New Book Explores Racial Disparities in College Completion Rates

Yesterday, Princeton University Press released a landmark new study entitled Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities. The book, authored by William G. Bowen, Matthew M. Chingos, and Michael S. McPherson, offers a detailed analysis of the academic performance of more than 121,000 students who in 1999 enrolled at 21 flagship universities and 45 other four-year state-operated institutions in Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina.

The book presents far more than what is contained in standard graduation rate data furnished by the U.S. Department of Education. Graduation and dropout rates are examined by race, gender, high school academic performance, standardized test scores, and socioeconomic status. Detailed data is assembled by race on the time it takes students to earn their degrees, and the book shows the factors present when students are likely to drop out. For example, it is commonly believed that most students who drop out of college do so within their first year. But surprisingly, the authors’ data shows that 44 percent of all college dropouts leave school after completing two years or more.

The book is a must read for all higher education administrators seeking to expand educational attainment rates for all students and particularly for those seeking to enhance the academic achievement of blacks and other underrepresented minority students.

A full-length review of this important book will appear in the Autumn 2009 print edition of JBHE and on JBHE.com



Duke University Enrolls Its Second-Largest Group of Black Freshmen

There are 183 black freshmen at Duke University this fall. They make up 10.6 percent of the incoming class. This year, black first-year enrollments are up 6.4 percent compared to 2008.

The 183 black freshmen are the second-largest group of black first-year students in the university’s history. In 2004 there were 188 black freshmen. They made up 11.5 percent of the freshman class in 2004.


New Scholarly Exchange Program Proposed to Focus on the Work of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi

U.S. Representative John Lewis of Georgia, the famed veteran of the civil rights movement, has introduced legislation calling for scholarly exchange focusing on the work of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.  The Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative calls for the United States Department of State and the government of India to conduct an exchange of scholars from the two countries. An annual conference, with the locale alternating between India and the United States, would focus on nonviolent solutions to world problems. In addition, there would be a student exchange program for both graduate and undergraduate students between the two countries.


Southern University in New Orleans Receives Major Federal Funding to Rebuild Its Original Campus That Was Flooded During Hurricane Katrina

Four years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the campus of historically black Southern University in New Orleans, the university has finally received the funding to rebuild its original campus. The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that the university is eligible for an additional $32 million in grants for rebuilding four buildings on its downtown campus. Since the campus was flooded, the university has moved much of its operations to a temporary campus north of the city.

All told, the university has received $92 million in federal funding since the hurricane. Fall enrollments are expected to be in the range of 3,000 students. This is about 85 percent of the level that existed prior to the hurricane.


New Admission Rules Will Do Little to Increase Racial Diversity at UCLA and Berkeley

Thirteen years after the passage of Proposition 209, which banned the consideration of race in admission decisions at the University of California, officials are still wrestling with ways to increase racial diversity of the student body. Asian students make up more than 40 percent of all enrollees but only 12 percent of the state’s population.

Under current admission procedures, the top 12.5 percent of all high school students statewide qualify for admission to the University of California system. In addition, the top 4 percent of the graduating class at each high school in the state qualifies for admission. This includes high schools in Oakland, Los Angeles, and other cities that are almost all black.

Under new admission guidelines that will come into effect in 2012, only the top 9 percent of students statewide will qualify for admission to the system. But the top 9 percent of graduating students at every high school in the state (up from 4 percent) will also qualify for admission. Because there are many high schools that are almost all black, the new rules undoubtedly will significantly increase the number of black students who qualify for admission to the nine undergraduate campuses of the University of California system.

But students who qualify for admission to the system must still compete for places at the various campuses. Because blacks are likely to have lower SAT scores and lower high school grade point averages than white and Asian students, they will win few of the places at the very selective campuses such as UCLA and Berkeley. Therefore, it is likely that Berkeley and UCLA will continue to have student bodies that are predominantly white and Asian, and blacks will be funneled to the least selective campuses of the system.

Data supplied to JBHE shows that this fall African Americans make up 4.4 percent of the incoming class at the University of California at Los Angeles. At Berkeley, the most prestigious campus of the University of California system, blacks are just 3.3 percent of all freshmen this fall. Black enrollments at these two campuses were about 7 percent of the student body prior to Proposition 209.



Reality TV Villainess Studies to Become a Minister

In 2004 Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth became a household name after appearing on Donald Trump’s television show The Apprentice. She made such an impression on viewers that TV Guide named her the greatest “reality TV villain of all time.”

