Honorary Degree Awards Given to Blacks in 2011 by the Nation’s Leading Liberal Arts Colleges

Last week JBHE listed the 22 honorary degrees given to blacks by the nation’s top research universities. Now we turn our attention to the high-ranking liberal arts colleges.

The nation’s leading liberal arts colleges gave out 12 honorary degrees to blacks during this spring’s commencement season. Oberlin College was the only member of this group to give awards to two African Americans.

Here is a list of the honorands at the top liberal arts colleges:

Amherst College
Kimmie Weeks, a native of Liberia, founded Youth Action International to support the needs of families living in post war countries in Africa.

Bates College
Evelynn M. Hammonds is dean of Harvard College.

Colby College
Adelaide M. Cromwell is a professor emerita of sociology at Boston University and founding director of its Afro-American studies program.

Colgate University
Maria A. Scates is founder and CEO of Johnson Park Center in Utica, New York, which offers safe and supportive housing for homeless families.

Haverford College
Dikembe Mutombo, former star in the National Basketball Association, has led many humanitarian efforts in Africa.

Lafayette College
Gwendolyn L. Ifill is managing editor and moderator for Washington Week and senior correspondent for The NewsHour on the Public Broadcasting System.

Middlebury College
Maxine Atkins Smith is a 47-year member and former executive secretary of the Memphis chapter of the NAACP.

Oberlin College
Helene D. Gayle is president and CEO of CARE USA, a leading international humanitarian organization with anti-poverty programs in nearly 70 countries.
Bernice Johnson Reagon is professor emeritus of history at American University and curator emeritus at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Smith College
Carrie Mae Weems is a photographer and filmmaker.

Trinity College
Michael Battle is the United States Ambassador to the African Union.

Williams College
Cory A. Booker is mayor of Newark, New Jersey.


New Business Incubator Facility Planned at Southern University of New Orleans

Southern University of New Orleans has announced plans to build a 10,000-square-foot business incubator facility where students at the College of Business and Public Administration can participate in actual entrepreneurial activities. The building on the Lake Campus of the historically black university will provide office and conference space for up to 10 start-up firms. Companies that agree to be tenants in the incubator must agree to allow students at the business school to observe their operations and will be encouraged to let students participate.


Claflin University Launches a Major Fundraising Effort

Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, is launching the public phase of its $96 million fundraising campaign. The historically black university has already raised $55 million of the total from corporations, foundations, and large donors.

The plan is to add $41.5 million to the university’s endowment. This money will fund 10 endowed faculty chairs that will allow the university to recruit top scholars to the university. Another $41.5 million will be used for building infrastructure improvements. This will include a renovation of the library and the addition of a state-of-the-art $17 million science and technology center. Another $14 million is earmarked for strengthening current academic programs at the university.

West Virginia’s Extended Summer Bridge Program for Black Students

This month 23 African-American students are participating in the Academic Students Achieving and Reaching Success (STARS) program run by the Center for Black Culture and Research at West Virginia University in Morgantown. The five-week summer bridge program serves as an extended orientation for blacks students to become familiar with campus and college life. They take a one credit English course and participate in workshops, recreational activities, and cultural events. The programs allows black students to form networking relationships with fellow first-year students and faculty members.

To participate in the program African-American students must have been accepted for fall enrollment at the university. They are required to have a 2.75 grade point average while in high school and have participated in extracurricular activities or community service. Students in the STARS program only need to pay for their personal expenses. Participants must also agree to attend cultural events and workshops during the fall semester. If they successfully complete the program, the students are awarded a scholarship for books that can be used at the campus bookstore for the spring semester.


Historically Black Bowie State University Honored for Its Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Security

Bowie State University, the historically black educational institution in Maryland, was named a National Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The designation will make Bowie State eligible for federal grants in cyber security research.


Howard University Opens New Center for Pharmaceutical Research

Historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C., recently opened the new Center for Drug Research and Development at its School of Pharmacy. The new center, under the direction of Emmanuel O. Akala, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, will provide space for students, staff, faculty, and outside companies to develop new pharmaceutical products. The 4,900-square-foot facility was funded in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Akala holds a Ph.D. in pharmaceutics from the University of Manchester in England.


In Memoriam

Clyde Woods (1957-2011)

Clyde Woods, an associate professor of black studies and acting director of the Center for Black Studies Research at the University of California Santa Barbara, died earlier this month at a hospital in California. He was 54 years old.

Dr. Woods was a distinguished scholar and author of three books. A fourth book, entitled Development Drowned and Reborn, on the city of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is under review.

