Cornell University Gives a Shot in the Arm to Africana Studies

Last December, students at Cornell University protested the decision to place the Africana Studies and Research Center under the jurisdiction of the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Previously, the director of the center reported directly to the provost. In a statement, the faculty of the center said they were “surprised and appalled” that they had not been consulted before the decision was announced.

While many students and faculty remain opposed to the new arrangement, the administration has taken a major step to show its continued commitment to the Africana studies program. Earlier this month, the administration announced that the center’s permanent annual budget would be increased from $2.3 million to $3.5 million. This is a hefty increase of over 50 percent.

In addition, the center will receive a one-time allocation of $2 million to “recruit new faculty, support research, and develop a new Ph.D. program.”



Blacks Make Up Large Percentages of Admitted Students at Princeton University and Williams College

Princeton University reported a record 27,189 applicants this spring. The university accepted 2,282 students for admission, 8.4 percent of all who applied. African Americans make up 9.1 percent of all students accepted at Princeton. Another 5 percent of admitted students identified themselves as biracial.

At Williams College, the top-rated liberal arts institution in Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1,199 students were accepted for the Class of 2015 from among 7,030 applicants. Among the group of accepted students are 172 African Americans. Therefore, African Americans make up a whopping 14.3 percent of all accepted students.


Higher Education in Equatorial Guinea

The nation of Equatorial Guinea is the only Spanish-speaking country in West Africa. It has been ruled since 1979 by Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who came to power in a bloody coup. He has been reelected to several seven-year terms as president in elections widely regarded as shams. He has been called one of Africa’s most corrupt and ruthless dictators.

Despite authoritarian rule, the president has been a strong supporter of education. In 1995 he established the Equatorial Guinea National University in Malabo.  There are five schools on the campus dedicated to the disciplines of agriculture, marine science, education, business, and engineering. A separate medical school campus operates in the city of Bata. Today, there are 4,352 students enrolled at the university and more than 1,300 students have earned degrees. The president’s Horizon 2020 development plan calls for the building of new schools and strengthening teacher training programs.

Speaking at recent graduation ceremonies, the president stated, “The greatness of a nation depends on the complete and moral education of its citizens and that level is reached in classrooms of this university.”

The latest data from the Institute for International Education shows that there are 78 students from Equatorial Guinea enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. Eight faculty members at U.S. institutions of higher learning are from the African nation. In the latest year for which statistics are available, 21 American students were participating in study abroad program in Equatorial Guinea.


Major Restructuring Announced at Historically Black Florida A&M University

Florida A&M University, the historically black educational institution in Tallahassee, has announced a restructuring plan that will save the institution nearly $19 million. The restructuring plan, entitled “Excellence in a New Era: Developing the Millennial FAMUan,” will organize the university’s academic offerings into 15 colleges and schools.

Under the plan the university will eliminate degree programs in French and Spanish as well as nine education degrees and two journalism degrees. The School of Business and Industry and the School of Architecture will also drop some programs. The university will maintain the programs for one or two years so current students can complete their degrees.

The plan includes the elimination of 242 jobs. Of these, 109 were being paid for by money from the federal stimulus package and these funds will run out in June.  Another 44 positions scheduled to be cut are already vacant.



Why Students Choose to Attend Black Colleges and Universities

A new study by the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute of the United Negro College Fund finds that students who enroll at historically black colleges and universities expressed a desire to feel welcome on campus as a main reason for attending such institutions. The survey showed that students felt they needed to feel connected and have a sense of belonging. Small enrollments, a family-oriented environment, and an opportunity to explore their cultural roots were also reasons frequently given as to why the students chose black colleges.



The Six Finalists to Become Chancellor of Southern University in Baton Rouge

Southern University in Baton Rouge has announced six finalists, one of whom will become the educational institution’s next chancellor. Another finalist, Walter Kimbrough, president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, withdrew his name from consideration.

The six finalists are:

  • Belinda Childress Anderson, former president of Virginia Union University;
  • Diola Bagayoko, a professor of physics at Southern University;
  • Robert R. Jennings, former president of Alabama A&M University;
  • James Llorens, assistant chief administrative officer in Baton Rouge mayor’s office and former dean of graduate studies at Southern University;
  • Michael J. Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College in Dallas; and
  • Earl G. Yarbrough Sr., the current president of Savannah State University in Georgia.

Update: On 4-21 the search committee narrowed the field to Bagayoko, Llorens, and Yarbrough.


In Memoriam

Clarence “Motts” Thomas (1945-2011)

Clarence “Motts” Thomas, former head football coach and former assistant professor and associate dean of students at Pomona College in Claremont, California, has died at the age of 65.

