Black Progress in Winning Professional Degree Awards

In the 2006-07 academic year, blacks earned 6,474 professional degrees. These made up 7.2 percent of all professional degrees awarded in the United States that year. These include degrees in medicine, law, dentistry, and several other fields.

More than 3,100 African Americans earned a law degree in the 2006-07 academic year, making up 7.3 percent of all law degree recipients. They were nearly half of all blacks who earned a professional degree. More than 1,100 black students earned a medical degree, making up 7.2 percent of all medical school graduates. Blacks made up more than 17 percent of all students who earned a professional degree in podiatry and nearly 14 percent of all students who won a professional degree in divinity.

However, blacks continue to have a very small presence in professional degree awards in dentistry, osteopathic medicine, optometry, chiropractic medicine, and veterinary medicine.



Only One of the 278 Winners of the 2009 Goldwater Scholarships Is Black

Barry Goldwater, the famed conservative U.S. senator from Arizona and 1964 GOP presidential nominee, was a dedicated promoter of scientific and engineering research. In 1986, when Congress created a new scholarship program to encourage graduate study in mathematics, science, and engineering, Goldwater’s name was attached to the new program.

Students chosen as Goldwater Scholars can obtain tuition grants of $7,500 per year for two years. Since its founding the program has awarded more than 5,800 scholarships with a total value of $56 million.

Very few blacks have benefited from the Goldwater Scholarship program. But racism is not the culprit. The low number of black students pursuing graduate study in the sciences who meet the eligibility requirements results in a small pool of black applicants.

This spring 278 Goldwater Scholars were selected from a pool of 1,097 applicants. The Goldwater Scholarship Foundation told JBHE that only one of the 278 Goldwater Scholars self-identified as an African American.

Gerald Smith, the president of the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation, told JBHE that black students with the academic qualifications and graduate school aspirations required for Goldwater Scholarships are quickly “snapped up” by the nation’s leading research universities. Often they receive full-tuition scholarships and have no need to seek additional cash awards to finance their higher education.


White Woman Wins Beauty Crown at Predominantly Black University

This September beauty queens from dozens of historically black colleges and universities will come to Atlanta to vie for the national title of black college beauty queen. The contestants will all have their pictures displayed in Ebony magazine.

Elisabeth Joy Martin will represent Kentucky State University in the national pageant. Martin is white. She was elected by an overwhelming margin by the Kentucky State University student body. She will be a senior this coming academic year, majoring in English education. She hopes to go to graduate school to study international relations.

Whites make up 28 percent of the undergraduate student body at Kentucky State University.


President Obama Applauds the Progress of Racial Diversity at the Naval Academy: But Much Work Remains to Be Done

This spring President Obama gave the commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. In his remarks, President Obama said, “By building an institution that is more diverse than ever — more women, more Hispanics, more African Americans — the Naval Academy has reaffirmed a fundamental American truth: That out of many, we are one.”

But much progress remains to be accomplished. Of the 1,036 graduates of the Naval Academy this year, only 45, or 4.3 percent, are black. This is about one third the percentage of blacks in the U.S. college-age population.

Indeed, progress has been made. In 1949 Wesley Brown was the first African American to graduate from the Naval Academy. This was 72 years after the first black cadet graduated from West Point. Six other blacks had enrolled at Annapolis prior to Brown. None of them made it past the first year. It is rumored that one of these black students was tied to a buoy in the bay and abandoned by classmates. Between 1949 and 1968 only 0.02 percent of the 22,392 graduates of the Naval Academy were black.

Today blacks make up about 8 percent of the more than 42,000 officers in the U.S. Navy.


Black High School Graduates in Chicago Making Major Strides in College Enrollments

The city of Chicago is making substantial progress in increasing the college enrollment rate of students who graduate from its public high schools. For the fourth year in a row, the college enrollment rate of graduates at the city’s 116 public high schools has increased. Now 52.5 percent of all black students who earn a high school diploma in Chicago go on to college. This is only slightly less than the college enrollment rate for black students nationwide. Just five years ago, the college enrollment rate for black students in Chicago trailed the national rate by 18 percentage points.

