As in almost all measures of African-American achievement in higher education, black women have come to hold a large lead in doctoral awards. As recently as 1977 black women earned only 38.7 percent of all doctorates awarded to African Americans. By 2000 black women earned 65.7 percent of all doctorates awarded to African Americans. There have been only minor fluctuations since the beginning of the century. The latest data from the National Science Foundation shows that in 2008 black women earned 63.9 percent of all doctorates awarded to African Americans.
Since 1990 African-American women have increased their number of Ph.D. awards from 550 to 1,298. This is an increase of 136 percent. In contrast, the number of Ph.D. awards to African-American men increased from 351 in 1990 to 732. This is a rise of 109 percent.
University Researchers Map the Genome of the African-American Population
An international research team led by geneticists at the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University conducted a wide scale study of genotype data of Africans and African Americans. The results showed far more genetic diversity among African Americans than previously believed.
While it is commonly believed that most African Americans are descended from slaves brought to this country from West Africa, the study found that among African Americans, the proportion of West African ancestry ranges from 1 percent to 99 percent. The median proportion of European ancestry among African Americans is 18.5 percent.
The authors of the study stated that the vast differences in the genetic makeup among the African-American population brings into question drug and medical treatments that are targeted exclusively toward black Americans. Because the genetic diversity among the African-American population is so large, it is unwise to categorize all black Americans as one group and assume that they are genetically similar and will respond to medications and treatments in the same way.
Spelman College Asks Alumnae to Help Pay Tuition of Current Students
At the close of the fall semester, about one third of the students at Spelman College, the selective liberal arts educational institution for black women in Atlanta, had outstanding balances on their tuition bills. The college sent out an urgent e-mail to all alumnae asking for their help in retiring the students’ debt. Of particular concern was for college seniors who have not been able to pay their bills. Spelman urged alumnae to support these students so they could graduate. In one week the donations reduced the number of students with unpaid balances from 700 to 400.
New Scholarship Hopes to Boost Black Male Enrollments in College
Readers of JBHE are well aware of the fact that black women greatly outnumber black men in college enrollments. Also, black women are significantly more likely than black men to graduate from college once they enroll.
In an attempt to address this problem, the Spangler Foundation of Charlotte, North Carolina, has created an endowment that will offer a $1,000 college scholarship to every black male who graduates from West Charlotte High School. The money can be used to pay tuition at Central Piedmont Community College or at any campus of the University of North Carolina system. A second donation of $50,000 to the high school will pay the college application fees for students of any race.
C.D. Spangler Jr. is a construction company executive who is white. He served as president of the University of North Carolina system from 1986 to 1997. On the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans, Spangler is a 1954 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and he earned an MBA at Harvard Business School.
Lone Black Member of the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees Is Being Challenged for Her Seat by a White Man
The bylaws of the board of trustees of the University of South Carolina state that membership of the 18-member panel should be “representative of all citizens of the state of South Carolina.” While blacks make up 29 percent of the state’s population, there is only one African-American member on the board of trustees. The black trustee is Leah Moody, an attorney who graduated from Hampton University but earned her law degree at the University of South Carolina.
Moody is facing a challenge for her board seat by Alton Hyatt, a white man who earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of South Carolina. Hyatt, a practicing pharmacist, has strong connections to many of the state legislators who will be making the final decision on which candidate gets the board seat. Hyatt served in the state legislature in the 1990s.
State Senator Darrell Jackson, an African American from Richmond, told the Columbia State, “If we decide not to reelect the only African American on that board, it would be bad for the state. It would be bad for the university.”
Black enrollments at the state’s flagship university have dropped from 18 percent to 12 percent over the past decade.
32.7 years Median age of white doctoral recipients in 2008.
36.6 years Median age of African-American doctoral recipients in 2008.
source: National Science Foundation
Kenneth Francis Taylor (1937-2009)
Kenneth Taylor, who taught at Savannah State University in Georgia for more than half a century, died from heart failure at an Atlanta hospital. He was 72 years old.
Dr. Taylor joined the Savannah State faculty in 1972 and later served as chair of the university’s department of health, physical education, and recreation. He was a stickler for punctuality. He locked the door to his classroom at the time his lecture was scheduled to begin. Students who were only a few seconds late were not permitted to enter the room. After retiring from teaching in 1997, Dr. Taylor served for a period as assistant to the president of Atlanta Metropolitan College.
