Study Finds Snail-Like Progress in Black Enrollments at the Nation’s Selective Colleges

In 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Grutter case that narrowly tailored, race-sensitive admissions programs could still be used to create greater diversity in the student bodies of the nation’s colleges and universities. But a new study by Mike Mills, associate provost for university enrollment at Northwestern University, finds that since the Grutter decision, very little progress has been made in increasing the number of black students at the nation’s highest-ranked educational institutions.

The research, published in the summer issue of the Journal of College Admission, examined black student enrollments at 146 colleges and universities rated “most selective” and “highly selective” in the Barron’s Guide to Colleges. The results showed that in 2003, the year of the Grutter decision, blacks made up 5.3 percent of total enrollments at these 146 colleges. Five years later, the black percentage of total enrollments had increased to only 5.5 percent. (Note: Today, blacks are 13 percent of total enrollments in higher education.)


Professor’s New Book Examines the History of Blacks in Comic Books

William H. Foster III is a professor of English and communications at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, Connecticut. When Foster was growing up in Philadelphia in the 1950s, he had been an avid comic book reader and collector. But he was aware of the fact that there were very few black characters in comic books. When they did appear, he noted they reflected the racial stereotypes of American society. Blacks were portrayed as buffoons, criminals, or even cannibals.

Now Professor Foster has authored a new book — Dreaming of a Face Like Ours (Fine Tooth Press) — documenting the history of blacks in comics. He also has put together a traveling exhibit called “The Changing Face of Blacks in Comics,” which has been displayed at museums and libraries.

Professor Foster is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and holds a master’s degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.



Three University Museums Receive Grants to Help Them Archive, Preserve, or Present African-American Collections

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has announced 14 grants totaling $1,485,000 for the purpose of preserving and sharing African-American history. The grants support professional training, internships, and technical assistance programs to institutions that are preserving and showcasing African-American historical exhibits.

Among the 14 grantees are three universities, including two historically black institutions:

• Texas Southern University in Houston received a grant to train professional staff in digitizing works of art.

• Virginia State University received a grant to help fund the expansion of its museum in the Old Towne area of Petersburg.

• A grant will help fund the University of Maryland’s processing of the 50,000-piece David C. Driskell Archive of African American Art.


Summer Academy at Carnegie Mellon University Has Been a Valuable Tool to Recruit Black and Other Minority Students

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh recently completed the tenth year of its Summer Academy for Mathematics and Science. Students come to Pittsburgh from across the United States to participate in an intensive two-week program where they take courses and conduct research in computer science, mathematics, engineering, and other sciences. Students also attend seminars to help them prepare for SAT and ACT college admission tests and to navigate the college admission process. There is no tuition or room and board costs for students accepted into the program.

This summer 55 new students and 15 returning students were accepted into the Summer Academy from a group of 730 applicants. Most of the students in the program are black, Hispanic, or American Indian.

Over the 10-year period since the inception of the Summer Academy more than 800 high school students have attended the program. And 83 alumni of the program have later enrolled at the university.


Black Freshman Enrollments Surge at Colby College

While many high-ranking colleges are making slow progress in increasing black enrollments (see lead story in left column), Colby College in Waterville, Maine, is on a roll. In 2008 there were eight black first-year students at the college. They made up a mere 1.8 percent of the freshman class.

A year ago in 2009 there were 18 black freshmen, an increase of 125 percent. That year blacks were 3.8 percent of entering students.

This year black applicants to Colby College increased to 181 compared to 124 a year ago. This fall 36 black students are entering Colby College, double the number of a year ago. Black student yield increased from 32.7 percent to 43.9 percent. Blacks make up 7.3 percent of entering students.

Over the course of the past two years the number of black freshmen at Colby increased from eight to 36, a rise of 350 percent.



In Memoriam

Burke “Mickey” Syphax (1910-2010)

Burke Syphax, the former head of the department of surgery at the Howard University College of Medicine, died last month from kidney failure at Howard University Hospital. He was 99 years old.

Dr. Syphax was a native of Washington, D.C. He traced his roots to Maria Syphax, the daughter of the adopted son of George Washington and a black slave.

Dr. Syphax graduated from Howard University in 1932 and from the university’s medical school in 1936. He became head of the surgery department at Howard in 1957, seven years after the death of Charles S. Drew, who held that position at the time of his death. Syphax served as head of the surgery department until 1970. He remained on the medical school faculty until his retirement in 1978.

