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Sonia Sotomayor on Affirmative Action

President Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court has received favorable reaction from the African-American community.

Sotomayor was a member of a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled that the city of New Haven, Connecticut, could ignore the results of an examination in making decisions on who should be promoted within the fire department. She ruled that the city was permitted to scuttle the test results because not one African American achieved a score that would have qualified him or her for promotion.

The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the case. Most Supreme Court observers believe that the Sotomayor ruling in the New Haven case will be overturned.

Sotomayor’s ruling in the New Haven firefighters case demonstrates that Sotomayor will be a strong voice for affirmative action on the Supreme Court.

Harvard’s Class of 2013 to Be the Most Diverse in the School’s History: Recession Has No Impact on Yield

Harvard University reports that 76 percent of the students who were offered admission have accepted the invitation to enroll at the university. Harvard’s yield is almost identical to its performance a year ago. One reason for the high yield is the university’s generous financial aid program where students from families that earn up to $180,000 a year pay no more than 10 percent of their incomes to meet Harvard’s $50,000 annual fee. Harvard reports that 65 percent of incoming students will receive some financial aid, up from 60 percent a year ago.

Harvard calls the Class of 2013 the most racially diverse in its history. Most notable is the fact that 10 percent of the incoming class is African American. Black student yield was 71 percent, up from 64 percent a year ago. Hispanics make up 9.5 percent of the incoming class.

More Than 4.5 Million African Americans Alive Today Have a Four-Year College Degree

Today there are more than 4.5 million living African Americans who hold a four-year college degree. The breakdown is as follows: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 3,215,000 blacks in this country who hold a bachelor’s degree but no higher degree. And there are an additional 1,078,000 African Americans who have a four-year college degree and who also hold a master’s degree. An additional 150,000 blacks hold a professional degree in such fields as law, business, and medicine. Another 136,000 African Americans have obtained a doctorate.

In 2008, 19.6 percent of all African Americans over the age of 25 held a college degree. This figure has increased significantly from 13.8 percent in 1996 and 11.3 percent in 1990.

But the percentage of all adult African Americans who are college educated continues to lag far behind that of white adults. In 2008, 32.6 percent of white adults had completed at least four years of college.

The First White Valedictorian at Historically Black Voorhees College

In the spring of 2008 Joshua Packwood was the first white man to be valedictorian at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He was an economics major with a 4.0 grade point average. He landed a job on Wall Street.

This spring Victoria Paun is the first white valedictorian at Voorhees College, the historically black educational institution in Denmark, South Carolina. Paun, a native of Bucharest, Romania, maintained a 4.0 average throughout her four years at the college. At Voorhees, she was captain of the debate team and was a member of the concert choir. A history major, Paun is planning to go to graduate school.

An African-American Milestone in College Sports

Earlier this month the lacrosse team at California State University at Fullerton won the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference Championship. It was the first time in American history that a college lacrosse team with a black coach has won a conference title. The team is coached by Ryland Huyghue.

Florida A&M University Bestows Its First Doctoral Degrees in Two Fields

Earlier this month the first graduates from the doctoral program in physical therapy and the Ph.D. program in pharmacy received their degrees at historically black Florida A&M University. Fourteen students received doctoral degrees in physical therapy. One student, Nkechinyere Ichit, received a PharmD/Ph.D., which is different from the traditional PharmD degree that is required for licensed pharmacists. The Ph.D. in pharmacy qualifies the degree holder to conduct high-level research and to teach pharmacy courses at leading research universities. Ichit completed the Ph.D. program in eight years.

Black Sorority Calls for an End to the Old South Parade at the University of Alabama

Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, a historically black sorority, have asked the University of Alabama to discontinue the traditional Old South Parade. Each year male students in Confederate uniforms and women in period dresses march across campus. Confederate flags are prominently displayed during the parade. The parade is sponsored by the Kappa Alpha fraternity.

University spokeswoman Deborah Lane said the administration would look into the complaint. She stated, “The university will continue to emphasize the principles of civility and respect that govern an academic community.”

Clarence Newsome Steps Down as President of Shaw University

Clarence G. Newsome has stepped down as president of Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. It is clear to all observers that the university’s dire financial situation was the reason that the board of trustees and Dr. Newsome agreed that a change in leadership had to be made. In announcing the resignation, the board of trustees stated that the university was $20 million in debt. Each of the university’s 40 trustees has pledged $50,000 to retire $2 million of the university’s debt.

Dr. Newsome has led Shaw since 2003. Previously he was dean of the divinity school at Howard University. He holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, all from Duke University.

