Caroline Hoxby Discovers a Large Pool of High-Achieving, Low-Income Students Who Do Not Apply to Selective Colleges and Universities

JBHE data shows that despite the introduction of generous financial aid programs for low-income students, the percentage of low-income students in the student bodies of the nation’s most selective colleges and universities has declined in recent years. New research shows that there are large numbers of low-income students who are not applying to these schools.

Caroline M. Hoxby, Scott and Donya Bommer Professor in Economics at Stanford University, presented an important paper recently at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association. Using data from The College Board, Professor Hoxby found a huge group of high-achieving, low-income students who did not apply to any selective college or university.

Hoxby and coauthor Christopher N. Avery, a professor of public policy at Harvard University, obtained data on all students who took the SAT test over the past five years. They found 21,000 students who came from families with incomes below $28,000 who had grade point averages of at least B+ and scored at least 1200 on the combined reading and mathematical sections of the SAT college entrance examination.

Using data from The College Board as to where these students sent their test scores, Hoxby and Avery found that 60 percent of these high-achieving, low-income students did not apply to a selective college or university.

The data showed that most of the low-income students who did not apply to selective colleges were from small towns and rural areas that traditionally have not sent large numbers of students to the nation’s most selective colleges. Professor Hoxby told JBHE that she had no data on how many students from this low-income group were black.

The College Board regularly sells lists of high-performing students to selective college and universities. But Professor Hoxby notes that up to now there has been no way to cross-reference those students who are both high-scoring and who come from low-income families. Professor Hoxby told JBHE that these high-scoring, low-income students “are not getting any targeted recruiting or messages meant to appeal to them in particular.” But she said both The College Board, which administers the SAT test, and the American College Testing Program, which gives the ACT college entrance examination, are working to give colleges this capability in the near future.


Professor Who Resigned From the Faculty of the University of Alabama in Protest of the Expulsion of Autherine Lucy Retires From Teaching at Age 89

Harry G. Shaffer has been teaching economics at the University of Kansas for more than 50 years. He will retire from teaching this year at the age of 89.

Born in Vienna, Austria, he fled his homeland in 1938 to avoid the Nazis. After two years in Cuba, he came to the United States in 1940. After serving as a German translator for Army intelligence in World War II, Shaffer went to New York University under the GI Bill.

In 1950 Shaffer joined the faculty at the University of Alabama. Six years later Autherine Lucy became the first black student to enroll at the university. White students rioted and Lucy was “expelled for her own protection.” Shaffer and 27 other faculty members resigned in protest. He was immediately hired by the University of Kansas and has taught there ever since.



Here Are the Higher Education Credentials of the First Black Woman to Head the Georgia Court of Appeals

This month M. Yvette Miller was sworn in as chief judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals. She is the first African-American woman to serve as chief judge.

Judge Miller, a native of Macon, is a graduate of Mercer University and the Mercer University School of Law. She also holds two other law degrees, one from Emory University and one from the University of Virginia.

Judge Miller was appointed to the court of appeals in 1999 and since that time has been elected by Georgia voters to two, six-year terms.


Update: African Americans Pick Up Four Coaching Spots in Big-Time College Football

This past season there were six black head coaches among the 119 colleges and universities playing major college football. Thus blacks made up 5 percent of the coaches but more than 50 percent of the players. Three of the six black coaches will not be returning next year.

However, four new black head coaches have been hired in recent weeks. This means there will be a net gain of one black head coach. The new black head coaches are DeWayne Walker at New Mexico State University, Mike Haywood at Miami University of Ohio, Ron English at Eastern Michigan University, and Mike Locksley at the University of New Mexico.

The returning black head coaches are Randy Shannon at the University of Miami, Turner Gill at the University of Buffalo, and Kevin Sumlin at the University of Houston.

Another notable appointment was the naming of Tom Williams as the head football coach at Yale University. Yale plays in the Football Championship Series and is not eligible for major college bowl games. Williams was an assistant coach for the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars. He will be the second black head football coach in the Ivy League. Columbia University hired Norries Wilson in 2005.


Guiding African-American Women Through the Doctoral Process

African Americans make up only about 6 percent of all doctorates awarded in the United States. About 60 percent of all African-American doctorates are earned by black women.

In 2001 Sisters of the Academy was founded to help African-American women successfully navigate the doctoral process.

The organization hosts what it calls a Research Boot Camp. This one-week program features established scholars who advise doctoral students on conducting literature reviews, research, methodology, and data analysis. In 2007, 25 women attended the boot camp. This coming summer three additional tracks will be added to accommodate 45 women in all.

