Measuring the Performance of African Americans in Graduate Education

Last week JBHE reported that African-American college graduates with bachelor’s degrees were more likely than similarly educated whites to enroll in graduate school.

Despite greater enrollment rates, blacks were less likely than whites to actually earn a graduate degree. Nearly 63 percent of 1993 white college graduates who enrolled in graduate school had earned a degree by 2003. For blacks, the figure is 53.9 percent. Whites were more likely than blacks to have obtained a master’s or professional degree. But 5.1 percent of all 1993 African-American college graduates who had enrolled in graduate education had earned a doctorate by 2003. For whites, 4.5 percent had completed doctoral studies.

Ten years after receiving their bachelor’s degrees, blacks were far more likely to still be enrolled in graduate education than whites. Nearly one quarter of the 1993 African-American college graduates who had enrolled in graduate school during the following decade were still in school. For whites, only 13.7 percent were still enrolled.

Therefore, when we look at the 1993 college graduates who have either earned a graduate degree or are continuing to pursue their graduate studies, blacks come out ahead of whites. Nearly 24 percent of all 1993 white college graduates who entered graduate education left school without earning a degree. For blacks, 21.5 percent left graduate school without earning a degree.


“Discounting the price for families that don’t need financial aid doesn’t feel right anymore.”

Monica Inzer, dean of admission and financial aid at Hamilton College, in announcing that the college will phase out its merit-based financial aid program, in USA Today, 3-15-07


Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Also Seeks to Aid Low-Income Students Gain Access to College

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has mounted a similar effort to the new Gates Foundation program to help low-income students pursue higher education. The foundation will award grants of $1 million to 10 colleges and universities. The colleges will in turn fund positions for recent graduates to act as mentors in high schools that have low rates of students going on to college. The mentors will help high-achieving students at these schools to navigate the college admissions process. Counselors will also be provided to community colleges to assist students at these two-year institutions who want to transfer to a four-year college or university.

The 10 higher education institutions that will receive the grants are Brown University, Loyola College in Maryland, Pennsylvania State University, Tufts University, the University of Alabama, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Missouri, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Utah, and Franklin and Marshall College. In administering its $1 million grant, Franklin and Marshall will collaborate with Dickinson College, Millersville University, and Shippensburg University.

The 10 winners of the grant money were selected from 56 institutions that applied.


You Can Bet This Alumnus Won’t Be Coming to the Next College Reunion at North Carolina A&T

Last month Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, now in U.S. custody, confessed to being the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on Washington and New York. He also claimed to be the executioner who beheaded journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002. In all, Mohammed claimed responsibility for more than 30 terrorist operations.

While authorities are not yet convinced that Mohammed’s claims are truthful, or just boastful bravado, it has been confirmed that he is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, the historically black educational institution in Greensboro. In 1986 he was awarded a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, a field which undoubtedly helped him in planning the two operations directed against the World Trade Center towers in both 1993 and 2001.


New President Has Ambitious Goals for Florida Memorial University

Late last month, Karl S. Wright was inaugurated as president of Florida Memorial University, the historically black educational institution in Miami Gardens. Wright, who previously served as provost and executive vice president at the university, aims to strengthen the school’s traditional liberal arts curriculum, but he also plans to make a new concerted effort to beef up offerings in science, mathematics, and engineering.

Many students at Florida Memorial University are from Caribbean nations. So Wright wants to refocus education on global issues. He wants to expand and open satellite campuses in the Caribbean and in Africa and have Florida students spend time on one of these campuses.

Wright knows he has a major job ahead to raise the money so that he can put his plan into action. But he believes that potential donors will agree with his vision and will help to make it a reality.


Voorhees College Seeks $12 Million Bond Issue

Voorhees College, the historically black educational institution in Denmark, South Carolina, is seeking a $12 million bond issue to make repairs and renovations on campus and to develop a 100-acre tract adjacent to campus for commercial purposes. The college is asking Bamberg County to issue tax-exempt bonds on its behalf with the college taking on all responsibility for making payments on the debt.


White Student Organization at Michigan State University Classified as a Hate Group

The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, reportedly has decided to list the Michigan State University chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom as a hate group. The center issues an annual report on hate group activity in the United States, compiling a roster of all known hate groups in the nation.

The designation of the YAF as a hate group came about after the chapter held a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day” and an antigay rally where students carried signs which read “Straight Power” and “End Faggotry.”

On the national level, Young Americans for Freedom has been a strong opponent of affirmative action in college admissions. The group has frequently harassed Brandeis University professor Anita Hill when she makes speaking appearances on college campuses.


Vanderbilt University Law School Honors Its First Black Graduates

This past Friday, Vanderbilt University celebrated the 50th anniversary of the racial integration of its law school. In 1957 Frederick Taylor Work and Edward Melvin Porter Sr. enrolled at the Vanderbilt University Law School. According to the law school, they were the first African Americans to enroll at a private law school in the southern states.

