Big News! Wake Forest University Drops the SAT

According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, more than 750 colleges and universities nationwide no longer require applicants to submit scores on either the SAT or ACT college admission test. Over the past decade the number of colleges that have decided to forgo the SAT requirement has tripled. The large increase in the number of educational institutions that no longer require applicants to submit test scores has come about, at least to some degree, from the perception that these tests are unfair to blacks and other minorities and do not offer a valuable tool to determine whether these minority students will succeed in college.

Many of the prestigious schools that have dropped the SAT/ACT requirement are small liberal arts colleges such as Hamilton, Bowdoin, Hampshire, Middlebury, Bard, Mount Holyoke, Bates, Connecticut College, and the College of the Holy Cross. Recently Smith College, the selective college for women in Northampton, Massachusetts, joined the list of SAT optional institutions.

But a real crack in the testing industry’s hold on the college admissions process has come with the recent decision by Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to no longer require test scores of its applicants.

Wake Forest is the only university ranked in the top 30 national research institutions to have adopted the SAT optional policy. Most of the nation’s large research universities have clung to the SAT because it gives them a standardized tool to grade their very large and geographically diverse applicant pools.

Wake Forest, which received about 9,000 applications this year, will increase its admissions staff by 20 percent, which will enable the university to give each applicant careful consideration in a non-test score environment.

University admissions officials say that one reason for dropping the SAT is to encourage more black and minority applicants. Blacks now make up 6 percent of the undergraduate student body at the university. Wake Forest provost Jill Tiefenthaler stated, “Reliance on the SAT and other standardized tests for admission is a major barrier to access for many worthy students. By taking this step at Wake Forest, we want to remove that barrier.”


Assessing the Progress of Racial Diversity at Cornell University

After nearly a decade of service, Robert L. Harris Jr. is stepping down as vice provost for diversity and faculty development at Cornell University, the Ivy League educational institution in Ithaca, New York. Dr. Harris will remain on the Cornell faculty as a professor of African-American history.

In his ninth and final report on diversity at Cornell, Harris stated that a great deal of progress was achieved during his tenure, but he warned that there is still more work to be done.

Harris reports that the number of black faculty at Cornell has increased by 36 percent, from 39 a decade ago to 53 today. The overall growth in the number of faculty during the period was 7 percent. Over the past decade the number of black students in the freshman class at Cornell has increased by 23 percent.

Harris did note that the number of blacks in nonfaculty academic posts has dropped to its lowest level in a decade.


Northwestern University Is the Newest Partner in the QuestBridge Program

According to data obtained by JBHE from the Department of Education, only 8.8 percent of all undergraduate students at Northwestern University receive federal Pell Grants. The percentage of students who receive Pell Grants is generally accepted as a valid barometer for the number of low-income students at a particular university.

Among the nation’s 25 highest academically ranked universities, Northwestern ranks near the bottom in its percentage of low-income students. Furthermore, the percentage of low-income students at Northwestern has dropped over the past two decades.

JBHE data also shows that, over the past decade, Northwestern University is one of only four high-ranking universities that has shown a drop in the number of black students in its entering class.

Now Northwestern is taking a big step to improve its racial and socioeconomic diversity. Beginning with the next admissions cycle, Northwestern will become the 25th partner institution of QuestBridge.

QuestBridge is a nonprofit program that links bright, motivated, low-income students with educational and scholarship opportunities at some of the nation’s best colleges and universities. In 2007 more than 700 students were admitted and received significant scholarship grants from partner colleges through the organization’s National College Match program.

Here’s how the program works: College-bound high school students file applications with QuestBridge by October 1 of their senior year. They then submit a list of the partnering colleges and universities they would like to attend. Students can submit their list in order of preference. QuestBridge will attempt to gain admission for these students to the colleges on their list in the stated order of preference.

If a “match” can be made for any of the schools on a student’s list, the student is notified by October 20. He or she then submits an early application to that particular school by November 1 with the assurance that the student will be accepted and will receive a full-tuition scholarship. Students agree to binding admission if they are matched to any school on their list of preferred colleges or universities. Students who are not matched can choose to be reinserted into the regular admissions process at the colleges and universities on their preference list.

Northwestern will provide up to 25 full scholarships to low-income students under the QuestBridge college match program.



