The Whitest State University in California

A report by faculty members at Sonoma State University in California shows that the university is both the whitest and has the wealthiest students of any publicly operated university in the state. The university, located in the wine country north of San Francisco, made a conscious effort in the early 1990s to market itself as a so-called Public Ivy, where students could get an Ivy League quality education at a fraction of the cost.

The report says that the university administration set up admissions screening rules that required higher SAT scores and grade point averages for admission than other universities in the state system. Recruitment efforts were concentrated at predominantly white, upper-income high schools. The report states that students from families with incomes of more than $150,000 have increased by 59 percent from 1994. Students from families with incomes below $50,000 have decreased by 21 percent in the same time period.

Department of Education data shows that 67 percent of the student body is white compared to a California State University average of 44 percent. Only 2 percent of the student body at Sonoma State University is black.


Reviving the Nursing Program at Fayetteville State University

The guidelines of the board of governors of the University of North Carolina system call for nursing programs at state universities to produce graduates who pass the state licensing examination on the first try at a rate of 85 percent. Schools that fall below 75 percent for two consecutive years are subject to having their nursing programs terminated.

At Fayetteville State University, a historically black educational institution, the pass rate on the state licensing examination over the past two years has been 46 percent. In 2008 only 24 of the 61 nursing students who took the test, or 39 percent, passed.

However, the board of governors has decided not to close the program but instead to make significant changes in its admissions procedures. Qualifications for admission will be raised and the number of students may be cut by as much as 75 percent. James Anderson, chancellor of the university, told the board, “The prior emphasis was on the number of students admitted, not their quality. Basically we knew that a third of our entering students would not be successful.”


In an Analysis of Census Data, a University of California Economist Finds Wage Discrimination Against Multiracial Americans

A study by Robert Fairlie, an economist at the University of California at Santa Cruz, examined earnings of black, white, and mixed-race individuals from the 2000 census. This was the first time in census history that Americans could note that they were biracial.

Dr. Fairlie found that the average hourly pay for whites was $22.04. For blacks, the average hourly wage was $17.39. But for individuals who said they were multiracial, the average hourly wage was $15.74.

Furthermore, Dr. Fairlie found that the lower wage for mixed-race Americans occurred despite the fact that 18 percent of multiracial people had a college degree compared to 11 percent of African Americans and 28 percent of white Americans.


Accreditation Probation Rescinded for the School of Pharmacy at Xavier University of Louisiana

Faced with a lawsuit filed by Xavier University, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education has agreed to rescind a decision made this past January to place the university’s pharmacy school on probation.

In 2003 the pharmacy school was reaccredited for only two years instead of the usual six. At that time the council said there were problems with the school’s faculty recruitment, its Office of Student Affairs, and the lack of a contingency plan in case certain federal funding was not appropriated. The board also noted that only 85 percent of the pharmacy school’s graduates passed the national licensing examination, compared to a nationwide average of 97 percent.

When the accrediting agency placed the school on probation in January, it did so without holding a hearing, which according to the university’s lawsuit was a violation of federal law. The university also claimed that the probation decision was based on inaccurate information supplied by an employee and also on outdated information about faculty hirings that were made since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Both the university and the accrediting board agreed not to disclose any details about the settlement of the lawsuit or the decision to remove the pharmacy school from probation.

Directly on the heels of the Xavier University decision, Hampton University, the historically black educational institution in Virginia, also filed a lawsuit against the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. The Hampton school was placed on probation for not having enough faculty members. But Hampton maintains that the agency’s standards do not specify the number of faculty required.


70.8%  Percentage of all white high school students who graduated in 2007 who enrolled either full-time or part-time in higher education by October 2007.

56.8%  Percentage of all black high school students who graduated in 2007 who enrolled either full-time or part-time in higher education by October 2007.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Student Newspapers at Black Universities in Louisiana Win Awards

The Southern University student newspaper, The Southern Digest, was named by the Black College Communication Association as the best student newspaper at a black college or university that is published twice a week or more. The Gramblinite, the student newspaper at Grambling State University, won the award for the best weekly publication.


