Penn Partners With The Posse Foundation in Order to Enroll More Low-Income Students

In the latest JBHE rankings of low-income students at the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities, the University of Pennsylvania ranked near the bottom. Only 8.4 percent of Penn students received federal Pell Grants. This placed Penn 27th among the top 30 universities in percentage of the total student body that was from low-income families.

But now the University of Pennsylvania has taken a major step to improve its performance in enrolling more students from low-income households. The university has announced that it will become the 34th institutional partner of The Posse Foundation. Penn is the first Ivy League institution to join the program, which seeks to bring more students from low-income families to the nation’s most selective colleges and universities.

Under the program, Penn agrees to select at least 10 low-income students from the public school system of Miami, Florida. The selected students will receive full scholarships. They will become a “posse” who will participate in pre-college training and meet regularly when they enroll at Penn.

Over the past 20 years, 2,650 students have enrolled at college and university partners of The Posse Foundation. They graduate at a rate of over 90 percent.



Northwestern University’s Collection of East African Photographs Is Now Available Online

The Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University has unveiled a new Web site where researchers can view online the Humphrey Winterton Collection of East African photographs. The digital archive contains 7,610 photographs of life in East Africa from 1860 to 1960.

The collection includes photographs of the landscape, Africans in their everyday lives, and colonial officials and private businesspeople.

Pictured here is an Ethiopian fiddler. The picture was taken in 1867 by a member of the British Tenth Company of Royal Engineers.

Readers who wish to browse through this impressive collection can do so by clicking here.


For the First Time, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Papers Will Be Used in Coursework at Morehouse College

Three years ago a consortium of Atlanta leaders brokered a $32 million loan to keep a vast collection of the papers of Martin Luther King Jr. in the city. The Martin Luther King Collection is housed at Morehouse College, King’s alma mater. A massive archival project of the more than 10,000 documents has now been completed.

This fall, for the first time since the collection has come to Morehouse, an academic course will be taught using the papers as the main resource. The course, entitled “Martin Luther King Jr. and the Modern Freedom Struggle,” will be taught by Clayborne Carson, professor of history at Stanford University and executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Collection.

While in Atlanta, Professor Carson will continue to hold his tenured position at Stanford. Professor Carson holds bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees, all from the University of California at Los Angeles.


African-American Professor of Art Commissioned to Paint a Mural for Kansas City, Kansas Community College

John Newman, associate professor of art in the J. William Fulbright School of Arts and Sciences at the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, has been commissioned by the Kansas City, Kansas Community College Board of Trustees to paint a mural. The mural will be 39 feet long, with three 13-foot panels of oil on canvas. The painting will depict the antislavery activities of antebellum Kansas City residents. The Quindaro area of Kansas City, Kansas, was an important stop on the Underground Railroad for blacks escaping from the slave state of Missouri.

Professor Newman was chosen in part because he grew up in Kansas and was once a resident of Kansas City.


Historically Black Delaware State University Plans to Increase Distance Education Opportunities

Delaware State University, the historically black educational institution in Dover, is planning to significantly increase its distance education program. At the present time a limited number of courses at Delaware State are available online. Under the new initiative, the university plans to add undergraduate and graduate programs that can be done completely online. At the present time, 20 percent of the total faculty at the university is undergoing training in distance education administration and teaching.


The Higher Education of President Obama’s Latest Federal Court Nominee

Judge Charlene Honeywell, a circuit court judge in Tampa, Florida, was recently nominated to fill a vacancy on the federal court bench for the middle district of Florida. Judge Honeywell is a 1979 graduate of Howard University. She received her legal training at the University of Florida College of Law.

Judge Honeywell was appointed to the Florida circuit court in 2000 by then Florida Governor Jeb Bush. For six years prior to her appointment to the circuit court, she was affiliated with the Tampa law firm Hill, Ward & Henderson. Previously she was a county judge and had worked in the public defender’s office.


Auburn University Professor Seeks to Revive the Negro Spiritual

Eight years ago Professor Cornel West was called into the office of then Harvard University president Lawrence Summers and told he was neglecting his teaching duties. One of Summers’ criticisms of West was that the highly regarded African-American public intellectual had recorded a rap CD.

Now Rosephanye Dunn Powell, associate professor of music and coordinator of voice studies, has released a CD of her own. But this latest CD of Negro spirituals is not expected to get Professor Powell into any trouble with the Auburn administration as the subject matter is directly related to her academic field.

