Yale to Revamp Ethnic Counselor Program for First-Year Students

Yale University recently announced that it was phasing out its ethnic counselor program for incoming freshmen. Heretofore, there were 90 residential counselors and 13 ethnic counselors whose responsibility was to help black and other minority students adjust to campus life.

Under the new plan, all freshman counselors will be trained to handle the duties now performed by Yale’s ethnic counselors. The new group of counselors will be charged with making their students aware of the many cultural resources on campus as well as helping students with mentoring and other support services available on campus.

George Levesque, dean of freshman affairs, says that the change should be welcome by incoming minority students. “What we’re talking about is increasing and broadening the support for students whose social and cultural adjustment is the greatest,” he told the Yale Daily News.

It appears that Yale’s move is in response to litigation that has challenged programs earmarked for a particular racial or ethnic group.


Rutgers University Honors Black Students Who 40 Years Ago Took Over a Campus Building

Forty years ago a group of about two dozen black students took over Conklin Hall on the campus of Rutgers University in Newark. At the time the city of Newark was 65 percent black but the student body at the Newark campus of the state-operated Rutgers University was 95 percent white. The black students demanded that the university hire more black faculty and greatly increase African-American enrollments.

During the three-day siege white students threatened to retake the building. At one point white students tried to ram a telephone pole through the chained doors of the building. Government officials urged the university to call in the state police to end the protest. But the university ended the confrontation by agreeing to increase racial diversity.

Today the Newark campus of Rutgers University is generally considered the most racially diverse college in the nation. Blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asians all make up between 20 and 25 percent of the student body.

Recently the university invited the black students who took over Conklin Hall back to campus. At a ceremony honoring the 40th anniversary of the takeover, current Rutgers University president Richard McCormick called the black students “heroes” and added, “We are deeply proud of you.”


Stanford University Study Finds That Whites Who Voted for Obama Use Their Political Stance to Defend Acts or Statements That Hint of Racism

A study by researchers at Stanford University found that many whites who supported the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama now use their vote to build “moral credentials” when they are accused of making statements or taking actions that could be perceived as racist or bigoted.

In the past, when a person was challenged for making a bigoted statement, the typical defensive response was, “Some of my best friends are black.” Now statements or actions with a hint of racism or prejudice are being justified by people who say, “I’m not a bigot, I voted for Barack Obama.”

In the Stanford study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, whites who supported Obama for president were asked if they would hire a white or black officer to a police department that has had a long history of racial tensions between officers. Prior to being presented with the hiring decision, one group of test subjects was led in a discussion about their choice in the recent presidential election. In the other group, there was no prior discussion on politics.

The results showed that the group that was able to build their moral credentials by demonstrating their political support for Obama were more likely to prefer hiring the white police officer. Participants in the second group who had not been able to express their support for Obama tended to play it safe and say that both the white and black candidate were equally suited for the position.

A second test asked participants to allocate money to two community groups. Subjects were told that in the past the predominantly black community group had received more funds than the predominantly white group. In this instance, the group that was permitted to express support for Obama before making the decision was more apt to give greater amounts of money to the white-controlled community group. Those who were not able to present their moral credentials were apt to allocate the money equally between the two groups.


New Recording Discovered of a 1964 Address by Martin Luther King Jr. at the University of Dayton

Earlier this year an unlabeled reel-to-reel tape was found among the belongings of Herbert Woodward Martin, a poet and professor emeritus at the University of Dayton. The tape contained an audio recording of a speech given at the university by Martin Luther King Jr. on November 29, 1964. Previously, there was no known recording or transcript of King’s remarks that day.

King began the speech with a joke because he arrived late due to snowy travel conditions. He remarked, “I’d rather be Martin Luther King late, than the late Martin Luther King.” He went on to say that “racial segregation was on its deathbed. The only thing that is uncertain is how costly the segregationists will make the funeral.”

Professor Martin was not at the University of Dayton at the time of the speech and does not know how the tape came into his possession.


870,000  Number of black men enrolled in undergraduate college programs in 2007.

837,000  Number of black men incarcerated in federal, state, or local prisons in 2006.

source: U.S. Census Bureau and Federal Bureau of Prisons


Historically Black Delaware State and the Predominantly White University of Delaware Finally Have Agreed to Meet on the Football Field

The predominantly white University of Delaware has been playing intercollegiate football since 1889. Historically black Delaware State University has had a football team since 1905. Both teams play in the NCAA’s Football Championship Series, formerly known as Division I-AA.

