The College Applicant Pool Has Crested, But More Minority Students Expected to Enroll in College

This year colleges and universities across the United States have recorded large increases in applicants. The reason for this is twofold. First, students tend to apply to more colleges than in the past due in part to the ease of submitting the Common Application to multiple institutions.

Also, the high school graduating class of 2008 is the largest in the nation’s history.

But a report from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education finds that the number of high school graduates will decline next year and in the years to follow. The declines will be most severe in the Northeast and Midwest regions of the country. This means that colleges and universities in these states will have to increase their recruitment efforts in other states.

The demographics of the applicant pool in coming years will also be different. The data shows that there will be a greater number of Asians and Hispanics. The number of college-bound blacks will increase at a smaller rate and the number of white students applying to college will decline.


Emory University to Receive the Archives of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Last December, Emory University announced that it would be the repository for the papers of African-American literary icon Alice Walker.

Now Emory has scored a second coup. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) has announced that it will donate 1,100 boxes of documents from the organization’s files.

SCLC was established in 1957 by Martin Luther King Jr. and other black religious leaders in New Orleans. The group’s sole purpose was to advance the cause of racial equality in the United States.

The donated files include letters, speech drafts, press releases, memoranda, membership records, and other printed materials. There are also numerous photographs, audio recordings, and videotapes. Among the documents are thousands of sympathy cards received from people across the nation following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.



Major Academic Conference on Slavery Coming to Philadelphia

A major conference commemorating the 200th anniversary of the abolishment of the slave trade will be held next month in Philadelphia. The conference, entitled “Atlantic Emancipations,” will be held on April 10-12 and will feature more than 40 scholars of slavery in North America. The conference is cosponsored by the Rochester Institute of Technology, Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Library Company of Philadelphia.

The conference was organized by Richard Newman, associate professor of history at the Rochester Institute of Technology and author of the new book, Freedom’s Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church and the Black Founding Fathers.

The conference’s keynote address will be given by Steven Hahn, Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania.

For more information on the conference, click here.


Cheyney University Provost on the Short List of Presidential Candidates at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota

Last summer Wilson Bradshaw, an African American, stepped down as president of Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota, to take the position of president of Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.

Now another black man is one of the five finalists for the presidency of Metropolitan State University. Kenoye Kelvin Eke, provost and vice president for academic and student affairs at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, is on the short list to replace Bradshaw.

Dr. Eke is a graduate of Alabama A&M University. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in political science from Clark Atlanta University. Dr. Eke previously served as an administrator at Kentucky State University, California State University at Monterey Bay, and Savannah State University.


Howard University Completes the Most Successful Fundraising Drive Ever Undertaken by a Black College or University

Howard University recently completed the largest fundraising effort ever undertaken by a historically black college or university. The five-year campaign, launched with a goal of raising $250 million for the educational institution, actually exceeded its goal, bringing in a total of $272 million. There were 81 gifts of $1 million or more.

Howard University president H. Patrick Swygert reported that the university’s endowment currently stands at $532 million, more than triple the figure when he took office in 1995.

President Swygert noted that through the fundraising effort, Howard was able to increase its alumni database from 32,000 names to more than 60,000 individuals.


Black Colleges to Receive Free Subscriptions to Dozens of Physics Journals

In a major boost to physics research at the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Physics have agreed to offer free online subscriptions to all their academic journals to minority-serving institutions that offer degrees in physics. Combined, the two organizations publish 24 periodicals. Some black colleges and universities currently pay for subscriptions to some journals published by the two organizations but other HBCUs don’t subscribe to any of the 24 journals. Not one HBCU currently subscribes to all 24 publications.

After the free trial subscriptions expire at the end of this year, the agreement calls for the black colleges to continue to receive online subscriptions at significantly reduced rates.


North Carolina Central University Offers Two New Degree Programs

North Carolina Central University, the historically black educational institution in Durham, has received approval to begin two new degree programs. The university will now offer a bachelor of science degree in computer and information science. NCCU will also offer a bachelor of arts degree in instructional design. This program, which will be housed in the university’s School of Education, is to train students to teach and to design Internet learning tools.



