Black Enrollments Plummet at Elite New York City High Schools

Last month JBHE broke the story that black enrollments at some of the most prestigious campuses of the City University of New York had dropped by more than 25 percent. This occurred after the university’s announcement that remedial education courses would be eliminated and stricter admissions requirements would be instituted. Now The New York Times, which reported the JBHE research on CUNY, has followed up with a report on black enrollments at selective New York City public high schools.

Students are admitted to these elite high schools based on their verbal and mathematics scores on a standardized admissions test. The Times study found that black enrollments at the Bronx High School of Science had dropped from 11.8 percent in 1995 to 4.8 percent in the 2005-06 school year. At Brooklyn Technical High School, the percentage of blacks in the student body dropped from 37.3 percent to 14.9 percent in the same period. At the highly regarded Stuyvesant High School in downtown Manhattan, blacks made up only 2.2 percent of the student body, about half the percentage that existed 11 years ago.


“We don’t admit students to a great college on the basis of only a test score. We shouldn’t admit them to a great high school on that basis.”

Gary Orfield, director of the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, commenting on the severe drop in black enrollments at New York City’s selective high schools, in The New York Times, 8-18-06 (See story above.)


Ten Colleges and Universities Team Up to Increase Black Students and Faculty in Key Scientific Fields

Ten colleges and universities in Kentucky and West Virginia have entered into a partnership to recruit black and other minority students to study in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics. The Kentucky-West Virginia Alliance for Minority Participation hopes to double the number of minority students earning bachelor’s degrees in these disciplines over the next five years. Another goal of the program is to increase the number of minority students seeking teaching careers in the sciences.

The $2.4 million program is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The director of the project is Lee T. Todd Jr., president of the University of Kentucky. Other colleges and universities in the state of Kentucky participating in the alliance are the University of Louisville, Kentucky State University, Western Kentucky University, Centre College, and Bluegrass Community and Technical College. In West Virginia, the participating educational institutions are Marshall University, West Virginia State University, West Virginia University, and West Virginia State Community and Technical College.


Harvard Solidifies Its Position as the Leader in Black Student Yield

So-called yield, the percentage of applicants who decide to go to a college that issues an invitation to them, has become the standard measure of an institution’s strength and drawing power. For most of the past 20 years Harvard University has been the nation’s gold standard in student yield percentage for both black and white students.

But in both 2002 and 2003 this gold standard in black student yield moved to Stanford University. In 2003 the black student yield at Stanford was 67.9 percent, the highest in the country. Harvard’s black student yield dropped as low as 61 percent in 2002, the year after the controversy between then Harvard president Lawrence Summers and black studies professor Cornel West.

In 2004 Harvard regained the lead in black student yield from Stanford and has been increasing the lead over the past two years. In 2006 nearly 71 percent of all black students who were offered admission to Harvard decided to enroll. At Stanford University this year, the black student yield was 61.4 percent.


White Supremacist Seeks Post on Board of Trustees of North Idaho College

Stan Hess, a former spokesperson for David Duke’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization, has declared his candidacy for a seat on the board of trustees of North Idaho College in Coeur D’Alene. Any resident of Kootenai County in Idaho can run for a six-year term on the board of the publicly operated college.

Hess, who is organizing a new group called the European-American Human Rights Task Force, calls himself the “white Jesse Jackson.” He claims he is not a racist but a “European activist.” A former anti-war protester during the Vietnam era, Hess says his politics changed in 1975 when he became the victim of a hate crime. While driving a cab in Oakland, he was shot in the face by an African-American man who called him a “white boy.”

If elected to the board of North Idaho College, Hess says that he will try to institute a European-American studies program at the school and to make October European-American Heritage Month.

Blacks are only 0.4 percent of the 5,000-member student body at North Idaho College.


In the Economic Struggle to Afford Higher Education, Blacks Losing Further Ground to Whites

One of the major roadblocks to black progress in higher education is money. With the costs of college rising and federal and state cuts in financial aid to low-income students, it is becoming harder for many black families to send their children to college. Since President Bush took office in 2001, the economic outlook for black families in the United States has deteriorated significantly.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in 2005 the median black family income declined by nearly one percent whereas the median white family income increased by one half of one percent. The median black family income in the United States in 2005 was 60.8 percent of the median white family income. This is approximately the same black-to-white ratio that existed 40 years ago.

The percentage of all African Americans living below the federal government’s official poverty line increased from 24.7 percent in 2004 to 24.9 percent in 2005. At the same time, the percentage of all white Americans living in poverty dropped from 8.7 percent to 8.3 percent.

The current data continues the trend since President Bush took office. From 2001 to 2004, the median black family income dropped 3 percent. When President Bush took office, the black poverty rate was 22.5 percent. It has now increased to 24.9 percent.


Women’s Colleges Lead the Way in Economic Diversity

New data obtained by JBHE from the Department of Education shows that among the nation’s 30 highest-ranked liberal arts colleges, the five women’s colleges in the group lead the other 25 institutions in enrolling low-income students. This is of particular importance to African Americans because, as we report in the previous item, blacks are a disproportionate percentage of Americans in the low-income group.

