Harvard Looks to Rehire Black Studies Professors Bobo and Morgan

Two years ago the esteemed African-American sociologist Lawrence Bobo announced that he was leaving Harvard for Stanford University. The move came about after then-Harvard president Lawrence Summers had overruled a unanimous recommendation from the faculty of the African and African-American studies department to grant tenure to Bobo’s wife, Marcyliena Morgan. Professor Morgan, a respected scholar of hip-hop culture, received a tenure offer as an associate professor of communications at Stanford.

Now Lawrence Summers is gone and the African and African-American studies department is aiming to persuade Bobo and Morgan to return to Harvard. The department has petitioned the Harvard administration to reopen Morgan’s application for tenure. 

Department chair Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham told the Harvard Crimson, “We don’t even know if they want to come back.” But James Sidanius, professor of psychology at Harvard, said it is “my understanding that if they are both offered a position, they are most likely to return.”


“The First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, to be sure, permit states to use racial and gender preferences under narrowly defined circumstances. But they do not mandate them, and accordingly they do not prohibit a state from eliminating them.”

— A decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that state-operated universities in Michigan immediately adhere to the new state law calling for race-neutral admissions procedures, December 29, 2006


Black Faculty Are Scarce in Full Professor Positions

Blacks make up 5.3 percent of all full-time college and university faculty in the United States. But those blacks who do hold positions are concentrated in lower-level faculty posts. In 2003 only 3.2 percent of all full professors were black, up from 2.9 percent a quarter of a century ago in 1981. Of all black full-time faculty in 2003, 16.1 percent were full professors. In contrast, 28.6 percent of all white full-time faculty members were full professors that year.

In 2003 blacks made up 5.5 percent of all full-time associate professors, 6.3 percent of all assistant professors, and 6.9 percent of all instructors and lecturers. Nearly 24 percent of all black full-time faculty members were instructors or lecturers. Only 18 percent of white professors were instructors or lecturers.

In 2003 nearly 45 percent of all full-time faculty members of all races at U.S. colleges and universities held tenure positions. For blacks, 38.3 percent of all full-time faculty had tenure. Some 47 percent of full-time white faculty members held tenure.


Black Students From Caribbean Nations at U.S. Colleges and Universities

Last week JBHE reported that more than 36,000 students from Africa were studying at colleges and universities in the United States. But not all black foreign students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities are from Africa. In the 2005-06 academic year, there were 13,855 students from Caribbean nations attending college in the U.S. Undoubtedly, most of these students are black.

Jamaica sent more than 4,100 college students to study in the United States. Nearly 3,000 students from Trinidad and Tobago and more than 1,600 students from the Bahamas attended colleges and universities in the U.S. Haiti sent more than 1,000 students to study in U.S. universities.



No Progress in Increasing Black Faculty at Rice University

Rice University did not admit black students until 1966 and did not hire its first black faculty member until 1979. That year Beverly Harris-Schenz was hired by the German department at Rice. She is now an associate professor of German at the University of Pittsburgh.

It was another decade until Rice tenured a black faculty member. In 1989 historian Atieno Odhiambo was granted tenure. Professor Odhiambo, a native of Kenya, is still an active member of the Rice University faculty.

New data obtained by JBHE from the university demonstrates that Rice is making no progress increasing faculty diversity. During the 2005-06 academic year there were only nine blacks among the 503 tenured or tenure-track faculty at Rice University. Thus, blacks are less than 1.8 percent of the total faculty at the university.

A 1999 survey by JBHE found 10 black faculty members at Rice. So over the past eight years, the number and percentage of blacks on the Rice faculty has dropped.


New Major Approved at Elizabeth City State University

Elizabeth City State University, the historically black educational institution in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, was recently granted approval by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to establish a bachelor’s degree program in engineering technology.

The new program will be housed in the university’s department of technology and will offer concentrations in computer and information technology or mechanical and automation technology.

The new degree program will be instituted at the beginning of the spring semester this month.


University of Richmond Tries to Shed Its Stodgy Reputation

The current issue of the Princeton Review’s Best Colleges notes that the University of Richmond is “extremely preppy with a lot of wealthy students.” This university, located in the capital of the Old Confederacy, has a student body that is only 7 percent black.

But the university is taking steps to increase the racial and economic diversity of its campus. Most important, the university’s new financial aid policy provides scholarship grants for the full cost of tuition and room and board to students from Virginia whose families have incomes of less than $40,000 a year.

In addition, the university has increased its recruitment efforts aimed at black and other minority students. The school’s Common Ground program seeks to make the campus more hospitable to all minority groups and to increase student and faculty diversity.


Papers of Septima Clark to Be Housed at the College of Charleston

The Avery Research Center for the Preservation of African-American History and Culture on the campus of the College of Charleston recently secured the rights to the scrapbook of Septima Poinsette Clark, an icon of the civil rights movement. The center was able to purchase the scrapbook at auction for $1,000.

Clark was born in Charleston in 1898. Septima translates into “sufficient” in the language of Haiti where her mother was reared. Septima Clark’s name greatly understated the achievements of this remarkable woman.

