Large Numbers of Blacks at Selective Colleges and Universities Are First- or Second-Generation Immigrants

In 2004 University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard University stated his belief that 75 percent of the black students at Harvard were either of African or Caribbean descent or biracial.

A new study published in the journal Sociology of Education lends support to Professor Gates’ view. The study finds that blacks who immigrated to this country and children of black immigrants are significantly more likely to enroll at highly selective colleges and universities than blacks who are descendants of African slaves.

The study found that these immigrant blacks are even more likely to enroll in elite colleges and universities than are native-born whites.

The data showed that 75 percent of first- or second-generation immigrant blacks enrolled in college after high school. For whites, the figure was 72 percent. For blacks whose families had been in this country for more than two generations, only 60 percent of high school graduates went on to college.

Slightly more than 9 percent of immigrant black high school graduates enrolled at the nation’s most selective colleges. Only 2.4 percent of native-born blacks and 7 percent of whites enrolled at these schools.

An important question raised by the statistics is whether immigrant blacks should benefit from the race-based affirmative action admissions programs at these selective colleges. A few years ago Harvard Law School professor Lani Guinier questioned whether “in the name of affirmative action we should be admitting people because they look like us and then they don’t identify with us.”


“I think HBCUs have gotten lazy. We still say ‘nurturing, caring, the president knows you.’ That’s a lie on a lot of campuses. That’s a flat-out lie.”

Walter Kimbrough, president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas (Associated Press, 3-28-09)


Nigeria Sends More Students to U.S. Colleges and Universities Than Any Other Black African Nation

In 2008 there were 35,654 Africans studying in the United States. They made up 5.7 percent of all foreign students in the U.S.  Among black African nations, Nigeria in 2007-08 sent the most students to American colleges and universities. In 2007-08, 6,222 Nigerians were studying here. Nigerian enrollments are up by more than one third over the past five years. Kenya ranked second, sending 5,838 students to the United States.

Ghana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Cameroon, and Ethiopia each had more than 1,000 students studying in this nation. Zambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Angola, and Senegal all sent at least 500 students to study at U.S. colleges and universities.

All told, 49 black African nations had college students studying in the U.S. during the 2007-08 academic year.


New Civil Rights Institute Opens at Emory University

The James Weldon Johnson Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies at Emory University was officially launched recently with a reception at the university. The mission of the Johnson Institute is to foster new scholarship, teaching, and public dialogue that focuses on the origins, evolution, and legacy of the modern civil rights movement. To accomplish these goals the institute sponsors up to five fellowships for visiting scholars to come to Atlanta each year. Fellows live on campus and teach one course.

The institute is under the direction of Rudolph P. Byrd, the Goodrich C. White Professor of American Studies at Emory. A graduate of Lewis & Clark College, Professor Byrd earned a Ph.D. at Yale University. He has been on the Emory University faculty since 1991. Previously he taught at the University of Delaware and Grinnell College. He is currently writing a biography of Ernest J. Gaines.


The University of Virginia Aims to Increase the Racial Diversity of Its Graduate Students

The University of Virginia usually stands near the very top in JBHE’s annual ranking of the nation’s 30 highest-rated universities in terms of percentage of black students in their entering classes.

Now the University of Virginia is taking steps to increase racial diversity in its graduate programs. The Inter-Ethnic Interdisciplinary Mentoring Institute for Graduate Education has a goal of making the campus welcoming to minority graduate students.

Mentors, who are more senior graduate students, meet with new students each week to talk about courses, short- and long-term goals, and adjustment to campus life. These mentors have faculty members as coaches who help them with the new students.

In addition to the mentoring program, the graduate student diversity office conducts a retreat at the beginning of each semester to help new students make the transition to graduate study. A visitation weekend is held each spring for minority students who have been accepted into graduate programs at the university but have not yet decided to enroll.


Black Woman Named President of Boarding School Which Was Restricted to White Male Students for 117 Years

Girard College is a boarding school in Philadelphia that first opened its doors in 1848. Funded by a grant from the estate of Stephen Girard, who at the time of his death may have been the richest man in America, the school was founded to provide college preparatory education for white male orphans.

No black students were permitted to enroll at the school for its first 117 years. Then, as a result of a lawsuit, civil rights picketing, and a visit by Martin Luther King Jr., the school’s trustees decided to admit black male students. Another lawsuit in 1984 opened the school to girls.

Now the boarding school for low-income boys and girls of all races has named an African-American woman as president. Autumn Adkins will take over the leadership of Girard College this summer. Formerly, she was the assistant principal at Friends Seminary, a Quaker school in New York City. Adkins, now 36 years old, is a graduate of the University of Virginia.

