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The Widening Racial Gap in ACT Scores

In 2011, 223,000 African American high school seniors took the American College Testing Program's ACT college entrance examination. This is an increase of 47 percent from 2007.

The ACT test is scored on a scale of 1 to 36. For blacks the average ACT test score in 2011 was 17.0. While there was a slight improvement from last year’s average score of 16.9, this year’s score is exactly the same average score that black students achieved in 2007.

For whites the average ACT score in 2007 was 22.6. By 2011 the average white score had improved a full point to 23.6. Thus, while whites are showing improvement, blacks are not and the racial gap in ACT scores is increasing.

African-American Progress in Dental School Enrollments Hits a Wall

In 2000 there were 632 African Americans enrolled in U.S. dental schools. They made up 4.8 percent of all U.S. dental students. By 2005, the number of blacks enrolled in dental schools increased to 1,060. That year, blacks were 5.7 percent of the total enrollments in U.S. dental schools.

But since that time, the progress has halted. In the 2009-10 academic year, blacks remained stuck at 5.7 percent of all dental school enrollments.

Penn State Scholar to Lead the University of Belize

Cary F. Fraser, an associate professor of African and African-American studies at Pennsylvania State University, was named president of the University of Belize in Central America. The university has about 4,000 undergraduate students.

Dr. Fraser is a graduate of the University of Guyana. He holds a master’s degree from the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago and a Ph.D. in international relations and history from the Graduate Institute for International Studies at the University of Geneva in Switzerland.

Dr. Fraser has been on the faculty at Penn State since 1996. He is the former director of Penn State’s Africana Research Center.

New Law School Scholarship Honors the First Black Federal Judge in Arkansas

The William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has established a new scholarship program to honor George Howard Jr., the first African-American federal judge in Arkansas.

The Judge George Howard Jr. Memorial Scholarship is funded by contributions from his widow and daughter, who is a professor at the law school.

Judge Howard, who died in 2007, was one of six African Americans who were the first to enroll at the law school of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He earned his law degree there in 1954 after completing undergraduate work at Lincoln University in Missouri. He was named to the federal bench in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter.

The federal court house in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, is named in his honor.

Illinois Launches Official Investigation of Racial Disparities in Education and Other Facets of Life

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently signed legislation creating the Commission to End the Disparities Facing the African-American Community. The commission will conduct research on racial disparities in healthcare, employment, education, housing, and criminal justice. It will issue a report on its findings and make recommendations on how to eliminate the disparities by the end of 2013.

Staff and administrative support will be provided by the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

African Development Bank Program Aims to Increase the Number of Rwandan Women in the Sciences

In the African nation of Rwanda, girls make up nearly half of the total enrollments at the high school level. But only 14 percent of the students in higher education in Rwanda are women.

A new program funded by the African Development Bank is aiming to increase the number of women studying in science and technology disciplines. Students accepted into the program typically fall short of the qualifications for entry into higher education programs in these fields. But they are given a six-month, intensive training program in science with the hope that at the end of the program the women will qualify for university admission.

To date 191 women have been accepted into the program. Results for the first group of women who participated in the program show that they are able to gain admission and perform well once enrolled in higher education.

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.

Antislavery and Abolition in Philadelphia: Emancipation and the Long Struggle for Racial Justice in the City of Brotherly Love edited by Richard Newman and James Mueller (Louisiana State University Press)

Black Feminist Archaeology by Whitney Battle-Baptiste (Left Coast Press)

Body Language: Sisters in Shape, Black Women’s Fitness, and Feminist Identity Politics by Kimberly J. Lau (Temple University Press)

Critical Rhetorics of Race edited by Michael G. Lacy and Kent A. Ono (New York University Press)

Executing Daniel Bright: Race, Loyalty, and Guerrilla Violence in a Coastal Carolina Community, 1861–1865 by Barton A. Myers (Louisiana State University Press)

Inequalities of Love: College-Education Black Women and the Barriers to Romance and Family by Averil Y. Clarke (Duke University Press)

Losers And Winners On The Unknown Road To An Unpredictable Destiny by Joseph Lowe (XLibris)

Postcolonial Literature and the Impact of Literacy: Reading and Writing in African and Caribbean Fiction by Neil ten Kortenaar (Cambridge University Press)

