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Black Enrollments at Christian Colleges Are on the Rise

JBHE statistics show there are now 29 colleges that are members of the Council for Christian Colleges where black enrollments are 10 percent or more. The number of Christian colleges that are at least 10 percent black is more than triple the number in a previous JBHE survey in 1997.

At some schools the increase in black enrollments has been extraordinary. For example, at Belhaven College in Mississippi, black enrollments rose from 16.9 percent in our 1997 report to 41 percent in 2007. At Nyack College in New York, black enrollments rose from a high rate of 13.3 percent to a much higher rate of 33 percent. At Montreat College in North Carolina, black enrollments increased sixfold during the period. At LeTourneau University in Texas, black enrollments nearly quadrupled.

In 1997 there were 33 Christian colleges with black enrollments of less than 2 percent. The most recent figures show 22 Christian colleges with black enrollments of 2 percent or lower. There are currently nine Christian colleges with black enrollments of 1 percent or less. This is down from 12 in our 1997 survey.

Wellesley College to Offer Instruction in Swahili

Wellesley College, the highly selective college for women outside Boston, has announced that beginning this fall it will offer students instruction in the African language of Swahili. The language is spoken by an estimated 50 million people in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and several other nations.

Wellesley students who take Swahili will be better prepared to participate in the college’s extensive study-abroad opportunities in Africa.

The Swahili courses will be taught by visiting lecturer Judith Mmari, who is a member of the faculty at Boston University.

Investigation Finds That Many Regents at Morgan State University Skip Regular Board Meetings

An investigation by the Baltimore Sun found that many of the 15 members of the board of regents of Morgan State University in Baltimore routinely miss regularly scheduled board meetings. These revelations come after a state audit found numerous financial irregularities at the university.

Maryland state law requires that board members attend at least half the meetings. If they do not do so, they are to be “considered to have resigned,” according to the regulations. The newspaper’s investigation revealed that former congressman and former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume and current congressman Elijah Cummings missed more than half the meetings in 2007 and 2008. Since his appointment to the board in 1999, Cummings has missed 60 percent of the meetings, according to the Sun. When contacted about his attendance record by the newspaper, Cummings stated, “I work hard for Morgan.”

Two other board members have missed half the scheduled meetings since 2000.

Grambling State University Upgrades Campus Security

In 2006, the latest year for which statistics are available, there were 70 burglaries on the campus of Grambling State University, a historically black educational institution in Louisiana. In addition, there were four assaults, 21 drug arrests, and three cases of arson. In past JBHE surveys of crime on black college campuses, Grambling has ranked near the top in the number of crimes committed per 1,000 students.

But Grambling is taking action to make its campus safer. The university installed 220 networked cameras to monitor residence halls and public areas on campus. Another 100 cameras may be added. Each of the high-resolution digital cameras records and archives the images for 30 days. Motion detectors will be set up in key locations to notify police of movement in sensitive areas. Campus police will be able to monitor images and to transmit data and live feeds to patrol cars when necessary.

The University of Kansas Receives the Moses Gunn Collection

The widow of actor Moses Gunn has donated 20 boxes of her husband’s memorabilia to the University of Kansas.

Gunn, who died in 1993, appeared in the films Ragtime and Shaft among others. He portrayed an African chieftain in the 1977 television miniseries Roots and was a regular on the sitcom Good Times. He received an Emmy nomination in 1993 for writing an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street.

Gunn was a graduate of Tennessee State University but did his graduate study in the drama department at the University of Kansas.

The donated collection includes documents, photographs, props, posters, and various honors and awards.

New President Has Set Ambitious Goals for Johnson C. Smith University

Ronald Carter, who was installed last month as the thirteenth president of Johnson C. Smith University, the historically black educational institution in Charlotte, North Carolina, has ambitious plans.

Dr. Carter wants to double the school’s $54 million endowment. He plans to create several new graduate education programs, to integrate high technology into every classroom in the university, to improve relations and cooperation between the university and the Charlotte community, and to transform the university into a center for applied scientific research.

The first graduate program he hopes to launch is a master’s degree in computer engineering.

Dr. Carter is a Morehouse man. He holds a master’s degree in theology and a Ph.D. from Boston University. Before he assumed the presidency of Johnson C. Smith University, Carter was provost at Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina. Prior to that position, he spent 10 years in South Africa where he served as dean of students at the predominantly white University of Witwatersrand.

