For the Second Straight Year, There Is a Record Number of Black Freshmen at the University of Chicago

The University of Chicago has a rich history of providing graduate educational opportunities for African Americans. Also, in 1947 the university was the first predominantly white major research institution to grant tenure to a black scholar. But for much of its history, the undergraduate program at the University of Chicago severely lagged its peer institutions in enrolling black students.

Now, for the second year in a row, the University of Chicago has a record number of black freshmen. There are 91 black students in this year’s freshman class. They make up 7 percent of all entering students. A year ago there were 81 black freshmen at the University of Chicago who were 6.4 percent of all entering students.

Prior to last year, the largest number of black freshmen at the university was 60.

Dean of students Susan Art states, “Our richly diverse student body plays a crucial role in the transformative education we offer. Students learn enormous amounts from their classmates’ differing perspectives and experiences.”


“Two years in a row we have attracted a record number of African-American students. It is extremely exciting.”

Michael Behnke, vice president and dean of college enrollment at the University of Chicago (See story above.)


Toughening Academic Standards Erodes Racial Diversity Efforts at the University of Georgia

In a news release announcing the makeup of its entering class, the University of Georgia emphasized the academic qualifications of its new students. The mean grade point average of the students in the freshman class, as well as the mean SAT and ACT scores of the first-year students, is thought to be the highest in the university’s history.

But reading further one finds that the number of black students and the number of Hispanic students declined from a year ago. There will be 318 black freshmen at the University of Georgia. They will make up 7 percent of the entering class. In 2006, blacks were 7.5 percent of all first-year students.  It is important to note that blacks are about 30 percent of the college-age population in Georgia.


Almost No Blacks at the Top of the ACT Scoring Pyramid

Last week JBHE reported that in 2007 the racial gap in mean scores on the ACT college admission test widened slightly. Most serious, the data shows that there is a gigantic racial gap at the high end of the ACT scoring pyramid.

The nation’s highest-ranked colleges and universities aim to recruit students who score 28 or above on the ACT test, which is scored on a scale of 1 to 36. Nationwide in 2007, only 1,784 black students scored 28 or above on the ACT test. They made up 1.2 percent of all black ACT test takers. In contrast, 103,454 white students scored 28 or above on the ACT test this year. They made up 13.3 percent of all white ACT test takers. Thus, whites were more than 11 times as likely as blacks to score at a level equal to the mean score of students admitted to the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities.

This data is particularly relevant for the state of Michigan where the ACT is the preferred college entrance examination and where race-sensitive admissions have now been banned. The small number of black students scoring at the top of the ACT scoring scale will almost certainly result in a reduction in the number of black students qualifying for admission to the University of Michigan.


States With the Fewest Black Students Enrolled in College

Last week we reported new data showing that California remains the state with the most black students enrolled in college. In Mississippi blacks make up the largest percentage of total college enrollments within a particular state.

Now we turn our attention to states with the fewest number of black students enrolled in college. The latest Department of Education figures show that there are only 270 blacks enrolled in college in Montana. Wyoming, South Dakota, Idaho, North Dakota, and Vermont each have fewer than 1,000 African-American college students.

Blacks make up 0.6 percent of all students enrolled in college in Montana, the lowest rate in the nation. Idaho is the only other state where blacks are less than 1 percent of college enrollments.


New Dean at the Florida A&M University College of Law

LeRoy Pernell has been named dean of the law school at Florida A&M University. For the past decade Pernell has been dean of the College of Law at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Prior to that time, Pernell was a faculty member of the law school at Ohio State University, where he is an alumnus. Dean Pernell, a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has received awards for his efforts to increase faculty and student diversity at Northern Illinois University.

The Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando was founded in 2002 and received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association in 2004. The latest data shows 336 full-time students. Blacks are about one half the student body at the law school. There are 41 full-time faculty and administrators at the school, 31 of whom are blacks or other minorities.


African-American Law School Dean Now Devotes His Time to Teaching and Writing

Another former African-American law school dean is also changing his address. Alex M. Johnson Jr. was dean of the University of Minnesota Law School for four years until the spring of 2006. He resigned to devote more time to teaching and writing. After spending this past academic year as the William S. Pattee Professor of Law at the Minnesota law school, he is returning to the law school at the University of Virginia as Perre Bowen Professor of Law. Johnson served as vice provost at Virginia before taking the deanship at the University of Minnesota.

Alex Johnson is a magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Princeton University. He earned his law degree at UCLA. He has also served as chair of the board of trustees of the Law School Admission Council, the organization that administers the Law School Admission Test.


College Students Learn Firsthand About the Middle Passage

The Freedom Schooner Amistad, a replica of the nineteenth-century slave ship, is in the midst of a 16-month voyage from its home port in New Haven, Connecticut, to Sierre Leone in West Africa. More than 50 college students will participate in various legs of the trip to learn about the slave trade and educate others by posting Web blogs about their experiences.