Carnegie Howard Mims Jr. (1944-2009)
Carnegie Mims Jr., an attorney, professor of law, and one of the first black students at the University of Texas, has died after a long illness. He was 65 years old.
Mims was a native of New Orleans but was raised in Austin, Texas. He was part of a small group of black students who racially integrated the city’s Stephen F. Austin High School. In 1962 he enrolled at the University of Texas, which previously had only a handful of black students. After earning a degree in history, Mims enrolled at the university’s law school.
After serving as a legislative aide for Barbara Jordan and as an attorney for the Texas Supreme Court, Mims started a private practice in Houston. During his 23 years of practicing law in Houston, Mims served as a professor at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University.
Audrey Snypse Lawson (1918-2009)
Audrey Snypse Lawson, historian, educator, author, and civil rights activist, died last month at her home in Piermont, New York. She was 91 years old.
Lawson, a native of Philadelphia, was a graduate of Fisk University. She held a master’s of social work degree from Columbia University. She began her career as a social worker but later served as an associate professor of social work at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. Her 2003 book, True Stories From Mine Hole, documented the saga of African-American workers who were recruited to break a strike at a factory in Piermont.
Grants and Gifts
• Historically black Hampton University in Virginia received a $10.2 million grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to continue a project that began in 2002 to study ice clouds that form at high altitudes at the Earth’s poles.
• Winston-Salem State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina, received a donation of $220,000 from the estate of the late Rachel E. Diggs Wilkinson. Half of the money will be used for an endowed scholarship program. The remainder of the gift will establish an endowment fund for the operation of the Diggs Gallery at the university, named after the donor’s brother, who was an art teacher at the university for 45 years.
Rachel E. Diggs Wilkinson was a 1933 graduate of Winston-Salem State University. Denied admission to the graduate program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she earned a master’s degree at Columbia University and a doctorate at New York University. She was a longtime professor at the City University of New York until her retirement in 1972.
• Indiana University of Pennsylvania received a $160,000 grant from the Heinz Endowment to establish a program to increase black enrollments on campus. The university will target public schools in black neighborhoods of Pittsburgh with an outreach program. High school students will be given assistance when applying to college. And the university will offer summer courses to students at these high schools in an effort to prepare them for college-level work.
• Florida International University received a five-year, $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a study on racial disparities in AIDS survival in the state of Florida. Research has shown that 84 percent of whites diagnosed with AIDS/HIV are alive three years later compared to 79 percent of blacks.
• Florida A&M University in Tallahassee received a three-year, $750,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a program focused on environmental toxins in minority neighborhoods of the city of Jacksonville. The project, entitled the Jacksonville Racial and Ethnic Environmental Approaches to Community Health, will educate health officials and the general public about environmental contaminants in the city.
Once Again, the University of Virginia Has the Highest Black Student Graduation Rate of Any Flagship State University in the Nation
Our latest report on graduation rates shows 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, the black student graduation rate is 76 percent, 11 percentage points below the black student graduation rate at the University of Virginia. The University of California at Berkeley ranked third with a black student graduation rate of 72 percent. The University of Texas, the University of Michigan, the University of Florida, and the University of Georgia all had a black student graduation rate of at least 70 percent.
Ten other states have flagship universities that posted an African-American student graduation rate of 61 percent or higher. These are the state universities in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Connecticut, South Carolina, Illinois, Washington, Alabama, and New Jersey.
Five states and the District of Columbia have flagship state-chartered universities at which the African-American student graduation rate is 30 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 of 30 percent or below are Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, New Mexico, and Montana.
“Black studies is a crucial, central part of any student’s liberal arts education. Our aim is not to produce narrow, single-minded individuals but to produce cosmopolitans, young people who understand that they live in a diverse global village.”
— Eddie S. Glaude Jr., chair of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University, in the Trenton Times, 12-28-09
African-American Professor Launches Journal of Justice Studies
Alvin Mitchell, associate professor and coordinator of justice studies at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, is the founder and editor of the new Journal of Justice Studies, which recently published its first issue. The journal, which will be published once each year, includes scholarly articles, essays, research notes, and book reviews relevant to justice issues. The publication will encompass a wide range of subjects and disciplines including crime, sociology, economics, politics, education, and social work.
