Missouri State University to Honor Its First African-American Applicant

In 1950, Mary Jean Price graduated second in her high school class in Springfield, Missouri. She wanted to go to college and become a teacher. At the time, higher education in Missouri was racially segregated. But because she could not afford to travel and live on campus at historically black Lincoln University in Jefferson City, she applied to Southwest Missouri State College in Springfield. She was the first black student to apply to the college, which is now Missouri State University.

But Price never received the courtesy of a reply from the college. But records show that college administrators were well aware of the application and plotted legal strategies to keep her from enrolling in the all-white institution. Her application was even discussed at several meetings of the university’s board of regents.

Price considered taking the case to court but, due to her father’s ill health, decided to give up the fight. She worked as an elevator operator and later married and had children. She never went to college. In 2009 she retired from her job at the Springfield Discovery Center. She has worked there for eight years as a custodian.

Sixty years after Mary Jean Price sent in her application, Missouri State University will bestow an honorary degree on its first black applicant at its summer commencement ceremony. Today there are 600 black students enrolled at Missouri State.


Morehouse College Signs PR Firm to Help Advance the Educational Mission of Its Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Collection

MWW Group, one of the nation’s leading public relations firms, has been selected by Morehouse College to enhance the educational mission of the college’s 10,000-piece collection of the papers of Martin Luther King Jr. The collection includes letters, handwritten notes, personal papers, and unpublished sermons. The MWW Group, which is headquartered in East Rutherford, New Jersey, will work, on a pro bono basis, to help make the collection more accessible to students and scholars.


Promising Numbers on Minority Enrollments at the University of Michigan

Due to state law, admission decisions at the University of Michigan must be made without consideration of race. In 2005, the year before the voter referendum in Michigan which banned affirmative action, blacks made up 7.2 percent of the freshman class at the University of Michigan. In the fall of 2009, blacks were 4.8 percent of the entering students.

But preliminary data for 2010 shows that black enrollments may be on the rise. The University of Michigan reports that applications from underrepresented minority groups increased by 29 percent this year. (Underrepresented minorities include African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians.) More than 1,600 minority students were admitted to this year’s entering class, an increase of nearly 16 percent. So far, 724 minority students have sent in deposits indicating they will enroll this fall. This is up by more than 24 percent.


A Slave Cemetery May Lie Beneath a Parking Lot at Virginia Commonwealth University

Sa’ad El-Amin, founder of The Society for Preservation of African-American History and Antiquities, petitioned a circuit court judge in Richmond to demand that the state of Virginia use “state-of-the-art test excavations” to determine if a parking lot on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University was on top of a slave cemetery. An earlier state report said that it was likely a large portion of the cemetery lay beneath Interstate 95 but that a portion of the old burial ground might extend into the parking area.

The state claimed it would cost $100,000 to make the necessary excavations and that it was opposed to tampering with what might be sacred burial ground. The university has stopped using the part of the parking lot in the disputed area. It has offered to give the land to the city in exchange for a similar size parcel elsewhere that could be used for parking.

But earlier this month, the court ruled that the university was not required to make the excavations to determine whether the cemetery boundaries were under its parking lot. The court did leave the door open for other less costly testing and advised the plaintiffs to file an amended petition.



Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Ann Lampkin-Williams was appointed assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She was associate professor and director of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan.

Dr. Lampkin-Williams holds a master’s degree from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in social work from Clark Atlanta University.

• Enzley Mitchell IV was appointed director of athletics at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He was the athletics director at Northern New Mexico College in Espanola.

Mitchell is a graduate of Spring Arbor University in Michigan and holds a master’s degree from Indiana State University.

• Gwendolyn Hackney was named director of nursing at Vance-Granville Community College in Henderson, North Carolina. She was associate director of nursing at ECPI College of Technology in Raleigh.

Hackney is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and holds a master’s degree from the University of Phoenix.

• Diedre L. Badejo was appointed dean of the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Baltimore. She was a professor and dean of the College of Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences at California State University, East Bay in Hayward.

Dean Badejo is a graduate of the University of Southern California. She holds a master’s degree in African studies and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of California at Los Angeles.

• Alfred L. Davis was named director of bands at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. He was an assistant professor of music and the director of the Marching Force Band at Hampton University.

Davis holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Hampton University.

• Wayne Harris was named dean of the School of Pharmacy at Hampton University in Virginia. He was a professor and dean of the College of Pharmacy at Xavier University.

Dr. Harris is a graduate of Mercer University. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry from the University of Kansas.

• Jessica M. Bailey, dean of the School of Business and Economics at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, was named president-elect of the HBCU Business Deans’ Roundtable. She will become president of the organization in June 2011.

• Calvin Banks was named grants research manager in the Office of Institutional Advancement at Johnson C. Smith University. He was director of corporate relations at the university.

• Stacey Franklin Jones was appointed provost and vice president for academic affairs at Bowie State University in Maryland. She was a senior vice president at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina.

Dr. Jones is a graduate of Howard University. She holds two master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in computer science from George Washington University.


Grants and Gifts

• Virginia State University, the historically black educational institution in Petersburg, received a $1.5 million donation from the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation. The money will be used to form an endowment fund for student scholarships at the university’s business school and to establish a prize for a graduating student. The business school will be named in honor of Lewis, who was an alumnus of the university and went on to build Beatrice Foods into a global conglomerate.

Historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania received a $56,000 grant from the Educational Advancement Alliance to support the university’s Summer Transportation Institute. The four-week institute brings high school students to campus for programs to introduce them to career opportunities in transportation industries.

