Two African Americans Win Marshall Scholarships

In 1953 the Marshall Scholarships program was established by an act of the British Parliament. Funded by the British government, the program is a national gesture of thanks to the American people for aid received under the Marshall Plan, the U.S.-financed program that led to the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. The scholarships provide funds for two years of study at a British university, travel, living expenses, and a book allowance.

This academic year the Marshall Foundation selected 35 winners. It appears from JBHE’s research that two of the Marshall scholars are African Americans.

Gabriel Felix Kofi Amo is a senior at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, majoring in political science with minors in economics and Africana studies. He will study politics and public policy at Oxford University next fall.

Joshua Bennett, from Yonkers, New York, is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania. He is majoring in English and Africana studies at Penn. Bennett will enroll at the University of Warwick this coming fall where he will pursue a master’s degree in theatre and performance studies.



The Major Racial Shortfall in Earned Doctorates in Scientific Fields

The number of blacks earning doctorates reached an all-time high in 2008. But whites continue to be far more likely than blacks to earn doctorates in the natural sciences such as physics and chemistry. In 2008, 13.7 percent of doctorates awarded to whites were in the physical sciences. This is more than double the percentage for African Americans, which stood at 6.4 percent in 2008.

The very large racial Ph.D. gap in the natural sciences is striking when we examine black Ph.D. awards in specific disciplines. African Americans earned only 30 doctorates in mathematics. This was just 2.1 percent of all doctorates awarded in the field by U.S. universities.

In a major weakness, blacks earned only 15 degrees, or less than 1 percent, of the more than 1,500 doctorates in physics. In computer science, blacks won 1.5 percent of all Ph.D. awards. In chemistry, only 2.2 percent of Ph.D.s went to blacks. In 2008, 192 African Americans were awarded a Ph.D. in the biological sciences. But they were only 2.5 percent of all doctorates awarded in the discipline.


Reassessing the One Florida Plan Ten Years After Its Enactment

It has been a decade since the enactment of Jeb Bush’s One Florida plan. Under the new system, students graduating in the top 20 percent of their high school class were ensured a place at a state university. But these students would have to compete for places at state university campuses, and race could not be considered by admissions officials.

Initially, black enrollments plummeted at the most selective campus of the University of Florida at Gainesville. In 2000 blacks were nearly 12 percent of the freshman class. In 2001, after the One Florida plan went into effect, blacks made up just over 7 percent of first-year students. Now, black enrollments have rebounded with African Americans making up about 10 percent of the undergraduate student body.

Systemwide, the black percentage of all students has declined from 14 percent in 2000 to 13.6 percent today. And a large percentage of all black students in the state system are enrolled at historically black Florida A&M University.

So after a decade of the One Florida plan that had the stated goal of increasing minority participation in the state’s higher education system, the promise of greater opportunity for Florida’s African Americans has gone unfulfilled.


Historically Black Shaw University of North Carolina Is Recruiting in Africa

Shaw University, the historically black educational institution in Raleigh, North Carolina, has opened a recruiting center in Abuja, Nigeria. Two Shaw University professors made the trip to Nigeria last month with the hope of encouraging students to return with them to North Carolina for the spring semester. The university is offering incentives to make a Shaw education affordable for Nigerian students who are interested in the field of information technology.


Another Honor for the Fisk Jubilee Singers

The Fisk Jubilee Singers have been nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Gospel Performance. The group was nominated for its collaboration on the song “I Believe” with blues vocalist Jonny Lang. The Grammy Award ceremony is on January 31 in Los Angeles.

The group, established in 1871 at Fisk University in Nashville, has traveled the world and raised considerable money for the historically black university. In 1873 the group performed for Queen Victoria in London. In 2008 the Fisk Jubilee Singers received the National Medal of Arts for their historic contributions to American music.


9.7  Median number of years after graduating from college that a white doctoral recipient received their terminal degree.

12.6  Median number of years after graduating from college that an African-American doctoral recipient received their terminal degree.

source: U.S. Department of Education


University of Pittsburgh Unveils New Website on Slavery in Pennsylvania

The University of Pittsburgh has launched a new Web site with a digitized version of an exhibition that was displayed at the university’s Heinz History Center. The exhibit, entitled “Free at Last?” documents slavery in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Included in the online archive are video vignettes that tell some of the important stories of slaves and abolitionists in the region. There are photographic images, digitized versions of handwritten documents from the era, early newspaper accounts, and a wealth of information on slavery in the region.