The ship docked in Liverpool this past week to commemorate the opening of the International Slavery Museum. It also participated in ceremonies noting the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in Britain. The ship will proceed to Portugal and Africa before returning to the United States in 2008. The entire voyage will be the subject of a documentary film produced by John Amos, an actor who appeared in the epic television miniseries Roots.

The original Amistad was a slave ship that in 1839 was taken over by 50 slaves who were headed to a plantation in Cuba. The slaves planned to sail the ship back to Africa but it was seized by federal authorities off the coast of Long Island, New York. The slaves were imprisoned but eventually won their freedom from the U.S. Supreme Court and were repatriated to Africa.


Black Student Enrollments in Law School Inch Higher

In the 2006-07 academic year there were 9,529 black students attending the 194 U.S. law schools accredited by the American Bar Association. Total black law school enrollments increased by 3.6 percent from the previous year. Blacks now make up 6.4 percent of all law school enrollments. This is up from 6.2 percent a year ago.

But black enrollments in the nation’s law schools are still well below the level that prevailed at the beginning of the decade. In the year 2000, blacks were 7.1 percent of all law school enrollments.




Morgan State University, the historically black educational institution in Baltimore, received a two-year, $115,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The grant will be used to fund internships for Morgan State students at museums throughout the state of Maryland.

• The Medical University of South Carolina received a three-year, $1 million grant from the AT&T Foundation. The grant will be used to support prostate cancer education and outreach programs for black men at the university’s Hollings Cancer Center.

Almost No Change in the Black/White SAT Scoring Gap

The College Board reported Tuesday that for African Americans the mean combined score on the critical reading and mathematics sections of the SAT in 2007 dropped by one point from a year before. For whites, the mean score dropped by two points. Therefore, there was a minuscule one point drop in the black-white scoring gap.

However, the racial scoring gap on the SAT remains significantly wider than was the case nearly two decades ago.


Princeton’s Black Studies Center Has Hit the Ground Running

The Center for African American Studies at Princeton University, established just last year, has made tremendous strides in just a short time. Under the direction of Valerie A. Smith, Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature, the center is quickly becoming a black studies powerhouse. Shortly, the center will be moving to its new headquarters in Stanhope Hall in the heart of the Princeton campus.

Since the center was founded last year, six new faculty members have been hired with joint appointments in other academic departments at Princeton. They are:

• Wallace Best, professor of religion
• Anne Cheng, professor of English
• Joshua Guild, assistant professor of history
• Angel Harris, assistant professor of sociology
• Melissa Harris-Lacewell, associate professor of politics
• Tera Hunter, professor of history

Four other scholars have received offers to join the Princeton faculty and several other searches are under way.

In addition, Judith Weisenfeld, a leading scholar of African-American religious history, was hired as a professor of religion.

The center’s visiting scholar program also will begin this academic year. The first visiting scholar is Imani Perry from the Rutgers University School of Law.

Also, the center will launch two lecture series this fall honoring Toni Morrison and James Baldwin.


New Data on the Racial Gap in College Dropouts

The United States Department of Education recently published a new report examining the progress in higher education of students who entered college just four years ago in the fall of 2003.

The data shows that only 15 percent of both blacks and whites who entered college or other postsecondary educational institution in the fall of 2003 had obtained some sort of degree or educational certification over the next four years. These figures include black and white students who enrolled in community colleges and earned two-year associate’s degrees during this period.

Nearly 54 percent of white students who entered college in the fall of 2003 had not earned a degree of any type within four years but were still enrolled in higher education. For blacks, 41.1 percent of those who enrolled in 2003 were still enrolled in higher education but had yet to earn a degree of any type. Slightly more than 31 percent of white students who entered college in the fall of 2003 had dropped out of college without a degree and were no longer enrolled in higher education. For blacks, 43.4 percent had dropped out of school without earning a degree.



Black College in Detroit Loses Accreditation

Lewis College of Business, a historically black educational institution in Detroit, was stripped of its accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. The commission faulted the institution for leadership and its poor allocation of resources. The decision means that students at the college will no longer be eligible for federal financial aid. Leaders of the college have vowed to continue operating but it will be difficult as a large percentage of students at the college are dependent on federal financial aid dollars.

Lewis College of Business was founded in 1928. It first received accreditation in 1978. In 1997 the Department of Education designated Lewis College of Business as a historically black college. Most of the 250 students now enrolled in the college are pursuing two-year associate’s degrees in business fields. Almost all the students at the college are black.


