Ranking Black Scholars Using the Google Books Database

Last week JBHE reported our database rankings of black academics using the Google Scholar database. This database counts all references to particular scholars in the text, abstracts, and citations of scholarly papers printed in academic journals and also those posted on the Internet. On the Google Scholar database, Princeton University professor and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison led the rankings by a wide margin.

This week JBHE turns to the mentions of black scholars in the Google Books database. The popular online search engine has developed a tool that enables visitors to the site to search for names inside hundreds of thousands of books. Searches find references to scholars within the text, in footnotes, in the index, and in bibliographies of books.

According to JBHE’s count, Toni Morrison is mentioned 18,700 times in Google’s database of books. This is more than double the number of references to Professor Morrison in the Google Scholar database. As was the case in the Google Scholar rankings, poet bell hooks has the second-most mentions in Google Books. She is cited 12,100 times in the Google Books database.

Novelist Alice Walker ranks third with 11,500 mentions in books. Professor Cornel West of Princeton University is the highest-ranking black male scholar in the Google Books database. He has 9,710 mentions, about one half the level achieved by Toni Morrison. The poet Amiri Baraka ranks second among black men and fifth overall with 7,510 mentions.

Rounding out the top 10 black academics in the Google Books database are Henry Louis Gates Jr., Wole Soyinka, Thomas Sowell, John Hope Franklin, and Louis Sullivan.


Ban on Race-Sensitive Admissions Continues to Cause Major Damage to Black Enrollments at State-Operated Law Schools in California

In 1997 the regents of the University of California enacted a ban on the consideration of race in admissions decisions for graduate and professional schools at state-operated educational institutions. Now nearly a decade later, the ban continues to have a major impact on black opportunities for legal education in California.

As late as 1994, 31 black first-year law students were enrolled at the Boalt Hall law school of the University of California at Berkeley. In 1997, the first year the ban on race-sensitive admissions went into effect, there was only one black first-year student.

Since that time, black first-year enrollments at Boalt Hall have rebounded to a high of 16 in 2003. But at this level black first-year law school enrollments are only about one half the level that prevailed in 1994. This past fall there were only nine black first-year students at Boalt Hall, a decrease of 44 percent from two years earlier.

At the UCLA law school, there is a similar story. In 1994, the year before the affirmative action admissions plan was announced, black enrollments at the UCLA law school reached an all-time high of 46. In 1997, when the ban took effect, there were only 10 black first-year law students at UCLA. By 1999 black enrollments reached a level not seen since the early 1960s. In 1999 only three black first-year law school students enrolled at UCLA.

From 1999 to 2003 significant progress was achieved. Black first-year students at the UCLA law school increased from three to 16. However, since 2003 black enrollments have once again started downward. In 2005 there were only nine black first-year students at the UCLA law school, less than one fifth the level that prevailed in 1994.


“Continuing your education wasn’t the thing to do. It wasn’t cool to go to school. It was about making money fast and now.”

Marcus Sneed, an African-American senior at the University of Toledo, discussing why his black male friends in high school decided not to go on to college, in the Toledo Blade, March 20, 2006


Students Threaten to Sue the Board of Trustees of Morris Brown College

Morris Brown College, the historically black educational institution in Atlanta, lost its accreditation in 2003. Since that time enrollment has dwindled from a high of 2,700 to just 44 students. This is because students at an unaccredited institution are not eligible for federal financial aid.

Now some of the students at the school are threatening a class-action lawsuit against the college’s board of trustees seeking $52 million in damages. Alexander Hamilton, an attorney and alumnus of Morris Brown who is representing the students, wrote in a letter that the board made a “series of financial missteps” which have left the college “helpless against a crushing wall of incompetence.” 

Hamilton gave the board 15 days to resign en masse or he would proceed with the lawsuit.


Le Moyne College Continues Its Minority-Only Admissions and Scholarship Programs

While many colleges and universities are cutting back on orientation, admission,  and scholarship programs reserved exclusively for black and minority students, Le Moyne College, a Catholic educational institution in Syracuse, New York, is doing just the reverse.

