Before leaving for their August vacation Congress approved the reauthorization of the Higher Education Opportunity Act which provides for increased funding for the Pell Grant program for low-income students. In addition, there were provisions for:
• $250 million to upgrade the high technology infrastructure at historically black colleges and universities as well as Hispanic serving institutions;
• additional funding for the HBCU Capital Financing program;
• a new YES Partnership Grant to support black and other minority students in science and mathematics degree programs;
• a new program to provide grants for graduate degree programs in the sciences at historically black universities; and
• $170 million to help black colleges and universities expand access, boost retention and graduation rates, and to renovate campus infrastructure.
Black Sorority Holds the Mother of All Banquets
The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the nation’s oldest Greek-letter organization for black women, recently celebrated its 100th anniversary in Washington. To mark the occasion the Mattel toy company distributed a new Barbie Doll dressed in a long evening gown reflecting the sorority’s colors.
At the conclusion of the centennial celebration the sorority held a banquet at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The sorority claims that the banquet was the largest sit-down dinner held at any convention in history. More than 17,600 guests were served. Over 300 cooks prepared three tons of beef filet, and more than two tons of mashed potatoes. The 1,200-person wait staff served 1,800 gallons of pink lemonade. Approximately 3.5 miles of linen tablecloths lined the tables.
Four Finalists Selected for the Frederick Douglass Book Prize
Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition has announced four finalists for its annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize. The $25,000 award is given for what the judges consider the outstanding nonfiction book published in English on the subject of slavery and/or abolition and antislavery movements. More than 70 books were submitted for consideration.
The four finalists are:
• Joining Places: Slave Neighborhoods in the Old South by Anthony E. Kaye (University of North Carolina Press)
• Slavery and the Birth of an African City: Lagos, 1760-1900 by Kristin Mann (Indiana University Press)
• What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War by Chandra Manning (Alfred A. Knopf Publishers)
• Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora by Stephanie E. Smallwood (Harvard University Press)
The award will be announced in September and will be presented at a dinner at the Yale Club in New York City in February.
Black Scholar From Michigan State University to Spend Year at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina
Daina Ramey Berry, a professor of history at Michigan State University, was named a fellow for the 2008-09 academic year at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The fellowship enables scholars to spend time and use the research facilities at the center to complete a specified project. Professor Berry will be completing work on her book Appraised, Bartered, and Sold: The Value of Human Chattels, 1790-1865.
Professor Berry is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles. She also holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in history from UCLA. She is the author of the 2007 book Swing the Sickle for the Harvest Is Ripe: Gender and Slavery in Antebellum Georgia.
Value of Black Scholarships at the University of Virginia Increases by 33 Percent
The Walter N. Ridley Scholarship Fund was established by African-American alumni of the University of Virginia. The endowment fund has grown to $3.6 million.
The fund recently announced that the scholarships would be increased from $7,500 to $10,000. The increase will ensure that the scholarships will cover all tuition and fees for black in-state students at the University of Virginia. Currently 27 black students receive Ridley Scholarships.
In 1953 Walter N. Ridley was the first African American to earn a degree from the University of Virginia. At the time of his admission to the university in 1951, Ridley was 41 years old and was serving as chair of the department of psychology at Virginia State University. He received his educational doctorate two years later. Ridley served for 10 years as president of Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina.
Ridley died in 1996 at the age of 86.
Racial Differences Among Black and White College Students in Consumption of Energy Beverages
So-called energy drinks such as Red Bull or Rockstar contain at least three times the amount of caffeine as regular soft drinks. Some energy drinks have 10 times the caffeine. The energy drink market has grown into a $3 billion annual business in the United States.
A study by Kathleen E. Miller, a sociologist at the University of Buffalo, finds widespread abuse of energy drinks on college campuses, often resulting in students participating in risky behavior.
The study, funded by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that 40 percent of white college students had consumed an energy beverage within the past month. For African-American students, 25 percent had consumed an energy beverage.
Dr. Miller’s study found that students who used energy drinks were more likely to participate in risky behaviors such as having unprotected sex and driving without a seatbelt. White students who used energy drinks were also more likely than other college students to smoke cigarettes, use marijuana, abuse prescription drugs, and participate in binge drinking of alcohol. But black students who used energy drinks were not more likely than other college students to use drugs or alcohol.
44.1% Percentage of white first-year college students in 2004 who participated in community service work.
32.2% Percentage of black first-year college students in 2004 who participated in community service work.
13.6 Among white first-year college students who did community service work, average number of hours spent per month in community service activities.
21.9 Among black first-year college students who did community service work, average number of hours spent per month in community service activities.
source: U.S. Department of Education
• Doris Mitchell was named interim dean of library services at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. She has been associate dean for the past 14 years.
