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Black Students Lag Far Behind Whites in Their Level of Readiness for College-Level Curriculum

According to the latest data collected by the American College Testing Program, only 4 percent of all African-American high school seniors in 2010 who took the ACT college entrance examination met benchmarks for readiness for college-level work in English, mathematics, science, and reading. Thirty percent of white students who took the test were ready for college-level work in all four subjects.

The data showed that 34 percent of blacks met the college readiness benchmark in English. For whites, the figure was 77 percent. But only 13 percent of blacks met the college readiness benchmark for mathematics compared to 52 percent of whites.

The largest racial gap was in science. Some 36 percent of whites who took the ACT met the benchmark for college-level science. This is six times the rate for blacks.

Professor’s Study Suggests Victim’s Race May Be a Factor in Death Penalty Sentences

A new study by Michael L. Radelet, a professor of sociology at the University of Colorado, finds a strong correlation between death penalty sentences and the race of the victim. Examining more than 15,000 murders over nearly three decades, Professor Radelet finds that convicted murderers are three times more likely to get the death penalty if the victim was white compared to convicted murderers who killed an African American. Radelet does not believe the disparity is due to racial bias of prosecutors. Rather, the exclusion of blacks from many juries and unconscious biases of white jurors may play a role.

Two Physicians With Academic Ties Chosen to Lead the National Medical Association

The National Medical Association was founded in 1895 to represent the interests of African-American physicians. At its recent annual convention in Orlando, Florida, Leonard Weather Jr. was installed as the association’s 111th president. Dr. Weather is director of the Omni Fertility and Laser Institute and clinical professor at Xavier University. A native of Utica, New York, Dr. Weather is a graduate of the Howard University College of Pharmacy and Rush Medical College in Chicago.

Cedric M. Bright was named president-elect of the National Medical Association. He will assume office at next year’s annual convention. Dr. Bright is an internist and serves as associate professor of clinical medicine at the Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Bright completed his medical training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ranking Colleges and Universities by the Extent of Racial Interaction on Campus

The Princeton Review recently published its annual 373 Best Colleges guide. Each year the Princeton Review surveys students at the colleges it features and ranks the colleges in a host of categories including best and worst dorms, food, campuses, etc.

One of the survey questions ranks the schools on whether there is a lot of interaction between students of different races on campus. The school with the most interaction between the races this year is the University of Miami. Blacks make up 8 percent of the student body and Latinos are 24 percent of all undergraduate students. Other colleges and universities that rank high in interaction between different races of students are Rice University (its original charter prohibited the admission of blacks), the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Loyola University of New Orleans, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

In contrast, the colleges and universities with the least amount of interaction between different races of students on campus, according to the Princeton Review, are Trinity College (Connecticut), Fairfield University, the University of New Hampshire, Providence College, and Miami University of Ohio.

Dean at Alabama State University Pads Her Acting Resume

Tommie “Tonea” Stewart, professor and dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Alabama State University in Montgomery, has added a new role to her impressive acting resume. She recently appeared in an episode of the TNT crime series Memphis Beat. She played a psychic.

Stewart is a native of Greenwood, Mississippi. She is a graduate of Jackson State University and holds a master’s degree in theatre arts from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Ph.D. in theatre arts from Florida State University. She was the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. from the Florida State University School of Theatre. She has appeared on many television shows including In the Heat of the Night, ER, Matlock, and Walker, Texas Ranger. Her film credits include Mississippi Burning, A Time to Kill, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers III.

HBCU on the Cutting Edge of Nanotechnology

The new Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering has opened with its first 18 students in Greensboro, North Carolina. The new school is a cooperative effort between the University of North Carolina Greensboro and historically black North Carolina A&T State University.

Nanoscience studies objects at the molecular level. Students at the new school will be able to examine and work with items that are 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Only about 10 other universities in the nation offer degree programs in nanotechnology.

Honors and Awards

• Condoleezza Rice, the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution and professor of political science at Stanford University, received the Thomas D. White National Defense Award from the U.S. Air Force Academy. The award is given annually to a person who has made valuable contributions to U.S. national security.

