It’s Official -- Michael L. Thurmond Sworn In as CEO of DeKalb County, Georgia –“I Owe it All to Paine College”

Posted by painewebmaster | 01/19/2017 17:44 PM

By Helene T. Carter

As we bear witness to the Presidential Inauguration, we also take note of our elected officials who were chosen to serve and protect the people’s interests on local and state levels. The New Year ushered in a crop of elected officials who share a common bond -- they are graduates of Paine College who serve in political offices throughout Georgia and the nation.

Attorney Michael L. Thurmond, a 1975 Paine alumnus, earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of South Carolina’s School of Law and completed the Political Executives program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. On January 13, 2017, he took an oath to restore trust, transparency and vowed to eliminate corruption as the newly elected Chief Executive Officer of DeKalb County, Georgia.

“I owe my success to Paine College,” said Thurmond when asked how he arrived at such a highly-elected state office in a predominantly red state. Thurmond, a Democrat, won a convincing victory against his Republican opponent. This servant leader is no stranger to Georgia politics and its people. As a former DeKalb County Schools Superintendent, he upgraded the district’s accreditation status, eliminated a multi-million dollar deficit and improved student academic performance and graduation rates. The newly elected CEO will be in charge of more than 6,000 government employees and a $1.38 billion annual budget. Thurmond, also known as The Fixer and the Master Builder of Relationships, has the ability to connect people and forge alliances deemed non-existent.

Reflecting on his Paine College experience, he said, “My professors taught me that there is more that unites us than divides us. At Paine, everybody knew each other. Paine was a small tight-knit community. It was typical for caring staff and alumni to guide and mentor students. They went beyond the call of duty to ensure that students excelled. Paine College continues to offer a big education in a small and caring environment.

As a son of a Clarke County, Georgia sharecropper, I learned invaluable lessons at Paine that I have carried with me throughout my life’s work. I am a better servant leader because of my Paine College experience.” Thurmond is a staunch advocate for his Alma Mater. He even took a break from the 2016 campaign trail to steer the College through a rough patch. The Paine College Board of Trustees unanimously voted to appoint Thurmond as Board Chair-Elect.

Attorney Barbara E. Bouknight, Chairman of the Board has recognized Thurmond as a dedicated Paine College alumnus who worked tirelessly to ensure that the institution survives and thrives. He is the face of the "Be 1 of 1000" Campaign that continues to garner donations for the College’s Annual Fund Campaign.

When asked what he wanted most for his Alma Mater, he replied, “I want people to support Paine College. I want alumni to donate their time and resources to an institution that has helped to shape numerous lives. I would like the Augusta Community and the state of Georgia to give gifts that will make a difference, the kinds of donations that will help to enhance the living and learning environment for students. Lend support to the College academic programs and increase offerings to students who otherwise would not have a chance to attend college. Investing in Paine College will always prove to be a sound investment and it’s one that will yield high dividends for the future.”

Thurmond has made an indelible mark in the Peach State. In 1986, he became the first African-American elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County since Reconstruction. During his tenure, he authored major legislation that has provided more than $250 million in tax relief to senior citizens and working families. Following his legislative service, Thurmond was called upon to lead the state Division of Family and Children's Services and direct Georgia's historic transition from welfare to work. He created the innovative Work First program, which helped over 90,000 welfare-dependent Georgia families move from dependence into the workforce.

In 1997, Thurmond became a distinguished lecturer at the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government. The following year in November, he was elected Georgia Labor Commissioner, becoming the first non-incumbent African American to be elected to statewide office in Georgia. During his three terms as commissioner, the Georgia Labor Department underwent a major transformation and his Georgia Works program earned national praise and bi-partisan support.

Thurmond’s latest book, Freedom: Georgia’s Antislavery Heritage, 1733-1865, was awarded the Georgia Historical Society’s Lilla Hawes Ward. In 2004, The Georgia Center for the Book listed Freedom as one of The 25 Books All Georgian’s Should Read. He serves on the University of Georgia Libraries Board of Visitors. He is married to Zola Fletcher Thurmond, and they have one daughter, Mikaya.