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Manigault-Stallworth is a graduate of Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. She holds a master’s degree from Howard University. Before appearing on The Apprentice, she worked in the Clinton White House.

Manigault-Stallworth used the exposure she received on The Apprentice to market herself as a celebrity. She did public appearances, was a frequent guest on television talk shows, and has appeared in several additional reality TV series. She also devoted a great deal of time to charity work.

Now Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth is on a different path. This fall she enrolled at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. There she will study for her doctorate in ministry. She issued a statement which read, “I made a very personal decision to study the word of God. I want to grow as a person and finally discover what God’s purpose for my life is.”


In Memoriam

Berkley Branche Eddins (1926-2009)

Berkley Eddins, professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Buffalo, died in a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania. He was 82 years old.

Dr. Eddins was a native of Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from Howard University and went on to earn a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Eddins taught medical ethics and social philosophy at the University of Buffalo for nearly three decades.



Honors and Awards

• Keith L. Black, chair of the department of neurosurgery and director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, received the Pioneer in Medicine Award from the World Congress of the International Brain Mapping and Intraoperative Surgical Planning Society.



For breaking news and previews of upcoming articles


Changes in Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarship Program May Disproportionately Affect African-American College Students

In past years, students in Florida who graduated from high school with a 3.5 grade point average and scored 1270 on the combined mathematics and reading sections of the SAT college entrance examination were eligible for a Bright Futures scholarship which paid full tuition at a state university. Students with a 3.0 GPA were eligible for a Bright Futures scholarship which would pay 75 percent of their tuition costs.

In 2008 nearly 160,000 students in Florida received Bright Futures scholarships. Of this group, 10,610 recipients, or 7 percent, were African Americans. But blacks make up about 15 percent of the college-age population in Florida. So African Americans are allocated less than half the scholarship money in the Bright Futures program than they would receive if racial parity were to prevail.

This past spring the legislature made significant changes to the Bright Futures program. First of all, Bright Futures scholarship awards were capped at last year’s levels. The legislature then authorized state universities to raise tuition by as much as 15 percent per year until a time that the tuition costs at Florida universities equal the average tuition for public universities nationwide.

Most state universities in Florida promptly raised tuition. As a result, Bright Futures scholarships will no longer pay the full cost of tuition. The students least likely to be able to afford these additional costs are those from low-income families, a group that is disproportionately black.

Students will now have to complete 24 credit hours each year in order to qualify for the scholarships. This is double the credit hours needed in the past. Thus, the program will not be available for part-time students who are working their way through college and cannot take on a full schedule.

Also, students who drop a course after the traditional drop/add period deadline will be required to refund the state program. For a typical three-credit course, students would be obliged to refund the state about $375. Black and other low-income students will be reluctant to drop courses because of the monetary penalty.

John Barnhill, director of admissions at Florida State University, told the Miami Herald, “I don’t want a system that only lets rich people drop classes.”


“Even after accounting for differences in academic credentials and family backgrounds, the college graduation rate for black men is 6 percentage points lower than the graduation rate for similarly situated white men.”

William G. Bowen et al., writing in Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities (Princeton University Press, 2009) See lead item.


Four Blacks Among the Inaugural Class of 162 Fellows of the American Chemical Society

The American Chemical Society, the prestigious professional organization for academic and corporate chemists, has named 162 individuals to its inaugural class of ACS Fellows. The American Chemical Society did not disclose the race of the 162 chemists who were honored. But JBHE has been able to determine that four of the honorees are African Americans.

In 1952 Jeannette E. Brown graduated from Hunter College in New York City. She went on to earn a master’s degree in organic chemistry at the University of Minnesota.

Brown spent a large part of her career at Ciba Pharmaceutical and then Merck, another large pharmaceutical company. She later was director of the Regional Center for the New Jersey Statewide Systemic Initiative at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

James P. Shoffner received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Lincoln University in Missouri. He later earned a master’s degree in organic chemistry at DePaul University and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He spent 30 years conducting chemical research for UOP Inc., formerly known as the National Hydrocarbon Company. He also taught at Columbia College in Chicago.

Thomas W. Smith is a professor of chemistry and microsystems engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York State. His research is focused on polymers. A 1969 graduate of John Carroll University in Cleveland, Professor Smith earned his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Michigan.

Isiah M. Warner is Philip W. West Professor of Analytical and Environmental Chemistry at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. A high school valedictorian, Dr. Warner received a full scholarship to historically black Southern University. He graduated with honors in chemistry in 1968. He worked for a time at Battelle Northwest while studying for his Ph.D. at the University of Washington.



