The Critical Role of Pell Grants in Black Higher Education

The U.S. Department of Education recently published a new report that includes important data by race on Pell Grant recipients. For more than 30 years Pell Grants have been providing low-income students with as much as $5,300 per year for college. Named for former Rhode Island senator Claiborne Pell, the grant program is by far the most important federal program for assisting low-income blacks attain higher education.

The new data shows that of all Pell Grant recipients who graduated from college in the 1999-2000 academic year, 11.8 percent were black. For all students who graduated from college that year who did not receive Pell Grants, only 5.8 percent were black. This shows the vital role of Pell Grants for African Americans in higher education.

For college graduates who received Pell Grants, 63.8 percent of African Americans completed their bachelor’s degree program within six years. For white college graduates who received Pell Grants, 62.6 percent completed their degree in six years. For black college graduates who did not receive a Pell Grant, 61.7 percent completed college in six years. For white college graduates who did not receive Pell Grants, 79.3 percent graduated within six years.

Another statistic of interest in the report is that for African-American college graduates who received a Pell Grant, 31.6 percent were enrolled in graduate school a year later. Only 24 percent of white college graduates who benefited from the Pell Grant program were enrolled in graduate school one year after earning their bachelor’s degree.



Oregon Legislation Requires That a Minority Candidate Be Interviewed for Head Coaching Jobs at State-Operated Universities

As the college football season is about to get under way, there are seven African-American head coaches at the 120 colleges and universities that make up Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Thus, blacks hold less than 6 percent of the head coaching jobs in major college football. In contrast, African Americans make up about 55 percent of the football players at these 120 schools.

In 2003, under a proposal pushed by Dan Rooney, CEO of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the National Football League began requiring teams with coaching vacancies to seek minority candidates and to interview at least one black or minority candidate before a head coach is hired. Since this so-called Rooney Rule was enacted, the number of black head coaches has increased significantly. No such Rooney Rule exists in college football.

At the University of Oregon the head coach stepped down at the end of last year and was immediately replaced by the offensive coordinator. Both men are white. As a result, the state of Oregon has passed a law requiring state-operated colleges and universities to interview a minority candidate for every open head coaching position. Similar legislation has been proposed in other states.


Historically Black Paul Quinn College Fights For Its Life

In June, Paul Quinn College, the historically black educational institution in Dallas, was notified that it had lost its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The accrediting agency cited financial and academic problems for its decision.

The loss of accreditation is often the death knell for a college or university. Students at schools without accreditation are not eligible for federal or state financial aid. More than 80 percent of the student body at Paul Quinn College receives federal Pell Grants for low-income students.

The college is not going down without a fight. It is appealing the decision which stripped the college of accreditation. The school has also established a new Web site to raise money to shore up the college’s finances. Visitors to the site are able to see a list of people who have contributed to the effort and can make an online donation by credit card. Supporters can also sign up for an e-mail newsletter to keep them abreast of developments in the effort to save the college.


British Universities Required to Pay Greater Attention to Racial Diversity

The United Kingdom’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (OFSTED) has issued new guidelines for the U.K.’s institutions of higher learning. Beginning this September, colleges and universities will be rated on their success in achieving equality of opportunity and racial and ethnic diversity as part of their overall score on efficiency and effectiveness in providing quality higher education. Colleges and universities that are found lacking in diversity will receive a lower overall score. This may hamper these schools’ ability to recruit students.

But some colleges and universities in the United Kingdom believe that the new rating system may be unfair. Schools that are located in primarily white rural areas of the country question whether they can effectively recruit blacks and minorities from urban neighborhoods.

One reason for this concern is that it has not been disclosed how the diversity and equality ratings will be calculated. The draft proposal seems to endorse strong affirmative action measures. The guidelines state, “Equality and diversity include social and educational inclusion and take equality of opportunity further than equal access to participation.”


College Campuses Where There Is Frequent Interaction Among the Races

All of the 371 colleges and universities covered in this year’s Best Colleges from The Princeton Review have strong academic credentials. But The Princeton Review rates these schools on a wide variety of measures including best food, nicest dormitories, and most friendly to alternative lifestyles.

The Princeton Review also rates these 371 colleges and universities on interaction between the races. This year’s list of the colleges and universities with “lots of interaction between the races” is headed by the University of Miami. The university has a diverse student body. Whites are 47 percent of the student body. Blacks are 8 percent of all undergraduate students.

Other schools with solid racial interaction between students include Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Stanford University, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Also included in the top 10 schools are Beloit College, Pitzer College, The College of Idaho, Mount Holyoke College, and Oglethorpe University.


