Bill Clinton Joins Black Fraternity

Bill Clinton, the nation’s 42nd president, has always enjoyed a special relationship with African Americans. Nobel laureate Toni Morrison referred to Clinton as America’s first black president. Now, Phi Beta Sigma, the fraternity founded at Howard University in 1914, has inducted Clinton as a member.

The fraternity has more than 150,000 alumni members in 500 chapters nationwide. A. Philip Randolph, James Weldon Johnson, and George Washington Carver all have been members of Phi Beta Sigma.

In announcing the induction, fraternity president Paul L. Griffin stated, “It is a high privilege and a matter of great significance that we the members of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity accept and welcome The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton into our wondrous band.”



Drury University Establishes Summer Scholars Program With the Aim to Increase Black Applicants to the College

Blacks make up 4 percent of the 4,500-member undergraduate student body at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. In an effort to boost racial diversity the university has instituted a Summers Scholars program. About 50 black students from Springfield city schools are invited to spend a week at the university taking classes and participating in cultural and social events. Students can participate beginning in seventh grade. Once selected the same students are chosen to come back each summer until they reach their senior year in high school.

This is the second year of the program. Of the 15 black male students who attended last year, 14 returned this summer. Girls are part of the Summer Scholars program for the first time this year. Male and female students will be enrolled in separate classes but both genders will participate together in out-of-classroom activities.

The university hopes the Summer Scholars program will build a relationship with these students during their junior high and high school years so that when they decide to apply to college, Drury will be high on their list of choices.

The program is made possible in part by a grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.


FDIC Reaches Out to Black Colleges and Universities

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities have entered into a partnership to increase the number of minority students pursuing careers in the banking industry.

Under the agreement the FDIC will increase its outreach and recruiting programs on black college campuses. It will also funnel projects involving market research and analysis to scholars at black colleges and universities with the hope that students at these educational institutions will become involved in financial research.


Hampton University Gets a New Provost

Hampton University, the historically black educational institution in Virginia, has appointed Pamela Hammond as university provost. In this position she will serve as the chief academic officer of the university. Previously Dr. Hammond was dean of the Hampton University School of Nursing.

Earlier in 2009 Dr. Hammond was named Humanitarian of the Year by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. In 2007 she was one of the inaugural inductees into the Academy of Nursing Education.

Dr. Hammond is a graduate of Tuskegee University. She holds a master’s degree in maternal-child nursing from the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. in urban services from Old Dominion University.


Historically Black Virginia State University Launches New Academic Department of Mass Communications

Virginia State University, the historically black educational institution in Petersburg, received approval for its new department of mass communications from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Students have been taking courses and majoring in the discipline since 2001. A master’s program in mass communications was instituted in 2007.

The new department will be chaired by Ishmail Conway, currently associate professor in the Graduate Professional Education program. Professor Conway is a graduate of Hampton University. He holds a master’s degree in media studies and communication management from the New School for Social Research in New York and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Before coming to Virginia State, Dr. Conway taught at Cornell University and the University of Virginia.

A Snapshot of Racial Diversity at Wichita State University

Wichita State University in Kansas has a student body that is 6 percent black. This is about the same percentage of blacks in the population in the state of Kansas. Blacks make up more than 11 percent of the population in the city of Wichita.

But there is a significant racial shortfall when it comes to faculty diversity. Wichita State reports that there are only 10 blacks on its 472-member full-time instruction faculty. Thus blacks make up 2.1 percent of all full-time faculty.


John Silvanus Wilson Jr. Named White House Liaison to HBCUs

John Silvanus Wilson Jr. was named executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Dr. Wilson and the board of advisers will act as a liaison between the administration and the black colleges.

Since 2006 Dr. Wilson has served as associate professor of higher education at George Washington University. Previously he spent 16 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as assistant provost and director of foundation relations. For 10 years Wilson was on the faculty of the department of African and African-American studies at Harvard University and Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. He also has served on the board of trustees of Spelman College.

Dr. Wilson is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta. He holds two master’s degrees and an educational doctorate from Harvard University.


In Memoriam

Ernestein Walker Baylor (1927?-2009)

Ernestein Baylor, the longtime history professor at Morgan State University in Baltimore, died recently from heart failure.

A native of Georgia, Baylor graduated from Spelman College in 1949. She went on to earn a master’s degree in history from Atlanta University and a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

She began her teaching career at what is now Kentucky State University. She taught at Fort Valley State University and South Carolina State University before joining the faculty at Morgan State University in 1965. She remained on the Morgan State faculty for 33 years until her retirement in 1998.

