A New Era at Harvard University

This past Sunday, Drew Gilpin Faust was named the 28th president of Harvard University. All indications are that Faust, who will be the first woman to head Harvard, will be more supportive of black opportunities in higher education than her predecessor, Lawrence Summers. Summers was slow to show his support for affirmative action in higher education, he had no interest in black studies, and his public dispute with African-American studies professor Cornel West drove the black scholar to Princeton University.

Faust is a historian who has written extensively on the Civil War and the American South. She has taught black studies courses at Harvard. She grew up in Jim Crow Virginia and her family employed black servants. But she rejected the lifestyle of a “southern belle.” At age 9 she wrote a letter to President Eisenhower calling for an end to racial segregation in the United States. As an undergraduate college student she was active in the civil rights protest movement.

Faust is a graduate of Concord Academy in Massachusetts and Bryn Mawr College. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania. She served on the faculty at Penn for 25 years before coming to Harvard in 2001 as the founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

In a recent tribute to former Harvard presidents Derek Bok and Neil Rudenstine, who recruited Faust to come to Cambridge, Faust was sending clear signals that, unlike the confrontational management style of Lawrence Summers, she would be more skilled in working closely with the faculty and moving Harvard forward. Faust quoted Nelson Mandela who said that “a leader is like a shepherd, straying behind the flock, letting the most nimble go ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing all along that they are being directed from behind.” This is a view that Harvard has not seen since the administrations of Bok and Rudenstine. All of this bodes well for Harvard leadership in expanding educational opportunities for African Americans.


“People ask why black students in college stay amongst themselves. One reason is that we do not feel safe in environments where white students binge drink, because drinking leads to an open door for racial bigotry.”

Justin Davis, head of the black student union at Cornell University, commenting on the sentencing of a white Cornell student to state prison for a hate crime attack on a black student on the Cornell campus last year. The attacker had been drinking heavily before he encountered the black student.


Black Early Admits to Penn Drop
9 Percent From a Year Ago

The University of Pennsylvania has announced that it will not follow in the footsteps of Harvard and Princeton in abandoning early admissions. This year nearly half of the expected Class of 2011 was admitted early.

There are 74 blacks among the early admits at Penn this year. This is down nearly 9 percent from a year ago. There are 239 Asian-American students who were admitted early to Penn.


Widespread Disillusionment Among College-Age Blacks

A new poll by researchers at the Black Youth Project of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago shows widespread disillusionment among young African Americans. The poll was given to more than 1,500 people of all races between the ages of 15 and 25. Here are some of the key findings:

• More than 50 percent of young blacks believe they receive an inferior education as compared to their white peers. Only 31 percent of young whites believe that blacks get an inferior education.

• More than 60 percent of young blacks believe it is hard to get ahead because of racial discrimination.

• Nearly one half of all young blacks believe the federal government treats immigrants better than it treats African Americans. Only 18 percent of Hispanics and 29 percent of whites agreed.

• Nearly 80 percent of blacks believe the police are biased against young blacks.


Black College in Ohio Looks to Triple Its Enrollment

Central State University, the historically black educational institution in Wilberforce, Ohio, has set an ambitious plan for growth. There are currently about 1,800 students at the university. The goal is to have an enrollment of 6,000 students by 2017.

The Ohio board of regents approved a $10 million appropriation for the development of partnership relationships with five colleges and universities that will funnel students to Central State. The participating institutions in the partnerships are Ohio State University, the University of Cincinnati, Cleveland State University, Sinclair Community College, and Cuyahoga Community College. Some of the money will also be used to upgrade campus facilities, improve infrastructure, and to increase student financial aid.

The board also approved a $23 million appropriation to build a new student center at Central State.


Change in Minimum Required Score on the ACT Will Adversely Damage the Black Applicant Pool at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga

Officials at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga are seeking to raise the required minimum score on the American College Testing Program’s ACT test.

At the present time, students seeking admission must achieve a composite score of 17 on the ACT test to be considered for admission. At this current standard, half of all black students who take the ACT are not eligible for admission to the Chattanooga campus. Now, a faculty committee wants to raise the minimum score to 18. This small change would eliminate the opportunity for scores of black students in Tennessee to apply for admission to the university.

Nationwide 11 percent of all black students who took the ACT test had a score of 17. Under the new plan, admissions to the university would be restricted to the 39 percent of all black students that scored 18 or higher on the ACT test.

Dick Gruetzemacher, director of institutional research at the university, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that there is no difference between the graduation rate of students who had a composite score of 17 on the ACT and students who had a composite score of 18. Both groups were equally prepared to handle the curriculum at the university. Therefore, in his view, there is no reason to change the admissions formula, especially since it would have an adverse impact on the black applicant pool.



Duke University Teams Up With Black Churches to Fight Diabetes

With a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Duke University is teaming up with 13 predominantly black churches in the Durham area for a research project aimed at helping African Americans who suffer from diabetes. Under the program, participants join a support group that meets at the local church. They also attend education seminars designed to help them lead a better and healthier life. Each participant is assigned a community health educator for consultations. Three times a year, each participant will have his or her blood glucose levels tested. Results will be compared to patients at Duke Medical Center who have not participated in support groups or attended the education seminars.


