College-Bound Students Are Choosing More Affordable Higher Education

A new study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling finds that, due to the current severe recession, students of all races are increasingly turning away from their “dream” college in favor of a public university or a two-year community college.

More than 70 percent of high school guidance counselors reported an increase in the number of students who decided not to apply to or enroll at their dream college. Nearly 60 percent of counselors reported that this year they had seen an increase in the number of students choosing a state-operated college or university over private educational institutions.

The survey also showed that 72 percent of all public colleges and universities had an increase in the number of applicants this year compared to 58 percent of private colleges and universities. More than 46 percent of state-operated colleges and universities saw an increase in student yield compared to 31 percent of private institutions.

The survey did not include information on race. But it is reasonable to conclude that if college students as a whole are turning to more affordable options for higher education, black students, in disproportionate numbers, are likely to be choosing state-operated universities or two-year community colleges. This conclusion would quite automatically follow from the fact that the median black family income in the United States is only 60 percent of the median white family income.

Faced with a reeling economy, many black students may be choosing to forgo college altogether.


Racism Row at Oxford

Two students at Oxford University were suspended from the Conservative Party after it was revealed that they had asked candidates for an officer position of the Oxford University Conservative Association to name their least favorite minority groups. The candidates were also told to tell the most racist joke they had ever heard.

One candidate related the following riddle: “What do you say when you see a television moving around in the dark?” The punchline was: “Put it down nigger, or I’ll shoot you.”


New Study Says Children Who Are Breastfed as Infants Are More Likely to Do Well in School and to Enroll in College

A new study by researchers at American University and the University of Colorado at Denver has found that infants who are breastfed are more likely than bottle-fed babies to do well in school when they grow up. The data showed that students who were breastfed as infants did better in high school and were more likely to enroll in college than students who were raised on bottled milk or formula.

The study, published in the Journal of Human Capital, found that every additional month of breastfeeding as an infant correlated with a 0.019 point increase in the child’s high school grade point average. Each additional month a student was breastfed as an infant also increased the probability that the student would enroll in college.

This data is extremely important given the fact that black infants are breastfed at a significantly lower rate than white, Hispanic, and Asian-American infants. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that only 59 percent of African-American babies are ever breastfed and only 20 percent are breastfed six months after birth. For white babies, 75 percent are breastfed at some point and more than one third are still being breastfed six months after they were born.



William Pollard Named President of Medgar Evers College

William L. Pollard was named president of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, a part of the City University of New York system. The college, named after the Mississippi civil rights icon who was assassinated in 1963, has an undergraduate enrollment of about 5,500 students. Blacks make up 85 percent of the student body.

From 2002 to 2007 Dr. Pollard  served as president of the University of the District of Columbia. More recently he was vice president of the National Association for State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.

Dr. Pollard is a graduate of Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. He holds a master of social work degree from the University of North Carolina and a Ph.D. in policy and planning from the University of Chicago.

Dr. Pollard’s dissertation was entitled “Black Welfare Developments in the Southeast, 1890-1915.” He had to defend his dissertation work with a panel of scholars that included John Hope Franklin.


Leading Universities in Britain Are Also Failing to Admit Low-Income Students

Each year JBHE reports on the percentage of low-income students at our nation’s leading colleges and universities. With few exceptions, these educational institutions have very small percentages of low-income students. Furthermore, JBHE research shows that at almost all these colleges and universities, the percentage of low-income students has declined in recent years.

In Britain, too, the leading universities show declining percentages of low-income students. A report from the United Kingdom’s Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that the percentage of low-income students decreased this year at Cambridge, Bristol, and Durham universities. At Oxford, there was a slight increase in the percentage of low-income students.


44.8%  Percentage of all black K-12 public school students in 1990 who attended a school where minorities made up 75 percent or more of the student body.

51.5%  Percentage of all black K-12 public school students in 2007 who attended a school where minorities made up 75 percent or more of the student body.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


Howard University Medical Students Open Free Clinic

Students at the College of Medicine at Howard University have opened a free medical clinic for low-income patients with no health insurance. The facility is located at Howard University Hospital. The clinic will be operated and staffed exclusively by medical school students. In the beginning the clinic will be open for just three hours on Thursday evenings. Only adult patients will be examined by the medical staff.