Slight Decline in Black Freshman Enrollments at the University of Georgia

At the University of Georgia in 2008, there were 381 black freshman students in the entering class. This was the largest number of black freshmen at the University of Georgia since 1995. Black students made up 7.9 percent of the entering class.

This fall there are 362 black freshmen, a slight decline of 5 percent. This year blacks are 7.6 percent of all freshmen at the state’s flagship university.

It is important to remember that blacks are 29 percent of the population in the state of Georgia.


Some Public Black Colleges See Surge in Enrollments

In this down economy many small, private historically black colleges and universities are having difficulty maintaining enrollment levels. This puts severe strain on the budgets of these institutions.

But many state-operated HBCUs have seen a surge in enrollments. Lower tuition at these state-operated educational institutions is undoubtedly the primary factor.

For example, at North Carolina Central University in Durham, new freshman admissions are up 61 percent from a year ago. To accommodate the huge surge in enrollments, 300 junior and senior students are being housed at the Millennium Hotel in downtown Durham. They will take up one half of the hotel’s total capacity. Eight resident assistants, employed by the university, will reside at the hotel. Free shuttle buses will be provided between the hotel and the NCCU campus.

At Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, 3,300 students applied for dormitory space on campus. The university has room for fewer than 2,500 students.

Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, has enrolled the largest freshman class in its history. Due to the record enrollment, Central State has been forced to house at least 100 students at nearby Wilberforce University.


White Historian Named Head of Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center at Historically Black Jackson State University

Robby Luckett is a native of Richland, Mississippi. He earned his undergraduate degree at Yale and a Ph.D. in history at the University of Georgia. This summer, Dr. Luckett, now 32 years old, returned home to become the director of the Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center at historically black Jackson State University. The center holds a vast treasure trove of documents, photographs, and oral history archives on blacks in the state of Mississippi. Luckett plans to make the assets of the center more accessible to researchers and scholars. He has debuted a new Web page for scholars to become more familiar with the collections.

Dr. Luckett will also teach black studies courses at Jackson State.



Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Antonio Boyle, assistant vice president for enrollment management at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, was named chairman-elect of the Southern Region Council of The College Board. He will assume the post this coming spring and serve a one-year term.

Boyle is a graduate of Florida A&M University. He holds an MBA from Alabama A&M University.

• Staci Clayborne was named assistant vice president for student development at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville. She was the principal at the Miles Davis Elementary School in East St. Louis, Illinois.

Clayborne is a graduate of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. She holds a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.

• Flecia Thomas was named dean of student success at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, Illinois. She was director of the student success center at Arizona State University.

Dr. Thomas holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Illinois State University and a doctorate in counselor education from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

• Saundra Richardson-Cox, director of the Center for Academic Excellence at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, was appointed to a two-year term on the advisory board of Academic Advising Consultants and Speakers.

Richardson-Cox is a graduate of Grambling State University in Louisiana. She holds a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Evansville.

• Bruce Smith is the new director of the Black/African-American Cultural Center at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He was director of African-American student affairs at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Smith is a graduate of Brown University. He holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Southern California and a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley.

• Charles Holloway was appointed chief diversity officer at Morehead State University. A graduate of Alcorn State University with an MBA from Xavier University, Holloway was a global delivery project executive for IBM.

• Beverly McIver, an artist known for her impressionist self-portraits, was named to an endowed professorship at North Carolina Central University. She held a tenured professorship at Arizona State University.

McIver is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and holds a master of fine arts degree from Pennsylvania State University.

• Tara Carter is the new dean of arts/communications/social sciences at Kishwaukee College in Malta, Illinois. She was an associate professor of English at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Carter is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa and is pursuing a doctorate through Walden University.


26.2%  Percentage of non-Hispanic whites over the age of 18 in 2008 who reported binge drinking over the past year.

13.9%  Percentage of non-Hispanic blacks over the age of 18 in 2008 who reported binge drinking over the past year.

source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Grants and Gifts

• Alabama State University received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will enable the university to continue its Business International Educational Program for the next two years. The program has provided the funds for Alabama State students to study international business in China, South Korea, Taiwan, and other nations.

• The University of Illinois at Chicago has received a five-year, $7.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish the UIC Center of Excellence in Eliminating Health Disparities. The money will fund research on racial differences in prostate, colorectal, and breast cancer.

• Southern University, the historically black educational institution in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant will fund research on optical materials for use in the advanced version of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.

Copyright © 2009. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.