Checking the Status of Black Enrollments at the Nation’s Large Research Universities

There are 244 institutions of higher learning in the United States that are classified as national doctoral research institutions. Using total enrollment data recently released by the U.S. Department of Education, JBHE has analyzed the racial and ethnic makeup of the student bodies at these 244 large research universities. Seven of the 244 universities are historically black institutions. All of these seven black universities have a student body that is more than 80 percent black.

When we consider predominantly white universities there is a huge dropoff in black enrollments. The University of Memphis has a student body that is 37.5 percent black, the highest percentage in the nation among the predominantly white research universities. Five other predominantly white research universities have student bodies that are 30 percent or more black. They are Georgia State University, the University of Bridgeport, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Wayne State University, and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Eleven other predominantly white universities have a black student body of 20 percent or more. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has the largest percentage of black students among the nation’s highest academically ranked research institutions.

Twenty-eight large research universities have a student body that is less than 2 percent black. Fourteen large universities have a student body that is less than 1 percent black. Yeshiva reports no black undergraduates.


Education Is By Far the Most Popular Field of Study for Blacks in Graduate School

Last week JBHE reported that, according to the Council on Graduate Schools, more than 135,000 African Americans were enrolled in graduate programs in 2005. Of those, more than 70 percent were women.

The data also shows that 31 percent of all blacks enrolled in graduate school were in education programs. Nineteen percent of all black graduate students were enrolled in business programs. Social sciences was the third most popular field of study for blacks in graduate school.

Education and business were also the two most popular graduate programs for white students. Health science was the third most popular program of study for whites in graduate school.


“We will not impede the constitutional right of free speech by banning this flag, but we ask that it not be flown on campus. We have an intolerance of the display of this symbol, a fundamental rejection by the university, of the use of university colors to even vaguely imply that we would tolerate or endorse this display.”

Sean O’Keefe, chancellor of Louisiana State University, discussing the call for banning the display of a Confederate battle flag altered with university colors


Black Graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School Seems a Sure Bet to Be the First Practicing Muslim in the U.S. Congress

Earlier this month Keith Ellison, a lawyer and state legislator from Minneapolis, won the Democratic primary for Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District. The district is overwhelmingly Democratic, so it is near certain that Ellison will win the general election in November. He will be the first African American to represent Minnesota in Congress.

Ellison won a hard-fought campaign with 41 percent of the vote in a crowded field. Ellison was criticized by his opponents for his earlier affiliation with the Nation of Islam. He is no longer affiliated with that group but if elected he would be the first practicing Muslim to sit in the U.S. Congress.

Ellison is a native of Detroit but moved to Minneapolis to attend law school. After graduating from the University of Minnesota School of Law, he set up a practice in the city. He was elected to the Minnesota state legislature in 2002. Ellison and his wife, who is a mathematics teacher, have four children.

Improving the educational opportunities of black Americans is one of Ellison’s main goals. On his Web site he states, “Closing the achievement gap between children of color and white children is one of the most pressing educational challenges that our country faces. It is unacceptable that we allow a system of educational apartheid in our nation, especially in our largest urban areas.”

To learn more about Keith Ellison and his campaign for Congress, click here.


Two Universities Help Preserve the History of the Congressional Black Caucus

The Congressional Black Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives was formed in 1971. Then, there were 13 members. Today, there are 43. Over the past 35 years, the Black Caucus has often been the lone voice in Washington for a vast majority of the nation’s African Americans.

Now the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation has established an online resource to preserve the history of the Black Caucus and the legislative efforts of America’s black representatives. The Avoice Virtual Library Project is funded with a grant from Dell Computer. The University of Texas at Austin is providing the technical architecture for the Web site and the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, the official repository for the Black Caucus archives, is providing much of the content for the site.

The Black Caucus says the goal of the site is to document black legislative history “enabling African Americans to become more familiar with the political issues of the past as a basis for understanding the political and legislative reality they face today.” The site also hopes to inspire black youth to pursue a career in government based on the examples set by current and former caucus members.

To browse the new Congressional Black Caucus online library project, click here.


Notre Dame’s Hard Work Pays Off in High Black Student Yield

A year ago John Jenkins, the new president of the University of Notre Dame, stated that one of his five primary goals at the beginning of his tenure was to increase diversity in both the student body and faculty.