80%  Percentage of white Americans who believe that blacks have an equal chance with whites to secure a good education.

49%  Percentage of black Americans who believe that blacks have an equal chance with whites to secure a good education.

source: Gallup/USA Today poll

Coach at Rice University Leading Her Nation’s Team in Beijing

The Summer Olympics in Beijing opens tomorrow. Many African-American athletes with university connections will compete in the games, mostly in track and field events.

Andrea Blackett, a 1997 graduate of Rice University and currently a track coach at Rice, is in Beijing as the head coach of the track and field team for the Caribbean nation of Barbados. There are three athletes from Barbados competing in track and field events in Beijing.

Blackett represented Barbados in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics as a hurdler. She was a four-time All-American at Rice and still holds the university’s record for women in the 400-meter hurdles.

In Memoriam

Lindon W. Barrett (1962-2008)

Lindon W. Barrett, a popular English professor at the University of California-Riverside, was found dead in his Long Beach condominium, the apparent victim of a homicide. He was 46 years old.

Police were called to the home when neighbors complained of a foul smell coming from Barrett’s apartment. When police investigated they found Barrett’s body. He had been dead for several days.

Police noticed that Barrett’s car was missing and they soon located the vehicle. Police operated a stakeout at the parked car. When a 20-year-old man who police say was an acquaintance of Barrett, approached the car, he was arrested. The man was later charged with murder.

Barrett was a graduate of York University in Toronto. He held a master’s degree from the University of Denver and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Barrett was the author of the 1998 book, Blackness and Value: Seeing Double, published by Cambridge University Press. At the time of his death, he was completing work on a second book entitled, Racial Blackness and the Discontinuity of Western Modernity.

Honors and Awards

This coming October, Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, will receive the Wallenberg Medal from the University of Michigan. The award is given in remembrance of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who issued Swedish passports to thousands of Hungarian Jews in 1944 and saved them from being transported to the concentration camps by the Nazis. Wallenberg graduated in 1935 from the University of Michigan College of Architecture.

• Levi Watkins Jr. was named the 2008 Distinguished Alumnus of Vanderbilt University. In 1970 Watkins was the first African American to graduate from the university’s medical school.

Dr. Watkins is currently professor of cardiac surgery and associate dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.


• Florida A&M University, the historically black educational institution in Tallahassee, received grants totaling $139,908 from the National Science Foundation and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service for research projects in entomology and mosquito control.

• Tuskegee University, the historically black educational institution in Alabama, received a $71,213 grant from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The funds will be used to develop a curriculum for a new course on nuclear power plant safety.


University of California Considering Revamping Its Admissions Procedures

Under state law the University of California is charged with providing higher education to the top 12.5 percent of high school graduates in the state. This top group of students is determined by high school grade point averages and scores on standardized tests. The determination takes into account the difficulty of a student’s high school curriculum.

Once it is determined that a student is in the top 12.5 percent of high school students statewide, he or she must still compete for places at particular campuses at the University of California system. Only the most academically talented are admitted to the most selective campuses at Berkeley and UCLA.

Now the board of regents of the University of California is considering a proposal that would allow admissions officials at the nine undergraduate campuses more flexibility in choosing whom to admit. Less emphasis would be placed on test scores and the difficulty of the high school curriculum. Admissions officials would be given more leeway in choosing students based on their personal backgrounds and their ability to succeed under difficult circumstances.

It is doubtful the new plan would have much impact on admissions at Berkeley or UCLA, two campuses that already have so-called holistic admissions procedures. But the new plan, if adopted, may result in more racial and ethnic diversity at the other seven undergraduate campuses in the California system.

Critics of the plan say that the proposal is simply an end run around the state’s ban on race-sensitive admissions. In considering the proposal, the regents will undoubtedly consider the likelihood of success in defending the plan in court.

“Affirmative action is not going to be the long-term solution to the problems of race in America, because, frankly, if you’ve got 50 percent of African-American or Latino kids dropping out of high school, it doesn’t really matter what you do in terms of affirmative action. Those kids aren’t going to college.”

Barack Obama, responding to John McCain’s announcement of support for a measure to ban affirmative action in higher education admissions, 7-27-08

New Class of Gates Millennium Scholars Announced

The Gates Millennium scholarship program for black and other minority students has announced its ninth class of award winners. The 1,000 scholarship winners come from more than 800 different high schools in 47 states. The scholars will be attending 360 different institutions of higher education.

