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The Gender Gap in African-American Higher Education May Have Peaked

Readers of this journal are aware of the wide gender gap in African-American higher education. For example, the latest data shows that black women make up nearly two thirds of all African-American enrollments in higher education. Black women have a college graduation rate that is 12 percentage points higher than the rate for black men. As a result, black women now earn two thirds of all bachelor’s degrees awarded to African Americans. In master’s degree awards, black women win more than 70 percent of all degrees earned by African Americans.

But there is evidence that the gender gap in African-American higher education has stabilized, albeit at a very high level.

• In 2007 black men made up 35.2 percent of all African-American enrollments in higher education. Three years earlier, black men were 35 percent of all African-American enrollments.

• Black men earned 36.1 percent of all doctorates awarded to African Americans in 2008. This is up from 34.5 percent in 2004.

• In 2007 black men earned 33.9 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded to African Americans. This rate has remained relatively steady for several years.

• In 2007 black men earned 36.6 percent of all professional degrees awarded to African Americans. This is up slightly from 35.8 percent in the 2004-05 academic year.

U.S. Navy Honors Medgar Evers

Last month JBHE reported that the U.S. Navy was naming a supply ship after Charles Drew, the longtime chief of the department of surgery at Howard University and the man who developed the process for storing blood plasma.

Now the Navy has announced that another supply ship will be named to honor Medgar Evers, the Mississippi civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1963. The 689-foot supply ship will be built in San Diego over the next two years.

Evers was a graduate of Alcorn State University. In the early 1960s he organized students at Tougaloo College to stage the first civil rights protests in Jackson, Mississippi. He later worked on the legal team that successfully won a court order to admit James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.

In 1970 the City University of New York established Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn.

Free Speech Controversy at Virginia Tech

The student newspaper at Virginia Tech uses electronic screening software to filter out profanity and pornographic language from comments posted on its Web site. However, hate speech and slurs against minorities frequently get past the electronic system. As a result, the University Commission on Student Affairs is calling for the newspaper to ban all comments that are posted anonymously. Officials believe this would dramatically reduce offensive language. The commission recommends that the university strip funding for the student-run newspaper, television and radio stations, and other student publications.

But the editor of the newspaper states that students need an outlet to voice their opinions without fear of retaliation. By eliminating anonymous comments, the newspaper believes that students will not bring up controversial subjects for discussion.

Berkeley Gets Major Gift to Promote Diversity

The University of California at Berkeley is prohibited by state law from considering race in its admissions decisions. Since the ban on race-sensitive admissions went into effect more than a decade ago, black and other minority enrollments have plummeted. Blacks are now just 3 percent of the student body at Berkeley, about one half the level that prevailed before race-sensitive admissions were abolished.

Now the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund has made a $16 million donation to the university which is intended to make the university more attractive to minority applicants. The gift will endow five professorships dedicated to minority issues. In addition, 30 new or revised courses emphasizing community service will be funded. The gift will also provide funds for research grants for students and faculty of all races who plan projects in diversity-related fields. Some of the money will be set aside for scholarships for students of all races who transfer to Berkeley from two-year community colleges in California. These students are disproportionately from low-income and minority communities.

The Haas Fund was established by the family that operated the Levi Strauss Company. The fund, established in 1953, has awarded more than $350 million in grants.

Morehouse College’s Young Phenom

Stephen Stafford II, a Morehouse College junior, is a triple major in mathematics, computer science, and pre-med. This is a challenging academic regimen for any student but is even more remarkable given that Stafford is just 13 years old.

Stafford was home-schooled and entered Morehouse at age 11. As a freshman he had the highest mark in his pre-calculus class and helped tutor students that were nearly double his age.

Stafford plans to enroll at Morehouse School of Medicine after earning his college diploma in 2012.

Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Mac A. Stewart, vice provost for minority affairs and special assistant to the president for diversity at Ohio State University, has announced his retirement, effective at the end of this month. He has been an administrator at Ohio State since 1970.

Dr. Stewart is a graduate of Morehouse College. He holds a master’s degree from Atlanta University and a doctorate from Ohio State.

• Valerie Lee, professor of English at the university, was named interim director of the Office of Minority Affairs to replace Stewart.

Dr. Lee is a graduate of Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster, Massachusetts. She holds a master’s degree from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and a Ph.D. in English from Ohio State University.

• Kimberly S. Brown was named interim associate vice provost for academic support services at Virginia Tech. Since 1999 she has served as director of the university’s Academic Advising Center.