The admissions office took the president’s goals to heart. They made a concerted effort to increase the number of black and other minority students on campus. Financial aid to low-income students was increased. A more determined outreach effort was made to black students who were admitted to the university in an attempt to convince them to enroll.

The number of blacks applying to Notre Dame in 2006 was up nearly 10 percent from a year ago and a slightly higher number of blacks were accepted for admission. But Notre Dame made huge strides by increasing black student yield from 40.2 percent to 53.4 percent. This black student yield is among the highest of the nation’s 30 top-ranked universities. Notre Dame attributes the higher yield to its visitation weekends where accepted students are invited to campus to see for themselves what Notre Dame is like.

There are 95 black first-year students at Notre Dame this fall, an increase of nearly 44 percent from a year ago.


Newspaper Reports Governor Romney Trying to Push Aside a Black Man Who Is Next In Line to Chair University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees

The board of trustees of the University of Massachusetts is scheduled to hold its next full meeting on November 8. The board’s current chair was not reappointed to the board by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, so the election of a new board chair is expected at the next meeting.

Next in line is vice chair Karl E. White, an investment whiz who until recently managed the $1.6 billion retirement fund of the workers of the Boston transit system. White is an African American who studied pharmacy at Florida A&M University. “The clear difference in my life was that I was able to get a good affordable education at Florida A&M University,” White told The Boston Globe. “I don’t have far to go to see the significance of that.”

White’s Horatio Alger story, which he credits to his start in public higher education, would seem to make him uniquely qualified to head the UMass board of trustees. But the Globe reports that lame duck Governor Romney is maneuvering to have Stephen Tocco, a new appointee and current chair of the state board of higher education, named chair of the UMass board of trustees.



Columbia University Eliminates Loans as Components of Its Financial Aid Packages for Low-Income Students

Following in the footsteps of several other high-ranking colleges and universities, Columbia University will replace loans with scholarship grants for students from families with incomes below $50,000. The program will begin in the 2007-08 academic year and will apply to all, not just entering, students.

Latest U.S. government Pell Grant data shows that Columbia has the highest percentage of low-income students among the eight Ivy League colleges. This new initiative will make it easier for Columbia to attract an even larger share of low-income students. The new plan is expected to cost Columbia an additional $3.5 million in financial aid costs annually.

Blacks are 7.2 percent of undergraduate enrollments at Columbia University.


Walter Massey to Retire From Presidency of Morehouse College

Walter F. Massey, president of Morehouse College, the historically black educational institution for black men in Atlanta, announced that he will step down as president at the end of the current academic year. Massey, now 69 years old, is the ninth president in the college’s 139-year history.

Massey raised over $120 million during his tenure as Morehouse president. He is a 1958 Morehouse graduate. A physicist, Massey is the former director of the Argonne National Laboratory and former head of the National Science Foundation.



John Ruffin Jr., CEO of Ruffin, Moyle & Associates, a marketing consulting firm, was named vice chair of the board of trustees of Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Florida. He is a graduate of Morgan State University and holds a master’s degree from Cornell University.

Sylvia A. Mason was appointed dean of the School of Education & Psychology at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina. She was director of curriculum and instruction at the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency. A graduate of Appalachian State University, Dr. Mason holds a master’s degree from North Carolina Central University and an educational doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cynthia A. Warrick was named dean of the School of Mathematics, Science & Technology at Elizabeth City State University. She was an associate professor at the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Florida A&M University.  She is a graduate of Howard University and holds a master’s degree from Georgia Tech and a Ph.D. from George Mason University.



• Thirteen historically black colleges and universities will share a $10.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant money will be used by the colleges and universities to help revitalize impoverished areas surrounding their campuses. Dillard and Xavier universities in New Orleans will each receive $2 million to help in the restoration of neighborhoods of New Orleans devastated by flooding following Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

Other universities participating in the grant include North Carolina A&T State University, Howard University, Morris College, Benedict College, Norfolk State University, Southern University-Baton Rouge, Alabama A&M University, Morgan State University, C.A. Field Technical College, Langston University, and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Grants to each of these educational institutions range from $429,600 to $600,000.

