Wealth Advantages in Higher Education: The Double Whammy of Race and Gender

In higher education, wealth confers stunning prerogatives and advantages. And differences in wealth between blacks and whites are a major contributing factor in racial gaps in college enrollments, graduation rates, and degree attainments.

A new study by the Center for Community Economic Development in Oakland, California, presents some shocking statistics. In 2007 married black families had median wealth of $46,900. For married white families, the median wealth was close to $200,000.

For single men with children, the median wealth (excluding the value for vehicles owned) for white households was $43,800. For blacks, the figure was $7,900.

But the differences were even larger for single women with children. The median wealth for white single women with children (again, excluding the value for vehicles owned) was $41,500. For blacks, the median wealth was only $100. Some 46 percent of black single women with children had negative net worth.

Homeownership is one of the largest components of family wealth. Only one third of single black women own their home. For single white women, 57 percent own their home.

This data on the very small level of wealth among single black women is of particular importance because 36 percent of all African Americans reside in families headed by a single woman. In contrast, only 9.5 percent of all non-Hispanic whites live in families headed by a single woman.


Foreign Black Scholars Teaching in the United States

A new report from the Institute of International Education finds that in the 2008-09 academic year, there were 113,494 foreign scholars teaching at American colleges and universities. The number of foreign scholars was up 7 percent from the previous year. More than 80 percent of these foreign scholars are from either Europe or Asia. Only 3,800, or 3.3 percent, are from Africa. However, the number of African scholars teaching at American colleges and universities was up a whopping 39 percent from a year earlier.

About one quarter of the scholars from Africa teaching at U.S. colleges and universities are from the Arab nations of North Africa. But we estimate that today there are about 2,750 scholars from black African nations teaching at U.S. colleges and universities.


The Higher Education of the Nation’s Newest African-American Appellate Judge

The United States Senate has approved President Obama’s appointment of O. Rogeriee Thompson to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. She is the second woman and first African American to serve on the First Circuit bench.

Since 1997 Justice Thompson has been an associate justice on the Rhode Island Superior Court. She was the first African-American woman to serve on the court. Justice Thompson is a graduate of Brown University and the Boston University School of Law.


Jack Thomas, Provost at Western Illinois University, Named a Finalist for Chancellor of University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where blacks make up only one percent of the undergraduate student body, has chosen six finalists, one of whom will be named chancellor of the university.

Among the finalists is Jack Thomas, professor of English, provost, and academic vice president at Western Illinois University in Macomb. Dr. Thomas is a graduate of Alabama A&M University. He holds a master’s degree from Virginia State University and a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.


New Museum Receives Collection of Harriet Tubman Memorabilia From Temple University

The National Museum of African-American History and Culture, scheduled to open on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in 2015, recently received 40 items relating to Harriet Tubman from the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University. Tubman escaped from slavery in 1849 and returned to the South many times, aiding in the escape of a large number of slaves.

The donated items include Tubman’s favorite hymnal and a shawl given to the former slave by Queen Victoria of England.


23.2%  Percentage of all college freshmen who believe that racism is no longer a problem in the United States.

13.5%  Percentage of freshmen at the nation’s historically black colleges and universities who believe that racism is no longer a problem in the United States.

source: Higher Education Research Institute, the University of California at Los Angeles


In Memoriam

Vernon Clayton Polite (1948-2010)

Vernon C. Polite, dean of the College of Education at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, died last month of complications from pancreatic cancer at a hospital in Livonia, Michigan. He was 61 years old.

Dr. Polite was a native of Detroit. He was a graduate of Boston University. He held a master’s degree from what is now the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He earned a doctorate in educational leadership and sociology from Michigan State University.

Dr. Polite was a professor of education at Catholic University of America. He then became the founding dean of the School of Education at Bowie State University. He was named dean at Eastern Michigan University in 2005.

Linda M. White (1942-2010)

Linda M. White, who served as president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the nation’s oldest black sorority, died recently from complications of breast cancer. She was 67 years old.

The daughter of a Pullman porter, White grew up in Chicago. She earned a political science degree at Clark College, now Clark Atlanta University. It was here that she began her lifelong affiliation with Alpha Kappa Alpha, serving as Chicago chapter president before becoming secretary, vice president, and finally, in 2002, president of the sorority.