Nearly 26 percent of all students at Smith College in Massachusetts received federal Pell Grants in 2004. Pell Grants are reserved for students from low-income families. Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts was the only other high-ranking liberal arts college where more than 20 percent of the students qualified for federal Pell Grant awards.

At Barnard College, Wellesley College, and Bryn Mawr College, schools that enroll only women, at least 16 percent of all students received Pell Grants.

All of these women’s colleges have programs encouraging young single mothers to return to school to earn a college education. Some of the colleges have programs for older women to return to college after raising their children. Undoubtedly, many of these women have low incomes and qualify for federal Pell Grants.

Among the coeducational institutions, Oberlin College in Ohio had the highest percentage of low-income students. There, 14.7 percent of all students received Pell Grants.



In Memoriam

Vernon Martin Ingram (1924-2006)

Vernon Martin Ingram, the German-born biologist who discovered the genetic abnormality that leads to sickle cell anemia, died in Boston late last month after a fall. He was 82 years old. Sickle cell anemia is a disease that disproportionately afflicts African Americans.

Dr. Ingram served on the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1958. He held a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of London.

Lena K. Lee (1906-2006)

Lena Lee, one of the first black women to graduate from the University of Maryland law school, has died at her home in Baltimore. She was 100 years old.

For most of her career Lee was a principal at an elementary school in Baltimore. When she retired at age 60, Lee began a career in politics, serving 15 years in the Maryland House of Delegates, where she was known as the “fearless one.”

Lee was born in Alabama, the daughter of a coal miner. She later moved to Pennsylvania where her father found work. She received teacher training at what is now Cheyney University and was hired to teach school in Annapolis, Maryland. While teaching she completed her bachelor’s degree at Morgan State University. Wanting to continue her education, she was denied admission to the graduate school at the University of Maryland. As was the custom at the time, the state of Maryland (and many other southern states) paid for African Americans to pursue graduate training out of state rather than establish segregated graduate schools for Negroes at their own public universities. Lee eventually earned a master’s degree at New York University.

When racial barriers to higher education in Maryland were finally eliminated, Lee became only the third black woman to graduate from the University of Maryland School of Law.

Lydia T. Wright (1922-2006)

Lydia T. Wright, a long-time pediatrician and faculty member at the University of Buffalo medical school, died recently at a nursing home in the Buffalo area. She was 84 years old.

Dr. Wright was a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, but grew up in Cincinnati. She attended the University of Cincinnati and Fisk University before enrolling at Meharry Medical College. After earning her M.D. in 1947 and interning at Harlem Hospital, she married Dr. Frank G. Evans, an internist. The couple opened a practice in Buffalo. While practicing medicine and teaching, Dr. Wright still found time to serve on the Buffalo Board of Education, the first African American to be appointed to the board.

Prior to her death, she was the only person living in Buffalo who had a public school in the city named in her honor.



Benjamin Dixon, vice president for multicultural affairs at Virginia Tech, announced that he will retire at the end of 2006. He has served in the post since 1998. He previously was the deputy commissioner of education for the state of Connecticut.

A graduate of Howard University, Dixon holds a master’s degree from Harvard University and a doctorate in educational leadership and administration from the University of Massachusetts.



• Claude W. Barnes, an associate professor of political science and criminal justice at North Carolina A&T State University, received the Instructional Development Award from the organization Spatial Perspectives on Analysis for Curriculum Enhancement.



Hampton University, the historically black educational institution in Virginia, received a three-year, $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to fund the university’s Center for Laser Science and Spectroscopy. The grant will be used to conduct research in laser crystal development, fluorescence spectroscopy, and nonlinear spectroscopy of nonlinear materials. The grant is under the direction of Doyle Temple, professor of physics at Hampton University.

Fort Valley State University, a historically black educational institution in Georgia, received a $763,769 grant from the National Park Service and a $327,000 grant from the state board of regents to restore Huntington Hall, a campus building which has been closed for 17 years.

The building dates from 1907 when it was the university's first dormitory for women. It later was used as an administration and classroom building.

Black and White Scores on the SAT Decline But the Racial Gap Improves Slightly

This past week The College Board reported the biggest drop in average SAT scores in 31 years. In addition, another major development was the fact that the number of students taking the SAT dropped slightly while the number of students taking the rival ACT test increased.

But lost in the press frenzy about the SAT’s troubles was the fact that there was a decline in the racial gap in SAT scores. The mean combined score on the mathematics and verbal sections of the SAT for black seniors in the Class of 2006 was 863. This was one point lower than in 2005.

For whites, there was a five-point drop in combined scores. As a result, the black-white gap in SAT scores dropped from 204 points to 200 points. But the racial gap in SAT scores remains larger than was the case almost 20 years ago in 1988.

This year is the first time that the SAT writing test scores were included. This part of the test is highly controversial, and many colleges do not even consider scores on the writing test when evaluating applicants. For Class of 2006 seniors, the mean score for whites on the SAT writing test was 519. For blacks, the mean score was 15 percent lower at 428.


