New Study Shows That Blacks Have Narrowed the IQ Gap

A new Brookings Institution study finds that blacks have narrowed the IQ gap by about one third over the past 30 years.

The study, coauthored by William T. Dickens of the Brookings Institution and James R. Flynn of the University of Otago in New Zealand, found that blacks have shaved 5 or 6 points off the standard 15-point IQ gap that most previous studies had found between blacks and whites.

Professor Flynn is well known for producing evidence that today’s generation scores 20 to 30 points higher on IQ tests than did its parents and grandparents. This so-called Flynn Effect is widely accepted.

In the nurture versus nature debate, the new study points the finger toward environmental causes. An evolutionary genetic change can take thousands of generations to take hold. A genetic mutation in the intelligence of an individual or even a small group could not be spread to a large population in a short time of a generation or two. As a result, it is logical to conclude that environmental factors are responsible for the fact that the people of today are smarter than their immediate ancestors. Factors such as improved nutrition, better prenatal and infant care, an increased level of sanitary conditions, less toxins such as lead paint in the environment, and smaller family size may well be responsible for the overall improvement in IQ scores. From this, it is a rather small leap to conclude that because blacks have been on the short end of many of these environmental factors, their IQ scores will, on average, be lower than white scores. It may also explain why over the past 30 years blacks have narrowed the IQ gap as more economic and educational opportunities have been opened to them.


“Blacks have gained 5 or 6 IQ points over the last 30 years. The constancy of the black/white IQ gap is a myth.”

William T. Dickens of the Brookings Institution and James R. Flynn of the University of Otago in New Zealand, writing in the journal Psychological Science


No Gains of Black Faculty at the Nation’s Leading Business Schools

A JBHE survey of the nation’s leading business schools has identified 62 black professors at the 22 business schools that supplied data to the JBHE research department. These 62 black faculty members make up 2.5 percent of the total of 2,506 faculty members at these schools. In two previous JBHE surveys in 1999 and 2003, we found that blacks made up 2.7 percent of all faculty at the top business schools. Therefore, in the past several years there has been no progress in increasing the percentage of black faculty at the nation’s leading business schools. In fact there has been a slight reduction in the percentage of black faculty at these schools.

There are seven black faculty members at the business school at the University of Texas, the most of any of the business schools responding to our survey. There are six black faculty members at the business schools at the University of Michigan and the University of Southern California. There are three black faculty members at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In our previous survey there were no blacks on the business school faculty at MIT.

The JBHE survey found that there are no black faculty members at the business schools at the University of Rochester or the University of California at Berkeley. There is only one black faculty member each at the business schools at Purdue, Chapel Hill, Cornell, and the University of Minnesota.

Georgetown University has the highest percentage of black faculty among the leading business schools at 6.6 percent. At Dartmouth, the University of Texas, and the University of Michigan, blacks make up at least 4 percent of the total faculty. At all of the other leading business schools, the black percentage of the faculty is below 4 percent.

Fourteen of the 22 highest-ranked business schools in our survey have a black percentage of their total faculty that stands at 3 percent or less. At nine leading business schools, blacks make up less than 2 percent of the total faculty. At New York University only two of the 220 faculty members are black. NYU is one of four leading business schools where blacks are less than one percent of the faculty.


Divide and Conquer: White Man Wins Democratic Primary in Predominantly Black Congressional District

In the Tennessee Democratic primary earlier this month, moderate African-American Congressman Harold Ford easily won the nomination for the U.S. Senate. He will face GOP candidate Bob Corker, the former mayor of Chattanooga, this coming November. The seat is currently held by Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is contemplating a run for the presidency in 2008. Ford is a decided underdog in the race for the Senate seat. On his campaign website, we note that Ford does not address educational issues.

In the race for Ford’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, 13 black candidates entered the Democratic primary. In addition, there was one white candidate, state senator Steve Cohen. With the black vote heavily divided, Cohen won the Democratic primary with only 29 percent of the vote. On his website, Cohen’s only focus on education concerns his support for the state’s HOPE scholarships, a merit-based program that disproportionately benefits white students. Cohen will face a white GOP candidate in the fall.

There is still hope for blacks to hold this seat in Congress. Congressman Ford’s brother, Jake Ford, has filed as an independent candidate in the race. Because the electorate is predominantly black and the Ford name is well known in the district, a victory by an independent candidate is a real possibility.


The Higher Education of the Man Who Derailed Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s Reelection Bid

In last week’s runoff primary, Hank Johnson, a DeKalb County commissioner, easily defeated incumbent Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in the Democratic primary for Georgia’s Fourth District. McKinney, a highly controversial figure, came under fire earlier this year after she scuffled with a Capitol Hill police officer.

A criminal defense attorney, Johnson is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University. He earned his law degree at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston.

