The Racial Scoring Gap on Advanced Placement Examinations

Last week JBHE reported the large increase in the number of black students taking Advanced Placement courses. But even better news is that of the 94,556 AP exams taken by black students in 2006, grades of 3 or above, which qualify test takers for college credit, were received on 25,210 tests. It is encouraging that such a large number of black high school students are achieving such good success in college-level courses.

However, black students’ performance on AP tests still remains far below that of white students. Nationwide the mean AP score for white students was 2.96; for blacks it was 1.96. This means that the average black score is a full letter grade below the average white score. Regrettably, too, the gap has widened slightly in the past several years.

In 2006, of the 1,046,590 AP exams taken by white students, a qualifying grade of 3 or above was achieved on 62.4 percent of the tests. Blacks received qualifying grades of 3 or above on only 26.7 percent of the AP exams that they took. Thus, whites were more than twice as likely as blacks to receive a qualifying grade. Over the past two years the percentage of all black test takers receiving qualifying grades dropped from 29.2 percent to 26.7 percent.

At the very highest level of AP test scores, the black-white scoring gap is even greater. Some 13.1 percent of white test takers received a score of 5, equivalent to a college grade of A. Only 2.9 percent of black test takers received a score of 5. Blacks, who took 5.6 percent of all AP tests, made up only 2.6 percent of all students who became eligible for college credit and only 1.3 percent of all students with the highest score of 5.


“I’ve learned there is no place for me on this campus unless I’m in Beaver Stadium holding a mop or holding a ball.”

Darryl Watson, president of the Black Caucus at Pennsylvania State University, at a demonstration protesting the lack of racial diversity on campus, February 9, 2007


A Check-Up of Black Progress in Medical Training

Despite the demand for more black doctors in underserved inner-city neighborhoods, the number of African-American students at U.S. medical schools has increased at only a snail’s pace in recent years. Over the past decade black enrollments have actually decreased.

The latest data from the Association of American Medical Colleges shows that in 1996 there were 3,527 blacks who applied for admission for medical training, the highest level in history. From 1996 to 2003 black applicants to medical school dropped by more than 19 percent to 2,808. Since that time, there has been a slight increase in black applications to medical school of 5.4 percent. Yet black applications to medical school remain far below the level that existed a decade ago.

In 1994 there were 1,519 blacks who enrolled in medical school for the first time. By 2003 the number of new black students in medical school dropped to 1,100. In 2006 there was a slight improvement to 1,176 new black students training for careers in medicine. But once again, this total is far below the level that existed in the mid-1990s.

The number of blacks who earned their medical degree reached an all-time high of 1,192 in 1998. By 2004 the number of blacks who earned a medical degree dropped by 13 percent, to 1,034. In 2005 there were 1,043 black medical school graduates, a slight improvement over 2004 but still significantly under the all-time high.



Southern University in New Orleans Gets a Partner

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in late August of 2005 the campus of Southern University was flooded. The historically black university is still operating out of 445 trailers. Total enrollment is now about 2,300, less than 65 percent of the level that existed prior to the hurricane. Academic programs have been cut and faculty positions have been terminated. The university is not expected to move back to its permanent campus until the fall of 2008.

But some help is on the way. Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro has agreed to become an academic partner with Southern University. Under the plan, courses conducted in Tennessee will be videoconferenced to the New Orleans campus. Southern University students will be able to spend a semester or a year at Middle Tennessee State. Research and training of Southern University faculty may also take place in Tennessee.

What does Middle Tennessee State stand to gain? The university hopes to increase racial diversity at its Tennessee campus and to recruit Southern University undergraduates to attend graduate school in Tennessee. Blacks make up 12.3 percent of the 20,000-member undergraduate student body at MTSU.


