New Study Finds That Blacks Admitted Under Affirmative Action Do Better in College Than Legacies Who Receive Admissions Preferences

Proponents of race-sensitive admissions programs often make the point that most colleges and universities give admissions preferences to athletes and legacies who otherwise would not be admitted. Therefore, the position is that there is nothing wrong in giving a leg up to black applicants who historically have not been given a fair shake in the admissions process.

Now two sociologists at Princeton University have found that students who received admissions preferences because of their ancestors’ relationship with the institution are more likely to run into academic trouble than African Americans who were admitted under affirmative action admissions programs. They say that legacy admits whose SAT scores and high school grade point averages are far below the mean for all entering students are more likely to get poor grades in college than black students admitted under race-sensitive admissions. The study also found that at the colleges and universities where legacy admits seem to have the most advantage, the dropout rates for legacies are the highest.

In contrast, blacks who received admissions preferences did not have similar levels of poor grades and were just as likely as other blacks to stay in college and earn a degree.

The study, which is published in the journal Social Problems, did find that at the selective colleges they surveyed, 77 percent of black students were the beneficiaries of affirmative action whereas 48 percent of all legacies benefited from admissions preferences.


“Young blacks need to know there is nothing to be ashamed about in educational achievement. I don’t know who told them that reading and writing and conjugating your verbs was something ‘white.’”

Barack Obama, speaking in Selma, Alabama, March 4, 2007


Two Black Institutions on the List of the 25 Most Underrated Law Schools

Vault Inc. is a media company that offers surveys and other information to help people select employers, schools, and careers.

Recently, Vault asked 500 recruiters from the nation’s leading law firms which law schools they believed were the most underrated in terms of producing graduates who become good lawyers.

The Emory University law school was named the most underrated law school by the recruiters. Fordham Law School in New York ranked second. The predominantly black Howard University School of Law was rated third. Also on the list of underrated law schools was North Carolina Central University, the historically black law school in Durham, North Carolina.

For more information on the company and its offerings, readers can access its Web site by clicking here.


Good News and Bad News for the Nursing Program at North Carolina Central University

About 82 percent of the students in the nursing program at North Carolina Central University, the historically black educational institution in Durham, passed the state licensure examination in 2006. The good news is that the passage rate increased significantly from 65 percent in 2005. The bad news is that the licensure examination passage rate is still below the 85 percent threshold required by the University of North Carolina system’s board of governors. As a result, the school will have to admit 15 percent fewer students next year. Under the board of governors guidelines, the mandatory reduction in admissions should lead to lower class sizes and increased student performance.

The only other nursing program in the state that did not meet the board’s requirement for an 85 percent passage rate was North Carolina A&T State University, the historically black educational institution in Greensboro. There the licensure passage rate has remained the same at 69 percent for the past two years.


State Panel Recommends Bailout of Texas Southern University, But Only Under Stipulated Conditions

A state government panel in Texas issued a report on the serious fiscal problems confronting Texas Southern University, the historically black educational institution in Houston. The university has been beset with financial problems and has asked the state for $25 million in emergency aid.

The panel recommends that the money be appropriated, but only if a new governing board is installed and strict oversight by state auditors is instituted. The panel also calls for the university to refocus its mission on undergraduate education and the university’s professional schools.


Snail-Like Progress of Black Faculty in Higher Education

New data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that in 2005 there were 35,458 full-time black faculty members in degree-granting institutions of higher education. They made up 5.2 percent of all full-time faculty at these institutions.

More than a quarter-century ago in 1981, at the beginning of the Reagan administration, blacks made up 4.2 percent of all full-time faculty in higher education.

At this rate of progress, it will be nearly two centuries before the percentage of black faculty reaches parity with the black percentage of the U.S. population.


Two Views on Racial Diversity at Harvard

Recently Harvard announced that 10.7 percent of the students admitted to the Class of 2011 are African American. This is the largest percentage of black students accepted to Harvard in the school’s history.

There are 41 varsity sports at Harvard. In the current academic year, there were 32 coaches who were paid to coach these 41 varsity teams. (There is some overlap as some coaches have responsibility for more than one team.) Not one of these 32 coaches is black. Furthermore, there has not been a black head coach in any sport at Harvard for the past 15 years.

In addition, there are 14 senior administrators in the athletics department at Harvard. Not one is black.

The lack of black coaches at Harvard appears to have come to an end. Tommy Amaker, an African American recently dismissed as head coach of the men’s basketball team at the University of Michigan, is expected to get the job as head coach of the Harvard men’s basketball team.


Milestone Appointment in Medical Education

William F. Owen Jr. was named president of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. When he takes office in July he will become the first African American to lead the university and one of the first blacks to head a major medical school that is not at a historically black college or university.