Thomas was a graduate of Morgan State University in Baltimore. He began his career as a high school football coach but later coached at Bowie State University, Williams College, and Morgan State before going to Pomona in 1982. A decade later he was named associate dean of students. After a brief stint as dean of students at St. Lawrence University, Thomas returned to Pomona as director of community and multicultural programs. He retired in 2006.


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Deborah Jackson was appointed president of Cambridge College in Massachusetts. She has served for the past decade as CEO of the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts. Jackson is a graduate of Northeastern University and did graduate work in urban studies at MIT.

• Marcus L. Martin was named vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity at the University of Virginia. He has served in the position in an interim capacity since July 2009.  Previously, he was chair of the department of emergency medicine at the University of Virginia Health System.

Dr. Martin is a graduate of North Carolina State University and the Eastern Virginia Medical School.

• Cynthia B. Dillard was named the Mary Frances Early Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Georgia. She will assume the endowed professorship in January. Currently, Dr. Dillard is a professor of multicultural education at the School of Teaching and Learning at Ohio State University. She is the author of On Spiritual Strivings: Transforming an African-American Woman’s Academic Life.

Professor Dillard is a graduate of Central Washington University. She holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Washington State University.

• Agatha Onwunli is the new registrar at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. She was a consultant for CedarCrestone Inc.

Dr. Onwunli holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tuskegee University and a doctorate in higher education from Florida State University.

• Walter J. Hood Jr., the Beatrix Farrand Distinguished Chair in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at the University of California at Berkeley, was named the Robert R. Taylor Fellow in the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Hood is spending the spring semester at MIT.

Professor Hood holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from North Carolina State University and a second master’s degree from the Art Institute of Chicago.

• Stephen Martin was named interim vice president for business and fiscal affairs at Tuskegee University in Alabama. He has been serving as senior director of internal auditing and risk assessment at the university.

Martin holds a bachelor’s degree in Latin and an MBA from Tulane University.

• Donnell Scott, director of the Executive Master of Public Administration Program at North Carolina Central University in Durham, was elected institutional director of the American Society for Public Administration.

Dr. Scott is a graduate of North Carolina Central University. He holds a master’s degree in American studies from Seton Hall University and an educational doctorate from Nova Southeastern University.


Grants and Gifts

• Bucknell University, Dickinson College, and Lafayette College, are sharing a $300,000 grant from the Teagle Foundation. The grant will fund a cooperative effort between the schools to enhance diversity and diversity education.

• Fayetteville State University in North Carolina received a four-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund its RISE program. The effort aims to increase the number of underrepresented students in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.

The city of Atlanta received a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop a plan to revitalize the neighborhood surrounding the Atlanta University Center, home to five historically black colleges and universities.

The University of California at San Francisco received a $238,000 grant from the Aetna Foundation for a research study to explore the underlying factors for the higher rate of cesarean delivery among African-American women in California.

Historically black Jackson State University in Mississippi received a three-year, $517,062 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to build a simulator to test unmanned aircraft. The simulator will allow tests of the autopilot system of micro aerial vehicles (MAVs).

Historically black Morgan State University in Baltimore received a $28.5 million grant from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to study atmospheric chemistry and climate change. The grant is the largest in the university’s history.

How do you regard President Obama's debt reduction plan?
Some good points, some bad


Storms Damage Campuses of Two HBCUs in Raleigh

Our prayers are with students, faculty, and staff at Shaw University and Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Both campuses were hit with severe storms over the weekend that damaged buildings and caused power outages.

As a result of the storms, Shaw University has been forced to close. Classes have been suspended for the remainder of the semester and students have been sent home. Several buildings on campus were severely damaged. Luckily, there were no injuries.

Irma McClaurin, president of Shaw University said in a statement issued Sunday, “I know that we will come through this crisis stronger and more self-assured than ever, as long as we work together as a community.”



The First Black Dean of the Boston College Law School

This July Vincent D. Rougeau will become the first African American to lead the Boston College Law School. Rougeau, who currently serves on the faculty of the law school at the University of Notre Dame, is an expert on Catholic social teaching and the role of moral and religious values in law making and public policy. He is the author of Christians in the American Empire: Faith and Citizenship in the New World Order.

Dean Rougeau is a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School.


Classes Begin at New University Named After Black Historian Carter G. Woodson

Earlier this month, Woodson University in Concord, North Carolina, held its first classes. Five students are enrolled in an online course on theories of leadership. The university is named after historian Carter G. Woodson, the founder of Black History Month.

Woodson University’s first degree program will be in Christian management and leadership. It hopes to offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in religious studies, Christian leadership, and Christian education administration.

