In the Southern States, Where There Are Large Numbers of College-Bound Black Students, Most Grants Are Based on Merit, Not Need

Last week JBHE reported that a new survey issued by the National Association for State Student Grants and Aid Programs found that 63 percent of all financial aid for college and graduate students awarded by state governments nationwide is need based.

But there are wide differences in the amount of need-based aid given out by the 50 states.

In 2007 Rhode Island, California, Hawaii, Montana, and Wyoming were the only states offering varying levels of need-based aid with no awards based solely on merit. In 2007 there were 10 additional states where 90 percent or more of all financial aid was based on need. These states include New York, Maryland, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, all states with large black populations.

In 2007, 20 states — up from 12 in 2004 — offered more merit-based aid than need-based aid to undergraduate students. This is a serious trend because many of these states are in the South where there are large numbers of low-income black students who need financial assistance in order to bear the costs of a college education. In Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee, less than one quarter of state aid is need based. In Georgia, 99.7 percent of all state financial aid for college students has a merit component.


Black High School Students Are Increasingly Taking the Challenging Mathematics Courses Necessary for Them to Compete for Places at Top Colleges

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education shows that there has been substantial progress in the number of black students who are taking challenging mathematics courses in high school. The report, Trends Among High School Seniors, 1972-2004, shows that in 1982 only 3.8 percent of black high school seniors were taking an advanced mathematics course such as precalculus or calculus. By 2004 nearly 15 percent of black high school seniors were taking advanced mathematics. Thus, over the period, the percentage of black seniors taking advanced mathematics nearly quadrupled.

In 1982 more than half of all black high school seniors did not take any mathematics class whatsoever. By 2004 this percentage had been nearly cut in half.



Tuskegee University to Benefit From New National Historic Site at Local Airfield

Later this year the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site will open in Alabama. The site is an airfield where 1,000 black pilots were trained for a racially segregated fighter squadron that battled the Nazis in World War II.

One of the two main hangars at the field had burned to the ground. It will be reconstructed to resemble the original structure. It will house an IMAX theater which will show a documentary about the Tuskegee airmen. The other hangar, which had fallen into disrepair and was plagued with rats and snakes, has been completely restored and will serve as an interactive museum and will house vintage aircraft that were used by the airmen.

Nearby Tuskegee University, the historically black educational institution founded by Booker T. Washington, will use some rooms in the restored hangar to conduct classes for its new civilian pilot training program.

The National Park Service estimates that nearly a half-million people a year will visit the historic site. Undoubtedly, many of the visitors also will stop by the Tuskegee University campus and purchase university merchandise. More visitors on campus will most assuredly aid the university’s student recruitment efforts.


39.2%  Percentage of all white females ages 25 to 29 in 2007 who had completed a bachelor’s degree.

20.0%  Percentage of all African-American females ages 25 to 29 in 2007 who had completed a bachelor’s degree.

source: U.S. Department of Education


North Carolina Central University Approves Two New Degree Programs

The board of trustees of North Carolina Central University, the historically black educational institution in Durham, has approved a plan to establish a nursing school at the university.

The university will also establish a new department of mass communications. Up to this point there has been a program in mass communications housed within the university’s English department.


Study Finds That Summer Bridge Programs Help Black Males Achieve Higher Grades Once They Enter College

A new study by Terrell L. Strayhorn, an assistant professor of higher education and sociology at the University of Tennessee, provides evidence that summer bridge programs for black men entering college are a valuable method to increase the prospects for success in higher education.

Dr. Strayhorn’s data showed that black men who were involved in summer bridge programs before they entered college significantly improved their college grade point average compared to black men who did not attend such preparation programs.

Professor Strayhorn is a graduate of the University of Virginia. He holds a master’s degree from the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia and an educational doctorate from Virginia Tech.


