African Americans Are Falling Further Behind in STEM Degrees

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education shows that the number of African Americans earning degrees in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics increased only slightly in the 2001 to 2009 period. In 2001, blacks earned 31,341 degrees in these fields. By 2009, blacks earned 32,488 degrees in STEM disciplines. This is an increase of 3.7 percent.

During this period, there was an overall increase of 12.4 percent in the number of degrees awarded in STEM fields. In 2009, blacks earned 7.5 percent of all degrees in STEM fields. In 2001, the figures was 8.1 percent.


More Than 3.6 Million African-American Adults Have Not Graduated From High School

While obtaining a college degree is regarded as essential to obtain a good job in today’s economy, a large percentage of the African-American adult population lacks even the lesser credential of a high school diploma. Only 84 percent of the adult black population over the age of 25 has completed high school. For whites, the figure is 92 percent.

More than 3.6 million African-American adults over the age of 25 have not completed high school.


New Cable Network Will Showcase Black Colleges

This coming fall the new Atlanta-based HBCU television network will premier on cable systems throughout the United States. The new network will feature live football, basketball, track and field, and other athletic events from the four athletic conferences that include historically black colleges and universities. In addition to sports, the HBCU Network will carry news, lifestyle, educational, and music programing. The business plan calls for participating black colleges and universities to get a 20 percent stake in the new enterprise.



To Cut Costs, Administrators at Prairie View A&M University Are Heading Back to the Classroom

Administrators at Prairie View A&M University, the historically black educational institution in Texas, are taking a novel approach to close the university’s budget gap. President George C. Wright and other administrators are planning to return to the classroom rather than hire new faculty members. Dr. Wright plans on teaching a lecture course in American history to 275 students this fall. This large lecture class will replace six smaller sections of the course taught by history department instructors. Before coming to Prairie View, Dr. Wright taught U.S. history at Duke University, the University of Texas, and the University of Kentucky.

Also returning to the classroom is E. Joahanne Thomas-Smith, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs. She will teach a course in on the principles of effective learning.

College of Engineering Dean Kendall Harris will teach an upper level course, eliminating the need for three sections which had been taught by instructors. The deans of the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Architecture, and the College of Business will also teach this fall.



New Admissions Policy at the University of Washington May Have a Negative Impact on Campus Racial Diversity

In order to increase tuition revenue, the University of Washington is increasing the number of students it accepts from outside the state of Washington. This year, tuition for students from outside of Washington is more than $25,000, compared to $8,700 for in-state students. As a result of the change in admission policy, there will be about 150 fewer spaces for incoming freshmen from the state of Washington.

There are concerns from some in the campus community that the change in admissions policy will have a negative impact on racial diversity on campus. More than 90 percent of all minority students at the University of Washington are in-state students.

At the present time, blacks make up about 3 percent of the 33,000-member undergraduate student body at the Seattle campus. By state law, the University of Washington is prohibited from considering race in its admissions decisions.

Sheila Edwards Lange, chief diversity officer at the University of Washington, told a local television reporter that “the Seattle campus could become more white and upper-middle class.” To counter the impact of accepting more out-of-state students, Dr. Lange stepped up efforts to increase the yield of black and other minority students who are accepted for admission. Accepted students received letters and telephone calls urging them to enroll at the University of Washington. Many accepted minority students from across the state were invited to come to Seattle to experience the university firsthand.

Dr. Lange is a graduate of the University of California at Irvine. She holds a master’s degree in public administration and an educational doctorate from the University of Washington.


In Memoriam

Anne Rose Jones (1921-2011)

Ann Rose Jones, who built the undergraduate program in social work at the University of Pittsburgh, died at her home in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. She was 89 years old.

A graduate of Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, Jones joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh in 1970. Previously, the university offered only master’s degree studies in social work. Jones was assigned the duty of establishing the undergraduate program. She later earned a master’s degree in social work and an educational doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh.


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Adele S. Newson-Horst was appointed dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Morgan State University in Baltimore, effective July 1. Currently, she is a professor of English at Missouri State University.

Professor Newson-Horst earned a Ph.D. in American literature at Michigan State University.

• Lisa Brock was named academic director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. She will begin her new assignment in September. Currently, Dr. Brock is associate professor of African history and diaspora studies and chair of the department of humanities, history, and social sciences at Columbia College in Chicago.

Professor Brock holds a Ph.D in African history from Northwestern University.

• Jann Joseph was appointed dean of the College of Education at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. When she takes her new post in July, Dr. Joseph will also assume a tenured professorship in teacher education. Since 2006, she has served as associate dean for professional development and administration at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences of Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.

Dr. Joseph earned bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago. She earned a doctorate at the University of Wisconsin.

