Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Bi New Briefs

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Bi New Briefs

Article excerpt

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush Signs Law School Bill

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov. Jeb Bush signed a bill last month creating new law schools at Florida A&M University and Florida International University in a bid to open up the legal profession to more minorities.

"We've got enough lawyers, the problem is we don't have enough African American and Hispanic lawyers," Bush said after signing the bill on the Florida A&M campus.

Bush signed the bill on a stage at FAMU, flanked by a coalition of Black and Cuban American lawmakers who pushed for the new schools.

In the past, the two caucuses have been at odds, with Cuban American lawmakers wanting a school at Florida International in Miami and Black lawmakers fighting for the FAMU school.

As recently as last year, supporters from each university went to the Board of Regents, which oversees the state university system, seeking a law school. The board rejected the schools as unnecessary and too expensive.

But the Legislature had the ultimate say, and this year, with many lawmakers who had long sought one law school or the other leaving office because of term limits, the two groups cooperated on a bill calling for two new schools (see Black Issues, May 25).

For Florida A&M, the bill also was intended to right a historic wrong, returning to the school a law program that was taken away in 1968 when the mostly White university across town, Florida State, was granted a law school. FAMU, still predominantly Black, and its alumni have been pushing for the return of the school ever since.

"It's a day that closes a festering sore that's been open," says Bernard Kinsey of Los Angeles, the university's national alumni association president.

Where Florida A&M's law school will be located is still up in the air. With the Florida State law school already in Tallahassee, lawmakers decided the Florida A&M law school should be placed in an under-served urban area along the growing 1-4 corridor between Tampa and Orlando. In addition to those two cities, Lakeland also is vying for the school.

Florida A&M President Dr. Frederick Humphries says he is still considering proposals from all three cities and a decision likely will be made in the fall.

Classes at the new law schools are scheduled to begin in 2003.

Florida A&M now joins Howard University, Southern University, Texas Southern University, North Carolina Central University and the University of the District of Columbia as the lone Black colleges with law schools.

Tennessee State University Fighting Community College Effort

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For decades, officials at Tennessee State University have tried to establish the university as the indisputable public institution serving Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

And time and again, the federal courts have backed up the historically Black school in that quest.

Now university supporters say they are under attack again - this time by a proposal to turn Nashville State Technical Institute into a community college and expand its mission.

At the Tennessee State National Alumni Association's 55th annual convention last month, officials declared their intentions to fight such efforts.

Math professor Ray Richardson says Nashville officials continue to ignore Tennessee State, even though it has more resources to train students for white-collar jobs in local industries than Nashville Tech.

"Nashville Tech can do a lot of things," he told more than 100 sympathetic alumni delegates. "TSU can do infinitely more. Nashville Tech is a good institution. TSU is a great one. We need to say to the people of Nashville, `Stop shooting yourself in the foot.'"

In 1977, a federal judge forced the predominantly White University of Tennessee at Nashville to become part of Tennessee State in a higher education desegregation case aimed at increasing White enrollment at the Black school and increasing minority enrollment at other state colleges in Tennessee. …

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