To examine the new Web site, click here.



Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Lisa Barkley was promoted to vice president for health and wellness at Delaware State University in Dover. She has been dean of the College of Health and Public Policy at Delaware State since 2004.

• Harry O. Stinson has been appointed assistant athletic director/compliance coordinator at Kentucky State University in Frankfort. He had been serving as an administrator for the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Stinson is a graduate of Florida State University. He holds a master’s degree in sports administration from Georgia State University.

• Jarris L. Taylor Jr., associate director of the Leadership Institute and Honors College at Hampton University, was appointed by President Obama as deputy assistant secretary of the United States Air Force for strategic diversity integration.

Dr. Taylor is a 1995 graduate of Hampton University. He holds a master’s degree and educational doctorate from George Washington University.

• Pamela Shaw was named associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Indiana University School of Dentistry in Indianapolis. She was assistant provost at Purdue University.

A native of Gary, Indiana, Dr. Shaw is a graduate of Purdue University. She holds a master’s degree in public health and a doctorate in dental medicine from the University of Kentucky.

• Wayne M. Turnage was named chief of staff in the office of the president of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. He was chief of staff for outgoing Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

Turnage is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Ohio State University.

• Joseph P. McCormick II, director of academic affairs and associate professor of political science at Pennsylvania State University at York, was elected to the Council of the American Political Science Association.

Professor McCormick holds bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pittsburgh.


Tracking the Progress of Black Student Graduation Rates at the Nation’s Leading Liberal Arts Colleges

Last week JBHE reported that all of the nation’s high-ranking universities had shown an improvement or held steady in their black student graduation rates over the past decade.

In 2009, 15 of the 22 high-ranked liberal arts colleges in our survey showed an improvement in black student graduation rates from their 1998 rates. At Oberlin College in Ohio, there was a huge 23 percentage point improvement in the decade from 56 percent to 79 percent. At Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, the black graduation rate has improved by 22 percentage points. At Macalester College in Minnesota, there was a 20 percentage point gain since 1998. At Smith College, the black student graduation rate improved by 17 percentage points over the past decade. At Bates College, Davidson College, Claremont McKenna College, and Swarthmore College, the black student graduation rate over the past decade improved by at least 10 percentage points.

Seven highly ranked liberal arts colleges saw a decline in their black student graduation rate over the past decade. The largest drop was at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. In 1998 the college posted a black graduation rate of 93 percent. This year the African-American student graduation rate stands at 80 percent.


“It’s easy to blame black social problems on the absence of black fathers. It’s hard to argue with a black out-of-wedlock birth rate of almost 70 percent. But where are we going to find young marriageable men to marry those unwed mothers?”

— syndicated columnist Clarence Page, writing in the Chicago Tribune


Earl “Fatha” Hines Collection Donated to Berkeley

The University of California at Berkeley has received a gift from the estate of Earl “Fatha” Hines. A world-renowned pianist, Hines is considered one of the early pioneers of jazz. He died in 1983 at the age of 79.

The donation includes more than $250,000 that will fund the Young Musicians Program at Berkeley for low-income music students in grades 4 to 12. In addition to the cash gift, the university will be receiving Hines’ personal papers, memorabilia, stage costumes, correspondence, and written compositions. The Earl “Fatha” Hines Collection will be housed at the Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library at Berkeley.


The Remarkable Football Turnaround at Historically Black Prairie View A&M University

Tonight the college football season will conclude with the national championship game between the University of Texas and the University of Alabama. But truly one of the most remarkable stories of the just-completed season is the rise of the football program at historically black Prairie View A&M University.

From 1989 through 1998, Prairie View A&M did not win a single football game.  They lost 80 games in a row. They were the laughingstock of college football. When the losing streak finally ended in 1999 the team still struggled. In both 2002 and 2003 Prairie View won only a single game each year.

In 2004 Henry Frazier III was hired as head football coach. He previously had been coach at his alma mater, Bowie State University in Maryland. Over the last three seasons under head coach Frazier, Prairie View A&M has won 25 games, the same number it won in the 19-year span from 1988 to 2006. This year the team was broadcast on national television. It was Prairie View’s first conference title since 1964.



