Henry Louis Gates Jr. Arrested for Disorderly Conduct in His Home

Last Thursday Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, had trouble unlocking the door to his home which had been damaged in an attempted break-in. But he was eventually able to get inside.

However, a neighbor had called police saying a possible break-in was occurring at Gates’ home because she saw a black man using his shoulder to force open the door. When police arrived at the scene they saw Professor Gates through the glass panes of the front door of the home. The officer knocked on the door and said he was investigating a possible break-in. He told Professor Gates to step outside.

Gates was outraged that he, as a black man, was being hassled by police while in his home. Professor Gates asserted that he was a victim of racial profiling. He showed the police officer his Harvard identification and his driver’s license. The police report says that Gates exhibited “loud and tumultuous behavior.” He was placed in handcuffs and arrested for disorderly conduct. Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree agreed to represent Professor Gates in legal proceedings. On Tuesday all charges against Professor Gates were dropped.

Professor Gates told JBHE this week that he was still “outraged” by the events that took place. He stated, “I plan to use this to fight for the rights of black men unlawfully arrested and unjustly imprisoned.”



Huge Racial Gap in Marriage Rates Is Attributable, at Least in Part, to the Gender Gap in African-American Higher Education

Previous JBHE research has shown that the huge gender gap in college degree attainment between black women and black men is contributing to a large racial gap in marriage rates between blacks and whites.

Black women now make up nearly two thirds of all African Americans who earn four-year college degrees. The bottom line is that, for college-educated black women, finding a mate with a similar level of education has become extremely difficult.

New data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows persisting huge racial disparities in marriage rates for blacks and whites. According to the new report, 43.8 percent of black women between the ages of 25 and 44 have never been married. Only 16 percent of white women in this age group have never married.

While the new statistics do not include an education variable, the huge gender gap in higher educational degree attainment undoubtedly is a major factor in the marriage rate gap between blacks and whites.


Twelve Black Students Named Ron Brown Scholars: Four Are Heading to MIT

Each year 10 to 20 African-American high school seniors are awarded Ron Brown scholarships. Scholars are selected on the basis of academic achievement, community service work, and financial need. The selected students receive $40,000 for college ($10,000 each year for four years).

The program, administered by the CAP Charitable Foundation in Charlottesville, Virginia, honors Ronald H. Brown, the first African American to serve as secretary of commerce. Brown, a graduate of Middlebury College and St. John’s University Law School, was killed in a 1996 plane crash.

Since 1997 more than 260 Ron Brown scholarships have been awarded. Over the course of the program about half of the recipients of these awards have enrolled at Ivy League institutions. More than one quarter have enrolled at Harvard University. In the 12-year history of the program, the college graduation rate of Ron Brown scholars has been 100 percent. A majority of all Ron Brown scholars go on to graduate school following the completion of their bachelor’s degree.

This year, 12 African-American students were selected as Ron Brown scholars from over 10,000 applicants. Four of the 12 will enter MIT this fall. Two are headed to Duke and two are going to Harvard. Pictured below are this year’s 12 winners. Their hometowns and the colleges they will be attending are listed.


Multimedia Project on African-American GIs in Germany Is Honored by the NAACP

Maria Hohn, an associate professor of history at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, has won the 2009 Julius E. Williams Distinguished Community Service Award from the NAACP. She shares the award with Martin Klimke, a research fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. The two scholars were honored for their creation of the multimedia project, “The Civil Rights Struggle, African-American GIs, and Germany.”

The project examines the experiences of African Americans who have been among the more than 15 million members of the U.S. armed forces who were in Germany during and after World War II. About 3 million African-American GIs have served in Germany during this period. The project includes oral history archives, a website, and a traveling photographic exhibit.


Carnegie Mellon University Expects Largest Number of Black Freshmen in Its History

Michael Steidel, director of admissions at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, tells JBHE that over the past couple of years the admissions office has made a concerted effort to increase racial diversity on campus and that these efforts are now beginning to bear fruit.

Steidel reports that this fall Carnegie Mellon will have the highest number of incoming black students in its history. Preliminary figures show that there will be 105 black freshmen at Carnegie Mellon this fall, up from 79 a year ago. In 2008 blacks made up 5.3 percent of the entering class. This year, blacks will be 7.4 percent of the freshman class.


The Higher Education of the Nation’s Surgeon General Designate

This past week Regina Benjamin was nominated by President Obama to be surgeon general of the United States. The Senate must confirm the nomination.

Dr. Benjamin is the founder of the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in a Gulf Coast fishing community in Alabama. Her clinic twice has been destroyed by hurricanes and once by fire. She treats all patients regardless of whether they have health insurance and makes house calls in a pickup truck.