In Memoriam

Thomas I. Atkins (1939-2008)

Thomas I. Atkins, an educational pioneer and a central figure in the battle to desegregate the city of Boston’s public schools, has died at the age of 69 at a nursing home in Brooklyn, New York. For nearly two decades Atkins had suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Atkins was a native of Elkhart, Indiana. At Indiana University he was the first African American to be elected a class president and he was the first African American to be elected student body president of a Big-Ten university. He went on to graduate from Harvard Law School.

As leader of the Boston-area NAACP during the turbulent early 1970s when school busing was a major issue, Atkins placed chicken wire over the windows of his home in case white opponents of busing tried to throw a Molotov cocktail into his home. He also had spigots installed throughout the inside of his home so he could connect a hose in order to fight a fire.

Atkins served on the Boston City Council and was secretary of communities and development for the Massachusetts state government. In 1980 he was named general counsel for the national organization of the NAACP.



• Patric D. Simon was named athletic director at Langston University in Oklahoma. He had been the athletic director at Lincoln University in Missouri and Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.

Simon is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University and holds a master’s degree from Clark Atlanta University.

• Alton Thompson was named interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. He has been serving as dean of agriculture and environmental science at the university.

• Hudlin Wagner, dean of students at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, was given the additional title of vice president for student development.

• Drexel B. Ball was appointed executive vice president of Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. He was director of public relations at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

Ball is a graduate of Morehouse College and holds a master’s degree from North Carolina A&T State University.

• Keenan Grenell was appointed vice president and dean of diversity at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. He was associate provost for diversity at Marquette University in Wisconsin.

Dr. Grenell is a graduate of Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He holds a master’s degree in public policy from Mississippi State University and a Ph.D. in political science from Northern Illinois University.

• Fred D’Aguiar, novelist, playwright, poet, and professor of English at Virginia Tech, was named to a two-year term as the Gloria D. Smith Professor of Africana Studies at the university.

The Most Popular Master’s Degree Fields for African Americans

In 2006 education was the most popular master’s degree for blacks. This was also true for whites. Master’s degrees in education are the most popular because many public school districts in the United States require teachers to have a master’s degree before they are hired on a full-time basis.

Business management was the second most popular master’s degree for blacks. More than 30 percent of all master’s degrees earned by blacks were in the field of business. Thus, more than three fifths of all master’s degrees awarded to blacks in the 2005-06 academic year were in the two fields of education and business.

Public administration, health science, and psychology were the next three most popular master’s degree disciplines for blacks.


“What the American Medical Association did historically was awful. There were local AMA chapters that actually had rules against black members well into the late 1960s, and policies that made blacks not feel comfortable well into the 1980s.”

Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, commenting on the AMA’s formal apology, issued this past week, for excluding blacks from membership for more than a century


Eight Black Students From North Carolina Central University Participating in Summer Journalism Internships at Duke University

The American Society of Newspaper Editors reports there are nearly 53,000 editorial workers in newsrooms across the United States. Only 2,790 are black.

In an effort to increase the number of black newspaper reporters and editors, eight black students from North Carolina Central University who are majoring in either English or communications are participating in an internship program this summer at crosstown Duke University. The internship program gives the students real work experience in reporting, editing, research, and creating video. The students work in various Duke departments such as news and communications, the Nasher Museum of Art, and the Duke Medical Center.


Black Colleges Look to Help Employees Deal With the High Price of Gasoline

With gasoline prices now more than $4 a gallon nationwide, many businesses across the United States are taking steps to help their employees cope with rising energy prices. For example, telecommuting is becoming an attractive alternative for many workers.

Black colleges and universities are also trying to help their employees. Miles College in Alabama will institute a four-day work week this fall for students, faculty, and administrators to help them reduce their commuting costs.

At Hampton University in Virginia, class schedules are being reduced from five days to four. In addition, the university is offering $25 gas cards to about 500 employees for each of the three months during its summer session. The total cost to the university is $37,500. To be eligible for the cards, the employees must have a salary of under $30,000. So most recipients of the cards will be clerical, maintenance, and support staff.