Most notably, Le Moyne College is firmly committed to its African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American (AHANA) admissions program. Under this program, promising minority students with SAT scores 150 points or more below the mean for other students admitted to Le Moyne and grade point averages a full letter grade below the college’s average for admitted students are accepted for admission. These AHANA students must participate in a five-week pre-college program in the summer before they enter Le Moyne. In addition, these students are required to take part in academic support services throughout their freshman year.

The college also maintains the Loyola Scholarship program for all students of color and another scholarship program for Native American students.


University of Florida Wins Basketball Title and Is Also a Champion in Graduating Black Athletes

On Monday night the University of Florida won the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s men’s basketball tournament. In terms of graduating its black basketball players, Florida is also a national champion. Among the universities that made it to the Final Four this past weekend in Indianapolis, the University of Florida was the only institution to post a perfect 100 percent graduation rate for black basketball players.

The University of California at Los Angeles, Florida’s opponent in the championship game and the highest academically ranked of the universities in the Final Four, had the lowest black graduation rate for basketball players among the four universities. Only 27 percent of black basketball players at UCLA earn their diplomas. For all black students enrolling at UCLA, 73 percent go on to earn their degree.

Among the other universities that made it to the Final Four,  George Mason University has a black graduation rate for basketball players of 75 percent. Only 29 percent of the black basketball players at Louisiana State University go on to graduate.


Developer Plans to Build Hotels Near Black College Campuses

As expected, many of the historically black colleges and universities in the urban areas of the South were constructed in predominantly black and poverty-stricken areas. Over the years, developers in some cities have been reluctant to build hotels in the areas surrounding the campuses of urban black universities because of high crime rates, low property values, and other concerns.

As a result, parents, prospective students, and visiting sports teams have often had to book hotel accommodations some distance from these campuses. Now Logan & Faucette, a black-owned development company, has plans for hotels near the campuses of six black colleges and universities. The first projects are a new hotel near the campus of North Carolina Central University in Durham and the renovation of an older facility near the campus of Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama. Other projects in the planning stages are for hotels near the campuses of Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, Hampton University in Virginia, North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, and Howard University in Washington, D.C.


Michelle D. Gillard was named vice president for programs at the Foundation for Independent Higher Education in Washington, D.C. She was a higher education consultant for MG Associates in Washington and previously served as president for planning and evaluation at the Council of Independent Colleges. A graduate of the University of Dayton, Gillard holds a master’s degree in sociology from Brown University and a doctorate from the University of Michigan.

Thomas H. Epps III was appointed assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Delaware. He recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Standards and Technology where he conducted research on block copolymers.

Curtis W. Bigelow was promoted to the position of assistant vice chancellor for police and public safety at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. A former North Carolina state trooper, Bigelow has been employed at the university for 13 years.

M. Tambura Omoiele was promoted to associate professor of criminal justice at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. Professor Omoiele was also awarded tenure.



Johnnetta B. Cole, president of Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, received the Uncommon Height award from the National Council of Negro  Women. The award is named after Dorothy Height, founder of the National Council of Negro Women.

Black Graduation Rates at Flagship State Universities: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

America’s large state universities educate three fourths of all African-American college students in the United States.  Thus it is important to gauge how black students are faring in completing college at the flagship state universities.

JBHE calculations show that by a large margin the University of Virginia has the highest black student graduation rate of any state-chartered institution in the nation. The black graduation rate at the university is 86 percent. The next-highest rate at a flagship state university is at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of New Hampshire. At these two flagship universities, 70 percent of all entering black students go on to graduate. Eleven other states have flagship universities that post a black student graduation rate of 60 percent or higher. These are the state universities in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, New York, Connecticut, Georgia, Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey.

Five states and the District of Columbia have flagship state-chartered universities at which the black student graduation rate is below 33 percent. In addition to the University of the District of Columbia, the states that have flagship universities with a black student graduation rate below 33 percent are Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota, Utah, and Nebraska.