72.6%  Median earnings of white women who worked full time in 2007 as a percentage of the median earnings of white men who worked full time.

87.1%  Median earnings of black women who worked full time in 2007 as a percentage of the median earnings of black men who worked full time.

source: U.S. Census Bureau

Honors and Awards

• Tonderai Chikuhwa, a senior program officer in the United Nations Office for Children and Armed Conflict, was selected to receive the Charles J. Turck Global Citizen Award from Macalester College. A graduate of Macalester College, Chikuhwa holds a master’s degree from the University of Cape Town.

• Niara Sudarkasa, consulting scholar at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was the recipient of the African-American Achiever award given by JM Family Enterprises. Dr. Sudarkasa previously served as president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

A graduate of Oberlin College, Sudarkasa holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Columbia University.

• Terry Adkins, professor in the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania, was awarded the Rome Prize in Visual Arts from the American Academy in Rome. Professor Adkins will spend a year at the academy studying the influence of African culture on the city of Rome.

• Phoebe Butler-Ajibade, assistant professor of human performance and leisure studies at North Carolina A&T State University, received the Most Outstanding Faculty Research Award from the Ronald E. McNair National Research Symposium.

• Walter Smith, former president of Florida A&M University who retired in 2000, received the 2009 Applegate-Dorros Peace and International Understanding Award from the National Education Association. He is the first African American to win the award.

Dr. Smith holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida A&M University and a doctorate from Florida State University.

• George E. Cooper, president of South Carolina State University, received the Leadership Award from the Association of Research Directors for his support throughout his career of the 1890 land grant colleges.

A graduate of Florida A&M University, Dr. Cooper holds a master’s degree in animal science from Tuskegee University and a Ph.D. in animal nutrition from the University of Illinois.

• Sidney A. Ribeau, president of Howard University in Washington, D.C., was honored by Bowling Green State University, where he served as president from 1995 to 2008. The university is naming an outdoor plaza and its President’s Leadership Academy after Dr. Ribeau.

For breaking news and previews of upcoming articles

Crisis in California: Voters' Rejection of Budget Proposals Could Halt the College Dreams of Tens of Thousands of African Americans

This past week voters in California rejected a series of budget proposals that would have limited cuts to the state’s public institutions of higher education. Now the 10-campus University of California system faces a budget cut of more than $320 million. Mark G. Yudof, president of the university system, warned of a “dramatic change in the quality and accessibility of the university.” The cuts, he said, “would have a devastating effect on the students, the faculty, and the staff of the University of California.”

The 23-campus California State University system faces cuts of $410 million. Such cuts may force the university to reduce enrollments by as many as 50,000 students.

The leaders of the California community college system announced that proposed cuts of $825 million could result in a reduction in enrollments of as many as 250,000 students. Current enrollments stand at 2.7 million students.

The budget cuts will mean rising fees that would disproportionately affect blacks and other low-income groups. Also, other outreach programs to increase student and faculty diversity will likely be subject to the budget axe.

“I’ve never had a fire burning inside me like I do for that mongrel thug.”

— a posting on the “I Hate Obama” page of the white supremacist Web site

Thirteen New Black Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

This year, 210 new fellows were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. As in past years, the academy has not disclosed the racial makeup of the new members. But through an analysis of the new members list, JBHE has been able to determine that at least 13 of the 210 new members are black. The 13 new black members are the largest group since JBHE began tracking inductees. In 2008 there were only four new black fellows to the academy. In both 2006 and 2007, seven new black members were elected to the academy.

Following is a list of the 13 new black members of the academy.

Danielle Allen is the UPS Foundation Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

Kenny Barron is a visiting professor at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.

Stanley Crouch is a columnist for the New York Daily News.

Scott Vernon Edwards is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.

Eve J. Higginbotham is dean, senior vice president for academic affairs, and professor of surgery at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.

Bill T. Jones is cofounder and artistic director at the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in New York City.

James Earl Jones is an accomplished actor who has won two Tony Awards on Broadway.

William Chester Jordan is Dayton-Stockton Professor of History and chair of the history department at Princeton University.

Jamaica Kincaid is a visiting lecturer in English and African and African-American studies at Harvard University.

Edward L. Miles is Virginia and Prentice Bloedel Professor of Marine Studies and Public Affairs at the University of Washington.

Colin L. Powell is the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He served as secretary of state in the administration of George W. Bush.

Emilie M. Townes is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African-American Religion and Theology at Yale Divinity School.