The school currently enrolls 669 students in grades 1 through 12. Tuition and room and board are free for all students.


African-American Scholar Named Chancellor of Camden Campus of Rutgers University

Wendell E. Pritchett was named chancellor of the Camden campus of Rutgers University. A noted scholar on urban history, Pritchett has been a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania since 2001. He is the author of the 2008 biography Robert Clifton Weaver and the American City: The Life and Times of an Urban Reformer.

Pritchett is a 1986 graduate of Brown University. He earned a law degree at Yale Law School in 1991 and holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Pennsylvania.


Chief Justice Visits Law School at Black University in North Carolina

This week Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts presided over a moot court competition at the law school of North Carolina Central University, the historically black educational institution in Durham. Students at the law school had the opportunity to have lunch with Roberts. The chief justice also administered the oath to the law school’s alumni who were admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar.


Appointments, Promotions and Retirements

• Joy Paige was appointed vice president for institutional advancement at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was senior vice president and community affairs manager for Wachovia Corp.

• James E. Swanson Sr., resident bishop of the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, was elected to the board of trustees of Emory University in Atlanta.

Bishop Swanson is a graduate of Southern Bible College. He holds a master’s degree from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta and is currently working toward a doctor of ministry degree at Southern Methodist University.

• Larry Robinson has been named vice president for research at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. He is the director of the Environmental Cooperative Science Center at the university.

Dr. Robinson is a graduate of Memphis State University. He holds a Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry from Washington University.

• Onwubiko Agozino was named professor of sociology and director of the Africana studies program at Virginia Tech. He will start at the university this coming fall. Currently he is deputy dean for graduate studies and research at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago.

A graduate of the University of Calabar in Nigeria, he holds a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge and a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh.



• Fisk University, the historically black educational institution in Nashville, Tennessee, received a $480,000 grant from the Volkswagen Group of America to create a fellowship program for high-achieving students who are engaged in community-service projects.

• North Carolina A&T State University, the historically black educational institution in Greensboro, received a $50,000 grant from Siemens Building Technologies. The money will be used for scholarships and to improve academic offerings in architectural engineering and building energy management.

• Norfolk State University, the historically black educational institution in Virginia, received an anonymous $3.5 million gift, the largest donation in the university’s history. Most of the money will be used to bolster the university’s financial aid programs. About $500,000 will be used to support faculty research.

• Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis received a $650,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation for Education for a research study on improving the success of black male students in high schools and colleges in Indiana.

Law School at Florida A&M University Awaiting Crucial Decision on Accreditation

In October 2007 inspectors from the American Bar Association issued a negative opinion on the law school at historically black Florida A&M University in Orlando. The ABA declared that due to faculty dissent and leadership issues, the law school was “stuck in a rut.” The ABA inspectors warned that the law school had a “steep mountain to climb” in order to win full accreditation.

The decision on accreditation of the law school will be made in the coming months. If the ABA declines to accredit the law school, students at Florida A&M will not be eligible to take the state bar examination.

Officials at the law school remain optimistic. Dean LeRoy Pernell, who has been on the job for slightly more than a year, has made significant improvements in the quality of the faculty and in the school’s facilities. But it remains to be seen if these improvements are enough to satisfy the ABA.


The Racial Scorecard on Federal Aid to Undergraduate College Students

New data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that in 2004, 47.7 percent of all undergraduate black students enrolled in higher education received a federal grant to help finance their education. For whites, only 21.3 percent of all undergraduate students received federal grant money to help defray the cost of college.

The average dollar amount of federal grants to black undergraduate students was $3,442. The mean dollar amount of grants to white undergraduates was $3,075.

Whites were slightly more likely than blacks to receive nonfederal grants. These included state, foundation, and private grants, as well as scholarship grants from the higher educational institutions that they were attending. The mean dollar value of these nonfederal grants was higher for whites than for blacks.

More than 43 percent of undergraduate black students also received federal student loans. The figure for white undergraduate students was 35.5 percent.


New Right-Wing Student Group Forming on College Campuses

A new right-wing group called Youth for Western Civilization is forming chapters on college and university campuses across the nation. Chapters have been established at American University in Washington, the University of Connecticut, Vanderbilt, and at other colleges and universities.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that one of the group’s founders, Marcus Epstein, is a frequent contributor to the white nationalist hate Web site VDARE.com. The SPLC reports that the new organization is supported by the Arlington, Virginia-based Leadership Institute, a conservative “educational foundation.”