Website Honors the Black Athlete in the Ivy League

The Ivy League has posted an informative new website detailing the history of black athletes at its eight member institutions. The site, at IvyBlackHistory.com, features profiles of 70 African-American athletes and coaches who have made their mark at Ivy League institutions. Among the athletes featured are:

John Baxter Taylor of the University of Pennsylvania, who in 1908 was the first African American to earn an Olympic gold medal

Fritz Pollard of Brown University, who was the first black player to appear in a Rose Bowl game

Ben Johnson, known as the Columbia Comet, was considered the fastest man on the planet in the late 1930s

George Gregory of Columbia, who was the first African American to be named an All-American in college basketball.


Battle Brewing Over the Racial Record of President Bush’s Latest Appeals Court Nominee

Since the Samuel Alito hearings, the dust seems to have settled in the chambers of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But rest assured, a battle royal will occur if hearings are scheduled for the nomination of Michael Wallace to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

After the May 2005 agreement by a group of 14 centrist senators which ended the stalemate on President Bush’s controversial appeals court nominees, Judiciary Committee chair Arlen Specter and Senate majority leader Bill Frist have been reluctant to act on several of the president’s remaining controversial appointments. For example, the nomination of William G. Myers to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has been in limbo for more than a year because of strong opposition from environmental groups.

The GOP leadership in the Senate also does not seem anxious for a fight over the Wallace nomination. Several leading civil rights groups have already announced their opposition.

Early in his career, Wallace was an aide to Mississippi senator Trent Lott. In that capacity he wrote a memo urging the Reagan administration to uphold the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University, despite the institution’s ban on interracial dating by students. Wallace also was involved in several Mississippi voting rights cases. Here he argued that the government should intervene in voting rights cases only when it could be proven that the state intended to discriminate by race in drawing district boundaries.

Wallace, now 54 years old, is a native of Biloxi, Mississippi. He is a partner of the Jackson, Mississippi, law firm Phelps Dunbar. Wallace is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a law degree from the University of Virginia.


Harvard Expands Its Financial Aid Program for Low-Income Students

Last week JBHE reported that the University of Pennsylvania was eliminating financial aid loans for all students whose families had incomes of less than $50,000 per year. These students will now have all their financial aid needs met by scholarship grants.

Harvard University had a similar plan for students from families with incomes below $40,000. Now Harvard has upped the ante. Beginning this coming fall, students from families with income below $60,000 will not be expected to contribute to the cost of their child’s education. These students will receive scholarship grants to cover the cost of their Harvard education.

In addition, students from families with incomes between $60,000 and $80,000 will see a reduction in the expected family contribution.

The new program will cost Harvard an additional $2.4 million annually. This is equivalent to what Harvard earns in income from its endowment every 10 hours.

University of Michigan Seeks to Foster Racial Tolerance on Campus

The University of Michigan has launched a new program aimed at fostering respect for all members of the campus community regardless of race, gender, ethnic origin, religion, or sexual orientation. The program, called Expect Respect, also hopes to raise awareness about hate crimes and bias incidents on campus.

The Expect Respect Web site and a telephone hotline offer students and other members of the campus community a tool to report racial incidents to university authorities.

The Dean of Students Office is sponsoring events on campus that embody the spirit of the Expect Respect initiative. Student groups are encouraged to submit ideas to the administration for programs and events that will increase tolerance on campus. Students are encouraged to show their support for the program by wearing an Expect Respect button.

A Major Figure of the Civil Rights Movement Hangs Up His Clerical Collar

The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, one of the icons of the civil rights movement, has retired from the ministry at the age of 84. Shuttlesworth delivered his final sermon late last month at the Greater New Light Baptist Church in Cincinnati, an institution he founded 40 years ago.

Shuttlesworth led the Birmingham civil rights protests in the early 1960s and convinced Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy that Birmingham was the place where Jim Crow should be confronted head-on. In Diane McWhorter’s superb account of the Birmingham crisis, Carry Me Home,  she writes that Martin Luther King was unfocused and a plodder and that it was Fred Shuttlesworth who pushed him to greatness.

