The Gender Gap in Black Bachelor’s Degree Awards

New data from the Department of Education shows that in 2005 both black men and black women saw a small increase in the number of bachelor’s degrees earned compared to the prior year. But the gender gap in black bachelor’s degrees remained virtually unchanged. Black women earned 84,965 bachelor’s degrees, almost double the 42,879 bachelor’s degrees earned by black men. Black women now earn two thirds of all bachelor’s degrees obtained by African Americans.


“We’re not going to have a special process for those of you who are privileged and can get here first.”

Janet Lavin Rapelye, dean of admissions at Princeton University, explaining the university’s decision to discontinue its early decision admissions program


University of Iowa Establishes Online Digital Archive of Exhibits Pertaining to Black Women in Iowa in the Twentieth Century

The University of Iowa libraries recently posted a new online archive of exhibits relating to African-American women in Iowa during the twentieth century. Included in the online digital archive are images from the scrapbook of Althea “Bee” Moore, an African-American undergraduate student who was enrolled at the University of Iowa from 1924 to 1928.

This photograph shows a group of Moore’s friends on campus. She labeled the photograph in her scrapbook, “Our Old Gang-The Frosh.”


Lunch Counter Where North Carolina A&T State University Students Began the Sit-In Movement Placed in New Display at the Smithsonian Institution

An eight-foot section of the lunch counter where in 1960 students from North Carolina A&T State University staged a sit-in at the Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina, is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The 1960 protest in Greensboro set off a wave of similar sit-ins across the South. The Greensboro protest was successful. By July, Woolworth’s agreed to desegregate its lunch counters.

Another section of the lunch counter is being reserved for display at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum located in the old Woolworth’s building in Greensboro. The museum, first proposed in 1993, has yet to open.



Black University in South Carolina Will Be Site of Early Debate Between Contenders for the Democratic Presidential Nomination

South Carolina State University, the historically black educational institution in Orangeburg, was handed a political plum when the state Democratic Party scheduled a 90-minute debate for the 2008 presidential contenders on its campus this coming April. The debate, which will be televised live on the MSNBC cable news network, will occur about nine months before the state’s presidential primary next January.

South Carolina will be the first state with a significant black population to select its delegates to the Democratic National Convention. This early primary will gauge various candidates’ support among black voters, who traditionally cast between one quarter and one third of all Democratic primary votes nationwide.


Morehouse Study Outlines Vast Societal Impact of High Incarceration Rate for Black Males

The Morehouse School of Medicine recently released a report entitled, Where Are the Men? The Impact of Incarceration and Reentry on African-American Men and Their Children and Families. The report states that in 2005 there were 548,300 African-American males incarcerated in the nation’s prisons and jails.

According to the report, the problems associated with the high incarceration rates for young males have a detrimental effect on the African-American community as a whole. When black males return to the community from prison, they often bring poor health, a high rate of HIV infection, and mental illness. The poor health of black inmates who return to the community places financial strains on their families.


College Scholarship Funds for Low-Income Students Now Available From the North Carolina Lottery

The North Carolina Education Lottery is now taking applications from college students for the expected $35 million in scholarship grants that will be awarded from lottery proceeds this year. Thirty-five percent of all lottery revenues are earmarked for educational projects such as school construction, preschool programs, and class-size reduction measures. But 10 percent of all lottery proceeds are set aside for scholarships for low-income students.

The maximum award under the lottery program is $2,300. Students must be North Carolina residents who are enrolled in a public or private college or university in the state. About 33,000 North Carolina students are expected to receive scholarships.

Since blacks make up 21.6 percent of the North Carolina population and a larger share of the state’s low-income population, 8,000 or more African-American college students may benefit from the program.


In Memoriam

Edward Vernon Williams (1912-2005)

Edward Williams, the first black graduate of the Kansas University School of Medicine, died late last year in Muskegon, Michigan. He was 94 years old.

Williams was a native of Ellsworth, Kansas. He was valedictorian of his high school class and entered the University of Kansas in 1931. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and was an accomplished classical pianist. Believing that he would not be able to make money as a musician, in 1936 he entered the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Other black students had preceded Williams at the medical school. But it was the university’s policy that after two years of classroom training, black students had to transfer to another medical school for clinical training over concerns that white patients would not want to be examined by a black doctor in training. Kansas governor Walter Huxman ordered an end to this policy, permitting Williams to stay on and graduate.

After serving in the military, Williams opened a practice in Muskegon. He lived in his office and visited patients’ homes on foot or by bicycle. He continued to practice medicine in Muskegon until his retirement.

Alvin Duncan “Mike” Malone (1943-2006)

Mike Malone, the long-time professor of theater arts at Howard University, died last month at his home in Washington, D.C.

A native of Pittsburgh, Malone enrolled at Georgetown University at the age of 16. He was at that time an accomplished dancer. He majored in French and spent his junior year in Paris where he became acquainted with Josephine Baker who rekindled his love for the performing arts.

