University of Pennsylvania to Offer Ph.D. in Africana Studies

The University of Pennsylvania announced that it will establish a Ph.D. program in Africana studies. The program, housed in the Center for Africana Studies of the School of Arts and Sciences, will hold its first classes in the fall of 2009.

The program will involve a three-track interdisciplinary approach focusing on African, African-American, and African diaspora studies. Faculty for the program will come from all areas of the university including the law school, the graduate school of education, and the Wharton School of Business.

The new program will be led by Tukufu Zuberi, director of the Center for Africana Studies at Penn. Dr. Zuberi, who is also a professor and chair of the department of sociology at Penn, is a graduate of San Jose University. He holds a master’s degree in sociology from Sacramento State University and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago.


For Both Blacks and Whites, Business Management is the Most Popular College Major

Data from the U.S. Department of Education on bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2006 shows that for both blacks and whites, business management was by a large margin the most popular major. Blacks earned 36,195 bachelor’s degrees in the field of business management and administration in the 2005-06 academic year. This was 25.4 percent of all bachelor’s degrees earned by blacks. More than 20 percent of all white bachelor’s degrees were earned in the field of business.

The next most popular field of study for blacks who earned bachelor’s degrees was the social sciences. This includes sociology, economics, and political science. Education was the second most popular major among whites. The fields of psychology, communications, and health sciences were popular majors among both racial groups. It is noteworthy that computer science was the eighth most popular major among blacks but it was not among the 10 most popular majors for whites.


Kentucky Marks Progress in Increasing Racial Diversity in Higher Education

A new report documents dramatic progress in increasing the enrollments of black students and the hiring of black faculty at state-operated universities and colleges in Kentucky. The Kentucky Plan for Equal Opportunity System Report, 2003-2006, found that blacks make up 8.3 percent of the undergraduate students at state-operated institutions of higher education. This is greater than the black percentage of the state’s population, which stands at 7.3 percent.

The black student retention rate has increased by five percentage points to 76 percent since 2001. Blacks now make up 6.5 percent of all bachelor’s degree recipients, up from 4.4 percent a quarter-century ago.

From 2001 to 2006 the percentage of blacks employed as faculty, administrators, or staff increased from 6.7 percent to 7.9 percent.



Nebraska Educators Oppose Effort to Abolish Affirmative Action

The State College Board of Trustees, the Nebraska Community College Association, and the University of Nebraska Board of Regents have all come out in opposition to the so-called Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative. The referendum, which supporters plan to place on the November 2008 ballot, would ban the use of race in admissions decisions, in faculty hiring, or in the awarding of scholarships at all publicly operated colleges and universities in the state.

Nebraska was one of five states originally targeted for affirmative action referendums this year by Ward Connerly, head of the American Civil Rights Institute. But efforts to place the initiatives on the ballot in Oklahoma and Missouri were unsuccessful.

It appears that initiatives will be on the ballot in Colorado and Arizona. In Nebraska, supporters of the measure must submit 115,000 signatures by July 4 in order to place the referendum on the ballot this fall.


3,498  Number of black full professors at U.S. colleges and universities in 2005 who were men.

1,986  Number of black full professors at U.S. colleges and universities in 2005 who were women.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Economic Issues Take a Back Seat in Black Studies Programs

In a study published in the Journal of Black Studies, Patrick L. Mason, director of the African-American studies program at Florida State University, found that the discipline of economics is almost nonexistent in black studies scholarship. The survey found that only 1.72 percent of the faculty members in leading black studies programs have an economics background. Economic content among black studies curricula is almost nonexistent and there are very few articles in black studies journals dealing with economic issues.


New Degree Program in Veterinary Technology at Florida A&M University

Florida A&M University has broken ground on its new Research and Extension Center which will offer a state-of-the-art veterinary medicine facility for university students. The center will include ultrasound and radiology equipment, surgical operating rooms, and other high-technology equipment.

This fall Florida A&M University will offer a new major in veterinary medical technology. It will be one of only about a dozen universities offering a degree program in veterinary medicine.


South Carolina State University Selects a New President

George E. Cooper was named the tenth president of South Carolina State University, the historically black educational institution in Orangeburg. He will assume his duties as president on July 1.

