The Very Good News on Black Enrollments in Higher Education

According to the latest Department of Education statistics, there were 2,164,700 black students enrolled in higher education in 2004. This was up 5 percent from 2003. Since the year 2000 black enrollments in higher education are up a whopping 48 percent. Since 1990 black enrollments in all undergraduate and graduate programs have nearly doubled.

Here is another way to look at the tremendous progress blacks have made over the past 15 years. In 1990 black students accounted for 9 percent of all students enrolled in higher education. In 2004 blacks were fully 12.5 percent of all college and university students in the United States, a figure roughly equivalent to the black percentage of the U.S. population.


“My basic rule of thumb is to stay away from things white. Start the day with lemon water, not white sugar. Some of you like coffee, too. You should take it black.”

Leonard Jeffries, professor of African studies at City University of New York, speaking at a “Unity in Diversity” day event at the City of New York’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development


African Scholars Teaching at U.S. Colleges and Universities

In the 2004-05 academic year, there were 89,634 foreign scholars teaching at American colleges and universities. The number of foreign scholars was up 8.1 percent from the previous year. Nearly 80 percent of these foreign scholars are from either Europe or Asia. Only 2,338, or 2.6 percent, are from Africa. The number of African scholars teaching at American colleges and universities was up 3.6 percent from a year earlier. Not unexpectedly, the number of scholars from the Arab nations of North Africa teaching in the U.S. declined significantly after September 11, 2001. But still, nearly one third of the African scholars teaching in the United States are from the Arab nations of North Africa. Today there are about 1,600 scholars from black African nations currently teaching at U.S. colleges and universities.


Report Finds That Financial Aid Needs of Low-Income Students Are Not Being Met

A new report from the Southern Regional Education Board finds that 63 percent of undergraduate students at four-year institutions in the United States did not have the funds to pay for college, as calculated by the federal “expected family contribution.” The greatest shortfall in college affordability was found for families with incomes below $40,000.

Furthermore, the board found that for students from families with incomes of more than $80,000, 37 percent received financial aid grants and low-priced loans to offset their expected family contribution when in fact those families had enough money to pay for college.



Black College Campus in Tennessee Sold to Real Estate Developers Who Want to Build Condominiums

Morristown Normal and Industrial College was founded in 1881 by the national Freedman’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Its main purpose was to train Negroes for the ministry. One of the original buildings on the college campus had once served as a slave market.

In severe financial difficulty, the historically black college was sold to Knoxville College in 1989 and was renamed Knoxville College-Morristown. Knoxville College, also a historically black institution, subsequently experienced financial problems of its own and in 2001 sold the Morristown campus to a group of investors for $1 million.

Now the 52-acre campus on a hill in the downtown area of Morristown has been auctioned to a real estate company for $776,000. Plans are to turn the site into condominiums and a retail complex. Community leaders hope that the college’s main building will be preserved and converted into a theater.

The main building on the campus of Morristown College in Morristown, Tennessee (c. 1920)


Black Leaders in Los Angeles Call for UCLA to Change Its Admissions Procedures

African-American leaders in the city of Los Angeles are calling for a reform in admissions procedures at the University of California at Los Angeles. The Alliance for Equal Opportunity in Education was formed after it was announced that there will only be 96 black freshmen in this fall’s entering class. Blacks will be just 2 percent of all first-year students.

UCLA is prohibited by state law from using race as a factor in its admissions procedures. But leaders of the alliance want the university to increase outreach and recruitment among blacks and to adopt a more holistic approach to admissions where a student’s entire life experience is factored into the decision process.

The University of California at Berkeley’s “comprehensive review” procedures give weight to a student’s overcoming adversity or being the first in his or her family to attend college.

Berkeley has not done much better than UCLA. Only 3 percent of the incoming class at Berkeley is black.


The Legal Battle Over the So-Called Michigan Civil Rights Initiative Continues

This November voters in Michigan are scheduled to vote on the so-called Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. The public referendum would outlaw the use of race in admissions procedures at the University of Michigan and other state-run colleges and universities.

But the Michigan Civil Rights Commission is now claiming that the petition signature drive was based on a “massive campaign of fraud and deceit.” The commission is asking the Michigan Supreme Court to reconsider its order for the initiative to be placed on the November ballot.

The commission found that many of the canvassers told black voters that the initiative actually was a measure that supported affirmative action in higher education. Two Michigan circuit court judges and the mayor of a large city in Michigan testified that they were duped into signing the petition after being told the referendum supported race-sensitive admissions.

