JBHE’s Annual Citation Ranking of Black Scholars in the Humanities

For three of the past four years Paul Gilroy, formerly of Yale University, who now holds the Anthony Giddens Professorship in Social Theory at the London School of Economics, has led JBHE’s annual citation rankings of black scholars in the humanities. In past years Professor Gilroy was always in a tight race for the top spot with Nobel laureate and Princeton University professor emeritus Toni Morrison and Harvard University’s Henry Louis Gates Jr. This year the contest was a runaway. Professor Gilroy had 140 citations and Professor Gates was second with 85.

Paule Marshall, New York University professor and author of Brown Girl, Brownstones and many other books, moved from eighth place last year to third place this year. Her citation count increased from 51 in 2006 to 79 this year. Toni Morrison’s citations decreased from 100 in 2006 to 75 in 2007, placing her in fourth place. Novelist Alice Walker had 64 citations in 2007, placing her in fifth position in our survey.


Black Students From Caribbean Nations Studying at U.S. Colleges and Universities

As we have reported, in the 2006-07 academic year, there were 35,802 students from Africa studying at U.S. colleges and universities. But there is another large group of black foreign students. There were 13,854 students from Caribbean nations attending college in the U.S. Undoubtedly, most of these students are black. Jamaica sent more than 4,100 college students to study in the United States. Nearly 3,000 students from Trinidad and Tobago and more than 1,600 students from the Bahamas attended colleges and universities in the U.S. In addition, Haiti sent more than 1,000 students to study in U.S. universities.


Thirty Black Students From Rwanda Coming to Arkansas

This month 30 black students from the war-torn African nation of Rwanda are coming to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The students, who plan on majoring in mathematics, engineering, computer science, or the natural sciences, will be immersed in the Intensive English Language Program on the Little Rock campus. This fall they will enroll at campuses in Arkansas and other southern states. Ten students will remain on the Little Rock campus, four will enroll at Hendrix College in Conway, four at Harding University in Searcy, and two will become students at Philander Smith College, the historically black educational institution in Little Rock. The remaining 10 students will enroll at out-of-state educational institutions.


Southern University of New Orleans to End Open Admissions Policy

For the past half century the New Orleans campus of Southern University has operated under an open admissions policy. The university was essentially a commuter school for black residents of New Orleans, many of whom were older, nontraditional college students.

Beginning in 2010, students seeking admission to the university must have achieved a 2.0 grade point average in high school, scored at least 20 on the American College Testing Program’s ACT college admission test (the mean score for blacks nationwide on the ACT is 17 on a scale of 1 to 36), and be ranked in the top 50 percent of their high school graduation class.

Students will also be required to take a core curriculum including English, mathematics, science, computer science, and a foreign language.

Officials of the state higher education system say that the new requirements are not designed to exclude students but simply to increase the chance that students admitted to the university will succeed.


Study Finds Large Disparities in Economic Outcomes of African-American College Students Depending on Their Socioeconomic Status Before College

African Americans who have completed a four-year college education have a median income that is very close to that of similarly educated whites. But a new study published in this month’s issue of Research in Higher Education shows that the outcomes vary to a large degree depending on the socioeconomic status of the black student before he or she entered college.

Using data from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at UCLA, MaryBeth Walpole, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, found that nine years after first entering college, black students from low-income families were less likely than other blacks to have graduated from college or to have gone on to graduate school. Also, nine years after entering college, black students who came from low-income families had significantly lower incomes than black students who had come from higher-income households.


A Record-Setting Donation From a Black Alumna of the University of Southern California

The University of Southern California has received a $25 million gift from Verna Dauterive, a retired schoolteacher and principal. She is a graduate of Wiley College in Texas and holds a master’s degree and an educational doctorate from USC.

Her late husband, Peter, was a highly successful businessman who founded and served as president of the Founders Savings and Loan Association in Los Angeles. Peter Dauterive was a 1949 graduate of USC’s Marshall School of Business.

The university states that the $25 million gift is the largest donation ever made by an African American to a college or university in the United States. This is not the first gift made by the couple to the university. In 1985 the Dauterives endowed a scholarship fund for minority students pursuing educational doctorates at the university.


Two Universities in St. Louis Look to Bridge the Racial Divide

On one side of Compton Avenue in the city of St. Louis is Harris-Stowe State University where almost all of the 2,000 undergraduate students are African Americans. On the other side of the avenue is Saint Louis University where almost all of the 10,000 undergraduate students are white. The student body president at Harris-Stowe recently told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “We feel inferior going over there and they feel intimidated coming over here.”

In an effort to bridge the gap, the two universities recently held the St. Louis Dream Keepers’ Fair on the avenue that separates the two campuses. Organizers of the event called for more interaction between students on the two campuses in order to send a message to the wider St. Louis community that racial segregation should be laid to rest.