The clinic was founded by and will be under the direction of Raolat Abdulai, a third-year medical student from Silver Springs, Maryland. A $30,000 grant from the Association of American Medical Colleges provided the seed money to get the clinic up and running.


Appointments, Promotions & Resignations

• Robert G. Stanton, executive professor of recreation, park, and tourism sciences at Texas A&M University, was named deputy assistant secretary of the interior for policy, management, and budget.

Stanton is a graduate of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas.

• Anna Shavers, Cline Williams Professor of Citizenship Law Chair, was named interim dean of the College of Law at the University of Nebraska. Shavers, who has been on the law school’s faculty since 1989, has been associate dean since 2008.

Dean Shavers is a graduate of Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. She holds a master’s degree in business from the University of Wisconsin and a law degree from the University of Minnesota.

• Marshall F. Stevenson Jr. was appointed dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Delaware State University in Dover. He was dean of the division of social sciences and professor of history at Dillard University in New Orleans.

Dr. Stevenson is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan.

• Joyce A. Blackwell was named vice president for academic affairs at South Carolina State University. She held a similar position at Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Dr. Blackwell is a graduate of North Carolina Central University. She holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

• William B. Harvey was named executive director of the International Reading Association. For the past four years he has served as vice president and chief diversity officer for the University of Virginia.

• Valerie Epps was named vice president of student affairs at the University of the District of Columbia. She was vice president for student affairs and student life at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Epps holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in education, all from Southern Illinois University.

• Verian Thomas, director of the division of agricultural sciences at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, was named president-elect of the National Society for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences.

Dr. Thomas is a graduate of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She holds a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in food science from Leeds University in England.



• Howard University received grants of software from Siemens PLM Software valued at $150 million. The grant is the largest ever received by Howard University. The software includes programs for engineering, student/instructor training, and specialized certification programs. The software will be used for courses in engineering technology, manufacturing and industrial design, and drafting.

• Fayetteville State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina, received a grant from the Junior League of Fayetteville to expand the university’s Raising a Reader Program to improve literacy among young children.

• South Carolina State University, the historically black educational institution in Orangeburg, received a $150,000 grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation. The money will provide additional funding for the Savannah River Environmental Sciences Field Station.

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The Higher Education of the New NASA Director

President Obama has nominated Charles F. Bolden Jr. as the next director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Bolden will be the first African American to lead the nation’s space agency.

Bolden is a native of Columbia, South Carolina. He is a 1968 graduate of the United States Naval Academy with a degree in electrical science. After graduation he became a Marine Corps officer and underwent flight training. He flew more than 100 missions during the Vietnam war. After the war he served as a test pilot and earned a master’s degree in systems management from the University of Southern California.

Bolden became an astronaut in 1981. He flew on four space shuttle missions from 1986 to 1994, including one that launched the Hubble space telescope. After leaving NASA in 1994 he returned to active duty in the Marine Corps as deputy commander of midshipmen at the Naval Academy. In 1998 he was promoted to the rank of major general and retired from the Corps in 2004.


“To measure the work, accomplishments, and meaning of John Hope Franklin’s life is like taking a thimble and trying to empty an ocean.”

Vernon Jordan, speaking at the memorial service for John Hope Franklin at Duke University


Explaining the Racial Earnings Gap for College Graduates

New Census Bureau data shows that blacks with a college degree have median earnings that are 86 percent of the median earnings of all whites with a college degree.

Undoubtedly, continuing employment discrimination plays a role in lower black earnings. But other factors are also involved.

First, women outnumber men among African-American college graduates, particularly among those in the lower age brackets. Since women generally tend to earn lower wages than men, the disproportionate share of women among African-American college graduates tends to lower the overall earnings figure for blacks and therefore widens the racial gap.

Also, of all blacks in the United States who have obtained a bachelor’s degree, 52.8 percent now reside in southern states. Only 31.7 percent of all whites who have a bachelor’s degree reside in the South. Because wages in the South tend to be lower than in other regions, the large percentage of African Americans with college degrees who live in the South tend to drag down the national median earnings figure. This is not the case for whites.

It follows then that the geographical location of large numbers of African-American college graduates in the South is a significant factor in the overall nationwide earnings gap for blacks and whites with a college degree.


