High-Ranking Institutions With Low Black Student Graduation Rates

Last week JBHE reported that Harvard University had the nation’s highest college graduation rate for black students. The college completion rate for blacks at Harvard is 96 percent.

Overall there are 10 high-ranking colleges and universities with a black student graduation rate of at least 90 percent.

Now we look at the high-ranking colleges and universities that have not been as successful in graduating black students. Among the nation’s colleges and universities that are commonly rated as selective, the lowest black student graduation rate occurs at the University of Michigan. Currently only 70 percent of the black freshmen who enroll at the University of Michigan go on to graduate. There are now nearly 334 black freshman students at the University of Michigan. If these black students graduate at the same rate as have their peers in the recent past, about 100 of them will fail to earn their bachelor’s degree.

Other high-ranking colleges and universities showing black student graduation rates below 75 percent are Middlebury College, Carleton College, Washington and Lee University, Bates College, UCLA, the University of California at Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


High-Ranking Universities That Have Made the Most Progress in Increasing Black Freshman Enrollments Over the Past Decade

Each autumn since 1993 JBHE has surveyed the admissions offices of the nation’s high-ranking universities to determine the number of black first-year students who enroll at these institutions. Our database permits us to examine the enrollment trends to see which high-ranking universities are making the most progress in increasing the number of black students on campus.

Overall, 18 of the 26 highest-ranked universities posted an increase in black first-year enrollments during the 1997 to 20007 period. The largest increase in actual numbers is at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Black first-year enrollments more than doubled during the period, from 82 to 172.

On a percentage basis there was an even larger increase at the University of Chicago. There, black enrollments were up more than 111 percent during the period. Black first-year enrollments at Rice University showed an increase of 93 percent in the 1997 to 2007 period.

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore showed a major increase of 66.1 percent during the period.  MIT and the University of Notre Dame also posted gains of more than 50 percent.



Black Professor in North Carolina Becomes a Nigerian Chief

Valentine U. James is dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. Now, after a yearlong process, he is also Obong Ifiok I, or First Chief of Wisdom, for the city of Ikot Ekpene in his native Nigeria.

To become a chief, Dr. James went through a comprehensive evaluation process. All of his written work was gone over by the other 10 chiefs. He was interviewed by each of the chiefs for a period of two to four hours each. He also had to go through several rituals including visiting the grave of his great-great-great-great-grandfather.

After passing all the tests, James was installed as chief in a six-hour ceremony before more than 40,000 people in the city’s soccer stadium.


Redefining the Black Middle Class

Kris Marsh, a postdoctoral fellow at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has conducted research redefining the black middle class. In an article published in the December issue of Social Forces, Dr. Marsh finds that the traditional concept of the black middle class as a married-couple family with children is no longer accurate. Marsh found that studies that have shown a decline in the black middle class are focusing on married-couple families, a shrinking segment of the overall black population. But she found that there is a large and growing group of black professionals who never marry or have children. This group has tripled since 1980, according to Marsh’s data. “We’ve dispelled the assumption that blacks have to be married to be middle class,” Marsh writes.

Dr. Marsh is a 1996 graduate of San Diego State University. She earned a master’s degree in sociology from California State University Dominguez Hills and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Southern California. Her doctoral thesis, completed in 2005, was entitled, Black Urban Non-Family Households: Their Socioeconomic Position and Spatial Buffering.


New Journal on Race to Be Published by Rice University Press 

Rice University Press has announced the launch of The Journal of Race and Religion in the Americas. The new journal, founded by faculty at Rice University, will appear in print and online.

The executive editors of the journal will be Michael O. Emerson, the Allyn R. and Gladys M. Cline Professor of Sociology and director of the Rice University Center on Race, Religion and Urban Life, and Anthony B. Pinn, the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and professor of religious studies. Pinn, an African American, is a 1986 graduate of Columbia University. He holds a master’s degree from the Harvard Divinity School and a master’s and Ph.D. in religion from Harvard University.

The first issue of the new journal is scheduled for 2009. Each issue will include four or five articles of about 6,000 words in length.


Some Improvement, But Still Tough Going for Black Students at Oxford

The University of Oxford is the oldest institution of higher education in the English-speaking world, dating back at least 900 years. Yet throughout most of its storied history there were no black students at the university.

Even today only 362, or 1.9 percent, of Oxford’s 19,000 undergraduate and graduate students are black. But the university reports that progress is being made. This year the number of black applicants to Oxford increased by 19 percent and the number of black students accepted to the university rose by 21 percent.