Slavery, Freedom, and Abolition in Latin America and the Atlantic World by Christopher Schmidt-Nowara (University of New Mexico Press)

Soul Searching: Black-Themed Cinema From the March on Washington to the Rise of Blaxploitation by Christopher Sieving (Wesleyan University Press)

The Gospel of the Working Class: Labor’s Southern Prophets in New Deal America by Erik S. Gellman and Jarod Roll (University of Illinois Press)

The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus: Race and Representation in the Pelican State by Jas M. Sullivan and Jonathan Winburn (Louisiana State University Press)

The Sociological Souls of Black Folk: Essays by W.E.B. Du Bois edited by Robert A. Wortham (Lexington Books)

Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Reading Revolution: Race, Literacy, Childhood, and Fiction, 1851-1911 by Barbara Hochman (University of Massachusetts Press)

Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Amber Hunter was named director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She is the first African-American to hold the position and is the youngest admissions director in university history. For the past five years she has been associate admissions director. She has been on the admissions staff at the University of Nebraska since 2002.

Hunter is a graduate of the University of Kansas. She holds a master's degree from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing an educational doctorate at UNL.

• Valerie Williams, vice provost for academic affairs at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, was named chair-elect of the Association of American Medical Colleges. The AAMC represents all 134 accredited U.S. medical schools as well as 17 medical schools in Canada. Dr. Williams will serve one year as chair-elect and then serve as head of the association in 2013.

Dr. Williams has been a faculty member and administrator at the University of Oklahoma since 1989. Previously she was assistant to the president at the University of Maryland at Baltimore. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Syracuse University and a doctorate in allied health sciences from the University of Oklahoma.

• James W. Harrington Jr. was named vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Washington at Tacoma. He has been a professor of geography at the University of Washington since 1997.

A graduate of Harvard University, Dr. Harrington holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Washington.

• Sean L. Huddleston was named director of intercultural training at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. He is the founder of the Peerless Group, a management consulting firm.

Huddleston is a graduate of Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan.

• Beatrice Forniss is the new president-elect of the Alabama State University National Alumni Association. She is the director of the Resources and Economic Assistance Programs for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

Forniss holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Alabama State University.

• Neil Henry, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, has announced he is stepping down to return to full-time teaching. He has led the school first as interim dean and then dean since 2007.

Dean Henry is the former Africa bureau chief for the Washington Post and was a staff writer for Newsweek. He has served on the Berkeley faculty since 1993.

A graduate of Princeton University, Henry earned a master’s degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

• William S. Kisaalita was appointed associate director of the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities at the University of Georgia. He is a professor of biological and agricultural engineering at the university.

Professor Kisaalita has been on the faculty at the University of Georgia for 20 years.

As we begin the new academic year, do you have the impression that a significant number of African-American students did not return to your campus due to higher costs and reduced financial aid?

Racial Disparity Found in Approvals of Grants by the National Institutes of Health 

A new study led by Donna K. Ginther, a professor of economics at the University of Kansas and published in the journal Science, found that black scientists were 13 percentage points less likely than white scientists to win grants from the National Institutes of Health. The study, conducted with the cooperation of the NIH, found that about 30 percent of all grant applications were approved. The racial gap in approval rates results in the fact that whites are twice as likely to win approval of grant proposals than blacks.

NIH director Francis S. Collins issued a statement saying, “The data is deeply troubling. This situation is not acceptable.”

The authors of the study could not explain the racial discrepancy. Even when adjusting the data to take factors into account such as educational background, professional publishing record, and country of origin, a 10 percentage point racial gap remained. The authors concluded that the only remaining explanations could be differences in the quality of applications or some form of racial bias.

Professor Ginther stated, “In order to improve the health outcomes of all Americans, it’s important for the biomedical workforce to reflect the diversity of the population. As the population becomes increasingly diverse, we will continue to get further from that goal unless the community intervenes.”

The study can be downloaded here.

Black Freshman Enrollments Are Up 8 Percent at the University of South Carolina: But the Record Over the Past Decade Is Poor

This fall, the University of South Carolina has the largest freshman class in its history. There are more than 4,550 first-year students on campus.

Black freshman enrollments are up about 8 percent from a year ago, when 287 black freshmen enrolled. While African Americans make up 28 percent of the college-age population in South Carolina, blacks make up only 7 percent of the first-year enrollments at the state’s flagship university. Women make up 55 percent of black first-year students.

The latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Education show that in 2009 blacks make up 11 percent of the total undergraduate enrollments at the University of South Carolina. This figure is likely to drop due to smaller percentage of blacks in the first-year classes in each of the last two years. In 2001, 18.7 percent of the undergraduate students at the University of South Carolina were black.

Cornell University Reports Sharp Increase in Black Freshmen

Cornell University reports that there are 209 African-American freshmen on campus this fall, up from 172 last year. That is an increase of 21.5 percent from a year ago. Blacks make up 6 percent of this year’s entering class, an increase from 5 percent in 2010.

Two African-American Scholars to Lead the Advisory Committee of the New Institute on Civic Engagement and Governance

Dianne M. Pinderhughes, a professor of Africana studies and a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, was named co-chair of the advisory committee for the Civic Engagement and Governance Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington. The new institute will focus on promoting broader citizen engagement and political participation. Co-chairing the advisory committee will be Kurt L. Schmoke, the former mayor of Baltimore who is currently dean of the Howard University School of Law.

Professor Pinderhughes is a graduate of Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago.

Dean Schmoke is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. In 1973 he was selected as a Rhodes Scholar.

Correction: A previous version stated that Professor Pinderhughes and Dean Schmoke were leaders of the new institute, not the advisory committee.

Notre Dame Scholar Wins Book Award From the American Political Science Association

Christian Davenport, a professor of peace studies, political science, and sociology at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, received the award for best book on race, ethnicity, and politics from the American Political Science Association. Professor Christian was honored for his book, Media Bias, Perspective, and State Repression: The Black Panther Party, which was published by Cambridge University Press. Professor Davenport’s first book was State Repression and the Domestic Democratic Peace (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

This fall Professor Davenport is teaching a course entitled "Death by Government." He is working on three additional book projects. The first, which he has completed but has not yet been published, is entitled, To Kill a Movement. This book chronicles how governments repress social movements. He is also working on a book on political violence in Rwanda and a book on the “Untouchables” in India.

Professor Davenport is a graduate of Clark University. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in political science from Binghamton University. Prior to coming to Notre Dame in 2008, he taught at the University of Maryland, the University of Houston, and the University of Colorado.

In Memoriam

Etta B. Stinson Williamson (1905-2011)

Etta B. Stinson Williamson, the oldest graduate of Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, died last month at the age of 106.

Stinson was born in 1905 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. As a young girls she moved to Jackson, Tennessee. She graduated from Lane College in 1928 and had a 48-year career as a teacher in the public schools.

Wesley C. McClure, the current president of Lane College, had Williamson as his first-grade teacher.

Honors and Awards

• Sade Kosoko-Lasaki, associate vice president for health sciences, multicultural and community affairs at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska, was named Physician of the Year in Surgery by the American Academy of Specialists in Surgery, an affiliate of the American Association of Physician Specialists. Dr. Kosoko-Lasaki is professor and chair of the ophthalmology department and professor of preventive medicine and public health at the medical school.

Dr. Kosoko-Lasaki received her medical training at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.

• Theodore R. Life Jr., an assistant professor in the department of radio, television, and film at Howard University in Washington, D.C., was presented with the Best Film/Video Documentary at the 26th Black International Cinema Berlin Festival. He was awarded for his documentary, Reason to Hope, about two journalists who spent a month in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake.

Readers can view a section of the film in the accompanying video.

• Carolyn Mosley, dean of the College of Health Sciences at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, will receive the 2011 National TRIO Achiever Award, from the Council for Opportunity in Education at the group’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. on September 27.

Dr. Mosley holds a Ph.D. in nursing from Texas Woman’s University.

• Brenda Y. Cartwright, associate professor of kinesiology and rehabilitation in the College of Education at the University of Hawaii, received the Virgie Winston-Smith Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Multicultural Rehabilitation Concerns.

Dr. Cartwright is a graduate of McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and an educational doctorate from George Washington University.

Grants and Gifts

The University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health received a five-year, $2,860,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study HIV/AIDS in the African-American male population. The grant will be used to develop and test a clinic-based safe-sex program for young black males.

Parsons The New School for Design in New York City received an $186,000 grant from the New York Community Trust to help minority students in high school and college develop their design portfolios.

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