The spirituals, composed during the slavery years, are considered America’s first true folk songs. But Professor Powell believes that the spirituals are being ignored by young African Americans because of their ties to slavery. So she has taken the music and modernized it with a rhythm and blues mix that include elements of jazz and gospel music.

Professor Powell is a summa cum laude graduate of Virginia State University. She holds a master’s degree from Westminster Choir College and a doctorate from Florida State University. Before coming to Auburn, she taught at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Georgia Southern University.

The title track of Professor Powell’s CD is the well-known spiritual “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” Readers who want to hear clips of the various tracks can do so by clicking here.



Appointments, Promotions & Resignations

• Billy R. Ballard was named interim dean of the School of Medicine at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Ballard is chair of the department of pathology and has been serving as associate dean for graduate medical education.

• Leandra Hayes-Thomas was appointed assistant vice president for major and planned gifts at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. She was assistant vice president of institutional advancement and director of development at Talladega College in Alabama.

• Leonard Jack Jr., director of the Center for Minority Health, Health Disparities, Research and Education at Xavier University in New Orleans, was named editor in chief of Health Promotion Practice, a journal of the Society for Public Health Education.

Dr. Jack is a graduate of Virginia State University. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Penn State.

• Karen M. Clark, assistant professor and chair of the department of communications at Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma, has announced her retirement from teaching. She has served in that capacity since 1992. Clark will continue writing her syndicated newspaper column.

• M. Christopher Brown II was appointed executive vice president and provost at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. He was dean of the College of Education at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

Dr. Brown is a graduate of South Carolina State University. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from Pennsylvania State University.

• Crystal Nix Hines, an independent television writer and producer and an attorney in Los Angeles, was named to the board of trustees of Princeton University. She is a 1985 graduate of Princeton and was a classmate of Barack Obama at Harvard Law School.



For breaking news and previews of upcoming articles


A Sharp Drop-Off in the Number of Honorary Degrees Awarded to Blacks by the Nation’s Leading Colleges and Universities

Each year JBHE compiles data on honorary degrees awarded to African Americans and black people from foreign countries by our nation’s leading colleges and universities. This year 16 honorary degrees were conferred on blacks from the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities and another 12 were awarded by the 30 highest-ranked liberal arts colleges.

Two years ago these colleges and universities awarded 44 honorary degrees to blacks, the most in the history of the JBHE survey. This year’s total is the second lowest in the 15 years JBHE has been tracking honorary degree awards.

In past years many colleges and universities gave honorary degrees to blacks as a form of window dressing to compensate for the fact that there were few blacks on their teaching faculties. Today this institutional guilt has largely evaporated. This may be a factor in the low number of honorary degrees awarded to blacks this year.

This year, among the high-ranking universities, Dartmouth College and Columbia University each gave honorary degrees to two blacks. Among the leading liberal arts colleges, Oberlin College and Lafayette College awarded honorary degrees to two blacks.

Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis was the only African American who received honorary degrees from more than one high-ranking educational institution. He received recognition at both Harvard and Northwestern.


“More and more evidence indicates that excellence and diversity go hand in hand. I am confident that Posse scholars will contribute their talents, leadership, and passion to make our great university even better.”

Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, announcing that Penn will be the first Ivy League institution to accept Posse Scholars (See lead story.)


New Military Information Center Proposed at Historically Black Fayetteville State University

Fayetteville State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina, has announced plans to establish the North Carolina Center for Defense and Homeland Security. The center will act as a clearinghouse of information for military contractors and colleges and universities that seek to do business with the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security. Startup funds for the center are expected to come from federal grant programs.

Fayetteville State University is located adjacent to Fort Bragg, one of the nation’s largest military facilities. The 82nd Airborne Division and the U.S. Special Forces Operations Command are both located at the base.


President of Kentucky State University Plans to Establish a Boarding School for Black Male Teenagers

JBHE research has shown a wide and growing gap between black men and black women in college degree attainment. Black men are less likely than black women to enroll in college and less likely than black women to graduate should they enroll.

At Kentucky State University, the historically black educational institution in Frankfort, women make up 58 percent of the total enrollments. While still a large majority of the student body, this is a significantly lower percentage of women than at many other black colleges.

