Assessing the Damage of the 10-Year Ban on Affirmative Action at the University of California

For the first time, in 1998, admissions to undergraduate campuses of the University of California were conducted under a policy where race could not be considered as a positive factor by admissions officials. As a result, black enrollments declined. Since that time, the number of black first-year students systemwide has nearly doubled. But blacks are only 3.6 percent of all first-year students, a level that is still below the level that prevailed prior to the ban.

At some campuses of the University of California system, the black percentage of all first-year students has shown a severe decline. It appears that right-wing groups who are determined to push blacks down into second-tier institutions have succeeded. In 1977, prior to the ban on affirmative action at the University of California at Berkeley, blacks made up 7.3 percent of the entering class. This coming fall, blacks are only 3.1 percent of all entering students.


“Die, N-word. We don’t want to see you ’round here no more.”

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, at a mock funeral for the word “nigger” at the NAACP annual convention in Detroit, July 7, 2007


Two Suburban Counties Near Washington, D.C., Achieve Remarkable Success in Improving Black Student Performance on AP Examinations

According to a study conducted by the Washington Post, black students in high schools in Fairfax County, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland, are doing well on Advanced Placement examinations. Advanced Placement courses are considered equivalent to introductory courses at the college level.

Nationwide, only one in 100 black high school students earns a passing grade on an AP test. In both Fairfax and Montgomery counties, more than 8 of every 100 black students pass an AP examination.

Overall, the two counties are relatively affluent but there are many lower-middle-class and middle-class black families. But the counties have made a special effort to recruit black students to take AP courses, whereas in many school districts black students are steered away from such courses because teachers have low expectations of what black students can achieve.

Both counties track promising black students in accelerated programs in elementary school. Middle school students who are on the fast track are given special study skills and critical thinking classes to prepare them for the advanced curriculum in high school. Fairfax County pays fees for all students who take AP examinations, eliminating a barrier for many low-income black students.


Black-Owned Contractors Pretty Much Excluded From the $3.1 Billion Construction Program of the University of North Carolina System

Kenneth Johnson, the director of the Carolinas Associated Minority Contractors, alleges that many of the schools in the University of North Carolina system do not act in good faith in regard to hiring opportunities for minority contractors. Johnson gave the system’s board of governors a list of 21 complaints concerning delinquent payments, unfair hiring practices, and requests for kickbacks from minority firms in return for contract awards.

The university is currently spending $3.1 billion under a voter-approved bond issue for construction on the system’s campuses. About 11 percent of the money spent so far has gone to minority firms. But black-owned firms have received only 1.8 percent of the business.


North Carolina Central University Students Start Their Own Version of RateMyProfessors.com

RateMyProfessors.com has become a very popular Web site among college students nationwide. By using this site, students can see evaluations of teacher performance by other students who have taken classes with a particular professor. Students get tips on whether the professor is interesting in class, assigns a lot of work, and how he or she grades.

Now the student government association at North Carolina Central University, the historically black educational institution in Durham, is launching its own professor rating service. The Eagle Accountability Database will launch this fall and will only be accessible to NCCU students. Professors will be evaluated using a ratings scale on a multiple choice questionnaire. Students will not be permitted to post comments — good or bad — about a particular professor.


Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case Seeking to Revamp Alabama’s Tax System to Increase Higher Education Opportunities for Young Blacks

A group of African Americans in Alabama filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s property tax system. The suit claims that property taxes in the state were so low that Alabama had to subsidize public K-12 education through the general tax fund. This, in turn, took money away from the public higher education system resulting in higher tuition at state-run universities. The higher tuition makes it difficult for many low-income black families to afford higher education. The suit sought to overturn the property tax so more state funds could be used for higher education in order to increase the educational opportunities for young blacks and other low-income students.

A federal district court judge in Alabama held a hearing on the suit and decided that it had no merit. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, which refused to hear the case. A final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court resulted in a denial of certiorari without comment.


Law Schools at Two Historically Black Universities Get Top Marks From Corporate and Law Firm Recruiters

The online career research firm Vault Inc. surveyed 512 recruiters from corporations and law firms across the country. Recruiters were asked to name law schools that, based on their experience as hiring managers, are underrated.

Emory University Law School was chosen as the most underrated law school in the nation. But two of the 25 most underrated law schools, according to the Vault survey, are housed at a historically black university. The Howard University School of Law was ranked as the third most underrated law school. The law school at North Carolina Central University in Durham was 14th on the list.



Lonza Hardy Jr. was named director of athletics at Hampton University in Virginia. For the past six years Hardy has served as athletics director at Mississippi Valley State University. Hardy is a graduate of the University of North Carolina.

• New York State Governor Elliot Spitzer appointed Philip Alfonso Berry vice chair of the board of trustees of the City University of New York. Berry has been a board member since June 2006. He is vice president at Colgate-Palmolive.