Change Has Come to the Nation’s Capital: Particularly at Its Publicly Operated University

Allen L. Sessoms, the new president of the University of the District of Columbia, continues to shake things up. Sessoms has created a two-year community college, put in place huge tuition increases, and established stringent academic requirements for admission to four-year baccalaureate programs. There are plans for new master’s and doctoral degree programs and professional schools of public health and government.

Now Dr. Sessoms has announced he will shut down the university’s undergraduate teacher training program because of its very low student graduation rate. There are currently 380 students enrolled in the undergraduate education program.



• Edison O. Jackson, president of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York, has announced his retirement. Dr. Jackson has led the college, which is part of the City University of New York system, for the past 20 years.

Dr. Jackson earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a master’s degree in counseling from Howard University. He holds a doctorate in education from Rutgers University.

• Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School, was appointed master of Winthrop House, a residence hall for undergraduate students at the university.

Sullivan is a graduate of Morehouse College and Harvard Law School.

• Rubens J. Pamies, vice chancellor for academic affairs, dean for graduate studies, and professor of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, was named chair of the Advisory Committee on Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

• Herman Mason Jr. was inaugurated as the 33rd general president of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. A noted historian, Mason is vice president of student services at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

• Joseph M. Stevenson was appointed provost, senior vice president, and chief operating officer at Mississippi Valley State University. He was the director of the executive Ph.D. program in urban higher education at Jackson State University. He previously was provost at Jackson State.

Dr. Stevenson holds a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees from California State University. He earned a third master’s degree and an educational doctorate from the University of Oregon.



• Carnegie Mellon University has received a grant from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to participate in the Center for Academic Studies in Identity Sciences. The center will conduct research on improving software to create three-dimensional face models from photographs as well as further enhancing programs to identify people by the iris of their eye. As part of its mission, the center is charged with increasing the number of African-American graduate students in the field of biometrics.

• Emory University received a $400,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund the archival effort of the papers of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The more than 1,000 boxes of material include documents produced by the SCLC after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

• The All Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity at the University of California at Los Angeles received a five-year, $7.6 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for research on barriers faced by low-income students in their pursuit of higher education.

• The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education received a $200,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for a program to help increase the success of black students in college.


Harvard University Establishes the Index of African Governance

Researchers at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University have unveiled a statistical measure of how well governments in 48 sub-Saharan African countries are providing services such as safety, health care, education, economic opportunity, and human rights to their people. For example, factors such as Internet availability, electricity capacity, gross domestic product per capita, and miles of paved roads are used to determine the economic opportunity rating.

The index will be published each year with data for the previous 10 years used to compile a country’s score.

In the latest index the island nation of Mauritius achieved the highest score of 85.1 out of a possible 100 points. At the other end of the spectrum, the war-torn nation of Somalia received the lowest score at 18.9.


“Our admissions office enrolls excellent students. Above all else, this is the key to our success.”

William B. Harvey, vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity at the University of Virginia, explaining why the university consistently has the highest black student graduation rate among state-operated universities


Three Blacks Awarded Sloan Research Fellowships

The Sloan Research Fellowships were established in 1955 to help young scientists establish themselves in research. Over the years more than $119 million has been given to 4,200 young scientists. Thirty-seven of the scholars went on to win the Nobel Prize later in their careers.

Each winner of a Sloan Research Fellowship receives $50,000 over a two-year period. The money is given to the college or university. Expenditures must be approved by the chair of the academic department in which the faculty member is employed. Funds can be used for equipment, technical assistance, professional travel, or research support.

Here are brief biographies of the three black scholars among this year’s 118 recipients of Sloan Research Fellowships.

Gerard Awanou is an assistant professor of mathematics at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb. Originally from Benin in West Africa, he holds bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics from the Universite Nationale du Benin. Dr. Awanou came to the United States in 1998 to pursue his doctorate at the University of Georgia. He was awarded his Ph.D. in applied mathematics in 2003.

Odest Chadwicke Jenkins is an assistant professor of computer science at Brown University. He is a 1996 graduate of Alma College in Michigan. He went on to earn a master’s degree in computer science from Georgia Tech. He earned his Ph.D. in 2003 at the University of Southern California.

Richmond Sarpong is a native of Ghana. He came to the United States in 1991 to enroll at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. After graduating in 1995, Sarpong began graduate work at Princeton, earning a Ph.D. in chemistry six years later. He is now an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley.


