Right-Wing Group Files Complaint About the Race-Sensitive Admissions Program at the University of Texas at Austin

The Project on Fair Representation has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education charging that the race-sensitive admissions policies of the University of Texas at Austin are illegal.

About 70 percent of the incoming class at the University of Texas at Austin is admitted under the state’s “10 percent plan.” This plan guarantees admission to students who finish in the top 10 percent of their high school class at the state university of their choice. The remainder of the entering class is selected using a holistic approach in which race is considered a positive factor.

The complaint filed by the Project on Fair Representation states that the university has not complied with the requirement in the 2003 Grutter Supreme Court ruling that colleges and universities use “serious, good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives that will achieve the diversity the university seeks.”

Although black enrollments at the University of Texas at Austin have increased under the 10 percent plan, blacks make up only 4 percent of the student body. In contrast, blacks are 11 percent of the college-age population in Texas.

The Project on Fair Representation is affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute. Edward J. Blum serves as its executive director. Blum, a University of Texas graduate, previously was affiliated with Linda Chavez’s Center for Equal Opportunity and Ward Connerly’s American Civil Rights Institute. In 2005 he testified before a congressional committee arguing against the extension of the Voting Rights Act.

Blum stated that if the Department of Education does not act on his complaint, he will find a white student who was denied admission who is willing to file suit against the university.


“What goes on on campus, stays on campus and nobody questions it. The one thing most HBUCs have in common is that they operate behind a veil of secrecy.”

Castell Bryant, who served as interim president of Florida A&M University until earlier this year, speaking on why many black colleges have been plagued by financial irregularities, in the St. Petersburg Times, July 22, 2007


New Network to Allow Researchers at Black Medical Schools to Participate in Large, Multi-Site Clinical Trials

Dr. Keith Norris, vice president for research and professor of medicine at Charles Drew University in Los Angeles, is leading a team that will develop the Translational Research Network between 18 minority-serving colleges and universities with large medical research institutions. The network, which will be based at Jackson State University, the historically black educational institution in Mississippi, will establish a database and Web site where participating institutions can store and exchange data so that clinical studies can be conducted in many areas of the nation.

Dr. Norris states, “The network is designed to integrate clinical, biomedical, and behavioral researchers with community health providers in novel geographic and ethnically diverse research partnerships. This will increase the productivity and impact of each individual institution to contribute to improving the nation’s health.”

The project is being funded by a $16 million grant from the National Center for Research Resources at the National Institutes of Health. The medical schools at Howard University, Morehouse College, and Meharry Medical College will participate in the project.


Miles College Fundraising for Expansion Effort Is Ahead of Schedule

Miles College, the historically black educational institution in Fairfield, Alabama, is planning to double the size of its campus and to increase its enrollment by 50 percent or more. The college, established in 1905, is affiliated with the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

Miles College has raised $19 million of its $30 million fundraising goal to meet the requirements of its expansion program. College president George T. French Jr. reports that the college should meet its fundraising goal well ahead of schedule.

The college plans to expand on a 41-acre plot of land just north of its present campus. New dormitories, a health center, a performing arts center, a gymnasium, an Olympic-size swimming pool, and a new School of International Studies will be built as part of the expansion.

The college hopes to increase enrollments from its present 1,700 students to at least 2,500 and as many as 3,000 students. Almost the entire student body is black.


Will Chapel Hill Again Sit Atop the JBHE Rankings of Black First-Year Students at the Nation’s Highest-Ranked Universities?

For the past two years and in six of the past eight years, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has posted the highest percentage of black freshmen of any of the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities in the annual JBHE survey of black first-year students. Preliminary data shows that there will be 440 black freshman students at Chapel Hill this fall. They will make up 11.1 percent of the incoming class.

The number of black applicants, black accepted students, black student yield, and black enrollees are all down slightly from a year ago. In 2006 there were 470 black freshmen at Chapel Hill. They made up 12.1 percent of all first-year students.

Stanford University and Duke University are usually the top challengers to Chapel Hill in the JBHE annual survey of black freshmen. Their numbers for 2007 have not been made at this date.


Princeton Reports a Drop in Black First-Year Enrollments

Princeton University reports that there will be 99 black freshmen on campus this fall. In 2006 there were 112 black first-year students. Blacks will make up 7.9 percent of the incoming class at Princeton this year, down from 9.1 percent in 2006.