School officials say that several scholarship programs offering financial aid to black graduates of the city’s high schools have been the major factor in the improvement in the college enrollment rate.


14.3%  Percentage of white parents who helped their children in grades K-12 with their homework five or more days per week in 2007.

25.5%  Percentage of black parents who helped their children in grades K-12 with their homework five or more days per week in 2007.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

Omari Simmons was promoted from assistant to associate professor at the Wake Forest School of Law. He has been on the law school faculty since 2006.

Simmons is a graduate of Wake Forest University. He holds law degrees from the University of Cambridge and the University of Pennsylvania.

• Darlyne Bailey was appointed dean and professor at the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College. She was a professor at the School of Social Work and assistant to the president of the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Bailey is a graduate of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in organizational behavior from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

• Francene Botts-Butler, director of multicultural student services at Morehead State University, was elected president of the Kentucky Association of Blacks in Higher Education.

Botts-Butler is a graduate of Kentucky State University. She holds a master’s degree from Bowling State University and is a graduate of the Kentucky College of Law.

• Jericho Brown, assistant professor of poetry at the University of California at San Diego, was named a Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

A graduate of Dillard University, Brown holds a master of fine arts degree from the University of New Orleans and a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Houston.

• William R. Harvey, president of Hampton University in Virginia, was appointed to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I board of directors.

• Weldon Jackson was named provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Morehouse College. He was provost and executive vice president at Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York.

Dr. Jackson is a 1972 graduate of Morehouse College. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University.



• Morgan State University, the historically black educational institution in Baltimore, Maryland, received a $400,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to develop a campaign to educate African Americans in urban neighborhoods about the dangers of HIV/AIDS.

• Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee, received a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund the university’s Minority Health International Research Training program. The program provides funds for health-related summer research projects for African-American students in Uganda and other foreign countries.

For breaking news and previews of upcoming articles


Study Finds That Black Youngsters Perform Better Academically in Different Types of Learning Environments Than Do Whites

A recent study published in the journal Cognition and Instruction finds that black students in fourth and fifth grade perform better academically in certain types of learning environments. The authors of the study are A. Wade Boykin, a professor of psychology at Howard University, Brenda A. Allen, recently named provost and professor of psychology at Winston-Salem State University, and Eric A. Hurley, an assistant professor of psychology and black studies at Pomona College.

Researchers divided a large group of fourth- and fifth-graders at an urban school in the Northeast and placed them in three different learning environments. One group was placed in a communal learning environment where they were urged to work together to solve problems. A second group was told they would earn an award if the combined performance of the group exceeded expectations. The third group was told that those individuals who performed the best would be rewarded.

The results showed that black students performed best in the communal group. The black students did the worst in the third group that emphasized individual achievement. White students, on the other hand, performed the best in the group that emphasized individual competition and did the worst in the communal group.

Professor Boykin believes that black students perform better in the communal group setting because of the tendency in the black community to have large extended families and more involvement in community-based institutions which make them more comfortable in a group learning environment.

The study raises the question of whether the racial gap in standardized test scores and other measures of academic measure can be narrowed by changing the way black children are taught in the public schools.


“By building an institution that is more diverse than ever, the Naval Academy has reaffirmed a fundamental American truth: That out of many, we are one.”

President Barack Obama, speaking at the commencement ceremonies at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland (See story below.)


New Dual Degree Program in South Carolina Aims to Boost the Number of Minority Healthcare Professionals

There is a huge shortage of healthcare professionals in predominantly black areas of South Carolina. In an attempt to alleviate this shortage the University of South Carolina and historically black Claflin University have announced a program that has a goal of increasing the number of black students who pursue careers in the healthcare field.

A new dual career program will allow students at Claflin University to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in public health from the University of South Carolina.


HBCU Tour for College-Bound Black Students From California Will Make a Stop at Predominantly White Florida Gulf Coast University

Each year HBCU Campus Tours leads students from California on four week-long tours of black colleges and universities in the southern states. Students typically will fly to one southern city and then take a bus tour across the South stopping off at several black colleges and universities along the way.