Black Applicants to the University of California’s Nine Campuses Up 9 Percent From a Year Ago

Race cannot be used as a positive factor in the admissions process at any of the nine undergraduate campuses of the University of California. But the ban on affirmative action and the low number of black students who have been admitted to some campuses in recent years is not having a dampening effect on black applicants to the university.

This year there are 3,527 black students who have applied to one or more of the nine undergraduate campuses. This is an increase of 8.9 percent from a year ago and 21 percent over 2005.

The number of black applicants increased at all nine undergraduate campuses this year. The largest increase was at UCLA where the number of blacks increased 14.1 percent.

The smallest increase in black applicants was at the University of California at Riverside, the campus that in recent years has had the largest percentage of entering black freshmen among the nine undergraduate campuses.


Xerox Remains Committed to Race-Based College Scholarships

The Xerox Corporation recently awarded scholarship grants to 122 black, Latino, and American Indian students who are studying science, engineering, and technology. Twelve students received $10,000 scholarships and the remaining students received $1,000 grants.

To be eligible for the grants, students must be enrolled in technical degree programs at the undergraduate or graduate level. They must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average and demonstrate financial need.

Since the program was established in 1987, more than 1,500 minority students have received Xerox Technical Minority Scholarships.


In Memoriam

Kenneth Keaton (1927-2007)

Kenneth Keaton, a long-time professor of German at Eckerd College who made a key stand for racial integration in Florida higher education, died last month after heart surgery at a hospital in Tampa. He was 79 years old.

Keaton, a white man who was a native of Owensboro, Kentucky, fell in love with the German language while serving in World War II. Upon returning to the United States he pursued German studies at Georgetown College and later earned a master’s degree at the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Keaton took a teaching post at Florida Presbyterian College, which has since changed its name to Eckerd College. In 1962 Keaton encouraged a black student at a nearby community college to apply for admission. When the black student was denied admission because of his race, Keaton organized the faculty who threatened to resign en masse unless the black student was admitted. The trustees of the college then agreed to racially integrate the institution.

Keaton retired in 1995 after teaching German at Eckerd College for 35 years.



Dorothy Bland was appointed full professor and director of the division of journalism at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. Bland has been a reporter and newspaper executive for Gannett. She is a graduate of Arkansas State University and holds an MBA from George Washington University.

James Earl Lyons Sr. was appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley as head of the Maryland Higher Education Commission. For the past eight years, Dr. Lyons has served as president of California State University at Dominguez Hills. He previously was president of Jackson State University in Mississippi and Bowie State University in Maryland.

Michael A. James was named director of information technology at Florida A&M University. He was the university registrar.



William H. Turner, vice president for university engagement and associate provost for multicultural and academic affairs at the University of Kentucky, resigned his position for “personal reasons.” Turner will remain at the university until August as a sociology scholar-in-residence.

Turner is a 1968 graduate of the University of Kentucky. He also earned a master’s degree in sociology there in 1971. He later earned a Ph.D. in sociology and anthropology at the University of Notre Dame.

During his long academic career he taught at Fisk, Howard, and Winston-Salem State universities. He was dean of arts and sciences and interim president of Kentucky State University.




Study Finds That Nearly Half of Black Students in the Ivy League Are Recent Immigrants

In a 2004 forum at Princeton University, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard, stated his belief that 75 percent of the black students at Harvard were of African or Caribbean descent or of mixed race. According to Professor Gates, more than two thirds of all Harvard’s black students were either the children or grandchildren of West Indians or Africans and very few of Harvard’s black students were the descendants of American slaves.

Now an article published in the American Journal of Education provides evidence to support Professor Gates’ claim. Researchers at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania find that 40 percent of all black students at the eight Ivy League colleges had at least one parent who was born outside the United States. About 13 percent of the entire black population of the United States are recent immigrants. Therefore, the number of black students of immigrant origin at Ivy League schools is more than triple the level of recent immigrants in the U.S. population of blacks.

The study found that black immigrant students at Ivy League colleges were far more likely than their African-American peers to have had a father who is a college graduate. Thus black immigrants were more likely than native African Americans to come from families with higher incomes. They were also more likely to have attended private school. Another finding was that once in college, black immigrants and African Americans performed equally well academically.

The authors conclude, “We cannot answer the question of whether the children of black immigrants are worthy beneficiaries of affirmative action, for that answer rests largely on a moral judgment.”


Lani Guinier Takes Aim at the Socratic Teaching Method and the Law School Admission Test

In a recent address at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, Harvard Law School professor Lani Guinier stated that the Socratic teaching method used by many law schools is biased against women and minorities. According to Professor Guinier, tough questioning of students in the classroom by their professors can be intimidating. Guinier says that at Harvard, 40 percent of the classroom discussion is monopolized by 10 percent of the students and 80 percent of those are men.