Paine College Announces the Passing of Reverend Lucius H. Pitts, Jr., Past-Member of the Board of Trustees

Posted by painewebmaster | 01/13/2017 14:57 PM

Augusta, GA – Sadly, Dr. Samuel Sullivan, President, and the Paine College Community, announce the passing of Reverend Lucius H. Pitts, Jr., past-member of the Paine College Board of Trustees. “It is with heavy hearts that we bid farewell to our beloved son, Reverend Lucius H. Pitts, Jr. who served with distinction on the Paine College Board of Trustees,” said Dr. Sullivan. “Throughout his tenure on the Board, he served with great passion and love for his Alma Mater.”

The “Celebration of Life” service is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., Saturday, January 14, 2016, at Phillips Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church located at 1310 Holsey Street, Phenix, Alabama 36867.  Reverend  Gregory Scott, pastor, and Elder James Smith will officiate the service. Interment will follow in Evergreen Memorial Park, Columbus, Georgia.

Reverend Pitts was born January 18, 1949 in Cordele, Georgia to the late Dr. Lucius H. Pitts, Sr. and the late Daffeneeze Bates Pitts. He received his primary education in Fairfield, Alabama; attended Miles College, Birmingham, Alabama; and received his Bachelor’s Degree from Paine College. He attended Phillips School of Theology, the seminary of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church located in Atlanta, Georgia.

Reverend Pitts served as Presiding Elder and Pastor in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. His most recent appointment as pastor was at  St. Luke C.M.E. Church in Auburn, Alabama.

Reverend Pitts and his father, Dr. Lucius Pitts, Sr. shared a common bond – they both graduated from Paine College and shared a deep love for their Alma Mater.  They were both employed at Paine College: Reverend Pitts served as Director of Admissions in 1988 under Dr. Julius S. Scott’s Administration. His father, Dr. Pitts, Sr., was appointed 9th President of Paine College and became the first African American to lead the Institution.

“As we approach the College’s 135th Founders’ Day and Homecoming Celebration, we will miss his towering presence on the campus. He was always inspiring and had words of reassurance throughout my presidency at Paine.”

He is survived by a brother, John Pitts, and a host of relatives and friends.

Condolences may be sent to the Pitts Family c/o Mr. John Pitts at 3011 18th Avenue, Apartment F, Columbus, GA 31901. For additional information, please contact Taylor Funeral Home at (334) 298.0364.

Paine College Hosts 2016 Coronation Ceremony

Posted by painewebmaster | 10/21/2016 07:11 AM

(Augusta, GA) – The coronation of Mr. and Miss Paine College 2016-2017 was held in the Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel on the campus of Paine College. Mr. Joshua Dunbar and Miss Sarah Avera will take their places as student ambassadors for the academic school year.

About Miss Sarah Avera

Miss Sarah Avera is a native of Augusta, Georgia. She is majoring in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations. Avera is a part of the Student Government Association Executive Committee. She is also a peer mentor and community activist. She tutors and mentors at the local high schools, and participates and assists with The Eagle Sisters Program at T.W. Josey High School. Miss Paine is a proud member of Antioch Baptist Church and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc, The ELITE Eta Theta Chapter. As Ms. Paine College, her platform is ” Reconstructing The Gateway to the World.”  After graduation, Avera would like to open a facility in the inner city of Augusta, Ga where local students would receive tutoring, hot meals, and counseling. She would also like to become a special events coordinator for a Fortune 500 company or a major league sports team. 

About Mr. Joshua Dunbar 

Mr. Joshua Dunbar is from Tallahassee, Florida. He is a Business Management Major. Dunbar is a member of Greater Cleaves Memorial CME Church in Oklahoma. He is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and the Collegiate 100. He is currently a peer mentor and tutor. After graduation, Dubar would like to own and operate a barbershop and restaurant in addition to launching* a clothing line.  His ultimate goal is to become a philanthropist. 

For more information on Paine College, please visit: http://www.paine.edu/ or contact the Office of Communications & Marketing at (706) 396-7591 or marketing@paine.edu. 


The Democratic “Forward Together” Mobilizing Tour to Visit Paine College

Posted by painewebmaster | 10/17/2016 03:55 AM

AUGUSTA, GA – On Monday, October 17, Paine College will welcome the DNC “Forward Together” Tour bus at 2 pm as it continues to cross the country working to mobilize women, students, millennial voters, and minorities encouraging them to register and vote early.