The founder and president of Woodson University is A.L. Fleming, who was director of development at historically black St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Fleming is a graduate of Elizabeth City State University. He previously held administrative positions at Barber-Scotia College and Elizabeth City State University.



Brandeis University Seeks to Increase Campus Diversity

Five years ago Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, added a diversity clause to its mission statement. The statement reads, in part, that the university “seeks to build an academic community whose members have diverse cultures, backgrounds and life experiences and believes that diverse backgrounds and ideas are crucial to academic excellence.”

The most recent demographic breakdown of the student body shows that 5 percent of all undergraduates are black and another 5 percent are Hispanic.

Unlike many of the universities, Brandeis does not use affirmative action in its admissions process. Keenyn McFarlane, vice president of students and enrollments, stated recently, “Affirmative action is specific and to my mind sounds a lot like quotas, which have so much negative history.” He went on to stipulate the Brandeis “does not take into account race, creed, color, religion — anything.”

Instead of using race-sensitive admissions to increase student diversity, Brandeis has conducted more recruiting in predominantly black areas. And it has an agreement with the Posse Foundation to provide full-tuition scholars for two groups of 10 inner-city residents. Brandeis is also looking to set up a student exchange program with one or more historically black colleges and universities. The university also offers six Martin Luther King Jr. merit scholarships. These awards, originally intended just for African-American students, are now open to any student with “outstanding community involvement.”

A recent examination of racial diversity on campus published in the Brandeis Hoot found that 1.6 percent of the full-time faculty and 1.1 percent of the part-time faculty are black. The survey also showed that all 11 of the university’s top administrators are white and there is only one African American on the 40-member board of trustees.


Henry Givens Jr. to Step Down as President of Harris-Stowe State University

After serving 32 years as president of Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, Henry Givens Jr. has announced that he will retire when someone is chosen to replace him. Dr. Givens grew up in St. Louis. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Lincoln University in Jefferson City and holds a master’s degree from the University of Illinois and a doctorate from Saint Louis University.

President Givens began his career in the public schools serving as a principal and assistant superintendent in the Webster Groves School District. Later, he was the first African American to serve as assistant commissioner of education for the state of Missouri. He became president of Harris-Stowe in 1979.


Judge Throws Out Legal Challenge to the Merger of Historically Black Southern University With the University of New Orleans

A Louisiana judge has dismissed a lawsuit which sought to prevent the merger of historically black Southern University of New Orleans with the predominantly white University of New Orleans. The suit had been filed by former Congressman Cleo Fields on behalf of black students at Southern University. The suit claimed that the Louisiana board of regents was not legitimate because at the time of the decision to move forward with the merger, all of its members were white. Governor Bobby Jindal, who supports the merger of the two universities, has since appointed an African American to the board of regents.

The court ruled that the governor could appoint an all-white board regardless of whether it was “morally, politically, or ethically right.” The judge stated that “It is not the court’s job to tell the governor how to do his job.”

The merger must be approved by a two-thirds votes of the state legislature which will convene next week.


New Life for Paul Quinn College

In 2009 Paul Quinn College, the historically black educational institution in Dallas, was stripped of its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The college appealed the decision and was able to keep its good standing while the appeals process was underway.

But Paul Quinn president Michael Sorrell hedged his bet and also applied for accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS). Earlier this month, TRACS granted full accreditation to Paul Quinn College.



Honors and Awards

• Johnnetta B. Cole, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and former president of Spelman College and Bennett College, received the Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate Award from the Smithsonian Associates and the Creativity Foundation.

Dr. Cole is a graduate of Oberlin College. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Northwestern University.

• John D. Calhoun, assistant professor of entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Jackson State University in Mississippi, was named 2011 Mississippi Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Calhoun is cofounder and CEO of Integrated Management Services.

• Naana Opoku-Agyemang, vice chancellor and chief administrator at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina.

• Paula D. McClain, professor of political science, public policy, and African-American studies at Duke University, received the university’s 2011 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring.

Professor McClain holds bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees from Howard University.

• Aaron P. Dworkin, founder and president of the Sphinx Organization, received the Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award from Harvard University. Dworkin, an accomplished violinist, was honored for his work to foster increased diversity in classical music.

• Vivian Gunn Morris, assistant dean for faculty and staff development for the College of Education at the University of Memphis, received the university’s Martin Luther King Human Rights Award.

• Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran, president of Kalamazoo College in Michigan, received the 2011 Lifetime Woman of Achievement Award from the YWCA of Kalamazoo.

President Wilson-Oyelaran is a graduate of Pomona College. She holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Claremont Graduate University.


Copyright © 2011. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.