WPG's staff, writers, editors,  publishers, web hosts, e-mail distributors, and others involved with the production and presentation of this newsletter are not liable for errors, omissions, losses, injuries, or damages arising directly or indirectly from use of this newsletter or any information presented therein.

WPG is a full-service accounting firm with clients in the private business, education, government, faith-based, and not-for-profit sectors. We specialize in higher-education with a particular emphasis on minority-serving institutions. Our support for HBCUs includes the WPG HBCU News (this publication) and the Annual WPG HBCU Forum. We welcome your feedback.
The Wesley Peachtree Group, CPAs

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