Four Finalists Selected for Presidency of the University of the District of Columbia

The University of the District of Columbia, the historically black educational institution in the nation’s capital, is considering four candidates to fill the vacancy left by departing president William Pollard. The four finalists are:

Allen Sessoms, president of Delaware State University;

Stanley Jackson, current acting president of the University of the District of Columbia and former deputy mayor of the city of Washington;

William B. Harvey, vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity at the University of Virginia; and

Everette J. Freeman, president of Albany State University in Georgia.



• Kevin D. Rome was appointed vice chancellor for student affairs at North Carolina Central University. He was vice president of student services at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

A native of Columbus, Georgia, Dr. Rome is a graduate of Morehouse College. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Georgia and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Texas.

• Cynthia Sedgwick was named dean of student life and experiential learning at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. Sedgwick was associate dean for assessment and special programs in the Division of Students Affairs at Binghamton University.

Dr. Sedgwick is a graduate of Hampton University. She holds a master’s degree from George Mason University and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Virginia.

• Valerie A. Richardson was appointed acting president of Gadsden State Community College in Alabama. She has been serving as vice president for institutional advancement and student services.

Blacks make up about 19 percent of the 5,200-member student body at the community college.

• Mark Winston was named assistant chancellor and director of the John Cotton Dana Library at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. A former member of the Rutgers faculty, he served since 2006 as associate professor in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Winston is a summa cum laude graduate of Hampton University. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in library and information science from the University of Pittsburgh.



• Fisk University received a four-year, $100,000 grant from the Regions Financial Corporation. The funds will be used to establish the Regions Financial Literacy and Community Outreach Center at the university.

• Paine College, the historically black educational institution in Augusta, Georgia, will participate in a three-year, $255,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The grant will be used to increase HIV awareness, reduce violence, and increase access to quality healthcare in communities surrounding the college.

• North Carolina Central University received a series of grants totaling $50,500 from NASA’s North Carolina Space Grant Consortium. The funds will be used for curriculum development in aeronautics and space-related sciences.


In Canada, Blacks Are More Highly Educated Than Whites

An analysis of government data by the Association for Canadian Studies in Montreal has found huge disparities in educational attainment between different racial and ethnic groups in Canada. And in what may be a surprise, white Canadians were less likely to hold a college degree than almost every other ethnic group.

The research examined data on the educational levels of Canadian adults who were in the 35 to 44 age group. The results showed that 74 percent of Canadians with Korean heritage were college graduates. This was the highest percentage of any ethnic group in Canada. More than half of Canadians with Chinese, Arab, or Filipino heritage were college graduates.

About one third of Canadians with Hispanic heritage had a college degree. More than 30 percent of black adults in Canada were college graduates, a level equal to that of whites in the United States.

Slightly more than one quarter of white Canadians were college educated. The only group with a lower percentage was Canadians from Southeast Asia.


“Obama’s candidacy is monumental. It can redeem American history from the specter of race that has plagued us for nearly 400 years.”

Manning Marable, professor of public affairs, political science, history and African-American studies at Columbia University in New York City, in the Washington Post, 6-5-08


African-American Women Continue to Hold a Huge Lead Over Black Men in Bachelor’s Degree Awards

New data from the U.S. Department of Education shows a persisting gender gap in African-American bachelor’s degree attainments.

In the 2005-06 academic year, black women earned 94,341 bachelor’s degrees, almost double the number earned by black men. Black women now earn two thirds of all bachelor’s degrees obtained by African Americans. 

Do not be mistaken, black men, too, have made progress. Over the past decade, the number of bachelor’s degrees earned by black men is up more than 40 percent. But the result pales in comparison to the huge gains posted by black women.


University of Georgia’s New Digital Library on Civil Rights

The University of Georgia has gone online with its Civil Rights Digital Library. The new Web offering, made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, has three principal components:

1) a digital video archive of historical news film of the civil rights movement;

2) a civil rights portal providing a seamless virtual library of sources on the civil rights movement from across the United States; and

3) a learning objects component that will deliver secondary Web-based resources such as multimedia productions, interactive timelines and maps, articles, lesson plans, and activities.

Readers who would like to visit the digital library can do so by clicking here.


Brighter Outlook at Southern University at New Orleans

No educational institution was hit harder by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 than Southern University in New Orleans. The campus was completely flooded and was forced to relocate to a city of temporary trailers several miles north. Today, nearly three years after the hurricane, only one building on the original downtown campus is in use.

Many academic programs were dropped altogether in the restructuring after the hurricane. Online offerings of other courses were greatly enhanced to offset the lack of classroom space.

