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Blacks Are Increasing Their Participation in the Advanced Placement Program

Over the past two decades there has been a huge increase in the number of black students who are taking challenging Advanced Placement courses in high school. A successful grade on an AP examination at times can earn a high school student college credits.

In 1985 there were only 2,768 black high school seniors taking Advanced Placement courses in the United States. At that time blacks made up just one percent of the more than 270,000 AP students. By 1990 black participation in AP programs had more than doubled. That year black high school seniors took some 6,800 AP exams.

By 2009 the number of AP exams taken by black seniors had jumped to 152,726, more than 22 times as many exams that were taken by black students in 1990.

If we include all students who took AP examinations in 2009, not just high school seniors, we find that 122,512 African Americans took a total of 186,083 AP tests.

In 2009 blacks took 6.5 percent of all AP examinations administered in the United States, up from 4.6 percent in 2003 and 6.1 percent in 2008.

University of Tennessee Senior Is the First African American to Win a National Diving Championship

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that black children are three times as likely to drown as white children. And a survey by USA Swimming found that 58 percent of black children cannot swim, compared with 31 percent of white children.

Efforts to encourage the sport of swimming among African Americans got a major boost when Cullen Jones, an African American, teamed up with Michael Phelps as part of the four-man freestyle relay team that won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Jones was the second African American to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming.

Now another barrier has fallen. Michael Wright, a senior at the University of Tennessee, recently won the 1-meter springboard title at the USA Diving Winter National Championships. He is the first African American in history to be a national diving champion.

Louisiana Pays Tribute to the Top Coach in Black College Football History

For more than half a century, Eddie G. Robinson coached the varsity football team at historically black Grambling State University in Louisiana. During that span he had 408 victories and won more than 84 percent of the games he coached. More than 200 athletes who took the field for Robinson went on to play professional football. Robinson died three years ago at the age of 88.

Recently, the Eddie G. Robinson Museum opened on the campus of Grambling State University. The archives include game films, playbooks, and correspondence with recruits.

Funding for the museum was provided by the state of Louisiana. The state is promoting the museum as a major stop on its African-American Heritage Trail. Billboards alongside interstate highways direct tourists to the new museum.

Alabama State University Makes Amends for Expelling Nine Students Who, in 1960, Challenged the Racial Codes of Jim Crow

In February 1960, nine students at Alabama State University in Montgomery were expelled from the historically black educational institution for taking part in a sit-in at a racially segregated lunch counter at the Montgomery County Courthouse. Harper Councill Trenholm, who had been president of Alabama State University for 35 years, was pressured by Alabama governor John Patterson to make a statement that protests against Jim Crow would not be permitted.

Now a half-century later, Alabama State has officially “reinstated” the nine students who had been expelled. Late last month, three of the nine students attended a ceremony held in their honor at the university. Current Alabama State president William Harris is asking the board of trustees to grant degrees to all nine students at this spring’s commencement.

Edythe M. Abdullah Named President of Essex County College

Essex County College in Newark, New Jersey, has appointed Edythe M. Abdullah its sixth president. She is the first woman president of the two-year, state-operated college. About half of the 12,000 students at the college are African Americans.

Abdullah, who takes office on April 1, has been serving as president of the downtown campus of Florida State College in Jacksonville. She has been an administrator at the college for 25 years. She is also a member of the board of trustees of the University of North Florida.

Abdullah is a graduate of Valparaiso University in Indiana and holds a law degree from the University of Florida.

Honors and Awards

• Valerie Montgomery Rice, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and founder of the Center for Women’s Health Research at Meharry Medical College, received the Nefertiti Award from the Nashville, Tennessee, chapter of Societas Docta.

Dr. Rice is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School.

• Cheryl D. Mills, counselor and chief of staff for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was selected as the 2010 Distinguished Alumna of the University of Virginia.

From 2002 to 2009 Mills served as senior vice president at New York University. She defended President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial. She received her law degree from Stanford University Law School.

• William J. Barber II, pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, received the Human Rights Medalist Award from North Carolina A&T State University. Reverend Barber was honored for his efforts to correct social injustice.

