Cornell Looking to Climb Out of the Ivy League Cellar in Black Enrollments

According to the latest JBHE statistics, Cornell University is last among the Ivy League colleges in its percentage of black enrollments.

But Cornell is taking steps to improve racial diversity on campus. There are 682 black undergraduates on campus this year, the highest number in more than two decades. There are 192 black first-year students at Cornell this year. They make up 5.9 percent of all freshman students. This is the highest percentage of black freshmen at Cornell since 1993 when JBHE first began tracking black first-year enrollments at the nation’s highest-ranked universities.

Although handicapped by the fact that it is located in a rural section of New York State far from the East Coast’s black population centers, Cornell has increased its on-campus recruitment efforts targeting black students. And its admissions officers have greatly increased their number of visits to inner-city high schools.

Cornell’s Multicultural Visitation program brings 200 black and other minority students to campus each fall for a two-night stay. Buses are chartered to bring students from New York City and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to Cornell.

These efforts have resulted in a 52 percent increase in the number of minority students who have applied to Cornell over the past three years.


“There’s a feeling that if white folks like him so much, he must not be good for us. For some blacks, it’s a turnoff.”

Ronald Walters, director of the African American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland, commenting on the potential presidential candidacy of Barack Obama in an Agence France-Presse article posted on December 21, 2006


A Solid Percentage of Black Students at U.S. Colleges and Universities Are Foreign Born

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2004, more than 12 percent of all black undergraduate students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities were born in a foreign land. This is nearly four times the rate for whites. Less than 4 percent of white undergraduates were foreign born.

At the graduate level, 18.7 percent, or more than one of every six, were born outside the U.S. For whites, 6.3 percent of all graduate students were foreign born.


High School Student Re-creates Kenneth Clark’s 1940 Doll Experiment: Results Mirror Clark’s Finding That Black Girls Prefer White Dolls

In the 1940s black psychologist Kenneth Clark conducted an experiment using black and white dolls. Clark found that when given a choice, young black girls preferred white dolls over black dolls. The results of the Clark experiment were presented as evidence in the Brown v. Board of Education case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court referred to the experiment in its decision, stating that young blacks were growing up with an inherent sense of inferiority.

Now 60 years later, little has changed. Kiri Davis, a high school senior in New York City, re-created the Clark experiment with 21 black preschool girls. She gave the black girls two dolls, one white and one black. She then asked the girls to show her the doll that “looks bad.” Fifteen of the 21 black girls in the David experiment preferred the white doll over the black doll.

Davis made a short documentary film on the experiment entitled A Girl Like Me. The film has been shown at film festivals across the country and has won nine awards.

The film can also be viewed online by clicking here.



Effort Under Way to Roll Back Race-Sensitive Admissions in Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin system enrolls only 15 percent of the black students who graduate from the state’s high schools. For whites, the figure is 34 percent. Relatively high admissions standards have made it difficult for many blacks to gain admission to the state’s flagship campus in Madison. Blacks are 2.6 percent of the enrollments at the 40,000-student campus. This is less than one half the level that would exist if African-American enrollments equaled the black percentage of the Wisconsin population.

In an effort to enroll as many black students as possible, admissions officials at the university continue to practice race-sensitive admissions. Official system policy is to use a holistic approach to a student’s application examining factors such as race, socioeconomic status, leadership ability, and success in overcoming disadvantages.

But a movement is under way in the state to end all affirmative action admissions programs. GOP State Senator Glenn Grothman has convened hearings at the State Capitol to examine the university’s admissions policies. He invited Ward Connerly to come to Madison to testify before the committee on why universities should not use race as a positive factor in the admissions process. Wisconsin is not a state where a public referendum can be held on the matter. So Grothman hopes to initiate legislation to prohibit the use of race in university admissions.


Update on the Status of Historically Black Barber-Scotia College

In 1867 Barber-Scotia College was founded in Concord, North Carolina, by the Presbyterian Church to educate newly freed black slaves. Its most famous graduate is Mary McLeod Bethune, who went on to found Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida.

In 2004 this small historically black college was stripped of its accreditation because it had built up more than $1 million in debt. With its students no longer eligible for federal financial aid, enrollments dropped to zero. This past semester the college reopened with 15 students in a business administration program with a concentration in hospitality management. There are nine faculty members, most of whom volunteer their services. Tuition is only $500 a semester. Students can receive room and board for an additional $1,175.

Carl Flamer, an alumnus who is serving on a volunteer basis as president of the college, says, “The old Barber-Scotia is gone. It’s like a brand-new college.”


Stanford University Seeks to Boost Black Enrollments in Ph.D. Programs

According to the Graduate Diversity Action Council at Stanford University, the number of minority students in Ph.D. programs has not increased over the past decade. The percentage of all Ph.D. students who are black or members of other underrepresented minority groups has declined during the period.

