New Federal Legislation Would Provide Grants to High Schools in Low-Income Areas That Take Steps to Create a “College-Going Culture”

A report by the Chicago Public Schools system found that only 41 percent of the students who expressed a desire to go to college took the necessary steps to achieve that goal. Of the Chicago public school students who went on to college, only one third enrolled at a school that met their academic qualifications. Of all students who had the academic qualifications to attend a selective college or university, nearly one third enrolled in a community college or did not go to college.

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has introduced the Pathways to College Act. The legislation provides for a new grant program to be administered by the secretary of education that would provide funds to help improve the “college-going culture” at inner-city and rural high schools with large numbers of low-income students. The program would provide funds to schools that instituted counseling and guidance programs geared towards increasing the number of low-income students attending college.

The bill provides monetary incentives for high schools to hold college fairs, hire guidance staff, hold seminars on financial aid for college, and institute standardized test preparation classes.


Black Enrollments on the Rise at Graduate Schools of Theology

The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, headquartered in Pittsburgh, represents 254 member institutions. These graduate schools of theology include Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox institutions.

The association reports that in the 2007-08 academic year its member schools enrolled nearly 80,000 students. There were 8,839 black students at these schools. They made up 11.1 percent of all students at these schools.

Black enrollments are on the rise at these graduate schools of theology. Since 2003 black enrollments are up 9 percent while overall enrollments have increased only slightly. As a result, the black share of total enrollments has increased from 10.3 percent in 2003 to 11.1 percent in 2007.

Women make up 35 percent of the total enrollments at these 254 graduate schools of theology. But black women make up 49 percent of all African-American enrollments at these schools.


Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Need-Based Aid Budgeted by Congress for Low-Income Students Are Not Awarded by the Department of Education

An internal audit at the U.S. Department of Education finds that the federal government has not done enough to inform the public about grants that are available for low-income students.

In the 2006-07 academic year, Congress budgeted $790 million for the Academic Competitiveness Grants program, with a similar amount allocated for subsequent years through 2010. The need-based grants are available to low-income students who take a rigorous high school curriculum.

But the Education Department audit found that only $448 million in grants were given out that year. In the 2007-08 academic year, $468 million was awarded in grants through the first 10 months of the program.

The inspector general of the Education Department said in the audit that many high schools were unaware that their students were eligible for the grants and that the department often failed to provide enough information to the proper authorities at these high schools.


LSU Aims to Increase the Number of Black Dentists in Louisiana

Blacks make up nearly 35 percent of the population of Louisiana. But only 7 percent of the state’s dentists are black. Louisiana State University operates the state’s only dental school at its New Orleans Health Science Center.

In order to increase the number of black students seeking careers in dentistry, the university has launched a six-week summer enrichment program that gives black and other minority college students experience in the field of dentistry.  Students take general science courses as well as introductory lessons in clinical dentistry. The students are taught skills that normally are part of the curriculum for first-year dental students.

This summer minority students from Louisiana State University, the University of New Orleans, Dillard University, Xavier University, Southern University, and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff are participating in the program.

The LSU School of Dentistry budgeted $100,000 for the summer program.


Kirk Douglas’ Commitment to Racial Diversity at St. Lawrence University

Actor Kirk Douglas has made a second contribution of $1 million to support a scholarship program for minority students at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. Douglas, who graduated from the university in 1939, created the scholarship program that bears his name in 1999 with an initial donation of $1 million.

Since the program began, the percentage of blacks in the student body at St. Lawrence University has increased from 5.9 percent to 10.6 percent. This is spectacular progress considering the university is located in a remote area of northern New York State, far from any black urban population center.

Kirk Douglas has appeared in more than 85 Hollywood films. He was named one of the 50 greatest film legends of all time by the American Film Institute. In 1981 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan.


Maryland Hopes to Be Removed From Federal Oversight of Its Higher Education System Despite Persisting Racial Segregation

The state of Maryland has asked the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education to declare that Maryland has complied with federal requirements to desegregate its higher education system. Maryland is one of only seven states that are still under federal oversight regarding racially segregated higher education systems.

Since 2001 Maryland has allocated more than $400 million to its four historically black campuses. Yet there are still major differences between the historically black educational institutions and the University of Maryland and other public, predominantly white institutions. Blacks continue to make up 90 percent of the student bodies at the black campuses. Graduation rates at the black colleges are significantly below those of other public universities in the state. Also, the average SAT scores of students at the black colleges are 300 points below those of black students at the state’s predominantly white institutions.