Dr. Cooper was the deputy administrator for science and education resources development at the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. Prior to going to Washington, Cooper served on the faculty and in the administration at Alabama A&M University and Tuskegee University.

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



Lea E. Williams was named associate vice chancellor for academic affairs/institutional planning, assessment and research at North Carolina A&T State University. She has served in the position on an interim basis since January 2007 and has been an administrator at the university since 2004.

Dr. Williams is a graduate of Kentucky State University. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a master’s degree and an educational doctorate from Columbia University.

Beverly Washington Jones will step down from her position as provost at North Carolina Central University in Durham. Dr. Jones will take a six-month leave and return to the university as a professor of history.

Gerald E. Hunter was appointed vice chancellor for finance and administration at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. He was chief financial officer at Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Hunter is a graduate of Knoxville College in Tennessee. He holds an MBA from Murray State University in Kentucky.

Paulinus I. Odozor, an associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, was granted tenure. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Toronto.



• Florida A&M University, the historically black educational institution in Tallahassee, received a $552,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a program to recruit more black women into computer science and technology disciplines. Women who indicate they intend to declare a major in a technology field will be eligible for scholarships of up to $10,000 in each of their four undergraduate years.

• Jackson State University, the historically black educational institution in Mississippi, received a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The funds will be directed to the university’s Security Center for Excellence and a project to conduct research on how to improve the federal response to hurricane disasters.


Education Department Investigating Allegations of Racial Discrimination Against Asian American Applicants to Princeton University

The U.S. Department of Education announced that it is instituting a wide-ranging probe of allegations that Asian Americans are discriminated against in the admissions process at Princeton University.

The probe began when Jian Li, an Asian American student from New Jersey, was rejected for admission into the class of 2010 at Princeton. Li had very high grades and a perfect 2400 on his SATs. A white student who finished lower than Li at the same high school and who had significantly lower SAT scores was admitted.

Li was rejected at two other Ivy League universities and also at Stanford. He enrolled at Yale and later transferred to Harvard.

The U.S. Department of Education initially rejected Li’s complaint. But now it has announced that it decided to open an investigation involving all Asian American applicants to the Princeton Class of 2010. Asian Americans make up 14 percent of the student body at Princeton.

Any ruling that Asian Americans are being discriminated against at the nation’s leading colleges and universities could do serious damage to black enrollments at these institutions. If Asians are awarded more slots at the universities there will be fewer positions for blacks.

The lame duck Bush administration appears to be making a last ditch effort to place further obstacles in the path of affirmative action for African Americans. Senator McCain may benefit if affirmative action becomes an issue in the 2008 presidential campaign.


“My mother used to tell me when I was 6 years old [in 1921], when people ask you what you’re going to be when you grow up, tell them you’re going to be the first Negro president of the United States. And now here’s the fulfillment of it, in my lifetime.”

John Hope Franklin, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University, discussing Barack Obama’s historic bid for the White House, in the Washington Post, June 5, 2008


Park in Sacramento Will No Longer Be Named for a White Supremacist

Four years ago in 2004, JBHE reported that Anthony M. Platt, a professor emeritus of social work at Sacramento State University, had launched a campaign to rename the C.M. Goethe Arboretum. The three-acre park on the north side of the campus was named after Charles M. Goethe, a major benefactor of the university but a man who was also a major supporter of the genetics movement.

Goethe, who died in 1966, was the founder of the Eugenics Society of Northern California. It is estimated that during the course of his life he gave more than $1 million to eugenics-related causes. In addition, he wrote hundreds of letters and articles for newspapers touting his racial belief in the superiority of Nordic people. Goethe was a major supporter of the Human Betterment Foundation, which has been reported to have carried out 20,000 involuntary sterilizations of poor women in California between 1909 and 1960.

Now Professor Platt’s efforts have finally paid off. The county’s board of supervisors has voted unanimously to change the name of the recreational area to River Bend Park.

In 2007 the city had renamed the Charles M. Goethe Middle School. The school, which has a predominantly black student body, is now named to honor Rosa Parks.


New Web Site Offers Huge Library of Video Clips to Help Black Students Decide Where to Go to College

With gasoline prices at record levels, the traditional summertime car trips by high school students and their parents to scout out potential colleges may be cut back. So a new Web site has debuted which hopes to give visitors an independent look at hundreds of different colleges and universities through the medium of online video.

