Two Flagship State Universities Add Black Studies Majors

The first black studies departments were established in the late 1960s. There are now several hundred colleges and universities that offer degree programs in the field. Yet they represent only a small fraction of all colleges and universities in the United States. The conventional wisdom is that if universities withstood the pressure to establish a black studies program for 40 years or more, it is doubtful they will now change their positions.

However, the University of Connecticut and the University of Illinois both recently announced that they are establishing an African-American studies major. Beginning next fall, students at both universities will have the opportunity to major in black studies.



Four African-American College Students Named Chips Quinn Scholars

This spring 16 college students from across the United States are interning in newsrooms at 14 daily papers under a scholarship program established by the Freedom Forum. The Chips Quinn scholarship program was established to honor the former managing editor of the Poughkeepsie Journal who died in an automobile accident in 1990 at the age of 34. The scholarships, which are reserved for “students of color,” were established by Quinn’s parents who were active in the Freedom Forum.

Four of this spring’s 16 Chips Quinn scholars are black. They are currently spending 10 to 12 weeks as working journalists.

The four aspiring journalists are:

Ashlee Clark, a student at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. A native of Louisville, she is interning at the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Matthew Cooper from Oakland, California, is a student at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He is working at the Jackson Sun in Tennessee.

Shawntaye Hopkins is from Lexington, Kentucky. She is a student at Western Kentucky University and is working at the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Rickeena Richards is a native of Kansas City, Missouri. She is a student at St. Louis University and is spending this semester working for the Belleville News-Democrat in Illinois.


Cleveland Sellers to Step Down as Director of Black Studies at the University of South Carolina

Forty years ago in 1968, black students at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg mounted a protest at a segregated bowling alley in town. On February 8, students lit a bonfire on campus. When police officers came to campus, one officer was struck in the face with a piece of wood. Officers then opened fire, killing three students and wounding another 27. The incident became known as the Orangeburg Massacre.

Nine police officers faced trial for using excessive force. All were acquitted. The only person jailed as a result of the event was Cleveland Sellers, a black student who had played a role in organizing the demonstration. Sellers was later pardoned, and for the past seven years, he has directed the African-American studies program at the University of South Carolina.

Professor Sellers has announced that this June he will step down as director of the black studies program. He will remain affiliated with the University of South Carolina as a senior scholar-in-residence and a research professor of African-American studies.


Black Scholar Named Ambassador to Nigeria

Robin Renee Sanders is enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, in the western suburbs of Pittsburgh. But Sanders will be taking some time off from her studies. Recently she was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Nigeria.

Sanders is a graduate of Hampton University. She holds two master’s degrees from Ohio University, one in international relations and the other in communications and journalism.

Sanders is a career member of the foreign service and has worked in numerous diplomatic posts. She has also worked for the National Security Council under two presidents.



Texas Christian University Holds Its First Black Student Recruitment Weekend

Black students were not admitted to Texas Christian University until the mid-1960s. Since that time, racial integration has progressed at a snail’s pace at the Fort Worth campus. Today only 5 percent of the student body is black. In the Princeton Review’s The Best 361 Colleges for 2007, TCU ranked 351st in the category of racial and economic class interaction among students.

But there are signs of progress. There are 94 black students in this year’s freshman class, an increase of 20 percent from four years ago. Recently TCU held its first overnight recruitment weekend for black high school seniors. Black students who had applied or had been accepted at TCU but had not indicated their intention to enroll were invited to Black Senior Weekend. The students were treated to dinner and a men’s basketball game. Prospective black students were paired with current African-American students who acted as hosts for the weekend.


Florida Looks to Redirect Merit-Based Aid to Students in Need: Black Students at Florida A&M University May Be the Chief Beneficiaries

Students in Florida who graduate from high school with a 3.5 grade point average are eligible for a Bright Futures scholarship which will pay full tuition at a state university. Students with a 3.0 GPA can have the state pay 75 percent of their tuition costs.

The program began in 1997 with 42,000 students and a price tag of $70 million. Now the program has mushroomed to 150,000 students and costs the state $400 million. The program is financed from proceeds of the Florida Lottery.

Legislators in Florida have been reluctant to raise tuition at state universities because of their binding commitments under the Bright Futures scholarship program. If tuition is raised $1,000, then students who qualify for a 100 percent tuition waiver under the Bright Futures program will get another $1,000 from state coffers. This would greatly increase the amount of state spending on the program. But the legislature’s reluctance to raise tuition has resulted in the fact that state universities in Florida are having a difficult time balancing their operating budgets. Tuition at public universities in Florida is very low compared to most other states.