The “Forward Together” tour movement which features two buses kicked off earlier this month embarking on a 20 state tour. One bus traveled around Midwest states headed to the West Coast and the second bus started in Ohio and will eventually end up in Florida.

In each city, the tour features speeches from Democratic leaders. During the stop at Paine, Georgia Representatives Gloria Frazier and Henry "Wayne" Howard, former Congressman John Barrow, along with Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis are scheduled to speak. 

In addition to urging students to vote early and get actively involved in this year’s election, representatives will discuss issues like increasing wages, student debt, reforming the criminal justice system, and climate change.

The tour bus will park at the HEAL Complex. All University students and area residents are invited to attend. The event will conclude with a meet-and-greet and an opportunity to take photos with the speakers and officials.

Paine College Student Selected to be 2016 American Chemical Society Scholar

Posted by painewebmaster | 10/11/2016 11:02 AM

Paine College is pleased to announce that student Valerie Hollimon was selected by the American Chemical Society (ACS) as one of its 2016 scholars. The ACS Scholars Program awards scholarships of up to $5,000 to underrepresented minority students who want to enter the fields of chemistry or chemistry-related fields. The ACS Scholars Program was created in 1994 by the National Science Foundation.

Hollimon, a Sophomore Chemistry major and Biology minor, is one of 144 ACS scholars nationwide selected this year. She is one of the eight students from Georgia and only student selected from the Augusta area. “I was ecstatic when I heard that I received the scholarship,” said Hollimon, “It was one of the best moments of my life.” 

Her love for Chemistry began in high school. It was then that she decided to major in Chemistry in College. “There are numerous opportunities in the STEM field” said Hollimon, “Math plays a huge part in our everyday lives. There is a large amount of research that goes into helping improve the way we live.” 

As member of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students, or MAPS which represents underrepresented minorities in the medical field, Hollimon said that these types of programs allow more people to know about what happens in STEM and she hopes that more students will be inspired to explore Chemistry and Biology.

Dr. Xiaoning Zhang, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, mentors Hollimon. “I am very glad to serve as a mentor for Ms. Hollimon,” said Dr. Zhang, “The high quality education of Paine College not only prepared Ms. Hollimon to win those honors but also provide the skills and experience that help her to pursue college majors in the chemical sciences and, following graduation from college, to pursue career paths in the chemical sciences.”

In addition to this award, Hollimon has been also selected to receive a Student Travel Award for the 2016 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) being held in Tampa, FL where she will present her research with a title of “Reversible Approach for Silicon Surface Modification”. 

Hollimon offers this advice for fellow students, “Continue to do everything you would like to do in life because nothing is really impossible if you believe in yourself.”

For more information about the ACS Scholars program, visit www.acs.org. For more information about the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students program, visit www.abrcms.org.

 

 

SACSCOC Signs Consent Order Granting Preliminary Injunctive Relief to Paine College, Augusta, Georgia

Posted by painewebmaster | 09/20/2016 11:57 AM

The press release below was issued by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) today, September 20, 2016.

AUGUSTA, GA, SEPTEMBER 20, 2016 --  On September 19, 2016, the leadership of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) agreed to a Consent Order Granting Preliminary Injunction that reinstated the accreditation of Paine College, located in Augusta, Georgia, with SACSCOC. Paine College is continued as a member on Probation pending further Order of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. SACSCOC revokes all prior notifications regarding Paine College's September 12, 2016, removal of accreditation. 

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the regional accrediting body for degree-granting institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and some institutions in Latin America. The SACSCOC Board of Trustees is the 77-member representative body of approximately 800-member institutions and its College Delegate Assembly and is charged with carrying out the accreditation process. To gain or maintain accreditation, an institution must comply with SACSCOC's policies and with all standards contained in the Principles of Accreditation. 