An Unlikely University Recipient of Federal Government Farm Aid

The massive federal agricultural appropriations bill recently passed by Congress provides billions of dollars of support to farmers in the nation’s heartland. But the bill also provides $10 million in grants to the University of the District of Columbia, the public university of a 68-square-mile political entity, much of which is paved over in asphalt or concrete.

Under the bill, the University of the District of Columbia can receive up to $10 million for its agriculture and cooperative extension programs. As a land-grant institution, the university is required to offer agricultural programs. Research programs in nutrition, pest control, and backyard urban gardening will likely be funded.

The University of the District of Columbia also operates a 143-acre farm where a wide range of agriculture research is conducted. The farm is located in Beltsville, Maryland, on land donated by the Department of Agriculture.


University of Nottingham Reaches Out to Black Students

The University of Nottingham in northern England has launched a new recruitment program designed to attract young black men to its campus. The university’s Springboard Project brings young Afro-Caribbean males from local inner-city schools to campus for drama workshops, soccer clinics, and tours of campus facilities. The goal is to give these students a taste of university life and to encourage them to apply for admission.


A Remarkable Success Story of a Los Angeles High School in Graduating High-Achieving Black Students

View Park Preparatory High School in Los Angeles, California, is a public charter school that was founded in 2003. The goal was to create an alternative school with high academic standards where students who wanted a challenging learning environment could attend school without fear of gangs, violence, and other distractions.

The all-black charter school recently held its second graduation ceremony. In an area where more than half of all black students drop out before receiving their high school diploma, all 67 students who entered the school in ninth grade four years ago graduated, and all 67 students were accepted to college. Eleven of the 67 graduates were admitted to the University of California at Berkeley and seven will enroll at UCLA.

This is the second year in a row where all graduates of the charter high school were admitted to college.


Carnegie Corporation to Offer Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships to 200 Africans Studying in the Humanities

The Carnegie Corporation of New York has announced plans to offer fellowships and scholarships totaling $5 million over the next four years to doctoral and postdoctoral students from Africa who concentrate in the humanities. About 200 scholars from the African nations of Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda will be the beneficiaries of the Carnegie fellowships.


New SAT Procedure to Benefit Wealthy White Students and Boost Revenues for The College Board

The College Board has announced that beginning with next year’s class of high school juniors, students will be able to pick and choose which SAT results they want forwarded to the colleges and universities to which they apply. Thus, a student who scores poorly the first time he or she takes the test can hide these scores from college admissions officers.

Previously, the entire history of a student’s scores was sent to colleges.

The change in policy will be a huge advantage to wealthy students who can afford to take the test as many times as they want. This group tends to be predominantly white. A student from a family with a high income could take the SAT as a junior, score poorly, and then take SAT coaching classes that can boost a student’s score by 100 points or more. This student can then submit only the higher test results to colleges and universities.

To many blacks and other low-income students, multiple test taking and SAT coaching classes are not affordable. This gives whites and higher-income students another advantage in competing for places at high-ranking colleges and universities.



Honors and Awards

Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College, the highly selective, historically black educational institution for women in Atlanta, was the recipient of the Community Empowerment Award from the “I’m Every Woman” Leadership Conference.



Tennessee State University, the historically black educational institution in Nashville, received a three-year, $1 million grant for research in solar-sail spacecraft.

In addition, the university received a $300,000 grant from the Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service to fund research into the needs of minority and socially disadvantaged farmers.

• Howard University received a $300,000 grant from the United Health Foundation to provide dental care to children from low-income families in Washington, D.C., and Prince George’s County, Maryland. Both jurisdictions have majority black populations. The program will fund the Community Dental Health Program of Excellence at the Howard University College of Dentistry.

• Columbia University’s Teachers College received a $5 million grant from the GE Foundation for a program to boost science and mathematics education at 10 public schools in Harlem close to the Columbia campus. Faculty members at Columbia will work with the local schools to develop mathematics and science programs and to better incorporate technology into the teaching process. Afterschool programs will also be developed for students interested in science.


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