Blacks Are Making Tremendous Progress in Master’s Degree Attainments

In the 2005-06 academic year blacks earned 58,976 master’s degrees at U.S. colleges and universities. The number of blacks earning a master’s degree was up 8 percent from the previous year.

Blacks have made huge progress over the past 20 years in increasing the number of master’s degrees earned. In 1985, 13,939 African Americans were awarded master’s degrees from U.S. universities. During the 2005-06 academic year this figure had more than quadrupled to nearly 59,000. The percentage of all master’s degrees earned by blacks has increased from 5 percent in 1985 to 9.9 percent today. In the past year alone the percentage of all master’s degrees earned by blacks jumped from 9.5 percent to 9.9 percent.


The New SAT Is No Better Than the Old SAT in Predicting Black Student Success in College

Three years ago The College Board revamped the SAT college admission test in an attempt to make it more predictive of a student’s prospects for success during his or her first year of college. The content of the mathematics and reading portions of the test was changed and a new writing section was added. For students, the testing took a longer period of time and cost them more.

But the end result is that the new SAT doesn’t do any better job in predicting a student’s success in the first year of college. A student’s grades in high school remain the best single indicator to predict college success.

A report issued by The College Board also found that the SAT tended to overpredict the level of success in college for black test takers and tended to underpredict the success of white test takers. But this was also the case for the older version of the SAT.

Robert Schaeffer, public information director at the National Center for Fair and Open Testing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said in a statement, “The College Board’s inability to marshal any evidence that the ‘new’ SAT is a better predictor than the ‘old’ version is an admission that the revision was not a serious attempt to improve the test. Maybe the College Board’s slogan should be, ‘Meet the new test, same as the old test — only longer and more expensive.’”

Schaeffer predicts that the new reports will accelerate the number of colleges and universities that will not require applicants to take the SAT.



Paula Allen-Meares Named Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Chicago

In a major appointment, Paula Allen-Meares was named chancellor of the University of Illinois at Chicago. This large, urban university has total enrollments of nearly 25,000 students. There are 15,000 undergraduate students at the university, about 9 percent of whom are black. The university has 12,000 employees and has a budget of $1.7 billion.

Since 1993 Allen-Meares has been the dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan. She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

Allen-Meares will take office in January.


93.5%  Percentage of all whites ages 25 to 29 in 2007 who had completed high school.

87.7%  Percentage of all African Americans ages 25 to 29 in 2007 who had completed high school.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Fisk University Adds Four Members to Its Board of Trustees

Fisk University named Eddie George, former All-Pro running back for the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League and Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State University, to its board of trustees. George is now head of his own landscape architecture firm.

Fisk also named as trustees Cheryl McKissack, CEO of the McKissack Group, Leslie Meek, an administrative law judge, and Patricia Meadows, a certified public accountant and trustee of the Tennessee Historical Society.


Black Professor at Columbia Who Found Noose on Her Office Door Fired for Plagiarism

Last fall, Madonna C. Constantine, a tenured professor of psychology and education at Teachers College of Columbia University, found a noose on the outside of her office door. Police were unable to determine who left the noose.

Then in February, Columbia announced that Professor Constantine had been accused of plagiarizing the work of two students and one professor. According to Teachers College, there were “numerous instances in which she used others’ work without attribution in papers she published in academic journals over the past five years.” An investigation by a legal team found about two dozen instances of plagiarism.

Constantine denied the charges saying she was the victim of a “witch hunt” and that it was her work that had been plagiarized by her accusers. At that time Teachers College said that Professor Constantine would be disciplined but not dismissed.

Now, with students mostly off campus for the summer, Columbia has announced that Professor Constantine will in fact be dismissed from her tenured position.

Constantine has been at Teachers College since 1998 and had won tenure in 2001. She is a graduate of Xavier University in Louisiana. She earned a Ph.D. at the University of Memphis.


Barack Obama Organizes an Army of College Student Volunteers

About 300 college students recently completed their training at Hampton University as Barack Obama Organizing Fellows. The students attended workshops on canvassing, voter education, and voter registration drives. These students will join another 3,000 Obama Organizing Fellows trained at other sites across the country.

The students will fan out across the country and spend the summer working for the Obama campaign. They have pledged to spend at least 30 hours a week working for the Obama campaign organization.



