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Expanding the Research on Stereotype Threat

Research conducted many years ago by Claude Steele at Stanford University, and later confirmed by Professor Steele and other researchers, has shown that black students perform poorly on standardized tests because they fear mistakes will confirm negative stereotypes about their group. When efforts to alleviate these concerns are made, black students’ scores improve.

A new study at Stanford has shown that this “stereotype threat” can also hinder black students in learning new material. In an experiment, groups of black and white students were asked to study the meanings of 24 obscure words. One group was placed in a threatening environment by being told that they were participating in an experiment to see “how well people from different backgrounds learn.” Another group was simply told the researchers were examining different learning styles and there was no hint of any racial undertones.

One to two weeks later, the students were quizzed informally about the words they had studied. The results showed that black students who were initially in the group that was told racial differences were being examined, scored 50 percent lower than black students who had studied in the nonthreatening environment. But when an actual test was administered, the stereotype threat kicked in and both groups of black students performed poorly.

The lead author of the study is Valerie Jones Taylor who was a graduate student at Stanford and now is conducting postdoctoral research at Princeton. The paper was published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Higher Education in the World’s Newest Nation

Last month the world’s newest nation, Southern Sudan, declared its independence. The mostly black southern Sudanese have suffered from years of war with the predominantly Arab Sudanese in the northern part of the African country.

Due to the war, many of the academics in the southern part of the country decided to teach at foreign universities. Some of the universities in the southern part of Sudan moved to campuses in the north to avoid the conflict.

Now efforts are underway to reestablish Juba University in the capital city of Southern Sudan as well as Upper Nile University in Malakal and Bahr el Ghazal University in Wau. All three universities had moved operations to Khartoum in the north.

But the campuses of the universities are in bad shape due to the war and there is almost no laboratory space or facilities for students at the university’s medical schools. Furthermore, there are very few faculty members who are willing to return to Southern Sudan.

Officials in Southern Sudan hope that United States, Europe, and nonprofit foundations will funnel research funds to universities in Southern Sudan in an effort to attract faculty. South African and Zimbabwe have offered to send lecturers to teach at universities in Southern Sudan.

At the University of Michigan, Minority Applications Are Up, But the Number of Minority Students Accepted for Admission Is Down

The University of Michigan has announced that it received a record number of applications for the 2011 entering class. The number of applicants rose 25 percent from a year ago to 39,570. Just over 40 percent of all applicants were accepted for admission

The university reported that 4,265 minority students applied for admission, a 15 percent increase from a year ago. Therefore, minority students make up nearly 11 percent of all applicants. However, the university announced that 1,576 minority students were accepted for admission, a 3.7 decrease from a year ago. Just under 37 percent of minority applicants were accepted for admission.

Because of state law the University of Michigan did not consider race in its admissions decisions during this election cycle. That law has been ruled unconstitutional by a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court. That ruling is being appealed.

Washington University Study Examines Racial Differences in Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African Americans. And the disease is six times more common among blacks compared to whites. And blindness resulting from glaucoma is 16 times as likely among blacks than is the case for whites.

A new study by researchers at Washington University sheds some light on the racial disparity. The research, published in the journal Archives of Ophthalmology, found that oxygen levels in the eyes of black glaucoma patients are significantly higher than is the case for whites with the disease. The authors of the study believe that more oxygen in the eye may damage the drainage system resulting in higher pressure which can damage the optic nerve.

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.

A Muslim American Slave: The Life of Omar Ibn Said translated by Ala Alryyes (University of Wisconsin Press)

Black Harvard/Black Yale: The Testament to America’s Greatest Hopes for Progress in Race and Education by Jesse Algeron Rhines (CreateSpace)

Colonization and Its Discontents: Emancipation, Emigration, and Antislavery in Antebellum Pennsylvania by Beverly Tomek (New York University Press)

Every Closed Eye Ain’t Sleep: African American Perspectives on the Achievement Gap by Teresa Hill (Rowman & Littlefied)

Fighting Chance: The Struggle over Woman Suffrage and Black Suffrage in Reconstruction America by Faye E. Dudden (Oxford University Press)

House Signs and Collegiate Fun: Sex, Race, and Faith in a College Town by Chaise LaDousa (Indiana University Press)

Mary Turner and the Memory of Lynching by Julie Buckner Armstrong (University of Georgia Press)

Mississippi John Hurt: His Life, His Times, His Blues by Philip Ratcliffe (University Press of Mississippi)

Money Over Mastery, Family Over Freedom: Slavery in the Antebellum Upper South by Calvin Schermerhorn (Johns Hopkins University Press)

Osogbo and the Art of Heritage: Monuments, Deities, and Money by Peter Probst (Indiana University Press)

