Post Your Job Openings on
E-mail Alerts
Advertise Here

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

HomeJobsAboutAuthor GuidelinesAd RatesWeb Ad Rates
Latest News

News & Views


Faculty Positions

Book Reviews

Test Your Knowledge

Affirmative Action Timeline

Vital Statistics

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
The Race Relations Reporter

Advertise Here

Federal Judge Upholds Consideration of Race in Admissions Decisions at the University of Texas at Austin

Judge Sam Sparks of the U.S. District Court for western Texas threw out a lawsuit challenging the admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin. Two white plaintiffs alleged that they were denied admission because of procedures that unfairly favored minority applicants.

Lawyers for the Washington, D.C.-based Project on Fair Representation argued on behalf of the plaintiffs that race should not be considered in the university’s admissions decisions because an effective, race-neutral plan has been able to achieve a significant level of diversity. (Students in the top 10 percent of their class at any high school in Texas — including predominantly black high schools — automatically qualify for admission to the University of Texas.)

But Judge Sparks said that the university’s admissions procedures, which consider race as one of many factors in their decisions, met the “narrowly tailored” guidelines for affirmative action set forth in the 2003 Supreme Court ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger.

Judge Sparks was appointed to the federal bench by President George Herbert Walker Bush. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have vowed to appeal the decision.

The Black-White Voter Participation Gap Is the Largest at the Highest Levels of Educational Attainment

It may come as a surprise to readers that blacks with very low levels of education actually are more likely to go to the polls than similarly educated whites. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2008, 46.4 percent of blacks with only an elementary school education went to the polls. This was significantly higher than the 35.5 percent voter participation rate for similarly educated whites. Black high school dropouts were also significantly more likely to vote than white high school dropouts. In 2008 nearly half of all blacks who had dropped out of high school went to the polls. Only 38.2 percent of white high school dropouts voted in 2008. For whites and blacks with a high school diploma but no college education, the black voter participation rate was 5 percentage points higher than the rate for whites.

But the racial gap reverses for blacks and whites with four-year college and graduate degrees. At these higher levels of education, whites were more likely to vote than blacks, even in a historic election with a black man running for president of the United States. In 2008, 76.2 percent of blacks with a bachelor’s degree went to the polls compared to 79.1 percent of similarly educated whites. For blacks with a graduate degree, the voter participation rate actually declines slightly to 75.1 percent. For whites, a whopping 85.2 percent of graduate degree holders went to the polls in 2008. This is more than 10 percentage points higher than the voter participation rate for blacks with a graduate degree.

Few Blacks Teaching Architecture in Britain

Using the United Kingdom’s Freedom of Information Act, Doctor Simba, a black architect, obtained a racial breakdown of the faculty at the 24 schools of architecture in Britain. The results showed that 11 of the 24 schools, including the one at Oxford University, had no blacks on their faculties. Three additional schools had a single black faculty member and three had two blacks on their faculties.

100 Nigerians to Study at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a historically black educational institution in Princess Anne, has reached an agreement with government officials in the oil-rich Delta State of Nigeria. Under the agreement 100 undergraduate and graduate students from Nigeria will travel to Maryland to study engineering, agriculture, the hard sciences, and health-related fields.

Thelma B. Thompson, president of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, stated, “The oil-producing Delta State of Nigeria is to be commended for investing its petro-dollars in the education of its young.”

The agreement will remain in effect for four years. All Nigerian students participating in the program have to agree to return to their native land after completing their studies.

Racial Gap Widens on ACT College Entrance Examination

In 2009 nearly 200,000 college-bound African Americans took the ACT college entrance examination. They made up 13 percent of all ACT test takers.

Black students had an average combined score of 16.9. (The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36.) This is the same average score achieved by black students in 2008.

In 2009 white students had an average ACT score of 22.2. This was up slightly from 22.1 in 2008. Therefore, there was a slight increase in the racial scoring gap on the ACT test.

Since 2006 the average black score has declined by 0.2 points whereas the average white score has increased by 0.2 points.

Explaining Declining Black Enrollments at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has the highest percentage of black students of any branch in the University of Tennessee system. The most recent Department of Education figures show that blacks make up 16 percent of the students at the Chattanooga campus compared to just 9 percent at the flagship campus in Knoxville.

But in recent years black enrollments at the Chattanooga campus have been falling. Four years ago blacks made up 19 percent of the student body.

University officials state that a major reason for the decline in black students was the elimination of the Geier Scholarship program. These scholarships went exclusively to African Americans. But in 2006, when the courts lifted federal oversight of the state’s higher education desegregation plan, the state could no longer offer scholarships based solely on race.