Dr. Brown is a graduate of the University of Richmond. She holds a master’s degree from Radford University and a doctorate from Virginia Tech.

• Shaun L. Gabbidon was named a Distinguished Professor of criminal justice at the Harrisburg campus of Pennsylvania State University. He is only the second scholar to be named a Distinguished Professor at the Harrisburg campus.

A native of England with Jamaican ancestry, Dr. Gabbidon earned his Ph.D. in criminology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

• Jimmy L. Adams Jr. was appointed assistant vice president for continuing education and institutional relations at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. He was a professor and administrator at Lone Star College system.

Dr. Adams is a graduate of the University of Montevallo in Alabama. He holds an MBA from Houston Baptist University and an educational doctorate from Sam Houston State University.

• Judy Nazirah Rashid was named interim vice chancellor for student affairs at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. She has been an administrator at the university for more than a decade.

Dr. Rashid holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from North Carolina A&T State University and an educational doctorate from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

• Avery August was appointed professor of immunology at Cornell University beginning this fall. He is currently a professor of immunology at Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. August is a graduate of California State University at Los Angeles and holds a Ph.D. in immunology from Cornell University.

15.8%  Percentage of whites who earned doctorates in 2008 who were over the age of 45

25.0%  Percentage of African Americans who earned doctorates in 2008 who were over the age of 45.

source: National Science Foundation

Grants and Gifts

The chemistry department at historically black North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro received a $231,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for the purchase of a crystal X-ray diffractometer.

St. Paul’s College, the historically black educational institution in Lawrenceville, Virginia, received a $50,000 grant from the Robins Foundation of Richmond to support the college’s Single Parent Support System. The money will be used to renovate dormitory facilities that are geared for single parents and their children.

Morris College, the historically black educational institution in Sumter, South Carolina, received a $10 million gift from the Rev. Solomon Jackson Jr. The money will be used for student aid, to fund the health sciences center, and to buy a bus.

Historically black Jackson State University in Mississippi received a $50,000 grant from State Farm Insurance for programs to increase the number of students in computer science degree programs.

Utah Legislature Looks to Ban Affirmative Action in University Admissions

The GOP-controlled legislature in the state of Utah is considering a proposal to amend the state constitution to ban the consideration of race by any agency of the state government in hiring, promotions, contracting, or university admissions. To place the issue before voters in a referendum, both houses of the state legislature must pass the measure by a two-thirds majority. The GOP holds overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate.

Blacks are only 1 percent of the total enrollments at the University of Utah and Utah State University. But past studies have indicated that blacks and other minorities were admitted to the medical school at the University of Utah at a rate that was more than twice as high as the rate for white men.

“We no longer can live in our own world surrounded by people who are just like us.”

Robert Birgenau, chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, announcing a major gift to foster increased diversity on campus (See story below.)

LSU Seeks to Bring Greater Racial Diversity to Its Graduate Programs

Louisiana State University is mounting an effort to increase the racial diversity of its graduate schools. The university has partnered with several historically black colleges and universities in an attempt to funnel graduates of the colleges to LSU’s graduate programs. Recruitment officials are visiting black college campuses and recruiting fairs across the country. Last fall the staff visited 15 recruiting fairs nationwide, and seven of these fairs focused on minority students.

In addition, the university holds graduate preview days when it invites members of minority groups to campus to showcase its academic, cultural, and social programs. LSU holds a monthlong Pre-Doctoral Scholars Institute in the summer for students from underrepresented minorities to acclimate students to its doctoral programs.

Marco Barker, assistant to the vice provost and director of educational equity at LSU, states, “Increasing the diversity of LSU graduate programs increases the overall education experience of all of our students and faculty.”

Brigham Young University Study Finds Black Civil War Veterans Were Discriminated Against in Pension Disability Payments

Researchers at Brigham Young University pored over the medical records of 179,000 African-American veterans of the Union Army during the Civil War at the National Archives. In an article published in the American Journal of Public Health, the researchers report that in the immediate post-Civil War years, the U.S. Pension Bureau approved 77 percent of the applications for benefits submitted by wounded black veterans. This was just slightly below the approval rate for white veterans seeking benefits.

In the 1880s a major expansion of the pension benefits program allowed veterans to receive disability payments for chronic injuries such as back pain, arthritis, or varicose veins that were not related to combat wounds. However, the BYU researchers found that black veterans’ applications for this type of disability payment were approved at less than one half the rate for white veterans. While racial discrimination undoubtedly played a role, it is believed that poor, or nonexistent, medical records of black veterans made it difficult for them to prove their ailments were the result of activity during the war.