Complicating the situation is a federal lawsuit calling for the state to dismantle a new MBA program at predominantly white Towson State University which competes with an already established MBA program at Morgan State University. Such competing programs, according to the lawsuit, violate the desegregation agreement the state has with the federal government.


28.7%  Percentage of white students who began college in 2004 who came from families with annual incomes of at least $92,000.

8.8%  Percentage of African-American students who began college in 2004 who came from families with annual incomes of at least $92,000.

source: U.S. Department of Education


New Diversity Scholarship Established at the University of Arkansas

A new scholarship program has been established at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville to honor Theressa Hoover, a black woman who was obliged to leave the city to attend high school because in the early 1950s blacks were not permitted to enroll at Fayetteville High School. Hoover went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Philander Smith College and a master’s degree from New York University. She served for 22 years as head of the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church.

The new scholarships will be reserved for graduates of Fayetteville High School. To avoid legal difficulties the scholarships will be for students of any race whose “ethnic, culture, and/or national background contributes to the diversity of the student body.”



• Julius E. Scipio is the new associate vice president of academic affairs at Fort Valley State University in Georgia. He is an associate professor of education at the university.

Dr. Scipio is a graduate of Paine College. He holds a master’s degree and an educational doctorate from Memphis State University.

• Margaret Burnham, professor of law and director of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University in Boston, was named a Newhouse Fellow at Wellesley College for the 2008-09 academic year. She will use the time to complete work on her book, Reckoning With the Past: The Promise and Perils of Criminal Prosecution.

• James E. Glover was appointed professor and chair of Fort Valley State University’s mathematics, computer science and computer information systems department.

A former NASA engineer, Dr. Glover is a graduate of Langston University in Oklahoma. He holds a master’s degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a Ph.D. in combinatorial analysis from Auburn University.

• Maria Arvelo Lumpkin, director of student activities at Spelman College in Atlanta, was selected as the Scott-Hawkins Leadership Institute Fellow by The Links Inc.

Dr. Lumpkin is a graduate of St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina. She holds a master’s degree in urban studies from Old Dominion University and an educational doctorate from Clark Atlanta University.

• Leland Melvin, an astronaut who has visited the international space station, will spend the 2008-09 academic year as leader-in-residence at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond.

Melvin is a graduate of the University of Richmond and holds a master’s degree in materials science from the University of Virginia.

• John W. Kinney, dean of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University in Richmond, was elected president of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.

• David Vassar Taylor was named senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at Dillard University in New Orleans. He was the provost at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Dr. Taylor holds a bachelor’s and doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota. He earned his master’s degree at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

There Is a Wide Discrepancy Among the States in High School Graduation Rates for Black Male Students

When we consider the large gender gap in African-American higher education, it is important to note that the gender disparity in black education begins way before the college years. A new report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education finds a serious crisis in the secondary education of black males. Nationwide, only 47 percent of black males are completing high school. For whites, the rate is 75 percent. Thus, there is a 28 percentage point gap between black and white males in high school completions.

In some states black students do quite well. In North Dakota, 89 percent of all black males graduate from high school, the highest rate in the nation. In Vermont and Maine, the black male high school graduation rate is 85 percent or more. Of course, there are very few black students in these states.

But also encouraging is the 81 percent graduation rate for black male students in Arizona and the 74 percent graduation rate in New Jersey, two states with large numbers of black high school students.

At the other end of the spectrum, Michigan has the lowest high school graduation rate for black male teenagers. There, only one third of all black males graduate from high school. The black male high school graduation rate is below 40 percent in Wisconsin, Louisiana, South Carolina, Florida, and New York.


“By making college more affordable for all and more accessible for minority students, this legislation will help strengthen our nation and America’s middle class, and spur a new age of innovation and ingenuity in our country.”

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, commenting on the passage of the Higher Education Opportunity Act


Howard University Owns What Has Become Washington’s Most Popular Radio Station

The latest Arbitron listener ratings in the Washington, D.C., market show that WHUR-FM is now the city’s most-listened-to radio station. The station, which plays rhythm and blues as well as adult contemporary music, saw its ratings jump 20 percent over the previous quarter.