University of Wisconsin Gives Thumbs Up to Race-Sensitive Admissions

Bucking a nationwide trend of public universities shying away from their commitment to race-sensitive admissions due to the threat of litigation from right-wing interest groups, the University of Wisconsin’s board of regents has voted to adopt a new admissions program requiring all campuses in the state system to consider race as a positive factor in the process. The action was taken despite warnings that the policy might produce a lawsuit against the state system and could produce a political backlash from white voters. State law in Wisconsin prohibits state universities from “basing admissions on applicants’ race.” However, proponents of the new policy say that the state law does not preclude the University of Wisconsin and other state educational institutions from “considering race.”

Unlike the case in neighboring Michigan, where voters approved a public referendum prohibiting the consideration of race, no such initiative mechanism exists in Wisconsin. To amend the state constitution, two consecutive sessions of the state legislature must approve any change before it can be submitted to voters. With the Democrats in firm control of the state Senate, it is highly unlikely that voters will ever get the chance to vote on the issue of affirmative action.

However, all parties agree that litigation will be forthcoming.


The New Chancellor of Winston-Salem State University

The board of governors of the University of North Carolina system recently elected Donald J. Reaves as chancellor of Winston-Salem State University. Reaves will take the leadership reins of the historically black educational institution on August 15.

Reaves is currently vice president and chief financial officer at the University of Chicago. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1976 Reaves graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in political science. He later earned a master’s degree and doctorate in the field of political science and public administration from Kent State University. During his career he has taught at Northeastern University in Boston and Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.


Benedict College Making Strides to Relieve Its Debt

Benedict College, the historically black educational institution in Columbia, South Carolina, appears to have turned the financial corner. After losing $8.9 million over the past three years, Benedict College had a $1 million operating surplus through the first semester of the current academic year.

Enrollment at the historically black college seems to have stabilized at about 2,300 students. Officials would like to see enrollment reach 2,600 in order to increase revenues.

Despite the operating surplus, Benedict continues to service more than $80 million in long-term debt. The administration is currently negotiating a refinancing package with the institution’s bankers.



In Memoriam

Benjamin F. Holman (1930-2007)

Benjamin F. Holman, professor emeritus at the College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, died last month at George Washington University Hospital from emphysema and congestive heart failure. He was 76 years old.

Holman was a native of Columbia, South Carolina. He graduated from the University of Kansas and took a position as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News. He later worked in television in Chicago and for both CBS and NBC.

In 1969 he was appointed by President Nixon as director of the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service. He served in that position throughout the Nixon and Ford administrations.

Holman joined the faculty at the University of Maryland in 1978 and was named a full professor one year later. Holman was the editor of the Faculty Voice, an independent newspaper at the University of Maryland. During this time he also was a columnist for the Dallas Morning News. Holman retired from teaching in 2004.

Winfred Bruce Welch (1918-2007)

Winfred B. Welch, professor emeritus of educational psychology at Virginia Union University, died last month at a hospice in Richmond. He was 88 years old.

Welch was hired by Virginia Union University in 1974 to form an undergraduate program in psychology. By his retirement in 1995, he led a department of five scholars who taught 130 undergraduate majors. He also served as director of the School of Education and as vice president of academic affairs.

Welch was a graduate of Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina. After graduation he began his career teaching in a one-room segregated schoolhouse. He earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in psychology from Indiana University. At one time, Welch served as a consultant to the minister of education for the nation of Azerbaijan.

Otis Wesley Smith (1925-2007)

Otis W. Smith, physician, civil rights activist, and philanthropist, died last month in Atlanta of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 81 years old.

Smith was a graduate of Morehouse College. He then enrolled in Meharry Medical College but was on the verge of dropping out because he could not afford the tuition. Benjamin Mays, president of Morehouse, intervened and provided Smith with a scholarship from an anonymous donor which enabled him to finish medical school. Smith later learned that the scholarship was provided by Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone With the Wind. Mitchell funded the graduate education of at least 40 Morehouse graduates.

Smith was a practicing pediatrician in Atlanta for 23 years. He also fought to desegregate area hospitals and he served as president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP. Like Margaret Mitchell, he funded an anonymous scholarship for Morehouse College students.



