University of Pennsylvania Replaces Financial Aid Loans With Grants for Students From Families With Incomes Below $50,000

The University of Pennsylvania is the latest high-ranking university to revamp its financial aid program to the advantage of students from low-income families. Under the new program, all entering and returning students from families with incomes below $50,000 will have all their financial aid needs met by scholarship grants. These students will no longer be required to take on debt to finance their tuition and other fees at Penn. Black students, who make up 6.6 percent of the undergraduate student body at Penn, are likely to disproportionately benefit from the new financial aid program.

The University of Pennsylvania is increasing its financial aid budget by $6.3 million for the next academic year to pay for the new program.


Texas Southern University President Placed on Paid Leave

Priscilla Slade, president of Texas Southern University, was placed on paid leave pending the results of an investigation by auditors on her spending for travel and home improvements. President Slade spent $94,000 on her expense account for travel, meals, hotels, and entertainment, nearly double the amount budgeted for such activities. In addition, the university board of regents is investigating expenditures of $85,000 for furnishings of the president’s home and $138,159 for landscaping. President Slade has repaid the landscaping bill which she says the university paid for by mistake.

President Slade joined the Texas Southern faculty in 1991 and was named president of the university in 1999. A graduate of Mississippi State University, she holds a master’s degree in accounting from Jackson State University and a Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Texas. President Slade is expected to stay on paid leave until the next scheduled regents meeting on May 5.

The Harris County district attorney is also looking into the matter.


“The issues facing the black community are not in sync with the issues of the Democrats any more than they coincide with the concerns of the Republicans. It’s time for a black interest group — a black voting bloc — that would pay attention to issues specific to our community.”

Walter Mosley, in the New York Daily News, 3-5-06


The Trend in Black Student Graduation Rates at the Nation’s Highest-Ranked Liberal Arts Colleges

Last week JBHE examined the long-term trend in black graduation rates at the nation’s highest-ranked universities. This week we report the trend in black graduation rates at the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges.

During the 1998 to 2005 period, 16 of the 24 high-ranked liberal arts colleges in our survey showed an improvement in black student graduation rates. At Macalester College in Minnesota, there was a huge 22 percentage point improvement in the seven-year period from 62 percent to 84 percent. At Oberlin, Grinnell, Wellesley, Davidson, Bryn Mawr, and Smith, the black student graduation rate improved by 10 percentage points or more over the past seven years.

Nine highly ranked liberal arts colleges saw a decline in their black student graduation rate over the past seven-year period. By far the largest drop was at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. In 1998 the school posted a black graduation rate of 90 percent. This year the African-American student graduation rate dropped to 80 percent. The small number of black students at Hamilton (blacks are only 4 percent of the student body) shows how the graduation success or failure of a handful of black students can have a major impact on the school’s graduation rate.

Vassar College, Haverford College, and Colby College have also shown significant decreases in their black student graduation rates in recent years.


The Racial Scoring Gap on the Graduate Record Examination for Students Pursuing Degrees in Specific Disciplines

Each year about 300,000 college students seeking admission to graduate programs in fields such as education, the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences sit for the GRE. In 2003 the mean score for blacks on the combined verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE was 821. For whites, the mean combined score was 1062. Thus the mean white score was 241 points, or 20 percent, higher than the mean score for blacks.

The GRE scoring gap between blacks and whites varies to a large degree depending on the field of proposed study in graduate school. Black students planning to study in the field of engineering scored on average 187 points below whites who plan to pursue a graduate degree in engineering. This is considerably less than the overall racial scoring gap on the GRE.

At the other extreme, in the physical sciences, black students on average scored 247 points below whites.


University of Tennessee Unveils Hidden Mural From 1955 Depicting “Happy Slaves”

In 1955 New York artist Marion Greenwood painted a mural at the student center of the University of Tennessee depicting the musical heritage of the state of Tennessee. The mural shows images of Tennessee’s country and gospel music as well as the blues. The origins of blues music were portrayed by “happy slaves” on the plantation. These images became offensive to many black students on campus and the mural was covered by wood paneling in 1972.

Recently the mural was uncovered for a public viewing to foster discussion about historical issues. But after a brief showing the mural was once again covered by the wood paneling. The university plans to remove the mural to a campus gallery for restoration where it will be placed on permanent exhibit.


Three Black Women Top the Rankings of African Americans in the Google Scholar Database

In the previous issue of JBHE we determined from our analysis of the database of the Institute for Scientific Information in Philadelphia that William Julius Wilson of Harvard University was cited more times in academic journals in the social sciences in 2005 than any other black scholar.

The new Google Scholar search tool at enables us to gauge the academic work of black academics on a similar basis but with significant differences. The Google database contains references to scholars in articles posted online as well as in print. Also, references to scholars within the text of the article are counted, not just those citations that appear in footnotes. Another major difference is that the Google Scholar database is not date sensitive. Google Scholar has information from articles posted online from many different years.

