Truth vs. misinformation

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2006

To the Editor:

It is very interesting how some individuals choose to address and resolve potential problems, concerns, or miscommunication through the media.

Mr. James G. Smith recently had a letter to the editor relative to Wallace Community College Selma failing to award two American Legion Scholarships.

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If Mr. Smith had some concerns about our not awarding the two scholarships, and had not been able to resolve it after he alleged that he called a Financial Aid Counselor, the next logical step professionally would have been to contact the Dean of Students or the President.

Since he failed to do such or chose not to, I will respond to his letter and misrepresentations via the media.

First of all, Mr. Smith and I met in 2004 so that I could express my concerns that the American Legion Scholarship corpus amount of $3,250, which was established in 1990 was not earning enough interest to pay any awardees $100 each as prescribed by the S16-31-1 of the Code of Alabama. We could only use the interest earned from the corpus to pay the $100 per year when eligible applicants applied and were awarded $750 from the American Legion.

The total interest earned since 2000 for this scholarship has been $471.15.

Since 1990, the College has been funding the deficit in interest earned from the Certificate of Deposit (CD).

At the same meeting, I asked Mr. Smith to check with the Adjutant of the Alabama American Legion concerning the under-funding of the aforementioned scholarships.

In a letter to me after our meeting, and after Mr. Smith communicated my concerns to Adjutant Bridgers, he stated “There seems to be nothing that can be done about the present manner in which those are set up. While the Adjutant certainly understands and is sympathetic to WCCS’s dilemma, there is nothing feasible except making up the funds in some manner or cutting the scholarship short by the amount of the deficit.”

As the College already offers over 175 unsubsidized scholarships, I made a decision that we would fund the deficit each year.

Second, Mr. Smith’s statement that we don’t advertise the American Legion Scholarship is another example of gross misrepresentation.

All of our scholarships are advertised in our current catalogue on page 99, on our website under Financial Aid – Scholarships, which are available and accessible to all students and the general public, and in other publications sent to schools and organizations in our service area.

This information is also shared with high school counselors when our staff meets with them, which is normally annually.

It is our belief that students also have a responsibility to inquire about college programs and services, which include scholarships.

In the age of technology, access to information is much easier. Scholarship applications are available in our Financial Aid Office and Division of

Student Services.

Those offices are frequently providing prospective and currently enrolled students with information about all scholarships available at WCCS.

Scholarship eligibility requirements are clearly defined and published.

Would Mr. Smith suggest that we ask every student entering the College if he or she has parents or grandparents who are wartime veterans?

Or would it be easier for prospective students to self-identify?

We would be happy for him to refer eligible prospective or currently enrolled students to the Financial Aid Office for applications and information.

It is our desire that students apply for all scholarships available; however, the reality is that does not always happen.

Nor does it mean that we have been derelict in our duties.

Finally, we have a system in place to award scholarships that seems to work well.

If a student has questions relative to most programs and services on our campus, I feel that they will get the information they need, as we have truly dedicated faculty and staff ready to assist them.

If a student is having a problem getting information, and I am aware of it, I can assure you that I will look into it.

It’s almost impossible to address a concern or problem if not aware of it until it appears the newspaper.

We are a community college committed to being a collaborative partner for progress, and we readily embrace others who have the same agenda.

Dr. James M. Mitchell, President

Wallace Community College Selma