House passes money for women's colleges

Wednesday, October 4th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Eight public colleges and universities set up in the late 1880s and early 1900s to educate women would receive up to $70 million to help preserve and repair historic buildings under a bill passed in the House Tuesday.

The bill, passed on a voice vote, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to make matching grants of up to $14 million available to the colleges, including one in Oklahoma, every year for five years. The money would be used on buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

``Buildings in some of these colleges and universities are well over 150 years old,'' said Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., the measure's sponsor. ``Due to the vast age of these buildings, the upkeep costs are more than these university budgets allow.''

Still, opponents argued that the bill singled out a few colleges while ignoring scores of other women's universities.

Katherine Stevenson, an associate director with the National Park Service, testified at a hearing last month that the Clinton administration opposes the bill.

``The administration certainly recognizes that these are important national historic treasures worthy of our care and attention,'' she said.

But Stevenson said the bill could take money away from other programs. She also added that no work had been done to assess the condition of the buildings. ``There are other, equally worthy projects, as well as numerous other historic buildings in need of assistance for deferred repairs.''

A Senate version has been offered by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

The schools affected by the bill are the Mississippi University for Women, the Georgia College and State University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the Winthrop University in South Carolina, the University of Montevallo in Alabama, the Texas Women's University, Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga., and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.