But things are looking up. The university plans to begin construction of the first dormitories in the school’s history. By next semester, it is hoped that some of the other buildings on the downtown campus will be partially reopened.

And the university has announced that degree programs in mathematics, English, and history will once again be offered. Many natural science programs, which existed prior to the hurricane, will not be offered at the present time.


New Major in Music-Producing Offered at Black College in North Carolina

Winston-Salem State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina, is offering a new degree program in the business of music. The program will be housed in the Department of Fine Arts and will train students in the operation of a recording studio. Courses in artist management and record industry marketing will also be added to the curriculum.


University Study Finds That African-American Children’s Exposure to Lead Can Result in a Greater Propensity to Commit Violent Crime When They Are Adults

A recent article in USA Today reported research by Kim Dietrich, professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Professor Dietrich’s research included data on the level of lead in the blood of babies born in 1979. Over the next seven years the children had annual blood tests to check the level of lead in their bloodstreams. Children who lived in poor neighborhoods where the housing stock was older were often exposed to lead-based paints.

Professor Dietrich then tracked down 250 individuals who had participated in the original blood tests. He found that there was a direct correlation between the level of lead in the blood of the children at ages 0 to 7 and their likelihood of having been arrested when they reached adulthood. He found a particularly high correlation between lead in the blood of children and cases of violent crime when these children grew up.

Previous studies have shown that lead in the blood can impair judgment and cognitive functions as well as produce erratic behavior.

The USA Today article did not mention race when discussing Professor Dietrich’s study. But Professor Dietrich told JBHE that 95 percent of the subjects in the study were African Americans. He stated to JBHE that it is his belief that “early exposure to lead is indeed a factor in the higher crime rates among African Americans.”


67%  Percentage of white adults who own a pet.

35%  Percentage of African-American adults who own a pet.

source: Harris Poll


In Memoriam

Winston Napier (1953-2008)

Winston Napier, E. Franklin Frazier Associate Professor of English at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, committed suicide last month at a local hospital. Professor Napier had suffered a head injury after a bicycle accident weeks earlier and was rushed to the hospital for emergency brain surgery. Four days after the surgery, Dr. Napier hanged himself in the shower of his hospital room.

A native of Jamaica, Napier came to the United States at the age of 17. He was a graduate of William Paterson College. He held a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Howard University.

Before coming to Clark University, Dr. Napier had served on the faculties at Howard University, Purdue University, George Washington University, and Bates College. At one time he was the editor of the Howard University Journal of Philosophy.

Milton O. Dickerson Jr. (1941-2008)

Milton Dickerson Jr., a psychologist who served in a number of administrative positions at the University of the District of Columbia, died late last month in Washington, D.C. He was 67 years old.

Dickerson was a graduate of LaSalle University in Philadelphia. He held a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Catholic University of America in Washington.

During a long career in the academic world, Dickerson was assistant to the director in the Office of Personnel Management and Development at the University of the District of Columbia. He also held positions as director of the Center for Student Development and director of the Counseling Services and Consultation Center at the university.

In addition to his career in educational administration, he was a member of the Screen Actors Guild. He appeared in minor roles in feature films and also did television commercial work.


Honors and Awards

William R. Harvey, president of Hampton University, was inducted into the Hampton Roads Business Hall of Fame at a black-tie gala in Norfolk. In addition to his academic duties, President Harvey owns a Pepsi Bottling plant.

• Kyla Marshell, who just completed her junior year at Spelman College, won the 2008 Edith A. Hambie Award from the Academy of American Poets. Marshell, from Scarborough, Maine, is the editor of Spelman’s literary journal, Focus Magazine.

• George W. Purnell, a recent graduate of Howard University, received the Reginald F. Lewis Scholar Prize awarded to the undergraduate student who made the most progress between his or her sophomore year and graduation. The award comes with a $10,000 cash prize.

Purnell, a native of Yeadon, Pennsylvania, has taken a job as a teacher and chess coach in Phoenix.

• Drexel University in Philadelphia received the Diversity in Athletics Award for Overall Excellence from the National Collegiate Athletics Association. The award honors a member institution for diversity efforts in athletic department employment and increasing graduation rates of black student athletes.

• Bernard C. Watson is the first African American to have an endowed chair named in his honor at Temple University. The Bernard C. Watson Chair in Urban Education will be established in the university’s College of Education.

Watson, now retired, was academic vice president and professor of urban studies and urban education at Temple. He also served as an assistant superintendent for the Philadelphia public school system.

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