Clark completed high school in 1916 and took a job teaching the children of black plantation workers in a John’s Island log cabin schoolhouse. There, in place of a blackboard, students wrote their assignments on used dry-cleaner bags. Later in Charleston she organized a petition drive that resulted in a law that allowed blacks to teach in the public school system. The mother of two children, Clark received a B.A. from Benedict College in 1942 at the age of 44. She earned a master’s degree from Hampton Institute in 1945. In 1956, after being dismissed from the Charleston school system for refusing to renounce her membership in the NAACP, Clark became director of workshops for the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. There, “Mama Seppie,” as she was familiarly known, became expert in nonviolent civil disobedience. In 1954, one year before the Montgomery bus boycott, Rosa Parks enrolled in Clark’s workshop on civil disobedience.

Clark later worked for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as a close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. When King won the Noble Peace Prize, Clark accompanied him to Oslo, Norway, for the award ceremony. In 1975, at the age of 77, she was elected to the school board in Charleston.

The Clark scrapbook, which chronicles her life’s story, is expected to go on display at the Avery Center in February or March.


Race Relations at Trinity College Get Slammed by The New York Times

Recently The New York Times published a major story on the racial climate at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. The article focused on the fact that white students at the college held a “ghetto fabulous” party at which several students were dressed in blackface. Photographs from the party were posted on a Web site and students added racist comments online about the photographs. Earlier in the semester, a black student found a racial slur written on the message board on her dormitory room door.

We at JBHE are amazed that The New York Times singled out Trinity for this negative story. Yes, there is plenty of racism at Trinity College but this type of behavior is rampant on colleges and universities across the nation. In fact, JBHE research shows that many hundreds of such incidents occur on college campuses nationwide each year.

The Times article singled out Trinity for reprimand despite the fact that over the past decade, black first-year enrollments at Trinity are up nearly 46 percent. About 80 percent of the black students who enroll at Trinity go on to graduate, a level just below the rate for white students. This is a most unusual achievement because, nationwide, the black student college graduation rate is 20 percentage points below the rate for white students.

JBHE is not condoning the racist behavior at Trinity College. But it is wrong to publicly denigrate one college when many others are guilty of the same offenses.


In Memoriam

Robert F. Seymour (1926-2006)

Robert F. Seymour, a long-time medical educator, died in late December at South Pointe Hospital, a teaching hospital in Cleveland. He was 80 years old.

Dr. Seymour was among the first African-American physicians to be trained in urology. A native of Yonkers, New York, he was a graduate of Howard University and the Howard University School of Medicine. He served for over 30 years as an associate clinical professor of urology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He retired in 2004.

Bethany Norwood (1982-2006)

On January 14, 2004, Bethany Norwood, a cheerleader at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, fell during an unsupervised practice. She broke her neck in six places and was paralyzed from the neck down. The accident caused universities all over the nation to reexamine the safety of their cheerleading programs.

With physical therapy Norwood slowly regained the use of her hands. Mentally tough, Norwood vowed to return to school to earn her degree. Unable to walk, Norwood’s mother quit her job in order to accompany her to classes. Norwood received her diploma in political science this past summer.

Norwood has now died from complications due to her 2004 fall. An inspiration to the entire Prairie View University community, a scholarship has been established in her name.



Fayetteville State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina, received a $106,000 grant from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to fund a teacher education recruitment coordinator who will seek to recruit community college students into teacher certification programs at Fayetteville State University and other four-year colleges and universities.

Johns Hopkins University received a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the U.S. National Institutes of Health to conduct a comparison study of asthma among African Americans in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and blacks in the Caribbean nation of Barbados.


Comparing the Graduation Rates at Flagship State Universities

America’s large state universities educate three fourths of all African-American college students in the United States. JBHE calculations show that by a large margin the University of Virginia has the highest black student graduation rate of any state-chartered institution in the nation. The black graduation rate at the university is 87 percent.

The next-highest black student college completion rate at a flagship state university is at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There, and at the State University of New York at Binghamton, the black student graduation rate is 72 percent. The University of California at Berkeley has a black student graduation rate of 70 percent.

Twelve other states have flagship universities that post a black student graduation rate of 60 percent or higher. These are the state universities in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Hampshire, Maryland, Florida, Michigan, Connecticut, Vermont, Georgia, Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey.

Five states and the District of Columbia have flagship state-chartered universities at which the black student graduation rate is 35 percent or below. In addition to the University of the District of Columbia, the states that have flagship universities with a black student graduation rate below 36 percent are Alaska, South Dakota, Utah, New Mexico, and Nevada.


Doctorates Awarded by Historically Black Universities

According to the latest data compiled by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, in 2005 historically black colleges and universities awarded 367 doctorates to recipients of all races. This was a slight increase over the 350 doctorates awarded by black universities in 2004.

Howard University awarded 99 doctorates in 2005, the most of any historically black university. The Howard total was up 12.5 percent from a year ago. Tennessee State University awarded 46 doctoral degrees in 2005, an increase of one from 2004. Jackson State University, Morgan State University, and South Carolina State University each awarded 25 or more doctorates in 2005. Meharry Medical College, Clark Atlanta University, Florida A&M University, Bowie State University, and Texas Southern University were the only other black universities to award at least 10 doctorates in 2005.