White held a master’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago and had a long career as a manager at the Social Security Administration.

Eddie Davis (1937-2010)

Eddie Davis, former chair of the department of social work at Buffalo State College, died at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. He was 72 years old.

Dr. Davis was a native of Bessemer, Alabama, but grew up in Chicago. He graduated from Roosevelt University and earned a master’s degree in social work at the University of Chicago. While working as a drug counselor and therapist in Salt Lake City, Davis earned a doctorate in social work at the University of Utah. He joined the faculty at Buffalo State College in 1994.


Honors and Awards

• Shaun R. Harper, an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, received the Outstanding Contribution to Research Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Dr. Harper was honored for his research on policies that lead to black male student success in higher education.

Dr. Harper is a 1998 graduate of Albany State University. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Indiana University.

• Augustus A. White III, Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Medical Education and professor of orthopaedic surgery at Harvard Medical School, was honored with the William W. Tipton Jr. MD Leadership Award from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Dr. White was the first black graduate of the Stanford University School of Medicine. He also holds a Ph.D. in biomechanics from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

• Darryl C. Smith, lecturer in communications arts at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, received the university’s 2009-2010 President’s Award for Leadership in Diversity.

Dr. Smith is a graduate of Towson State University in Maryland. He holds a master’s degree in journalism and a law degree from the University of Missouri.

• Shirley Wade, director of Student Health Services at Southern University in Baton Rouge, received the Southwest College Health Association’s New Professional’s Award from the American College Health Association.

• Toni Morrison, Nobel laureate in literature and Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities Emerita at Princeton University, received the 2010 Medal for Distinguished Contributions to the Arts and Humanities from the Institute for Arts and Humanities at Pennsylvania State University.

• Jeh Johnson, who taught architectural design and art at Vassar College from 1964 to 2001, received the Eleanor Roosevelt Van-Kill Award from the Eleanor Roosevelt Center in Hyde Park, New York.



A Check-Up on Black Medical School Graduates

In 2009 there were 1,076 black graduates of U.S. medical schools. This was the lowest number since 2005. In contrast, the number of white medical school graduates has increased in each of the past few years. In 2009 blacks made up 6.5 percent of all medical school graduates in the United States.

Of the 1,076 black medical school graduates, 684, or 63.6 percent, were women. In contrast, only 46.5 percent of white medical school graduates were women.

Of the 1,076 black medical school graduates, 179, or 16.6 percent, graduated from the four historically black medical schools.

Howard University graduated 77 black physicians, by far the largest number in the nation. There were 55 black graduates at Meharry Medical College in Tennessee.

Among the predominantly white medical schools, the University of Illinois graduated 33 blacks. Wayne State University had 27 black graduates.


“We stand with you. We will support you. There are no excuses for the behavior we’ve witnessed.”

Mark G. Yudof, president of the University of California, deploring a series of racist incidents that have occurred recently at several campuses and vowing to improve race relations at all University of California campuses


Robert E. Johnson Appointed President of Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts

Becker College, a small liberal arts institution in Worcester, Massachusetts, has named Robert E. Johnson as its tenth president. Since 2006 Dr. Johnson has been senior vice president of Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. Previously he was an administrator at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio; Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan; and the University of Dayton.

Dr. Johnson is a 1982 graduate of Morehouse College, where he majored in economics. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate from TUI University in Cypress, California.

Blacks make up 6 percent of the approximately 1,750 students at Becker College.


Slight Increase in Black Enrollments at the University of Texas

Enrollment data for the current spring semester shows there are 2,146 African-American students at the University of Texas at Austin, the state’s flagship public university. The number of black students is up 2.6 percent from the 2009 spring semester. Blacks make up 4.5 percent of the entire student body at the University of Texas, an increase from 4.4 percent a year ago. Blacks are 4.9 percent of the undergraduate student body, up from 4.8 percent last year. While any improvement is welcome, it is important to note that blacks make up about 12 percent of the college-age population in Texas.

The Austin campus is becoming more racially diverse. Hispanic and Asian-American enrollments increased more than 4 percent from a year ago.


