The Large Gender Gap in African-American Degree Attainments

Today there are 2,670,000 black women with a four-year degree or better compared to only 1,909,000 black men with the same credential. Therefore, it turns out that black women account for 58 percent of all African Americans who have completed four years of college or more in our country.

Some 669,000 black women hold a master’s degree compared to 409,000 black men. Thus, black women hold 62 percent of all African-American master’s degrees.

Black men continue to have a lead over black women in their number of professional degrees. Approximately 88,000 black men have a professional degree in the United States today compared to 62,000 black women.

Black men continue to hold the lead in doctorates but the gap is rapidly closing. Today black women hold 65,000 of the 136,000 doctorates held by living African Americans. But black women now earn 65 percent of all new doctorates awarded to African Americans. Therefore, the overall gender gap in favor of black men is likely to evaporate in the near future.



New Study Maps the Genetic History of People of African Descent

A research team led by Sarah Tishkoff, the David and Lyn Silfen University Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has published the largest database of genetic information on Africans and African Americans. The new genetic library holds data on more than 4 million people of African descent.

But the descriptions will contain information on the locality of the actual documents and how researchers can gain access to them.

The genetic data on African Americans shows that 71 percent have bloodlines that can be traced to western Africa. Thirteen percent of all African Americans have predominantly European roots. In other words, 13 percent of all African Americans are more than half white.


Much Needed Diversity Efforts at the MIT Physics Department

There are more than 90 faculty members in the physics department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Not one is black.

About 16 percent of all undergraduate physics majors at MIT are members of underrepresented minorities. But minorities make up only 3 percent of all graduate students.

The physics department is reaching out in an effort to increase racial diversity. This past February the department sent representatives to the conference of the National Society of Black Physicists in an effort to recruit more black graduate students and faculty. The department has allocated funds to invite black physicists to lecture on campus so they can build relationships with current MIT physics faculty. A program is being considered that will bring black students who have graduated from college with a degree in physics to MIT for a year of post-baccalaureate study and research before they apply to graduate school.


New Online Directory of Martin Luther King Jr. Documents

The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University is now permitting scholars online access to a directory of more than 4,000 documents relating to the slain civil rights leader. An additional 4,000 detailed descriptions of King documents will be added to the online collection by the end of the year. Due to copyright issues with the King family, the actual documents will not be available online. But the descriptions will contain information on the locality of the actual documents and how researchers can gain access to them.

The online database serves as a directory of materials at the three research centers holding large collections of King-related documents: Stanford, the Atlanta University Center, and Boston University. Clayborne Carson, professor of history at Stanford, stated that the directory “is the only public database on King archives that provides scholarly details and descriptions on each individual item” at all three research centers.


University Students Participating in Archaeological Dig at Home and Factory Owned by Madam C.J. Walker, America’s First Black Millionaire

This summer students at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis will be participating in an archaeological project at the site of the home and factory of Madam C.J. Walker in Indianapolis.

Walker founded a highly successful hair care and beauty products company targeted toward black women. At the time of her death in 1919, Walker had an estate worth $2 million.

The dig site, located in the 600 block of North West Street (now Martin Luther King Drive) adjoins the university’s campus.


13%  Black percentage of the U.S. population.

49%  Black percentage of all newly diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS in the United States.

source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


In Memoriam

Walter L. Henry Jr. (1916-2009)

Walter L. Henry Jr., professor emeritus at the Howard University College of Medicine, died at his home in Washington from complications resulting from a fall. He was 93 years old.

Dr. Henry was a native of Philadelphia. In 1938 he graduated from Temple University and went on to Howard University medical school. There he was first in his class.

He served in the Army medical corps in Italy during World War II and earned two Bronze Stars. After the war, Henry completed training in endocrinology at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago.

Dr. Henry joined the faculty at Howard University in 1953. He was promoted to full professor in 1963 and served in that capacity for 27 years until his retirement in 1990.


Honors and Awards

• Barron H. Harvey, dean of the Howard University School of Business, received the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Humanitarian Award from the National Alliance of Market Developers. He was honored for his effort to promote African-American business, community development, and the education of youth.

Dean Harvey holds an MBA in accounting and a Ph.D. in organizational management, both from the University of Nebraska.