The Higher Education of the Nation’s Newest Black Congressman

Earlier this month André Carson won a special election for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana’s Seventh Congressional District. Carson will fill out the term of his grandmother, Julia Carson, who died from cancer.

Carson, now 33 years old, was raised by his grandmother. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice management from Concordia University in Wisconsin and a master’s degree in business management from Indiana Wesleyan University. Prior to being elected to Congress, Carson was a city council member in Indianapolis.


More High-Ranking Colleges and Universities Boost Financial Aid for Low-Income Students

Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has announced a new financial aid policy designed to make the university more affordable to low-income students. The university will eliminate all loans for students whose family income is below $50,000. The loans will be replaced with scholarship grants. For students from families with incomes in the $50,000 to $75,000 range, there will be a loan cap of $3,000.

Lehigh estimates that it will spend $54 million on undergraduate student aid during the 2008-09 academic year.

Blacks make up 3 percent of the more than 4,700 undergraduate students at Lehigh University.

Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, has eliminated loans for students from families with incomes below $50,000. These loans will be replaced with scholarship grants. In addition, Lafayette will place a loan cap of $2,500 for students on financial aid from families with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000.

Blacks are 5 percent of the 2,400-member students body at Lafayette College.

At Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, where 4 percent of the students are black, loans will be eliminated from all student financial aid packages. The loans will be replaced by scholarship grants.

The college estimates that the new no loan policy will add $1 million to the college’s current $13.3 million financial aid budget.


In Memoriam

Mary Elizabeth Lancaster Carnegie (1916-2008)

Mary Elizabeth Lancaster Carnegie, longtime nursing educator and civil rights leader, has died from heart disease at her home in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She was 91 years old.

Carnegie was a native of Baltimore. She received her initial training at the Lincoln School of Nursing in New York City. She then earned a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia State College. Later she received a master’s degree from Syracuse University and a Ph.D. from New York University.

In 1943 Carnegie founded the nursing program at what is today Hampton University in Virginia. Two years later in 1945 she was named dean of the nursing school at Florida A&M University. While in Tallahassee she successfully led the fight to integrate the state’s black and white nursing associations.

Carnegie was the author of three books. For 30 years she was editor of the American Journal of Nursing.

Howard University has endowed a visiting professorship in nursing research in Carnegie’s name.

Henrietta Bell Wells (1912-2008)

Henrietta Bell Wells, the only female member of the Wiley College debate team that was featured in the 2007 movie The Great Debaters, has died in Baytown, Texas. She was 95 years old.

Wells was the last surviving member of the 1930 Wiley College debate team that participated in the first collegiate interracial debate. After graduating from Wiley College, Wells married an Episcopal priest and worked as a social worker and a teacher in the Houston public school system.



• Miles College, the historically black educational institution in Alabama, received a $500,000 grant from the Regions Financial Corporation. The funds will be used to bolster the college’s capital campaign which will be earmarked for academic programs, facilities, and student scholarships.

• The Thurgood Marshall College Fund received a $500,000 grant from the Bank of America Foundation. The grant will be used to fund scholarships for students at historically black colleges and universities and to fund a career fair.



Racial Separation in Dormitory Assignments at Ole Miss

A study conducted by the housing department at the University of Mississippi found widespread racial separation in several campus dormitories.

Blacks make up about 13 percent of the undergraduate student body at Ole Miss. Yet the housing study found that on two floors of the Martin residence hall there were no blacks whatsoever. In the Stockard residence hall, white students made up more than 90 percent of all residents on eight of the dormitory’s 10 floors.

Ole Miss officials say that race is not a factor in room assignments. However, they concede that there are several factors that produce a degree of racial separation in some dormitories. First, students can choose to room with a friend whom they knew before coming to campus. Typically, freshmen who decide to room together at Ole Miss are of the same race.

Also, white students tend to commit to enrolling at Ole Miss earlier than black students. Rooms are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

Therefore, white students tend to fill up many of the most desired dormitories before many of their black classmates commit to enroll at Ole Miss. Black students may wait longer to commit to Ole Miss as they seek more favorable financial offers from competing institutions. When black students finally decide to enroll, most, if not all, of the rooms in the most sought-after dormitories have already been taken.


