Instability risks longevity

In 2001, Grambling State University celebrated 100 years of “turning nobodys into somebodys.”

The historically black university was founded in northern Louisiana in 1901 by an association of black farmers.

Now, just one year after its centennial celebration, accounting problems threaten to shut down the university.

According to The Associated Press, Grambling “has been unable to provide financial statements deemed acceptable for a state audit since 1997.”

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which is charged with accrediting the university, has placed Grambling on probation.

The university has until Monday to turn in an accounting of the past two school years.

Following the bad accounting-induced collapse of some of the largest U.S. corporations, the need for good financial record-keeping is clearly understood. In December 2001, energy-trader Enron went bankrupt under the weight of overstated earnings and $16 billion in debt.

Telecommunications giant WorldCom filed for bankruptcy in July. The company has since announced $7.1 billion in bogus accounting. WorldCom is the largest company to go under in US history-a distinction previously held by Enron.

Accounting troubles may be expected in the corporate world where the bottom line is money. We do not expect accounting troubles to threaten the longevity of a university.

f Grambling fails to meet Monday deadline, the result would be a loss of accreditation. For a university, that is just as bad if not worse than going bankrupt.

No accreditation means no federal funding. Ninety percent of Grambling’s students would lose financial aid. Grambling graduates would have to fight an uphill battle in the job market and in applying to graduate schools. Without accreditation, their degrees would lose value.

This crisis is the result of the circus atmosphere in leadership at the university.

Grambling is on its sixth president since 1991. That is absolutely ridiculous.

They have had about as many student government presidents in the past 10 years as university presidents. The university only had three presidents its first 90 years. To make matters worse, Grambling has had seven vice presidents of finance since 1993. That is counting a vacancy in that office from 1999 to 2001.

Leadership of the university is constantly being fought over. It is shameful that it has gone on for so long.

This is like having a parent who gets remarried and divorced every other year. The parent is so busy saying “I do” then “I don’t” that no attention is paid to the well being of the children.

When key positions within a university are constantly being fought over and each office has a revolving door, the business of educating students and providing a stable learning environment is no longer a priority.

The quest for power and status must not be placed over the best interest of the university and the minds it is charged with molding.

Grambling State University’s motto is “the place where everybody is somebody.” Administration needs to work to keep the schools books in order and end the infighting.

The Louisiana Board of Regents must choose a president that can and will stick around for the long haul. Otherwise, Grambling State University will become a place that used to turn everybody into somebody.

– Augustine Rho for the Editorial Board