The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation has established a Marriott Scholars Program through the United Negro College Fund. Under the program the foundation will award up to $500,000 annually to the UNCF for scholarships for black students pursuing degrees in hospitality management, hotel management, or culinary disciplines. Students need a grade point average of 3.0 to qualify for the program.

• The AT&T Foundation has funded a $1 million grant for the Atlanta History Center. The grant will be used to provide free admission for children and school groups to the center, which now features the Morehouse College collection of the papers of Martin Luther King Jr.

Funds will also be used to conduct student essay contests that deal with exhibits at the Atlanta History Center.




Study Finds Leaks in the Pipeline for Black Sociology Faculty

A new report from the American Sociological Association offers statistics to explain the low percentage of black sociologists on the faculties of colleges and universities across the United States. According to ASA data, while blacks are proportionately represented among bachelor’s and master’s degree students in sociology, the big drop-off occurs at the doctoral level. According to the latest data from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, in 2005 African Americans earned 38 Ph.D.s in sociology. Blacks earned 7 percent of all sociology doctorates that year. The ASA data shows that 85 percent of blacks who earn a master’s degree in sociology do not go on to pursue a doctorate. For whites, nearly half of all sociology master’s degree recipients continue on to doctoral programs.

A second major drop-off among blacks in the pipeline for sociology faculty comes at the tenure review process. There are far more blacks in lower ranks such as instructor and assistant professor than is the case at the associate or full professor level.

The study concludes that financial considerations are an important factor for a large number of blacks who decide not to pursue doctoral studies. The authors also cite a lack of suitable mentors for black sociologists, a disproportionate number of campus committee assignments for black junior faculty, and the difficulty black sociologists have in getting published in established journals as reasons for low tenure rates.

A copy of the report can be downloaded from the ASA Web site here.



Yale University Removes Painting Deemed Racist

For more than a century a portrait of Elihu Yale has hung in the Corporation Room in Woodbridge Hall. The painting depicts Yale with a young black servant sitting at his feet. The servant has a silver collar around his neck signifying that he was held in bondage. Elihu Yale is not known to have owned slaves.

The university has decided to take down the portrait and replace it with one showing Yale standing alone beside the sea.

Elihu Yale was an English merchant who spent a large part of his adult life in India. In 1718 Yale donated gifts with a value of about $200,000 to the school which would later be named after him. All told, Yale has seven portraits of the man for whom the university gets its name. Three of the seven portraits show Elihu Yale being attended by a black slave or servant.


Blacks Making Very Slow Progress in Achieving College Presidencies

A new survey by the American Council on Education finds that blacks are making slow progress in becoming president of predominantly white colleges and universities in the United States. The study found that in 2006, 86 percent of all college presidents were white. A similar survey taken two decades earlier found that 92 percent of all college presidents were white. When historically black, historically Hispanic, or American Indian tribal colleges were excluded in the 2006 survey, the percentage of white college presidents rose to 91 percent.

In 1986 blacks were 5 percent of all college presidents. Twenty years later in 2006, blacks were 6 percent of all college presidents.


For Financing Higher Education, the Racial Wealth Gap Remains Huge

A decade ago Melvin L. Oliver, now a professor of sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Thomas Shapiro, professor of law and social policy at Brandeis University, published a landmark study on the racial gap between blacks and whites in America. Their research, reported in the book Black Wealth/White Wealth, found that white middle-class families whose head of household had a college degree had an average net worth of $74,922. On the other hand, black families with similar incomes and educational levels had an average net worth of only $17,437. Thus, these middle-class black families had only 23 percent of the wealth of middle-class white families.

The huge differences in financial assets (stocks, bonds, money in the bank, etc.), which can readily be used to finance the cost of higher education, are far greater than the figures for overall net worth. According to the Oliver and Shapiro study, white middle-class families had an average of $19,823 in financial assets. Black middle-class families had an average of only $175 in financial assets. Thus, white middle-class families had on average 113 times more in financial assets than black middle-class families.

