Sidney Ribeau Named 16th President of Howard University

For nearly a century and a half, Howard University in Washington, D.C., has been a mecca for African-American scholars. Charles Drew, Rayford Logan, Ernest Just, Sterling Brown, and Alain Locke are just a few of the notable black scholars who have taught at the university.

Howard is one of only 48 private doctoral research institutions in the United States.

Howard University awards twice as many doctorates as its nearest competitor among historically black universities. It has trained a large percentage of the nation’s black physicians, dentists, and lawyers. Due to its proximity to the seat of government power, the scholar who leads Howard University is instantly cast as a major figure in the world of higher education.

Now the leadership of this great institution of African-American higher education is being passed to Sidney A. Ribeau. On August 1, Ribeau will succeed A. Patrick Swygert and become the 16th president of Howard University.

Dr. Ribeau has spent the last 13 years as president of Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Prior to coming to Bowling Green, he was vice president for academic affairs at California Polytechnic State University in Pomona.

Co-chair of the presidential search committee Colin Powell stated, Dr. Ribeau “is a charismatic executive who works effectively inside and outside the institution he heads.”

Ribeau was raised in Detroit and is a graduate of Wayne State University. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in interpersonal communications from the University of Illinois.


The Huge Racial Gap in Household Wealth Hinders the Ability of African-American Families to Pay for the Higher Education of Their Children

Severely restraining the ability of blacks to pay for college is the fact that, for the past 30 years, black family income has held steady at about 60 percent of median white family income. This large and unyielding gap is a huge barrier to blacks who seek education beyond high school.

A far more important statistic for measuring the ability to finance the cost of higher education is family wealth. Family assets such as stocks, bonds, money in the bank, and real estate produce interest, dividends, or rental income which are commonly used to offset or pay college costs. More important, these assets can be sold or borrowed against to provide funds for college expenses.

A new report issued by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in 2002 the median net worth of non-Hispanic white households in the United States was $87,056. For black households, the median net worth was $5,446. Therefore, whites had nearly 16 times the net worth of blacks.

There are strong indications that the family wealth gap is widening. The data shows that between 2000 and 2002, the median net worth of whites increased slightly from $85,157 to $87,056. But during this same period, the median net worth of blacks decreased from $8,044 in 2000 to $5,446.

If we go back to 1993, we find that the average white family had a positive net worth of $45,740. The net worth of the average black family was only $4,418. Thus, over the decade from 1993 to 2002, the racial gap in household wealth expanded from a 10 to 1 advantage for whites to an edge of 16 to 1.


Major Increase in the Number of American College Students at African Universities

According to data from the Institute for International Education, more than 223,000 American students studied at foreign institutions of higher education during the 2005-06 academic year. This was up 8.5 percent from a year earlier. A vast majority of Americans studying abroad (58.3 percent) attended universities in Europe. Of all U.S. students studying abroad, 8,459, or 3.8 percent, attended universities in Africa. The number of American students studying in Africa was up a whopping 19 percent from the previous year.

In 2005-06, 2,512 American students studied in South Africa. This was up by 9 percent from a year earlier. Ghana hosted 1,205 American students in the 2005-06 academic year. Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, Madagascar, Zambia, and Uganda were the only other black African nations hosting more than 100 American college students.

Of the 205,983 American students studying abroad in all areas of the globe, 7,209, or 3.5 percent, were African Americans. In 1996 African Americans were also 3.5 percent of all American students studying abroad.


Black University Lecturer Elected to the Italian Parliament

In 1979 Jean Leonard Touadi traveled from his native Congo to attend college in Italy. He earned a degree in philosophy from the Vatican Gregorian University and a second degree in journalism and political science from Liberà Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali in Rome.

When civil war engulfed his native country, Touadi remained in Italy and became the host of a morning television program. He wrote several books on the immigrant experience in Italy. He served for five years as a deputy mayor of Rome with responsibility for security and public safety.

He is now a lecturer in political science at Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata and teaches a course on the culture of French-speaking countries at the University of Milan.

Last month, the 49-year-old Touadi was elected to the Italian parliament as a member of the Values Party, which is a component of a center-left coalition, which is now in opposition to conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.


The New President of Cedar Crest College

Carmen Twillie Ambar has been appointed the 13th president of Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Since 2002 she has been the dean of Douglass College at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Previously, Ambar served as assistant dean for graduate education at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Ambar, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, is a graduate of Georgetown University. She holds a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University and a law degree from Columbia University.


In Memoriam

Mildred Loving (1939-2008)

Mildred Jeter Loving, the black woman who refused to accept the Virginia law prohibiting interracial marriage and took the issue to the Supreme Court, has died from pneumonia at her home in Central Point, Virginia. She was 68 years old.

The families of Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving lived in Caroline County, Virginia. The couple met while in high school, fell in love, and Mildred became pregnant. Due to a law enacted in 1662 banning interracial marriages in Virginia, the couple were obliged to drive to Washington, D.C., to get married.