The Photographic Archives of Gordon Parks Will Be Housed at Purchase College

A vast collection of photographic prints and negatives from the work of Gordon Parks will be housed at Purchase College in Pleasantville, New York. Parks was the first black staff photographer at Life magazine. He chronicled the civil rights movement and did photo shoots of many of the nation’s most prominent professional athletes and entertainers. Parks, who also was a musician, poet, novelist, and filmmaker, died in 2006.

The Parks collection includes more than 4,000 prints and 20,000 negatives. The archive will be preserved, digitized, catalogued, and made available to researchers.


Winston-Salem State University Opens New Research Center on Human Motion

The School of Health Sciences at historically black Winston-Salem State University is teaming up with the Wake Forest University School of Medicine to establish the Human Performance and Biodynamics Laboratory. The effort will combine research and clinical treatment on all aspects of human movement. Research on musculoskeletal disease, orthopedic implants, and sports medicine will be conducted at the facility.

A sophisticated 10-camera system and floor pressure plates used to calculate force will be able to analyze an action of human motion, including running, walking, jumping, throwing, and kicking.


Referendum Targets Affirmative Action in University Admissions in Arizona

In 2008 Ward Connerly, the African-American businessman who led the successful efforts to ban race-sensitive university admissions in California, Washington, Michigan, and other states, tried to get a similar public referendum on the ballot in the state of Arizona. But supporters failed to gather enough valid signatures from registered voters to earn a place on the ballot.

Opponents of affirmative action then turned to the state legislature. Now both houses of the Arizona legislature have agreed to place a public referendum on the ballot in 2010. Under Arizona law the legislature has the power to place referenda on the ballot without the approval of the governor. The measure, if adopted, would ban the consideration of race in admissions at the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and other publicly operated colleges and universities.

Blacks are 3 percent of the students at the University of Arizona and 4 percent of the students at Arizona State.


A Monumental Task Faces New Diversity Czar at the University of Arkansas

Blacks are 16 percent of the population of the state of Arkansas. But they are only 5.3 percent of the student body at the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas. The black percentage of the student body is less than one third the level that would exist if racial parity were to prevail.

Yesterday, Charles F. Robinson, director of the university’s African-American studies program, took on new duties as vice provost for diversity. It is his job to improve the number of black students on campus. He will be assisted by a new 15-member Chancellor’s Council on Diversity. The council, made up of representatives from the faculty, alumni, and staff, will devise strategies for increasing diversity. It will also be asked to raise money to further the university’s diversity agenda.

Robinson wants to simplify diversity efforts and focus on the recruitment and retention of black and other minority students. Other issues can be tackled, he believes, once a critical mass of minority students is assembled.


Paul Quinn College Loses Accreditation

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has stripped historically black Paul Quinn College of its accreditation citing financial and academic problems. The loss of accreditation comes at a time when the college appears to have been making progress. Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College, reports that $1 million in debt has been retired and that the college ended the year with an operating surplus. He noted that while enrollments dropped from 590 to 440 students this past year, applications to the college quadrupled from 273 in 2008 to 1,150 this year.

The loss of accreditation is often the death knell for a college or university. Students at schools without accreditation are not eligible for federal or state financial aid. More than 80 percent of the student body at Paul Quinn College receives federal Pell Grants for low-income students.

Two other black colleges — Florida Memorial University and Tougaloo College in Mississippi — were placed on accreditation warning status by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Historically black Dillard University and Texas Southern University were removed from accreditation probation status by the association.


Honors and Awards

• Julius Chambers, the civil rights activist, attorney, and former chancellor of North Carolina Central University, received the 2009 Children’s Lifetime Legacy Award from Action for Children North Carolina.

• Eddie Glaude, William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African-American Studies at Princeton University, received the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at the Princeton University commencement.

• Sybil Mobley, who served on the faculty at Florida A&M University for more than 40 years and in 1974 was named founding dean of the university’s School of Business and Industry, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the university’s alumni association. Mobley, now 83 years old, retired in 2003.

• Vincent Brown, Dunwalke Associate Professor of American History at Harvard University, was honored by being named a 2009 Walter Channing Cabot Fellow. The award recognizes Harvard faculty for distinguished accomplishments in literature, art, or history. Dr. Brown was honored for his book, The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery.

Professor Brown is a graduate of the University of California at San Diego. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Duke University.

• Kerwin K. Charles, Steans Family Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, was named best professor in a core class by the school’s student association.

A native of Guyana, Dr. Charles is a graduate of the University of Miami. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Cornell University.



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