In addressing the gathering, St. Louis Congressman William L. Clay Jr. said, “Racial segregation stymies the progress of this community. St. Louis better get it. Racial division retards growth.”


Cleveland Sellers Named President of Voorhees College

Cleveland Sellers grew up on the campus of Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina. His mother was on the college faculty. Sellers attended a private high school affiliated with the historically black college. Now more than a half-century later, Sellers is returning to Voorhees College as its new president.

Sellers is a graduate of Howard University. After college he returned to South Carolina as an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In February 1968, Sellers was shot by police on the campus of South Carolina State University in what became known as the Orangeburg Massacre. Sellers was charged with inciting a riot and spent seven months in jail. He was the only person ever convicted of a crime as a result of the incident in which three black students were killed.

Sellers went on to earn a master’s degree from Harvard University and an educational doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He recently retired as a professor and head of the African-American studies program at the University of South Carolina.


Northwestern University Rescinds Offer of an Honorary Degree to Jeremiah Wright

Northwestern University had planned to award an honorary Doctorate of Sacred Theology to Jeremiah Wright at this year’s commencement ceremonies. Wright is the recently retired pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side of Chicago, where Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has been a member for the past 20 years. Wright has been the center of a continuing controversy concerning remarks that many people have deemed racist or unpatriotic.

In a letter to Wright, Northwestern University President Henry Bienen did not criticize the pastor’s remarks or make any judgment as to what has been said. Bienen simply wrote, “The celebratory character of Northwestern’s commencement would be affected by our conferring of this honorary degree.”

In an interview with a Texas newspaper, Wright said he had been told by Bienen that “he wasn’t patriotic enough,” a charge the Northwestern University president denies.

It is believed that this is the first time in the university’s history that an honorary degree has been rescinded. Wright holds honorary degrees from eight colleges and universities.



• Kimberly J. Sowell was promoted to vice chancellor for auxiliary and enrollment services at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. Sowell has been an administrator at the university since 1994, most recently serving as treasurer.

• Stacy L. Danley II was appointed director of athletics at Tuskegee University in Alabama. He was the associate athletic director at Auburn University.

• Shirley Reese was named assistant vice president for university advancement and director of development at Savannah State University. She was the director of athletics at Albany State University.

Dr. Reese is a graduate of Savannah State. She holds a master’s degree from Georgia State University and a doctorate from Florida State University.



The United Negro College Fund received a $100,000 grant from Erickson Retirement Communities. The grant will fund a scholarship program for students at UNCF member institutions who are interested in working in senior citizen programs. Ten $5,000 scholarships will be awarded in each of the next two years. In addition, scholarship winners will have the opportunity for summer internship positions at Erickson facilities.

Harris-Stowe State University, the historically black educational institution in St. Louis, received an $88,390 grant from the Lewis & Clark Discovery Initiative. The funds will be used to offset construction costs for the university’s Children and Parent Education Center.

• South Carolina State University, the historically black educational institution in Orangeburg, received a five-year, $350,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The funds will help efforts to establish a master’s degree program in rehabilitation counseling for state employees.

Eliminating the Racial Gap in College Graduation Rates

Nationwide, the black student college graduation rate is nearly 20 percentage points below the rate for white students. But JBHE data shows that at some highly ranked institutions, the racial graduation rate gap has totally disappeared. For example, at Wellesley College, Pomona College, Smith College, and Wake Forest University, the black student graduation rate is actually higher than the rate for whites. At Harvard University, Vanderbilt University and Lafayette College, the racial gap is only one or two percentage points.

One reason for the small or nonexistent racial gap in college graduation rates at these schools is that highly selective colleges tend to admit only students who have a very high likelihood of success. Also, these colleges typically have large endowments which permits them to offer generous financial aid packages that tend to reduce college dropout rates. Studies have shown that more than two thirds of all black students who drop out of college do so for financial reasons.

A new report from the Washington-based research organization Education Trust finds that there are many colleges and universities that are not highly selective or particularly well-endowed which also have had great success in eliminating the black-white graduation rate gap.

Author of the report Kevin Carey, who is the research and policy manager at Education Trust, states that, “If there is a single factor that seems to distinguish colleges and universities that have truly made a difference on behalf of minority students, it is attention. Successful colleges pay attention to graduation rates. They monitor year-to-year change, study the impact of different interventions on student outcomes, break down the numbers among different student populations, and continuously ask themselves how they could improve.”


“Senator Obama is a truly exceptional leader. He has shown an ability to bridge the divides in our society and unite people behind his agenda for change. He is exactly the kind of president our country needs.”

John Hope Franklin, professor emeritus of history at Duke University, endorsing the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama prior to this week’s North Carolina primary


Law Firm Funds Major Effort at City College to Increase Racial Diversity in the Legal Profession

City College of the City University of New York will receive a 10-year, $10 million grant from the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to support a new program designed to increase diversity in the legal profession. The new initiative, called the Skadden, Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies, will enroll up to 100 junior and senior students at City College. 