Now a new proposal would cap spending on the Bright Futures program at the current $400 million level. Of the $400 million, one fourth of the money would be redirected to need-based scholarship programs. The change could be a major boost to black higher education in Florida. Currently, students at Florida A&M receive about $4.8 million in merit-based aid from the program. Under the new plan, students would receive about $10 million just from the need-based portion of the Bright Futures program.


Supreme Court Rules for Insurance Companies in Suit Filed by Flood-Ravaged Xavier University

Xavier University, the historically black college in New Orleans, experienced severe flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Every building on campus had at least four feet of water. Total damage estimates were as high as $100 million.

Insurance companies were willing to pay for only a small fraction of the damage. The university’s policy covered only damage from wind. The university filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the flooding was caused by a defective man-made levee system and not directly by the storm. Therefore, according to the university, the insurer should pay for more, if not all the damages.

A local federal court ruled for the university in 2006. But that decision was unanimously overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Late last month the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the case. Thus, Xavier University will not receive any additional payout from its insurers.


Clark Atlanta University President to Step Down

Walter D. Broadnax, president of Clark Atlanta University since 2002, has announced that he will retire at the end of the current academic year. Executive Vice President Carlton E. Brown at Clark Atlanta will serve as interim president until a permanent replacement can be found.

During Dr. Broadnax’s tenure, Clark Atlanta saw its enrollment increase, its budget balanced, and the university reaccredited. But Broadnax had a rocky relationship with the university’s faculty who disagreed with many of the president’s cost-cutting moves.



Brenda Wilson-Hale was named vice president for university development and executive officer of the Washington State University Foundation. For the past year she has been the senior vice president at the WSU Foundation. Previously she was senior director of development at Michigan State University.

Wilson-Hale holds bachelor’s and law degrees from Wayne State University.

Angela Woods was appointed assistant director for access initiatives and academic services for the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program at Syracuse University in upstate New York.

Woods is a 2005 graduate of Syracuse University and holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Maryland.

Jeanne Arnold was appointed vice president for inclusion and equity at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. She was executive director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Arnold is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University. She holds a master’s degree and an educational doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.

• Shelton Rhodes was named dean of the new School of Business and Leadership at Villa Julie College in Owings Mills, Maryland. He was chair of the department of management, marketing, economics, and public administration at Bowie State University.

Professor Rhodes is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Howard University and a Ph.D. in urban services management from Old Dominion University.

• Jeffrey Smith was named vice president for student affairs at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. He was vice president for student affairs at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Smith is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University. He holds a master’s degree from the Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary and a doctorate in ministry degree from Gardner Webb University.

• Charles P. Ervin Jr., chair of the department of secondary education at Florida A&M University, was appointed by Florida governor Charlie Crist to a three-year term on the board of directors of the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers.

• Benita D. Wolff was appointed associate dean for diversity at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine. She was director of diversity and community outreach programs for the division of biology and biomedical sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

Wolff is a graduate of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. She holds a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Toledo.

The Gender Gap for African Americans in Attending Cultural Events

Women of all races are more likely than men to attend cultural events such as the ballet or a performance of a symphony orchestra. But gender differences are far more pronounced among African Americans than for whites. Clearly, this is because nearly two thirds of all blacks who now earn bachelor’s degrees are women. And college graduates are far more likely to attend these types of events than are people with a lower level of education.

Data from the National Endowment for the Arts finds that more than 64 percent of all blacks who attended classical music performances, musical and non-musical plays, dance recitals, and art fairs are women. In each case this is significantly larger than the female percentage of all whites who attend these events. The only cultural event where the percentage of women attendees is greater for whites than it is for blacks is the ballet.


“Sometimes you have to be on the right side of history.”

John Lewis, civil rights leader, congressman, and super delegate to the Democratic National Convention, announcing he was switching his endorsement from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama


Social Psychology Experiment Finds That White Male Undergraduates Continue to Harbor Deep-Seated Racist Views

New research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that many white Americans still subconsciously hold deep-seated beliefs that blacks are inferior to whites. The research was conducted under the supervision of Jennifer Eberhardt, an associate professor of psychology at Stanford University. For test subjects, Professor Eberhardt used undergraduate white male students at Stanford University and at Pennsylvania State University.

Subliminal photographs of white and black subjects were flashed on a computer screen. These images were shown so fast that students were not conscious of what had been presented to them. Then blurry images of the faces of apes were shown on the screen. White students who had been primed with subliminal photographs of African Americans were able to identify the photographs as apes quicker than students who had been primed with subliminal images of white faces.

