The Huge Racial Gap in Poverty Rates

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2010, 10,675,000 African Americans were living in poverty. This is 27.4 percent of the total African-American population. The poverty rate for non-Hispanic white Americans in 2010 was 9.9 percent. This is only about one third the rate for blacks.

Furthermore, the racial gap is widening. From 2009 to 2010 the black poverty rate increase by 1.6 percentage points. The rate for non-Hispanic white American rose by only 0.5 percentage points. There were 731,000 more blacks living in poverty in 2010 than was the case in 2009.



The Continuing Saga of Africana Studies at Cornell University

This summer Kent Fuchs, provost at Cornell University, issued a statement affirming a decision he made last December that the leaders of the Africana Studies and Research Center would report to the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, rather than directly to the office of the provost. Robert L. Harris Jr., professor of history at Cornell, resigned as director of the center in protest of Fuchs' decision.

In a recent statement, Peter Lepage, the Howard Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said that in the search for someone to replace Dr. Harris he was unable to find "a faculty member who was willing to serve and was acceptable to a substantial majority of the Africana faculty, and we believe faculty enthusiasm is critical to long-term leadership." A member of the faculty at Cornell told JBHE that a slim majority of the Africana studies faculty proposed a new director but that choice was apparently not acceptable to the dean.

Now Dean Lepage, has named two senior associate deans of the College of Arts and Sciences as co-directors of the center for at least the 2011-12 academic year. Elizabeth Adkins Reagan, a professor of psychology, and David R. Harris, a professor of sociology, will direct the center in addition to their other roles.

Dean Lepage stated that he is looking to hire three to five additional faculty members in Africana studies. He also affirmed his commitment to establishing a Ph.D. program in the field. Dr. Lepage said, "Once we have made substantial progress in hiring and curriculum development, we will begin the process of identifying future departmental leadership."

A group of alumni of the center issued a statement calling the actions taken as "regressive and colonial in nature." The statement said that the current leadership was placing "the Africana Center under an externally appointed administrative regime."


Ruth Simmons Stepping Down as President of Brown University

Ruth J. Simmons, the 18th president of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, is stepping down as president at the end of the academic year. She is the first and only African American to lead an Ivy League university. Dr. Simmons became Brown's president in 2001. Previously, she served as president of Smith College and was vice provost at Princeton University and provost at Spelman College in Atlanta.

In a statement, President Simmons said, “I write to you in all humility to tell you of my plans to step down from the Brown presidency at the end of the current academic year and to thank you in advance for what will have been eleven deeply satisfying years at the helm of this wonderful institution. I recently decided that this is the ideal time both for Brown and for me personally to begin the process of transitioning to new leadership.”

After leaving the presidency, Dr. Simmons will remain on the Brown faculty as a professor of comparative literature and a professor of Africana studies.

Dr. Simmons is a graduate of Dillard University in New Orleans. She holds a Ph.D. in Romance languages and literatures from Harvard University.

Here is a video from the Brown Daily Herald showing students discussing Simmons' decision.


Urban Affairs Association Moves to the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

The Urban Affairs Association is a 40-year-old international professional organization for scholars in the urban studies field. The association has more than 600 members located in 15 countries around the world. The UAA holds an annual conference on urban issues and publishes the Journal of Urban Affairs.

The organization has moved its headquarters from the University of Delaware to the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. The move was made, in part, because of the reputation of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee's reputation in the urban studies field. The university offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in urban studies.



In Memoriam

Walter D. Clark (1952-2011)

Walter D. Clark,  dean of enrollment management and judicial affairs at Roxbury Community College in Boston, died at the Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer, Massachusetts, after suffering a heart attack. He was 59 years old.

Clark was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and an African-American father. He was raised in The Bronx and graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School, where he was the quarterback for the football team. He was a graduate of Springfield College and earned a master's degree at the University of Connecticut. He later earned a law degree at the University of Iowa.