Professor Guinier, who is African American, also was highly critical of the Law School Admission Test. In her remarks she said that a high score on the LSAT had more to do with the wealth of the test taker’s grandparents than how well a particular student would perform in law school. She stated that LSAT scores were only 9 percent more accurate than randomness in predicting success in law school.



New Web Site Encourages African-American Students to Pursue Study-Abroad Programs

About 35 percent of all students enrolled in higher education in the United States are members of minority groups. But only 17 percent of the students who participate in study-abroad programs are minorities.

A new Web site has been established to encourage minority students to study in foreign lands. The DiversityAbroad Web site seeks to inform minority students on the benefits of studying at a foreign university. It also offers advice on choosing the best program and how to cope with culture shock and foreign people who may not be used to dealing with minority students. Most important, the Web site offers information on how minority students can finance their study-abroad program.

To access the DiversityAbroad Web site click here.


James H. Ammons Chosen as Next President of Florida A&M University

As predicted by JBHE several months ago, the board of trustees of Florida A&M University, the historically black educational institution in Tallahassee, has voted to offer the presidency of the institution to James H. Ammons. Ammons currently serves as chancellor at North Carolina Central University in Durham. The board had narrowed the field of candidates to three and approved the Ammons nomination by a narrow vote of 7-6.

Ammons is a graduate of Florida A&M and spent 18 years there as a faculty member and administrator. In 2001 Ammons was provost and vice president for academic affairs when he left to take over as chancellor of North Carolina Central University. Ammons holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Florida State University.

He will finish the academic year in North Carolina before assuming his duties at Florida A&M.


Meet the New President of St. Philip’s College

Adena Williams Loston was named the new president of St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas. The historically black, state-operated community college enrolls about 10,000 students in credit programs. Nearly half of the student body is now Hispanic.

Dr. Loston previously was director of education for the Goddard Space Flight Center’s facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. A native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, she graduated with a degree in business education from Alcorn State University. She added a master’s degree in business education and an educational doctorate from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Loston will be paid a salary of $162,000.


Boise State University Offers a Lesson in Black History to Jesse Jackson

Making an appearance at a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend event at Boise State University in Idaho, Jesse Jackson noted that the multiracial Boise State football team, which won the dramatic Fiesta Bowl game last month against the University of Oklahoma, would not have existed had it not been for the civil rights work of Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders of the civil rights movement. Jackson added that a half-century ago blacks were not permitted to play football for either Boise State or the University of Oklahoma.

Officials at Boise State were inundated with telephone calls and e-mails in the days following Jackson’s speech. Yearbooks dating to the 1940s and 1950s show black athletes at the university. In fact, Aurelius Buckner, an African-American student, played football at Boise State and was the high scorer on the basketball team in both 1944 and 1945. Lyle Smith, who coached the football team in the 1940s and 1950s, said that the university never had any stipulations that black athletes could not play. There just weren’t that many black people in Idaho in those days.


22.6%  Percentage of all white American males ages 16 to 24 who are enrolled in college who attend two-year community colleges.

31.1%  Percentage of all African-American males ages 16 to 24 who are enrolled in college who attend two-year community colleges.

source: U.S. Bureau of the Census


Huge Jump in Number of Black Teachers Winning Board Certification

One of the major reasons for racial inequality in higher education is that many blacks attend lower quality secondary schools and are not adequately prepared for college or for taking the standardized tests required for admission to many colleges. While inadequate funding is a major reason for the poor quality of many predominantly black schools, it is also difficult for these schools to attract the best teachers.

Now there is some good news on this front. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards announced a huge 24 percent increase in the number of African-American teachers who have become board certified over the past year. To become board certified, teachers must submit a portfolio of classroom work including two videotapes showing them leading a class. Candidates also have to pass a rigorous series of tests in their particular area of expertise in order to demonstrate a mastery of the subject matter.

This year, 403 African-American teachers received their board certification. This was up 24 percent from the 324 black teachers who won board certification a year ago. Overall the number of teachers achieving board certification was up 7 percent.

Nationwide there are now 2,510 African-American teachers who have become board certified. They make up 4.5 percent of the more than 55,000 teachers who have earned this credential.

The board believes that increasing the number of blacks who win certification will result in more high quality teachers being employed at predominantly black schools.


Vanderbilt University Professor Finds Correlation Between Lighter Skin and Higher Income

Joni Hersch, a professor of law and economics at Vanderbilt University, has found that light-skinned immigrants to the United States have incomes that are 8 to 15 percent higher than immigrants with similar characteristics but with a darker skin. Professor Hersch examined data on more than 2,000 new immigrants. Using photographs she assigned a skin tone rate from 1 to 11. She then added government data on the income of these individuals. “On average, being one shade lighter has about the same effect on income as having an additional year of education,” Hersch concludes.




Spelman College, the historically black educational institution for black women in Atlanta, received a $175,000 grant to establish an endowed scholarship in the name of Coretta Scott King.

The grant includes a $100,000 donation from King’s daughter Bernice and a $75,000 contribution from Home Depot, Inc. Two $7,500 scholarships will be awarded to Spelman seniors who are completing their final year pursuing degrees in education, music, or psychology.



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