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High-Ranking Colleges and Universities Report Increased Selectivity, And Some Post Record Numbers of Accepted Black Students

Harvard University accepted only 7.1 percent of the 27,462 students who applied this year. This was the lowest admittance rate in the nearly 400-year history of Harvard. The university reports that 11 percent, or about 215, of the 1,948 students admitted are black. Last year Harvard accepted 220 black students, but the overall number of accepted students was also higher.

At Dartmouth College, the overall admittance rate was also the lowest in the college’s history. Of the 2,190 students admitted, 224, or 10.2 percent, are African Americans.

At Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, a record number of applications were received for this fall’s entering class. A total of 929 students were accepted. Of these, it is good news that a whopping 15 percent are African Americans. Last year 14.4 percent of all accepted students at Swarthmore were black, but only 8.2 percent of the freshman students who matriculated were African Americans.

At Barnard College, 7 percent of the admitted students are black, slightly lower than the percentage from a year ago.

Is the Texas 10 Percent Plan Still Necessary?

In 1996 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the Hopwood case that the University of Texas and other state-operated educational institutions in Texas could no longer use race as a factor in admissions decisions.

In response, in order to maintain some level of racial diversity at the University of Texas and other public universities, the state legislature in Texas passed a law which stated that any student who finished in the top 10 percent of their high school class was guaranteed a place at the state university of their choice. This included the flagship campus of the University of Texas at Austin. So 10 percent of all graduating students at predominantly black inner-city high schools and at all black high schools in rural areas of East Texas automatically qualified for admission to the Austin campus.

The 10 percent plan was successful in restoring the level of black enrollments at the University of Texas that prevailed prior to the Hopwood ruling. In 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Grutter overturned the Hopwood decision. The University of Texas can now use race in its admissions decisions. But the 10 percent rule is still on the books.

There are so many “top 10 percenters” are filling up places at the Austin campus that there are few spots available for other highly qualified applicants. Today, 81 percent of all students admitted to the university finished in the top 10 percent of their high school class. Many students at the state’s best high schools who finish in the top 20 percent of their high school class, but not the top 10 percent, are being denied admittance to the University of Texas. As a result, some state legislators would like to repeal the 10 percent law, believing that it is bringing down the overall quality of the student body.

But black and Hispanic legislators believe that the 10 percent law is essential if racial diversity is to be maintained. At the current time, blacks are 11 percent of the state’s college-age population but only 5 percent of the student body at the University of Texas.

University of Virginia to Receive Papers of Julian Bond

Julian Bond, the chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has announced that the University of Virginia Library will be the repository for his personal papers. Bond serves on the history department faculty at the University of Virginia.

The Bond collection includes more than 47,000 items including correspondence, notes, photographs, speech drafts, and audio recordings. The papers include documents from Bond’s tenure at the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and also from his tenure as a Georgia state legislator.

The Racial Scoring Gap on Advanced Placement Tests

Overall, the mean score for whites in 2007 on all Advanced Placement tests was 2.95. The mean score for blacks on all AP tests was 1.04 points lower at 1.91. Thus, blacks scored the equivalent of more than one letter grade below whites on these tests which measure competence in college-level work.

The largest black-white scoring gap was on one of the two computer science tests. On that exam, the mean white score of 3.07 was 1.42 points higher than the mean black score of 1.65. The black-white scoring gap was also at least 1.00 point (equivalent to a full letter grade in a corresponding college-level course) on 15 other AP examinations.

The mean black score on the French test was 2.69 compared to the mean white score of 2.65. This was the only AP examination where the mean black score was higher than the mean score for whites.

Study Finds That Elite Colleges and Universities Are Relying More on High SAT Scores in Deciding Which Students to Admit

New data in an analysis conducted by Catherine L. Horn of the University of Houston and John T. Yun of the University of California at Santa Barbara finds that the nation’s most selective colleges and universities are increasingly relying on SAT scores to make their admissions decisions.

The data showed that in 2007 half of the nation’s 30 highest-ranked colleges and universities enrolled a freshman class where more than half the entering students had a verbal SAT score of at least 700. In 1979, according to the study, only one of the 30 schools had a median verbal SAT score above 700. At Yale the percentage of entering students who had SAT scores above 700 increased from 33 percent in 1989 to 78 percent in 2007.

Data from the College Board shows that only 1,176 African-American students nationwide scored at least 700 on the verbal section of the SAT test. In contrast, there were more than 48,000 white students who scored at this level.

In the five years since the 2003 Grutter decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in which Sandra Day O’Connor stated that in 25 years there would no longer be any legal justification for the racial preferences the ruling permitted, there has been no improvement in the racial scoring gap on the SAT. It appears now that the racial gap will not close over the next two decades. Therefore, 20 years from now, if selective colleges and universities continue to rely on SAT scores to select their students, it will be next to impossible for them to maintain their current level of racial diversity.