Howard Law School Professor Named Dean of Hastings College of Law

Frank H. Wu, a past contributor to JBHE, has been named chancellor and dean of the University of California Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. He will take on this new position in July. Wu is now a professor at the Howard University School of Law and writes frequently on issues of race, affirmative action, and other civil rights issues. He is the author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White and Race, Rights, and Reparation: Law and the Japanese-American Internment. He is the former dean of the Wayne State University Law School.

A native of Michigan, Professor Wu earned his bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1988 and his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1991.


In Memoriam

Margaret Buckner Young (1921-2009)

Margaret Buckner Young, author, educator, and widow of civil rights leader Whitney Young, has died in Denver at the age of 89.

Young was a native of Campbellsville, Kentucky. She met her husband while both were students at Kentucky State University. She later earned a master’s degree in educational psychology and testing from the University of Minnesota.

In 1954 she was appointed professor of educational psychology at Spelman College in Atlanta. She wrote several children’s books on African-American history and served on the board of directors of corporations and cultural institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Lincoln Center, both in New York City.

Lawrence Neale Jones (1921-2009)

Lawrence Neale Jones, dean emeritus of the Howard University School of Divinity, has died at the age of 88. He served as head of the divinity school at Howard from 1975 to 1991.

An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, Dr. Jones also served as dean of students, dean of faculty, and acting president of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York.

Dr. Jones held degrees from the University of Chicago, the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology, and Yale University. In 2007, when Jones was 86 years old, he published the book African Americans and the Christian Churches, 1619-1860.

Percy Ellis Sutton (1920-2009)

Percy Sutton, attorney, civil rights leader, Tuskegee Airman, businessman, and one of the major African-American political figures in New York City, has died at the age of 89.

Sutton was the fifteenth child of a man who was born a slave just prior to the Civil War. But Percy Sutton and his 11 siblings that survived to adulthood all went to college. Sutton attended Prairie View A&M University, Tuskegee Institute, and Hampton University but never earned a bachelor’s degree. After serving as a Tuskegee Airman during World War II, he earned a law degree at the Brooklyn Law School in New York.

Sutton opened a law practice in Harlem in 1953. He was the attorney of Malcolm X for over a decade. In 1965 Sutton was elected to the state legislature. He also served as Manhattan Borough president from 1966 to 1977. Sutton ran unsuccessfully for mayor of New York and for the U.S. Senate but remained a political power broker in Harlem all his life.

At one time Sutton owned the Amsterdam News, one of the nation’s largest black newspapers. In 1971 he bought a small radio station in New York City and built a media conglomerate with highly ranked radio stations throughout the United States. He later bought and renovated the Harlem landmark, the Apollo Theater.


Honors and Awards

• Russell Thomas Jr., professor of music at Jackson State University in Mississippi, was honored with the Mississippi Jazz Foundation Award for his contributions to music education and the music entertainment industry.

• Karl Henry, chair of the engineering technology program at Drake State Technical College in Huntsville, Alabama, was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award as the 2009 Technical Faculty Member of the Year in the state of Alabama. Professor Henry has been on the college’s faculty for 16 years.

• Eliot Battle, an educator who helped ease the transition from racially segregated schools in Columbia, Missouri, was awarded an honorary degree at the winter commencement of the University of Missouri. Battle is the founder of the Minority Men’s Network and author of the book A Letter to Young Black Men.

• Henry Louis Gates Jr., Fletcher University Professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University, received the Morry Award for his lifelong dedication to education from Project Morry, a year-round youth development organization for inner-city children.


Grants and Gifts

The Women’s Center at North Carolina Central University received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The grant will be used to extend the center’s educational outreach on domestic violence and sexual assault and for victims’ services. Chimi Boyd-Keyes is the director of the NCCU Women’s Center.

Historically black University of Maryland Eastern Shore received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide training and educational assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in the vicinity of its campus.

• Florida A&M University, the historically black educational institution in Tallahassee, received a three-year, $1 million grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to establish the Minority Innovation Challenges Institute. The purpose of the institute is to generate interest in the sciences among minority youths.

Historically black Hampton University in Virginia received two grants from the National Science Foundation totaling $1.4 million to increase the number of students studying science and mathematics. The grants, under the directorship of Carolyn Morgan, a professor of mathematics at Hampton, will support the university’s Financially Oriented Research Calculus Experience. Also, funds will be used to train science teachers in K-12 schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

• Arkansas Baptist College, a historically black educational institution in Little Rock, received a $500,000 gift from an anonymous donor. The gift was the second largest in school history.

Copyright © 2010. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.