• Paula J. Giddings, the Elizabeth A. Woodson 1922 Professor of Afro-American Studies at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography for her work Ida: A Sword Among Lions. The biography of Ida B. Welles also won the nonfiction award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

• Jacqueline J. Hill, director of the undergraduate nursing program at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, received the Legacy of Caring Award from the Association of Nurses Working for Our Patients, Inc.

• Shirley Franklin, mayor of Atlanta, received the Urban Leadership Award from the Institute for Urban Research at the University of Pennsylvania. Mayor Franklin is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.

• Lawrence Kaggwa, professor of journalism at Howard University, was honored with the Journalism Educator of the Year award from the National Association of Black Journalists. Dr. Kaggwa holds a Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University.

The American Mathematical Society has designated North Carolina State University and the University of Mississippi as “Mathematics Programs That Make a Difference.” The two departments were honored for their commitment to increasing student and faculty diversity.



The Juilliard School in New York City received a four-year, $425,000 grant from the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Foundation to fund a music training program for low-income minority students.

Fifteen colleges and universities nationwide received $100,000 grants from the Wal-Mart Foundation for programs to increase retention among minority students. The Minority Student Success Awards went to several historically black colleges or universities including Bennett College for Women, Spelman College, Tennessee State University, Norfolk State University, Claflin University, and the University of the District of Columbia. Also receiving grants were Colorado State University-Pueblo, Florida International University, LaGuardia Community College, Mount St. Mary’s College, the University of the Incarnate Word, and several American Indian tribal colleges.

For breaking news and previews of upcoming articles


Black Harvard Student Ordered Off Campus: Claims She Is a Victim of Institutional Racism After Drug Dealer was Murdered in Dormitory

Chanequa Campbell, a 21-year-old black woman from Brooklyn, New York, was ordered off the Harvard University campus just weeks before she was scheduled to receive her bachelor’s degree.

Harvard reportedly barred Campbell from participation in commencement exercises due to her alleged involvement in an incident that resulted in the shooting and death of a black man on the Harvard campus on May 18.

The victim was reportedly a dealer who sold drugs to Harvard students. Jordan Copney, from New York, who is the boyfriend of a Harvard student, has been charged with the murder. Police believe that Copney had come to Harvard for the express purpose of robbing the victim of drugs and cash.

Campbell, who was taking a final examination at the time of the shooting, claims she had no knowledge of the incident, although she admits being friends with Copney’s girlfriend. But police believe that Campbell gave Copney her Harvard security pass so he could gain access to a campus building where he could lie in wait to rob the drug dealer.

In a statement Campbell said she is a victim of racism. “I’m black and I’m poor and I walk a certain way and I keep my clothes a certain way,” she said. “It’s something that labels me as different from everyone else.”


“The ladies pretty much run the yard.”

Velma Maclin, a sophomore at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, referring to the wide gender gap in enrollments at the historically black institution (Associated Press, 5-17-09)


One Black Scholar Among the Nine New Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Letters

The American Academy of Arts and Letters is an exclusive club. Membership is restricted to 250 individuals. New members are elected only when places open due to the death of current members. As is the case with the other honorary societies, there are no official statistics on the current racial makeup of the membership of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. However, independent analysis of the membership list by JBHE concluded that at the present time 14 of the 250 members, or 5.6 percent, are black.

Poet Yusef Komunyakaa of New York University is the only  African American among the nine new members elected this year.


Refuting the Stereotype That African-American College Students Are Obsessed With Black Studies

New Department of Education figures shows that the stereotypical view of the African-American college student rushing into black studies majors is totally false. Only 1,095, or 0.7 percent, of all African-American bachelor’s degree recipients received their degree in any type of ethnic or gender studies. Therefore, only one out of every 134 bachelor’s degrees awarded to blacks was in ethnic or gender studies.

In fact, there are more blacks who majored in the physical sciences — a field in which there are very few African Americans — than African Americans who earned their degree in black studies. There are nearly five times as many blacks majoring in computer science and more than five times as many blacks majoring in the biological sciences than in black studies.

Blacks make up only 13.4 percent of the students earning bachelor’s degrees in ethnic or gender studies. There are four times as many whites as there were blacks who earned bachelor’s degrees in ethnic or gender studies.