Reverend Barber is a graduate of North Carolina Central University. He holds a master’s degree in divinity from Duke University and a doctorate from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

• Ann P. Ambrose, dean of business, public services, and technologies at the Portsmouth, Virginia, campus of Tidewater Community College, received the school’s Martin Luther King Jr. College Distinguished Service Award.

14.1%  Percentage of all freshmen in 2009 who traveled more than 500 miles from home to attend college.

25.0%  Percentage of all freshmen at historically black colleges and universities in 2009 who traveled more than 500 miles from home to attend college.

source: Higher Education Research Institute, the University of California at Los Angeles

Grants and Gifts

The computational science and engineering doctoral program at historically black North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro received three grants totaling more than $2.5 million. The grants were from NASA, the Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation.

The Cornell University Center for Behavior Intervention Development in New York City is the recipient of a $6 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for programs to reduce obesity among African Americans and Latinos.

The Rice University-based Empowering Leadership Alliance received a $923,786 grant from the National Science Foundation to continue a program to help minority students in computer-related disciplines at top-ranked universities.

Spelman College, the historically black liberal arts institution for black women in Atlanta, received an $87,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation. The money will fund the Walmart Leadership Scholars Program, which provides first-generation college students with leadership training and peer-mentoring services.

The John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University, the historically black educational institution in Washington, D.C., received a $175,000 grant from the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council. The funds will be used for technology and equipment and for the planning of a state-of-the-art facility on the Howard campus.

How the African-American Higher Education Gender Gap Affects Black Marriage Rates

The gender gap in African-American higher education has created a situation where it is extremely difficult for educated black women to find a spouse of the same race and educational background. As a result, marriage rates for educated black women are very low.

A new report from the Pew Research Center examines the relationship between marriage, education, race, and income for women between the ages of 30 and 44.

The data shows that in 2007, only 33 percent of black women ages 30 to 44 were married at the time of the study. For whites, 67 percent were married, more than double the rate for black women. In 2007, 44 percent of black men ages 30 to 44 were married compared to 63 percent of white men in this age group.

Marriage rates have declined considerably over the past 40 years as more and more women of all races have pursued higher education. In 1970, 86 percent of white women ages 30 to 44 were married compared to 67 percent of black women. So over the past 40 years the marriage rate for black women has declined by more than half while the rate for white women is down about 28 percent. For black men ages 30 to 44, the marriage rate has declined from 74 percent in 1970 to 44 percent today. This decline is considerably higher than the decline for white men.

“People often talk about historic moments, and often they’re engaged in hyperbole. But this is a significant and genuine historic moment for the people of Texas.”

Ben Carrington, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Texas, commenting on the establishment of the first black studies program to gain departmental status in the state of Texas, in the Austin-American Statesman (See story below.)

University of Texas Upgrades Black Studies to Departmental Status

The University of Texas at Austin has established the department of African and African diaspora studies. The new entity is the only black studies program in the state of Texas to obtain departmental status. The new department will begin offering a bachelor’s degree program this coming fall. There are plans for offering master’s and Ph.D. degrees and to hire 10 full-time faculty members in the near future.

The department will be chaired by Edmund T. Gordon, who currently is a professor of anthropology at the university. Professor Gordon holds a master’s degree from the University of Miami and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is the author of the 1998 book, Disparate Diasporas: Identity and Politics in an African-Nicaraguan Community.

At the present time there are about 30 students who are majoring in black studies at the University of Texas through an interdisciplinary program at the John L. Warfield Center for African and African-American Studies. Professor Gordon hopes to double the number of black studies majors in the next several years. The Warfield Center will surrender teaching responsibilities to the new department but will continue to oversee student and faculty research, lectures, culture programs, and collaborations with the Austin community. Also affiliated with the new black studies department will be the recently established Institute for Critical Urban Policy.

Two African Americans Win Gates Cambridge Scholarships

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced 29 American winners of the Gates Cambridge Scholarships. The students selected were chosen from a field of 800 applicants, which was narrowed to 104 candidates who were interviewed in early February in Annapolis, Maryland.

The Gates Cambridge Scholarships are open to students who reside outside the United Kingdom. The program is funded by a $210 million donation made to the University of Cambridge in 2000 by the Gates Foundation. Since the establishment of the program, there have been 911 Gates Scholars from 91 countries across the globe.