Florida A&M College of Law Wins Full Accreditation

The College of Law at historically black Florida A&M University has received full accreditation from the American Bar Association’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. The law school now becomes the 189th fully accredited law school in the nation.

The FAMU College of Law originally operated as a racially segregated institution. It admitted its first students in 1951. In 1966 the Florida legislature voted to close the institution after the state was ordered to admit blacks to predominantly white law schools in the state. From 1954 to 1968, only 57 students earned a law degree at FAMU. The College of Law was reestablished in 2000 and enrolled its first students in 2002. It received provisional accreditation from the ABA in 2004.

The latest data shows that 265 black students are enrolled at the FAMU College of Law. African Americans make up 46.5 percent of all enrollments.


84,000  Total number of black students enrolled in graduate school in 1990.

263,000  Total number of black students enrolled in graduate school in 2007.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


Appointments, Promotions & Resignations

• Seth Markle was named assistant professor of history and international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. A graduate of Tufts University, he recently finished his doctoral work at New York University.

• Alfred D. Mathewson, professor of law at the University of New Mexico, has been appointed acting director of the Africana studies program at the university. Professor Mathewson was first hired to the law school faculty in 1983.

Mathewson is a 1975 graduate of Howard University. He received his law degree at Yale University.

• Denisha L. Hendricks was named director of athletics at Kentucky State University. She was assistant director of athletics for internal operations at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Dr. Hendricks is a graduate of the University of South Carolina. She holds master’s and doctoral degrees in education from Auburn University.

• Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College, has been elected vice chair of the board of trustees of the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education.

Dr. Tatum is a graduate of Wesleyan University. She holds a master’s degree from the Hartford Seminary and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan.

• Wanda J. Blanchett has been appointed dean of the School of Education at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. She will also hold the Ewing Marion Kauffman Endowed Chair in Teacher Education. Dr. Blanchett was associate professor and associate dean at the School of Education & Human Development at the University of Colorado at Denver.

Dr. Blanchett is a 1990 graduate of the University of Central Arkansas. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Central Arkansas and a doctorate in special education from Penn State.

• Arlene Montgomery has been promoted to dean of the Hampton University School of Nursing. She was assistant dean for academic affairs at the nursing school.

Dean Montgomery holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Hampton University and a doctoral degree from Old Dominion University.


Grants and Gifts

• Fayetteville State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina, received a $50,000 donation from alumna Annette Cluff. She is the founder of a group of charter schools in the Houston area. The money will be used for student scholarships. The donation is the largest ever received by the university from a former student.

• Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania received a donation from alumnus Jahri Evans, a member of the National Football League’s New Orleans Saints. The money will be used to launch a scholarship for an out-of-state minority student who is pursuing a master’s degree in clinical athletic training.

Three historically black colleges and universities in South Carolina will participate in a five-year, $20 million grant program with several predominantly white educational institutions. The money, provided by the National Science Foundation, will fund a research alliance whose goal will be to fabricate human tissue and organs. Participating black colleges are Claflin University, Voorhees College, and South Carolina State University.

For breaking news and previews of upcoming articles


Historic Appointment Will Not Change the Direction of the Court on Affirmative Action or Other Issues of Importance to African Americans

This past week Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the 111th justice of the Supreme Court. All Democratic senators and nine Republicans voted to confirm Sotomayor.

Sotomayor was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts this past weekend. She is the third woman and first Hispanic justice in Court history.

It is important to note that the Sotomayor appointment will not change the direction of the Court in cases dealing with voting rights, affirmative action, school segregation, or civil rights. The justice she is replacing, David Souter, almost always came down on the side of protecting the concerns and opportunities of blacks and other minorities.


“I offered to get his kids into Harvard if he doesn’t arrest me anymore.”

— Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., joking about his White House meeting with James Crowley, the police officer who arrested him outside Gates’ Cambridge home


Young African Americans Who Are Helping to End the Racial Stereotype That Blacks Are Not Capable of High-Level Scientific Research

Barack Obama has announced the 100 winners of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). This year it appears that seven of the 100 winners are African Americans.

Winners are selected based on two criteria: pursuit of innovative research on the frontiers of science or technology and a dedication to community service. Grant awards are for five years and they may be valued as high as $1 million. Several federal departments and agencies including the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health nominate scholars for these awards.

Here are the seven young black scientists honored for their achievements and whose research will be supported by government agencies over the next five years. There are two women in the group. Both are graduates of Spelman College.

• Monica F. Cox is an assistant professor of engineering education at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Professor Cox’s research focuses on understanding how best to prepare graduate engineering students for the transition to careers once they have completed their degrees.