Johnson will be the heavy favorite this November in the race against Catherine Davis, an African American who won the GOP nomination. Davis completed a double major in psychology and education in just three years at Tufts University, graduating magna cum laude. She went on to earn a law degree at the University of Bridgeport.


After Five Years of a Ban on Postseason College Sports, South Carolina Remains Defiant and Continues to Fly the Confederate Flag at the State Capitol

In 2001 the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced a ban on scheduling postseason college athletic championship events or tournaments in the state of South Carolina. The action was taken because South Carolina continues to fly the Confederate battle flag on the grounds of the state capitol building.

The ban resulted in Greenville’s losing a basketball regional competition in 2002, and the NCAA cross-country championships, which had been held on the campus of Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, are taking place elsewhere.

Now, because the flag is still flown at the state capitol, the Black Coaches Association is asking the NCAA to go even further. Currently colleges and universities in South Carolina can still hold individual playoff or championship games on their campuses if they qualify to do so under regular NCAA rules. But under the new plan, South Carolina colleges and universities would have to play these games on the road in another state.


Black-Only Scholarship Established at New Medical School

Robert Morris University near Pittsburgh is in the process of establishing a school of osteopathic medicine. Osteopathic medical training includes a traditional curriculum but with an emphasis on primary, community-based care. When the new medical school opens, its first class of entering students is assured of having at least one African American who aspires to a medical career.

Gregory R. Spencer, a real estate entrepreneur and a member of the university’s board of trustees, has established a scholarship for an entering student. The gift of the funds comes with a stipulation that in awarding scholarship dollars preference must be given to a black student who is interested in practicing in underserved communities.


The Higher Education of the Most Powerful Black Woman in Publishing

Thomson Corp. is one of the most powerful and influential media companies in the world. It regularly provides information products and services to more than 20 million professionals worldwide. The company, with 40,000 employees in 45 countries, has annual revenues of nearly $9 billion.

The general counsel of this media giant is a black woman. Since coming to Thomson in 2002, Deirdre Stanley has presided over a legal department of 48 attorneys. Her team of nine mergers and acquisitions lawyers has completed 119 acquisitions totaling $1.8 billion. \

A native of Huntsville, Alabama, Stanley is a graduate of Duke University and Harvard Law School. She also spent a year at the London School of Economics. Before coming to Thomson, Stanley was a corporate attorney for the prestigious firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore. She later headed the mergers and acquisitions department at GTE and was deputy general counsel for the USA cable television network.



Edward Taylor was named vice provost and dean of undergraduate education at the University of Washington. He will continue to serve as an associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the university.

Dr. Taylor is a graduate of Gonzaga University, where he also earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology. He earned his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Washington.

Nicole M. Evans was named director of admissions at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio. She is the first African American and the first alumna of the university to hold the position.

Evans earned an MBA from Ohio State University.

Major Addition to the Gates Millennium Scholarship Program

In 1999 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation established the $1 billion Millennium Scholars program for low-income and minority youth seeking a college education. The scholarship program is administered by the United Negro College Fund but it is open to low-income African Americans, American Indians, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans. Since its inception, more than 10,000 minority students have received scholarship grants from the program.

Now the foundation has endowed the program with an additional $58 million to help minority students seeking graduate degrees in public health. Graduate students seeking degrees in epidemiology, biomedical science, tropical diseases, public health practice, and nutritional science will be eligible for the new scholarships.


University of Michigan Increases Grant Money for Low-Income Students

The University of Michigan announced this past week an expansion of its M-PACT financial aid program. Under the new plan, students from low-income families will have their student loans replaced by outright scholarship grants. The new program is expected to save about 400 low-income students about $5,000 per year.

The university has launched a $60 million campaign to establish an endowment which will fund the M-PACT program. The M-PACT grants, which supplement traditional financial aid packages at the university, total about $3 million annually.

There are about 2,000 black undergraduate students at the University of Michigan. They make up close to 8 percent of the student body.


Blacks Gaining in Professional Degree Attainments

In the 2003-04 academic year, blacks earned 5,930 professional degrees. These include degrees in medicine, law, dentistry, and several other fields. Blacks received 7.1 percent of all professional degrees awarded in the United States that year.

The number of blacks earning professional degrees has increased at a slow but steady rate in recent years, but there was a far more rapid pace of improvement in the early 1990s. Law and medical degree awards, the two disciplines with the most professional degrees, have seen a drop-off in blacks in recent years. There have been significant professional degree gains by blacks in pharmacy, podiatry, and divinity.

More than 2,900 African Americans earned a law degree in the 2003-04 academic year, making up 7.3 percent of all law degree recipients and nearly half of all blacks who earned a professional degree. More than 1,000 black students earned a medical degree, making up 6.8 percent of all medical school graduates. Blacks made up nearly 14 percent of all students who earned a professional degree at divinity schools.