The scholarships, funded by a $1.6 billion endowment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, pay all the unmet financial expenses of the scholarship winners at the particular institutions that they choose to attend. The scholarships are renewable so long as the students remain in good academic standing.

Since the program’s inception in 1999, more than 12,000 students have received scholarships totaling more than $400 million.

JBHE data shows that money is the major reason that black students drop out of college. But 97 percent of the Millennium Scholars, whose total financial needs are met, return for their sophomore year of college. More than three quarters of the Millennium Scholars graduate from a four-year college within five years.

King Papers Project at Morehouse College Hits Some Snags

Two years ago a consortium of Atlanta leaders brokered a $32 million loan to keep a vast collection of the papers of Martin Luther King Jr. in the city. The Martin Luther King Collection would be housed at Morehouse College, King’s alma mater. Under the deal, money would be raised to pay off the loan in two years. The archiving of the collection was to be completed this past

But fundraising to support the effort has not progressed at the rate projected. About $11 million still needs to be raised. The archival project has also been slower than expected. Researchers now hope to have the King papers fully digitized and ready for researchers this fall.

Walter E. Fluker, the Morehouse College professor who is now in charge of the project, said that the effort had encountered “unanticipated challenges.” But he assures scholars that the wait will be worth it.

Six African-American Accounting Students Win Doctoral Fellowships

The KPMG Foundation has announced that six African Americans are among the 10 first-year doctoral students who will receive $10,000 as part of its Minority Accounting Scholarship program. The scholarships can be renewed for up to five years of doctoral study.

The program, which seeks to increase the number of minority students teaching accounting at U.S. business schools, now offers financial assistance to about three fourths of all minority doctoral candidates in the United States.

The six new African-American scholarship winners are:

Christopher Bell, a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, who will enter the doctoral program in accounting at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville.

Phebe Davis-Culler will enroll in the doctoral accounting program at Florida Atlantic University. Davis-Culler holds a master’s degree from Clemson University and a bachelor’s degree from South Carolina State University.

Stephani Mason has been accepted into the doctoral program at Rutgers University. She is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro and holds a master’s degree in finance from the University of Chicago.

Kerri-Ann Sanderson has enrolled in the doctoral program at Florida Atlantic University. She is a graduate of Barry University and earned a master’s degree at the University of Texas.

R. Christopher Small, a graduate of Benedictine College, will pursue his Ph.D. in accounting at Harvard University.

Anissa Truesdale will pursue her doctoral degree in accounting at the University of South Florida. She is a graduate of Clemson University and holds a master’s degree from Texas A&M University.

University of Colorado Says 100 Scholarships Could Be Affected by Public Initiative Seeking to Ban Affirmative Action

The University of Colorado conducted an audit of its admissions and scholarship programs to assess the impact of Amendment 46, a public referendum that is scheduled for the November ballot. The initiative would ban the use of race in employment and admissions decisions by state universities.

The university currently assigns a positive value to race as a “secondary factor” in admissions decisions at both the undergraduate and graduate level. If the amendment were to pass, race could no longer be considered. The internal study also found that there are approximately 100 scholarships, mostly at the flagship campus at Boulder, that would be impacted by the ban.


• Ray J. Davis was named interim director of the honors program at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. Since 1989 he has been serving as associate dean of the School of Technology at the university.

Dr. Davis is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He holds a master’s and a doctoral degree from Ohio State University.

• Ewa Unoke, associate professor of political science at Kansas City Kansas Community College, was appointed to the advisory committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Dr. Unoke is a graduate of the University of Nigeria in Nsukka and holds a Ph.D. in political science from Howard University.

• Michelle Vierra was promoted to assistant vice president for alumni relations and annual giving at Tennessee State University in Nashville. She has been serving as director of alumni relations and has worked at the university since 1996.

Vierra is a graduate of Tennessee State University and holds a master’s degree in history from Western Michigan University.

• Neil Roberts was appointed assistant professor of Africana studies at Williams College in Massachusetts. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Roberts has two bachelor’s degrees from Brown University and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago.

• Frances Sadler was named president of the Alumnae Association of Barnard College. Sadler is a 1972 graduate of the college.

• A.B. Mayfield-Clarke, associate professor of speech communication studies at North Carolina A&T State University, was elected a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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