She’s Mad Real: Popular Culture and West Indian Girls in Brooklyn by Oneka LaBennett (New York University Press)

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Melissa V. Harris-Perry (Yale University Press)

The Boys Club: Male Protagonists in Contemporary African American Young Adult Literature by Wendy Rountree (Peter Lang Publishing)

The Noir Atlantic: Chester Himes and the Birth of the Francophone African Crime Novel by Pim Higginson (Liverpool University Press)

The Politics of Dress in Somali Culture by Heather Marie Akou (Indiana University Press)

The Search for the Legacy of the USPHS Syphilis Study at Tuskegee by Ralph Katz (Lexington Books)

Under a Bad Sign: Criminal Self-Representation in African American Popular Culture by Jonathan Munby (University of Chicago Press)

Wake Up: Hip-Hop Christianity and the Black Church by Cheryl Kirk-Duggan and Marlon Hall (Abingdon Press)

Honors and Awards

Kathy Burlew, a professor of psychology at the University of Cincinnati, received the 2011 Kenneth and Mamie Clark Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Professional Development of Ethnic and Minority Graduate Students from the American Psychological Association.

Professor Burlew holds bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees, all from the University of Michigan.

Elizabeth Tshele, a lecturer in the department of English and the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University, won the Caine Prize for African writing for her short story, “Hitting Budapest.” The story, published in the Boston Review, is about six children from a shantytown in Zimbabwe who wander into an affluent white suburban community. Tshele uses the pen name, NoViolet Bulawayo.

The Caine Prize, which comes with a £10,000 cash award and the opportunity to serve a term as writer-in-residence at Georgetown University, is considered Africa’s leading literary honor.

Tshele is a graduate of Texas A&M University Commerce. She holds a master’s degree from Southern Methodist University and a master or fine arts degree from Cornell University.


Which of the following statement best describes your view on President Obama's handling of the debt ceiling issue.
His was the voice of reason in a sea of insanity.
He did all he could considering Congress had tied his hands.
He should have played a more active role.
His leadership was lacking.

Professor Gerald Early Solves a Mystery

In 2006 Gerald Early the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters and director of the Center for the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis, purchased a copy of a 1950s comic book on eBay. The title of the comic was Negro Romance.

Professor Early notes that “blacks appeared in comic books and comic strips during this era largely as savage ‘jungle natives’ or as racially demeaning characters.” He was determined the find out more out these 1950s comics about African Americans that were not overtly racist.

Professor Early turned for help to the producers of the PBS television show History Detectives. In a segment that was broadcast recently, researchers went to the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York City and the Geppi Entertainment Museum in Baltimore.

They discovered that the comic was the second of a three-part series published by Fawcett Publications in Greenwich, Connecticut, a major comic publisher of that era. The author was Ray Ald, a white editor at Fawcett who was looking to expand the company’s market to African-American readers. But the artist turned out to be an African-American named Alvin Hollingsworth who started working at Fawcett when he was in high school as a go-fer. He continued to draw comics until the mid-1950s and then became an abstract artist. Hollingsworth died in 2000.

Howard University College of Pharmacy Now Stands Alone

Howard University has announced the formation of a free standing College of Pharmacy. Previously, pharmacy programs were housed in the College of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Allied Health. The reorganization brings the number of colleges and schools at the university to 13.

Anthony K. Wutoh has been named dean of the College of Pharmacy. Dr. Wutoh holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a second bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Maryland.

The Granddaddy of Summer Science Camps

This summer more than 1,500 middle school students will attend one of 25 sections of the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. The camps are open to students from underrepresented minority groups and preference is given to students from low-income families. Students must have a B average in school, score high on standardized tests, and write a 250-word essay on why they want to attend the camp.

About 50 students attend each two-week camp. The camps are free for students. Students study science, mathematics, and other disciplines and participate in a wide range of social activities, field trips, and counseling sessions.

Bernard Harris Jr. is a former astronaut who is now president of the Bernard Harris Foundation. Harris was the first African-American to walk in space.

After growing up in San Antonio, Harris earned a bachelor’s degree at Baylor University. He earned a master’s degree at the University of Texas at Galveston, an MBA from the University of Houston, and a medical doctorate from Texas Tech University. He is currently an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas and an assistant professor at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Black Youth’s Large Media Appetite

A recent study by researchers at Northwestern University found that blacks and other minority students ages 8 to 18 spend 13 hours a day consuming media content through electronic devices including television, computers, cellphones, and other electronic gadgets. This is 4.5 hours more than young whites.

The study found that black and Latino youths spend one to two hours more watching television than whites and up to 90 minutes more on computers and cellphones. Some 84 percent of black youths reported that they had a television in their bedroom compared to 64 percent of white youths.