But Kentucky State president Mary Evans Sias wants to further reduce the gender gap. She has proposed that the university establish a boarding school for black male teenagers on the Kentucky State campus. The high school students would live in a section of a college dormitory but have separate classes, faculty, and administrators. President Sias believes that such a school would funnel many of its graduates to Kentucky State. She envisions 30 to 50 black male students at the school beginning in the fall of 2010.



Athletic Conference of Historically Black Colleges and Universities Admits Predominantly White Member

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) was formed a century ago by historically black colleges and universities in North Carolina and Virginia. This past academic year there were 11 member schools, an odd number that makes scheduling difficult.

Now the CIAA has a new member. And for the first time in its 100-year history, a university that is not historically black has joined the conference. Chowan University in Murfreesboro, North Carolina, has accepted an offer to join the CIAA.

Chowan is affiliated with the Baptist Church. Many of the current CIAA members are also affiliated with various Protestant denominations. The university is in the same geographic area as the other CIAA schools so travel will not be burdensome to any conference members. Also, 43 percent of the students at Chowan University are African Americans.


Law School at Historically Black Florida A&M University Appears on the Verge of Winning Full Accreditation

The law school at Florida A&M University has had provisional accreditation since 2004. In October 2007 inspectors from the American Bar Association issued a negative opinion on the law school. The ABA inspectors warned that the law school had a “steep mountain to climb” in order to win full accreditation in 2009.

LeRoy Pernell was hired as dean of the law school to right the ship, and apparently he has done so. The accreditation committee of the American Bar Association has recommended to the full membership that the FAMU law school be fully accredited. A vote of the delegates to the ABA convention will be held in the coming weeks. While the delegates are not obligated to accept the committee’s recommendation, it is very rare for the committee decision to be overruled by members of the ABA.


In Memoriam

Elizabeth Louise Allen (1927-2009)

Betty Allen, the internationally known opera singer and longtime educator, died late last month from kidney disease in Valhalla, New York. She was 82 years old.

Allen was born in Campbell, Ohio. Her father worked in a Youngstown steel mill. Her mother took in neighbors’ laundry. She lived in an integrated neighborhood with Italian and Greek immigrants. She was exposed to opera at a young age from radios blaring from the windows of Italian homes.

Allen’s mother died when she was 12. Her father began to drink heavily so Allen ran away from home. She lived in foster homes until the age of 16 when she moved into the Youngstown YWCA, supporting herself by working as a household maid.

She won a scholarship to Wilberforce University where she was a classmate of Leontyne Price. Allen studied voice and opera and later earned a scholarship to the Hartford School of Music.

In 1954 she made her debut with the New York City Opera in Showboat. She performed at the Metropolitan Opera and with companies in Boston, Houston, San Francisco, and Buenos Aires.

In 1969 she joined the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music and remained there until her death. She was also the executive director of the Harlem School of the Arts from 1979 to 1992.

Philip D. Curtin (1922-2009)

Philip Curtin, a leading scholar of African history and the slave trade, died last month from pneumonia at a hospital in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Curtin was a native of Philadelphia. He was a graduate of Swarthmore College and earned master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University. He taught at Swarthmore College and the University of Wisconsin and then was Herbert Baxter Adams Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University for 23 years until his retirement in 1998.

Curtin was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and served as president of the American Historical Association. He was the author of a dozen books including his 1969 work, The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census. This research of ship logs enabled him to estimate that between 20 million and 30 million black Africans were boarded onto slave ships in Africa. But Curtin estimated that only 9 million to 12 million survived the Middle Passage.


3.4%  Percentage of all black males ages 25 to 29 in 2008 who had obtained a master’s degree.

5.2%  Percentage of all black females ages 25 to 29 in 2008 who had obtained a master’s degree.

10.4%  Percentage of all white females ages 25 to 29 in 2008 who had obtained a master’s degree.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


Honors and Awards

Frank Clark, chair and CEO of ComEd in Chicago, received the Julius Rosenwald Award for Distinguished Civic Leadership at the celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.



Cornell University received a $45,700 grant from Motorola Foundation to fund a summer academy for minority high school students. Thirty-three high school students from 15 states and three foreign countries will come to the Cornell campus later this month for a one-week seminar in science and technology. Nearly one half of the students who participated in a similar program in 2007 went on to apply to Cornell.

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