Dr. Baylor was the author of The Black Woman in American Perspective and the 1977 book Struggle for the Reform of Parliament, 1853-1867. She also served on the board of trustees of Spelman College.

Janie R. Jenkins (1924-2009)

Janie Jenkins, a longtime faculty member at Buffalo State College and the founder of a college scholarship program for minority students, died at a health-care facility in Hamburg, New York. She was 85 years old.

A native of Shubuta, Mississippi, Jenkins graduated from Alcorn State University in 1945. She went on to earn a master’s degree in home economics from Wayne State University.

During her long teaching career she taught in the Buffalo public school system and at Mary Holmes Junior College, Jackson State University, and Buffalo State College. She retired in 1988 after 19 years on the faculty of Buffalo State.

After retirement, Professor Jenkins founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast. Each year at the event she would award college scholarships to Buffalo area high school seniors.


Honors and Awards

• Manu Platt, an assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech, received a Distinguished Cancer Clinicians and Scientists award from the Georgia Cancer Coalition. He will receive $50,000 in each of the next five years to support his research in stem cells.

Dr. Platt is a graduate of Morehouse College. He holds a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the joint program at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

• Patricia A. Hogue, assistant dean for diversity, recruitment, and retention and associate professor of physician assistant studies at the University of Toledo, received the Impact Newsmaker Award from the Northwest Ohio Media Association.

Dr. Hogue is a graduate of Hahnemann University. She holds a master’s degree from the Chicago Medical School and a Ph.D. from the University of Toledo.

• William Ashbourne, assistant professor of communications at Alabama State University, received the Community and Ownership Award from the Foundation for Innovative Resource Management.

Professor Ashbourne holds an undergraduate degree in accounting from Howard University and a law degree from Brooklyn School of Law.

• Julian Bond, professor of history at the University of Virginia, received the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP. The Spingarn Medal is the highest honor awarded by the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. Bond serves as the national chair of the NAACP.


• Morgan State University, the historically black educational institution in Baltimore, received a $321,000 grant from the Travelers Foundation to increase the number of African-American and other minority students pursuing careers in the actuarial sciences.

• The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi received a $400,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The grant will support the institute’s Truth Project, which is conducting research on racially motivated crimes committed in Mississippi between 1945 and 1975.

• Benedict College, the historically black educational institution in Columbia, South Carolina, received an $83,000 grant to help teachers and public school students in two counties to improve writing skills.

For breaking news and previews of upcoming articles


Professor Gates Is Not the Only Academic Who Suffered the Indignities of Race

The arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. on disorderly conduct charges in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has developed into a major news story. Gates was arrested when police came to his home to investigate a possible break-in. The debate has rekindled the debate in this country over racial profiling.

Before the incident occurred, Professor Gates authored a tribute to the late historian John Hope Franklin for the Summer issue of JBHE.

Professor Franklin, too, was not spared the indignities of racism despite the high esteem he held in the academic world. The night before Dr. Franklin received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bill Clinton in 1995, a white woman at the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C., where Franklin was a member, mistook him for a butler. She asked Dr. Franklin to fetch her coat. Later, in the lobby of a Washington hotel, a white man flipped him his car keys and asked Dr. Franklin to get his car.
Here is a link to Professor Gates’ tribute to John Hope Franklin.


History Professor Creating Video Game on the Underground Railroad

Cassandra Newby-Alexander, associate professor of history at Norfolk State University, is developing a new video game based on the Underground Railroad. Professor Newby-Alexander wants to use the game to teach people about the Underground Railroad and put to rest many misconceptions about its operation. She notes that the Underground Railroad was much more than a series of country hideaways where escaped slaves stopped on their way north. Many slaves escaped from the South on boats that traveled on rivers and the Atlantic Ocean.

Her new game, financed by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, will require players to make some tough decisions on which route to take, who to bribe, and who to trust. The game can end with a successful escape, recapture and a return to slavery, imprisonment, or death.

She hopes to have the game completed in two years.

Professor Newby-Alexander is no stranger to the study of the Underground Railroad. In 2003 she started a multimedia project entitled “Waterways to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in Virginia.” She also established a Web site called Race, Time, Place, which documents the history of African Americans in the Tidewater region of Virginia.

Professor Newby-Alexander is a graduate of the University of Virginia. In 1992 she was only the second African American to earn a Ph.D. in history from the College of William and Mary.


