Academia Is in Obama’s Corner

An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics found that faculty and employees of colleges and universities gave more political campaign contributions to Barack Obama in June and July than employees of any other industry except for lawyers. In identifying the employers of Obama’s contributors, nine of the top 25 organizations whose employees gave the most money to Obama were universities. They were the University of California, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, the University of Michigan, Georgetown, the University of Chicago, the University of Washington, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Since the campaign began, employees of Harvard University have contributed more than $407,000 to Obama.


Rutgers University President Gives Back $100,000 Bonus: Money Will Be Used for Student Financial Aid

Rutgers University, the flagship state university of New Jersey, recently awarded its president, Richard L. McCormick, with a $25,000 raise and a $100,000 bonus. In a letter to McCormick, the university’s board of governors stated that the bonus was given for “significant progress that has been made under your outstanding leadership.”

McCormick, in turn, donated the entire bonus to the Rutgers University Foundation, where it will be added to the endowment for student financial aid programs.



Community College in Los Angeles With Huge Number of Black Students Placed on Probation by Accrediting Agency

Los Angeles Southwest College, a two-year public college in Southern California, was recently placed on probation by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. The accrediting agency stated that among other concerns, the college had not addressed low retention and graduation rates and was not doing enough to serve the Latino community.

There are about 7,000 students at the community college. Two thirds of them are black. If the college were to lose its accreditation, students would be ineligible for federal or state financial aid.


Black Faculty Are Better Represented at Graduate Schools of Theology Than In Other Fields of Higher Education

The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, headquartered in Pittsburgh, represents 254 member institutions. These graduate schools of theology include Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox institutions.

The association reports that in the 2007-08 academic year there were 3,725 faculty members at these institutions. Of these, 236, or 6.3 percent, were black. In comparison, blacks are 5 percent of the faculties at all institutions of higher education in the United States.

There are 83 black full professors at these 254 schools. They make up 5.2 percent of all full professors.

Women make up 23 percent of the total faculties at these schools. But black women make up 42.2 percent of all African-American faculty.


The Twenty-First Century Morehouse Man

Over its 140-year history, Morehouse College has graduated a large number of African-American men who have made their mark on the world. They include Martin Luther King Jr., former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, actor Samuel Jackson, filmmaker Spike Lee, government officials Louis Sullivan, David Satcher, and Henry Foster, and at least three U.S. congressmen.

The “Morehouse Man” was thought to epitomize what W.E.B. Du Bois regarded as the “Talented Tenth.” Its graduates were groomed to become the leaders of the African-American community.

How does this tradition fit in with the Morehouse College of today? In giving his introductory remarks to this year’s freshman class, Morehouse President Robert M. Franklin Jr., himself a Morehouse graduate, stated, “You are the pride of the world. You are the answers to the prayers of your ancestors.” He urged them to strive to embody five characteristics: “well-read, well-traveled, well-dressed, well-spoken, and well-balanced.”

President Franklin thanked the families for nurturing their sons and grandsons so that they could achieve the success required for admission to Morehouse College. “You are leaving them in good hands,” Franklin reassured them, “and we will make them into Morehouse Men. And because of that, the world will be a better place.”


Spelman College to Use Anonymous $17 Million Gift to Establish Center on International Initiatives

Spelman College, the historically black educational institution for women in Atlanta, received an anonymous donation of $17 million. The college is using the funds to establish the Gordon-Zeto Endowed Fund for International Initiatives.

The fund is named after two Spelman graduates:

Nora A. Gordon, an 1888 Spelman alumna who after graduation went to the Congo to teach African children; and

Flora E. Zeto, a member of the Spelman Class of 1915 who was among the first students from the Congo to graduate from the college.

The fund will be used to “infuse the curriculum, campus environment, and extracurricular activities with an international component.” One program will establish a scholarship to bring students from Africa to study at Spelman. Funds will also be allocated for Spelman students to study abroad with priority given to students who want to go to African universities. Funds will also be made available for short-term faculty research projects in Africa.



The Gender Gap in African-American SAT Scores

New data from The College Board shows that 53.5 percent of all SAT test takers in 2008 were female. But for blacks, 57 percent of all African Americans who took the test were women.

The average score for black women on the reading section of the SAT was 433. This was eight points higher than the average score for black men on the reading test. On the mathematics section of the SAT, black men outscored black women by a margin of 14 points. On the new writing section of the SAT, black women scored an average of 433 compared to 412 for black men.