The Geier Scholarships were replaced by a new program called YES scholarships. These scholarships are awarded to disadvantaged students of all races. This year only 46 of the 123 YES scholarships to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga went to black students. 

In addition to the dwindling number of scholarships for black students, admission requirements were raised in 2009. This year, students applying for admission needed an 18 on the American College Testing Program’s ACT college entrance examination. This requirement excludes more than one half of all black students who took the test.

50.5%  Percentage of all white 4-year-olds who are read to on a daily basis.

20.5%  Percentage of all black 4-year-olds who are read to on a daily basis.

source: U.S. Census Bureau

Appointments, Promotions & Resignations

Audrey Forrest-Carter, novelist and associate professor at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, was appointed interim chair of the university’s English department.

A graduate of Bennett College for Women, Dr. Forrest-Carter holds a master’s degree in English and Afro-American literature from North Carolina A&T State University. She earned a Ph.D. in English from Miami University in Ohio.

• Takia Hudson is the new sports information director at Fort Valley State University in Georgia. Hudson, a graduate of Miles College, was the sports information director for the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

• Kiron K. Skinner, associate professor of social and decision sciences and director of the international relations and politics program at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, was appointed to the National Academies Committee on Behavioral and Social Science Research to Improve Intelligence Analysis for National Security.

Dr. Skinner is a graduate of Spelman College. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in political science and international relations from Harvard University.

• Debra Walker King was named associate dean for the humanities at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida. King serves as a professor of English and previously was associate provost of faculty development at the university.

A graduate of North Carolina Central University, Professor King earned a master’s degree in English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies at Emory University.

• Gwendolyn N. Scott-Jones was appointed chair of the department of psychology at Delaware State University. She has been on the university’s faculty for only one year.

Dr. Scott-Jones holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Delaware State University. She holds a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

• Jame’l Hodges was named director of multicultural affairs at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He was coordinator of residential education at California Polytechnic University in Pomona.

Hodges is a graduate of Virginia State University. He holds a master’s degree in higher education administration at Florida State University and is completing his doctoral dissertation at the University of Southern California.

• Myrtle S. Habersham was named visiting senior policy fellow at the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving at the University of Georgia. She has been serving as associate director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Habersham is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University.

For breaking news and previews of upcoming articles

Education Department Data Shows That Colleges Need to Do Much More to Retain Black Students Who Major in the Sciences

Historically, blacks have been underrepresented in the so-called STEM fields which include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. For example, only 0.5 percent of all African-American college students choose to major in the physical sciences. This is about one third the rate for white college students.

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education documents retention and graduation rates for college students who entered STEM fields. The data shows that only 15.5 percent of black students who initially chose to major in a STEM field earned a bachelor’s degree within six years. In contrast, 30 percent of white students in STEM fields earned a bachelor’s degree within six years.

More than 35 percent of African-American college students who initially majored in a STEM field dropped out of college before they earned a degree. For whites, the dropout rate was 24.6 percent. Nearly a quarter of all black students who started out in a STEM field switched majors.

“If the plaintiffs are right, Grutter is wrong.”

U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks, in a ruling upholding the consideration of race in admissions decisions at the University of Texas, August 17, 2009 (See lead story.)

Ten African-American Accounting Students Win Doctoral Fellowships

The KPMG Foundation has announced that 10 African Americans are among the 11 first-year doctoral students who will receive $10,000 as part of KPMG’s Minority Accounting Scholarship program. The scholarships can be renewed for up to five years of doctoral study. All together the foundation awarded $390,000 in Minority Accounting Scholarships this year.

The program, which seeks to increase the number of minority students teaching accounting at U.S. business schools, now offers financial assistance to a large percentage of all minority doctoral candidates in accounting in the United States.

The 10 new African-American scholarship winners are listed below along with the university at which they are studying for their doctorate. Note that six of the 10 students are at historically black universities.

Dereck Barr, University of Mississippi
Cathalene Bowler, Morgan State University
Elicia Cowins, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Paige Gee, Temple University
Aisha Meeks, Jackson State University
Wayne Nelms, Morgan State University
Genese Rogers, Morgan State University
Menghistu Sallehu, Drexel University
John Williams, University of North Texas
Reginald Wilson, Jackson State University

Ranking the States on Their 10-Year Performance in Increasing Need-Based Financial Aid for Low-Income College Students

The College Board reports that during the 1998 to 2008 period the average price of college increased by 72 percent. The good news is that during the same time period, state governments have increased their allocations for need-based financial aid by an even larger 109 percent.