• Rosalynn Martin was named director of human resources at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. A graduate of Alcorn State University in Mississippi, she holds an MBA from Jackson State University. She is currently completing doctoral work at the University of Memphis.

• Terence Blanchard, the Grammy-winning trumpeter and composer, was appointed artistic director of the Henry Mancini Institute of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. He has served as the artistic director of the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz.

When he begins his new duties this fall, Blanchard will spend one week each month on the University of Miami campus.

• Danita Nias was appointed executive director of the University of Florida Alumni Association, effective July 1. Currently, she is assistant vice president for development and alumni relations at the University of Maryland, College Park.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, Nias holds a master's degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.


Grants and Gifts

• Central State University, the historically black educational institution in Wilberforce, Ohio, received a $50,000 grant from the KeyBank Foundation to help build a stock trading room learning library for the university’s College of Business and Industry.

• Alabama State University in Montgomery received a $62,389 grant from the Federal Highway Administration for a summer institute for ninth and tenth grade students from Alabama’s Black Belt counties. The goal is to introduce students from these areas to career possibilities in the transportation industry.

• Delaware State University, the historically black educational institution in Dover, received a five-year, $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to establish a Center for Advanced Algorithms on campus. The center will conduct research to develop technologies that will protect U.S. troops and its allies from deadly improvised explosive devices.

• North Carolina A&T State University received a $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for a project to promote economically friendly construction projects in low-income neighborhoods of Greensboro. The project is under the direction of Musibau A. Shofoluwe, a professor in the department of construction management and occupational safety and health.

A recent op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal called for banning fraternities on college campuses due to the large number of sexual assault cases involving fraternity members. Do you agree that fraternities should be banned?


No Merger for Southern University of New Orleans

Republican legislators in Louisiana have pulled legislation that would have merged historically black Southern University of New Orleans with the predominantly white University of New Orleans. The legislation was taken off the table when the GOP House leadership realized they could not muster enough votes to assemble the required two-thirds majority. Black leaders in the legislature and officials at Southern University of New Orleans expressed relief that the historically black educational institution has survived a challenge to its existence.


Turmoil in Malawi Higher Education

A group of scholars from Malawi has petitioned the government of the African nation to institute meaningful reforms to the country’s higher education system. The scholars, some of whom are teaching abroad, object to government interference in the operation of the nation’s universities. The group accuses the government of using political pressure to have faculty fired, freezing academic salaries, and endorsing the planting of police informants in classes of professors who oppose the government. The group states the government tries to influence appointments and curriculum on the country’s university campuses and attempts to stifle political dissent.

Among the leaders of the opposition group are Malawi professors Sam Mchombo, who currently teaches linguistics at Berkeley and Lupenga Mphande, an associate professor and director of the African languages program at Ohio State University.



Emory University Unveils New African Origins Website

Recently, Emory University unveiled a new website that seeks to identify the origins of a group of Africans transported on slave ships to the New World in the 1819 to 1845 period. The African Origins website contains information on more than 9,000 Africans who were enslaved but later freed by the Courts of Mixed Commission in Havana, Cuba, and Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Researchers G. Ugo Nwokeji of the University of California at Berkeley and David Eltis of Emory University took the names from ships’ registers and made recordings of the names as they were likely pronounced by officials in Havana and Freetown. They then played these recordings to linguistics experts in an effort to identify the African origins of people who were on these ships.

Having achieved limited success, Nwokeji and Eltis have now listed the names of all the people on the ships and the sound recordings of their names in an effort to enlist the assistance of scholars worldwide in the effort to determine the African origins of the people on these ships. Visitors to the site can browse through a list of names, hear how they are pronounced, and can fill out an online form if they have any information that will help researchers determine where in Africa these people originated.


Howard University Law School Receives Papers of Mary Young-Cummings

The papers of Mary Young-Cummings, the first African-American woman lawyer in Augusta, Georgia, have been donated to her alma mater, the Howard University School of Law. Young-Cummings, who served on the Albany City Commission and as a Georgia state legislator, died last year at the age of 66.

Included in the collection are Young-Cummings legal briefs, photographs, letters, and other documents.


The Racial Gap in College Enrollments in Connecticut

A new report from the Connecticut Department of Education presents data which shows that 69 percent of all public high school seniors who graduated in 2010 went on to enroll in college. But students from low-income families were far less likely to enroll in college. Only 42 percent of the 2010 graduating seniors who qualified for the free lunch program enrolled in college.

The report found that 76 percent of all graduating white students enrolled in college. For blacks, only 52 percent enrolled in college. If we include only those students who enrolled in four-year colleges, we find that 59 percent of non-Hispanic white high school graduates went on to college compared to just 23 percent of African-American high school graduates.