A strong advocate of public health, Dr. Benjamin lost her mother, father, and only sibling to preventable illnesses.

Dr. Benjamin is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana. She attended the Morehouse School of Medicine but earned her medical degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She later added an MBA from Tulane University to her resume. In 2008 she won a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation genius award.


In Memoriam

Lenoar Foster (1952-2009)

Lenoar Foster, interim dean of the College of Education at Washington State University, died at his home in Pullman earlier this month. He was 57 years old. Foster had been named interim dean only last month after the death of Dean Judy Mitchell.

In 2003 Foster joined the faculty of the university’s department of educational leadership and counseling psychology. He served for three years as associate dean for research and graduate studies.

Prior to coming to Washington State University, Foster taught at the University of Montana and San Diego State University. He held bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, all from the University of Nevada at Reno.

Littleton Mitchell (1919-2009)

Littleton Mitchell, the first African American to teach white students in a Delaware public school and the longtime president of the Delaware NAACP, was killed earlier this month in an automobile crash near his Delaware City home. He was 90 years old.

Littleton attended racially segregated schools in Delaware but enrolled at predominantly white West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Because he was not permitted to live in a university dormitory, he commuted to the university from his home in Delaware. He would get up at 3:00 each morning and hitchhike to West Chester in time for class at 8:00 a.m. He would not get home until 9:00 at night. He followed this routine for 18 months before joining the Army.

He became a Tuskegee Airman and finished college after the conclusion of World War II. After college he became active in the civil rights movement in Delaware, becoming head of the local NAACP in 1961. He served in that position for 30 years.


Honors and Awards

• Bowie State University, the historically black educational institution in Maryland, received the 2009 WealthEngine Award for Educational Fundraising from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. The award is given to the institution that has shown the greatest improvement in fundraising over the past three years.


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Professor at U.S. Naval Academy Makes the Charge That the Institution Is Admitting Unqualified Black Students

The chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead, has stated that increasing diversity at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, is one of his main priorities. Current Department of Education data shows that blacks make up 4 percent of all midshipmen. However, with the new emphasis on increasing diversity, change is taking place. Of the 1,230 members of this year’s entering class, 125, or slightly more than 10 percent, are black.

Bruce Fleming, an English professor at the United States Naval Academy, charges that the institution has a two-track admissions system, one for whites and another for blacks. The system, he says, is not unlike the admissions plan at the University of Michigan, which the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in the 2003 Gratz v. Bollinger case.

Typically, to be considered for admission, applicants to the academy must have scores above 600 on the reading and mathematics section of the SAT college entrance examination and high school grades of As and Bs. But Professor Fleming says that black applicants with C grades in high school and SAT scores in the 500s are rated qualified. Furthermore, he alleges that black applicants with grades of Cs and Ds and SAT scores between 300 and 400 are admitted to the Naval Academy Preparatory School where they receive one year of remedial training before being promoted to the academy.

Once at Annapolis black students are “overrepresented in lower-track courses, in mandatory tutoring programs, and less challenging majors,” Professor Fleming wrote in an op-ed column in the Annapolis newspaper. “Many struggle to master basic concepts.”

Fleming hopes that a rejected white applicant will file a lawsuit. “That’s the only way,” he writes, “taxpayers will ever fully understand the price to them of ‘putting diversity first.’”


“In an economy where jobs requiring at least an associate’s degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience, it’s never been more essential to continue education and training after high school.”

President Barack Obama, writing in The Washington Post, 7-12-09


Claflin College Is a Private Black College That Is Weathering the Economic Storm

Much of the recent news concerning private black colleges and universities has been depressing.

Paul Quinn College in Dallas recently lost its accreditation due to its precarious financial position. Tougaloo College in Mississippi and Florida Memorial College in Miami are both in danger of losing their accreditation. Earlier this year, the city of Atlanta shut off the water to the campus of Morris Brown College because the school had not paid its bills. Only appropriations from the state of Tennessee and the city of Memphis prevented LeMoyne-Owen College from closing its doors.

These private schools tend to have very small endowments and they depend on tuition payments to fund their operating budgets. When the economy is reeling, enrollments decline and these small private black colleges have great difficulty meeting their expenses.

But in the midst of this doom and gloom is a significant success story, Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Enrollments at the historically black college, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, have increased from 1,000 to 1,800. The university’s endowment has increased from $7 million to $17 million. The dollar value of research grants won by the university has tripled over the past 15 years. The average entering SAT score of students has jumped 200 points. Claflin’s graduation rate of 55 percent is one of the highest among historically black colleges and universities. This past academic year, despite the bad economy, Claflin had its largest entering class in its history. Forbes magazine rates Claflin University as the 141st best college in the nation, the highest ranking of any HBCU.