Owen was the chancellor and vice president for health affairs at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. Prior to assuming that position he was the chief scientist in the renal division of Baxter Healthcare Corporation. He has a quarter-century of experience teaching at Harvard Medical School and Duke University School of Medicine. He also taught health sector management at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

A kidney specialist, Owen is a graduate of Brown University. He received his medical degree at Tufts University and completed his internship and residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Owen is the author of two books and approximately 200 journal articles on kidney dialysis and transplantation.

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has four main campuses and several smaller satellite campuses throughout the state. The university consists of two traditional medical schools, a school of osteopathic medicine, a dental school, a nursing school, two public health schools, and a graduate school of biomedical sciences. It has total enrollments of more than 5,700 students. Nearly half of the student body is black, Hispanic, or Asian. In 2006 blacks made up 14.9 percent of the graduates of the university’s medical schools and nearly 9 percent of the graduates of its dental schools.




David C. Camps Sr. was appointed director of sponsored research and programs at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. Camps, recently retired from the U.S. Army, holds a bachelor’s degree from Bowie State University and a master’s degree from George Mason University.

Kevin Broadus was named head basketball coach at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He was the assistant coach at Georgetown University, a perennial national powerhouse in men’s basketball.

Broadus is a graduate of Bowie State University.

Thomas Donaudy was appointed vice president for facilities and university architect at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. He has served in the position on an interim basis for the past year. He has been an administrator at the university for the past decade.



• Next week, Horace Belmear will receive the Neil S. Bucklew Award for Social Justice presented by West Virginia University. Belmear, now 90 years old, served as assistant dean of admissions at the university and director of foreign student admissions.

• This coming May, Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, will receive the Vannevar Bush Award from the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation. Dr. Jackson will be recognized for her contributions to science as well as for her work to help shape the next generation of the nation’s scientific community.

Susan Batson, actor, author, and film producer, is the initial recipient of the Ruth M. Batson Social Justice Award given by the Harvard Medical School. Ruth Batson, Susan’s mother, was a professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine and a leader in the civil rights movement in Boston.





Black Faculty at the Nation’s 30 Highest-Ranked Universities

Nationwide, just over 5 percent of all full-time faculty members at colleges and universities in the United States are black. But the percentage of black faculty at almost all the nation’s high-ranking universities is significantly below the national average.

Of the 26 high-ranking universities that responded to our survey this year, blacks made up more than 5 percent of the total full-time faculty at only five institutions. Emory University in Atlanta has the highest percentage of black faculty at 6.8 percent. Columbia University ranked second in our survey with a black faculty percentage of 6.2 percent. Many of the black faculty at Columbia are in the graduate and professional schools of the university.

The 279 black faculty members at the University of North Carolina made up 5.9 percent of the full-time faculty, the third-highest level in our survey. In total numbers, Chapel Hill had the most black faculty members.

At the University of Michigan, there are 145 black full-time faculty. They make up 5.4 percent of the full-time faculty on the Ann Arbor campus. Brown University is the only other high-ranking research university where blacks are at least 5 percent of the total full-time faculty.

At Notre Dame, Stanford, Berkeley, Princeton, Wake Forest, and Yale, blacks are less than 3 percent of the total faculty. At MIT and CalTech — two universities which chose not to participate in this year’s survey — the 2005 JBHE survey found that blacks made up less than 3 percent of their faculties.


Indiana University Creates Summer Scholars Program to Increase the Number of Blacks in the Natural Sciences

Indiana University has embarked on a new program to increase the number of black students pursuing graduate study in the sciences. Under the program, students from nine partnering black colleges and universities will come to Indiana for an eight-week Summer Scholars program which will be held at the Bloomington campus of Indiana University as well as at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. Junior and senior students from the HBCUs will attend classes and participate in scientific research at the Indiana University campuses. Students participating in the program will receive room and board and a $4,000 cash stipend.

Participating HBCUs are Alabama A&M University, Bennett College, Clark Atlanta University, Hampton University, Jackson State University, Langston University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, and Xavier University of Louisiana.


Will the Zinch Web Site Become a Tool for Admissions Officers Seeking Greater Racial Diversity?

A half-century ago many colleges and universities required a photograph on student application forms. This permitted them to weed out black applicants. Now almost all of our leading colleges and universities encourage black students to apply. But today at many schools, increasing the number of blacks who apply for admission is a major task.

A new Web site may become an important tool for admissions officers seeking to diversify the student body at their particular institution. The Zinch Web site allows high school students to post online resumes which can reveal more about an individual’s creativity, ingenuity, and personality than might come across in a traditional college application. Students can place their postings online for free, but admissions counselors must pay a fee to browse or search the database.

The Web site permits students to place photographs or a series of photographs on the site. This gives admissions officers the capability to browse through the listings to locate African-American students. These students can then be recruited, telephoned, or invited to campus. Depending on how many students take advantage of the free postings, the online database could become a potent resource for admissions officers looking to increase recruiting efforts directed at black students.

To learn more about the Zinch Web site, click here.