In an effort to boost black enrollments in Ph.D. programs at Stanford, the university is holding two recruitment weekends instead of one. One will be geared toward prospective students in the biosciences and the other will target students in engineering and earth sciences.

Individual faculty members will be able to allocate $500 for travel expenses to bring a prospective underrepresented minority student to campus. There is no preset limit on how many students may be invited to campus under this program.

A third program will encourage black and other minority undergraduate students at Stanford to consider applying to graduate education programs at the university. This program will include faculty lectures, career development seminars, and field trips.


Gerald R. Ford Made a Stand Against Racism at the University of Michigan

As the nation honored the late Gerald R. Ford this past week, it is important to remember the stance against racism the nation’s 38th president made while a student at the University of Michigan.

In 1934 Georgia Tech was scheduled to come to Ann Arbor for a game against the University of Michigan. Ford was the center and captain of the University of Michigan team. Tech refused to play the game if Willis Ward, the only black player on the Michigan team, was allowed to play. The University of Michigan relented and barred Ward from playing.

Ford was furious that Georgia Tech made the demand and even angrier that the University of Michigan acceded to the demand. Ford refused to suit up for the game. Only after Willis Ward personally appealed to Ford did the future president agree to play.

Late in life Ford backed the University of Michigan in its efforts to uphold its affirmative action admissions policies.



University of Missouri Researcher Finds a Bias Favoring Lighter Skin Tones Among Both Blacks and Whites

Cynthia Frisby, an associate professor of strategic communications at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, conducted a unique experiment which she contends shows a bias for light skin tones among both whites and blacks.

Professor Frisby took photographs of four models and, using computer software, altered their skin tones. She showed a set of photographs to 79 female college students who were asked which model would be better for an advertising campaign. The models were chosen randomly but each set of photographs had three different skin tones.

Over 40 percent of the participants in the research were African Americans. Yet 78 of the 79 respondents preferred the model with the lightest skin for the hypothetical advertising campaign. “My research shows that white consumers react to black models in advertisements in almost exactly the same way as black consumers react,” Professor Frisby said. “It seems that both groups prefer the light brown skin tone, whether it's a tan Caucasian or a light-skinned African American.”

Professor Frisby holds a master’s and a Ph.D. from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Florida. She has been on the faculty at the University of Missouri’s journalism school since 1998.


Two Courses on Race Make the Young America Foundation’s List of the “Dirty Dozen” Courses of Political Correctness

Two courses on racial topics appear on the annual list of “The Dirty Dozen: America’s Most Bizarre and Politically Correct College Courses.” The list is compiled by the Young America’s Foundation (YAF), an archconservative political group based in Herndon, Virginia.

Among the Dirty Dozen courses is “Blackness” at Occidental College in California. According to the YAF, this course explores “new blackness,” “critical blackness,” “post-blackness,” and an “unforgivable blackness.”

Also on the Dirty Dozen list is a course at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts entitled, “Whiteness: The Other Side of Racism.” This course deals with such issues as “What is whiteness?” and “What are the legal frameworks of whiteness?”


The Black Colleges With the Highest Black Student Graduation Rates

By a large margin, the highest black student graduation rate at a historically black college belongs to the academically selective, all-women Spelman College in the city of Atlanta. In fact, the Spelman black student graduation rate of 77 percent is higher than the black student graduation rate at many of the high-ranking predominantly white colleges and universities in the nation.

Spelman’s unusual strength shows in the fact that it has a higher black student graduation rate than do such prestigious and primarily white colleges as Bates, Colby, Berkeley, UCLA, the University of Michigan, Claremont McKenna, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Carnegie Mellon.

Following Spelman in the rankings, the next-highest black student graduation rate among the HBCUs is at Fisk University. At Fisk, 63 percent of the entering black students go on to graduate within six years. Hampton University, Miles College, Howard University, Morehouse College, and Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina sadly are the only other HBCUs that graduate at least half of their black students within six years.


Characteristics of African-American Doctorate Recipients

In recent weeks, the JBHE Weekly Bulletin has reported key statistics on the status of African Americans in graduate doctoral programs. We have noted that according to data from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, in the latest year, the number of black doctorates showed a significant decline of 10 percent. Here are some other statistics on blacks who were awarded doctoral degrees in 2005.