JBHE’s count finds that Toni Morrison, with a total of 8,180, has the most citations among black academics in the Google Scholar database. The poet bell hooks has 4,720 citations. Novelist Alice Walker had the third-highest citation count among black scholars in the Google database.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard University was mentioned more often than any other black male scholar. His 3,700 mentions were less than one half of Toni Morrison’s total. Other black scholars in the top 10 in the Google Scholar ranking are Paul Gilroy, Cornel West, Chinua Achebe, and Wole Soyinka. William Julius Wilson, who is the most cited black scholar in our citation analysis of printed articles published in the social sciences in 2005, ranks tenth in the Google Scholar listings.


In Memoriam

Louis Edwin Fry Jr. (1928-2006)

Louis Edwin Fry Jr., an architect who designed many buildings on the campuses of historically black colleges and universities, died from cancer earlier this month. He was 77 years old.

Fry was a native of Prairie View, Texas. His father also was an architect who served as chair of the architecture departments at Tuskegee Institute and Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. The elder Fry designed the Founders Library and Douglas Hall at Howard University.

Louis Fry Jr. was a 1947 graduate of Howard University and six years later earned a second bachelor’s degree at Harvard. After graduating from Harvard he studied architecture in the Netherlands on a Fulbright scholarship. In 1962 Fry earned a master’s degree in urban design at Harvard.

The Washington, D.C.-based architectural firm Fry and Welch was founded in 1954. The firm designed the hotel and convention center at Tuskegee as well as buildings on the campuses of Morgan State University, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and Coppin State University. The architectural firm is now under the direction of Fry’s son, Louis Fry III.


Janice G. Brewington was promoted to interim provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. She will assume the post on May 1 when current provost Carolyn W. Meyers leaves to take the presidency of Norfolk State University. Dr. Brewington is currently associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, institutional planning, assessment, and research at A&T. A graduate of North Carolina A&T, she holds a master’s degree from Emory University and a Ph.D. in health policy and administration from the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Higher Tuition Appears to Be Pushing Black Students From the University of Oklahoma Down Into Community Colleges

From 2000 to 2005, black enrollments at the University of Oklahoma have fallen from 1,421 to 1,231. This is a decrease of 13 percent. During the same period, enrollments for white students was up sharply.

Administrators at the university believe that the increasing cost of attending college is largely to blame for declining black enrollments. In the 2000 to 2005 period, a student taking 30 credit hours over the course of an academic year has seen his or her tuition rise from $1,890 to $2,862. This is a whopping increase of more than 51 percent.

Over the same time frame, black enrollments at Oklahoma City Community College have increased by 72 percent.


Harvard Medical School Abolishes Its Minority Subcommittee for Admissions

On the advice of legal counsel, Harvard Medical School has abolished an admissions subcommittee that only examined applications from minority students. The subcommittee, which has been in existence for 30 years, got the first look at applications from black, Hispanic, and American Indian students who applied to the medical school. The subcommittee could reject applications after initial consideration or forward the applications with recommendations to the full admissions committee. The chair of the subcommittee was a member of the admissions committee which made the final decision on all applicants.

The medical school received differing legal advice on the admissions procedure but decided in the end that a separate subcommittee for minority applications might raise a red flag that could create an opportunity for right-wing litigators to challenge the program in court.

In the future there will be four subcommittees, all based on geographic regions. Minority candidates will be evaluated along with white applicants in these subcommittees with the applications from the most qualified individuals passed on to the main admissions committee for the final decision.

Harvard Medical School officials were quick to point out that the abolishment of the minority subcommittee in no way altered the institution’s commitment to racial diversity.


Protesters Call for Greater Racial Diversity at Lehigh University

One recent morning, hundreds of students and faculty members left class at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to attend a rally demanding greater racial diversity on campus. The walkout was sparked by reports that in 2001 there were 73 minority students in the first-year class. This year there are only 53, a drop of more than 27 percent. Blacks are less than 3 percent of the 4,600 undergraduate students.

The protest was organized by a group on campus called The Movement. The group is preparing a list of demands and a petition which will be presented to university president Gregory C. Farrington. Students are demanding more courses on racial and ethnic studies, an increase in the number of cultural events for minority students, and a research effort to determine how the university can increase racial diversity on campus.


New Study Shows No Racial Differences in Intelligence Among Infants

Racial conservatives cite the persisting racial scoring gap on standardized tests for college and graduate school admissions as evidence that there is an inherent difference between whites and blacks in cognitive abilities. Scholars of IQ and intelligence give little support for this view. New research by Roland G. Fryer, an economist and Harvard University fellow, and Stephen D. Levitt, an economist at the University of Chicago who is white, have found that there are no differences in cognitive abilities among very young blacks and whites.