“The American people are looking for somebody who can bring the country together. If that person is green, they’ll vote for him. If that person is purple, they’ll vote for him, and if that person is African American, I think they’ll vote for him.”

Barack Obama, at a news conference in Cleveland, Ohio


Evelynn Hammonds Named Dean of Harvard College

Evelynn Hammonds, the Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science, professor of African-American studies, and senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity, has been named dean of Harvard College. She is the first woman and the first African American to be named dean of the undergraduate college.

A graduate of Spelman College where she majored in physics, Dean Hammonds holds a second bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech. Hammonds also has a master’s degree in physics from MIT and a Ph.D. in the history of science from Harvard University. Hammonds joined the Harvard faculty in 2002. Previously she was the founding director of the Center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology and Medicine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Hammonds is the author of Childhood’s Deadly Scourge: The Campaign to Control Diphtheria in New York City, 1880-1930. She is currently at work on a book entitled The Logic of Difference: A History of Race in Science and Medicine in the United States.



Johns Hopkins University Professor Honored for Work to Increase Racial Diversity in Medical Education

Myron Weisfeldt, William Osler Professor of Medicine and chair of the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, received the 2008 Diversity Award from the Association of Professors of Medicine. Dr. Weisfeldt was honored for his efforts to increase racial diversity among faculty, residents, and fellows at Johns Hopkins.

Since Dr. Weisfeldt assumed the chair of the department six years ago, the percentage of all residents and fellows who are members of underrepresented minority groups has increased from 8 percent to 23 percent. During the period, the number of assistant professors from underrepresented minority groups in the department has nearly doubled.

“Our high standards have been and remain very high,” Dr.Weisfeldt said. “Our goal was simply to expand the group of qualified applicants among underrepresented minorities. They are there, and we were determined to find them.”


Johnson C. Smith University Launches Online 24/7 Tutoring System

Many historically black colleges and universities have very low retention and graduation rates. At Johnson C. Smith University, the historically black educational institution in Charlotte, North Carolina, only 39 percent of entering students earn their degree at the college within six years.

In an effort to increase retention and graduation rates, the university has implemented a new online tutoring system designed by the firm AskOnline. Students can access the system 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Through the online system, students can contact tutors assigned by the university to help them with homework assignments, research projects and papers, and to prepare for examinations.


$43,110  Median income of college-educated white women who worked full-time in 2005.

$45,273  Median income of college-educated African-American women who worked full-time in 2005.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


Advanced Placement Subjects Where Black Students Excel

On Advanced Placement tests taken in 2007, African Americans achieved their greatest success rates on the French language and French literature tests. More than half of all black test takers received a score of 3 or higher, equivalent to a passing grade in a college-level course.

There is good news in that one of the AP courses in which blacks achieved the most success was one of the two calculus tests. More than 52 percent of all black students who took this AP exam received a score of 3 or above.

Blacks also fared well on the studio art design tests. More than half of all black students who took these two tests received a qualifying grade of 3 or above. A majority of all black test takers received qualifying grades on the German test and one of the two Latin tests.




• LeRoy Pernell is the new dean of the College of Law at Florida A&M University. He was dean of the College of Law at Northern Illinois University.

Dean Pernell is a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He holds a law degree from Ohio State University.

• Sean Decatur was appointed professor of chemistry and biochemistry and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin College. He held an endowed chair in chemistry and was associate dean of faculty for science at Mount Holyoke College.

Dean Decatur is a graduate of Swarthmore College. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University.



Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington and his wife Pauletta received the Frederick D. Patterson Award from the United Negro College Fund. The award was given in recognition of the couple’s work to enhance the nation’s historically black colleges and universities.

Marshall D. Banks received the 2008 Founders Day Award from Morehead State University in Kentucky. In 1958 Banks was the first African American to be awarded an athletic scholarship to the university. Later he was the first black coach at the school.

Banks is currently a professor in the department of health, human performance, and leisure studies at Howard University. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois.

Rita S. Geier, associate to the chancellor at the University of Tennessee, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the second annual African-American Image Awards sponsored by the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. In 1968 Geier filed a lawsuit seeking an end to racially segregated higher education in Tennessee.

Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Herbie Hancock was named Artist of the Year by the Harvard University Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations.

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