While television and online media can be used for education and learning, some educators believe that the heavy media consumption of black youth hinders their academic achievement. Also, there are concerns that spending so much time with television, computers, and cellphones contributes to higher rates of obesity.

Two African-American Women Join the Predominantly Male Club of Athletics Directors at Division I Universities

Nationwide less than 10 percent of all athletic directors at the NCAA's Division I colleges and universities are women. But recently two historically black universities named women to lead their athletics programs.

Keshia Campbell was named director of athletics at Hampton University in Virginia. She will be the first woman to serve as athletic director at the university. The appointment is effective on August 15. She was director of business affairs at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Campbell holds bachelor's and master's degrees from South Carolina State University.

Vivian Fuller is the new director of athletics at Jackson State University in Mississippi. She was dean of the Cambridge campus of Sojourner-Douglass College in Maryland. She has previously served as athletics director at Tennessee State University, Northeastern Illinois University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Dr. Fuller is a graduate of Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. She earned a master's degree from the University of Idaho and an educational doctorate from Iowa State University.

In Memoriam

Frank W. Hale Jr. (1927-2011)

Frank W. Hale Jr., civil rights activist and vice president emeritus at Ohio State University, died last week from cancer. He was 84 years old.

Hale was a native of Kansas City, Missouri, but grew up in Topeka, Kansas. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degree at the University of Nebraska and a Ph.D. in communication and political science at Ohio State University. He conducted postdoctoral research at the University of London.

Hale’s career in higher education spanned 54 years. He taught English at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, from 1959 to 1966. He was then appointed president of Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama. He served in that capacity until 1971.

In 1971 he began a long tenure at Ohio State University as associate dean of the Graduate School. From 1978 to 1988, he served as vice provost for minority affairs. Dr. Hale was instrumental in establishing a Black Cultural Center on campus. When the new center was opened in 1989, the building was named in Hale’s honor.

Hale came out of retirement in 1999 and served for six years as “distinguished university representative and consultant.”

In 2010, Dr. Hale was inducted into the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony can be seen in the accompanying video.

Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Michael Dawson, the John D. MacArthur Distinguished Service Professor in Political Science at the University of Chicago, was named director of the university’s Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. Dawson joined the university faculty in 1992. He taught at Harvard from 2002 to 2005 before returning to the University of Chicago.

Professor Dawson, who holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, is the author of Behind the Mule: Race and Class in African-American Politics (Princeton University Press, 1994) and Black Visions: The Roots of Contemporary African-American Political Ideologies (University of Chicago Press, 2001). His latest book, entitled Not in Our Lifetimes: The Future of Black Politics, is scheduled to be published this fall.

• Bernadine Duncan was named director of counseling at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. She has been serving as an assistant professor in the department of educational leadership and counseling at the university.

Dr. Duncan is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. She holds a master’s degree from Jackson State University and an educational doctorate from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

• Herman Frazier was appointed deputy director of athletics and chief of staff to the athletic director at Syracuse University. He was senior associate athletics director at Temple University in Philadelphia. He previously served as athletics director at the University of Hawaii and the University of Alabama Birmingham.

Frazier was an all-American track athlete at Arizona State University and won an Olympic gold medal in 1976.

• Sandra DeLoatch was appointed interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at Norfolk State University in Virginia. DeLoatch has been on the faculty at Norfolk State for 30 years serving as chair of the department of computer science and dean of the College of Science, Engineering, and Technology.

Dr. DeLoatch is a graduate of Howard University. She holds master’s degrees from the University of Michigan and the College of William and Mary. She earned her Ph.D. at Indiana University.

• Cornelius Graves was named interim director of government and community relations at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. He was serving as an administrative assistant for a North Carolina state senator.

Graves is a graduate of Howard University and the Southern University Law Center.

• Mark Coleman was named director of athletics at Western New Mexico University in Silver City. He has coached the men’s basketball team at the university for the past eight years.

Coleman is a graduate of St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.

• Patricia C. Hodge was named superintendent of the Developmental Research School at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. She was principal for the Florida Atlantic University Schools.

Dr. Hodge is a graduate of the University of Florida. She earned her master’s degree at Atlanta University and a doctorate at Florida Atlantic University.

Grants and Gifts

Ashland University in Ohio received a three-year, $1,580,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the recruitment and retention program aimed at increasing the number of minority students in its undergraduate nursing program.

The University of Virginia School of Education received a four-year, $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to study the effectiveness of the WINGS for Kids afterschool program in four elementary schools in Charleston, South Carolina. The program, seeks to teach children how to make smart decisions and build healthy relationships. Almost all of the children in the program are from low-income families and most of them are black.

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