One night a few months later, police burst into their bedroom and arrested the couple for violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages. The Lovings pleaded guilty. In a plea bargain deal, the couple avoided prison by agreeing to leave the state.

In 1963 Mildred Loving, inspired by the early successes of the civil rights movement, decided to file a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban on interracial marriage that still prevailed in Virginia and 15 other states.

The case was finally decided in the Lovings’ favor by a unanimous Supreme Court in 1967. Richard Loving died in an automobile accident in 1975.

Today there are more than 4 million interracial marriages in the United States.

Luther Porter Jackson Jr. (1925-2008)

Luther Porter Jackson Jr., the first black faculty member at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has died of Parkinson’s disease at a hospital in the Bronx, New York. He was 83 years old.

Jackson was a native of Chicago but was raised in Virginia. His father, a close associate of Carter G. Woodson, was the chair of the history department at historically black Virginia State University. After serving in the Pacific during World War II, Jackson graduated from Virginia State and went on to earn a master’s degree in journalism at Columbia. For seven years he was a reporter for the Newark Evening News. In 1959, he became one of only a handful of black reporters at The Washington Post.

He served on the Columbia faculty from 1968 to 1992. His son, Lee F. Jackson, was killed in the same 1996 plane crash that took the life of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.

Hattie Jackson Higgs (1933-2008)

Hattie Jackson Higgs, a member of the faculty at Prairie View A&M University for 40 years, died last month of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. She was 74 years old.

Professor Higgs was a native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where her father was a professor at the state’s historically black university. After graduating from Pine Bluff in 1954, Higgs earned a master’s degree in French from Atlanta University.

Higgs joined the faculty at Prairie View in 1955 teaching French, Spanish, and German to both undergraduate and graduate students. She remained on the faculty at Prairie View until her retirement in 1995.

Will Robinson (1911-2008)

Will Robinson, the first African American to coach basketball at a predominantly white NCAA Division I university, has died at a Detroit hospital. He was 96 years old.

Robinson was born in Wadesboro, North Carolina, but was raised by his grandparents in Steubenville, Ohio. He finished second in the Ohio state high school golf championship despite the fact that he was not allowed on the course at the same time as white competitors. He went on to West Virginia State College, a historically black institution, where he earned 15 varsity letters in four sports.

In 1970 he was named head coach of the men’s basketball team at Illinois State University. He coached for six seasons, compiling a record of 78-51. Robinson then worked as a scout for the National Basketball Association’s Detroit Pistons and the National Football League’s Detroit Lions.



• South Carolina State University, the historically black educational institution in Orangeburg, was awarded a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a rehabilitation counseling program for training students to work with the blind or visually impaired.



Pomona College Will Not Permit the Singing of Its Alma Mater at Its Commencement Ceremony: Song Was Part of a 1909 Blackface Minstrel Show

This coming Sunday, Pomona College, the highly selective liberal arts institution in Claremont, California, will hold its 115th Commencement ceremony. But this year the singing of the college’s alma mater — “Hail, Pomona, Hail” — has been left off the program.

Recently it was revealed that the song had been composed in 1909 as the closing number of a blackface minstrel show. The show was produced to raise money to buy new uniforms for the college’s baseball team. There is nothing in the song itself that can be construed as being racially derogatory.

Dean of students Miriam Feldblum states that the news of the song’s origins “generated great distress” on campus. As a result, Pomona president David Oxtoby decided to remove the alma mater from this year’s graduation ceremony. He appointed a committee to look into the matter and all other songs relating to the college. The college will employ two interns this summer who will research the college’s alma mater and other such songs in the context of the history and the time in which they were written.

After a “campus conversation,” which will take place through the fall semester, a decision will be made about the future use of “Hail, Pomona, Hail.”


“Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again.”

Hillary Clinton, in an interview with USA Today after the Indiana and North Carolina primaries



High-Ranking Law Schools Showing Increases in Black Enrollments in This Decade

Tracking black progress at the nation’s leading law schools is an important barometer for gauging how blacks are faring in reaching the top echelons of the legal profession. The leading law firms in this country recruit a large majority of their associates at the nation’s leading law schools. Also, the nation’s top law schools typically produce the law clerks for the nation’s Supreme Court justices and other federal judgeships.

In the 1999 to 2007 period, total black enrollments in the nation’s law schools inched upward only slightly. But some of the nation’s leading law schools have shown major improvement. At the University of Texas, black enrollments increased from 43 students in 1999 to 77 students in 2007.

The University of Chicago also saw a major increase in black enrollments during the period. There were 43 black students at the law school in 2007, an increase of 72 percent from 1999.

Three other high-ranking law schools showed increases in black enrollments greater than 40 percent in the 1999 to 2007 period. They are the University of Notre Dame, Northwestern University, and New York University.

Harvard, the University of Virginia, Boalt Hall at the University of California at Berkeley, and Washington and Lee University all posted gains in black enrollments of 20 percent or more. Emory, Boston University, and the University of Michigan were the only other schools among the nation’s 30 highest-ranked law schools to post gains in black enrollments during the period.