Home Depot’s “Retool Your School” Project for HBCUs

Home Depot is mounting a new effort to benefit historically black colleges and universities. HBCUs have until March 15 to register online with a campus improvement project “that will have an enduring impact on the lives of students, faculty, and alumni for generations to come.” Then, beginning April 5, the public can log on to the Home Depot Web site and vote for the project they believe to be most worthy of receiving funding.

The top vote-getter will receive a $50,000 grant to fund its campus improvement project. Ten other HBCUs will each receive $10,000 grants.

HBCUs that want to register for the grant program can do so by clicking here.

Former Grambling State University President Takes Top Post at Knoxville College

Horace A. Judson was named interim president of Knoxville College in Tennessee. The historically black college, which lost accreditation in 1997, has adopted a work-study program where students work on and off campus to lower their expenses and to get work experience.

From 2004 to October 2009, Dr. Judson was president of Grambling State University in Louisiana. He also served as president of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. A graduate of Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Judson holds a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from Cornell University.

The New Chair of the NAACP Is a Highly Educated Black Woman

Roslyn M. Brock was elected chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. She is the youngest chair in the organization’s 100-year history and the fourth woman to lead the organization. Brock will replace Julian Bond, who is stepping down after 11 years as chair.

Brock is vice president for advocacy and government relations for the Bon Secours Health System in Marriottsville, Maryland. She is a graduate of Virginia Union University in Richmond. She holds a master’s degree in health services administration from George Washington University, an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and a master of divinity degree from Virginia Union University.

In Memoriam

Jack Elliott McClendon (1926-2010)

Jack E. McClendon, civil rights activist and the longtime associate pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., has died at a Washington hospital of congestive heart failure. He was 83 years old.

A native of LaFayette, Alabama, McClendon was a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. He was ordained a Baptist minister and served at a church in Alabama. In 1950 he studied at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. During his time in New York, he conducted mission work in Harlem. He then studied for his doctorate at the University of Glasgow, where he joined the Presbyterian Church.

During the 1960s, Reverend McClendon opened his church in Washington to blacks and other minorities. McClendon became a voice for the poor and disabled. He invited Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders to speak at his church.

William B. Riddlesprigger Jr. (1942-2010)

Bill Riddlesprigger, longtime college professor and civil rights leader, died last month from Parkinson’s disease at his home in Fresno, California. He was 67 years old.

Professor Riddlesprigger was a native of Little Rock, Arkansas. As a young boy, his family moved to Fresno. After completing high school, Riddlesprigger joined the Navy and served as a medic for the Marine Corps in Vietnam.

After five years in the military he returned home and earned a bachelor’s degree at California State University at Fresno. He later was awarded a master’s degree in English from Sacramento State University.

Riddlesprigger served for 30 years as a member of the English department faculty at Fresno City College. He also was the first African American elected to the Fresno school board and served as president of the local chapter of the NAACP.

Honors and Awards

• Hamza Walker, director of education and associate curator for the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, received the Ordway Prize presented by the Creative Link for the Arts and the New Museum. The award, given for significant contributions to contemporary art, comes with a $100,000 cash prize.

• Saundra H. Glover, associate dean at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, was presented with the university’s Social Justice Award for her work to eliminate racial disparities in healthcare.

• Ida Cammon Robinson was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of America. Robinson, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday, earned her nursing degree at Catholic University in 1948, one of the first black students to graduate from the School of Nursing. She served as director of the Freedmen’s Hospital School of Nursing in Washington from 1968 to 1973.

• Charlita Shelton, president of the University of the Rockies in Colorado Springs, Colorado, received the 2010 Champions of Diversity Award from

Dr. Shelton is a graduate of Western Michigan University. She holds a master’s degree from National University in San Diego as well as a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. in human development from Fielding Graduate University.

• Amos Leroy Willis, CEO of a real estate development and counseling firm in California, was honored with the placing of a plaque on the West Lawn at the University of Virginia. Willis was honored as being the first African-American graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences and the first African-American student to live in the university’s residential community, which is reserved for honors students. Willis graduated from the University of Virginia in 1962 and went on to earn an MBA from Harvard University.

• Odunola Ojewumi, a sophomore at the University of Maryland, was the recipient of the Student Award for the Health and Dignity of Women presented by the United Nations Population Fund. Ojewumi is a pre-law student with a minor in political science.

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