Universities Team Up to Help Minority Small Business Owners in North Carolina

Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem State University, and the city of Winston-Salem have announced the formation of the Triad Business Collaborative. The collaborative was formed to help minority- and women-owned small businesses weather the current economic crisis.

The effort will act as an information clearinghouse that can be used by small business owners to access information on programs and services that are available to them. The effort will guide the small businesses through federal, state, and local government bureaucracies so that they can take advantage of infrastructure and other government programs contained in the economic stimulus package.The head of the initiative is Garland Burton, director of business diversity programs at Wake Forest University.


University of Southern California Establishes Endowment to Fund Study-Abroad Opportunities in Africa

The University of Southern California has launched the Africa Student Fund, an endowment that will assist students at the university who want to study abroad in Africa. Students can use funds to travel to Africa for study at a university, for research, internships, or for service-based learning opportunities.

The fund was established with a $100,000 donation from Adam Clayton Powell III, the vice provost for globalization at the University of Southern California. Students interested in participating in the program must have a 3.5 grade point average.


Survey Finds No Progress in Increasing Black Faculty and Staff at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

An internal report from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale finds that black employment at the university has declined in recent years. The university reports that there were 313 African Americans employed in faculty, administration, or staff positions in 2008. They made up 6.2 percent of the overall work force at the university. The number of black employees is slightly lower than was the case five years ago. The survey, Minority, Women, and Disabled Students, Faculty, and Staff Annual Report, stated that only one of the 12 deans at the university is black and this dean is scheduled to retire at the end of the current academic year.

Blacks make up about 16 percent of the student body at Southern Illinois University. Black enrollments have increased significantly in recent years.


Black College Is in the Carwash Business

Recently the Auto Baptism carwash opened in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. The business is owned by historically black Arkansas Baptist College. And the carwash will be a working laboratory for business students at the college. The carwash includes eight bays, where owners wash their own cars using coin-operated machines, and several coin-operated vacuums for interior cleaning.

The college hopes to also open a restaurant on the site where students can work and gain management experience.


In Memoriam

William Earle Matory Sr. (1928-2009)

William E. Matory, a surgeon who was instrumental in the growth of the Howard University College of Medicine, died of heart disease at Howard University Hospital. He was 80 years old.

Dr. Matory had a surgery practice for more than 40 years. At Howard he trained more than 4,000 future doctors. He also developed a series of training films for surgeons. Dr. Matory was also responsible for establishing Howard’s continuing medical education program for midcareer professionals, its physician assistant training program, and the program in family medicine.

Dr. Matory was the director of the continuing medical education program at the National Medical Association from 1977 to his death.

A native of East St. Louis, Illinois, Matory’s mother died when he was 3 years old. After his mother’s death, he was raised by an aunt in Mississippi. He went to Howard University where he was president of the Class of 1949. He later graduated from the Howard College of Medicine.

Vivian Hawkins Robinson (1921-2009)

Vivian Hawkins Robinson, the first woman to serve as academic dean at historically black Paine College and the first person to hold an endowed chair at the college, has died in Augusta, Georgia. She was 87 years old. Dr. Hawkins was the first African-American woman elected president of the National Association of Departments of English.

Dr. Hawkins was a native of Chicago. Her father was a minister. She graduated from Lane College and earned a master’s degree at Atlanta University and a Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska. In addition to a long career teaching at Paine College, Dr. Hawkins was active as a lay leader in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.


Honors and Awards

• Leo E. Rouse, dean of the Howard University College of Dentistry, received the 2009 Presidential Citation from the American Dental Education Association.

• Pamela Hammond, dean and professor of nursing at Hampton University in Virginia, received the 2009 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.

• Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, was the recipient of the 2009 Reginald A. Wilson Diversity Leadership Award from the American Council on Education.

Dr. Hrabowski is a graduate of Hampton University. He holds a master’s degree in mathematics and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Illinois.

• Stephanie E. Smallwood, associate professor of history at the University of Washington, was awarded the Frederick Douglass Book Prize from the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. Dr. Smallwood received the $25,000 award for her book Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage From Africa to American Diaspora (Harvard University Press).

Copyright © 2009. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.