The group also hosts a writing workshop that coaches students on writing projects including dissertations and the publication of scholarly articles. In 2008, 35 women attended the writing workshop.

Denise Davis-Maye, associate professor of sociology, anthropology and social work at Auburn University and current president of Sisters of the Academy, told JBHE that the group also is planning a seminar for June 2010 to help black women in the academy compete for research grants.


In Memoriam

Rebecca Sellars Clark (1915-2009)

Rebecca Clark, a long-time employee of the University of North Carolina who was considered the matriarch of the black community in Chapel Hill, died earlier this month at the age of 93.

Clark worked in various jobs at the university for as little as $7 a week. For much of her life she lived in a racially segregated community that was founded for blacks who were employed at the university. A political activist for more than 70 years, she was instrumental in building black political power in the community.

The laundry building where she worked at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is now named in her honor.

Colin O. Benjamin (1949-2009)

Colin O. Benjamin, the Anheuser-Busch Professor of Engineering Management at Florida A&M University, died earlier this month at the age of 59.

Professor Benjamin was a native of Georgetown, Guyana. He was a graduate of the University of the West Indies. He held a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom and a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the University of the West Indies. He also earned an MBA from Cranfield Institute of Technology in Britain.

Before joining the faculty at FAMU, Dr. Benjamin taught at the University of Missouri at Rolla and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Frank “Tick” Coleman (1911-2008)

Frank Coleman, former director of alumni relations and member of the board of trustees at Lincoln University, died of heart failure late last month at a hospital in Philadelphia. He was 97 years old.

Coleman was a native of South Philadelphia. In 1929 he was the first African American to play quarterback for the city’s Central High School. During his high school years, he became an Eagle Scout, one of only three African Americans in the nation at that time to achieve scouting’s highest rank.

Coleman went on to Lincoln University where he played football, wrestled, and was class president. He graduated from Lincoln University in 1935 and later earned a master of social work degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Before returning to work at Lincoln University later in life, Coleman was a counselor for the Philadelphia public school system.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Lincoln University in 1984.



• Harold R. Holmes, associate vice president and dean of student services at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, received the Meritorious Service Award from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Holmes has been at Wake Forest for more than 20 years. He is a graduate of Hampton University and holds an MBA from Fordham University.



Tennessee State University, the historically black educational institution in Nashville, received a two-year, $186,763 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to study crystal structure of boron carbide.

The Black Colleges With the Lowest Student Graduation Rates

According to a recent JBHE analysis there are 24 historically black colleges and universities where two thirds or more of all entering black students do not go on to earn a diploma.

The lowest graduation rate is at Texas Southern University, where only 12 percent of entering freshmen go on to earn a bachelor’s degree. At the University of the District of Columbia, LeMoyne-Owen College, and Virginia Union University the black graduation rate was 14 percent. The good news here is that two years ago the graduation rate at the University of the District of Columbia was only 8 percent.

The low graduation rates at black colleges occur for a number of reasons. Many of the students enrolled at these institutions are from low-income families, often ones in which there are few books in the home and where neither parent nor grandparent went to college. In addition, the black colleges on the whole have very small and totally inadequate endowments and lack the necessary resources to generate funds for student financial aid. Often they are unable to furnish sufficient aid packages for upperclassmen to permit them to stay in school.

This problem is now complicated by the recent economic crisis. Lenders have become reluctant to issue loans to students at colleges and universities where they are unlikely to earn a diploma and gain the credentials that will ensure their ability to pay off their debts.


“This is just the latest attempt to deceive the voters of our state into rolling back important programs that ensure that women and racial and ethnic minorities have fair notice of opportunities and are given an equal chance to compete for them.”

Anthony E. Rothert, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, commenting on a 2010 ballot proposal to ban affirmative action in Missouri, in the Belleville News Democrat


University Research Shows the Race of Residents Is a Major Factor in How Whites Evaluate Neighborhoods

Researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois at Chicago conducted a social science experiment with 600 white adults. The test subjects were shown videos of neighborhoods with actors posing as residents. The neighborhoods ranged from working-class areas to upper-middle-class suburbs. In some videos the actors were all white. In some the actors were black, and in some others the actors were both black and white. The actors were shown picking up mail, talking to neighbors, or doing yard work.

Test subjects were asked to evaluate the neighborhoods on whether they looked safe, were well kept, and what their estimate was for the average price of a home.

The results showed that the race of the actors had a significant impact on how whites viewed the particular neighborhood. Whites who saw a neighborhood with only white actors rated the neighborhood significantly higher than whites who saw the identical neighborhood but with black actors or where the actors were both black and white.

The research was published in Du Bois: Social Science Research on Race, a journal edited by esteemed Harvard sociologist Lawrence Bobo.