Lincoln University Revives Football After 48 Years

On Thanksgiving Day in 1960 the football team at Lincoln University, the historically black college in Pennsylvania, lost its season-ending football game to Howard University. That season the team lost all its games by a combined score of 227-37. After the season the university decided to end its football program.

On Saturday, August 30, Lincoln University played its first football game in 48 years. With no football field on campus, the team played at a local high school field. And this rejuvenated team did not stumble out of the starting block. The Lincoln University team beat George Mason University by a score of 34-7.

The team wasn't quite that successful this past weekend, losing 55-20 to Southern Virginia University.



Carolyn B. Britton, associate professor of clinical neurology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City, was elected president of the National Medical Association.

Dr. Britton completed her medical training at New York University. She has been on the Columbia University faculty since 1983.

• Wheeler Brown was promoted to director of athletics at North Carolina A&T State University. A graduate of North Carolina A&T, Wheeler has been associate athletics director since 2002.

• Georgette Mayo was promoted to interim director of the Avery Research Center for African-American History and Culture at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. She was a reference archivist at the center.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, she earned a master’s degree in public history and library science and information systems at the College of Charleston.

• Allen Coles was appointed dean of the School of Education at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. He had been superintendent of the Richland public school system.

• Samuel Foster II was named vice chair of the board of trustees of the University of South Carolina. A real estate developer and insurance broker, Foster is the first African American to serve on the board.

• Stephon Alexander was appointed associate professor of physics and astronomy at Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia. He was on the faculty of Pennsylvania State University.

• Jesse Wise was appointed vice president of student affairs at Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota. He was dean of student life at Bowie State University in Maryland.

Wise holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Bowie State University and is currently completing his doctorate in higher education administration from Morgan State University.

• Adrienne C. Webber was named dean of library and information services at South Carolina State University. She was assistant director for access services at Xavier University in New Orleans.

Webber is a graduate of Southern University and Baton Rouge and holds a master’s degree in library service from Clark Atlanta University.

• Roberto Powers was named diplomat-in-residence at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee for the 2008-09 academic year. Powers has been a member of the Foreign Service at the U.S. State Department since 1986.

Powers is a graduate of Wesleyan University and Harvard Law School.

• Jennifer Wider was named vice president of development at the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund. Wider, a graduate of Syracuse University, was the national director for corporate relations at the United Negro College Fund.

• Kellen Winslow Sr., a member of the National Football League’s Hall of Fame, was appointed director of athletics and student wellness at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. Winslow was director of new business development and sponsorship for Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Winslow is a graduate of the University of Missouri and the law school of the University of San Diego.



UCLA Professor Charges the University Is Cheating on Admissions and Unlawfully Admitting Unqualified Black Students

Over the past two years the number of black freshmen at UCLA has more than doubled. Now a professor at the university is charging that blacks are getting preferential treatment in the admissions process. If true, this would be a violation of state law.

UCLA political science professor Tim Groseclose has resigned from a university admissions committee and issued a scathing report on the university’s admissions procedures. Professor Groseclose charges that the university is “cheating” by illegally taking race into account during the admissions process. He further charges that the university is engaged in a coverup of an unlawful practice by denying him access to admissions data that would prove his assertions.

Groseclose believes that many black applicants to UCLA have come to the conclusion that by mentioning their race or discussing racial issues in their application essays they can win an advantage in the admissions process.

Groseclose also states that African Americans were overrepresented among the large group of 150 individuals assigned to read application essays. He further asserts that admissions officials were under intense pressure from the media and constituent groups on campus to boost the number of black students.

The university has appointed an independent research firm to investigate whether its holistic admissions approach is in compliance with California law.


“At the nation’s most elite universities, Obama’s clearly the favorite.”

Sheila Krumholz, executive director, Center for Responsive Politics, commenting on her organization’s analysis of political campaign contributions from employees of American colleges and universities (See story at top of page.)


ACT Results Show a Huge Racial Gap in Preparedness for College

The American College Testing Program analyzes the results of the ACT college entrance examinations to determine the percentage of students who take the test who meet benchmark scores for college readiness. These statistics reveal what percentage of all test takers are adequately prepared for college-level study. Unfortunately, this data shows a huge racial gap in college readiness. Some 37 percent of all blacks who took the ACT in 2008 were rated as being adequately prepared for college English courses. For whites, the figure was 77 percent. In mathematics, only 11 percent of all black test takers achieved the benchmark score for college readiness. For whites, nearly half of all students were deemed prepared for college-level study in mathematics. This is more than four times the rate for blacks. The largest racial gap in college readiness is in science. Only 5 percent of black ACT test takers achieved the benchmark score for preparedness in science. In contrast, 33 percent of white students, more than six times as many, were deemed capable of handling a college-level science curriculum.