Only One African American Among This Year’s Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholars

Recently the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation announced its 2007 list of Graduate Scholars. This year 34 recent college graduates who are preparing for graduate study were selected from 977 nominees to receive scholarships from the foundation. Over the six-year period since the establishment of the program, more than 300 winners have been selected. Jack Kent Cooke grantees are eligible for full scholarships to complete their graduate training. The awards, which include funds for room and board, as well as books, may range as high as $300,000.

Over the years, blacks have been well represented among Jack Kent Cooke Scholars at both the undergraduate and graduate level. But this year, only one of the 34 graduate scholar winners is an African American: Mark A. Smiley from Brooklyn, New York.

Smiley recently graduated from Baruch College of the City University of New York. This fall he begins medical school training at the University of Pittsburgh.

Smiley is a native of Jamaica. There he lived in a one-bedroom home with seven family members. After his family moved to New York, as a high school student Smiley worked at nights to help support his family. While in college he applied to 11 medical schools and was granted interviews at 10. He could only afford travel expenses to four of the 10 schools.

The Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarship will enable Smiley to complete his medical training debt free.


Former President of Clark Atlanta University to Head the University of Massachusetts on an Interim Basis

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has named Thomas W. Cole Jr. as interim chancellor. Dr. Cole is the former president of Clark Atlanta University. Cole is replacing John Lombardi who is leaving to become president of the Louisiana State University system.

Dr. Cole is a graduate of Wiley College in Texas. In 1966 he earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Chicago. He then joined the faculty of what was then Atlanta University as an assistant professor of chemistry. From 1982 to 1986 he served as president of West Virginia State University. He was named president of Clark Atlanta University in 1989 and served until his retirement in 2002.

Dr. Cole is not a candidate for the permanent position as chancellor at the University of Massachusetts.


19.9%  Percentage of whites who received a bachelor’s degree in 1993 who spent some time as a teacher over the following decade.

20.5%  Percentage of blacks who received a bachelor’s degree in 1993 who spent some time as a teacher over the following decade.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Historically Black Miles College Seeks Hispanic Students

Miles College, the historically black college in Fairfield, Alabama, has 1,700 students. None of these students are of Hispanic origin.

But the college sees the Hispanic community as a fertile recruiting ground. It has hired two recruiters based in Nevada to actively recruit Hispanic students. The college hopes to increase enrollments to 2,500 students over the next few years and believes that it will have to increase the racial diversity of the student body to do so.

George T. French, president of Miles College, told the Birmingham News, “It will benefit our black students to interact with Spanish-speaking peoples.”


In Memoriam

Brenda Watts Jones (1952-2007)

Brenda Watts Jones, who served for 10 years as president of Atlanta Technical College and who transformed the school into a degree-granting institution, died earlier this month from breast cancer at Atlanta Medical Center. She was 55 years old.

Dr. Jones was the only African American to ever head a technical college in Georgia. During her tenure as president, enrollments at Atlanta Technical College nearly tripled to more than 4,200 students.

A graduate of Dillard University in New Orleans, Dr. Jones held a master’s degree from Atlanta University and a doctorate from Georgia Southern University.

Dorothy M. Richardson (1927-2007)

Dorothy M. Richardson, a fair housing advocate and retired mathematics teacher at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, Illinois, died recently at her home in Aurora. She was 80 years old.

In 1949 Richardson was the first African American to graduate from what is now Aurora University. She was one of the original members of the Aurora Neighborhood Housing Committee. She retired from teaching in 1992.



Kenneth Jones was promoted to the position of academic dean of Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama. He is an associate professor of communications at the college.

Dr. Jones is a graduate of the University of Mississippi. He holds a master’s degree in communications from Clarion University in Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in mass communications from Howard University. He also earned a doctorate in divinity from the Virginia Theological Seminary.

Mavis Agbandje-McKenna, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Florida, was appointed director of the university’s Center for Structural Biology. Dr. Agbandje-McKenna, who has been on the University of Florida faculty since 1999, earned her Ph.D. in biophysics at the University of London.

Craig T. Follins was appointed executive vice president for workforce and economic development at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio. He was vice president for workforce and economic development at Victoria College in Victoria, Texas.

Dr. Follins is a graduate of Brooklyn College. He holds a master’s degree in clinical sociology from Texas Southern University and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin.

Janice G. Brewington was named provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at North Carolina A&T State University. She had been serving in the post on an interim basis for more than a year.

A pediatric nurse practitioner, Brewington is a graduate of the nursing school at North Carolina A&T State University. She holds a master’s degree in nursing from Emory University and a Ph.D. in health policy and administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Olabaniji Abanishe was named head football coach at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He was the offensive coordinator for the football team at Langston University.

Lincoln University will resume playing interscholastic football in the fall of 2008 after a 47-year hiatus.




Copyright © 2007. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.