• Muriel A. Howard, president of the Association of State Colleges and Universities, received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Keene State College in New Hampshire. Previously, Dr. Howard served as president of Buffalo State College.

Dr. Howard is a graduate of the City University of New York and holds master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Buffalo.

• Robert E. Efimba, associate professor of civil engineering at Howard University, was named National Outstanding Advisor by Tau Beta Pi, an international engineering honorary society.

Dr. Efimba holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from MIT.

Grants and Gifts

• Alcorn State University, the historically black educational institution in Mississippi, was awarded a five-year, $340,115 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase student retention and graduation rates.

The University of New Orleans received a $541,807 grant from the National Science Foundation for an undergraduate research program seeking to increase the number of minority students in the biological sciences.

• Tennessee State University, the historically black educational institution in Nashville, received $2.92 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for support of the university’s food and agricultural research programs.

The National Endowment for the Humanities recently announced more than 200 grants totaling over $31 million for humanities programs across the United States. Many of these grants went to colleges and universities for projects relating to African Americans. Here are some examples:

Johns Hopkins University received a $182,514 grant to fund a summer institute for 25 college and university faculty members to explore the topic of black resistance in the tropical Atlantic, 1760-1888;

Boston University received a $180,382 grant for two, one-week workshops for schoolteachers on the history of African Americans in Massachusetts;

• Henry Louis Gates Jr. at Harvard University received a grant of just over $200,000 to fund a four-week institute on African-American freedom struggles from 1865 to 1965;

• The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth received a $177,849 grant to study the role of the city of New Bedford in the Underground Railroad;

Jackson State University in Mississippi received grants of nearly $266,000 for two, one-week workshops for community college faculty entitled “From Freedom Summer to the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike”;

Tougaloo College in Mississippi will use a $218,856 grant to study the literature and music of Islamic nations of West Africa;

• Professor Gerald Early at Washington University in St. Louis won a $215,175 grant for a four-week institute to study jazz and Motown music and their impact on American culture; and

Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, was awarded a $188,124 grant for a four-week summer institute that will study abolitionism and the Underground Railroad in upstate New York.

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Howard University Students Are Participating in an Archaeological Dig at a Plantation Site That Housed 90 Slaves

Students from Howard University are participating in an archaeological dig at the Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick, Maryland. Using surface-penetrating radar the National Park Service has located foundations of several buildings that were part of the L'Hermitage Plantation. In 1800 the plantation was home to about 90 slaves, one of the largest groups of enslaved blacks in Maryland at that time.

The Howard University students are working with students from American University, Hood College, and the University of Maryland. The excavations at the site will continue through October.


Black Colleges and Universities Rank High on a List of Schools That Require Students to Take a Well-Rounded Core Curriculum

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni believes that U.S. colleges and universities should teach a basic core curriculum and move away from politically correct studies and a liberal outlook on educational issues. Each year they rate more than 700 colleges and universities on their commitment to require students to take courses that will produce a well-rounded education in core subjects.

ACTA determines if schools require students to take classes in seven subjects: composition, literature, a foreign language, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics, and natural sciences. A college or university must require students to take courses in at least six of these seven subject areas in order to earn a grade of A. For a grade of B, colleges and universities must require students to take four of these subjects.

Among the 700 schools rated, about 40 colleges and universities received a grade of A. One of these is a historically black institution: Tennessee State University. Another 31 HBCUs received grades of B. Among the black colleges, only Norfolk State University received a grade lower than C.

In contrast, Yale, Brown, and Cornell are highly respected Ivy League schools. But they received a grade of F from ACTA. Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania received D grades.

For more information, or to see grades for all the schools, go to WhatWillTheyLearn.com.

Three Black Scholars Named Fletcher Fellows

In 2004 Alphonse Fletcher Jr., CEO of the Wall Street firm Fletcher Asset Management, established a $50 million endowment that funds the research of scholars, writers, and artists whose work contributes to improving race relations in the United States. Scholars selected as Fletcher Fellows receive a stipend of $50,000. Since 2004, 36 scholars have received Fletcher Fellowships. Among the winners have been Elizabeth Alexander, Anita Hill, Arthur Mitchell, Randall Kennedy, Brent Staples, Kimberle Crenshaw, and Clayborne Carson.