Mitchell is a graduate of Alabama A&M University and holds a master’s degree in library science from Rutgers University.
• Lucian Yates III was named dean of the Whitlowe R. Green College of Education at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. He was an associate professor at the School of Education at Kentucky State University.
Dr. Yates holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Morehead State University and a doctorate from Ohio University.
• John R. Green was named president and dean of the Turner Theological Seminary in Atlanta. He was the pastor of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Tallahassee, Florida.
Dr. Green is a graduate of the University of South Florida in Tampa. He holds a master’s degree from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta and a doctorate in ministry from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.
• Dawn DeVeaux was named assistant to the executive director of enrollment management at Fort Valley State University in Georgia. She has taught public speaking and theatre at the university for the past three years.
Dr. DeVeaux is a graduate of Howard University. She holds a master’s degree from Austin Peay University in Clarkesville, Tennessee, and a doctorate from George Mason University.
• Janet E. Johnson was appointed registrar at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. She was the assistant university registrar at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
Johnson holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida A&M University.
• Billy K. Cannaday Jr. was named dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at the University of Virginia. He was superintendent of public instruction for the state of Virginia.
Dr. Cannaday is a graduate of Virginia Tech. He holds a master’s degree from Hampton University and an educational doctorate from Virginia Tech.
• Evelynn Ellis was appointed director of equal opportunity and affirmative action at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. She was senior director of the office of graduate educational equity programs at Penn State.
Dr. Ellis is a graduate of Concordia College. She holds a master’s degree in music performance and an educational doctorate from Penn State.
• Colin Channer, a Jamaican-born novelist, was named to a three-year term as Newhouse Visiting Professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. He is the author of Waiting in Vain, Satisfy My Soul, and The Girl With the Golden Shoes.
Federal Agency Seeks to Increase Racial Diversity in the Environmental Sciences
There are very few African Americans who study in the environmental sciences. In 2006, the latest year for which statistics are available, there were only eight African Americans who earned a Ph.D. in environmental science in the entire country. During many other years, there were even fewer blacks.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that it has an extremely difficult time finding African Americans for research, outreach, and administrative positions. The EPA is now partnering with several historically black colleges and universities to increase the number of African Americans who will pursue studies in environmental science. The agency is providing a grant to Norfolk State University in Virginia to enable the university to conduct science workshops for local high school students with the goal of getting them interested in the field at an early age.
At nearby Hampton University, the EPA is providing funds and access to agency computer models that will enable graduate students to track the effect of air pollutants on weather and climate change.
The EPA believes that the small number of black specialists in the field hampers efforts to convey to the African-American community the environmental dangers that may be present in their own communities.
“The last great battle over racism will be fought not over access to a lunch counter, or a hotel room, or the right to vote, or even the right to occupy the White House. It will be fought in a laboratory, in a test tube, under a microscope, in our genome, on the battleground of our DNA.”
— Henry Louis Gates Jr., Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, writing in the online publication The Root
A Surge in Black Enrollments in Postsecondary Career and Technical Education Programs
A new report from the Department of Education shows that in 2004 more than 10.6 million Americans were enrolled in postsecondary career and technical education programs. These programs, previously referred to as vocational education, are in such fields as business, computers, electronics, and health services. About half of all students enrolled in these career fields are in four-year bachelor’s degree programs, many in the field of business management.
In 2004 African Americans made up 16.6 percent of all students enrolled in postsecondary career and technical education programs. Thus, there were nearly 1.8 million blacks enrolled in these programs nationwide. In contrast, African Americans were 11.4 percent of all students in college and university academic programs that year.
In 1990 African Americans were 11.6 percent of all students enrolled in postsecondary vocational education programs. Since 1990 the number of black students enrolled in these vocational programs has increased by about 50 percent.
New Task Force to Battle Hate Crimes at the University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks is forming a new task force to review campus policies on hate crimes. The new 17-member committee is charged with developing guidelines for a “rapid response” team that can aid and protect victims of hate crimes. The committee will also look into ways to prevent hate crimes and increase racial tolerance on campus.
Blacks make up one percent of the 10,000-member student body at the University of North Dakota.
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA WILMINGTON
College of Health and Human Services
The University of North Carolina Wilmington seeks applications and nominations for the position of founding Dean of the College of Health and Human Services. UNCW is creating a new, unified administrative unit to lead its efforts to improve the health and wellness of the people and communities of its service region. The Dean of the College of Health and Human Services will lead an interdisciplinary and integrated academic division that includes nursing, social work, and health and applied human sciences. As the head of the college, the dean will work collaboratively with faculty from these units to ensure a comprehensive, coherent, challenging, and interdisciplinary curriculum; an excellent faculty; focused research; exemplary teaching and learning practices; and innovative and sustainable regional engagement and application.