The Importance of the Nation’s Community Colleges to African Americans

The United States Department of Education has released a new report on the status of two-year community colleges in the United States. The report noted that in 2007 there were 1,685 two-year colleges in the United States. All told, these community colleges enrolled more than 6.5 million students. Blacks made up 15.3 percent of all students at community colleges in the United States. In comparison, African Americans were 10 percent of all students at private, four-year colleges and universities.

Blacks made up 6.8 percent of all faculty at two-year community colleges. In comparison, blacks were 5.1 percent of the faculty at four-year publicly operated educational institutions and 4.8 percent of all faculty at four-year private colleges and universities.


Wayne D. Watson to Retire After a Decade as Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago

Wayne D. Watson, who has served for the past decade as chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago, one of the nation’s largest community college systems, has announced that he will retire next summer at the end of the current academic year. Now, almost a century after its founding, the system includes seven community colleges, a French pastry school, a culinary institute, and a television station that reaches 1.7 million viewers.

All told, the seven community colleges enroll approximately 57,000 students. About 20,000 of these students are black.

Before heading the community college system, Dr. Watson served as president of two of the system’s seven colleges. He holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, all from Northwestern University. Dr. Watson also sits on Northwestern University’s board of trustees.


Two Black Scholars Honored by Music Association

Founded in Chicago in 1919, the National Association of Negro Musicians Inc. is the country’s oldest organization dedicated to the preservation, encouragement, and advocacy of all genres of the music of African Americans. Recently the organization held its annual convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The association honored two African Americans with ties to the academic community:

Booker T. Scruggs II served for 35 years as an administrator for the Upward Bound program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He now teaches sociology at the university. A gifted clarinetist, he has recorded two CDs.

Ralph Simpson served as chair of the music department at Tennessee State University for 22 years. A graduate of Alabama State University, he was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in music from Michigan State University.


Lincoln University of Missouri Receives Donation of Valuable Historical Documents

Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, has received a collection of papers from the family of Richard Baxter Foster. Foster, a graduate of Dartmouth College, was an abolitionist in the antebellum period who had worked with John Brown. When the Civil War began Foster volunteered to become an officer for the 62nd Colored Infantry. After the end of the war Foster moved to Jefferson City and was one of the founders of what is now Lincoln University.

Foster and his family founded Lincoln University in 1866 despite universal opposition from the white population of the city. Soldiers of the 62nd Colored Infantry contributed $5,000 to the new school for freed slaves. Because of their efforts to educate Negroes, the Foster family had no white friends and Foster’s children were not permitted to attend the public schools. Within six years Foster was educating 130 students at Lincoln. He then left to assume the ministry in Kansas. Foster died in Oklahoma in 1901.

The papers recently donated to Lincoln University by Foster’s great-grandson include letters Foster sent to his wife Lucy in the 1863-1865 period while he served in the Union Army.



Honors and Awards

• Afaa Michael Weaver, professor of English at Simmons College in Boston, was awarded the Pushcart Prize for his poem “American Income.” The prize is given to authors and poets whose works are published by small companies.

Weaver dropped out of the University of Maryland at the age of 18. It would be 17 years later before he received a bachelor’s degree at Excelsior College. He later earned a master’s degree from Brown University.


31.2%  Percentage of all white American students who started either a two-year or four-year college in 2004 who by 2006 had not earned a degree and were not still enrolled in higher education.

43.4%  Percentage of all African-American students who started either a two-year or four-year college in 2004 who by 2006 had not earned a degree and were not still enrolled in higher education.

source: U.S. Department of Education



Fort Valley State University, the historically black educational institution in Georgia, received a $167,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The university will use the grant to upgrade its Curriculum Materials Center, classrooms, and science and mathematics laboratories.

Southern University at Shreveport, a historically black educational institution, received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The university will use the money for its micro-enterprise business development program in Shreveport. A community resource and training center will be established and a neighborhood revitalization plan will be developed.

Copyright © 2008. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.