LVUTV.com (Live Video University Television) offers more than 50,000 video clips from hundreds of different colleges and universities across the nation. In candid interviews, students discuss academics, nightlife, athletics, and countless other subjects of concern to potential students.

To date, Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College are the only black colleges participating in the effort. But most of the nation’s highest-ranked universities and flagship state schools are represented, and their offerings can be helpful to college-bound black students. For example, there are dozens of videos of students at Harvard University. Many of them are black students discussing their experiences at the university.


Number of African-American Specialists on the Rise at the American Historical Association

In its annual report to members, the American Historical Association states that it now has 14,903 members, up 1.3 percent from a year ago. More than 60 percent of all members of the association are affiliated with a four-year college or university.

The association does not disclose data on the race of its membership. However, the new data shows that nearly 5 percent of all members specialize in African-American studies. This is up from 3.8 percent in 1992.


Barber-Scotia College Looks to Get Back on Its Feet

Barber-Scotia College, a historically black educational institution in Concord, North Carolina, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, has fallen on tough times. In 2004 the college lost its accreditation. As a result, its students could no longer receive federal financial aid on which 95 percent of the student body depended. Enrollments plummeted. The college is $8 million in debt. The college’s Web site is still up and running, but under the latest news section on its home page is the announcement of an upcoming event in April 2006.

After an attempt to become a business school, the college now offers religion as its only major. There were about 20 students at the college in the most recent academic year.

Officials at the college have now applied for accreditation with the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. The accreditation process could take a number of years, but if the college is named a candidate for accreditation, students at Barber-Scotia will become eligible for federal funds.


Stanford University Develops New Measure of Poverty

Ever since the federal government calculated the nation’s poverty rate more than 40 years ago, black families have on average been three times as likely to be poor. But now researchers at Stanford University state that the official government poverty rate does not present an accurate measure of the nation’s poor.

The Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality is planning to construct a new measure of the nation’s poverty rate which it will publish on a regular basis as an alternative to the federal government’s official poverty rate.

The official government poverty rate, which was established in 1963, uses only income figures, family size, and family composition to calculate which families are in poverty. But Stanford researchers believe that they can more accurately calculate poverty by including such factors as food stamp allocations, tax credits, federal housing subsidies, home heating costs, childcare needs, and commuting expenses.

David Grusky, director of the Stanford Center, says that “the current index is a statistical fabrication that doesn’t authentically represent the real economic circumstances of families. The objective is to create a more accurate measure, not one that necessarily yields a higher poverty count. If you don’t have a good measure of poverty, you are operating in the dark and can’t make good policy decisions.”



Many Black Students and Alumni at Northwestern University Call for the Institution to Honor Its Offer of an Honorary Degree for Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Tomorrow, Northwestern University will hold its commencement exercises. Originally, the university had planned to bestow an honorary degree on Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the recently retired pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. But when Reverend Wright was widely criticized for controversial comments he made from the pulpit, Northwestern announced that it had rescinded its offer of an honorary degree. The university stated that it did not want the controversy to distract from the celebration of the Class of 2008.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama had been a member of the church for 20 years but resigned after the Wright controversy became front-page news.

But the Black Student Alliance and the Black Alumni Association at Northwestern sought to reinstate the honor for Reverend Wright. The groups collected more than 1,200 signatures on a petition demanding the university reconsider its position.



Norma Merrick Sklarek received the 2008 Whitney Young Jr. Award from the American Institute of Architects. In 1950 Sklarek was the first African-American woman to graduate with a degree in architecture from Columbia University. She was the first black woman in the United States to become a licensed architect and in 1980 was the first African-American woman to be named a fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Michael P. Cary Jr., a doctoral student at the University of Virginia School of Nursing, received the Minority Nurse Faculty Scholars Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The award, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, will enable Cary to continue his studies in order to become a nursing educator and research scientist.

Steve Joyner Sr., director of athletics at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, received the 2008 Jeanette A. Lee Athletic Administration Award from the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Oghenekome U. Onokpise, associate dean for academic programs in the College of Engineering Sciences, Technology, and Agriculture at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, received the Stephen Spurr Award from the Florida division of the Society of American Foresters.

Benjamin S. Carson Sr., director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, will be presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom today at a White House ceremony.

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