Work grew up on the campus of Fisk University where both his parents served on the faculty. After graduating from Vanderbilt Law School he moved to Gary, Indiana, where he was an attorney for the city government. He later opened a private practice in the city.

Porter is a graduate of Tennessee State University where he was student body president. After graduating from Vanderbilt Law School he opened a practice in Oklahoma City. There he served two terms as president of the local chapter of the NAACP. He also served three terms in the Oklahoma state Senate.

Both Work and Porter spoke at Vanderbilt this past weekend during the celebration honoring their achievement.


Julianne Malveaux Named President of Bennett College

Julianne Malveaux, an economist, author, and syndicated newspaper columnist, was named president of Bennett College, the historically black educational institution for women in Greensboro, North Carolina. Malveaux will succeed Johnnetta Cole, who is widely credited with revitalizing the institution during the past five years. When Cole took over the presidency at Bennett College, the institution was $2 million in debt. Over the last five years, she has balanced the budget and raised more than $44 million for the college.

Malveaux is a graduate of Boston College where she also earned a master’s degree. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from MIT.


In Memoriam

Mance C. Jackson Jr. (1930-2007)

Mance C. Jackson Jr., a long-time faculty member of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, died last month from cancer at a hospice care facility in Atlanta. He was 76 years old.

Dubbed the “Teacher of the Preachers,” Rev. Jackson joined the faculty at ITC in 1968 and taught continuing education courses to students who could not enroll in seminary classes full time. He also traveled throughout the South bringing his expertise on church administration to scores of black preachers at small churches in rural areas. He also traveled to Africa and the Caribbean to train preachers.

Rev. Jackson earned his doctorate of divinity at the New York Theological Seminary.



Willie J. Gilchrist was named chancellor of Elizabeth City State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina. He has served as interim chancellor for the past six months. Previously, Dr. Gilchrist was the superintendent of the public school system in Halifax County, North Carolina, a system with more than 5,500 students.

A 1973 graduate of Elizabeth City State University, Gilchrist went on to earn a master’s degree in administration from Brockport State University in New York and an educational doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

Alton L. Kornegay, assistant professor of manufacturing in the School of Technology at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, was elected president of the industry division of the National Association of Industrial Technology.



Howard University, the historically black educational institution in the nation’s capital, received a $1 million grant from the DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund. The grant will be used to provide scholarships for business school students in the supply chain management discipline and also for undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Engineering.

Shaw University, the historically black educational institution in Raleigh, North Carolina, received a generous $5 million grant from John Mack, the CEO of the Wall Street firm Morgan Stanley. Mack served on the board of trustees of Duke University with Shaw University president Clarence Newsome. Both men played football at Duke.

Mack’s donation is thought to be the largest ever given to Shaw by a person who was not an alumnus of the university. Willie E. Gary, the Florida trial lawyer and an alumnus, recently contributed $10 million to Shaw.

The Mack donation will be used to establish a need-based scholarship program in his name for students in science, mathematics, or engineering.



Harvard Law School Faculty and Alumni Line Up to Support Obama

Many faculty and alumni at Harvard Law School appear to be lining up to support the presidential bid of Barack Obama. The Illinois senator is a 1991 graduate of the law school where he was the first African American to head the Harvard Law Review.

Laurence Tribe, the highly regarded constitutional scholar, is leading the faculty effort to support the Obama candidacy. Tribe told the New York Observer, “I’ve never been as enthusiastic about a politician as I am about Barack.” Tribe and his Harvard Law colleague David B. Wilkins recently co-hosted a 150-person fundraising party for Obama in Cambridge. The price of admission was a $2,300 contribution to the Obama presidential campaign. Both Tribe and Wilkins were on the faculty when Obama was a student at the law school.

Many of Obama’s classmates at Harvard Law School are also working feverishly on his behalf. Many of his former classmates are raising money and advising the campaign on a wide number of policy issues as well as campaign strategy.


Scholar Turns Down Appointment to Head Black Studies Program at Ohio University After She Was Accused of Padding Her Resume

Last month, Thelma Wills Foote was named chair of the African-American studies department at Ohio University in Athens. Professor Foote was formerly head of the black studies program at the University of California at Irvine. She has spent the last two years as a visiting professor at the University of Southern Denmark.

But Foote turned down the appointment after it was revealed that she claimed co-authorship of the book Sally Hemings: An American Scandal by Tina Andrews. In fact, Foote had only written a five-paragraph introduction to the Andrews book. When questioned about the discrepancy on her C.V., Foote claimed that she had a substantial behind-the-scenes role in writing the book and should have received authorship credit. Authorship of two books is required by Ohio University for appointment to a tenured position.

Ben Ogles, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio University, told the Columbus Dispatch that he would have likely rescinded the appointment had Foote not voluntarily resigned. “Taking credit for somebody’s else work is not viewed very kindly in an academic setting like ours,” Ogles said.