This year three academics were chosen from 80 applicants to receive Fletcher Fellowships:

Mia Bay is an associate professor of history and director of the Center for Race and Ethnicity at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Professor Bay, who earned her Ph.D. in history at Yale University, spent the 2009-2010 academic year as a senior fellow at the National Humanities Center. She will use her fellowship stipend to complete work on her project entitled “Traveling Black: A Social History of Segregated Transportation.”

Richard Thompson Ford is George E. Osborne Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. He is the author of the 2008 book The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse. His fellowship project will involve research on subtle forms of racism and discrimination in education and employment.

Professor Ford is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School.

Tyrone Forman is an associate professor of sociology and co-director of the Race and Difference Initiative at Emory University in Atlanta. His research will involve racial interaction of American youth. A graduate of Vassar College, Dr. Forman earned a master’s degree at Northwestern University and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan.

In Memoriam

Thomas S. Gunnings (1935-2010)

Thomas S. Gunnings, professor emeritus in the department of psychology at Michigan State University, has died at the age of 75. Dr. Gunnings first came to Michigan State University in 1969 as an assistant professor and assistant director of the university’s counseling center. At that time he was the only African-American counseling professional on campus. In 1972 he became assistant dean for health programs at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. He was the college’s first black faculty member. He remained on the faculty there until his retirement in 1999.

William Patrick Foster (1919-2010)

William P. Foster, the founder of the Marching 100 band at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, has died at the age of 91.

Foster is credited with revolutionizing marching bands and football halftime shows by including jazz and popular music and high-stepping choreography. He directed the marching band at Florida A&M from 1946 to his retirement in 1998. In 1946 the band had 16 members. Today it has more than 400 participants. The band played at the 2005 Super Bowl.

Dr. Foster was a native of Kansas City, Kansas. As a youngster, he studied the clarinet. In 1941 Foster graduated from the University of Kansas. He later earned a master’s degree at Wayne State University and an educational doctorate from Teachers College at Columbia University.

Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

Charlie G. Spell was named interim chair for the department of education at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg. He was an assistant superintendent of the public school system in Orangeburg.

Dr. Spell holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from South Carolina State University.

• Pamela Carter was appointed chair of the department of management at the School of Business and Economics at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. She is an associate professor in the department.

Dr. Carter is a graduate of George Mason University. She holds an MBA from the University of Maryland and a doctorate from Florida State University.

• Debbie G. Thomas is the new associate provost and associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at North Carolina Central University. She was the executive director of the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence at Indiana University Northwest in Gary.

Thomas holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Southern Illinois University.

• Greg Marrow was appointed chief information officer at Alabama A&M University. He was director of instructional technology services at North Carolina Central University in Durham.

Marrow holds bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University.

• Kevin James was named chair of the accounting department at the School of Business and Economics at North Carolina A&T State University. He was an associate professor at Middle Tennessee State University.

Dr. James holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and a Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Tennessee.

• Martha Bulluck was appointed interim assistant vice chancellor for human resources administration at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. She was director of human resources for AmeriHealth Indiana.

A graduate of Hampton University, Bulluck holds a master’s degree in public administration from Indiana University.

• A. Ramona Brown is the new vice president for student affairs at the College of Staten Island in New York. She was vice dean for student and external affairs in the Grove School of Engineering at The City College of New York.

Dr. Brown holds a master’s degree from Howard University and a doctorate from Teachers College of Columbia University.

• Karl S. Wright, former president of Florida Memorial University, was named provost at the University of the Virgin Islands.

A native of Jamaica, Dr. Wright holds a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Mississippi State University.

• William H. Robinson was promoted to associate professor of electrical engineering at Vanderbilt University. He was also granted tenure.

Dr. Robinson is a graduate of Florida A&M University. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Georgia Tech.

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