Under the Bush Administration, Blacks Are Giving Back the Economic Gains Achieved During the Clinton Years

In his regular op-ed column recently in The New York Times, Paul Krugman wrote, “Both the relative and absolute economic status of blacks, after improving substantially during the Clinton years, have worsened since 2000.”

Let’s examine if Mr. Krugman is correct. In 1993, when Bill Clinton took office, the median black family income, adjusted for inflation, was $27,731. When Clinton left office in 2000 the median black family income, again, adjusted for inflation, was $36,939. This was a 33 percent jump in black incomes during the Clinton years.

Whites also did well during the Clinton years. Their incomes improved by 16.6 percent, about half the rate for blacks.

Since Bush was elected in 2000 the median income for both blacks and whites has declined in constant dollars adjusted for inflation. In 2004 the median black family income was $35,158. This was 3 percent lower than the median black family income in 2000, the year of the Bush election. For whites, the median income figure dropped 1.2 percent.

Now let’s look at the poverty data. In 1993, when Bill Clinton came into office, 33.1 percent of all blacks in the United States were poor. By the year 2000 the black poverty rate dipped to 22.5 percent, a remarkable achievement in eight years.

During the Bush years, the black poverty rate has increased to 24.7 percent.

But whites saw a reduction in their rate of poverty during the Clinton years from 9.9 percent to 7.4 percent. The latest rate of white poverty is 8.6 percent.

Paul Krugman was right in every respect.


Michigan State University to Eliminate Loans for Low-Income Students

Following the lead of the University of North Carolina’s Carolina Covenant and the University of Virginia’s AccessUVA programs, Michigan State University is eliminating loans as part of the financial aid package for low-income students. The new Spartan Advantage program will substitute student loans with outright scholarship grants and work-study programs for students from families with very low incomes.

In order to qualify for the new program students must be enrolled full-time, be eligible for a federal Pell Grant, and come from a family whose income is below the federal poverty line.


“It is not a question of taking people who are weaker. It is a question of a more sophisticated selection process. The more we understand about candidates’ backgrounds and their prior achievements, the better we can judge them on an equal playing field.”

Helen Carasso, acting director of undergraduate admissions, discussing Oxford University’s new affirmative action admissions policy in the London Guardian, July 27, 2006  (See story below.)


Affirmative Action at the University of Oxford

In a controversial decision, Oxford University has announced new guidelines that are aimed at increasing the number of low-income and minority students who are admitted to the university. Under the new procedures, admissions officials will consider the academic record of the schools where candidates for admission spent their pre-college years. Students with high academic qualifications from schools that have not had a history of sending students to Oxford would be given a preference when the university decides which candidates will be granted an interview by admissions officials.


SUNY Cortland Restores Departmental Status to Black Studies

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, student protests resulted in the establishment of black studies programs at colleges and universities throughout the United States. At the State University of New York at Cortland, the black studies department was founded in 1971 but disbanded only four years later in 1975. The university maintained a black studies program and students could major in the subject. But the black studies program lost the prestige, funding, and ability to hire faculty that comes with departmental status.

Now more than 30 years later, SUNY Cortland has restored its black studies department. Seth N. Asumah, a native of Ghana and professor of political science, was named chair of the new department. Now an American citizen, Asumah has served on the university’s faculty for 18 years. He is a graduate of the State University of New York at Oneonta and holds a master’s degree in public administration and a Ph.D. in government and international relations from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Blacks make up less than 3 percent of the student body at SUNY Cortland.


Florida Memorial University Names New President

Florida Memorial University, the historically black educational institution in Miami, named Karl S. Wright as its new president. Dr. Wright has worked at the university for the past 12 years, most recently as executive vice president and provost.

Dr. Wright, a native of Jamaica, is an economist. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree at the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. from Mississippi State University.


A Summer That Texas Southern University Would Like to Forget

Texas Southern University, the historically black educational institution in Houston, has had a difficult summer. The university dismissed President Priscilla Slade claiming she had misspent university funds to refurbish her home. This past week Slade was indicted on charges of misusing state money. Three other former university administrators were also indicted for their roles in facilitating Slade’s spending of university funds.

The university also raised tuition by a whopping 21.5 percent. As a result, enrollments are expected to drop by 7 percent this fall. With the drop in enrollments and rising costs for energy and other supplies, the university now projects an operating deficit of $5 million this year and $13.7 million next year.

The university has laid off 178 employees, 16 percent of the total work force at Texas Southern. Included among the job cuts was the elimination of 67 faculty positions.