When the same test was done with Asian subjects there was no discernible difference between those primed with white or black facial images in the time it took them to identify the ape image.

The authors concluded that whites still harbor subconscious views that blacks are ape-like. This dehumanization of blacks, according to the authors, can lead to racism and discrimination.


New Digital Archive Documents the History of Black Colleges

The HBCU Library Alliance has established a new Web site documenting the history of several black colleges and universities. The HBCU Digital Collection contains hundreds of photographs and other documents that can be accessed over the Internet.

To learn more about the collaborative effort or to browse the archives, click here.


Report Finds That Several Southern States Continue to Pursue Policies and Funding Allocations Detrimental to Their Public Black Universities

Armed with a grant from the Lumina Foundation, James T. Minor, an assistant professor of higher education at Michigan State University, has founded the HBCU Project. Dr. Minor plans to study the role of state-operated historically black colleges and universities in today’s higher education system.

Professor Minor recently released the HBCU Project’s first report. His research examined enrollment trends, financing, and degree program allocations at public universities in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina. He concluded that states continue to fund higher education and support degree programs in ways that put their black universities at a disadvantage. Of the states examined, Minor says that North Carolina is making the most concerted effort to enhance the academic quality of its black universities.

The report, Contemporary HBCUs: Considering Institutional Capacity and State Priorities, can be downloaded by clicking here.

Dr. Minor is a graduate of Jackson State University. He holds a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Nebraska and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Wisconsin.


75%  Percentage of all white children in the United States who are being raised in married-couple families.

34%  Percentage of all black children in the United States who are being raised in married-couple families.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


University of Virginia Is a Leader in Black Enrollments, But Dean of African-American Affairs Says More Should Be Done

This past fall the University of Virginia ranked first in the annual JBHE survey on the percentage of black first-year students at the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities. There are 360 black freshmen at the university this fall, making up 11.4 percent of the entering class.

But Maurice Apprey, professor of psychiatric medicine and dean of the university’s Office of African-American Affairs, is not satisfied. In a report to the university, Dean Apprey noted that the grade point averages and graduation rates of black students at the university continue to lag those of white students. According to JBHE’s latest statistics, the average black graduation rate at the University of Virginia over the past four years has been 87 percent. For whites, the rate is 93 percent.

Dr. Apprey also noted that there are only 17 black graduate students in the university’s McIntire School of Commerce and only 37 black students in the medical school. Both numbers are far too low, according to Apprey.


Three Finalists Named for Chancellor Position at Fayetteville State University

The Fayette Observer reports that three finalists have been selected for chancellor of Fayetteville State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina. The finalists are:

Albert L. Walker, president of Bluefield State College in West Virginia;
James A. Anderson, professor of psychology at the University of Albany; and
Juanita Fain, vice president of planning at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

A decision on who will be named chancellor could come as early as tomorrow.



Several High-Ranking Universities Beef Up Financial Aid Programs

Four of the nation’s highest-ranking universities have joined the growing list of highly selective educational institutions that have increased their budgets for student financial aid.

Stanford University announced that students from families with incomes below $100,000 will no longer have to pay tuition. Students from families with incomes below $60,000 will no longer have to pay tuition or room and board. Stanford will also eliminate loans from financial aid packages for all students and replace them with outright scholarship grants. The university’s total financial aid budget for the 2008-09 academic year will increase to about $114 million.

Washington University in St. Louis announced that it will eliminate all loans from financial aid packages for students from families with incomes below $60,000. Scholarship grants will replace loans for these students. The university states that the new plan will add $2.5 million to its financial aid budget for the 2008-09 academic year.

The latest JBHE data shows that only 6.4 percent of students at Washington University are eligible for federal Pell Grants, which are reserved for low-income students. This is the lowest percentage of Pell Grant recipients among the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities.

Brown University has eliminated loans from financial aid packages for all students from families with incomes below $100,000. Students from families with incomes below $60,000 will no longer be expected to make a financial contribution to fund their child’s education.

At Northwestern University, the student financial aid budget will increase by $8 million to $78 million. This increase will allow the university to substitute scholarship grants for loans for students from low- and middle-income families.



Ngozi Ugochukwu, associate professor of chemistry at Florida A&M University, received the 2007 William R. Jones Outstanding Mentor Award for her work with the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program of the Florida Education Fund.



The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and its university press will share a three-year, $937,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The funds will support a print and digital project entitled, “Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement.”



Copyright © 2008. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.