• Fort Valley State University, the historically black educational institution in Georgia, received a $322,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant will support a summer research program for undergraduate students in biotechnology.

One Black Among the Nine New Members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters

The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1904 as a highly selective group of 50 members within a larger organization called the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Over the years the two groups functioned separately with different memberships, budgets, and boards of directors. In 1993 the two groups finally agreed to form a single group of 250 members under the name of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Members are chosen from the fields of literature, music, and the fine arts. Members must be native or naturalized citizens of the United States. They are elected for life and pay no dues. New members are elected only upon the death of other members.

As is the case with the other honorary societies, there are no official statistics on the current racial makeup of the AAAL membership. However, independent analysis of the membership list by JBHE concluded that, at the present time, 13 of the 250 members, or 5.2 percent, are black. Among the black members of the society are Henry Louis Gates Jr., Toni Morrison, and Jamaica Kincaid.

This year nine new members were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among the new members is composer Tania León. She is a native of Cuba but is now an American citizen. She serves as the Claire and Leonard Tow Professor of Composition at the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New York University and a second master’s degree from the Carlos Alfredo Peyrellade Conservatory in Havana. León was a founding member and first music director of the Dance Theater of Harlem.



The New President of Hillsborough Community College

Ken Atwater is the new president of Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida. Since 2001 he has been president of South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. Earlier he was vice president for student services at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Dr. Atwater holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Murray State University in Kentucky. He earned an educational doctorate from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.


Honor for Early Black Graduate of West Point

Efforts are under way in Congress to make the home of Charles Young in Xenia, Ohio, part of the National Park Service. In 1889 Young was the third African American to graduate from West Point. He was the first African American to rise to the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army.

Colonel Young was a member of the 10th U.S. Cavalry, a racially segregated Army unit that saw combat in the Spanish-American War. He later taught military science at Wilberforce University, the historically black educational institution in Ohio. He died in 1922 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Temple University Students Participate in Archaeological Dig of Pre-Civil War African-American Settlement in New Jersey

Archaeology students at Temple University in Philadelphia have been at work at the site of Timbuctoo, an African-American settlement in Burlington County, New Jersey, that dates back to the 1820s. The students have unearthed several brick structures that were built before the Civil War. Archaeologists have found marbles and toy guns, suggesting that there were children in the community. The graves of 13 African-American veterans of the Civil War were located and there is evidence that there are many more African-American graves.


President of Historically Black Tennessee State University Announces That He is Stepping Down

Melvin N. Johnson, who has served as president of historically black Tennessee State University in Nashville since 2005, announced that he will step down at the end of this year. Dr. Johnson will remain at the university as a tenured professor in the College of Business and will resume teaching in the fall of 2011.

Dr. Johnson is a native of Savannah, Georgia. He is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. He holds an MBA and a doctoral degree in business administration from Indiana University.

Prior to assuming the presidency of Tennessee State, Dr. Johnson was provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina.


In Memoriam

Spencer G. Shaw (1916-2010)

Spencer G. Shaw, an internationally known advocate for reading programs for children and professor of information sciences at the University of Washington, died last month at a hospital in Farmington, Connecticut. He was 93 years old.

Shaw grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut. He was the only black student in his high school class. He graduated from Hampton University in Virginia where he was senior class president. Upon graduation he received a Carnegie Foundation fellowship to study library science at the University of Wisconsin.

He worked at the Brooklyn Public Library and the Nassau County Public Library system on Long Island in New York and gained a reputation as an expert on children’s library services. Then in 1970 he accepted a position on the faculty at the University of Washington. He remained there until his retirement in 1987.

David Harold Blackwell (1919-2010)

David Blackwell, the esteemed statistician who was the first African American to gain tenure at the University of California at Berkeley, has died of natural causes at the age of 91.

A native of Illinois, in 1935 Blackwell entered the University of Illinois at the age of 16. By 1941 he earned bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics. He then joined the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton but left after one year. He taught at Southern University and Atlanta University before joining the faculty at Howard University in 1944. He became a full professor and chair of the department of mathematics.

He joined the mathematics department at Berkeley in 1954 and stayed on the faculty there until retiring in 1988. In 1965 Dr. Blackwell was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. At the time he was the only black member of the society.

Honors and Awards

• The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University received the inaugural Diversity Matters Award from the Law School Admission Council. According to the latest data from the American Bar Association, blacks make up 7.1 percent of the students at the law school.

• Henry N. Tisdale, president of Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, was named Man of the Year at the Annual Summit of Seven Men and Boys Conference in Palm Bay, Florida.

• Melvin Wade, director of the Multicultural Center at the University of Rhode Island, received the President’s Recognition of Excellence Award from the Urban League of Rhode Island. Wade was honored for his 38-year career in fostering diversity in higher education.

• Nathan Connolly, an assistant professor of history at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, is the recipient of the Emerging Scholars Award from the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan. Connolly, who received his Ph.D. in history at the University of Michigan, was honored for his forthcoming book, A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida.

The late Zack E. Hamlett Jr., founder and first executive dean of the Des Moines Area Community College Urban Campus, was inducted into the African-American Hall of Fame at Iowa State University. Hamlett also founded the Iowa Alliance of Black School Educators.

• Ronald L. Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina, was named Newcomer of the Year by the organization Leadership Charlotte. Dr. Carter will receive the honor at an awards ceremony this November.

• Phyllis Jackson, an associate professor of art history at Pomona College in California, received the 2010 Wig Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching at the college. Professor Jackson joined the Pomona College faculty in 1993.


Copyright © 2010. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.