Wisconsin Attorney General Says Race-Sensitive Admissions Plan at the University of Wisconsin Is in Compliance With Supreme Court Guidelines

The attorney general for the state of Wisconsin has issued an informal legal opinion stating that the race-based admissions program at the University of Wisconsin is acceptable under the guidelines in the 2003 Supreme Court Grutter ruling and also under state law.

After the university board of regents instituted the policy this past February, a group of state legislators asked the attorney general to determine the constitutionality of the program. After conducting a comprehensive review of the policy, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen stated that the plan was within the law because it called for the university to use race as one of many factors in weighing a student’s application.


Legal Battle Over the Wording for the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative

Ward Connerly, the California entrepreneur who ran successful campaigns to ban race-sensitive admissions at state universities in California, Washington, and Michigan, plans to place similar public referenda on the 2008 ballot in five states.

The Missouri Civil Rights Initiative has already gained a place on the ballot but organizers have filed suit seeking to change the language that will be used. The initiative as proposed reads: “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

But the Missouri secretary of state changed the language of the initiative to: “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ban affirmative action programs designed to eliminate discrimination against, and improve opportunities for, women and minorities in public contracting, employment, and education?”

Connerly said the rewrite “is one of the most appalling abuses of a constitutional office I have ever seen.”

The language used in the referendum is seen as crucial to its passage. In the states where race-sensitive admissions have been banned, the language was similar to what was originally proposed in Missouri. But polls in those states showed that if the wording were similar to that proposed by the Missouri secretary of state, the referenda would have been defeated.



• Twelve historically black colleges and universities have been awarded grants totaling more than $2 million under the U.S. Department of Education’s Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program. The grants will be used to strengthen science and engineering programs on these 12 campuses.

The historically black institutions that are receiving grants are: Alabama A&M University, Charles Drew University, Florida A&M University, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Elizabeth City State University, Central State University, South Carolina State University, Texas College, Wiley College, Texas Southern University, and Hampton University.

• The Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University received a $30,000 grant from the New York Times Company Foundation. The funds will be used for scholarships for minority students who were adversely impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

Florida A&M University, the historically black educational institution in Tallahassee, received a $2,340,445 grant from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The grant will provide scholarship funds for students in the university’s environmental science programs.

Winston-Salem State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina, received a five-year, $794,950 grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will be used for full-tuition scholarships for students seeking careers in biomedical and behavioral research.


New Report From the Civil Rights Project Urges Colleges and Universities to Hold Firm to Their Race-Sensitive Admissions Policies

The first report published by the Civil Rights Project since it moved from Harvard University to UCLA urges colleges and universities to hold firm to their race-sensitive admissions policies.

Gary A. Orfield, professor of education, law, political science and urban planning at UCLA and the co-director of the Civil Rights Project, writes that the 2003 Grutter case gave colleges and universities the green light to continue to use race in their admissions decisions. But he adds that right-wing litigating groups and the Bush Justice Department and Education Department “have attempted to interpret the law as if they had won the case.”

Professor Orfield believes that colleges and universities are being bullied into abandoning programs that not only work to achieve racial diversity but are legal under Grutter guidelines. “Colleges and state policy makers have much more discretion than they are led to believe by those trying to roll back civil rights policy,” Orfield writes.

The report, entitled Charting the Future of College Affirmative Action: Legal Victories, Continuing Attacks, and New Research, can be accessed at:


The Higher Education of the AFRICOM’s New Commander

At the present time U.S. military operations are divided into five separate command zones. There are separate commands for North America, South America, Europe, Central Asia (which includes all of the Middle East), and the Pacific. Military operations on the continent of Africa have been divided between command posts in Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific. But on September 30, 2008, the American military will establish the African Command or AFRICOM.

The commander of this new military unit will be Army General William E. “Kip” Ward. General Ward has been serving as deputy commander of the European Command based in Stuttgart, Germany. During his 36-year military career he has served in positions all over the globe including Bosnia and Somalia. General Ward is a graduate of Morgan State University and holds a master’s degree from Penn State.


Summer Institute at Vanderbilt Seeks to Nurture High-Achieving Young Black Males

Last month Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, held its two-week Summer Scholar Identity Institute for high-achieving young black males in schools from surrounding communities. The institute was developed so that these academically gifted young black youths could develop a peer network of support. Often these students come from schools where academic achievement is ridiculed, particularly among black males. The institute gives these students tools to battle the notion that academic achievement is “not cool” or is akin to “acting white.”