Claflin president Henry Tisdale credits the university’s success to a commitment to academics, which allows it to attract high-quality students, research grants, and top faculty.

For his efforts in keeping Claflin University strong, in June President Tisdale was awarded an honorary degree from Hofstra University.


Fatalism Obscures the Promise of College for Many Young Blacks

For millions of black teenagers, college holds the promise of a brighter future. In order to better their life chances, hundreds of thousands of black students study hard in high school in order to get good grades and to do well on college entrance examinations. Once in college, these young African Americans are obliged to overcome any number of potential pitfalls on their way to a college diploma. But once they earn a four-year college degree, government statistics show that they are rewarded by having incomes that are comparable to those of whites with a similar level of education.

But for large numbers of young blacks, the prospect of a better life through college is only a dream. In fact, a huge number of young blacks don’t even think they will survive to enjoy life through young adulthood.

A survey of more than 20,000 teenagers conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 26 percent — more than one of every four black teenagers — thought they would die before the age of 35. Only 10 percent of white teens thought they would die before the age of 35.

The study also found that these fatalistic beliefs among teenagers often become self-fulfilling prophecies. Teens who believe they are likely to die young are seven times as likely as other teens to contract HIV/AIDS.



Hampton University Plays Hardball With Accrediting Agency

In January 2009 the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education placed the pharmacy school at historically black Hampton University on accreditation probation. The council said that the pharmacy school did not have enough faculty to teach the school’s 250 students. It gave Hampton six months to correct the problem.

Hampton University did not take the decision lying down. It promptly filed suit in U.S. district court challenging the council’s decision. Now, in return for Hampton’s dropping the lawsuit, the council has agreed to remove the probationary status of the pharmacy school until 2011 when it will again issue an opinion.

Since January, Hampton has hired nine new faculty members at the pharmacy school, which presumably will satisfy the concerns of the accrediting body.


Eugene Redmond Donates His Photographic Archive to His Alma Mater

Eugene B. Redmond, professor emeritus of English at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, has donated his extensive collection of photographs to the university. The photographic collection will be housed at the university’s Elijah P. Lovejoy Memorial Library.

Redmond is a true Renaissance man. He is a poet, playwright, journalist, photographer, educator, editor, and musician. He is the poet laureate of East St. Louis, Illinois.

Professor Redmond is a graduate of Southern Illinois University and holds a master’s degree in English literature from Washington University.

Redmond’s vast photographic collection documents the civil rights movement and contains images of key figures in black literature and the arts over the past half-century.


62.5%  Percentage of all black high school graduates in 2004 who enrolled in college by October 2004.

55.7%  Percentage of all black high school graduates in 2007 who enrolled in college by October 2007.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


Appointments, Promotions & Resignations

• Lonnie R. Morris Jr. was appointed director of admissions at Bowie State University in Maryland. Previously, he served as director of admissions at LeMoyne-Owen College and Edward Waters College and as vice president for enrollment management at Holy Names University in Oakland, California.

• William Lawson, professor and chair of the department of psychiatry at the Howard University College of Medicine, was named president of the Washington Psychiatric Society.

Dr. Lawson is a graduate of Howard University. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of New Hampshire. He received his medical training at the University of Chicago and completed his residency at the Stanford University Medical Center.

• Aliou C. Niang was selected as the first James L. Netters Professor of the New Testament at the Memphis Theological Seminary. Dr. Niang has been on the faculty of the seminary since 2007.

Professor Niang, a native of Senegal, is a graduate of Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. He holds a master’s degree from Hardins-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and a Ph.D. from Texas Christian University.

The new chair he holds is named for a man who has served as pastor of the Mt. Vernon Baptist Church-Westwood in South Memphis for the past 53 years.

• Michael A. Battle Sr., the president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, was appointed by President Obama as U.S. representative to the African Union. Dr. Battle will hold the rank of ambassador.

Dr. Battle is a graduate of Trinity College. He holds a master of divinity degree from Duke University and a doctor of ministry degree from Howard University.

• Winser E. Alexander was named interim dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. Since 1982 Dr. Alexander has been a professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University.

Dr. Alexander is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of New Mexico.

• Jacqueline Hill, chair of the undergraduate nursing program in the School of Nursing at Southern University in Baton Rouge, was recently elected to serve a two-year term as president of the Louisiana State Nurses Association.



• Johnson C. Smith University, the historically black educational institution in Charlotte, North Carolina, received a two-year, $250,000 grant from the Belk Foundation to expand a scholarship program in the university’s School of Business.

• Tennessee State University, the historically black educational institution in Nashville, received a five-year, $1.3 million grant from Head Start to increase the quantity and quality of teachers in early child development programs at the university.

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