Former Columbia Professor Who Claims She Was the Victim of an Academic Lynching Loses One of Three Lawsuits She Has Filed

A judge in Manhattan Superior Court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Columbia University Teachers College professor Madonna Constantine. Professor Constantine was fired in 2008 when university officials determined that she had committed plagiarism. According to Teachers College, there were “numerous instances in which she used others’ work without attribution in papers she published in academic journals over the past five years.” An investigation by a legal team found about two dozen instances of plagiarism. The judge in the case ruled that Columbia’s decision was not “arbitrary or capricious,” and that Professor Constantine was not able to prove the “many alleged injustices to which she claims she was subjected.”

Professor Constantine has two other pending lawsuits against the university. She has filed a defamation case against the students and faculty who claimed she was a plagiarist and a federal discrimination case that alleges she was a victim of “an academic lynching.”

Professor Constantine first came to widespread public attention in October 2007 when a noose was found hanging on her office door at Columbia. Police were not able to determine who placed the noose on the door.


Shaw University Restructures Debt With Help From Uncle Sam

Shaw University, the historically black educational institution in Raleigh, North Carolina, recently restructured its debt through transferring a loan held by the Bank of America to the U.S. Department of Education. The $31 million loan stretched the pay-back period to 20 years and reduced the interest rate by two percentage points.


Black Legislators in South Carolina Seek to Dissuade African-American Football Players From Enrolling at the State’s Flagship University

Black legislators in South Carolina claim that they telephoned some top football recruits to warn them that they may face a hostile racial environment if they agree to enroll at the University of South Carolina. The legislators are angry that the one black member of the university’s board of trustees may soon lose her seat. The black trustee, who was appointed to the board when a member resigned to face criminal charges, faces an uphill battle in the state’s General Assembly to win election for a full term. A vote is scheduled for this coming week.

Two black football recruits who were contacted by the Legislative Black Caucus told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal that the trustee issue would have no bearing on their decision to attend the University of South Carolina.


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Leo E. Rouse, dean of the Howard University College of Dentistry, was named president-elect of the American Dental Education Association. He will become the organization’s next president in March 2011.

• John W. Roberts was appointed dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston. He was dean of arts and humanities and professor of English at Ohio State University.

Dean Roberts is a graduate of Tusculum College in Greenville, Tennessee. He holds a master’s degree from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in English from Ohio State University.

• Anita Fleming-Rife was named special assistant to the president for equity and diversity at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. She has been serving as a visiting full professor of Africana studies and journalism.

A graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, Dr. Fleming-Rife holds a Ph.D. in journalism from Southern Illinois University.

• Crystal Rae Coel Coleman, senior lecturer in the department of organizational communication at Murray State University, was appointed by the governor of Kentucky to the Public Advocacy Commission.

Coleman has been a member of the faculty at Murray State since 1995. She is a graduate of Hampton University and holds a master’s degree from the University of Louisiana-Monroe and a law degree from Southern University.

• David R. Harris, vice provost for social sciences at Cornell University, is taking an extended leave of absence to serve as deputy assistant secretary for human services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He has served on the faculty or administration at Cornell for the past seven years. He is co-editor of the book The Colors of Poverty: Why Racial and Ethnic Disparities Persist.

Dr. Harris holds a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University.

• G. Duncan Harris was promoted to dean of student affairs at Manchester Community College in Connecticut. He has been serving as acting dean and previously was associate dean of academic affairs.

Dr. Harris is a graduate of the University of Connecticut. He holds a master’s degree from Central Connecticut State University and an educational doctorate from Nova Southeastern University.

• Richard Ammons was appointed associate dean for development and alumni relations at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. He was vice president for college relations at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.

Ammons is a graduate of Amherst College and holds an MBA from Stanford University.


Grants and Gifts

• Johnson C. Smith University, the historically black educational institution in Charlotte, North Carolina, received a $400,000 federal grant to establish the Homeland Security-Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Center on campus. The center will train engineering and computer science students in fields such as telecommunications, cyber security, and disaster recovery.

Historically black Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, received a three-year, $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The funds will be used to train students in bioremediation so that they will be prepared to work in the Energy Department’s Savannah River Site nuclear facility.

• Prairie View A&M University, the historically black educational institution in Texas, received a $3 million grant from the Houston Endowment to address the state’s shortage of nurses. The money will be used to establish a Ph.D. program and research center in nursing.

Copyright © 2010. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.