“I want black youngsters aspiring to be scientists and engineers, doctors and teachers, not just ballers and rappers.”

President Barack Obama, speaking at the annual convention of the NAACP in New York City, 7-16-09


The Higher Education of the Newest Black Executive at the U.S. Department of Agriculture

John D. Brewer was named associate administrator for the Foreign Agricultural Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There he will work to expand the market overseas for U.S. agricultural products and address issues concerning global food security.

Brewer was a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton. He previously was a senior analyst in the Office of Global Risk Assessments for AIG. He has also worked for the state, treasury, and defense departments.

A native of Florence, South Carolina, Brewer is a graduate of Morehouse College where he was a double major in history and English. He holds a master’s degree in diplomatic history from the London School of Economics and Political Science.


University of Chicago Research Finds High Level of Teacher Turnover in Predominantly African-American Public Schools

Black teenagers preparing for college in inner-city high schools must overcome a huge number of obstacles. Often the schools are unsafe. Many schools are overcrowded. Most lack necessary teaching resources and equipment. And many black students at these schools who want to go on to college must overcome the low expectations of their teachers and administrators.

Now a new study by researchers at the University of Chicago documents another problem. The research found that inner-city schools have huge rates of teacher turnover. In some predominantly black inner-city schools, more than one quarter of the teachers leave each year. A third of all new teachers fail to return for a second year.

At elementary schools in Chicago, 51 percent of all teachers who were employed in 2002 had left by 2006. At Chicago’s high schools, 54 percent of all teachers in 2002 were no longer employed at the same school in 2006. At schools where student achievement is the lowest, many of which have predominantly black student bodies, the four-year turnover rate was as high as 76 percent. The turnover rates for black teachers are nearly as high as the turnover rates for white teachers.

This huge turnover means that black students at these schools are being taught by educators with very little experience.



Racial Diversity Appears to Take a Hit at the University of Michigan

In 2006 voters in Michigan passed a public initiative that banned the consideration of race in university admissions. In 2008, the first year all admissions decisions at the University of Michigan were made under the constraints of the new law, black first-year enrollments actually increased by 12 percent.

This year, officials were once again optimistic about the racial diversity of the incoming class. The number of minority applicants to the university increased by 3.6 percent from a year ago. And the number of minority students admitted to the university was up by 7.6 percent.

But university officials report that the number of minority students who have indicated they plan to enroll this fall is down 9 percent from the level that existed a year ago at this time.

Admissions officials state that the number of out-of-state students accepting the university’s offer of admission has declined. This may be due to a high tuition price for out-of-state students and the fact that the university cannot offer these students financial aid packages that are as attractive as those offered by private institutions.


19.1%  Percentage of all African Americans ages 16 to 24 in 1980 who were not currently enrolled in school and who had not earned a high school diploma.

8.4%  Percentage of all African Americans ages 16 to 24 in 2007 who were not currently enrolled in school and who had not earned a high school diploma.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


Appointments, Promotions & Resignations

Esther M.A. Terry was named provost at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina. She was interim vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life and professor of Afro-American studies at the University of Massachusetts.

• August Washington was appointed assistant vice chancellor and chief of police at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He was chief of police at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Washington is a graduate of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He holds a master’s degree in criminal justice from Grambling State University.

• Donnetta S. Butler was named senior vice president for administration and chief financial officer at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. She previously served as senior vice president for finance and administration at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.

Butler is a graduate of Tennessee State University. She holds an MBA from Belmont University in Nashville.

• Natalie L. Mason-Kinsey is the new director of affirmative action, compliance, and diversity at the City College of New York. She was director of affirmative action for Hostos Community College in the Bronx, New York.

Mason-Kinsey is a graduate of the University of Washington and Howard University School of Law.

• Tiffany Singleton was named director of social entrepreneurship programs at the United Negro College Fund. Singleton graduated from the Harvard Business School this spring. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Dillard University in New Orleans, where she served as student body president.

• Sylvia Terry, associate dean of the Office of African-American Affairs at the University of Virginia, has announced her retirement. A graduate of historically black Virginia State University, Terry has served as an administrator at the University of Virginia since 1980.

• Chris Brummer was named professor of law, with tenure, at Georgetown University Law Center. He was an assistant professor at Vanderbilt Law School.

Dr. Brummer is a graduate of Washington University and Columbia University School of Law. He holds a Ph.D. in Germanic studies from the University of Chicago.


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