Family Income Differences Explain Only a Small Part of the SAT Racial Scoring Gap

For both blacks and whites, family income is one of the best predictors of a student’s SAT score. Students from families with high incomes tend to score higher. Students from low-income families on average have low SAT scores. Because the median black family income in the United States is about 60 percent of the median family income of whites, one would immediately seize upon this economic statistic to explain the average 200-point gap between blacks and whites on the standard SAT scoring curve.

But income differences explain only part of the racial gap in SAT scores. For black and white students from families with incomes of more than $200,000 in 2008, there still remains a huge 149-point gap in SAT scores. Even more startling is the fact that in 2008 black students from families with incomes of more than $200,000 scored lower on the SAT test than did students from white families with incomes between $20,000 and $40,000.

But the fact is that even when family income levels are similar, we are still comparing black and white students who are as different as apples and oranges in terms of educational sophistication, family educational heritage, family wealth, and access to educational tools and resources. The average white family in the same income group is far better equipped than the average black family to prepare their children for success on the SAT test.


How Higher Education Affects the Formation of Stable Black Families

It is well known that black children are far less likely than their white peers to grow up in two-parent families. In 2006, 38.1 percent of black adults were married and living with their spouse. For whites the figure was 64.1 percent.

Now the question is whether blacks with a college education are more likely than other African Americans to enter into and stay in stable family relationships that will lead to better opportunities for their children. The short answer is an emphatic “Yes!”

Blacks with a bachelor’s degree are significantly more likely than less-educated blacks to live in married-couple families. In 2006, 46.2 percent of black adults with a bachelor’s degree lived in married-couple relationships. In comparison, 36.8 percent of blacks with only a high school education lived in married-couple families.

Furthermore, as blacks move further up the educational ladder, they are even more likely to live in stable, traditional families. More than 53 percent of black adults with a master’s degree live in married-couple families. For African Americans with professional degrees, 55 percent of black adults live in married-couple families.


61.5%  Percentage of all white undergraduate students receiving some form of financial aid in 2004.

75.8%  Percentage of all African-American undergraduate students receiving some form of financial aid in 2004.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Fisk University Not Giving Up Its Legal Fight for the Right to Sell Some of Its Artwork Collection

Amid continuing financial difficulties, Fisk University, the historically black educational institution in Nashville, recently went back to court in an effort to secure the right to sell part of its 101-piece Stieglitz Collection, donated to the university by Georgia O’Keeffe. The donation stipulated that the collection must be kept intact and publicly displayed.

In order to raise operating funds, Fisk University has attempted to sell two paintings from the collection but was prevented from doing so by the court which cited the donation agreement. The university then sought to share the collection with a museum in Arkansas, but this too was not permitted by the courts. Fisk then maintained that it did not have the money to showcase the collection in an environment that would ensure the safety and protection of the works. The court then ordered Fisk to display the works or risk losing the collection.

Complying with the court order, this past October Fisk once again put the collection on display. But Fisk has now gone to the Tennessee Court of Appeals to try to reverse the previous ruling.


North Carolina Central University Picks Up $1.1 Million Tab for Federal Financial Aid Costs of Students at Its Unauthorized Campus

For four years North Carolina Central University, the historically black educational institution in Durham, operated a satellite campus at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia. The pastor of the church, Eddie Long, is a member of the board of trustees of NCCU.

However, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools was unaware of the program and had not given it accreditation. Therefore, students who took classes at the satellite campus were not eligible for the federal financial aid they received.

As a result, North Carolina Central University has agreed to repay the U.S. Department of Education $1.1 million for federal funds that were given to students who attended the Georgia campus.



• Shirley Robinson Pippins, president of Suffolk County Community College in New York, has accepted an appointment to become senior vice president of the American Council on Education in Washington. When appointed in 2003 Pippins was the first woman and first African American to serve as president of the college.

• Chad Simmons was named associate vice president for human resources for University of Iowa Health Care, which includes the university’s Carver College of Medicine. Simmons was an associate director of human resources for Kraft Foods.

Simmons is a graduate of Morehouse College and holds an MBA from the University of Iowa.

• Lamont M. Hinson was appointed sports information director at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was assistant sports information director at Fayetteville State University.

Hinson is a graduate of Fayetteville State University. He holds a master’s degree in sports management and an MBA from Barry University in Miami, Florida.

• Freddie L. Parker, professor of history at North Carolina Central University in Durham, was appointed by Governor Mike Easley to the North Carolina African-American Heritage Commission.

Dr. Parker holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from North Carolina Central University. He earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.





Copyright © 2009. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.