Paine College Department of Humanities to Celebrate 19th Anniversary of Evelyn G. Etheridge Conference of the Harlem Renaissance and to Commemorate the Centennial Birth of Celebrated Author and Alumnus, Frank G. Yerby, ‘37

Posted by painewebmaster | 09/20/2016 11:09 AM

By Jeffrey Lanier Jones
The Paine College Department of Humanities will celebrate the 19
th Anniversary of the Evelyn G. Etheridge Conference on the Harlem Renaissance on November 2 4, 2016 at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia. The Conference, founded in 1997 by Dr. Lola Richardson, former chair of the Department and Paine Alumna, will examine the national and international impact of one of the most important artistic and cultural movements in history that spanned from 1919 to 1940 and produced notable writers, critics, and artists such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Aaron Douglas, Ann Petry, Bessie Smith, and Duke Ellington. This year’s theme, “Precursors, Periods, and Postscripts: Critical Thought, Beliefs, Productions, and Activism Before, During, and After the Harlem Renaissance” invites professors, undergraduate and graduate students, and independent scholars to present research that will examine the origins and the legacy of the Renaissance through interdisciplinary collaborations. Special guest presenters include Dr. Christopher Varlack of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Doris Wellington, independent scholar and author, Atlanta, Georgia. The Conference keynote speaker is Dr. Daniel Black of Clark Atlanta University, renowned scholar and author of They Tell Me of a Home, The Sacred Place, The Coming, and his latest novel, Listen to the Lambs.

This year’s Conference will also highlight and honor the artistic contributions and legacy of Paine College Alumnus and Bestselling Author, Frank Garvin Yerby of the Class of 1937 on the centennial of his birth. Yerby was an acclaimed author who wrote over 30 novels and numerous short stories and poems including the 1946 publication of his first novel, The Foxes of Harrow, which garnered him international acclaim. He enjoyed considerable success during his lifetime and was the most prolific and commercially successful author of his time. After his death in Madrid, Spain in 1991, Yerby’s influence upon American literature continues to be analyzed and treasured. In sum, this conference will feature scholars on Yerby such as Dr. Maryemma Graham of the University of Kansas, Dr. Veronica Watson from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Dr. John Lowe, University of Georgia, Stephanie Brown of The Ohio State University at Newark, and Ms. Jameelah Jones of the University of Kansas who will assess his significance to American letters. Special events will include a visual arts exhibition and book fair, author book signing, and a community festival that will highlight various student and community groups and gives thanks to the Augusta community for its support of Paine College.

For more information on the Conference and the Yerby Centennial, please contact Prof. Nancy Wellington Bookhart at 706.294.1369 or by email at NBookhart@paine.edu. 

Injunction Granted, Paine College remains accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Posted by painewebmaster | 09/19/2016 12:09 PM

Augusta, Georgia – September 19, 2016 - Earlier today, The Honorable Thomas W. Thrash, United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, entered a preliminary injunction reinstating Paine College as a member of The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (“SACSCOC”).  The effect of the injunction is to restore SACSCOC’s accreditation of Paine College to the status it was immediately before such accreditation was withdrawn last week.

The injunction was issued at the request of Paine College after it filed a lawsuit seeking declaratory, monetary, and injunctive relief from SACSCOC’s unlawful actions.  The standard for the issuance of an injunction requires that Paine College show that it has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of its claims.  SACSCOC consented to the issuance of the injunction.

Paine College filed its lawsuit after receiving the decision of the Appeals Committee of SACSCOC to ignore the evidence of financial stability and success of Paine College and to affirm the decision of the Board of Trustees of SACSCOC to remove Paine College from its membership.

“This is a great day for Paine College!” stated Attorney Michael Thurmond chair-elect of the Paine College board of Trustees. We are pleased that the District Court has issued the injunction, which restores our accreditation with SACSCOC until our lawsuit is resolved.”  Dr. Samuel Sullivan, the President of Paine College added, “Our students, faculty and staff should know that Paine is doing everything in its power to fight for the future of the College.” 

 "I couldn't be more thrilled with the decision made by the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. We believe strongly that Paine has demonstrated to SACS that our financial condition is significantly improved and that we should remain fully accredited,” said Dr. Samuel Sullivan. "I'm pleased that the District Court, by its ruling today, agrees with us."

Paine College Files Lawsuit Against the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Posted by painewebmaster | 09/19/2016 09:00 AM

Augusta, Georgia – Paine College has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia seeking declaratory, monetary, and injunctive relief against the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).  The lawsuit and motion seek an emergency injunction from a federal district judge compelling SACSCOC to restore Paine College as a member of SACSCOC, restore Paine College’s accreditation, and prevent SACSCOC’s removal decision from taking effect.