Organizers of the referendum effort vehemently deny any wrongdoing. They note that the commission produced only 75 affidavits, many from left-leaning political activists, claiming that they had been duped into signing the petitions. But the organizers point out that they collected nearly 200,000 signatures more than were required to get the referendum on the ballot.

It seems unlikely at this time that the Michigan Supreme Court will reverse its decision and pull the referendum off the November ballot. Therefore, it is imperative that Michigan's educational leaders, both black and white, launch an all-out effort to teach voters about the repercussions the measure will have on black educational opportunities in Michigan.


In Memoriam

Frances Rains (1911-2006)

Frances Rains, a pioneer in the racial integration of the University of Minnesota, died recently after suffering a stroke in Long Beach, California. She was 95 years old.

Before Rains graduated from high school in Minneapolis, her counselor told her that she would “be better off attending a racially segregated nursing school in Kansas City” rather than applying to the school at the University of Minnesota. Rains decided she wanted to stay near home but was denied admittance to the nursing school because of her race. She appealed the decision to a committee of the state legislature, which later ordered her admission to the nursing school.

In 1932 Rains became the first black graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Nursing. Throughout her career she taught nursing at several hospitals including the University of Southern California General Hospital.



Randolph Stakeman, an associate professor of history and Africana studies at Bowdoin College, has announced his retirement after 28 years at the esteemed liberal arts college in Maine. Since 1989 he has directed Bowdoin’s Africana studies program. During his tenure at Bowdoin, Professor Stakeman also served as acting dean of students and associate dean of academia affairs.



Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, received a $573,000 grant from the Department of Defense for a research project to reduce the incidence of suicide in the United States Army. Since the onset of the war in Iraq, at least 59 U.S. soldiers have committed suicide.

Huston-Tillotson University received a $248,000 grant from the Texas Office of Minority Health for an education and training program to help reduce racial disparities in health care.

King’s Papers Will Be Housed at Morehouse College

An auction planned for this week of approximately 10,000 manuscripts and books belonging to Martin Luther King Jr. has been canceled. A group of people “representing the interests of Atlanta,” which was assembled by the city’s mayor Shirley Franklin, will pay the King family $32 million to keep the papers in the city. The collection will be housed at Morehouse College, the historically black college for men in Atlanta where King earned his bachelor’s degree.

The collection includes drafts of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the acceptance speech he gave when accepting the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. There are more than 7,000 handwritten documents in the collection.

Morehouse College will display some of the material for public viewing and the entire collection will be available for scholarly research.


For Students Nearing College Age, Whites Are Far More Likely Than Blacks to Be Illegal Drug Users

Getting good grades in high school and preparing for college is extremely difficult when young students become involved in drugs or alcohol. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds large racial differences among black and white high school students in what are called at-risk behaviors. And contrary to widely held stereotypes, it is not blacks of college age who are using drugs. In almost all cases, white teens have higher rates of drug abuse than black teens.

Black teenagers are slightly more likely than their white peers to use marijuana. But for every other drug in the CDC survey, whites were more likely to be users than blacks. In some cases the racial differences were quite large. For example, whites are three times as likely as blacks to have tried cocaine, hallucinogenic drugs, or methamphetamines. Whites are nearly twice as likely to have taken illegal steroids or used inhalants. Whites are also significantly more likely to drink alcohol than blacks.


Blacks Show Progress in Professional School Enrollments

Last week JBHE reported that since the year 2000 black enrollments in graduate education had surged by 40 percent. Black enrollments in graduate professional schools of law, business, medicine, and other disciplines have also shown progress but not to the same degree. In 2004 there were 25,900 blacks enrolled in professional schools in the United States. This was up only slightly from 2003. Since the year 2000 black enrollments in professional schools have increased by only 10 percent.

But over the past generation, great progress was made, particularly in the 1990s. During that decade, black enrollments in professional schools increased by 48 percent.


The Black College Store Opens in North Carolina and on the Web

An enterprising pair of cousins have opened a store in Winston-Salem that sells licensed apparel and accessories bearing the names and logos of three North Carolina black colleges. The merchandise is targeted toward alumni not students. Items for sale include dress shirts, briefcases, portfolios, and business attire.

The cousins are both graduates of North Carolina A&T State University. But they also sell licensed merchandise from North Carolina Central University and Winston-Salem State University. Plans are under way to sell items with logos of Howard University, Hampton University, South Carolina State University, and Johnson C. Smith University. It is hoped that a large number of other HBCUs will participate in the venture in the coming months.