Virginia State University to Launch New Graduate Programs in Agricultural Science

Virginia State University, the historically black educational institution in Ettrick, has announced that it will be offering a new master’s degree program in plant science. The new program will debut in the fall semester. Students will have the opportunity to study field and horticultural crops, soil science, ecosystems, and plant biology. The university maintains a 416-acre farm which includes 130 acres of irrigated cropland, laboratories, and an 18,500-square-foot greenhouse.

Virginia State hopes to begin a doctoral program in life sciences and agriculture within two years.


School of Law at Florida A&M University Adds Six Black Faculty Members

The law school of Florida A&M University in Orlando has announced the appointment of six new black faculty members:

Markita Cooper was named professor and associate dean for academic affairs. She was a professor and associate dean at the Golden Gate Law School in San Francisco. Cooper is a graduate of Stanford University and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Jeremy Levitt was appointed distinguished professor of international law and associate dean for international programs. He was an associate professor and director of the Program for Human Rights and Global Justice at Florida International University in Miami. Dr. Levitt is a graduate of Arizona State University. He holds a law degree from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. in international relations from Cambridge University.

Kenneth Nunn was named professor and associate dean for research and faculty development. He was a professor at the University of Florida College of Law in Gainesville. A graduate of Stanford University, Nunn earned his law degree at the Boalt Hall law school at the University of California.

Deleso Washington was added to the FAMU law faculty as an associate professor. She was an assistant professor at the Barry University School of Law in Orlando. A graduate of Southern University and the Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Washington holds a second law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Crisaria Houston was appointed assistant professor and director of the legal writing program at FAMU. She was an assistant professor at the Texas Southern University School of Law. A graduate of Hampton University, she earned her law degree at Harvard Law School.

Tshaka Randall was appointed assistant professor at the FAMU law school. He was a visiting professor at the Widener School of Law in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A graduate of the University of Dayton, Randall holds a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.


Strike Two for Ward Connerly

Ward Connerly, the African-American businessman who led the successful efforts to abolish race-sensitive admissions at state-operated universities in California, Washington State, and Michigan, had planned a “Super Tuesday” on affirmative action with ballot initiatives in five additional states this November. The five target states were Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.

Last month, supporters of the anti-affirmative action initiative in Oklahoma abandoned the effort after failing to collect enough signatures to get the referendum on the ballot. This month, the effort in Missouri failed to submit the required number of signatures to get the measure on the ballot in that state.


87%  Percentage of parents of white schoolchildren in grades 6 through 12 who expect to help pay for their child’s college education.

76%  Percentage of parents of African-American schoolchildren in grades 6 through 12 who expect to help pay for their child’s college education.

source: U.S. Department of Education



• Ingrid Wicker-McCree was promoted to director of athletics at North Carolina Central University in Durham. She has worked at the university for the past 15 years, most recently as the associate athletics director for internal affairs.

Wicker-McCree is a graduate of George Washington University. She is currently working toward a doctorate in higher educational administration at North Carolina State University, where she earlier earned a master’s degree in recreation resources administration.

• Jay Harris, director of the Center for the Study of Journalism and Democracy at the University of Southern California, was named cochair of the Pulitzer Prize Board. Harris is the former executive editor of the Philadelphia Daily News and former publisher of the San Jose Mercury News.

• Diedrick Graham was named associate ombuds officer at Princeton University. He was the student ombudsman at San Diego State University.

Graham, a former Navy chaplain, is a graduate of the University of Alabama. He holds master’s degrees from the Interdenominational Theological Center and the University of Oklahoma.

• Jonda C. McNair, an assistant professor of reading education at Clemson University in South Carolina, was elected to serve on the Coretta Scott King Book Award Jury of the American Library Association.

Dr. McNair is a graduate of the University of Florida. She holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in language, literacy, and culture from Ohio State University.

• Beverly Edmond was appointed interim president of Alabama A&M University. She has served as provost at the university for the past two years. Previously, she was vice provost at Clark Atlanta University.

• Deborah E. McDowell, the Alice Griffin Professor of Literary Studies at the University of Virginia, was named the new director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the university.

Dr. McDowell has been on the faculty at the University of Virginia since 1987. She is a graduate of Tuskegee University and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Purdue University.



Emilie M. Townes, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African-American Religion and Theology at Yale Divinity School, was named Alumna of the Year by the University of Chicago Divinity School.

This summer Dr. Townes will become president of the American Academy of Religion.

Carol Wilson Spigner, Kenneth L.M. Pray Professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice, received the university’s Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Edmond Fomunung, a graduating senior at the University of Georgia, was awarded a Merage American Dream Fellowship. The fellowship, reserved for academically outstanding students who are immigrants to the United States, includes a $20,000 scholarship for graduate study.

Fomunung, a native of Cameroon, plans to pursue a medical degree and a master’s degree in public health.

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