The Four Finalists for Dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law Are All Members of Minority Groups

It is common practice for corporations and elected officials to name black candidates for inclusion on their “short list” of prospective appointees. This is often done as window dressing to show an institutional commitment to racial diversity, when in fact there is no intention to appoint a minority candidate to the position.

Universities and professional schools also frequently name a black or minority candidate among the finalists for the position of president or dean even though there is little likelihood that a minority candidate will be named to the post.

But no one can make any of these charges against the University of New Mexico School of Law. All four finalists for the position of dean are people of color:

Michael A. Olivas, a law professor at the University of Houston, is of Mexican descent;

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, a professor of law at the University of New Mexico, is Latina;

Kevin K. Washburn, a professor of law at the University of Arizona, is an American Indian; and

Gregory A. Hicks, interim dean and professor of law at the University of Washington, is an African American. Professor Hicks is a 1972 graduate of Yale University. He earned his law degree at the University of Texas.

The fact that all four candidates are members of minority groups is particularly noteworthy in view of the racial makeup of the student body at the University of New Mexico School of Law. Whites make up nearly half of the student body. Blacks are only 3.2 percent of the total enrollments.


University of Wisconsin Comes Up Short in Meeting Diversity Goals

A decade ago the University of Wisconsin system formulated a plan to increase racial and socioeconomic diversity at its 26 college and university campuses. In an analysis of the effort, called Plan 2008, the university system concedes it has come up short of its goals.

Minority students now make up 10.1 percent of total enrollments at the state-operated colleges and universities. This is an increase from 8.1 percent a decade ago.

The graduation rate for minority students is 23 percentage points below the rate for white students. This has widened during the course of Plan 2008.

About 74 percent of minority students who enter the system as freshmen return for their sophomore year. For whites, the figure is 80 percent. This retention rate gap has narrowed by only one percentage point.

An earlier 10-year plan that was initiated in 1987 sought to double the enrollment of minority students. That plan achieved about half its goal.

A new diversity plan is scheduled to be unveiled this spring.



The College Board’s Quiet Campaign to End Racial Segregation at SAT Testing Centers in the South

Jan Bates Wheeler, associate director of accreditation in the Office of Institutional Effectiveness at the University of Georgia, recently completed her doctoral dissertation on a little-known chapter in southern history. Her research documents an effort by two men working on behalf of The College Board who, in the early 1960s, sought to desegregate SAT testing centers throughout the South.

Wheeler’s research included researching 10,000 pages of documents, letters, memos, and other correspondence on the siting of test centers in the South. Her research found that black students were often turned away from testing centers because of the color of their skin and were not permitted to take the test. In other areas black students were permitted to take the test but in a different room from white students.

Beginning in 1960 Ben Cameron Jr. and Ben Gibson of Atlanta traveled to nearly every SAT testing center in the Deep South states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. They told the principals at the schools where the test was given that they had a choice of either operating racially integrated testing centers or being denied by The College Board of the ability to administer the test. Often the two men were called “nigger lovers” and were quickly shown the door. But Cameron and Gibson held firm and closed testing centers that refused to racially integrate their facilities.

Many schools that were used as testing centers were unwilling to cooperate with The College Board. As a result, in the early 1960s, the test was given at military installations throughout the South where blacks and whites took the test together in the same facility.

The integrationist effort was largely kept from public view because Cameron and Gibson wanted to avoid publicity that would have galvanized white support against their efforts. Also, they wanted to avoid subjecting those principals who cooperated with their efforts from retaliation by white members of their communities.


Vast Archive of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Papers Now Available Online

The papers of Martin Luther King Jr., which are housed at the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, have been digitized and are now available to researchers online. In 2006 the 10,000-item collection was purchased by a group of business and civic leaders in Atlanta from the King family for $32 million. Morehouse College, King’s alma mater, is the custodian of the collection.

Readers who wish to browse the archive can do so by clicking here.


University of the District of Columbia Planning Major Changes

The University of the District of Columbia has announced major reforms including the introduction of a community college program and the raising of admissions standards for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

The university’s community college will have open admissions and will be oriented toward workforce training. Discussions are under way for the university to take over the campus of the financially strapped Southeastern University and convert it into the new community college campus of the University of the District of Columbia. The existing UDC campus would be retained as a more traditional four-year university.