Most of the black applicants to Oxford are of African descent. Blacks with African heritage outnumbered other black applicants by more than 4 to 1. Only 16 percent of blacks with Afro-Caribbean heritage were accepted for admission compared to an overall success rate of 28 percent for students of all races.


In Memoriam

Charles G. Tildon Jr. (1926-2007)

Charles G. Tildon Jr., former president of Baltimore City Community College, died recently at a hospice center in Towson, Maryland, after a three-year battle with prostate cancer. He was 81 years old.

Tildon was a native of Baltimore and graduated with a degree in biology from Morgan State University. He taught middle school, served as a hospital administrator, and was assistant secretary of the Maryland Department of Human Resources. In 1969 he became one of the first black trustees of the Maryland Institute College of Art. He was also a longtime member of the Club of Baltimore, a fraternal order of educators. Tildon was coeditor of the book Clairvoyance: Reweaving the Fabric of the Community for Black Folk.

Tildon was named president of Baltimore City College in 1982. He retired from that post in 1985. Afterwards he served as chair of the political action group Marylanders Organized for Responsibility and Equity (MORE).



Leslie Desmangles, professor of religion and international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, was honored with two panels discussing his work at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association.

Professor Desmangles, who has been on the faculty at Trinity College for 30 years, is a graduate of Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He holds a master’s degree in theology from the Palmer Seminary in Philadelphia and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Temple University.

Steve Swayne, associate professor of music at Dartmouth College, was awarded a one-year fellowship with the National Endowment for the Humanities. The fellowship will allow Professor Swayne to complete work on a book about composer William Schuman.



The doctoral program in pharmacy, a partnership between historically black Elizabeth City State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, received a $400,000 grant from the Wachovia Foundation. The grant will be used to recruit, retain, and mentor minority students in the program.

The University of Georgia received a $3.7 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health for its Strong African-American Families program. The educational program attempts to enhance parenting skills and youth self-discipline. The grant will be used to create a new computer version of the program.

The program is under the direction of Velma McBride Murry, professor of child and family development at the University of Georgia.


Government Report Estimates That Blacks and Women Will Spur Future Growth in College Enrollments

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education estimates that by the year 2016 total enrollments in higher education will increase by 16.9 percent to 20.4 million students. Women will make up almost 60 percent of the total college enrollment by 2016 compared to 57 percent today.

The study estimates that in 2016 there will 2,855,000 African Americans enrolled in higher education in the United States. This is almost a 29 percent increase from today’s total. The Education Department report states that in 2016 blacks will make up 14 percent of all enrollments in higher education in the United States compared to 12.7 percent today.


“Barack Obama is the first black presidential candidate who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

Senator Joseph Biden’s 2007 gaffe on the candidate who won last week’s Iowa caucuses and knocked Biden out of the presidential race


Blacks Make Up About 4 Percent of Political Science Faculties

New research by Donna Nelson, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma, shows that blacks have a larger presence in faculty positions in political science than in many other academic disciplines. Professor Nelson’s data finds 98 black scholars teaching political science at 96 universities with the largest research budgets in the field. All told there are 2,323 faculty members in these 96 political science departments. Therefore, blacks make up 4.2 percent of the faculty in the field.

There are six black political scientists at the University of Texas and four at the University of Maryland College Park.  There are three blacks teaching political science at Yale, Columbia, Syracuse, Michigan State, the University of South Carolina, UCLA, and George Mason University.

According to Dr. Nelson’s research, 33 of the 98 black political scientists hold the rank of full professor. Michigan State University and the University of Maryland each have three black full professors of political science.


New Forensic Sciences Laboratory Opens at Alabama State University

A new $10 million forensic sciences building has opened on the campus of Alabama State University, the historically black educational institution in Montgomery. The building contains 12 classrooms and state-of-the-art chemistry and biology laboratories. The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences will use some of the laboratories to conduct its criminal investigations.

The new building is named for Robert Clinton Hatch. Hatch was a professor of education at the university and served as acting president. He was also the first black administrator at the Alabama State Department of Education. Hatch, who held a doctorate in education from Columbia Teachers College, died in 1975.


Princeton Aims to Boost Black Enrollments in its Graduate Schools

A new report from the Council of Graduate Schools shows that African Americans make up 13 percent of all enrollments in graduate education in the United States. Yet at Princeton University in New Jersey blacks are only 1.3 percent of all enrollments.

Why the huge shortfall in black graduate enrollments at Princeton? The answer is quite simple. Nationwide about 55 percent of all black students participating in graduate education programs in the United States are enrolled in business or education programs. There is no graduate program in business or education at Princeton.