Berry is a graduate of Queens College, part of the CUNY system. He holds a master’s of social work degree from Columbia University and an MBA from Xavier University.

Matthew Wright was named chief investment officer at Vanderbilt University. He was the director of investments at Emory University.

Wright is a graduate of Seton Hall University. He holds an MBA from the University of Rochester.

Roland G. Fryer Jr., an assistant professor of economics at Harvard University, was named chief equality officer for the New York City Department of Education. He will be responsible for assuring equal resources are dispersed throughout the school system and that school staffing decisions are equitable.

Dr. Fryer will work on a consulting basis until next summer when he will take a sabbatical from Harvard to work full time on the project.

Marilyn Sanders Mobley was appointed provost at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. She was the assistant provost for educational programs and an associate professor of English and African-American studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Mobley is a graduate of Barnard College. She holds a master’s degree in English from New York University and a Ph.D. in English from Case Western Reserve University.

Don Byron, a clarinetist and a composer, was named Martin Luther King Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This past academic year he was a visiting professor at the State University of New York at Albany.

James Duah-Agyeman was promoted to chief diversity officer at Syracuse University. He had been serving as director of the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs. Duah-Agyeman holds a doctorate in mathematics education from Syracuse and had been an administrator there since 1982.

Charles L. Becton, the John Scott Cansler Lecturer at the University of North Carolina School of Law and senior lecturing fellow in law at the Duke University School of Law, was named president-elect of the North Carolina Bar Association. He will become the first African-American male president of the bar association next summer.

Becton is a graduate of Howard University and has law degrees from the University of Virginia and Duke University.

Donald E. Wilson was appointed senior vice president for health sciences at Howard University. Dr. Wilson is the former dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland. He is a graduate of Harvard University and received his medical training at Tufts University.

Richard L. Lucas Jr. was named vice president for institutional advancement at Bowie State University in Maryland. He was the vice chancellor for institutional advancement at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina.

Dr. Lucas is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo. He also holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in education from SUNY-Buffalo.


Report Finds a Surge in African-American College Enrollments in the South

A new report from the Southern Regional Education Board finds that blacks now make up 21 percent of all college students enrolled in 16 southern and border states. For the first time, the percentage of all college students in the region who are black exceeds the black percentage of the total population in these states. According to the report, blacks are 19 percent of the total population in these 16 states.

The study found that there are 1.1 million blacks enrolled in colleges and universities in the 16-state region. This is a whopping 52 percent increase from a decade ago.


Study Finds That Young Students in Racially Integrated Classrooms Tend to Score Higher on Reading Assessments

A new study authored by Kirsten Kainz, senior research associate at the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, finds that racially segregated schools hinder progress in teaching reading skills. Kainz’s data was taken from test results of nearly 2,000 children from low-income families in kindergarten through third grade. She found that even when variables such as the quality of instruction, gender, race, and literary activity in the home are equal, the reading skills of students in schools where blacks or other minorities make up at least 75 percent of all students are lower than those of students who attend schools where whites are at least 75 percent of all students. More than half of all black students in public schools in this country attend schools where the student body is at least 75 percent minority.

Kainz’s data shows that students who learn in classrooms where large numbers of students are struggling in their reading also tend to score poorly on reading assessments. In short, all students in classrooms where many students are having a difficult time are negatively impacted by the poor reading students. Students with identical backgrounds, race, and literary experiences in the home who learn in classrooms where the average student is not struggling tend to do better themselves than students in predominantly minority classrooms.

Kainz concludes that school systems must continue to push for racial and socioeconomic integration in public schools in order to bring up overall reading scores.


The University of Notre Dame’s Business Academy for Kenyan Women

The University of Notre Dame sponsors a business academy for young women in Kibera, Kenya. The shantytown in suburban Nairobi is home to one million people. Most homes have no electricity or running water.

In addition to elementary business and leadership training, students receive instruction in nutrition, health, and child-rearing. The academy offers a three-year program for about 25 women. Students are paid a small stipend to attend classes to offset income that they might be losing.

Students in the academy are trained to run small businesses and small loans are available to help with start-up costs. Current students have opened candy shops, fruit and vegetable stands, a hair salon, and clothing stores. One woman has started a stonecutting business.

The academy hopes to expand to 100 students in the near future. The plan is for some students at the University of Notre Dame to spend a semester at the school to study and learn Swahili and to help teach business skills to the Kenyan women.


Over the Past 35 Years, High School Dropout Rates for Blacks Have Been Cut in Half

New data on high school dropout rates was recently released from the Department of Education. In 2005, 10.4 percent of all black youths ages 16 to 24 were either not currently enrolled in school, had not graduated from high school, or had not completed a high school equivalency course. For whites, 6 percent of all youths in this age bracket were dropouts.