Central State University Aims to Boost Its Retention and Graduation Rates

Central State University, the historically black educational institution in Wilberforce, Ohio, is taking steps to improve its retention and graduation rates. The most recent data shows that only 47 percent of entering freshmen return for their sophomore year and just 19 percent of entering freshmen earn a bachelor’s degree within six years at Central State.

The Ohio Board of Regents plans to base its funding criteria, in part, on the success of institutions of higher learning in graduating their students. So Central State is establishing a University College for all incoming freshmen. Students will be required to take a first-year course that aims to teach them how to succeed in college. In addition, the university is beefing up its counseling and mentoring programs. The university hopes to raise its graduation rate to the national average within five years.


To Save Money, St. Paul’s College Eliminates Intercollegiate Sports

St. Paul’s College, the historically black educational institution in Lawrenceville, Virginia, with ties to the Episcopal Church, has decided to end all intercollegiate sports programs. The college fielded 14 teams this past year, seven for men and seven for women. There were track, cross country, tennis and basketball teams for both men and women. There were women’s teams in bowling, volleyball, and softball. Men played intercollegiate contests in football, baseball, and golf.

In a statement the college said that its “longstanding financial problems have yet to be resolved.” It went to say that when the college is once again on solid financial footing that it would reconsider reinstating intercollegiate athletics. In the meantime, the college will enhance its intramural sports programs.


Race Relations on Campus Database

Periodically, JBHE Weekly Bulletin will publish a selection of racial incidents that have occurred on the campuses of colleges and universities. Here are the latest incidents:

• Nine former employees of the athletic department at Auburn University in Alabama have filed a federal race discrimination lawsuit against the educational institution. Ten of 11 employees who lost their jobs in a department reorganization are black. (Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, 3-25-11)

• Two signs using a racial slur directed against President Obama were found on the campus of the University of Kentucky. One sign was placed on a door at the law school. Another sign, that was placed on a bus shelter, read, “How Do You Spell Nigger? OBAMA.” (Lexington Herald-Leader, 3-25-11)

• Two black students at California University of Pennsylvania were arrested on assault charges after a violent incident outside a restaurant. A white man said he heard one of the two black students say he was going to hit the first white person he saw. The white man was then punched in the face and kicked when he fell to the ground. (Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 3-24-11)

• Racial slurs directed against African Americans were written on several message boards in a dormitory on the campus of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. There have been several similar incidents on the Lafayette campus this semester.

• The University of Iowa announced that it was investigating three separate incidents in which black students were verbally assaulted with racial slurs. The incidents took place near a dormitory on campus. (Associated Press, 4-20-11)

• A black officer of the Harvard University Police Department has filed a federal race discrimination lawsuit against the university. The officer claims that he was routinely passed over for promotions. The officer also alleges that his superiors frequently made racist remarks about blacks and Latinos. (Associated Press, 4-20-11)

• A group of African Americans who are former student athletes at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, claims that the university enforces its honor policy more severely on black athletes. The group states that of the 70 athletes who have been investigated or punished since 1993, 54 were black. The university strongly denies that race is a factor in its disciplinary actions involving the honor code. (Salt Lake Tribune, 4-24-11)

• A white man threw a beer at a car of a minority student on the campus of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. The white man shouted, “Get off our campus.” When the victim responded, “I’m a student here, idiot,” his attacker said, “Sure you are, nigger.” (Hartford Courant, 4-25-11)

• The editor-in-chief of the student newspaper at the University of New Mexico apologized for an editorial cartoon depicting President Obama holding up the head of a dead Osama bin Laden. In the cartoon, the president appeared to be depicted as a monkey.


Honors and Awards

• Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, assistant professor of politics at the University of San Francisco was awarded the 2011 Thomas I. Yamashita Prize from the Center for the Study of Social Change at the University of California at Berkeley. She was honored for her leadership of the nonprofit organization Akili Dada, which seeks to increase educational opportunities for young African women.

• Kwame Harrison, associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Virginia Tech received the university’s 2011 Edward S. Diggs Teaching Scholars Award.

Dr. Harrison is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He received a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Syracuse University.

• Bonnie Newman Davis, associate professor of journalism at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, was named Journalism Educator of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists.

Professor Davis is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and holds a master’s degree from the University of Michigan.

• James M. Jones and Kasandra Y. Moye both received the Louis L. Redding Diversity Award from the Office of Equity and Inclusion at the University of Delaware. Dr. Jones is a professor of psychology and director of black American studies. He graduated from Oberlin College, earned a master’s degree from Temple University, and garnered his Ph.D. in social psychology at Yale University.

Kasandra Moye is the director of the Center for Black Culture at the university.





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