Now the two scholars have published a second edition of the book with two new chapters updating some of the data on the racial wealth gap. The authors find that despite a small narrowing of the racial income gap, the racial differences in wealth remain huge. “Right now 80 percent of black kids begin their adult life with no assets whatsoever,” Oliver reports. “That’s not the case for white kids. If they don’t have financial resources, they have access to them through their families.”


Bethune-Cookman College Graduates to University Status

In 1904 Mary McLeod Bethune, the daughter of former slaves, founded the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls. In 1923 the school became a coeducational high school after a merger with the Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Florida. In 1931 Bethune-Cookman College began as a two-year institution. In 1941 the state of Florida approved its elevation to a four-year college.

Now the historically black educational institution is known as Bethune-Cookman University. The name change is the result of a new master’s degree program in “transformative leadership.” This program, which currently enrolls about 20 students, includes courses in business, communications, ethics, and learning theory.



Black Sorority Seeks to Boost Home Ownership Among African Americans

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, less than one half of all black families own their home. In contrast, about three quarters of all white families own their home.

For the last four years the Delta Sigma Theta sorority has been trying to boost home ownership among African Americans. Sorority chapters hold home fairs on college campuses across the nation. Mortgage lenders attend these fairs and compete for the business of black homebuyers. In addition, seminars are held on financing and other aspects of buying a home. The sorority hopes to generate $100 million in new home loans for black buyers this year through its events held on college campuses.


8.2%  Percentage of all white public school teachers in 2005 who left the profession.

11%  Percentage of all African-American public school teachers in 2005 who left the profession.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Fisk University Gets Permission to Sell Paintings In Order to Raise Cash

Fisk University, the historically black educational institution in Nashville, Tennessee, has expressed a desire to sell two paintings in order to raise cash for the financially strapped university. But the paintings belong to the Stieglitz Collection which was donated to Fisk by artist Georgia O’Keeffe with the stipulation that the collection not be broken up. The collection, which contains many O’Keeffe paintings, belonged to Alfred Stieglitz, a photographer who was married to O’Keeffe. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, filed suit to stop the sale because, in the view of the museum’s board, any sale violated the stipulation made by O’Keeffe when she made the donation expressing that the collection remain intact.

Now the Tennessee attorney general, who oversees legal issues involving charitable donations in the state, has brokered a deal that will provide Fisk with the money it needs. Fisk has until the middle of this month to find donors who would ante up $16 million in order to keep the collection at the university. If donors cannot be found, Fisk will sell one painting to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum for $7 million. The other painting can be sold on the open market to someone in Tennessee. The buyer must agree to provide viewing access to the public.

Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr. said that complying with Georgia O’Keeffe’s request to preserve the collection was “not worth the risk of financially crippling one of the preeminent black colleges and universities in the nation.”


Nell Painter to Become President of the Organization of American Historians

Later this month, Nell Irvin Painter, Edwards Professor of American History emerita at Princeton University, will become president of the 100-year-old Organization of American Historians. She will be the third African-American woman to hold the position.

Nell Painter was director of Princeton’s Program in African-American Studies from 1997 to 2000. She is the author of eight books including the highly regarded Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol. Her most recent books are Creating Black Americans: African American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present, and Southern History Across the Color Line.

Painter is a 1964 graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. She holds a master's degree in African history from UCLA and a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University.

Professor Painter retired from teaching in 2005 and is now studying for a degree in photography at Rutgers University.



John Hope Franklin, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University, is the first scholar to be appointed to the Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. During his time as a visiting scholar at the university, Professor Franklin will participate in a number of seminars and give several lectures.

William B. Harvey, vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity at the University of Virginia, was elected the first president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.

Diane M. Weathers was appointed to the board of trustees of Syracuse University. Weathers, a 1971 graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, is the former editor of Essence magazine.




Michael J. Magee, a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University who is currently completing his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction at the University of South Florida, was the recipient of the 2006 Outstanding Graduate Student Award given by the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals.


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