Professor Woods earned a Ph.D. in urban and regional planning at UCLA. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of California Santa Barbara in 2005, he taught at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Maryland.


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

Jame’l R. Hodges was appointed staff associate for the Office of Access and Advancement of Public Black Universities at the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities in Washington, D.C. He was director of multicultural affairs at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Hodges is a graduate of Virginia State University. He holds a master’s degree from Florida State and an educational doctorate from the University of Southern California.

Gail H. Woldu, who has been on the faculty at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, since 1987, was promoted to full professor of music.

Dr. Woldu is a graduate of Goucher College in Baltimore. She holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Yale. Professor Woldu is the author of The Words and Music of Ice Cube (Praeger Publishers, 2008).

Robert McLaughlin was named coordinator for emergency management at North Carolina Central University. He recently retired from serving with the Durham Police Department.

Jimmy Moore was named compliance director for the athletics program at Utah State University. Moore played basketball for Utah State and later in the National Basketball Association. After his playing career he coached basketball and later served as director of admissions at Utah State.

Moore holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Utah State.

Aaron James was named interim director of athletics at Grambling State University in Louisiana. He has been serving as an assistant professor of kinesiology, sport, and leisure studies at the university.

James is a graduate of Grambling State University and was a first-round draft pick of the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association.

Sonya Malunda was promoted to senior associate vice president for community engagement at the University of Chicago. She has served as an administrator at the university since 1998.

Tryan L. McMickens was named visiting assistant professor in the higher education program at Suffolk University in Boston.

Dr. McMickens is a graduate of Tuskegee University. He holds a master’s degree from Suffolk University and an educational doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.




Do you believe President Obama and congressional leaders will come to an agreement by August 2 to avoid a default on U.S. debt payments?


Slight Projected Decline in Black First-Year Enrollments in the University of California System

The University of California system reports that it expects 2,022 black first-year students from California this fall. This is down slightly from a year ago. Blacks will make up 3.8 percent of the first-year, in-state students in the University of California system, down from 3.9 percent a year ago.

Blacks will make up 3.5 percent of the in-state students at the Berkeley campus, the most prestigious in the state system. This is the same percentage as a year ago.

Blacks will make up nearly 10 percent of all first-year California students at the Merced campus. The lowest percentage of black incoming students will be at the San Diego campus.

Blacks make up about 7 percent of the college-age population in California. However, state universities in California are prohibited by state law from considering race in admissions decisions.

In order to boost revenues, the university system is accepting more students from outside of California. Some 12.4 percent of incoming students are not from California, compared to 8 percent a year ago and 5.9 percent two years ago. At the flagship campus at Berkeley, only 70 percent of incoming freshmen are from California.



African-American Woman Named a DuPont Young Professor

DuPont, the large multinational conglomerate based in Wilmington, Delaware, has announced its 2011 class of DuPont Young Professors. Each young professor will receive $75,000 in three annual grants of $25,000.

The program is designed to provide start-up assistance to promising young and untenured research faculty working in areas of interest to DuPont’s long-term business. DuPont’s main areas of business include agriculture and food, building and construction, communications, and transportation.

The Dupont Young Professor Program began in 1967. Since that time 548 scholars from around the world have been awarded more than $48 million in grants.

This year there are 18 new DuPont Young Professors. Six are from foreign countries and 12 are from American universities. One of this year’s winners is an African American.

LaShanda Teresa James Korley is the Nord Distinguished Assistant Professor in the department of macromolecular science and engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Her research is focused on bio-mimetic approaches to toughening and mechanical enhancement of polymers.

Dr. Korley is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University. She earned a second bachelor’s degree at Georgia Tech and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at MIT. After conducting postdoctoral research at Cornell, she joined the faculty at Case Western Reserve in 2007.


President of South Carolina HBCU Abruptly Leaves Post

Michael M. Townsend, the president of Denmark Technical College, the historically black educational institution in Denmark, South Carolina, abruptly stepped down from his post earlier this month.

Townsend’s resignation came in the midst of a probe by the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education into the improper use of college credit cards by college employees. An investigation determined that there were $14,000 in charges for personal expenses made on the college’s card.

President Townsend stated that his resignation was not related to the credit card investigation and that he resigned after only 18 months on the job to pursue another opportunity.


Cornell Signs Cooperative Agreement in Agricultural Sciences With a University in South Africa

Cornell University, the Ivy League college in New York, has entered into a cooperative agreement with Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Under the five-year agreement agriculture scientists will collaborate on research. Since it is the spring and summer growing season at one location when it is winter at the other university, researchers in the agricultural sciences at both universities will be able to conduct research year-round.