After graduating from Georgetown University, he continued his study of French at Howard University while also pursuing a master’s degree in theater at the Catholic University of America.

Malone was the cofounder of the D.C. Black Repertory Dance Theater and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. He joined the Howard University faculty in 1970 for a short time and returned in 1988 as a professor of music theater. Each Christmas, Malone would stage Langston Hughes’ play Black Nativity.

Jane Matilda Bolin (1908-2007)

Jane Bolin, one of the first black graduates of Wellesley College, the first black woman to graduate from Yale Law School, and the nation’s first black female judge, died earlier this month in New York City. She was 98 years old.

Jane Matilda Bolin was the daughter of Gaius Bolin, an attorney who had been the first African American to earn a degree at Williams College. In 1924 Jane Bolin graduated from high school at the age of 15. She lived only a stone’s throw away from Vassar College, a Seven Sister school in Poughkeepsie, New York. But instead she enrolled at Wellesley College because, at that time, Vassar did not admit blacks. She graduated with honors in four years and then enrolled at Yale Law School, where she was a classmate of Edward R. Murrow.

Bolin moved to New York City and opened a law practice with her husband. In 1937 Bolin was named assistant corporation counsel for the City of New York. Two years later she was summoned to a meeting with Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. Bolin expected to be fired, or at least reprimanded, but could not fathom what she had done wrong. After she had been waiting apprehensively for some time, the mayor burst into the room and abruptly said, “Raise your right hand. I am going to make you a judge.” Her appointment to the Domestic Relations Court made Bolin the nation’s first black woman judge. She served nearly 40 years on the court.

In 1978 Bolin was required to retire at age 70. At the time Judge Bolin said, “I don’t want to go. They’re kicking me out.”


Long-Term Progress In Boosting Graduation Rates at the Black Colleges

JBHE has collected four year average student graduation rate statistics going back to 1998 for a group of 37 historically black universities. The good news is that during this period, 21 of the 37 colleges and universities have seen an improvement in their black student graduation rates. Over the period there have been huge differences in graduation rates at some of these HBCUs. For example, the black graduation rate at Fisk University increased from 46 percent in 1998 to 63 percent today. In 1993 the black student graduation rate at Fisk was only 25 percent. Other schools showing large improvements in their black student graduation rates are Lincoln University in Missouri, Tennessee State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. All of these black colleges and universities have seen a 13 percentage point or more rise in black student graduation rates over the past eight years. At Howard University and Stillman College the black student graduation rate has improved by 11 percentage points over the past eight years.


The Top-Ranked Law Schools With the Highest Percentages of Black Students

Of the 30 highest-ranked law schools in academic standing, the highest percentage of black students occurs at Duke University. Blacks are 10.6 percent of the student body at Duke. The only other high-ranking law schools at which blacks make up at least 10 percent of the student body are the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard University. The law schools at Emory, Vanderbilt, Georgetown, and the University of Southern California each have a student body that is at least 9 percent black.

In contrast, among the 30 highest-ranked law schools, the University of Washington has the lowest percentage of black students at 1.6 percent. The University of Washington law school is prohibited by state law from using race as a factor in its admissions process. The only other high-ranking law schools where blacks make up less than 4 percent of the student bodies are the University of Minnesota and Boston University.


The Higher Education of the Nation’s Top Black G-Men

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has a poor record in the employment and treatment of African Americans. In the 1960s the FBI was actively involved in domestic surveillance of Martin Luther King Jr. and other members of the civil rights movement. In the long J. Edgar Hoover period, blacks as a group were treated as incompetent and subversive people. Blacks as a whole were said to be a threat to national security.  Black activists on college campuses across the United States were frequently placed under FBI surveillance.

Today, of the 12,617 FBI special agents, there are 677 African Americans, 5.4 percent of the total.

But despite the relatively low percentage of blacks as special agents, there has been considerable progress of blacks into top positions at the FBI. Most notable, both of the executive assistant directors of the bureau are black men.

Michael A. Mason, a black man, is in charge of all criminal investigations at the FBI. Mason is a native of Chicago and holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Illinois Wesleyan University.

Willie T. Hulon, who also is black, is the executive assistant director for national security. He is in charge of all of the FBI’s counterterrorism programs. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Hulon is a 1979 graduate of Rhodes College.


The Number of Black Students Applying to Duke University Holds Steady

Despite an avalanche of negative stories in the press on race relations at Duke University as a result of the well-publicized incident in which members of the university’s lacrosse team were accused of raping a black student from nearby North Carolina Central University, the number of black students applying to the university is near record levels.

This year there are 2,037 black applicants. Blacks made up 11 percent of the total applicant pool, up from 10.8 percent a year ago.

A spokesperson for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Duke University told JBHE that the admissions office has taken a number of steps to counteract the negative impressions of Duke that were portrayed in the media. These efforts included a new publication outlining the close relationship Duke has with the city of Durham and a new booklet profiling the activities of 30 Duke students who graduated in 2006.