Legislators in Brazil Debate Imposing Strict Racial Quota System on Admissions to State-Operated Universities

New laws before the Brazilian Congress will set aside one half of all places at public universities for students who attended state-run secondary schools. In addition, a proportionate number of places at the state-run universities will be reserved for Afro-Brazilians under the new legislation. About 30 state-run universities in Brazil already have voluntarily imposed quotas in order to increase the number of Afro-Brazilians on campus.


In Memoriam

Woodford Roy Porter Sr. (1919-2006)

Woodford Roy Porter Sr., the grandson of slaves and former chair of the board of trustees at the University of Louisville, died late last month. He was 87 years old.

When Porter graduated from Louisville’s Central High School in 1936, he was not eligible for admission to the University of Louisville because of the color of his skin. Instead he enrolled at the University of Indiana. However, before completing his studies, his father died and he was obliged to return to Louisville to run the family’s funeral home business.

Throughout his career Porter was involved in educational and civic groups. He was the first African American to serve on the Louisville Board of Education. Later Porter was named to the board of trustees of the University of Louisville and served a term as board chairman. He sat on the board for a quarter-century. For his longstanding service to the university, in 1984 the trustees created a scholarship program in his name.

Edward Harned Hale (1923-2006)

Edward H. Hale, physician, educator, medical association executive, and photographer, died in his sleep late last month at a hospital in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. He was 82 years old.

Dr. Hale was the son of William Jasper Hale, the founder and president of what is now Tennessee State University, the historically black educational institution in Nashville. Edward Hale graduated from Tennessee State and went on to Meharry Medical School, finishing third in his class in 1945. Hale completed his internship at Harlem Hospital and his residency at Howard University Hospital. He later earned a master’s degree in physiology at the University of Illinois.

After serving as a physician in the Korean War, Hale accepted a position as chief of internal medicine at the Veterans Administration hospital in Pittsburgh. He also opened a private practice in the city, lectured, and founded the Gateway Medical Society, an association of black physicians. Dr. Hale retired in 1996.

Leonard H. Robinson Jr. (1943-2006)

Leonard H. Robinson Jr., professor, diplomat, and advocate for African development, has died from complications of a kidney infection at the Washington Hospital Center in the nation’s capital. He was 63 years old.

Robinson was a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University and did graduate study at the State University of New York at Binghamton, American University, and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

At age 23 Robinson was named associate director of the Peace Corps for India. He developed an interest in African development while working in Kenya and Ghana for Planned Parenthood.

Returning to the United States, Robinson was named deputy assistant secretary of state for Africa in the Reagan administration. He was later appointed to head the African Development Foundation, an organization established by Congress to aid community development projects and entrepreneurial ventures in Africa.

In 2001 Robinson founded the Africa Society, a nonprofit group dedicated to educating Americans about the African continent. The society put together a multidisciplinary package of education materials that was distributed to schools across the United States.

Robinson taught Africana studies at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and in 2004 was named Diplomat Scholar in Residence at the University of Virginia. He also served on the board of trustees of the University of the District of Columbia.

A memorial service will be held this coming Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the National Cathedral in Washington. Former Atlanta mayor and ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young is scheduled to deliver the eulogy.




How Does Spelman College Rate in Selectivity With High-Ranking, Predominantly White Women’s Colleges?

Since 1960 the number of women’s colleges in the United States has dropped by about 75 percent. The difficulty that the nation’s highest-ranking women’s colleges had in attracting students in the late years of the twentieth century is illustrated by the fact that in 1995 Mount Holyoke College accepted more than 61 percent of all women who applied. In 2000 Bryn Mawr College accepted 61.5 percent of all applicants. More than half of all applicants to Smith were accepted. Even Wellesley College, the highest-ranked women’s college, was having a difficult time attracting students. In 2000 Wellesley accepted nearly 43 percent of all applicants. Spelman accepted 53 percent of all applicants in the year 2000. That year the top-ranking coeducational institutions accepted less than 20 percent of all applicants.

But since 2000 selectivity at Spelman and the high-ranking, predominantly white women’s colleges has improved. In 2005 Mount Holyoke accepted 52.3 percent of all applicants. Bryn Mawr improved to 46.3 percent. Smith has stayed about the same at 48 percent. Wellesley accepted 32.8 percent of its applicants in 2005, down from 42.7 percent just five years earlier. Spelman too has seen a vast improvement in its selectivity. Since 2000 Spelman has seen a 39 percent rise in applications. In 2005 Spelman accepted 39 percent of all applicants, down from 53 percent in 2000. Today, Spelman is more selective than three of the four highest-ranked women’s colleges.


Black First-Year Enrollments at the Nation’s Leading Business Schools

JBHE recently completed a survey of black first-year enrollments at the nation’s 28 leading business schools. We received replies from 24 of the 28 schools. We found a total of 291 black first-year students enrolled in the MBA programs at these 24 high-ranking schools. The 291 black students entering business school last fall made up 4.4 percent of all entering students at these schools.