The university also announced that tuition for community college students would be reduced. However, students in bachelor’s degree programs who live in the District of Columbia could see their tuition doubled to $7,000.



In Memoriam

Theodore Douglas Taylor (1929-2008)

Theodore D. Taylor, the first African American to serve as an administrator at Broward Community College in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, died in his sleep at home late last month. He was 79 years old.

Dr. Taylor was a high school valedictorian from Ocala. He was a graduate of Florida A&M University. Taylor held master’s degrees from Florida A&M University and Atlanta University. He earned a doctorate in community college administration from Nova Southeastern University.

He served in the administration at Broward Community College for more than a quarter of a century.

Yvonne Cummings (1947-2008)

Yvonne Cummings, a former associate professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine, died late last month from complications of diabetes. She was 61 years old.

Dr. Cummings was a graduate of the Howard University medical school. She specialized in nephrology. Later in life she completed training to become a psychiatrist and established a private practice for 12 years before retirement in 2000.

Joseph Gore (1922-2008)

Joseph Gore, longtime college administrator who served as president of Mary Holmes College in West Point, Mississippi, has died at the age of 86.

Dr. Gore attended racially segregated schools in North Carolina and then went on to Yale University. He earned a master’s degree in public health administration at Yale and a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts.

Dr. Gore was a vice president at Stillman College in Alabama and served in many positions at Mary Holmes College before assuming the presidency. The historically black college, which was founded in 1892, closed in 2005 due to financial problems.


23,467,000  Total number of African-American adults in the United States in 2005.

10,878,000  Total number of African-American adults in the United States in 2005 who were enrolled in adult education courses.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Honors and Awards

• Megan Francis received the inaugural Linda Faye Williams Prize in Social Justice from Rice University. Francis recently completed her Ph.D. in political science at Princeton University and is currently serving as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago.

The award is given to a recent Rice University graduate who “enables understanding across boundaries of race.” The prize is named after the first black graduate of Rice University.

• Nikki Giovanni, world renowned poet and University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, received an honorary doctorate from Dillard University in New Orleans. The university also named a section of its library after Professor Giovanni.



High-Ranking Universities Showing the Greatest Progress in Increasing Black Student Graduation Rates

Of the 27 high-ranked universities for which JBHE has long-term college completion data, the black graduation rate has improved at 26 institutions. This is significant progress and very good news.

The greatest improvement in the black student college graduation rate occurred at the California Institute of Technology. The black student completion rate at CalTech has increased from 60 percent to 100 percent. But there are few black students at CalTech, usually three or four in each class. Thus the graduation rate figure can fluctuate to a large degree based on the performance of just one or two students.

Far more impressive is the 29 percentage point increase in the black student graduation rate at Carnegie Mellon University. There, the four-year average black graduation rate rose from 47 percent in 1998 to 76 percent in 2008.

Similarly impressive gains in black student graduation rates occurred at the University of Pennsylvania, Rice University, UCLA, Columbia University, and Vanderbilt University. Each university has seen its black student graduation rate improve by at least 14 percentage points over the 10-year period from 1998 to 2008.


“We as a state and we as a university are not where we need to be.”

David Giroux, a spokesman for the University of Wisconsin system, commenting on the university’s efforts to achieve greater diversity, in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 4, 2009 (See story to the left.)


College-Educated Black Men Are More Likely Than Black Women With a College Degree to Live as Married-Couple Families

Last week JBHE reported that African Americans with a college education were significantly more likely than other blacks to live in traditional, married-couple families. But in what may be a surprise to many readers, black men with a college degree are more likely than black women with a college education to live in married-couple families. Slightly more than half of all black adult men with a college degree live in married-couple families. For adult African-American women with a college degree, only 41 percent live in traditional, dual-spouse families.

The explanation for the gender gap is that there are far more black women graduating from college than black men. Thus there is a shortage of marriage partners for black women who desire a black mate with a similar level of education. Nearly 30 percent of all black women adults with a college degree have never been married.


Boosting Racial Diversity in Graduate Accounting Programs

African Americans are about 12 percent of the students enrolled in undergraduate accounting classes. About 8 percent of college students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in accounting are black. But blacks make up only 4 percent of the students who take the exam to become a certified public accountant. And only 1 percent of all certified accountants are black.