Yet for over a century the two schools never scheduled a game against their in-state rivals. At one point racism was probably the overriding concern. But in recent years the explanation most likely has nothing to do with racism.

The University of Delaware has a storied football history. As such, it has a major recruiting advantage, among both black and white football players, within the state of Delaware. More than 42 percent of the players on football scholarships at the University of Delaware are black. Most likely, the University of Delaware was unwilling to risk a loss on the football field to its cross-state rival for fear of losing this recruiting advantage.

But after the two schools met in an NCAA playoff game in December 2007, the calls for a regular intrastate rivalry game became intense. Now the two schools have reached an agreement to play this September and also every year in the 2012-14 period.

In Memoriam

Atieno Odhiambo (1945-2009)

Atieno Odhiambo, a professor of history who was the first black faculty member awarded tenure at Rice University, has died in his native Kenya at the age of 63. He returned to Kenya late last year after he had been diagnosed with a degenerative illness.

A graduate of Makerere University in Uganda, he first came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar. After earning his Ph.D. at the University of Nairobi, Professor Odhiambo taught at Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University before accepting a tenured position at Rice in 1989.

Walter J. Sapp (1933-2009)

Walter J. Sapp, who worked as an administrator and as a member of the faculty at Tuskegee University for more than 40 years, died late last month at a hospital in Montgomery, Alabama. He was 75 years old.

After earning a Ph.D. in biology at the University of Wisconsin, in 1966 Professor Sapp was hired to teach biology at Tuskegee. He also served as dean of student affairs, associate provost, and assistant dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Sapp was also the associate director of the university’s Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care.


Honors and Awards

• Jerome D. Williams, the F.J. Heyne Centennial Professor in Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, will receive the 2009 Outstanding Marketing Teacher Award from the Academy of Marketing Science at the group’s annual convention in Baltimore this May.

• Richard L. Price, who retired in 2006 after 30 years on the mathematics faculty at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, received the Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award from the local chapter of the National Association for University Women.

Price is a graduate of Prairie View A&M University. He holds master’s degrees from the University of Texas and the Yale Divinity School and a doctorate in mathematics education from Ohio State University. An endowed scholarship for engineering students and an auditorium on the Lamar University campus bear his name.

• Leslie Brown, assistant professor of history at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, received the Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians. The award goes to first-time authors who have published on American history. Brown was recognized for her book Upbuilding Black Durham: Gender, Class, and Black Community Development in the Urban South.



Mount Holyoke College Renews Study-Abroad Program in Senegal

From 1992 to 2004, students at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, were able to study abroad in Dakar, Senegal. Interest declined in the program and it was discontinued. Blacks make up about 5 percent of the total enrollments at this women’s college.

But now there is a renewed interest in studying in Africa. Beginning in the spring 2010 semester, students at Mount Holyoke can study abroad at the University of Dakar. All courses at the university are taught in French but Mount Holyoke students will also take a course in Wolof, the most widely spoken African language in Senegal. Students who participate in the program will spend at least part of their time living with a Senegalese family.


“Cultivating a diverse intellectual community makes us a better university. Successfully recruiting, hiring, developing, and retaining women faculty and faculty of color are fundamental to this aim.”

Thomas G. Burish, provost of the University of Notre Dame (See story below.)


Notre Dame Takes Steps to Increase Black Faculty

The University of Notre Dame has announced an initiative to increase the diversity of its faculty. The latest JBHE survey shows that blacks make up 2.3 percent of the full-time faculty at Notre Dame. This is among the lowest levels at any of the nation’s 25 highest-ranked universities.

The new initiative will include a postdoctoral program to attract women and minority scholars to the university with the hope that some will stay on in faculty positions. The university will also increase the resources of the Dual Career Assistance Program to help find employment for spouses of potential faculty hires.

Don B. Pope-Davis, vice president, associate provost, and professor of psychology, will direct the initiative in relation to faculty of color. He will work with deans and department chairs to coordinate minority faculty hiring. A graduate of Benedictine University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Dr. Pope-Davis earned his doctorate in counseling psychology from Stanford University.


Davidson College Collects More Than 10,000 Pairs of Shoes for Shipment to Africa

Andrew Lovedale is a senior basketball player at Davidson College, the liberal arts college in North Carolina with a high academic standing. When he graduates this spring Lovedale will be returning to his native Nigeria along with 10,500 pairs of used shoes that were donated by fans of the Davidson College basketball program. Fans were also asked to contribute money to help cover the cost of shipping the shoes to Nigeria.