Blacks continue to have a very small presence in professional degree awards in dentistry, osteopathic medicine, optometry, chiropractic medicine, and veterinary medicine.


Black Employment at U.S. Colleges and Universities Drops Over the Past Decade

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education finds that in 2003 there were 304,488 African Americans employed by American institutions of higher education. This includes blacks who hold faculty, administrative, clerical, and service positions as well as all other employment categories at U.S. colleges and universities. Blacks made up 9.8 percent of all employees at colleges and universities nationwide.

While the number of black employees at U.S. colleges and universities increased nearly 14 percent since 1993, blacks were actually a smaller percentage of the overall higher education work force in 2003 than they were in 1993. In 1993 blacks were 10.5 percent of all employees at higher education institutions.


New Department of Education Racial Classifications Will Likely Produce a Drop in Number of “Blacks” on College and University Campuses

In the 2000 Census, for the first time, Americans were given the option of checking a box designating that they were biracial. Now the U.S. Department of Education has issued a draft proposal for a new system on how colleges and universities collect data on the racial makeup of their student bodies. Educational institutions receiving any federal financial assistance are required to file annual reports with the Department of Education on the racial makeup of their students.

Under the new system, students will be permitted to check more than one box among the racial groups listed on application forms. In making their reports to the Department of Education, colleges and universities would then lump all students who checked more than one box into a new category called “two or more races.”

It is likely that under the new guidelines the reported percentage of blacks in the student body at many colleges and universities will drop. This is because many students with one white parent and one black parent, or three black grandparents and one white grandparent have typically self-identified themselves as black, in accordance with the traditional “one-drop rule” of American racial designations. These students may now choose to check both the “white” and “black” boxes on application forms and be assigned to the “two or more races category.” This will decrease the number of “black” students in reports sent to the Department of Education, making it difficult to make historical comparisons and to track the progress of African Americans in higher education.


25.9%  Percentage of all African Americans over the age of 17 in 1991 who had taken some kind of adult education course over the previous 12 months.

43.3%  Percentage of all African Americans over the age of 17 in 2001 who had taken some kind of adult education course over the previous 12 months.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Basketball Star Kobe Bryant Funds Study-Abroad Program for African-American and Hispanic College Students

Kobe Bryant, the young African-American superstar of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, went straight from high school to professional basketball. But Bryant is helping other African Americans increase their educational opportunities.

Bryant’s Vivo Foundation is sponsoring a nine-day, all-expenses-paid educational trip to Italy for four black and four Hispanic college students. The students will visit Rome, Venice, and Florence in Italy. Bryant spent eight years in Italy as a child when his father played basketball in an Italian professional league.


In Memoriam

Harold Russell Scott Jr. (1935-2006)

Harold Scott, an award-winning actor, producer, and director and former head of the directing program at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, died late last month at his home in Newark, New Jersey. He was 70 years old.

Scott was a native of Morristown, New Jersey, but went to high school at Philips Exeter Academy. He later went on to graduate from Harvard College.

Scott had already made his mark on the New York stage when in 1972 he became the first African American to be named director of a major regional theater, the Cincinnati Playhouse. He later directed four Broadway shows. Scott continued working in the theater during the time he was at Rutgers University. He was on the faculty for nearly two decades.

Robert Gex (1935-2006)

Robert Gex, the former chancellor of Southern University in New Orleans, died from heart disease late last month at a hospital in Henderson, Nevada.

Gex led the New Orleans campus of Southern University for eight years from 1989 to 1997. In the fall of 2005 he was once again called upon to take the helm of the university after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city and the Southern University campus.

Dr. Gex was a native of New Orleans and a graduate of Xavier University, the historically black educational institution in the city. He went on to earn a master’s degree in French from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. in romance languages from the University of Missouri.

On two occasions he was a Fulbright Scholar studying French and teaching American studies at the University of Clermont-Ferrand in France. He joined the Southern University faculty in 1963 and served as dean of the Evening and Weekend college before becoming deputy chancellor and later chancellor.

Loretta Myrtle Butler (1915-2006)

Loretta Butler, a former professor of education and long-time civil rights advocate, died late last month from kidney failure at a hospital in Takoma Park, Maryland. She was 91 years old.

A graduate of Miner Teachers College, which was absorbed into the University of the District of Columbia, Butler went on to earn a master’s degree and an educational doctorate from Catholic University in Washington. After teaching in the public schools in New Orleans, Butler took faculty positions at Paine College, Xavier University, and Roosevelt University in Chicago.

After retiring from teaching, Butler developed the Black Catholic History Project for the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice in Washington. She was the author of three books and numerous articles on social justice issues.


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