Historically Black Hampton University on the Cutting Edge of Cancer Research

The Commonwealth of Virginia is issuing $150 million in bonds for the construction of the Proton Therapy Institute at historically black Hampton University. Construction of the 98,000-square-foot facility was begun in 2007 and is expected to be completed by the end of next year. It will be the largest free-standing proton beam therapy facility in the world.

Proton beam therapy is a new form of treatment for cancer patients. The technology allows doctors to concentrate more powerful radiation on tumors without damaging surrounding tissue. When completed, the facility expects to treat 2,000 patients annually. About 65 percent of the institute’s cases are expected to involve treatment for prostate cancer.


Debate on Preferential Admissions to a South African Medical School

While affirmative action admissions programs remain controversial in the United States 45 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, officials at the medical school of the University of Cape Town in South Africa are considering whether preferential admissions for blacks are still justified, just 15 years after the downfall of the apartheid system.

Under the present system, whites need to achieve a score of 91 percent on their entrance examination whereas black applicants need only a score of 74 percent to meet the minimum admissions standard.

Critics of the admissions guidelines point out that many of the black students who qualify for admission to the medical school with low test scores come from privileged backgrounds and attended the nation’s best secondary schools and undergraduate colleges. They argue that a more just preferential admissions plan should be based not on race but rather on socioeconomic disadvantage.


Council of Graduate Schools Urges Greater Efforts to Achieve Racial Diversity

The Council of Graduate Schools has released a new report calling for the nation to make a greater effort to increase racial diversity at all levels of graduate education. Here are some of the recommendations of the council to bring about greater diversity:

• Closely monitor attrition and graduation rates of minority students so that progress can be tracked and efforts can be targeted as to where improvement is needed.

• Develop training programs for graduate students to act as mentors to minority students.

• Broaden faculty search criteria in order to recruit a more diverse faculty which in turn will help recruit minority students.

• Establish working relationships with faculty at historically black colleges and universities to help funnel minority students into graduate education.

• Support the development of a curriculum that is more appealing to minority students.

The report, Broadening Participation in Graduate Education, can be downloaded by clicking here.


Harold Martin Will Take the Helm at North Carolina A&T State University

Harold L. Martin Sr. was named chancellor of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. He has been serving as senior vice president for academic affairs for the University of North Carolina system.

Martin previously served on the faculty at NCAT as professor of electrical engineering and as dean of the College of Engineering. He also served for six years as chancellor of Winston-Salem State University.

Dr. Martin hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees from North Carolina A&T State University and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech.


After Soap Opera at Oxford, Derek Walcott Lands on His Feet at the University of Alberta

Two weeks ago we reported that Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott withdrew his name from consideration for election as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. Walcott made the decision after 100 scholars at Oxford received photocopies of pages of a book which included details of sexual harassment claims that had been made against Walcott when he was a visiting professor at Harvard University in 1982 and in 1996 when he was teaching at Boston University.

Ruth Padel, the great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, was later elected to the position of Professor of Poetry. But nine days after her election Padel resigned the position after it was revealed that she had tipped off journalists about Walcott’s past.

Now Walcott has accepted a three-year appointment as Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Jowel Laguerre was named president of the Solano Community College District in Fairfield, California. He was vice president for academic affairs at Truckee Meadows Community College in Nevada.

Dr. Laguerre holds two master’s degrees and a doctorate in educational leadership, all from the University of Kansas.

• Sherrill A. Hampton was appointed special assistant to the president and director of the Center for Applied Leadership and Community Development at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was senior vice president for residential development at the North Carolina Community Development Institute in Raleigh.

A graduate of Claflin University, she holds a law degree from the University of South Carolina.

• Sally Dickson, associate vice provost for student affairs at Stanford University, was given additional duties as adviser to the president on campus life. In this post she will deal with problems faced by university staff.

• Deryl Bailey, an associate professor of counseling in the College of Education at the University of Georgia, was named president-elect of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision.

Dr. Bailey has been on the University of Georgia faculty since 1999. He holds a doctorate in counselor education from the University of Virginia.

• Cerri Banks was named dean of William Smith College in Geneva, New York. She has served as interim dean for the past year.

Dr. Banks holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Syracuse University.

• Major Owens, who represented Brooklyn in Congress for more than two decades, was named senior fellow of the Du Bois Bunche Center for Public Policy at Medgar Evers College, a division of the City University of New York.




Copyright © 2009. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.