South Carolina State University showed the largest increase in doctoral awards. In 2004 the university awarded 23 doctorates. In 2005 the total increased to 38. All 38 doctorates were in the field of education.


Black Teams, White Coaches: Racial Inequality in College Sports

Despite the huge percentage of college athletes who are black, African Americans make up small percentages of the coaching staffs in most college sports. According to a new report from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, in 2005, 7.3 percent of all head coaches of men’s teams at the nation’s largest college athletic programs were black. For women’s teams, 6.6 percent of the head coaches at the large colleges and universities were black.

Blacks made up 3.2 percent of all the head football coaches in the college ranks. At the 119 Division I-A universities that participate in big-time college football, blacks are 55 percent of the players but only 5 percent of the head coaches.

In men’s college basketball, where over 62 percent of the athletes are black, 14.0 percent of the head coaches are African Americans. Only 0.7 percent of all head coaches in college baseball are black.


Few Blacks Participate in the Final Early Admissions at the University of Virginia

Following in the footsteps of Harvard and Princeton, after this year the University of Virginia will no longer offer an early decision admissions plan.

This year there were 71 black early decision applicants. This was an increase of nearly 15 percent from a year ago. But blacks made up less than 3 percent of the early admissions pool. In comparison, blacks made up 8 percent of the total applicant pool for the class that entered the university in the fall of 2006.

Of the 71 black early applicants, 46, or nearly 65 percent, were admitted. About 40 percent of all early decision applicants to the University of Virginia for the class entering in the fall of 2007 were admitted.


Summer Programs at the University of Connecticut Aim to Increase the Number of Black Dentists

According to a recent JBHE survey, there were 1,108 black students at the nation’s 56 dental schools. But 449 of these students, or nearly 41 percent, were enrolled at the nation’s two historically black dental schools at Howard University and Meharry Medical College. At more than one half of the nation’s predominantly white dental schools, blacks make up less than 4 percent of the total enrollments.

One predominantly white dental school which is making a concerted effort to increase black enrollments is the University of Connecticut. Backed by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the University of Connecticut’s School of Dental Medicine identifies promising black undergraduate students and invites them to campus for a summer program before their senior year. The students go through rigorous training to prepare them for the Dental Admission Test.

Of the 12 students who have participated in the University of Connecticut summer program over the past two years, 11 have scored high enough to gain admission to one of the nation’s dental schools. Students from the program who are admitted to any U.S. dental school return to the University of Connecticut in the summer after they graduate from college for a two-month academic immersion program that gives them a head start on their dental education.

The program has helped increase black student enrollments at the University of Connecticut dental school. In 2006 blacks made up 10 percent of the total enrollment at the school. Just five years earlier in 2001, blacks were only 1.9 percent of the total enrollments.


6,383  The number of hate crime incidents reported in the nation’s public schools during the 2003-04 academic year.

2%  The percentage of all public schools in the United States that reported hate crime incidents during the 2003-04 academic year.

source: U.S. Department of Education


In Arizona, Almost All Lawyers Are White

The state of Arizona is becoming increasingly diverse. Significant numbers of African Americans are joining large minority populations of Hispanics and American Indians. Yet the legal community in the state is almost entirely white. According to the Arizona Bar Association, there are 161 black lawyers among its 19,420 members.

As a result, the Arizona Bar Association has appointed an 80-member committee to develop plans to increase racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in the legal profession. Among the plans under consideration are the hiring of a full-time diversity coordinator, the establishment of a leadership conference for minority attorneys and pipeline programs to steer minority students into legal careers. The association is also considering the establishment of support programs for law school students and for minorities who have already passed the bar.

JBHE’s latest count shows that blacks make up less than 4 percent of the student body at the law schools at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona.




Kimberly Goff-Crews was appointed vice president and dean of students at the University of Chicago. Her appointment is effective at the end of the academic year. She is currently dean of students at Wellesley College.

Goff-Crews is a 1983 graduate of Yale University. She received a law degree from Yale in 1986.



T. Elon Dancy II won the 2006 Emerging Scholar Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education’s Council on Ethnic Participation. Dancy, a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, holds a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He is currently completing his doctoral dissertation at Louisiana State University.

Laylah Ali, associate professor of art at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, was selected among the first group of United States Artist Fellows. The program was launched by grants from the Ford, Rockefeller, Prudential, and Rasmuson foundations. The fellows program offers unrestricted $50,000 awards to living artists. Ali is best known for her gouache paintings.

Ali is a 1991 graduate of Williams College and holds a master’s degree in painting from Washington University.

Nathelyne Archie Kennedy, a 1959 graduate of Prairie View A&M University, was honored by having the new architecture and art building on campus named in her honor. Kennedy is the founder and CEO of an engineering consulting firm based in Houston. She was the first black woman in the state of Texas to earn a degree in architectural engineering.



Copyright © 2007. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.