The study measured the mental abilities of more than 10,000 babies born in the year 2001. The babies were between eight and 11 months old when tested. Scholars trained in early childhood development rated the babies’ abilities in reaching for and holding objects, exploring their surrounding environment, using tools to help them in tasks, and in communication skills. The results showed no difference in the abilities of black and white babies.

While Asian Americans routinely score higher on standardized tests for college and graduate school admissions, Asian babies in the Fryer-Levitt study actually performed at a slightly lower level than either blacks or whites.

9,330,000  Total number of eligible African Americans who did not vote in the 2004 presidential election.

3,012,497   President Bush’s nationwide margin of victory over John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.

source: Federal Election Commission and the U.S. Bureau of the Census


Black Medical School Hires White President

The Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in the Willowbrook section of South Los Angeles offers medical training through a cooperative program with UCLA. It also offers bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees in allied health fields. Almost all students at the university are black or Hispanic. In 1987 the institution was designated by Congress as a historically black graduate institution.

The university, along with its Martin Luther King Jr./Charles Drew Medical Center, has had financial problems in recent years and has lost its accreditation to train physicians in surgery, radiology, and neonatology.

Now the university has hired a new president. She is Susan Kelly, a 55-year-old Australian who was serving as vice president of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning in Chicago. Previously she was a professor, dean, and associate provost at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. There she is credited with turning around the university’s School of Continuing Education.

A psychologist by trade, Kelly will be the first woman and the first nonminority to serve as president of the Drew University of Medicine and Science.

Student Group Gives Low Grades to North Carolina State University’s Efforts to Increase Racial Diversity

The African-American Student Advisory Council at North Carolina State University in Raleigh gave the institution an overall grade of D in its efforts to foster racial diversity.

For student enrollment, the report card recorded a grade of F. The council noted that in 1995 there were 467 black students in the freshman class at North Carolina State. Over the past five years, the largest number of black students in the entering class was 418. During this period the overall number of students in the entering class increased significantly.

The university’s effort to hire black faculty also received a grade of F. About 4 percent of the full-time faculty is black.

The university fared slightly better with a grade of C in the area of retention and graduation of black students. The report found that the black student graduation rate had improved from 51 percent to 58 percent. But this progress was overshadowed by the fact that the black graduation rate still trails the rate of whites by about 20 percentage points.

Ethnic Comments Get Indiana University Trustee in Hot Water

Recently Indiana University president Adam W. Herbert, a black man, announced that he was stepping down. The resignation came on the heels of a decision by the university faculty to ask the board of trustees for a review of his leadership. The trustees of the university immediately sought to downplay the racial implications of the resignation by launching a new initiative to increase racial diversity on campus. Blacks are only 4 percent of the 30,000 undergraduate students at the Bloomington campus. Black students graduate from the Indiana University undergraduate program at a rate that is 20 percentage points below the rate for whites.

But as the university trustees debated the best way to increase racial diversity on campus, a further controversy erupted. Trustee Tom Reilly Jr., founder of Reilly Industries, a chemical manufacturing firm, sent an e-mail to his colleagues on the board suggesting the best way to recruit black students. Noting the success Purdue University has had in increasing the number of blacks on campus, Reilly wrote, “Enthusiastic whites do better in black high schools in contacts, trips booked, and follow-ups.” He went on to say that Purdue’s chief recruiter for minority and female students was “tall, blond, Scandinavian, and attractive.”


Blacks Are Underrepresented at Private High Schools That Are the Leading Feeder Institutions to the Nation’s Best Colleges

Blacks are 16 percent of all students in the nation’s elementary and secondary schools. In the nation’s public schools, blacks are 17.4 percent of all students.

A new report from the Department of Education shows that blacks make up just 9.5 percent of the students at privately operated elementary and secondary schools. It is widely believed that private schools do a far better job in preparing students for college than the vast majority of the nation’s public schools. More than one third of the students at some of the nation’s highest-ranked universities such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Princeton are graduates of private high schools.

Black students are more likely to attend private elementary schools than private high schools. Only 8.5 percent of the students at private high schools are black.

Blacks are 8.1 percent of the students at Catholic schools but 11.4 percent of the students at conservative Christian schools. Blacks make up 11.5 percent of the students in private schools in the Northeast, the highest level of any region of the country.



Charles V. Willie, the Charles W. Eliot Professor of Education Emeritus at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, received the Merit Award from the Eastern Sociological Society. Willie is a past president of the society.

Andrew O. Coggins Jr., professional consultant at the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was the recipient of the ITB Science Award for the Best International Paper for his dissertation entitled, “What Makes a Passenger Ship a Legend.”


Hampton University, the historically black educational institution in Virginia, received a $218,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a clean-burning substitute for diesel fuel.

The university also received a $215,000 grant from the National Nuclear Security Administration for a program to increase the number of minority students training in national security-related fields.





Copyright © 2006. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.