Florida A&M University Removed From Accreditation Probation

Florida A&M University, the historically black educational institution in Tallahassee, has been removed from the list of schools on accreditation probation. After two consecutive six-month probation periods, the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools has decided that the university’s shaky financial situation has been largely rectified.

Upon the announcement, there was widespread rejoicing on the Tallahassee campus. President James H. Ammons, who was brought in to solve the university’s problems a year ago, stated, “We have been able to solve and address the critical issues that threatened the very existence of this university. Through our success, we have preserved this institution’s legacy for generations to come.”

The news was not so encouraging for two other black colleges. Paul Quinn College in Texas was kept on probation. Dillard University in New Orleans, which had its campus devastated by Hurricane Katrina three years ago, was placed on probation because of the institution’s financial situation.



Loren Blanchard was appointed senior vice president for academic affairs at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was associate vice chancellor for academic and multicultural affairs at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.

Dr. Blanchard has a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology education from Xavier. He also holds a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from McNeese State University and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Georgia.

Janice G. Brewington, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at North Carolina A&T State University, has announced her retirement.

A pediatric nurse practitioner, Brewington is a graduate of the nursing school at North Carolina A&T State University. She holds a master’s degree in nursing from Emory University and a Ph.D. in health policy and administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

• Lee D. Baker, associate professor of cultural anthropology and African and African-American studies at Duke University, was appointed dean of academic affairs at Duke’s Trinity College.

Baker is a graduate of Portland State University and holds a Ph.D. from Temple University. He has been on the Duke faculty since 2000.

• Ursula M. Burns, president of Xerox Corporation, was elected to the board of trustees of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Burns is a graduate of the Polytechnic Institute of New York and holds a master’s degree from Columbia University.

• George Hamilton, president and general manager of Dow Coating Solutions in Michigan, was appointed to the board of trustees of North Carolina Central University. A graduate of North Carolina Central, Hamilton holds an MBA from Indiana University.

• Robert L. Botley was appointed vice chancellor for business and finance at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. He held a similar position at Winston-Salem State University.

Four Blacks Are Among the 212 New Members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. It has a membership of more than 4,000 scholars from a wide variety of academic disciplines including all the natural sciences. Its membership includes at least 160 Nobel Prize winners and more than 50 winners of a Pulitzer Prize. AAAS conducts a wide range of studies on problems facing American society, it holds conferences and symposia, and it bestows a number of prestigious awards. The society publishes the highly regarded quarterly journal Daedelus.

This year, 212 new fellows were elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. As in past years, the academy has not disclosed the racial makeup of the new members. But through an analysis of the new members list, JBHE has been able to determine that at least four of the 250 new members are black. The new African-American members are:

• David Hammons, a New York City-based artist;

• Edward P. Jones, a Washington, D.C.-based novelist and short story writer;

• B.B. King, one of the world’s great blues musicians; and

• Earl Lewis, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and Asa Griggs Candler Professor of History and African-American studies at Emory University in Atlanta.

All told, by JBHE’s count there are 84 blacks among the 4,000 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Thus, 2.1 percent of the membership is black.


“I will make college more affordable for every American, period. This isn’t an issue you hear John McCain talk about much. He has voted time and time again to stop us from making college affordable.”

Barack Obama, speaking at Wayne County Community College in Taylor, Michigan, June 17, 2008


Wake Forest University Faculty Member Helping African Orphans

Mary Martin Niepold, an instructor in the journalism department at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has developed the Nyanya Project to help Kenyan and Tanzanian grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren who have been orphaned due to their parents’ death from AIDS.

The project teaches the grandmothers how to form economic cooperatives through which they can sell their handmade crafts. The grandmothers are also taugh howt to grow cash crops which can be sold to increase the cooperative’s income. Niepold and seven Wake Forest students traveled to Africa last month to help build a home for several grandmothers and their grandchildren. Four other cooperative communities have already been built.

The Nyanya Project estimates that there are 1 million children in Kenya and a half-million children in Tanzania who are being raised by their grandparents because they lost their parents to AIDS.


Stanford Allocates $4.5 Million to Program Seeking to Increase the Number of Minority Doctoral Students Pursuing Academic Teaching Positions

Stanford University has selected its first group of Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence (DARE) Doctoral Fellows. Twelve individuals have been chosen for the two-year scholarship awards designed to prepare minority students for careers in the academic world. More than 100 doctoral students at Stanford applied for the 12 positions as DARE fellows.