George Ross Named President of Alcorn State University

George Ross was appointed the seventeenth president of Alcorn State University in Mississippi. Ross was vice president for finance and administrative services at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant.

Ross is a certified public accountant. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from Michigan State University and an educational doctorate from the University of Alabama. He has previously held administrative positions at Clark Atlanta University, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and Tuskegee University.


The Crisis of Low Expectations for College-Bound Black Students

A study by Brian Perkins, a professor of education law at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, found that nearly one quarter of the teachers at public high schools in urban areas say that most students at their school would not be successful at either a community college or a four-year institution of higher education. The study, published by the National School Board Association, found that white teachers were more likely than black teachers to have given up hope that their students would succeed in college. More than 4,700 teachers in 10 states were surveyed.

Only 7 percent of the administrators at public high schools in urban areas believed that the students in their school could not succeed in college.

Readers who want to view or download the study, click here.


Racism on the Duke Lacrosse Team

All charges have now been dropped in the case of a young black woman from North Carolina Central University who accused three white members of the Duke lacrosse team of rape in March 2006.

But no one disputes that the woman was heckled and called a “nigger” when she tried to leave the party. One white partygoer was heard to say, “Hey nigger bitch, thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt.”


12.2%  Percentage of all white children who entered kindergarten in 1998 who were enrolled in special education classes by 2002.

14.2%  Percentage of all black children who entered kindergarten in 1998 who were enrolled in special education classes by 2002.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


Private Scholarship Fund Established to Boost Black Enrollments at UCLA

In the current academic year there are only about 100 black first-year students at the University of California at Los Angeles. They make up just 2 percent of the entering class. This is the lowest level of black first-year enrollments since the 1960s.

UCLA is prohibited by state law from using race as a factor in its admissions decisions. This year, for the first time, UCLA has instituted a new “holistic admissions” program where officers look at an applicant’s entire life experience rather than simply grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities. Leadership, ability to overcome disadvantage, and other factors are now considered. It is hoped that the new holistic approach will result in a more racially diverse entering class. However, it must be noted that the University of California at Berkeley has had a similar “comprehensive review” admissions program for several years. And blacks are only 3 percent of the first-year class at Berkeley.

Now a private group led by Los Angeles businessman Peter J. Taylor and other UCLA alumni have formed a scholarship fund for black students. The fund hopes to be able to offer $1,000 to each admitted black student who decides to enroll at UCLA. Some black students may be awarded as much as $9,000 from the fund if they continue on at UCLA. Because the effort is not affiliated directly with the university and is administered by a private group, it appears that the new scholarship program reserved for African Americans does not violate state prohibitions.


In Memoriam

Thomas Fairfax Johnson (1917-2007)

Thomas F. Johnson, who served on the Howard University faculty for 32 years, died late last month at a nursing home in Silver Spring, Maryland, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 90 years old.

Professor Johnson joined the Howard University faculty in 1946. He also coached swimming, baseball, and football at Howard. He became a research assistant at the Howard Medical School in 1958 and rose to the rank of associate professor. In 1974 Johnson founded the school of Allied Health Sciences at Howard. In 1975 he was appointed associate dean for student affairs for the graduate school at Howard. He retired in 1978.

Johnson was a graduate of Springfield College and held a master’s degree in health and physical education from New York University and a doctorate from the University of Maryland. In addition to his academic career, Johnson played professional baseball in the Negro leagues and later was a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Harold Frank Reis (1917-2007)

Harold Reis, a career attorney at the Justice Department who was one of the lawyers dispatched to Oxford, Mississippi, in 1962 to insure the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi, died from cancer at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 90 years old.

Reis, a graduate of City College of New York and Columbia Law School, was actively involved in civil rights and voting law during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. A white man, Reis retired from government service in 1967 but practiced law for another 30 years.

Eddie Robinson (1918-2007)

Eddie Robinson, one of the greatest college football coaches of all time, died last week at the age of 88. Robinson had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for the past decade.

Eddie Robinson, the son of a cotton sharecropper and a house maid, began coaching at Grambling in 1941 when the institution was known as the Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute. He had no paid assistants or trainers. Robinson had to chalk the yard lines onto the field himself.

Over the course of his career at Grambling, Robinson won 408 college football games. At the time of his retirement this was the most wins ever achieved by a college football coach. Over his 57-year career Robinson had only eight losing seasons. His teams won 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference championships. More than 200 of his players went on to careers in the National Football League.



• The Naval Sea Systems Command has given an $80,000 grant to the Advancing Minorities in Engineering program. The grant money will be used to provide scholarship funds for students at historically black colleges and universities who are studying in the field of engineering.

Dillard University, the historically black educational institution in New Orleans which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, received a $250,000 grant from the Teagle Foundation for student scholarships and faculty development.

Spelman College, the historically black college for women in Atlanta, received a $100,000 grant from the Teagle Foundation for the development of its Project Pericles civic engagement course.

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