Warren Morton Washington is senior scientist and section head for climate change research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Princeton University Makes Progress in Recruiting Black Graduate Students

Princeton University has made tremendous progress increasing the number of black undergraduate students on campus. This past academic year, there were 95 black first-year students on campus, making up nearly 8 percent of the freshman class. Princeton’s highly regarded black studies program has been a tremendous draw for college-bound black students. Also, Princeton has been a leader in establishing financial aid initiatives to draw more black students to the university.

But Princeton has struggled to attract blacks to its many graduate programs. In a typical year, blacks have made up between 2 percent and 3 percent of all graduate students at Princeton. Karen Jackson-Weaver, who was hired in 2007 as associate dean of academic affairs and diversity at the graduate school, has made a concerted effort to increase recruiting of black and minority students.

Statistics show that Dean Jackson-Weaver’s efforts are beginning to pay off. The number of black applicants to all of Princeton’s graduate programs has increased from 172 in 2005 to 252 this spring, an increase of 46.5 percent. However, there is much work that still needs to be done. This year only 2.5 percent of all applicants to Princeton’s graduate programs are black.

Southern University Plans “Cloud Computing” Enterprise

Many colleges and universities have vast computer and technology resources. Often these resources are operating at a fraction of their potential capacity. Now Southern University, the historically black educational institution in Baton Rouge, is teaming up with IBM to make this excess capacity available to local schools, governments, and businesses that will produce a revenue stream for the university.

Students at the university will also benefit by being involved in the project and learning advanced computer skills. IBM will train Southern University faculty members and students in so-called cloud computing technology. IBM will create a network that will bundle all the university’s computer capacity together and make it available for use by outside entities without breaching the security of the university’s internal operations.

Barber-Scotia College Issues Roadmap for Its Recovery

Founded in 1867 Barber-Scotia College, the historically black educational institution in Concord, North Carolina, has fallen on tough times. Financial difficulties and other problems caused the college to lose its accreditation in 2004. This prevented students at the school from receiving any state or federal financial aid. Enrollments plummeted. This spring there were only 20 students enrolled.

But the college plans a comeback. This fall the college will be offering instruction in three fields: religious studies, business entrepreneurship, and bio-energy research. The college hopes to raise $10 million by 2011 to fund operations and reduce long-term debt. It hopes to be listed as a candidate for accreditation next spring, which would once again make its students eligible for federal and state scholarship grants and loans.

Chicago State University Names New President

Wayne D. Watson was named president of Chicago State University. Since 1998 Watson has served as chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago, a seven-campus system of community colleges with total enrollments of 115,000 students.

Many students and faculty members were unhappy with the choice. They note that in 2005 Watson received a vote of no confidence from the faculty at the City Colleges of Chicago.

Watson holds a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and educational doctorate, all from Northwestern University.

Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Nina M. Moore, an associate professor of political science at Colgate University, was appointed to a four-year term on the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Dr. Moore is a graduate of Knox College. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago.

• Leo H. McWilliams, an instructor in engineering at the University of Notre Dame, was named director of the Minority Engineering Program at the university. He has taught at Notre Dame since 2002.

Dr. McWilliams holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Notre Dame.

• Abi Aghayere was appointed professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the College of Professional Studies at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He has served as chair of the department of civil engineering technology, environmental management, and safety at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

A graduate of the University of Lagos in Nigeria, Dr. Aghayere holds a master’s degree from MIT and a Ph.D. in structural engineering from the University of Alberta.

• William E. Spriggs, chair of the department of economics at Howard University, was nominated by President Obama as assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Dr. Spriggs is a graduate of Williams College. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin.

• A. Zachary Yamba, president of Essex County College in Newark, New Jersey, has announced that he is retiring at the end of this year. Yamba, a native of Ghana, has served as president of the college since 1980.

• S. James Gates Jr., the John S. Toll Professor of Physics and director of the Center for String and Particle Theory at the University of Maryland, was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.

• Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and former director of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.

Grants and Donations

• Jackson State University, the historically black educational institution in Mississippi, received a $1 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security for a research project that will investigate techniques for strengthening levees.

• Duke University received a three-year, $404,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to continue the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute. The institute is a five-week summer program for minority college students who have just completed their junior year. The program is designed to encourage and prepare them to pursue graduate studies in political science.

• The University of Texas at Arlington is endowing a professorship in biology with funds provided by Dr. Maxwell C. Scarlett and his wife. Dr. Scarlett is president and CEO of Lekar Emergency Medical Associates in Killeen, Texas. He was the first African-American graduate of the university.

• The City College of New York in collaboration with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center received a $15.9 million grant from the National Cancer Institute for the Partnership for Cancer Research, Training, and Community Outreach project. The program aims to educate residents of the Harlem community about cancer screenings and choosing healthy lifestyles.

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