In addition to a scholarship that will pay tuition, the fellows receive a stipend and will participate in programs designed to ease their transition into the academic workplace. Each doctoral student will receive funds for a recruiting trip to encourage promising minority undergraduate students to consider Stanford graduate programs.

Stanford has budgeted $4.5 million over four years for the DARE program. The university aims to offer the fellowships to 36 doctoral students during the period.


Tim Scott Set to Become the First Black Republican in the South Carolina House Since Reconstruction

Tim Scott is an entrepreneur from Charleston, South Carolina, who went into business with two friends from high school. Now highly successful, Scott decided to run for the South Carolina House of Representatives as a Republican. Last month he won a three-way primary with more than half of the total vote. He faces no Democratic opposition in November.

When he takes his seat in January, he will become the first African-American Republican to serve in the South Carolina House since Reconstruction. A fiscal conservative with a Horatio Alger background, some political observers see Scott as a possible gubernatorial candidate in the future. With solid conservative credentials to attract GOP white voters and the prospects of pulling a significant share of the usually Democratic black vote in the general election, Scott might be a formidable candidate.


Small Black College Gets Record Gift

Outgoing Alltel Corporation CEO Scott Ford, who is white, made a $2.5 million contribution to Arkansas Baptist College, the historically black educational institution in Little Rock. The money will be used to construct a residence hall which will be named after the college’s basketball coach and athletic director, Charles Ripley.

Ford stated that he was impressed by the efforts of Arkansas Baptist’s president Fitz Hill in revitalizing the black college.



White Man Chosen Over Three Black Candidates as President of University of Wisconsin-Parkside Resigns Amid Criminal Investigation

Last month JBHE reported that the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha had chosen Robert D. Felner as its new president. Felner had been one of four finalists for the presidency of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. The other three finalists were African Americans. Felner has been serving as dean of the College of Education at the University of Louisville.

Now Felner has announced he will not accept the position. The resignation came on the heels of an announcement that the College of Education at the University of Louisville is under criminal investigation for mishandling a $500,000 federal grant.

It is not known at this time whether the University of Wisconsin-Parkside will turn to one of the three black finalists or conduct a new search for a president. The three African Americans who were being considered for the post are:

Maurice C. Taylor, dean of the school of graduate studies at Morgan State University;

T.J. Bryan, a professor of English and former chancellor of Fayetteville State University in North Carolina; and

Gloria J. Gibson, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.


Higher Admission Standards at the University of Nevada Lead to a Drop in Minority Student Enrollments

A new report prepared for the board of regents of the University of Nevada documents that significant decreases in minority enrollments occurred after admissions standards were raised in 2006. That year the minimum high school grade point average required for admission to the University of Nevada was raised from 2.5 to 2.75.

The statistics show that, under the new standards, black student enrollments dropped by 22 percent at the Las Vegas campus. Blacks are 8 percent of the total enrollments on the Las Vegas campus. There were also declines in the enrollment of other minorities.

At the Reno campus, Hispanic enrollments decreased, but there was an increase in African-American enrollments. Blacks make up only 3 percent of the total enrollments at the Reno campus.

The news of minority enrollment declines is of particular concern because this year the admissions standards will be made even more restrictive. From now on, students will be required to have earned a 3.0 grade point average in high school in order to qualify for admission to the University of Nevada.


In Memoriam

Randolph Montieth Chase Jr. (1929-2008)

Randolph M. Chase Jr., an infectious disease expert who was one of the first African-American faculty members at the New York University School of Medicine, has died in New York City after suffering a stroke. He was 79 years old.

Dr. Chase was a native of Brooklyn and earned a bachelor’s degree at NYU. When he entered medical school at NYU in 1954, he was one of only two black students in a class of 135. After conducting research in immunology at Rockefeller University, he was named to the NYU medical faculty in 1964. He retired from teaching in 2005.


Honors and Awards

Kevin Manns, sports information director of Southern University in Baton Rouge, was named Sports Information Director of the Year by the Southwestern Athletic Conference.



The U.S. Department of Defense awarded grants to 11 historically black universities to enhance educational programs and research projects in scientific disciplines related to national defense. The three-year grants range from $430,000 to $785,000.

The HBCUs receiving grants under the program are Alabama A&M University, Alcorn State University, Delaware State University, Fisk University, Hampton University, Jackson State University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, Southern University-Baton Rouge, Tennessee State University, and Texas Southern University.

Delaware State University and Fisk University each received two grants.




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