Kenneth Harlan Simmons (1933-2010)

Kenneth Simmons, professor emeritus of architecture at the University of California, died last month in Johannesburg, South Africa, after a battle with cancer. He was 77 years old.

Professor Simmons was a native of Oklahoma. His father made a fortune in the oil industry. Simmons worked in the oil fields during summer vacations from high school and college.

Professor Simmons earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard University in 1954. Fifteen years later he decided to change fields and earned a second bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of California at Berkeley. He joined the Berkeley faculty in 1968. While teaching at Berkeley he worked as an architect designing buildings throughout the Bay Area.

After retiring from Berkeley in 1994, Simmons moved to South Africa where he lectured at the University of The Witwatersrand.



Grants and Gifts

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded grants totaling more than $159 million to foster workforce training in the health care field. The grants will fund programs to increase the number of nurses and to enhance geriatric education and to support centers of excellence in health care research at colleges and universities that have student bodies with a high percentage of minorities.

Here is a list of the most significant grants awarded to historically black colleges and universities:

Meharry Medical College
Tuskegee University
Xavier University of Louisiana
Meharry Medical College
Howard University
Tuskegee University
Meharry Medical College
Hampton University
Hampton University
Kentucky State University
Coppin State University
Hampton University
Prairie View A&M University


How long should colleges and universities continue to use race-sensitive admissions?
No longer.
For 10 more years
For 25 more years
For as long as it takes for blacks to achieve parity.


A Building on the College of William and Mary Campus May Be the Oldest Surviving Black Schoolhouse in America

The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, is currently involved in the Lemon Project, which is examining the institution’s role in slavery. The project is named after a black slave who was owned by the college.

As part of the examination of its history, Terry L. Meyers, Chancellor Professor of English at William and Mary, believes he has found evidence that a building on campus is the oldest surviving school for black children in the United States.

Professor Meyers’ research shows that the Diggers House on Prince George Street, which currently houses the college’s ROTC and military sciences programs, was home to the Williamsburg Bray School. The school opened in 1760 to educate both free blacks and slaves.

It was not until 1819 that Virginia passed legislation that made it illegal to teach a slave to read or write. The punishment for violating the law was 20 lashes.



Six New African-American Doctoral Students in Accounting Receive KPMG Foundation Scholarships

Historically, African Americans have been hard to find in the accounting profession. This shortfall is undoubtedly due in large part to racism. Corporations and well-to-do white Americans were unwilling to trust their financial affairs to a black accountant. So African Americans, who were able to pursue higher education, turned to fields other than accounting where greater opportunities existed.

Since there have been very few black accountants, there also have been very few black faculty members teaching accounting at the nation’s business schools. To address this problem, since 1994 the KPMG Foundation has been providing scholarships to black and other minority students who are pursuing Ph.D.s in accounting. Since 1994, 288 minority students have received scholarship grants and 183 recipients are currently teaching at business schools.

This year, the KPMG Foundation awarded $10,000 scholarship grants to 47 individuals. Of the 47 scholarships, 12 went to new doctoral students. Of these 12, six are African Americans:

Marquita Barnes, a graduate of Howard University, has entered the doctoral program in accounting at Georgia State University.

Kayla Booker is studying for a Ph.D. in accounting at Jackson State University in Mississippi. She also completed her undergraduate degree at Jackson State.

Marcus Brooks is a graduate of Texas State University in San Marcos. He has entered the doctoral program in accounting at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Willie Reddie is in the Ph.D. program in accounting at Syracuse University. He is a graduate of California State University and did graduate work at the University of Illinois.

Joseph Reid is entering the accounting Ph.D. program at the University of Memphis this fall. He is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University and did graduate work at Wake Forest University.

Chanta Thomas is a graduate of Southern Illinois University and did graduate study at the University of Missouri. This fall she is entering the Ph.D. program in accounting at Southern Illinois University.


Stanford University Research Finds Racial Bias in Online Buying

New research conducted by doctoral students in economics at Stanford University has found that online shoppers prefer buying products from white sellers rather than from black sellers. The researchers posted advertisements for the iPod Nano on local online advertising sites across the United States. The advertisement pictures the product being held by either a white or black hand.

The results showed that ads with a black hand received 13 percent fewer responses and 17 percent fewer offers to purchase the product. Black sellers were also offered less money than white sellers.