In addition, there will be student and faculty exchange programs between the two universities.


Jackson State Professor Cast in New Bruce Willis/50 Cent Film

Yohance Miles, a professor of theater at Jackson State University in Mississippi, has landed a plum acting role in the film Fire With Fire. The movie, which stars Bruce Willis and Curtis Jackson, a.k.a. 50 Cent, began shooting in New Orleans earlier this month. The action thriller is about a fireman who enters the witness protection program but is tracked down by violent criminals.

Miles is a native of Birmingham, Alabama. He holds a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from Alabama State University and a master of fine arts degree from Louisiana State University.

Recent Books That May Be of Interest to African-American Scholars

The JBHE Weekly Bulletin regularly publishes a list of new books that may be of interest to our readers. Here are the latest selections. Click on any of the titles for more information or to purchase through Amazon.com.

All Stories Are True: History, Myth, and Trauma in the Work of John Edgar Wideman by Tracie Church Guzzio (University Press of Mississippi)

Arsnick: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Arkansas edited by Jennifer Jensen Wallach and John A. Kirk (University of Arkansas Press)

Bodies, Politics, and African Healing: The Matter of Maladies in Tanzania by Stacey A. Langwick (Indiana University Press)

Civil Rights in New York City: From World War II to the Giuliani Era edited by Clarence Taylor (Fordham University Press)

Herstories: Leading with the Lessons of the Lives of Black Women Activists by Judy A. Alston and Patrice A. McClellan (Peter Lang Publishing)

Hirelings: African-American Workers and Free Labor in Early Maryland by Jennifer Hull Dorsey (Cornell University Press)

Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present by Robin R. Means Coleman (Routledge)

I’m Feeling the Blues Right Now: Blues Tourism and the Mississippi Delta by Stephen A. King (University Press of Mississippi)

John Bachman: Selected Writings on Science, Race, and Religion edited by Gene Waddell (University of Georgia Press)

Marion D. Cuyjet and Her Judimar School of Dance: Training Ballerinas in Black Philadelphia 1948-1971 by Melanye White Dixon (Edwin Mellen Press)

Moving Beyond Borders: A History of Black Canadian and Caribbean Women in the Diaspora by Karen Flynn (University of Toronto Press)

Paths of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Interactions, Identities, and Images edited by Ana Lucia Araujo (Cambria Press)

The Black Imagination: Science Fiction, Futurism, and the Speculative edited by Sandra Jackson and Julie E. Moody-Freeman (Peter Lang Publishing)

The Muse is Music: Jazz Poetry from the Harlem Renaissance to Spoken Word by Meta DuEwa Jones (University of Illinois Press)

The Nature of Race: How Scientists Think and Teach about Human Difference by Ann Morning (University of California Press)

The Problem of the Color(blind): Racial Transgression and the Politics of Black Performance by Brandi Wilkins Catanese (University of Michigan Press)


Honors and Awards

Deborah Ahenkorah, a 2010 graduate of Bryn Mawr College, received a 2011 Echoing Green Foundation Fellowship. The fellowship will support Ahenkorah’s Golden Baobab Prize for children’s literature that is written by African authors or is about African children.

As a winner of the fellowship award, Ahenkorah will receive $60,000 over two years to support her project. She will also get health insurance, legal counseling, and financial modeling assistance.


Grants and Gifts

Nine historically black colleges and universities in Georgia and South Carolina received grants totaling nearly $9 million from the Office of Environmental Management of the U.S. Department of Energy. The HBCUs will participate in programs to develop programs to facilitate cleanup of sites involved with nuclear weapons development and production.

The participating HBCUs and the amount of grants are listed below:

Allen University ($1,000,000)
Benedict College ($1,180,944)
Claflin University ($999,018)
Clinton Junior College ($837,049)
Denmark Technical College ($789,440)
Morris College ($987,793)
Paine College ($992,889)
South Carolina State University ($1,197,987)
Voorhees College ($982,387)

Five historically black universities in Louisiana are sharing a $125,000 grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation to support scholarship programs for women. The grants will support the Coca-Cola Last Mile Scholarships, which benefit women who are the first in their families to attend college. The program supports women who are college seniors without the financial means to complete their degrees.

Participating educational institutions are Xavier University, Southern University at Baton Rouge, Southern University at New Orleans, Grambling State University, and Dillard University.

Copyright © 2011. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.