This November one tour will make a stop at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in Fort Myers, Florida. This is the first time that a non-historically black educational institution is being included on one of the tours.

Blacks are only 4.3 percent of the total enrollments at FGCU. However, Wilson G. Bradshaw, an African American, is president of the university. And the university is taking steps to increase the number of blacks on campus by recruiting at predominantly black high schools and sending representatives to college fairs throughout the southeastern United States.

FGCU is making the tour stop worthwhile for the black students from California. It is offering two full-tuition, out-of-state scholarships to any of the 45 students who will be on the tour that visits the FGCU campus.


Norfolk State University Seeks Out Black Men

Increasingly black women are becoming a larger percentage of the student bodies at historically black colleges and universities. For example, women now make up 73 percent of all undergraduate enrollments at Clark Atlanta University.

At Norfolk State University in Virginia, women make up 62 percent of the undergraduate student body. But Norfolk State is determined to boost black male enrollments. The university is now offering $2,500 annual scholarships to black men who graduate from local high schools with a 3.0 grade point average. Black women are not eligible for the scholarships. The scholarships resulted in an increase of 27 percent in black male freshmen this past academic year.



Shaw University Names Interim President

Dorothy Cowser Yancy was named interim president of historically black Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Dr. Yancy served as president of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, for 14 years. She resigned a year ago to start an educational consulting business.

Dr. Yancy is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University. She holds a master’s degree in American history from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Ph.D. in political science from Atlanta University.


In Memoriam

Marcus Alexis (1932-2009)

Marcus Alexis, one of the nation’s most esteemed black economists, died late last month at Stanford University hospital. He was 77 years old.

Dr. Alexis was the chair of the economics department at Northwestern University and also taught at the university’s Kellogg School of Management. From 1985 to 1991, he was dean of the business school at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Earlier in his career he taught at Macalester College, DePaul University, the University of Rochester, and the University of California at Berkeley.

A native of New York City, his parents were immigrants from the West Indies. He graduated from Brooklyn College. He went on to earn a master’s degree at Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Minnesota.

Professor Alexis was the author or editor of six books and more than 60 scholarly articles. In addition to his academic career, Dr. Alexis served on the Interstate Commerce Commission and was chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Alexis’ wife Geraldine was a partner at Sidley & Austin, where Michelle Obama began her career. Marcus and Geraldine Alexis were guests at the Obama wedding.

George Edwards (1948-2009)

George Edwards, professor of music and director of the Marching Storm Band at Prairie View A&M University in Texas for more than 30 years, died late last month from injuries suffered in an automobile crash. He was 60 years old.

Professor Edwards was a graduate of Florida A&M University and held a master’s degree from Michigan State University. He joined the faculty at Prairie View in 1978. His Marching Storm band performed in the inaugural parade for George W. Bush and in the 120th Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California, this past January.


Honors and Awards

• Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, is the recipient of the 2009 Ralph Lowell Award, public television’s most prestigious honor.

• Jeffery O. Rose, managing director of Alvarez & Marsal, a credit and risk analysis firm, and a member of the Rice University board of trustees, was given the Meritorious Service Award from the Association of Rice Alumni.

• Cynthia Tolbert Bienemy, associate professor of nursing at Southern University, received the Helen Johnson Creemens Excellence in Teaching Award from the Baton Rouge District Nurses Association.

A graduate of Southeastern University of Louisiana, Dr. Bienemy holds a master’s degree from McNeese State University and a Ph.D. in nursing from Southern University.

• Tabbye Chavous, associate professor of education at the University of Michigan, received the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award from the university’s Office of the Provost.

• Monique Dorsainvil, a graduating senior at Emory University, received the Lucius Lamar McMullan Award by the university for her “outstanding citizenship, exceptional leadership, and potential for service to the community, nation, and the world.” The award comes with a $20,000 cash prize.

The new 134,000-square-foot College of Education building at Alabama State University was named Ralph Abernathy Hall in honor of the late civil rights leader. Abernathy, who was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, succeeded Martin Luther King Jr. as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.



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