Now the Black Graduate Caucus and the Princeton University administration are working together to increase the number of black graduate students on campus. The Black Graduate Caucus holds a fall preview day to educate potential students on the advantages of study at Princeton. The caucus will also hold a conference this spring where black graduate students can present their research.

The university administration is preparing a report on how to boost minority recruitment at the graduate level and also how to retain black and other minority students who choose to come to Princeton.


Small Liberal Arts College That Was a Leader in Racial Desegregation Once Again Looks to Boost Black Enrollments

St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, has about 500 undergraduate students. The liberal arts school’s curriculum is built upon the classics such as Plato, Homer, Sophocles, Aristotle, and Shakespeare. In mathematics and science, students read and discuss the works of Euclid, Ptolemy, and Newton. Given its devotion to the classics, it should come as no surprise that only 2 percent of the students at the college are black.

But readers may be surprised to learn that St. John’s College was among the first privately operated colleges south of the Mason-Dixon line to admit black students. The college admitted its first black student in 1948 and in the 1950s enrolled more black students than it does today.

But now St. John’s is seeking to boost black enrollments. This month, for the first time, the college will celebrate the holiday to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Black scholars W.E.B. Du Bois and Frederick Douglass have been added to the classics curriculum. And the college has hired a full-time minority recruitment officer.


University Study Finds That a Young Child’s Environment Can Have a Major Effect on Scores on Standardized Tests Later in Life

A study by university researchers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that growing up in a poor neighborhood is equivalent to missing one year of schooling during the K-12 years. Researchers at Harvard, New York University, and the University of Chicago have found that children who grow up in these impoverished communities have a lower level of verbal skills. This disadvantage holds as the children grow older. Later in life, when these children are given verbal reasoning tests, they score on average four IQ points lower than other children. This, according to the researchers, is equivalent to one year of schooling.

Furthermore, the disadvantage for children who grow up in impoverished neighborhoods persists even for those who move out of these neighborhoods.

Researchers also examined not only socioeconomic factors but also racial differences. However, they concluded that “the social worlds of black and nonblack children are so different that comparable cases across race could not be found to assess the combined effect of disadvantage” among the 2,000 children who participated in the study.

This research adds great weight to the argument that racial and socioeconomic differences in test scores later in life have a great deal to do with the environment in which the test takers grew up.


3.8%  Percentage of white high school students in 2005 who said they had used marijuana on school property within the past 30 days.

4.9%  Percentage of black high school students in 2005 who said they had used marijuana on school property within the past 30 days.

source: U.S. Department of Education


The New President of Predominantly Black Martin University Is a Proven Fundraiser

Algeania Freeman was named president of Martin University in Indianapolis. She is only the second president of the university, which was founded 30 years ago by Boniface Hardin, a Catholic priest, to educate nontraditional students. The average age of a Martin University student is 40. About 95 percent of the university’s 600 students are black.

Dr. Freeman was chosen from among 66 candidates. The trustees were impressed with her fundraising credentials. Freeman, who holds a Ph.D. in communications from Ohio State University, previously served as president of Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina. During her three years at Livingstone College she raised $20 million and increased enrollments by 12 percent.


HBCU in Detroit in Dire Straits

Lewis College of Business in Detroit is the only historically black educational institution in the state of Michigan. Classes are scheduled to resume at the college this coming Monday.

However, the school has lost its accreditation and only a few dozen students have enrolled for classes. Students who enroll at colleges that have lost accreditation are not eligible for federal financial aid.

The Detroit Free Press reports that some staff members at the college have not been paid since October. It is not clear at this point if the college will be able to continue operations.



Robert Seniors was named vice president for enterprise information technology at Florida A&M University. He has been serving in the post on an interim basis. He is a graduate of Florida A&M and has 10 years of IT experience in the corporate world.

Cynthia Hughes Harris was named provost and vice president for academic affairs at Florida A&M University. She has been serving as dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences at the university.

She holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois.

• Valerie L. Green was appointed chief general counsel at North Carolina A&T State University. She was the associate counsel for the public school system in Baltimore, Maryland.

A graduate of Virginia Union University, Green earned her law degree at the University of Baltimore.

• Paula T. Hammond was promoted to Bayer Professor in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Hammond holds a master’s degree from Georgia Tech and a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. from MIT.

• Patrick Hannah was appointed special assistant to the chancellor and director of government and community relations at North Carolina Central University in Durham. He was the vice president for government affairs at the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce.


Copyright © 2008. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.