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Column: Atlanta regional higher education council is in transition

By Maria Saporta
Published in the ABC on Friday, August 3, 2012

Change is under way at the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education (ARCHE), an organization that has been around since 1938.

The Council, which represents 20 institutions of higher learning in metro Atlanta, currently is without a top executive, and it likely will be several months before there will be someone named to that position.

Mike Gerber, ARCHE’s president since 1998, left the organization at the end of June to establish his own firm — Cross Channel Initiatives.

The current board chair of ARCHE, Mark Becker, president of Georgia State University, made it clear that ARCHE is not going away.

“We’re still there, still functioning,” Becker said. “We still have library sharing services, purchasing agreements. All those things are still in place. We are just in a transition process.”

ARCHE’s university leaders are working with the Metro Atlanta Chamber and its new business and higher education task force, and it is unclear how the two entities will decide how to divide up their duties.

“We are looking to find more productive ways for higher education to work together with the larger community,” said Becker, who also serves on the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s initiative. “For the next six months, we are evaluating our options — what will be our organizational structure going forward.”

Becker said ARCHE’s board will be meeting in December, and it will decide which way to proceed. For example, under Gerber’s leadership, ARCHE conducted several research studies to document the economic impact of higher education on the region.

Becker said ARCHE will decide whether to continue doing that research in house or contract that out or work with the Metro Atlanta Chamber to do those studies. He also said ARCHE is continuing its library sharing services as well as its purchasing agreements across different colleges.

Meanwhile, Becker said ARCHE’s “budget is smaller right now because we have one less staff person.” Currently the office is being run by Jackie Smith, ARCHE’s administrative coordinator.

ARCHE has a deep history in the Atlanta region. It began in 1938 as the University Center in Georgia to share resources, avoid duplication and facilitate greater cooperation among faculty members at different institutions.

The Center became ARCHE in 1998 when Gerber was hired as its president.
In the past decade, it has sought to strengthen public support for higher education. Its studies also have shown the impact and value of metro Atlanta’s universities and colleges.

The 20 members are: Agnes Scott College, Brenau University, Clark Atlanta University, Clayton State University, Columbia Theological Seminary, Emory University, Georgia Gwinnett College, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Kennesaw State University, Mercer University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Oglethorpe University, Savannah College of Art and Design — Atlanta, Southern Polytechnic State University, Spelman College, The University of Georgia and the University of West Georgia.

Aiding adult literacy

Georgia State University has received a five-year, $10 million grant to research and advance adult literacy. The U.S. Department of Education grant will allow Georgia State to establish the Center for the Study of Adult Literacy, where researchers will study the underlying cognitive and motivational issues of adults who struggle with reading.

“Compared to many areas in education, adult literacy has had comparatively little funding and little rigorous research,” said Daphne Greenberg, a GSU associate professor of educational psychology and special education, and principal investigator of the project. “There is a need to understand the reading-related strengths and weaknesses of adults who have difficulty with reading, and how to best help them increase their reading abilities.”

According to the most recent National Assessment of Adult Literacy, approximately 43 percent of adults in the United States read at basic, or below basic, levels of literacy.

The primary focus of the new research center is on adults reading at the thirdto eighth grade levels, examining impediments to reading and developing and evaluating a reading intervention to improve literacy.

Childkind board additions

Two community leaders, Thomas Carney and Stuart Rosenthal, are joining the board of Childkind, a nonprofit organization that helps empower families caring for children with special health-care and developmental needs.

Carney has been a financial planner for 23 years and is currently with Ameriprise Financial. He has also been named one of Atlanta’s top wealth managers for two years in a row by Five Star Managers.

Rosenthal is a Washington, D.C., native, and has lived in Atlanta since 1975. He is a graduate of the University of Florida in Gainesville.

He has served on the board for Temple Emanuel, the Marcus Jewish Community Center and is currently the treasurer for the Chattahoochee Junior Football Team and Gridiron Program.

Senior Connections

Senior Connections has invited Teah Glenn, an attorney with the law firm Wargo French, to join the 39-year-old agency, according to CEO Debra Furtado.

Senior Connections also has established an advisory council, which is being led by Alan McNabb, a former board member.

“Several of our long-time board members were leaving our board due to term limits,” Furtado said. “Because of their continued desire to serve Senior Connections — and many other individuals expressing the desire to lend support in a less structure manner than a formal board seat — the decision was made to form an Advisory Council this year.”

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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