The percentage of all youths who have failed to complete high school has declined in recent years for both blacks and whites. The 10.4 percent dropout rate for black youths and the 6 percent rate for white youths are the lowest since 1972.

Since 1972 the dropout rate for both whites and blacks in the 16- to 24-year-old age group has been cut in half.


New Engineering Program Approved at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a historically black educational institution in Princess Anne, Maryland, has received approval to begin a four-year undergraduate engineering degree program. Previously, students taking engineering classes at the university were obliged to transfer to another university after two years in order to complete their degrees.

Under the new program, students can specialize in four areas of engineering: electrical, computer, mechanical, and aerospace.



Statue of Barbara Jordan to Grace the Campus of the University of Texas

The University of Texas has commissioned a statue of Barbara Jordan which will be placed near the main building on the Austin campus. The statue will be the first of a woman on the campus, but it will not be the first statue of an African American. A statue of Martin Luther King Jr. was unveiled on campus in 1999. On several occasions it has been defaced with racial graffiti.

As a young woman Jordan wanted to enroll at the University of Texas but the institution was still closed to blacks. Instead she graduated magna cum laude from historically black Texas Southern University and went on to the Boston University School of Law.

Jordan was the first black woman elected to the Texas state Senate and later served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. A fiery and eloquent orator, twice she was chosen to give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.

After retiring from Congress in 1979 due to health reasons, Jordan taught at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Jordan died in 1996.

The Jordan statue, which will be created by artist Bruce Wolfe of Piedmont, California, is expected to be unveiled in the spring of 2009.


13.5%  Black percentage of all students enrolled full-time in higher education in 2004.

14.8%  Black percentage of all students enrolled part-time in higher education in 2004.

source: U.S. Department of Education


New Virtual Classroom Scheduled to Debut at Five Black Colleges in Texas

The five historically black colleges and universities that make up the Texas Association of Developing Colleges will unveil a new virtual classroom this fall. Funded by grants from the state and the AT&T Foundation, students who are studying education at any of the five colleges can take classes that will be linked to the other participating institutions. A digital screen at the front of the classroom can be used by a professor and the image will be seen in the classrooms at all five colleges. A second screen will display up to eight different images that can be generated by students or teachers in any of the classrooms. A speaker system will permit students at any of the institutions to speak in real time to teachers and students at another institution. In some cases, students can even link up to the virtual classroom through the Internet from their personal computers anywhere in the world.

The five HBCUs that make up the Texas Association of Developing Colleges are Huston-Tillotson University, Jarvis Christian College, Paul Quinn College, Texas College, and Wiley College.


Bank of New York Establishes Endowment Fund at Spelman College

William L. Pollard has resigned his position as president of the University of the District of Columbia. His resignation came as a surprise because Pollard and the university’s board of trustees had come to terms on a new five-year contract for Pollard last October.

Dr. Pollard had made significant progress on many fronts including increased enrollments, improvements to the physical plant, and the accreditation of the university’s law school.

But sources at the university report that the board was not satisfied with the progress made on longstanding management problems, fundraising efforts, and the adherence to NCAA rules on student eligibility for the university’s athletic teams.

Dr. Pollard came to the University of the District Columbia in 2002. Prior to his appointment he was the dean of the College of Human Services and Health Professions at Syracuse University. A graduate of Shaw University, the historically black college in Raleigh, North Carolina, Dr. Pollard holds a master’s of social work degree from the University of North Carolina and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.


Chancellor of Fayetteville State University to Step Down

T.J. Bryan, chancellor of Fayetteville State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina, submitted her resignation this past week. Bryan, who has served as chancellor for the past four years, had come under fire recently because of problems at the university’s nursing school where a majority of students failed a qualification examination. A state audit due to be released at the end of this month is also reported to show financial problems at the university. It has been reported that Erskine Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina system, asked Bryan for her resignation.

G. Latonya Hankins, the vice chancellor for business and finance at Fayetteville State University, also submitted her resignation.



• The University of South Carolina received a five-year, $1 million grant from the Wachovia Foundation for a summer program for black and other minority high school students interested in a career in business. This summer 30 minority students who will be seniors in high school came to campus for a week of intense academic study. The university hopes to offer full college scholarships to its undergraduate business program to eight of the 30 summer interns.

• Eight colleges and universities in Virginia and North Carolina have formed the VA-NC Alliance for Minority Participation in engineering and applied sciences. Funded by a five-year, $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the program seeks to double the number of black and other minority students who earn degrees in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering fields at these eight higher educational institutions.

The Virginia schools participating in the alliance are the University of Virginia, George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech. In North Carolina, the participating schools are Bennett College, Elizabeth City State University, St. Augustine’s College, and Johnson C. Smith University.

Xavier University, the historically black educational institution in New Orleans, received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant will be used to fund the university’s Center for Nanomedicine and Drug Delivery.

Copyright © 2007. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.