Dean Clark joined the administration at Roxbury Community College in 2005. Previously, he was director of admissions at Middlesex Community College in Connecticut.


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

D. Bruce Campbell Jr. was appointed coordinator of the Educational Leadership Program and assistant professor of education at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania. He was a Distinguished Educator for the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Campbell earned a master’s degree from Temple University and a doctorate in educational leadership and learning technologies from Drexel University.

William A. Deese, executive vice president and president of the manufacturing division of Merck Inc., was elected chair of the board of trustees of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro.
Deese is a 1977 graduate of North Carolina A&T and holds an MBA from Western New England College.

Walter A. Robinson was named director of undergraduate admissions at the University of California at Davis. He was assistant vice chancellor and director of undergraduate admissions at the University of California at Berkeley.

Robinson is a graduate of California State University at Fresno.

Cynthia Nance was named the inaugural Nathan G. Gordon Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas. Gordon, a 1939 graduate of the law school, won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his 1944 rescue of 15 Army Air Force soldiers in the Bismark Sea. He returned to Arkansas and served for 20 years as lieutenant governor.

Professor Nance recently returned to teaching after serving five years as dean of the law school. She was the first woman and the first African American to serve as dean. A graduate of Chicago State University, she holds a master's degree and a law degree from the University of Iowa.

Bettye M. Clark is the new dean of graduate studies at Clark Atlanta University. She has served as interim dean for the past year and has been a faculty member at the university for 28 years.

Dean Clark is a graduate of Fort Valley State University in Georgia. She earned a master's degree in mathematics at the University of Georgia and a doctorate in mathematics education from the University of Houston.

Theri Pickens was appointed assistant professor of English at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Her research focuses on African-American and Arab-American literature.

A graduate of Princeton University, Dr. Pickens earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. in comparative literature at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Monika Shealey was promoted to associate professor and granted tenure at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Dr. Shealey holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Florida and a doctorate from the University of Central Florida.

With the President's approval rating in most national polls below 40 percent, how do you rate his prospects for reelection?
A sure shot
More likely than not
He's in trouble
Little or no chance


The Persisting Racial Gap on the SAT College Entrance Examination 

In 2011, 215,816 African-American high school seniors took the SAT college entrance examination. They represented 13 percent of all SAT test takers in the Class of 2011.

The mean score for blacks on the combined critical reading and mathematical portions of the SAT was 855. This was a two-point decline from a year ago.

The mean score for whites on the reading and mathematics sections of the SAT was 1063, 208 points higher than the mean score for blacks.

The long-term trend in the racial scoring gap on the SAT is not encouraging. Since 1988, the racial gap on the reading and mathematics sections of the SAT has increased from 189 points to 208 points.



University of Wisconsin Defends Its Admissions Program

The Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO) in Falls Church, Virginia, recently released a report claiming that black students are given an unfair advantage in the admissions process at the University of Wisconsin. According to the CEO data:

• In 2008, the University of Wisconsin at Madison admitted 71.8 percent of black applicants and 59.3 percent of white applicants.

• The median combined SAT score (math plus verbal) for black admittees was roughly 150 points lower than the median score for whites.

•  In 2007 and 2008, blacks and Hispanic applicants with the same ACT score and high school rank as the average black admittee had a 100 percent chance of admission. In 2007 whites with similar ACT scores and high school rank were admitted at a rate of 27 percent. In 2008 whites with similar characteristics were admitted 38 percent of the time.

The university issued a statement in response to the CEO report. In the statement the university wrote, "When it comes to admissions, UW–Madison employs a holistic, competitive and selective process for undergraduate, graduate and professional schools. That process takes into account a range of factors, including grades, standardized test scores, recommendations, extracurricular activities, leadership and written statements. UW–Madison's approach is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions in the Michigan affirmative action cases that say race is a permissible factor in consideration of holistic admissions."

David Ward, interim chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison added, "Any student who is accepted at UW-Madison is here because he or she has the potential and the capacity to succeed. No matter what a student's class rank or test scores were, students who are accepted qualify for a spot at this university. No one is admitted solely because of race or ethnicity."