Dr. Mitchell is a graduate of Southern University of New Orleans. He holds a master’s degree in criminal justice from Grambling State University and a Ph.D. in criminal justice and political science from the Union Institute in Cincinnati.
Augusta State University Receives the Papers of Georgia’s First Black-Owned Insurance Company
The Pilgrim Health and Life Insurance Company was the first black-owned insurance company in Georgia. Founded in 1898 in Augusta, the company issued tens of thousands of insurance policies to African Americans in several states. The company was bought by the Atlanta Life Insurance Company in 1990.
When she bought a local warehouse in Augusta, a local businesswoman discovered the early records of the Pilgrim Health and Life Insurance Company which had been stored in the building. She has now donated the vast collection of papers to Augusta State University. The documents, which filled a 53-foot trailer on an 18-wheel truck, will be preserved and made available for scholarly research. The process of archiving the collection will take more than five years to complete.
President of Norfolk State University Plans to Step Down in June
Carolyn W. Meyers, president of Norfolk State University in Virginia, has announced that she will step down at the end of the current academic career. Dr. Meyers became president of Norfolk State in 2006 and she is currently in the fourth year of a five-year contract.
Dr. Meyers, 63 years old, said she wants to pursue other interests. But published reports hinted that many members of the board of trustees were not pleased with her performance and management style.
Prior to assuming the presidency of Norfolk State, Dr. Meyers was provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. Last fall she was a finalist for the presidency of Morgan State University in Baltimore.
Dr. Meyers holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Howard University. She earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech.
The Black Man Who First Challenged Race-Based Scholarships Has His Sights Set on the United States Senate
In the entire history of the United States, only six African Americans have served in the U.S. Senate. With the retirement of Roland Burris of Illinois, who is serving out the term of Barack Obama, next year the Senate could once again be without a black member.
But this may not be the case. Michael Williams, a member of the Railroad Commission of Texas who is an African American, is a leading contender for the seat of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is running for governor. Williams has been endorsed by Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and the Senate Conservatives Fund.
Williams is a native Texan but is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where he also earned a law degree. At USC he was the president of the Black Student Union and actively lobbied for increased diversity efforts at the university.
But after completing his education, Williams became enamored with the writings of conservative economist Thomas Sowell. Williams was a supporter of the presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan. He served in the Reagan and Bush administrations.
As assistant secretary of education in 1990, Williams created a major controversy when he challenged the race-based scholarship program set up by the organizers of the Fiesta Bowl, the college football classic played each January in Arizona. The Williams policy was never officially implemented by the Bush Education Department and the challenge to race-based scholarships was thought to have gone by the wayside with the 1992 election of Bill Clinton as president. But two years later, what the Bush administration had failed to accomplish through executive action was realized by Reagan’s and Bush’s appointees to the federal bench. In 1994 the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as unconstitutional the Benjamin Banneker Scholarship Program for black students at the University of Maryland. Since that time similar race-based programs have been abolished or modified at state-operated universities across the country.
It was Michael Williams who first let the cat out of the bag. And now he wants to bring his brand of conservatism to the United State Senate.
Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations
• Earl Lewis, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory University, was appointed by the U.S. secretary of education to serve on the board of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Integrity. The committee oversees the accrediting agencies that govern institutions of higher education in the United States.
Dr. Lewis is a magna cum laude graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Minnesota.
• Ronald E. Speight is the new interim dean of the College of Education, Humanities, and Social Sciences at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg. He has been a professor of education at the university.
Dr. Speight holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from North Carolina Central University and a doctorate from Kansas State University.
• Shirley L. Dove was promoted to executive vice president at Lenoir Community College in Kinston, North Carolina. An administrator at the college since 1975, Dr. Dove served most recently as vice president of academic and student services.
Dr. Dove is a graduate of North Carolina Wesleyan University. She holds a master’s degree from East Carolina University and a doctorate from North Carolina State University.
• Alvin Williams, Distinguished Professor of Marketing in the Mitchell College of Business at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, was named a fellow of the Society for Marketing Advances.
Dr. Williams is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Alabama and a doctorate from the University of Arkansas.
• Kenneth Boutte Sr., a professor of biology and dean of freshman studies at Xavier University of New Orleans, was appointed to a post with the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation of the National Science Foundation.
• Stanley Allen Jr. was named to the board of trustees of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. Dr. Allen, who has practiced dentistry in Greensboro for 30 years, is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and the Howard University College of Dentistry.