The institute also aims to create a sense of camaraderie so that black males who aspire to academic success have a support group they can call on when they need someone to talk to who is going through the same experiences. Often these high-achieving black males may be among the only high-performing black male students in their particular school.

The summer institute, which brings about 100 black males in grades 7 to 9 to the Vanderbilt campus, was developed by Donna Y. Ford, Betts Professor of Education and Human Development, and Gilman W. Whiting, senior lecturer in African-American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt.


Fisk University Jubilee Singers Make Pilgrimage to Ghana

This year marks the 135th anniversary of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. The group, founded in the early 1870s to raise money for the cash-strapped historically black college, has performed all over the world.

This summer the Fisk Jubilee Singers traveled to Accra, the capital city of Ghana, to help celebrate the nation’s 50th anniversary of its independence from Great Britain. Performing at the National Theater, the Fisk Jubilee Singers delighted their audience with two songs in Ewe, the local language.

Dr. Paul T. Kwami, the musical director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, is a native of Ghana.


Barber-Scotia College Struggling to Get Back on Its Feet

In 2004 Barber-Scotia College in Concord, North Carolina, had its accreditation revoked by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The school had accumulated debt and was accused of awarding degrees to students who had not met academic requirements. Without accreditation, Barber-Scotia College lost financial support from the United Negro College Fund and students at the school could no longer receive federal financial aid.

Immediately after the loss of accreditation, enrollments dropped from 600 to fewer than 100. By the beginning of 2006 the college had no students and only one paid employee.

Yet the board of trustees refused to give up. The college tried to refocus on a business administration curriculum with the hope that local businesses would use it as a training institute. But this strategy failed.

Now the college will refocus its efforts once again, this time toward religious education. Tuition for the upcoming fall term has been set for $500 for commuting students.

The college, founded in 1867 by the Presbyterian Church, might now seek accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, an organization whose requirements are not as strict as Barber-Scotia’s former accreditor.


Milwaukee Seeks to Turn a Black Brain Drain Into Black Brain Gain

About 300 black students from Wisconsin enroll at black colleges in the South each year. But many of these black students do not return to Wisconsin once they earn their degrees. For both blacks and whites, more college graduates leave Wisconsin each year than move into the state.

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation in conjunction with the Milwaukee office of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund has begun a new program designed to attract Wisconsin students who attended historically black colleges and universities back to the state once they have earned their degrees. Funded by a $100,000 grant, the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund will hold an annual job fair for black college students during spring break in 2008. Thirty local employers from Wisconsin have agreed to participate in the job fair. In addition to employer participation, college students who attend the event will be able to speak with career counselors.


33.6%  Percentage of all white American adults in 2006 who had ever been tested for HIV.

50.8%  Percentage of all African-American adults in 2006 who had ever been tested for HIV.

source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



Hazel O’Leary, former secretary of energy who is now president of Fisk University, the historically black educational institution in Nashville, Tennessee, was named to the board of directors of ITC Holdings. The company is a leading firm in the electricity transmission industry.

Peter Roby was named director of athletics at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Since 2002 he has directed the university’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College.

Jamar Ross was appointed associate sports information director at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He was the sports information director at Hampton University.

Edwin C. Marshall was named vice president for diversity, equity, and multicultural affairs at Indiana University in Bloomington. For the past 30 years, he has been a professor at the university’s School of Optometry.

Marshall holds two bachelor’s, a master’s degree, and a doctorate in optometry from Indiana University. He also earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Monica McCluney was named national director of strategic alliances for the United Negro College Fund. A graduate of Spelman College, McCluney has served as a consultant and a development officer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Cecilia A. Conrad, the Stedman-Sumner Professor of Economics at Pomona College, will take a two-year sabbatical to serve as dean of the faculty at Scripps College.

Professor Conrad was also appointed to the Advisory Committee on the African-American Population at the U.S. Census Bureau.

Dr. Conrad is a graduate of Wellesley College. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University.

Carlton E. Brown was appointed executive vice president of Clark Atlanta University. He served as president of Savannah State University for nine years until he resigned in December 2006. Since that time he has served as an assistant to the chancellor of the Georgia Board of Regents.

Brown holds a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in multicultural education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.



Lee D. Baker, an associate professor of cultural anthropology and African and African-American studies at Duke University, received the 2007 Richard K. Lublin Award from Trinity College at Duke University.






Copyright © 2007. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.