In Memoriam

A. Toy Caldwell-Colbert (1951-2008)

A. Toy Caldwell-Colbert, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, died at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital last month after nearly a yearlong battle with cancer. She was 56 years old.

Caldwell-Colbert had served as provost at the historically black university for 14 months. Previously she had been a professor of psychiatry and provost at Howard University.

Dr. Caldwell-Colbert was a graduate of Spelman College. She held a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Georgia. During the course of her 27-year academic career, she also held faculty and/or administrative posts at the University of Illinois, the University of Kansas, and Indiana State University.

William Little (1941-2008)

William Little, emeritus professor of Africana studies at California State University at Dominguez Hills, died from a genetic lung condition at the age of 67.

Professor Little was the chair of the African studies department at the university for 12 years until his retirement in 2006. He had previously taught at Portland State University and West Virginia University.

A native of Virginia, Little was raised in Los Angeles. He served in the Marine Corps after graduating from high school. After his discharge he went on to graduate from Washington State College. He later earned master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Washington.

Dr. Little was the long-time president of the National Council for Black Studies.

William Moses (1924-2008)

William Moses, the first black certified surgeon in the state of Kentucky and longtime clinical professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, died last month in Louisville. He was 83 years old.

A native of Columbus, Georgia, Moses received his training at Meharry Medical College. After serving his residency in Nashville, he became a surgeon for the United States Army.

After his discharge from the service, he settled in Louisville where he established a private practice and served as chief of surgery at Jewish Hospital. He also was the medical director of the DuValle Neighborhood Health Center which provided services for underserved and minority members of the community.


• Cheyney University, a historically black educational institution in Pennsylvania, received a $2.1 million grant from the state’s Health Research Advisory Committee. Cheyney will partner with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Sickle Cell Disease Association to conduct a clinical trial for a new regenerative therapy for sickle cell anemia.

• North Carolina A&T State University, the historically black educational institution in Greensboro, received a $59,000 grant from State Farm Insurance. The university will use the funds to help purchase equipment for the computer science department and to provide scholarships for students in the College of Engineering.


Students at Hampshire College Mount Protest Aimed at Increasing Diversity on Campus

Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, has a student body that is about 4 percent black. Last week more than 300 students at the school left classes and attended a protest rally at the college president’s house demanding increased efforts to promote diversity on campus.

The students presented a list of 17 demands. Among the demands were the establishment of the position of dean of multicultural affairs, the addition of four new faculty positions — one each in African-American, Latino, Native American, and “queer” studies — mandatory diversity training for faculty and staff, the establishment of a dormitory for students of color, and the formulation of a comprehensive racial harassment policy governing behavior on campus.

“I don’t know why they would target us for cuts. Maybe we’re an easy target.”

Tyrone Eaton, director of the Office of Sponsored Research Programs at North Carolina Central University in Durham, commenting on the Bush administration’s proposal to strip $85 million from the budget for historically black colleges and universities (Triangle Business Journal, 3-31-08)

Black Enrollments Plummet at the University of South Carolina

During the Reconstruction era, black students enrolled and graduated from the flagship campus of the University of South Carolina. It was the only flagship state university in the South at that time to admit black students.

Jump forward ahead to the year 2000 at which time blacks were 18.7 percent of all enrollments at the University of South Carolina. This was the highest percentage of African Americans at any flagship state university in the nation.

But since that time, black enrollments have spiraled downward. This fall blacks were 12.5 percent of the total enrollments.

Between 2000 and 2007, the number of total freshman students on campus increased by 66 percent. But during the same period, the number of black freshmen decreased by 32 percent. Blacks were 17.6 percent of the incoming class in 2000 but only 8 percent of this year’s freshman class.

University officials say that there are two main factors contributing to the decline. First, admissions standards have been boosted and the average SAT score of incoming freshmen is now more than 300 points higher than the midrange scores for blacks.

Also, in 2001 the new scholarship program funded by the state lottery was established. These scholarships provided enough money to cover full tuition and other fees at the state’s community and technical colleges but did not cover the complete cost of attending the University of South Carolina. As a result, many low-income black students decided to enroll at schools where they could attend for free.

To deal with the decline in black students, the university has hired a group of recruiters who will focus on expanding the pool of African-American applicants.

Foes of Race-Sensitive Admissions in Higher Education Say Success of Barack Obama Is Proof Affirmative Action Is No Longer Needed

This November it is likely that public initiatives seeking to ban race-sensitive admissions at public universities will appear on the ballot in Colorado, Arizona, Missouri, and Nebraska. Previous initiatives in California, Washington State, and Michigan were all approved by voters by comfortable margins.