Professor Foote is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University. She is the author of Black and White Manhattan: The History of Racial Formation in Colonial New York City.


Gates Foundation Creates New Scholarship Program for High School Students in the Predominantly Black Neighborhoods of the Nation’s Capital

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has created the D.C. Achievers college scholarship program for public school students in the nation’s capital. The public schools in the district are almost entirely black.

The program, funded by a grant of $122 million, will be allocated for individual college scholarships of up to $10,000 per year for five years for as many as 2,250 students over the next 15 years. About 175 students who are currently juniors in high school will be accepted into the program this year. The students will participate in a college preparatory program this summer and be paired with a mentor who will help guide them through the college admissions process. Once the students complete high school and enroll in college, they will receive the D.C. Achievers scholarship.


University of North Carolina System Looks to Cut the Cost of College Textbooks

The Carolina Covenant has been successful in making a college education more accessible to low-income students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Under the plan, students from families whose income is under 200 percent of the federal poverty level will have all their financial aid needs taken care of in the form of scholarship grants. Because blacks are a disproportionate share of the low-income population in North Carolina, the Carolina Covenant has been most welcome in the African-American community.

Another large expense that taxes low-income students’ ability to pay for college is books. In recent years the price for college textbooks has risen on average about 6 percent a year or nearly twice the rate of inflation. In North Carolina, the typical college student pays $800 to $1,200 for books.

Now the University of North Carolina is also making college textbooks more affordable. Under the new plan, for large introductory courses, public universities must agree to buy back books at the end of the semester or institute a book rental system. Professors will also face a deadline for assigning course books. This will make it easier for students to seek out used books.


John Edwards Focuses on Education and Other Issues of Concern to African Americans

While many black voters are focusing on the matchup between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, former U.S. senator and vice presidential nominee John Edwards is making a strong push to attract support from African Americans.

Edwards’ populist message as a fighter against poverty and inequality resonates with millions of low-income African Americans. On his campaign Web site he features blog entries on the crisis in Darfur, AIDS in Uganda, and the continuing plight of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Recently, Edwards took his campaign to Benedict College, the historically black educational institution in Columbia, South Carolina. There he called for increased aid to education in African nations. Edwards said the United States must be “committed to the long-term interest of humanity” regardless of whether it doesn’t “seem to be in our short-term interest.” Edwards also touched on the issue of the Sudan and AIDS in Africa during his Benedict College speech. And what pleased the crowd most was his call for the federal government to make a college education more affordable and to ensure that students do not leave school with “crushing debt for years and years and years.”

Edwards’ poll numbers have increased since it was announced that his wife is once again undergoing treatment for cancer.


Penn Expands Financial Aid Program

The University of Pennsylvania announced that, beginning this coming fall, all students from families with incomes below $60,000 who are receiving financial aid will receive all their assistance in the form of scholarship grants. Students from these families will not have to incur any debt to finance their college education.

Penn has increased its financial aid budget by $7 million for the next academic year. Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, said in announcing the program, “We want to send a clear message to families that may have felt that Penn was out of their reach that we are committed to supporting them as they seek to provide the best possible educational opportunities for their children. Promoting equality of opportunity for talented students from all backgrounds is a key mission for Penn.”

The new expansion of the financial aid program for lower-income students will help Penn continue its strong record in increasing black enrollments. The percentage of blacks in the first-year class at Penn has increased each year since 2002. This current year blacks make up 8.8 percent of the freshman class.


3.7%  Percentage of all whites ages 15 to 24 who dropped out of grades 10-12 in the 12 months prior to October 2004.

5.7%  Percentage of all African Americans ages 15 to 24 who dropped out of grades 10-12 in the 12 months prior to October 2004.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


Daniel Bernstine Could Become the First Black President of West Virginia University

Daniel Bernstine, president of Portland State University in Oregon, is one of three finalists for the presidency of West Virginia University. Bernstine has been president of Portland State since 1997. During his tenure, enrollment at Portland State has increased from 14,000 to 25,000 students.

Bernstine is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. He holds law degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin. Before coming to Portland State, he was dean of the law school at the University of Wisconsin.

Bernstine is the only one of the three candidates who has served as president of a university. However, he is the only one of the three without previous ties to West Virginia University.

A final decision on the new president is expected next week.




Elizabeth Alexander, professor of African-American studies at Yale University, received the inaugural Jackson Poetry Prize. The prize, which includes a $50,000 cash award, is given for “exceptional talent” in the field of poetry. The award is named for poet Susan Jackson, whose Liana Foundation provides the prize money for the award.

Horace Smith, vice president for undergraduate studies and retention at Syracuse University, received the Chancellor’s Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Academic Access and Support. Smith has served in faculty and administrative posts at the university since 1975.

A graduate of Hampton University, Smith holds a master’s degree from Syracuse University and a doctorate from Cornell University.





Copyright © 2007. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.