UNCW, one of sixteen constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina, has a student population of over 12,000 and for ten consecutive years has been ranked in the top ten of public master's universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report. For the fourth consecutive year, UNCW has received the "Best in the Southeast" designation by The Princeton Review. Further information about UNCW can be found at http://www.uncw.edu/facts and http://www.uncw.edu/www/rankings.html. Located in the historic, coastal, seaport community of Wilmington, the university is ideally situated between the Cape Fear River and Atlantic Ocean. Wilmington has an active arts, cultural, and business environment and nearby beach communities serve both year round residents and vacationers.
For more information, including qualifications and application instructions, please visit http://www.uncw.edu/hr/dean.html. Priority consideration will be given to online applications received by September 26, 2008, but they will be accepted until the position is filled. EEO/AA Employer
University Study Finds That Racial Prejudice Produces a Far Different Reaction in the Brain Than Other Types of Personal Snubs
A study conducted by researchers at UCLA has found that people are more offended by personal snubs and criticisms than they are by racial prejudice. The experiment involved black and white students who played a computer ball-tossing game while connected to brain scans.
A black student was matched with two white students while playing the computer game. After a while, the white students were told to ignore the black student and only toss the ball to each other. The brain scans showed that this “insult” generated activity in the part of the brain involving self-control and contemplation.
But when a white student was the subject and two other white students ignored the test subject by not tossing him the ball, brain activity was observed in the part of the brain associated with physical pain and severe mental conflict.
Researchers concluded victims of racial prejudice experience a far different reaction in the brain than other types of social rejection.
Brandeis University Study Demonstrates the Fragility of the Black Middle Class
A new report from the Institute for Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University and the policy center Demos has found that for many blacks in the middle class, their economic situation is extremely fragile. In fact, according to the study, only 26 percent of black middle-class families have the assets, income, and education level to have a solid position above the poverty level. A full third of black middle-class families are at high risk of losing their middle-class status.
The study found that 95 percent of all black middle-class families do not have the assets to meet three quarters of their essential living expenses for three months should their sources of income be disrupted.
Proposal in Texas Would Shut Out Many Low-Income, College-Bound Blacks From Scholarship Grants
The Toward Excellence, Access & Success (TEXAS) Grant Program was established by the Texas legislature in 1999 and signed into law by then-Governor George W. Bush. The program provides need-based aid for college-bound students. Since its inception, approximately 200,000 students have received TEXAS grants. A large percentage of these students have been black or Hispanic.
But with rapidly rising tuition at state universities, the demand for the scholarship grants has far outpaced the funding the legislature provided for the program. In 2007, 52,000 students received TEXAS grants, but this was less than 60 percent of the students eligible to receive the grants.
There is now a proposal in the Texas legislature to raise the merit component of the TEXAS grant program. Under the plan, to qualify for a grant, students would have to score at least 1350 on the reading and mathematics sections of the SAT, place in the top 50 percent of their high school class, and pass a rigorous college-prep high school curriculum.
Rodney Ellis, a state senator from Houston who wrote the original legislation establishing the program, says that half of the students in his district who currently receive TEXAS grants would no longer be eligible under the new academic standards.
Barbara Ann Teer (1937-2008)
Barbara Ann Teer, the founder of the National Black Theatre in Harlem, died late last month at her home in New York City. She was 71 years old.
Teer, a native of East St. Louis, Illinois, enrolled at Bennett College for Women at the age of 16. After one year at the historically black college, she transferred to the University of Illinois, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in dance education.
She appeared in several Broadway productions but became disenchanted with the roles available to black women. As a result, in 1968 she founded the National Black Theatre.
Teer held honorary doctorates from Southern Illinois University and the University of Rochester. For a brief time, she was married to comedian Godfrey Cambridge.
Honors and Awards
• Czerny Brasuell, dean of multicultural affairs at Bates College in Maine, was named Administrator of the Year by Amandla!, the black student organization on campus.
• Ronald L. Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, was presented with the Presidential Award of Distinction at the summer commencement exercises of Morehouse College in Atlanta. Dr. Carter is a 1971 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College.
• Walgreens, the nation’s largest drug store chain, has announced plans to donate $10,000 annually to each of the 111 accredited pharmacy schools in the United States for efforts to promote racial diversity in their student bodies. More than $1.1 million will be earmarked for this program each year.
• The University of Illinois at Chicago received a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish a center to help black colleges and universities obtain funding for research projects that serve students with disabilities.
• South Carolina State University, the historically black educational institution in Orangeburg, received a $200,000 grant from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a scholarship program for students pursuing degrees in nuclear engineering or radiological sciences.