Ward Connerly, the African-American entrepreneur who is leading the effort to ban affirmative action, now points out that the success of Barack Obama in this year’s presidential nomination process is evidence that the nation has moved beyond race. Connerly recently told the Boston Globe, “The whole argument in favor of race preferences is that there is institutional racism in American life and you need affirmative action to level the playing field. How can you say there is institutional racism when people in Nebraska vote for a guy who is a self-identified black man?” Connerly even contributed $500 to the Obama campaign because of the Illinois senator’s effort to move beyond the issue of race.

However, the opponents of affirmative action fail to point out that Obama himself admits that he would not have reached this point if it had not been for affirmative action measures that may have benefited him and those who came before him.

Do University Promotional Videos Portray an Inaccurate Assessment of Race?

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama examined the television advertisements produced by 43 predominantly white colleges and universities which were used to promote the schools during sports coverage of football games last fall. The study found that whites were overwhelmingly depicted in campus scenes in these advertisements. The study found that typically one black student was shown in a group of four or five white students. Alumni featured in these advertisements were typically white and financially well-off.

The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, concluded, “With the use of people of color as token display pieces in their advertisements, these institutions communicate to any would-be students of color that their experiences will be marked by tokenism.” The authors continue, “The message that these advertisements send to potential students does untold damage to the public missions of these institutions to increase access among all populations.”

At most of the large universities studied, black students make up less than 20 percent of the student body. So the fact that a black student is shown with four or five white students is actually an accurate portrayal of the racial demographics on campus, if not the social interactions between the races that occur on these campuses.

One wonders if the authors believe that it would be better to show a university cafeteria with all the black and white students sitting at self-segregated tables?

$15,768  The median income in 2005 of black women who are high school graduates but have never been to college.

$40,784  The median income in 2005 of black women who have graduated from college.

source: U.S. Census Bureau

Board of Trustees Ousts President of Alabama A&M University

The board of trustees of Alabama A&M University, the historically black educational institution in Normal, Alabama, voted 7 to 1 to remove Robert R. Jennings as president of the university. The move to terminate Jennings’ employment came after allegations surfaced that Dr. Jennings had hired an executive assistant who was not qualified for the position. Jennings was also accused of granting paid leave to the executive assistant so that he could finish his master’s degree.

Dr. Jennings had been president of the university for only two years. He was previously an administrator at the Babcock Graduate School of Management at Wake Forest University. He is a graduate of Morehouse College and holds a master’s degree and an educational doctorate from Clark Atlanta University.

Jennings has vowed to contest his dismissal in court.

Blacks Pushed Down Into Second- and Third-Tier Educational Institutions in Connecticut

Blacks are about 10 percent of the population in the state of Connecticut. Yet new data from the state’s higher educational systems shows that blacks make up 5.7 percent of the student body at the flagship campus of the University of Connecticut at Storrs. African Americans make up 8 percent at the other campuses of the state university system, but nearly 16 percent of the state’s community and technical colleges.

University officials are of the opinion that black students might prefer urban community colleges over the rural Storrs campus. Also, university officials admit that higher costs at the Storrs campus have a dampening effect on black enrollments.


• Edward G. Tolliver was appointed director of the Black Male College Explorers Program at Florida A&M University. He has served as assistant director of purchasing for the university.

• Youlanda Copeland-Morgan was appointed associate vice president for enrollment management and director of scholarships and student aid at Syracuse University. For the past decade she has served as vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California.

• Wanda Johnson-Stokes was named broadcast director for public information at Clemson University in South Carolina. She was the public information director for the city of Greenville, South Carolina, and has extensive experience in the television news business.

• Debra Walker King, associate provost for faculty development at the University of Florida, has been named a fellow of the American Council on Education for the 2008-09 academic year. King has been on the faculty at the university since 1994.

• Joe Trotter, chair of the department of history and founding director of the Center for African-American Urban Studies and the Economy at Carnegie Mellon University, was named to the Giant Eagle Professorship in Humanities and Social Sciences at the university. The endowed chair was established by the charitable arm of the Giant Eagle supermarket chain.


• Craig J. Sutton, an assistant professor of mathematics at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, was awarded a Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

A graduate of Yale University, Dr. Sutton holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Michigan.

• Arlette Miller Smith, dean of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Programs at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York, received the Humanitarian Achievement Award from the Harriet Tubman March 10 Coalition. The award recognizes New York women who “dedicate themselves to improving the quality of life available to the poor, the powerless, and the persecuted.”

• Germaine McAuley, chair of the department of physical education and director of athletics at Spelman College in Atlanta, received the 2008 Women Putting Their Stamp on Atlanta Award in the education category. McAuley has been on the Spelman College faculty since 2004.

• Melva “Cookie” Newsome, director of diversity education and assessment in the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, received the University Award for the Advancement of Women. The award from the university’s administration comes with a $5,000 cash prize.

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