The Calloway School of Business at Wake Forest University recently held its second annual Diversity Consortium in an effort to increase the number of black and other minority students seeking graduate degrees in accounting. The students, many of whom are undergraduates at historically black colleges and universities, came to Winston-Salem during their winter break for a three-day conference to introduce them to the graduate program. Students listen to formal presentations, participate in panel discussions, and meet with current students and faculty. The consortium is funded by a grant from Ernst & Young.

Last year’s consortium was very successful. Of the 11 undergraduate seniors attending, eight applied for admission to the Wake Forest master’s degree program in accounting. Six were accepted and three enrolled. Of the five juniors who attended the consortium in January 2008, three have applied for admission to the program this coming fall.


Businessman With Ties to Higher Education Seeks to Be the First Black Mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida

Deveron Gibbons, the 35-year-old vice president for public affairs of Amscot Financial in Tampa, has announced his candidacy for the mayoralty of St. Petersburg, Florida. If elected Gibbons would be the city’s first African-American mayor.

Gibbons is a graduate of the University of Florida and holds graduate degrees from the University of South Florida and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Gibbons has also served on the board of trustees of St. Petersburg College.



California Legislator Wants to Overturn Proposition 209 Prohibition on the Consideration of Race in Admissions by State-Operated Colleges and Universities

Assemblyman Ed Hernandez of West Covina, California, has introduced legislation seeking to remove state-operated universities from the provisions of Proposition 209. In 1996 voters in California approved Proposition 209, which bans the consideration of race in the hiring or contracting by any agency of the state government or in admissions decisions to state-operated colleges or universities. Immediately after the passage of Proposition 209, black enrollments plummeted at the University of California at Berkeley, the state’s flagship educational institution. Today, black enrollments at Berkeley remain far below the level that existed prior to the enactment of Proposition 209.

The Hernandez bill would authorize recruitment and outreach programs that directly targeted blacks and other minority students. Two thirds of both houses of the state legislature would have to approve the measure in order for the resolution to be placed on the statewide ballot for voter approval.


Black College in Texas Names New President

Jarvis Christian College, the historically black educational institution in Hawkins, Texas, has named Cornell Thomas as its new president. Dr. Thomas was the vice president for institutional diversity at Oklahoma State University.

Dr. Thomas is a graduate of the University of Missouri at St. Louis. He holds a master’s degree in music education from Jackson State University and a doctorate in educational administration from Texas A&M University.

Jarvis Christian College is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ. It enrolls about 700 students, about 94 percent of whom are African Americans.


The Good Deeds of George W. Bush

Most African Americans were overcome with joy and pride last week when Barack Obama took the oath of office as the 44th president of the United States. Very few African Americans were sorry to see George W. Bush leave Washington. Over the past eight years, Bush had sought to turn back the tables on affirmative action in higher education and had made efforts to eliminate many higher education programs that disproportionately benefited blacks.

But often lost in the Bush legacy is the fact that he appointed many blacks — including Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell — to high government posts where blacks had previously not served.

But perhaps one of Bush’s most important positive contributions was his effort to stop the spread of AIDS in Africa. The effort was first announced in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address when $15 billion was pledged over five years to fight AIDS in Africa. Bush also supported a $1.2 billion effort to stem malaria by providing drugs and netting for children’s beds.

Bill Frist, a physician who was Senate majority leader in the early years of the Bush administration, estimates that the two programs saved the lives of over 10 million Africans.



• Darin J. Waters, co-editor of The Lincoln Review and an adjunct professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, was appointed by Governor Mike Easley to the North Carolina African-American Heritage Commission.

Dr. Waters is a graduate of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He holds a master’s degree from North Carolina State University and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

• Tamika Duck was named sports information director at Virginia Union University. She was the assistant sports information director at Virginia State University. Duck is a graduate of Virginia Union University.

• Hazell Reed was appointed vice chancellor for graduate education and research at North Carolina Central University. He was senior administrator for research and federal relations at Delaware State University.

Dr. Reed is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He holds a master’s degree from Penn State University and a doctorate from the University of Arkansas.




• Derrick Darby, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Kansas, received a $40,000 grant from the Spencer Foundation of Chicago for his research on racial inequality in educational achievement.

Professor Darby is a graduate of Colgate University. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh.

• Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, received a $100,000 grant from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation to endow scholarships for minority students.

• Virginia Union University, the historically black educational institution in Richmond, received a $1 million grant from the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the energy firm Dominion Resources. The money will be used to support student scholarships and academic programs.

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