Students selected for the awards receive full tuition for their master’s or Ph.D. studies at the University of Cambridge in England. In addition, each student receives a £12,500 stipend to cover living expenses as well as airfare to and from Britain.

This year two African Americans are among the 29 U.S. students chosen as Gates Cambridge Scholars:

• Donielle Johnson of Alexandria, Virginia, is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in psychology. She will study for a master’s degree in psychiatry at Cambridge. She hopes to conduct research on the behavior of children with autism. Johnson plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

• Queen Nworisara Quinn, from Orlando, Florida, is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University and holds a master’s degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She currently works in the Office of the Vice President for Infrastructure, Private Sector, and Regional Integration at the African Development Bank in Tunisia. She plans to obtain a master’s degree at Cambridge and a Ph.D. in management.

Doctoral Program in Pharmacy at Historically Black University of Maryland Eastern Shore Gets the Go-Ahead to Begin Instruction This Fall

The doctoral program in pharmacy education at historically black University of Maryland Eastern Shore has received the go-ahead from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education to begin instruction this coming fall. The doctoral program will have to fulfill a program of growth and development over the next three years before it is fully accredited so that its graduates are eligible to become licensed pharmacists.

The doctoral program was instituted after a study by the state university board found that 50 percent of all pharmacists in the state received their education in other states. In order to ward off a shortage of licensed pharmacists, the state agreed to fund a new program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. The university plans to enroll 60 first-year students in the program this fall.

In Memoriam

Isabella McIntyre Tobin (1915-2010)

Isabella Tobin, a longtime educator in the Atlanta public school system and patron of black women’s higher education, has died at an assisted living facility in Atlanta. She was 94 years old. At the time of her death, Tobin had donated more money to Spelman College than any other living alumna.

Tobin was a native of Rochester, New York. She enrolled at New York University but after two years transferred to Spelman College. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Spelman in 1945 and later was awarded a master of social work degree from Atlanta University.

Tobin’s husband Lucius was a pastor and professor at Morehouse College and Spelman College. Isabella was a teacher and high school guidance counselor. Donations to Spelman were part of her yearly budget. She lived frugally and never had children.

Kevin J. Robinson (1969-2009)

Kevin J. Robinson, assistant professor of social work and social research at Bryn Mawr College, died last month at the age of 40.

Robinson had been on the Bryn Mawr faculty since 2007. He was involved in public health research with a focus on HIV/AIDS prevention.

Robinson was a graduate of Clemson University. He held a master’s degree in health administration from Pennsylvania State University and a master of social work degree from the University of Michigan. In 2006 he was awarded a doctorate in public health from Columbia University.

Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Harriet A. Roland, associate professor and director of the honors program at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, was named president-elect of the National Association of African-American Honors Programs.

Dr. Roland is a graduate of South Carolina State University. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of South Carolina and a Ph.D. in mass communication theory from the University of Florida.

• Gregory C. Harris was appointed chief of the department of public safety at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was a full-time faculty member in the department of criminal justice at South Carolina State University.

Harris is a graduate of Saint Leo University in Florida and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Kennesaw State University.

• Ruth J. Simmons, the president of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, was appointed to the advisory board of the National Museum of African-American History in Culture. The museum is scheduled to open in 2015 on the National Mall in Washington.

• Larry L. Earvin, president of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, was named secretary of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

Dr. Earvin is a graduate of Clark College. He holds a master’s degree from Georgia State University and a Ph.D. from Emory University.

• Bettye G. Wilson was named associate professor emerita at the School of Health Professions at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has served on the university’s clinical and diagnostics faculty since 1991.

• Harry Waters Jr., assistant professor of theater and dance at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, was awarded tenure. Waters, who is an accomplished actor on stage, screen, and television, is a graduate of Princeton University. He holds a master in fine arts degree from the University of Wisconsin.

• Chanta Haywood, dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, was appointed by the U.S. Department of Education to the Jacob K. Javits Fellows Program Fellowship Board.

• Jacqueline Jones Royster was appointed dean of Ivan Allen College and professor in the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture at Georgia Institute of Technology. She will start at Georgia Tech this fall. Currently, Dr. Royster is senior vice provost and professor of English at Ohio State University.

Professor Royster is a graduate of Spelman College. She holds master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan.

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