Adele Brumfield, director or admissions, stated, "While holistic in our admissions, there are certain parameters and high standards that must be met. We stand behind our process, which is continually refined and enhanced, to admit classes that are both diverse and meritorious."



John Garland to Step Down From Presidency of Central State University

John W. Garland, president of Central State University, has announced he will step down at the end of the academic year next June. Central State University is a historically black educational institution in Wilberforce, Ohio.

President Garland took the helm of Central State in September 1997. That year, there were 950 students on campus and 89 students in the first-year class. This year, total enrollments are 2,530 students and there are 724 members of the incoming class.

Garland is a Vietnam veteran who was wounded in combat. He is a graduate of Central State University and the law school at Ohio State University.

In announcing that he is stepping down, Garland said, "Now it's time for me to take on new challenges. I am retiring from the Central State presidency. I am not retiring from life."


St. Augustine's College to Offer Classes in Chinese

St. Augustine's College, the historically black educational institution in Raleigh, North Carolina, will now offer Chinese language courses in cooperation with the Confucius Institute at North Carolina State University. The institute will provide an instructor for classes at St. Augustine's and a fund for supporting language classes and cultural events.

The Confucius Institute is a collaborative initiative between North Carolina State University, Nanjing Normal University and Hanban, the executive body of the Chinese Language Council International.

Jackson State University Opens Commercial Art Gallery

Jackson State University in Mississippi recently opened a commercial art gallery near the university. In addition to showing art from the university's permanent collection, Gallery 1 will display local and national artists. The gallery will also sell handmade items from artisans from Uganda. Lectures and cultural events will also be held at Gallery 1. The gallery is funded by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.


University of Michigan Program Brings African Scholars to Ann Arbor

The African Presidential Scholars Program at the University of Michigan brings a group of African academics to campus each year to teach and conduct research.The stated goals of the program are to help the next generation of African scholars link up with international academic networks and to bring talented African faculty to the University of Michigan to collaborate in research, scholarship, and teaching.

Since the program's inception in 2009, 38 scholars from Africa have spent a semester on the Ann Arbor campus. The latest group includes 14 academics in such diverse fields as child development, renewable energy, and aircraft design.

The accompanying video includes some African Presidential Scholars discussing their experiences at the University of Michigan.



Honors and Awards

Beatrice Mtetwa, a human rights attorney who has spent the past 20 years fighting for press freedom in Zimbabwe, received the Inamori Ethics Prize from the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University. Established in 2008, the prize honors leaders who "have used their influence and actions to greatly improve the condition of humankind."

A native of Swaziland where she was the first member of her family to earn a college degree, she moved to Zimbabwe in the early 1980s.

Malik S. Henfield, an assistant professor of rehabilitation and counselor education at the University of Iowa, was named an Emerging Leader by PDK International, a global association of professional educators.

Dr. Henfield is a graduate of Frances Marion University in Florence, South Carolina. He holds a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina and a doctorate from Ohio State University.

Andrea Dennis LaVigne, a veterinarian and former member of the board of trustees at the University of Connecticut, will have an endowed scholarship established in her name at the university. The scholarship will be given to a student that will enhance diversity at the university.


Grants and Gifts

• Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta has received a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to establish a network among the nation’s historically black colleges and universities to promote behavioral health to prevent substance abuse and mental illness.

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which represents 47 state-supported historically black colleges and universities, received a donation of software from Microsoft Inc. with a value of $8 million. The software will be distributed to the fund’s member institutions.

The University of Maryland Baltimore County received a $987,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a program to increase the number of graduate students in science and mathematics disciplines. The Bridge to the Doctorate fellows program will fund the education of 12 graduate students for two years.

• Texas Southern University, the historically black educational institution in Houston, received a $4,887,004 grant from the National Science Foundation to support the establishment of its Center for Research on Complex Networks.


Copyright © 2011. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.