Racial and Gender Differences in Graduate Degree Attainment

Last week JBHE reported new data on racial and gender differences in four-year college degree attainments. The data showed that while white men were significantly more likely than white women to hold a college degree, for African-Americans it is women who hold the edge.

Now we report on similar data for graduate degree attainments. In 2005, 12.1 percent of white males over the age of 25 had obtained a graduate degree. This was significantly higher than the figure for white women, which stood at 10.1 percent.

For blacks, the gender performance was once again reversed. For black men, 5.4 percent of all adults over the age of 25 had earned a graduate degree. For black women, 6.3 percent of all adults had a graduate degree.



Columbia Lands Three New Black Political Science Professors

There are or will be 10 new faculty members joining the political science department at Columbia University this academic year. Three of the new faculty members are black:

  • Fredrick C. Harris will be coming to Columbia in January for the spring semester as a full professor. He will also direct a new research center on African-American Politics and Society. He is currently a professor of political science at the University of Rochester and was a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University.
  • Kimuli Kasara is joining the department as an assistant professor. She recently earned her Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University. Her dissertation was on ethnic politics in Africa and the African political economy.
  • Dorian T. Warren is also a new assistant professor at Columbia. After earning his Ph.D. from Yale in 2005, Warren was a postdoctoral scholar at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. He will hold a joint appointment with Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.


ACT Test Results Show Few Blacks Ready for College-Level Coursework

In analyzing the ACT test scores of 2006 black high school seniors, the American College Testing Program concludes that only 3 percent of all black students are sufficiently prepared to deal with college-level coursework in all four disciplines of English, mathematics, social science, and biology. For whites, the results showed that 26 percent of high school seniors who took the ACT test were academically prepared to handle the college curriculum in these subject areas.

When broken down into particular subjects, ACT found that 38 percent of all black students were prepared for college-level work in English. More than 20 percent of all black students were ready for college work in the social sciences. But the results showed that only 11 percent of black students were prepared for college-level mathematics and only 5 percent were ready to study biology at the college level.


17.2%  Percentage of all white undergraduate college students in 2004 who lived on campus.

12.2%  Percentage of all African-American undergraduate college students in 2004 who lived on campus.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Bush Administration Does Not Challenge Grutter Decision in Briefs for Two K-12 Race-Sensitive Admissions Cases Now Before the Supreme Court

It comes as no surprise that the Bush administration has filed briefs urging the Supreme Court to outlaw the use of race in K-12 school assignments in Seattle and Louisville. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the cases this fall.

But proponents of affirmative action in higher education feared that the administration would use these cases to push for the Court to overturn the 2003 Grutter and 1978 Bakke rulings now that two new conservative justices have been seated on the nation’s highest bench. But this does not appear to be the case.

In fact, Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, a former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, used the Court’s Grutter ruling in his arguments. He wrote that the two school districts were applying a racial quota system that did not meet the narrowly tailored affirmative action guidelines outlined as acceptable under Grutter.

Of course, the Supreme Court could, on its own, use the new cases to overturn Grutter or place new stringent requirements on the use of race in school and higher educational admissions. It is near certain that Justice Samuel Alito is far more conservative on the issue of affirmative action than his predecessor, Sandra Day O’Connor who wrote the majority opinion in Grutter.




Amos O. Olagunju was named dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. He was a professor of computer networking at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.

Professor Olagunju is a graduate of Nigeria’s Ahmadu Bello University. He holds a master’s degree from Queens University in Canada and a doctorate in educational research and evaluation from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Ronald H. Blackmon was appointed provost at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina. Blackmon will continue in the post of vice chancellor for academic affairs and as a professor of biology.

Dr. Blackmon is a graduate of Delaware State University. He holds a master’s degree in zoology and a Ph.D. in cell biology from Howard University.

Tamia P. Herndon was named director of annual giving at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. Dr. Herndon is an alumna of Tougaloo College. She holds a master’s degree from Mississippi College and a Ph.D. from Jackson State University.

Robert Davis was named chair of the department of sociology at North Carolina A&T State University. He has served on the faculty and in several administrative posts at the university. A graduate of Southern University, Professor Davis holds a master’s degree from Atlanta University and Ph.D. from Washington State University.

Chantal N. Stevens was appointed director of the College Preparatory Schools Program at A Better Chance. Each year the program receives 2,000 applicants for admission to the program, which places black and other minority students in 290 of the nation’s leading preparatory schools.

Prior to joining A Better Chance, Stevens was assistant director of student recruitment and admissions counseling at City College of New York. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Baruch College of the City University of New York.

Celesti Colds Fechter was promoted to associate dean for academic services at New School University in New York City. She was assistant dean for academic affairs and remains a professor of psychology at the university.

Bola Majekobaje was named assistant director for student diversity at the Vancouver campus of Washington State University. She was an admissions counselor at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. She is a 2003 graduate of the University of Oregon with a degree in biology.

Marvin H. Watkins was named interim senior vice chancellor of development and university relations at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. He had been a retired administrator with over a quarter-century of experience in higher education at North Carolina A&T and Bennett College.

Copyright © 2006. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.