Wilberforce University faces loss of accreditation

Wilberforce University, one of the nation’s oldest historically black universities, will lose its accreditation if it is unable to demonstrate within six months its fiscal and administrative fitness to the regional accrediting agency for Midwestern and Southwestern schools. The university, near Xenia, Ohio, has received a “show cause” decision from the Higher Learning Commission which accredits more than 1,000 colleges and universities in 19 states from West Virginia to Arizona. Losing accreditation would make Wilberforce ineligible to receive Pell Grants, Perkins loans and other federal loans and grants that its students use to finance their education. That loss could be devastating to the struggling institution that depends on tuition to make ends meet. In 2011, for example, tuition and fees totaled $9.3 million – about 64 percent of the school’s $14.5 million in revenues. Continue Reading →

VA hasn’t followed own rules on narcotic prescriptions, audit says

Editor’s note: In December, Eye on Ohio reporter Anna Duee told the story of Scott McDonald, a Columbus area veteran who died from an overdose of prescription painkillers.  His story echoed that of many others chronicled by the Center for Investigative Reporting. CIR investigated the sharp rise in opiate prescriptions by the United States Veterans Administration nationally from 2001 to 2012. CIR recently followed up its investigation with a story about a VA audit that shows the agency failed to follow its own rules for the prescribing of addictive narcotic painkillers. Continue Reading →

A dubious honor: Ohio ranks high in haz-mat spills

Near the CSX rail company's local offices and rail yard in Willard, a major hazardous waste spill occurred in late November, 2013. No injuries were reported, but hundreds of residents were evacuated from their homes during the Thanksgiving holiday season.

In late November 2013, a CSX railroad car carrying the highly flammable chemical styrene monomer derailed near the Main Street overpass in Willard, Ohio, forcing hundreds of residents to be evacuated from their homes in the middle of the night. More than 30,000 gallons of styrene monomer leaked into nearby soil from the tank of a DOT-111 rail car, an older, so-called “legacy” car that has come under scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Transportation because of its safety record. Officials in Willard, about 65 miles southwest of Cleveland, said the town was lucky. Because the temperature was well below the combustible level for styrene monomer,  there was no explosion and no one was injured. According to Brian Humphress, Willard’s city manager, CSX, state and federal agencies and local first responders all reacted quickly to clean up the spill and get residents safely back in their homes. Continue Reading →

A case of conflicts

Federal court judges - including one in Akron, Ohio - have heard cases involving parties in which they have financial interests. Read the story from the Center for Public Integrity and see the national map showing court districts where the potential conflicts have occurred. Continue Reading →