The store also operates a Web site at

University of Arkansas Looks to Increase African-American Enrollments by Enhancing Its Black Studies Program

The University of Arkansas is boosting the budget for its black studies program in an effort to attract more African-American students to campus. At the current time, blacks are 5.5 percent of the student body at the Fayetteville campus, about one third of the percentage of blacks in the state’s population.

The program’s budget will be increased 24 percent for the coming academic year with similar increases planned for the next several years. Charles F. Robinson II, a professor of history and director of the black studies program, hopes to raise a $5 million endowment and offer a black studies major in the near future.


25.4%  Percentage of all 1993 white bachelor’s degree recipients who had obtained a graduate degree by 2003.

25.8%  Percentage of all 1993 black bachelor’s degree recipients who had obtained a graduate degree by 2003.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Employment Status of African Americans With Ph.D.s in Science and Engineering

A new report from the National Science Foundation reveals that there are 214,000 faculty members at U.S. colleges and universities who have Ph.D.s in science (including social sciences) and engineering fields. Of these, 4 percent are black. About 28 percent of all black faculty holding a Ph.D. in science and engineering fields are employed by historically black colleges and universities. The HBCUs employ about 2 percent of all faculty nationwide.

Blacks with Ph.D.s in these fields are more likely than whites to be employed by an educational institution. Some 60 percent of blacks with Ph.D.s in the sciences or engineering are academics, compared to 49 percent of whites holding doctorates in these fields.


Is the Welcome Mat Out for Blacks in Germany?

In advance of the World Cup soccer tournament being held in Germany this summer, former German government spokesman Uwe-Karsten Heye said that “there are small and midsize towns where I would advise anyone with a different skin color not to go.” He also warned that if nonwhite soccer players and nonwhite fans ventured into these towns, they “may not leave with their lives.”

In recent months Germany had been the scene of some violent racist attacks by neo-Nazi groups. In an effort to soothe the worries of players and fans from predominantly black nations, the official slogan of the tournament was “The World Visiting Friends.”


What Ever Happened to J.C. Watts?

In 2002 Congressman J.C. Watts left the House of Representatives so that he could make some money and spend more time with his family. Watts, an African American, was a poster boy for the GOP’s effort to attract more blacks and other minorities to the Republican Party.

During his eight years in the House, Watts was the only black GOP elected official in Washington. He represented a rural Oklahoma district that was just 5 percent black. Yet he was popular with whites in Oklahoma in large part because he had quarterbacked the University of Oklahoma football team.

Watts was not a supporter of affirmative action in higher education. At one point he told JBHE, “It is difficult for me to support any system that would give advantage or disadvantage to anyone because of the color of his skin.”

Watts now chairs a consulting firm bearing his name which lobbies Congress on behalf of several Fortune 500 companies, trade groups, and black colleges and universities. He also owns a construction company and a diversity training firm. Overall his firms employ about 60 people and had revenues of $25 million last year.

Watts has recently bought John Deere farm equipment dealerships in San Antonio and Marble Falls, Texas. He is a political analyst for CNN and serves on the board of directors of Clear Channel Communications, the Boy Scouts of America, and the United States Military Academy.


Black Women at Spelman Among the World’s Elite in Robotics Technology

The Spelman College Robotics Team finished tied for first place in the U.S. Robocup competition held recently at Georgia Tech. The Spelman squad built a team of robotic dogs which play soccer against teams from other colleges and universities. The Spelman team is now competing with 350 teams from 40 countries in the world championships in Germany.

The Spelman College team is the only all-female, all-black undergraduate robotics team in the world.



Harold L. Martin Sr. was named senior vice president for academic affairs for the 16-campus University of North Carolina system. Since 2000 he has served as chancellor of Winston-Salem State University.

Dr. Martin is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and also holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from that institution. He earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Virginia Tech.

Berenecea Johnson Eanes was named vice president for student development at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She was the associate dean of students for diversity and accessibility at Hamilton College.

Dr. Johnson is a graduate of Dillard University. She received a master’s in social work degree from Boston University and holds a Ph.D. from Clark Atlanta University.



Robert L. Shepard, executive director of the Science and Engineering Alliance, has been selected to receive the 2006 Science Spectrum’s Minorities in Research Science’s National Emerald Honors Award for Educational Leadership.

Dr. Shepard is a 1969 graduate of Saint Augustine’s College. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Howard University.

Endawoke Yizengaw, a native of northwestern Ethiopia, was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Postdoctoral Research at the University of California at Los Angeles. He is currently serving as an assistant research professor at UCLA’s Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.



Copyright © 2006. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.