In 1956 Fred Shuttlesworth accompanied his friend and former classmate Autherine Lucy to Tuscaloosa where she attempted to integrate the University of Alabama. “It was a tremendously tense affair,” Shuttlesworth told JBHE. “All eyes of the students were upon us and we were helpless. There were several marshals, but I felt that if things had broken loose, we would have been defenseless. She was one of the bravest young women I ever met.”

Shuttlesworth, who survived numerous attempts on his life during the civil rights era, had a non-cancerous brain tumor removed in 2005, which he says hastened his decision to retire.

75.8%  Percentage of non-Hispanic white adults in 2005 who owned the residence in which they lived.

48.2%   Percentage of African-American adults in 2005 who owned the residence in which they lived.

source: U.S. Bureau of the Census


Four Blacks Named Goldwater Scholars

Barry Goldwater, the famed conservative U.S. senator from Arizona and 1964 GOP presidential nominee, was a dedicated promoter of scientific and engineering research. His home in Arizona had a high-tech flagpole which would automatically raise the Stars and Stripes when the first rays of sunlight hit the pole each morning. 

In 1986, when Congress created a new scholarship program to encourage graduate study in mathematics, science, and engineering, Goldwater’s name was attached to the new program. Students chosen as Goldwater scholars can obtain tuition grants of $7,500 per year for two years to an accredited graduate program in science, mathematics, or engineering. Since its founding, the program has awarded 4,885 scholarships with a value of more than $48 million.

Barry Goldwater was no friend of blacks. He opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and he was a staunch opponent of school busing to achieve racial integration. Fittingly, very few blacks have benefited from the Goldwater Scholarship program. But racism is not the culprit. The low number of black students pursuing graduate study in the sciences who meet the eligibility requirements results in a small pool of black applicants.

This year 323 Goldwater scholars were chosen from a pool of 1,081 nominees. Only nine of the applicants identified themselves as black on the nomination form submitted to the selection committee. Of these nine candidates, four black students were selected as Goldwater scholars. They are:

Hosam N. Attaya, a cell and molecular biology major at Texas Tech University. He hopes to to enter an M.D./Ph.D. program in molecular biology or genetics.

Sheria A. Bondarev is majoring in biotechnology at Massachusetts Bay Community College. She plans to enter an M.D./Ph.D. program in genetics at Brandeis University.

Robert M. Koffie is pursuing a double major in physics and biochemistry at Indiana University. He plans on graduate study in medical physics.

•  Adjoa R. Smalls-Manley is double-majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. She plans to enter an M.D./Ph.D. program in immunology.


In Memoriam

James Cornelius Gray Jr. (1947-2006)

James C. Gray Jr., civil rights lawyer and professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia, died in March from brain cancer. He was 58 years old.

Gray, a native of Washington, D.C., was the son of a doctor. He was one of the first black students at St. Albans School, a private and prestigious preparatory school in the nation’s capital. He went on to Harvard University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations. He stayed at Harvard for law school and served on the editorial board of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1972, he served as an assistant counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in New York City. After a brief stint as a legal adviser to the U.S. mission to the United Nations, Gray returned to civil rights litigation with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in Washington.

Myrtle L. Brown (1927-2006)

Myrtle L. Brown, a former professor at Virginia Tech and a government research nutritionist, died recently at a healthcare facility in San Gabriel, California. She had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

A native of Columbia, South Carolina, at age 19 Brown graduated from Bennett College, the historically black college for women in Greensboro, North Carolina. After college she began her career at the Human Nutrition Research Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She later earned a master’s and a Ph.D. at Pennsylvania State University.

Professor Brown first taught at the University of Hawaii. While there she coauthored the college textbook, Nutrition: An Integrated Approach. The text was revised and updated twice.

From 1974 to 1983 Brown worked for the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of the Sciences, serving as executive secretary during her final seven years there. She then taught biochemistry and nutrition at Virginia Tech until her retirement in 1989.






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