When they reach Nigeria the shoes will be distributed free of charge to children and young adults.


Indiana University Slips Up in an Attempt to Right a Wrong

The Ora Wildermuth Intramural Center on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington was built in 1971. It was named after a man who served as chair of the university’s board of trustees from 1938 to 1949. He died in 1964.

In 2006 some old letters written by Wildermuth were discovered. In a 1945 letter to a university administrator, Wildermuth wrote, “I am and shall always remain absolutely and utterly opposed to social intermingling of the colored race with the white.”

In a second letter that Wildermuth wrote to university president Herman B. Welles in 1948, he stated, “The average of the black race as to intelligence, economic status, and industry is so far below the white average that it seems to me futile to build up hope for a great future.”

Last fall the All University Committee on Names recommended to the board of trustees that the building be renamed the William L. Garrett-Ora L. Wildermuth Fieldhouse. Garrett was the first African American to play intercollegiate basketball for Indiana University. Throughout his collegiate career, he suffered racial indignities from opposing fans and players. Garrett died in 1974 at the age of 45.

Last month the trustees agreed to the name change. But Betty Garrett, the widow of the former Indiana basketball star, was not consulted. When she heard about the change, she demanded that her husband not be “disgraced by having his name by Wildermuth’s.”

The university quickly rescinded its decision to change the name of the building.


Alcorn State May Cut Classes and Majors to Deal With Budget Crunch

Alcorn State University, the historically black educational institution in Lorman, Mississippi, had its budget cut by 5 percent for the coming academic year and expects another 5 percent cut on top of that.

With a potential drop in state funding of $2.5 million the university has instituted a hiring freeze. More than 60 positions remain unfilled at the university.

In addition, the university is looking to cut classes and possibly do away with some of the 98 majors now offered on campus.

Alcorn State President George Ross is not ready to panic. He told the Natchez Democrat, “We have survived recessions in the past and we have survived budget cuts larger than this. We’ll have to make some adjustments, but in the end we will be stronger.”


Faculty Senate Votes No Confidence in President of Jackson State University

The faculty senate at Jackson State University, the historically black educational institution in Mississippi, has passed a no-confidence resolution against university president Ronald Mason Jr. The vote was 11-4 with six abstentions.

The faculty is concerned with President Mason’s plan to close the university’s budget gap. He has proposed a hiring freeze and unpaid leave for faculty and staff.

Dr. Mason has been president of Jackson State since 2000.


The Alarming Upward Trend in Cigarette Smoking for College-Educated Blacks

In 2002 African Americans with a college degree were less likely to be smokers than whites with a college degree. Now the reverse is true.

Here are the figures. The latest data shows that for black male college graduates, 12.9 percent are smokers. For white males with a college degree, the figure is 8.9 percent. In 2002, 10.8 percent of black male college graduates smoked cigarettes compared to 11.1 percent of white male college graduates.

The latest data shows that 8.5 percent of black women college graduates smoke cigarettes compared to 7.7 percent of white women with a college diploma. In 2002, 7.7 percent of black women with a college degree smoked cigarettes compared to 9.6 percent of similarly educated white women.



• Anna Hammond was named chief of staff to Donna Oliver, president of Mississippi Valley State University. Dr. Hammond was interim provost, vice president for academic affairs, and associate professor of education at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida.

A graduate of Chicago State University, Dr. Hammond holds a master’s degree from the University of Illinois and an educational doctorate from National-Louis University in Chicago.

• Kacie Blalock, assistant professor of rehabilitation counseling at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, was elected chair of the North Carolina State Rehabilitation Council.

• Debora Johnson-Ross was named associate dean of academic affairs at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. She is an associate professor of political science and international studies at the college.

Professor Johnson-Ross is a graduate of Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She holds a master’s degree from the Florida Institute of Technology and a Ph.D from the University of South Carolina.

• Joseph Monroe, dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, announced that he will retire at the end of the current academic year after more than 20 years of service to the university.

Dr. Monroe is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University. He holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in computer science from Texas A&M University.



• North Carolina A&T State University, the historically black educational institution in Greensboro, received a $50,000 grant from Siemens Building Technologies to develop coursework in the field of architectural engineering.

• Michael Dorsey, an assistant professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College, received a $300,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to launch the Climate Justice Research Project. The research will focus on racial and social inequities that occur when government, corporations, or other groups address climate change issues.

• City College of New York, in conjunction with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, received a five-year, $15.9 million grant for research, education, and outreach programs aimed at eliminating racial disparities in cancer care and outcomes.

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