• John O. Dabiri is an assistant professor of aeronautics and bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology. In recent years his research has centered on the movement of jellyfish and fluid dynamics. His investigation in bio-inspired propulsion recently earned him an award from the Office of Naval Research.

• Joel L. Dawson is an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Dawson’s research centers on circuits for communications systems and medical applications.

• Thomas H. Epps III is an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Delaware. His research is concerned with designing novel nanostructured materials and ion-conducting membranes for use in clean energy development.

• Roland G. Fryer Jr. is the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard University. In 2008, at the age of 30, Dr. Fryer won tenure at Harvard. He is the youngest African American to win tenure at Harvard.  Professor Fryer is also a research associate at the National Bureau for Economic Research.

• Lynford L. Goddard is an assistant professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois. His primary research involves building high-speed chip-scale monolithic photonic systems. He currently teaches courses in electromagnetic fields and on principles of experimental research.

• Adrienne D. Stiff-Roberts is an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University. Her research involves the design, fabrication, and characterization of opto-electronic/photonic devices, particularly those in the infrared spectrum. She also does research on multifunctional sensors featuring hybrid nanomaterials.


Morehouse College’s King Papers Collection to Be Exhibited at Atlanta’s Proposed Center for Civil and Human Rights

The Atlanta City Council has floated a bond issue to repay a $32 million loan it took in 2006 to purchase the papers of Martin Luther King Jr. from the King family. The collection, which includes more than 10,000 documents, is housed at the Robert W. Woodruff Library at the Atlanta University Center.

Under an agreement, ownership of the papers will be transferred to Morehouse College, King’s alma mater. But the city of Atlanta will have the right to exhibit the documents at its new Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta next to the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola museum.

The cost of the civil rights center is estimated to be $125 million. Only $50 million has been raised to date. Officials hope to have the center completed by 2012.


The Higher Education of the New Director of the Minority Business Development Agency

David Hinson, president and CEO of Wealth Management Network Inc., a financial advisory firm based in New York City, was named by President Obama as director of the Minority Business Development Agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce. Previously, he was director of advisory services and managing director of business development for Envestnet Asset Management, a financial firm with more than $70 billion in assets.

Hinson is a graduate of Howard University. He holds an MBA in finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.



In Memoriam

Samuel E. Kelly Sr. (1926-2009)

Samuel E. Kelly, a longtime educator and university administrator, died of congestive heart failure last month at his home in Redmond, Washington. He was 83 years old.

Dr. Kelly was a native of Greenwich, Connecticut. He entered the Army in 1944 and remained in the service for 22 years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. While in the service he earned two bachelor’s degrees at West Virginia State College and a master’s degree in history from Marshall University.

After leaving the Army in 1966, Kelly joined the history department faculty at Everett Junior College in Washington State. He was the first African American to hold a faculty position at a state-operated community college in the state. In 1970 Kelly was hired as vice president for minority affairs at the University of Washington. He later served as special assistant to the university president. During his tenure as an administrator at the University of Washington, he earned his doctorate in higher education at the university. He was then hired to a tenured faculty position at the university’s College of Education.

George Allan Russell (1923-2009)

George Russell, the innovative jazz composer and music educator, has died in Boston from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 86 years old.

A native of Cincinnati, Russell made his first appearance on stage at age 7. He attended historically black Wilberforce University in Ohio.

His musical compositions were recorded by such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane. After spending seven years in Europe, Russell returned to the United States in 1969 to take a faculty position at the New England Conservatory of Music. He taught there until his retirement in 2004.


Honors and Awards

• Sacramento City College and Los Angeles Valley College received the John W. Rice Diversity and Equity Award from the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. The award is given to California community colleges that have successfully advanced diversity in staff, faculty, and student enrollments.

The award is named for John W. Rice, the longtime educator who served for eight years on the board of governors of the California community college system. Rice, who died in 2000, was the father of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Dr. Rice is currently a professor of political science at Stanford University and also the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution. She was on hand in Sacramento when the awards were made.

• Edgar Johnson, diversity initiatives specialist at the State University Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York, received the 2009 Award for Excellence from the SUNY Council for University Advancement. Johnson has been honored for his work in the marrow donor and clinical trials recruitment and education program.

• Isaiah McGee, chair of the department of music at Claflin University in South Carolina, received the 2009 Excellence in Teaching Award from the association of South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities. Professor McGee has been on the Claflin faculty since 1997.

• Chuck Harris, a surgeon practicing in a rural area in southwest Virginia, received the Catharine Lealtad Award from Macalester College. The award is given annually to an alumnus/a of color who has distinguished him- or herself through service to the community.


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