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania had the most black first-year students with 41. Columbia, the University of Michigan, and Stanford were the only other leading business schools that enrolled more than 20 first-year black students.

In terms of the black percentage of the student body, Wharton again leads the pack. More than 10 percent of entering students at Wharton in 2005 were black. Blacks were at least 6 percent of their entering class at six other top business schools. These six business schools were at the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Emory University, and Yale University.

There was only one first-year black student at the business schools at the University of Minnesota and the University of Washington. Overall, there were seven leading business schools where blacks made up less than 2 percent of all first-year students.


The Progress of Blacks in Master’s Degree Attainments

In the 2003-04 academic year blacks earned 50,657 master’s degrees at U.S. colleges and universities. The number of blacks earning a master’s degree was up more than 14 percent from the previous year. Since 2000 the number of blacks earning master’s degrees is up by more than 41 percent. The number of blacks earning master’s degrees has tripled since 1990.

The percentage of all master’s degrees earned by blacks has increased from 5 percent in 1985 to 9.1 percent today.


A 21-Year-Old African-American Law Student Positioned to Make Political History in South Carolina

Bakari Sellers is a 21-year-old African-American student at the University of South Carolina School of Law. But even before he finishes law school, it appears that he will be beginning a new career this fall. After winning the June 13 Democratic primary he is unopposed in the general election this November for the 90th district seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives.

Sellers is the son of Cleveland Sellers, director of the African-American studies program at the University of South Carolina. Bakari Sellers is a graduate of Morehouse College, where he served as student body president.

While speaking to supporters after his primary victory, Sellers said, “They say first-time legislators, well, they tend to be quiet that first session. I don’t plan to be quiet. We’ve been quiet for too long.”


Has Maryland Ended Its Dual System of Higher Education?

The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education is calling on the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights not to remove Maryland’s system of higher education from federal oversight. The Maryland Higher Education Commission says that the state has spent $56.4 million to beef up the state’s four historically black colleges and universities. The commission claims that the state has eliminated “all vestiges of a dual higher education system that once existed in Maryland.”

The coalition, whose members include many members of the faculty at Morgan State University, the historically black educational institution in Baltimore, believes that the state needs to do more to create a more equal educational environment for African Americans.

Of Maryland’s four historically black colleges only the University of Maryland Eastern Shore has achieved any significant degree of nonblack enrollment. Blacks are 75 percent of the student body at the university. Blacks are more than 89 percent of the student body at Bowie State University, Morgan State University, and Coppin State University.

The state’s flagship University of Maryland at College Park is 12 percent black. Blacks make up 28 percent of the population in Maryland.


88%  Percentage of nine-month-old white children in 2002 who lived in the same household as their biological father.

41%  Percentage of nine-month-old African-American children in 2002 who lived in the same household as their biological father.

source: U.S. Department of Education



John Sibley Butler, Herb Kelleher Chair in Entrepreneurship and Small Business at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, was appointed distinguished scholar and adjunct professor at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Butler will teach a course entitled “Creative Destruction and Technology: Bringing New Ideas to Market.” He will also develop curriculum and academic programs for an entrepreneurial incubator project between Babson College and the Olin College of Engineering.

Nels Armstrong was named assistant to the president for special projects at Dartmouth College. Armstrong, who was serving as the college’s director of the Office of Alumni Relations, will now focus on diversity issues.

Barbara A. McKinzie was installed as national president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the nation’s oldest and largest sorority for black women. McKinzie, a certified public accountant, is deputy director of finance and administration for the Chicago Neighborhood Housing Services.

McKinzie joined the sorority in 1973 while enrolled at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. She later earned an MBA from the prestigious Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Melodye Wehrung was named director of social equity at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. She was director of equal opportunity programs and compliance at Harvard University.

Dr. Wehrung holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, all from Southern Illinois University. She also earned an MPA from Harvard University.

Quincy L. Moore was appointed vice president for student services at Palm Beach Community College in Lake Worth, Florida. He was dean of undergraduate studies and student support services for West Chester University in Pennsylvania.

A native of Chicago, Moore is a graduate of Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri. He holds a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and a doctorate in counselor education from the University of Iowa.



Charles E. Butler, professor emeritus of African/African-American studies at the University of Oklahoma, will be inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame this October. The induction ceremony will be held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.



Hampton University, the historically black educational institution in Virginia, received a $289,169 grant from the National Science Foundation to purchase computer equipment for its physics department.

Tuskegee University in Alabama received a $400,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to digitize its vast holdings of historical documents concerning Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, and the Tuskegee Airmen.

Copyright © 2006. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.