Once selected into this competitive program, students will participate in a curriculum that will train them for success in law school. They will receive special tutoring to prepare them to take the Law School Admission Test. Students in the program will be teamed up with a Skadden, Arps attorney as a mentor. Summer internships will be available at law firms, corporate legal departments, and public interest organizations. Need- and merit-based financial aid will be available for students accepted into the honors program.

Funds from the grant will also be used to establish an endowed professorship and to a create a center on campus for the program participants to meet with tutors and advisers.

Blacks are about one quarter of all undergraduate students at City College. Therefore, it is expected that large numbers of blacks will benefit from this new initiative.


Five Black Colleges and Universities Receive Grants to Revitalize Undergraduate Education in the Life Sciences

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland, recently awarded grants totaling $60 million to 48 undergraduate colleges in 21 states. The grants will be used to revitalize undergraduate programs in the life sciences at these institutions. Among the 48 colleges and universities receiving grants are five historically black institutions. They are:

Hampton University: The university received a $1.2 million grant for a program to increase the number of students seeking a Ph.D. in the biomedical sciences.

Morehouse College: A $1.4 million grant will be used to establish an instrumentation facility on campus that will house a fluorescent microscope, microarray readers, and other sophisticated equipment for research.

North Carolina Central University: The university plans to use a $900,000 grant for a program to recruit more students to its science programs. The university will begin an outreach program to area middle school and high school students. High school juniors will be brought to campus to participate in scientific research.

Oakwood University: This Huntsville, Alabama, black college will use its $1.2 million grant to expand a summer research program that sends its undergraduates to leading research institutions across the United States.

Spelman College: Students at Spelman College in Atlanta will use a $1.4 million grant to produce a film highlighting Spelman graduates who have pursued careers in science. The film will be used to recruit students for Spelman’s science programs.


New Institute for African-American Research Debuts at the University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina recently held ceremonies on campus heralding the establishment of the Institute for African-American Research. The new institute will sponsor research on race and African-American life and history in South Carolina, the southeastern United States, and the entire African diaspora.

Daniel C. Littlefield, Carolina Professor of History and director of the new center, stated that the institute will “bring together diverse faculty from across campus who study various topics that relate to African Americans. It will also be an effective means to attract and retain scholars from around the nation.”


Tennessee Board of Regents Reverses Its Decision: 14 Freedom Riders Who Were Expelled From Tennessee State in 1961 Will Receive Honorary Degrees

Last month JBHE reported that by a vote of 7 to 5 the Tennessee Board of Regents had rejected a proposal to award honorary degrees to 14 individuals who were expelled from historically black Tennessee State University in 1961 because they had participated in the Freedom Rides, protesting racial segregation in interstate transportation. The reasoning behind the decision not to grant the honorary degrees was a university policy of awarding no more than two honorary degrees per institution per year.

After a public outcry following their initial decision, the Board of Regents voted unanimously to bestow the honorary degrees to all 14 individuals who had been expelled for participating in the civil rights protests 47 years ago.


164,000  Number of African Americans alive today who hold a professional degree.

111,000  Number of African Americans alive today who hold a doctoral degree.

source: U.S. Department of Education


In Memoriam

Lettie Jane Austin (1924-2008)

Lettie Jane Austin, who taught English at Howard University for more than 60 years, died after suffering a stroke. She was 83 years old.

A native of Joplin, Missouri, Austin was a 1946 graduate of Lincoln University, the historically black educational institution in Jefferson City. The next year, she earned a master’s degree in English at Kansas State University and then joined the faculty at Howard University in the nation’s capital.

In 1952 she received her doctorate in education at Stanford University. Dr. Austin then traveled to Europe as a Fulbright scholar. There she earned a second master’s degree at the University of Nottingham, this one in Elizabethan literature.

Returning to her teaching position at Howard, in 1964 she completed a third master’s degree, this time in psychology. Later, at the age of 64, she earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Howard.

Dr. Austin became a full professor at Howard in 1968. She continued teaching until just before her death.



• Lani Guinier, the Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard University, received the inaugural Frederick Douglass Medal from the University of Rochester.

• Daisy M. Jenkins, the first African-American woman to be named vice president at Raytheon Missile Systems, received the Phenomenal Woman Award from the Black Alumni Club of the University of Arizona.

• Ngoda Manongi, a graduating senior at Hamilton College, was named the institution’s Bristol Fellow. Manongi, a biochemistry major, will spend the next year studying maternal mortality and child healthcare in South Africa, Mexico, Sweden, and the Philippines.

• Dhyana Ziegler, professor of journalism at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, was named Dame of Justice by the Chivalric Order of the Knights of Justice at Cambridge University in England.


Copyright © 2008. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.