Why should this be of concern to readers of JBHE? The answer is simple. WHUR-FM radio is owned and operated by Howard University, the historically black educational institution in the nation’s capital.

Readers can listen to the station live over their computers by clicking here.


Awards Given to Universities That Have Achieved Progress in Raising the Graduation Rates of Black Athletes

The Laboratory for Diversity in Sport at Texas A&M University has released its list of colleges and universities that have accomplished a great deal in terms of racial diversity. The organization has named 10 schools that have made significant progress in their graduation rates for black male students and another 10 schools that achieved success in graduating black female students. Tennessee State University is the only historically black educational institution among the award winners. Southeastern Louisiana University was the only institution to make both lists. Here are the award winners:

For Graduating Black Female Athletes

For Graduating Black Male Athletes

Drexel University

Austin Peay State University

Hofstra University

George Mason University

Idaho State University

Marshall University

Iona College

Southeastern Louisiana University

Long Island University-Brooklyn

St. Peter’s College

St. Francis University (Penn.)

Tennessee State University

Southeastern Louisiana University

University of Louisiana-Lafayette

University of Akron

University of Southern Mississippi

University of Louisville

Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Wright State University

Western Illinois University


Washington and Lee University Law School Sends 30,000 Pounds of Law Books to Liberia

Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia, has shipped 30,000 pounds of law books to the nation of Liberia in West Africa. The books will be distributed to the Liberian National Law Library in Monrovia, the nation’s capital. The library is operated by the Liberian National Bar Association. Other books will find a new home at the Liberian Law School.

The nation of Liberia, founded by former American slaves, has a legal system founded on British and American law. So many American law books are applicable to the studies of Liberian students.

The books are traveling from Norfolk, Virginia, to Monrovia aboard a freighter operated by the Firestone Natural Rubber Company, which has been operating in Liberia since 1926. The company donates free space on its freighters to nonprofit groups that wish to transport goods to Africa for humanitarian causes.


A Portrait of Public Black Colleges and Universities

Four of every five black students who are enrolled at historically black colleges and universities attend state-operated educational institutions. A new report from the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, which represents the nation’s public historically black universities, finds that these schools enroll 235,360 students, 83 percent of whom are African Americans.

The report found that the faculties of these universities are far more racially diverse than the student bodies at these schools. Black men are 31 percent of all faculty at these schools and black women make up 27 percent of the faculties.

Readers who want to read the complete demographic profile can do so by clicking here.


National Medical Association Honors Black Academics

The National Medical Association, a professional group of minority physicians, honored several members with ties to the academic world at its annual convention in Atlanta. The awardees were commended for outstanding achievement in efforts to eliminate racial disparities in health. Among the honorees were:

David Satcher, former surgeon general of the United States and director of the Center for Excellence on Health Disparities at the Morehouse School of Medicine;

Robert J. Smith, associate professor at Meharry Medical College;

Henry W. Foster Jr., clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University;

Rebat M. Halder, chair of the department of dermatology at the Howard University College of Medicine;

Olufijnmilayo Olopade, founding director of the Center for Clinical Genetics at the University of Chicago; and

Michael R. DeBaun, professor of pediatrics, biostatics, and neurology at the medical school of Washington University in St. Louis.


The New President of Texas College

Dwight J. Fennell was named the twenty-second president of Texas College in Tyler, Texas. The college, which was founded in 1894, is affiliated with the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. The college enrolls about 800 students, 90 percent of whom are African Americans.

Dr. Fennell had served as vice president for academic affairs at the college. A native of Miami, Florida, Fennell is a graduate of St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina. He holds master’s degrees from Atlanta University and Florida International University. He earned his doctorate at Florida State University.


Honors and Awards

Coolidge Ball, who in 1972 was the first African-American athlete to play intercollegiate sports for the University of Mississippi, was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. After graduating from Ole Miss, Ball coached at Northwest Mississippi Community College for four years. He then returned to Oxford, Mississippi, where today he operates a successful sign company.

• Natasha Trethewey, Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair and professor of poetry at Emory University, was named Georgia Woman of the Year by the Georgia Commission of Women. Professor Trethewey won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.



North Carolina Central University received a grant totaling $839,073 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The grant will enable the university’s School of Library and Information Science to recruit and provide scholarships for minority students pursuing a master’s degree in library science.



Copyright © 2008. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.