But given that in many states need-based aid was grossly inadequate a decade ago, increases in state aid, in most cases, are still insufficient to satisfy the need of all low-income students who aspire to higher education. And given that blacks are three times as likely to be poor as white students, the inadequacy of state need-based grant programs falls particularly hard on African Americans.

According to the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs, the largest percentage increase in need-based aid occurred in Montana. In 1998 the state offered only $460,000 in need-based grants. In 2008 Montana gave out more than $4.3 million in need-based financial aid. Delaware had the second-largest percentage increase in need-based awards. Texas’ need-based grants increased from $66 million to more than $537 million during the period. This was the third-largest percentage increase.

Three states actually offered lower dollar amounts of need-based grants in 2008 than they did a decade earlier. These states are Hawaii, Wyoming, and Michigan.

New Cancer Research Center to Be Launched at Clark Atlanta University

The Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development at historically black Clark Atlanta University is teaming up with the Integrative Cancer Research Center at Georgia Tech to launch a new institute to conduct research on prostate cancer. The new Collaborative Cancer Genomics Center will conduct genetic research to identify those who are disposed to prostate cancer, as well as to ovarian, pancreatic, and lung cancer. The 20,000-square-foot gene sequencing center will be situated on the Clark Atlanta campus and will be directed by Shafiq Khan, chair of the department of biological sciences at the university.

The Transformation of the University of the District of Columbia

This week, classes started at the new University of the District of Columbia. Now the university is operating as two separate entities: a two-year community college with open admissions and a four-year university with selective admissions and significantly higher tuition. Students who are enrolled full-time at the community college will pay $3,000. District residents at the four-year university will pay $5,370 this year and $7,000 next year.

New students can apply to either the two-year or four-year institution. Students who had already matriculated can choose to attend either section.

This year, more than 800 new students applied to the community college and 1,500 students applied to the four-year college. Last year, there was a total of 2,000 applicants. University officials estimate that total enrollments at the community college will be 3,000 this year. Another 3,500 students are expected to be enrolled at the four-year university.

The new two-institution system is the brainchild of Allen L. Sessoms who was hired as president of the university last fall. A Yale-trained physicist, Dr. Sessoms was president of historically black Delaware State University.

In Memoriam

Margaret Bush Wilson (1919-2009)

Margaret Bush Wilson, who served for nine terms as chair of the NAACP, has died in St. Louis at the age of 90.

Wilson was a graduate of Talladega College in Alabama and the Lincoln University law school. She was the second black woman in Missouri to pass the bar examination. As a young lawyer she was one of the lead attorneys in the case Shelley v. Kramer, which made it all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1948 the Court ruled that restrictive covenants in real estate deeds were unconstitutional.

The St. Louis campus of the University of Missouri awards the Margaret Bush Wilson Scholarship to incoming freshmen who have completed its pre-college bridge program and who plan to major in either mathematics or science. More than 100 students have received the scholarship over the past five years and 29 entering freshmen have earned the scholarship this year.

Ezekiel W. Bryant (1931-2009)

Ezekiel Bryant, a longtime educator and the first African American to be appointed president of a campus in the Florida Community College system, died from cancer at a hospice center in Florida. He was 78 years old.

A native of Jacksonville, Bryant worked his way through college working as a cook, waiter, and painter. He earned a two-year associate’s degree from Edward Waters College and a bachelor’s degree from what is now Bethune-Cookman University. He went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Boston University and an educational doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. He taught for many years in the public school system in Duval County, Florida. In 1974 he was named provost/president of the Florida Community College at Jacksonville North Campus. He served in that position for more than two decades. 

Honors and Awards

• Fred Swaniker, founder and CEO of the African Leadership Academy near Johannesburg, South Africa, received the Young Alumni Award from Macalester College.

• Brian Anderson, chair of the social work program at Mississippi College in Clinton, received the Invisible Giant award from the Mary S. Nelums Scholarship Foundation. The award is given to scholars who work behind the scenes to make life better in their communities.

• Mario G. Ricoma, information resource consultant for the College of Business and Applied Professional Sciences at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, received the National Volunteer of the Year Award from Alpha Kappa Psi. He is the faculty adviser to the fraternity at South Carolina State.

Grants and Gifts

• Tuskegee University, the historically black educational institution in Alabama, received a $22,500 grant from the Donaldson Company of Auburn, Alabama. The funds will be used for scholarships for students studying either engineering or business.

• Knoxville College, the historically black educational institution in Tennessee, received a $200,000 grant from the Tom Joyner Foundation. The funds will be used to upgrade campus facilities and to recruit new students.


(Subscribe to the print version of JBHE)

Past Issues - JBHE Weekly Bulletin
(select from menu below)