The group says it is “for students who believe Western Civilization is moving in the wrong direction and want to do something about it.” According to its Web site, the mission of the organization is to focus on “the support of Western history, identity, high culture, and pride and opposition to radical multiculturalism, political correctness, racial preferences, mass immigration, and socialism.”

The group, whose logo includes an arm holding an axe, says that its immediate goal is to organize chapters on as many campuses as possible. After a chapter has been formed on a campus, the goal is to run candidates for student government positions so that it can foster change in cultural and social activities on campus. Their long-range goals are to change college curriculums to concentrate more on classical learning. In the long term, says the group’s mission statement, “We want the majority of students to leave college more right wing than when they arrived.”


Student of African Origin Elected President of Student Body at Cambridge University

Tom Chigbo was elected president of the student body at Cambridge University. He is the first black student to be elected head of the student union at Cambridge.

Chigbo, 21 years old, is majoring in geography. He graduated from the London Oratory school, where British prime minister Tony Blair’s sons were educated. Chigbo’s father was a broadcaster in Nigeria who had studied drama at the University of Glasgow. His mother was a journalist who attended Kent University in England.


University of Texas Acquires Archive of Black Literature

The Harry Ransom Center on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin has acquired the Charles R. Larson collection of African, African-American, and Native-American literature. Larson, a professor at American University, has written extensively on black literature. His collection includes more than 1,300 books by black authors, back issues of African literary magazines and journals, as well as correspondence between Larson and such literary figures as Bessie Head and Nuruddin Falah.


New MBA Program at Texas Southern University

Texas Southern University, the historically black educational institution in Houston, has launched a new online executive MBA degree program. The program will have a specific focus on finance and the energy industry. The program is geared toward midcareer professionals.

The entire course of instruction can be completed online. Students will be expected to be on campus for one weekend each term.


59.5%  Percentage of all white Americans over the age of 65 who visit the dentist at least once a year.

40.7%  Percentage of all African Americans over the age of 65 who visit the dentist at least once a year.

source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Duke University Reports Huge Rise in Student Applicants Who Decline to Identify Their Race

This year there was a record 23,843 applicants to Duke University. Slightly more than 4,000 students were offered admission.

This year 19 percent of all students offered places in the Class of 2013 did not disclose their race on their application forms. This is more than double the rate from a year ago.

Christopher Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions at Duke, stated, “A change of this magnitude shows that at the very least more students are feeling differently about how they want to respond to questions of this kind, or whether they want to respond at all.”

Research has shown that most students who do not identify their race on college applications are white. Many of these students believe that having white skin works against them in the admissions process.


Need-Blind Admissions Policies Become “Fuzzy” as Selective Colleges Seek Out Students Who Can Pay Full Tuition

Many of the nation’s most selective colleges and universities cling to an official position that their admissions procedures are “need blind.” But in a climate where budgets are tight, endowment funds are sharply down, and admissions have become even more competitive, some colleges are accepting more foreign and transfer students. Other schools are cherry-picking their wait lists for students who will pay full tuition. Some colleges may be cutting back on their commitment to enroll low-income students from such organizations as QuestBridge or the Posse Foundation.

Morton Owen Schapiro, president of Williams College who will soon leave to take over the presidency of Northwestern University, recently told The New York Times, “There’s going to be a cascading of talented lower-income kids down the social hierarchy of higher education, and some cascading up of affluent kids.”

And at the hundreds of colleges and universities where strict need-blind policies are not in place, admissions officers, in many cases, may choose a student who has the ability to pay full fare over an equally qualified applicant who will require financial aid.

This trend is bad news for blacks. The median African-American family income is 60 percent of the median income of white families. Blacks, on average, have one tenth the wealth of whites. Therefore, any reduction in need-blind admissions policies will have a disproportionate negative impact on black applicants to our nation’s most selective colleges and universities.


Honors and Awards

• Vanessa Northington Gamble, University Professor of Medical Humanities at George Washington University, received the Women Leaders in Medicine Award from the American Medical Student Association.

Dr. Gamble is a graduate of Hampshire College. She holds a medical degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

• Sylester Flowers, founder of Ramsell Holding Corporation, a health services company, was presented with the Alumni Award for Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement by Howard University. Flowers graduated magna cum laude from the Howard University School of Pharmacy in 1958. He then opened his first of many pharmacies in Oakland, California.

• Jonathan S. Holloway, professor of history, African-American studies, and American studies at Yale University, was given the DeVane Award, the university’s highest honor recognizing outstanding undergraduate teaching.

• Gwen Ifill, author and television journalist for the Public Broadcasting System, received the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University.

Copyright © 2009. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.