The lawsuit alleges that SACSCOC violated Paine’s right to due process as guaranteed by federal law in several respects.  For example, as alleged in the lawsuit:

-  A high-ranking SACSCOC employee had improper, substantive conversations regarding Paine’s appeal with the hearing officer and the chair of the appeals committee outside of the presence of Paine or its attorneys the evening prior to the appeals hearing.  This conversation was a serious violation of SACSCOC’s own rules and procedures and the Higher Education Act.

- This same high-ranking SACSCOC employee, in violation of SACSCOC’s own procedures, failed to provide Paine with important documentation that SACSCOC was required to provide to Paine for its appeal.

- SACSCOC, in violation of federal law and its own procedures, prohibited Paine from submitting the most significant evidence of its financial resources and stability to the appeals committee, its unqualified audited 2016 financial statements.  The audited financial statements provide evidence that Paine is in significantly better financial condition today than when SACSCOC last reaffirmed its accreditation in 2011.

 

“I believe the actions of a SACSCOC staff member who engaged in improper communications with the hearing officer and chair of the appeals committee prior to the appeals hearing created the appearance of impropriety and possibly tainted the adjudicative process,” said Michael Thurmond, Chair-elect of the Paine Board of Trustees.  

Paine College President Dr. Samuel Sullivan stated,  “The hearing officer’s decision to prohibit the admission of Paine’s unqualified 2016 audited financial statements prevented the appeals committee from seeing verified evidence that Paine had a balanced budget, reduced liabilities, increased unrestricted net assets and was in full compliance with the Principles of Accreditation.”

 

Paine has engaged Gus H. Small, Brent W. Herrin, and Benjamin S. Klehr, attorneys with the law firm Cohen Pollock Merlin & Small, P.C. in Atlanta, Georgia, as its counsel in this matter.  Attorneys Small, Herrin, and Klehr are experienced in representing institutions of higher education in accreditation issues with SACSCOC.  Paine refers all questions regarding the specifics of the litigation to its attorneys.

Paine College, affiliated with The United Methodist Church and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, was founded in 1882 and is located in Augusta, Georgia.  The mission of Paine College is to provide a liberal arts education of the highest quality that emphasizes academic excellence, ethical and spiritual values, social responsibility, and personal development to prepare men and women for positions of leadership and service in the African American community, the nation, and the world.

 

 

Paine College to File Federal Lawsuit to Maintain its Accreditation

Posted by painewebmaster | 09/17/2016 16:58 PM

September 17, 2016 - Augusta, Georgia -- Paine College has been notified that the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) denied its appeal.  Paine has instructed its attorneys to file a lawsuit in the United States District Court seeking an order compelling SACSCOC to restore its accreditation.  It is anticipated that this lawsuit will be filed in the next 48 hours.  Paine will ask a federal district judge to prevent SACSCOC’s ruling from taking effect until the conclusion of the lawsuit, and is hopeful that the Court will enter such an order in the next few days.


Attorney Barbara E. Bouknight, Chair of the Paine College Board of Trustees stated, “We are disappointed that SACSCOC chose to ignore the voluminous evidence demonstrating that Paine College is a vibrant, financially stable institution.  She added, “It is deeply distressing that SACSCOC has removed us from membership when our financial condition has improved so markedly over the last few years.   We are also deeply disturbed by the process that led to this result.

Paine College President Dr. Samuel Sullivan stated, “This was not a review process that was governed by standards of due process. “  He further stated, “Although we presented abundant evidence that we had satisfied the issues SACSCOC identified, SACSCOC chose to ignore such evidence.  Fortunately, SACSCOC does not have the last word.  We believe that a court of law, following standards of due process which are guaranteed by federal law but completely absent from our proceedings before SACSCOC, will vindicate our position and ultimately order our SACSCOC accreditation restored.”

Attorney Michael Thurmond, Paine College Board Chair-elect, stated, “Our students, faculty, and staff should know that Paine will take every action to maintain its accreditation. In the meantime, our students, faculty, and staff should know that Paine will take every action necessary to maintain its accreditation during the pendency of this lawsuit. Paine College family and supporters should know that we are exploring all alternatives.”