Black Scholar at Duke Resigns From Committee Posts in Protest of University’s Reinstatement of Two Lacrosse Players Accused of Assaulting a Black Woman

Although there is good news about black applicants at Duke, fallout from the lacrosse scandal still plagues the campus. Recently, Karla F.C. Holloway, William Kenan Professor of English at Duke, resigned from all her committee positions on campus. Professor Holloway’s decision was in protest of the university’s decision to reinstate, in good standing, two lacrosse players who were accused of sexually assaulting a black woman at a party last spring.

Professor Holloway stated that she was not judging the two students and acknowledged the prosecutor’s “own lack of principled conduct” in the case. But she stated that Duke had not followed its own disciplinary procedures regarding the students. Furthermore, Holloway said that she was worried that Duke would now ignore the serious issues of racism, gender, and sexuality that need to be addressed on campus.

Professor Holloway is a member of the Group of 88, a faculty organization that wants the university to take a more active role in addressing these issues. As a result of her leadership in this group, Holloway has received a large number of racist e-mail messages.


American Anthropological Association Launches New Educational Web Site on Race

The American Anthropological Association has debuted a Web site and a traveling exhibit for college and university museums entitled, “Race: Are We So Different?”

The project, which has been in development for more than five years, offers a history of race relations in the United States, examines human differences, and gives insights into race relations in this country.

The three main themes of the exhibit and Web site are:

  • The concept of race has changed over time and is shaped by the most powerful force in society;
  • Race is a cultural phenomenon rather than a biological one; and
  • Race and racism remain embedded in our culture.

To access the new American Anthropological Association’s Web site on race, click here.


20.1%  Percentage of all black adults over the age of 25 in 1960 who had graduated from high school.

81.1%  Percentage of all black adults over the age of 25 in 2005 who had graduated from high school.

source: U.S. Bureau of the Census


Emory University Boosts Financial Aid for Low-Income Students

Emory University, the highly selective institution of higher education in Atlanta, has followed in the footsteps of many of its peers and increased the financial aid opportunities for low-income students.

Under the Emory Advantage, all student loans will be replaced with scholarship grants for students who come from families with annual incomes below $50,000. In addition, for students from families with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000, a loan cap of $15,000 will be established. Once a student at this income level has amassed $15,000 in need-based debt, all future need-based aid will be in the form of grants.


Southern University of New Orleans to Build Dormitories for the First Time

Prior to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, Southern University of New Orleans was strictly a commuter college with about 2,800 undergraduate students. About 94 percent of the students at Southern were black. Many lived in the poorest neighborhoods of the city that experienced the worst flooding.

All 11 buildings on the Southern University campus were hit hard by severe flooding. Most of the buildings on campus are two stories high and floodwaters were as high as 15 feet on campus. Estimates of the damage ranged as much as $350 million.

The university has reopened in temporary quarters, in 45 trailers, 26 of which are classrooms with the remaining 19 being a computer laboratory, dining area, health unit, and other support units of the university. Another 400 living trailers are in place for students, faculty, and staff. About one half of the academic programs that existed before the hurricane are still offered.

Now Southern University of New Orleans has decided to build dormitories for the first time. With housing in such short supply in New Orleans, the university believes that the only way it will be able to attract students is if there is some place for them to be housed. Many of the neighborhoods where Southern students used to live are still uninhabitable.


Hampton University Looks to Increase the Number of Black Airline Pilots

There are 71,000 pilots employed by commercial airlines in the United States. Of these, only 674, less than one percent, are black. There are only 14 black female pilots employed by the nation’s commercial airlines.

Hampton University, the historically black educational institution in Virginia, offers flight education training in its department of aviation. Students may also major in aviation administration, air traffic control, and aviation electronics. Tuition for flight education training is an extra $30,000 over and above regular tuition costs. Students who complete the program graduate certified as flight instructors. Five graduates of the program are now pilots for Continental Airlines.


Chester Travelstead (1911-2006): He Was Fired From the University of South Carolina in 1955 After Calling for Racial Integration

On August 2, 1955, Chester Coleman Travelstead, dean of the School of Education at the University of South Carolina, gave a speech urging lawmakers in the state to comply with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Shortly after making the statement Travelstead was fired.

Soon afterward Travelstead was hired as dean of the College of Education at the University of New Mexico. At a press conference announcing the appointment, then University of New Mexico president Tom Popejoy was asked if he knew that his new appointee had recently been fired by the University of South Carolina. President Popejoy answered, “Yes, we considered that a recommendation.”

Travelstead, who died late last month at the age of 95, was born in Franklin, Kentucky, in 1911. He was a graduate of Western Kentucky University. He held a master’s degree from Northwestern and an educational doctorate from the University of Kentucky.

He served as an administrator at the University of New Mexico for 21 years and was the institution’s first provost. He retired in 1977 and was named professor emeritus. The University of New Mexico College of Education building is now named in his honor and an endowed professorship was established in his name. There is also a special room named after Travelstead in the library at the University of South Carolina.



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