The largest discrepancy was in the northeastern United States. There the ads with a black hand received 32 percent fewer offers than ads with a white hand. In the West, there was no statistically significant difference in the number of offers received.

Two New Degree Programs at Historically Black Alcorn State University

Alcorn State University, the historically black educational institution in Mississippi, has announced that it is adding two new degree programs at its Natchez campus. A bachelor’s degree program in elementary education will be available for undergraduate students and transfer students who have obtained an associate’s degree. The university is also adding a master’s degree program in education. The program is aimed at licensed teachers who are seeking an advanced degree. To accommodate teaching schedules, classes in the master’s degree program will be held in the evenings.



The Finalists for the Frederick Douglass Book Prize

The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University has announced the three finalists for its annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize. The following books were selected from a field of over 80 entries:

In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World by Judith A. Carney and Richard Nicholas Rosomoff (University of California Press);

Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery by Siddharth Kara (Columbia University Press); and

John Brown’s War Against Slavery by Robert E. McGlone (Cambridge University Press). 

The award, which includes a $25,000 cash prize, will be given out at the Yale Club in New York City in February.


Recent Books That May Be of Interest to African-American Scholars

The JBHE Weekly Bulletin regularly publishes a list of new books that may be of interest to our readers. Here are the latest selections.

African Americans in Global Affairs: Contemporary Perspectives edited by Michael L. Clemons (Northeastern University Press)

Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America by Eugene Robinson (Doubleday)

Five Miles Away, A World Apart: Two Schools, One City and the Story of Educational Opportunity in Modern America by James Ryan (Oxford University Press)

Men of Color to Arms! Black Soldiers, Indian Wars, and the Quest for Equality by Elizabeth D. Leonard (W.W. Norton)

Newcomers, Outsiders, and Insiders: Immigrants and American Racial Politics in the Early Twenty-First Century by Yvette Alex-Assensoh (University of Michigan Press)

On the Outskirts of Normal: Forging a Family Against the Grain by Debra Monroe (Southern Methodist University Press)

Quality Education as a Constitutional Right: Creating a Grassroots Movement to Transform Public Schools by Theresa Perry et al. (Beacon Press)

Race and the University: A Memoir by George Henderson (University of Oklahoma Press)

The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States edited by Miriam J. Roman and Juan Flores (Duke University Press)

The Business Strategy of Booker T. Washington: Its Development and Implementation by Michael B. Boston (University Press of Florida)

The Handbook of Race and Adult Education: A Resource for Dialogue on Racism by Vanessa Sheared (Jossey-Bass)

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House)

Toward Freedom Land: The Long Struggle for Racial Equality in America by Harvard Sitkoff (University Press of Kentucky)

Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President by Edward McClelland (Bloomsbury Press)

Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Tanya R. Robinson was promoted to executive director of the Center for Experiential Learning at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. She was director of internships at the college.

Robinson holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Binghamton University, a division of the State University of New York.

• Wanda Lester, associate dean of the School of Business and Economics at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, was appointed interim associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at the university.

Dr. Lester is a graduate of Florida A&M University. She holds a Ph.D. in strategic management from Florida State University.

• Sonal Desai-Redd was named associate director of the Center for School Change at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. She was principal of a Minneapolis high school.

A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Desai-Redd earned a master’s degree from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee.

• Rodney T. Cohen was appointed assistant dean of the college and director of the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale University. Since 2006 he has served as the director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and the Office of Student Activities at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina.

Dr. Cohen is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University. He holds a master’s degree from Western Kentucky University and a doctorate from Vanderbilt University.

• K. Sean Kimbro was named associate professor of biology and director of the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute at North Carolina Central University in Durham. He was director of the Georgia Center for Health Equality at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

Dr. Kimbro is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. He holds a Ph.D. in molecular and microbiology from Indiana University.

• William B. Butler has retired as dean of the School of Dentistry at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. He has been on the school’s faculty for 33 years and served as dean for the past decade. He will remain at Meharry as a professor emeritus in the department of restorative dentistry.

• Caroline Laguerre-Brown was promoted to vice provost for institutional equity at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She was associate vice provost for institutional equity.

Laguerre-Brown, who has been at Johns Hopkins since 2005, is a graduate of Binghamton University, part of the SUNY system. She earned a law degree at the University of Virginia.

• Lisa Taylor was named assistant dean for admissions at the Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando. She was the associate director of law admissions for Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. Taylor is a graduate of the Howard University School of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar Association.

Copyright © 2010. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.