  • The average age of a black Ph.D. recipient in 2005 was 36.7 compared to 33.8 for all Americans.
  • It appears that the predominantly white faculties of our major research universities prefer white teaching assistants over black teaching assistants. About 16 percent of white Americans who earned doctorates in 2005 served as college teaching assistants during their doctoral study. Only 7.5 percent of black doctoral students served as teaching assistants.
  • Black Americans on average took 12.7 years to earn a doctorate after receiving their bachelor’s degree and 10.5 years after they first entered graduate school. The average time for all white Americans was 10.4 years after they earned their bachelor’s degree and 8.3 years after first entering graduate school. Disparate economic burdens on black and white Ph.D. candidates probably account for much of the difference.
  • Some 22.7 percent of all white Americans who earned doctorates in 2005 plan postdoctoral study. For blacks, 16.2 percent plan on postdoc study.
  • Nearly 59 percent of all blacks awarded doctorates in 2005 plan careers in academia. Only 47 percent of white doctorate recipients planned to teach at the university level. More than 11 percent of white Ph.D. recipients plan to secure a job in business or industry compared to 6.5 percent of blacks who earned doctorates.


U.S. Students Studying in Africa

According to the Institute of International Education, more than 205,000 American students studied at foreign institutions of higher education during the 2004-05 academic year. This was up 7.7 percent from a year earlier. A vast majority of Americans studying abroad (60.3 percent) attended universities in Europe.

Of all U.S. students studying abroad, 7,100, or 3.4 percent, attended universities in Africa. The number of American students studying in Africa was up a whopping 25 percent from the previous year. Africa sends more than five times as many students to American universities as America sends to African universities.

Of the 7,100 Americans studying in Africa, 1,176, or 16.6 percent, were studying in the northern African nations of Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

Among black African nations, South Africa was the most popular destination. In 2004-05, 2,304 American students studied in South Africa. This was up by 15 percent from a year earlier. In the 1994-95 academic year, only 86 Americans were enrolled at South African universities. Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Senegal, Botswana, Namibia, and Uganda were the only other black African nations hosting more than 100 American college students.

Of the 205,983 American students studying abroad in all areas of the globe, 7,209, or 3.5 percent, were African Americans. In 1996, African Americans were also 3.5 percent of all American students studying abroad.


Money Is Finally Flowing to Coppin State University

In 2001 a Maryland higher education commission concluded that Coppin State University, the historically black educational institution in western Baltimore, had been woefully underfunded since its founding in 1900. Now the state is finally doing something about it. A $400 million renovation project is under way with the construction of a new health and human services building and a new physical education complex. A new science and technology center is in the planning stages.


New University of Texas President Pledges to Reexamine Issue of Statues of Confederate Leaders on Campus

William Powers Jr., the new president of the University of Texas, announced the appointment of a committee to make recommendations on what should be done, if anything, about the four bronze statues of Confederate leaders on the Austin campus. “A lot of students, especially minority students, have raised concerns. And those are understandable and legitimate concerns,” Powers told the Austin American-Statesman.

Outgoing university president Larry Faulkner had said that the statues conveyed “institutional nostalgia for the Confederacy.” Faulkner added, “Most who receive that message are repelled.”

In 1999 funds were raised to install a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. on the Austin campus. That statue has been defaced on several occasions. A second statue honoring an African American is planned for the Austin campus. It will depict former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan.


38.2%  Percentage of all black children ages 3 and 4 who were enrolled in preschool programs in 1980.

59.6%  Percentage of all black children ages 3 and 4 who were enrolled in preschool programs in 2004.

source: U.S. Bureau of the Census


Blacks Are Making Solid Progress in Attainment of Two-Year Community College Degrees

Community colleges are an important part of higher education, particularly for African Americans. About 42 percent of all African-American enrollments in higher education are at the nation’s two-year community colleges. Census data shows that blacks with some college or a two-year associate’s degree significantly increase their earning power over blacks with only a high school diploma.

In 2005 nearly 82,000 African Americans were awarded two-year degrees. This is more than double the number from 15 years ago.

As is the case in bachelor’s and graduate degrees, black women hold a large lead over black men in two-year associate’s degrees. In 2005 black women earned 56,285 two-year college degrees compared to 25,472 for black men. Thus, black women earned nearly 69 percent of all associate’s degrees won by African Americans.



Dana Mohler-Faria, president of Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts, was named education adviser to Deval Patrick, the new governor of Massachusetts. Mohler-Faria, the grandson of immigrants from the African nation Cape Verde Islands, received a two-year associate’s degree at Cape Cod Community College and then transferred to Boston University where he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He later earned a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Massachusetts.

Reginald Hudlin, president of entertainment for Black Entertainment Television, was appointed to the executive board of the School of Theater, Film, and Television at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Quan Williams was appointed by Governor Mike Easley to the board of trustees of the North Carolina College Foundation. Williams is a financial adviser who holds a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation from North Carolina Central University in Durham.



James Brown, the “godfather of soul” who died on Christmas Day, was awarded a posthumous honorary degree from Paine College during his funeral in Augusta, Georgia. Paine College president Shirley A.R. Lewis stated that before his death Brown had been invited to receive the degree at the college’s spring commencement ceremonies. Brown had dropped out of school after the third grade.



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