• The Department of Education issued $50 million in grants to colleges and universities that were damaged by hurricanes in the fall of 2005. Among the institutions receiving funds were several historically black institutions: Dillard University ($7.5 million), Xavier University ($5.3 million), Southern University of New Orleans ($1.5 million), Bishop State Community College ($247,644), and Jackson State University ($80,746).

Black Percentage of Students at State Universities in Florida Continues to Slide

This fall there are 39,528 black students on the 11 campuses of the state university system in Florida. Black enrollments are up 1.6 percent from a year ago. At the same time, the overall percentage of blacks in the state university system dropped from 13.9 percent to 13.7 percent. In 2004, blacks were 14.5 percent of the total enrollments.

Black enrollments were up at nine of the 11 campuses. There were small declines in overall black enrollments at Florida State University and Florida A&M University, the historically black institution in Tallahassee. More than one quarter of all black students in the state university system attend Florida A&M University.

Since 2002, at six of the 11 campuses in the Florida state university system, the percentage of blacks in the student body has declined.


A Congressional Report Card Scores Legislators on Their Support for Financial Aid Initiatives for African Americans

The Campaign for America’s Future, a left-wing interest group, has issued a report critical of the effort of the GOP-controlled Congress to reduce funding for federal financial aid programs. The group, whose founding members include prominent black scholars such as William Julius Wilson of Harvard, Roger Wilkins of George Mason University, and Linda Faye Williams and Ronald Walters, both from the University of Maryland, gives letter grades to all incumbent members of Congress on their voting record on college affordability.

The report states that the average total cost of a college education at a state-operated educational institution is 37 percent of the median black family income. The average cost of a college education at a public university has increased by 42 percent since President Bush took office. Yet the median family income for black families during this period has actually gone down by 8 percent.

At private colleges the total cost of a college education is 86 percent of the median black family income. Given the rising costs of college and the drop in black incomes, the Campaign for America’s Future believes that cuts in federal financial aid are unjustified.

The full report, Higher Education Soaring Out of Reach for African-American Families, can be downloaded by clicking here.



Federal Panel Estimates Millions of Qualified Low-Income Students Have Lost the Opportunity for Higher Education

An independent federal commission established by Congress and the U.S. Department of Education has concluded that hundreds of thousands of qualified students are not enrolling in college because of the cost of higher education and insufficient financial aid. The committee’s report says that in the 1990s there were between 800,000 and 1.6 million low-income students who were academically qualified for college and wanted a four-year college education but were unable to earn a bachelor’s degree because of the cost of higher education and the low level of financial aid available to offset the costs. The committee estimates that this decade there will be 1.4 million to 2.4 million low-income students who qualify for and want to go to college but who will be unable to do so because of financial factors. Blacks are a disproportionate segment of this low-income group.

The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance is made up of three members appointed by the House of Representatives, three by the Senate, and five by the secretary of education. Members serve three-year terms. The commission has been in existence since 1988. Given GOP control over both houses of Congress and the Executive Branch, the Advisory Committee cannot even remotely be considered a left-wing think tank.

Its recommendations include increasing need-based aid from federal, state, and institutional sources, restraining price increases in higher education, and moving away from the trend toward more merit-based financial aid.

Readers who are interested in downloading the report, entitled Mortgaging Our Future: How Financial Barriers to College Undercut America’s Global Competitiveness, can click here.


High Yield Pushes Penn to New Heights in Black Enrollments

This year there are 210 black freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania. They make up 8.8 percent of the first-year class. This is the highest level of black entering students since JBHE first conducted its annual survey of black freshmen 13 years ago.

Like Notre Dame, Penn’s success can be largely attributed to a high black student yield of more than 50 percent. Penn conducts its Multicultural Students Weekend each April when it invites to campus all black and other minority students who have been accepted but have not yet decided to enroll. These students are paired up with a host student for the weekend to give the prospective enrollees a personal perspective on life at Penn as a minority student. Penn reports that 80 percent of the students who participate in Multicultural Students Weekend decide to enroll.


For Black Students Considering the University of Kentucky, Money Talks

In 2005 the number of black first-year students dropped to 151, down from 256 in 2004. Blacks were only 4 percent of the entering class.

Some members of the state legislature were furious and demanded action. It was presumed that black students were avoiding the University of Kentucky because of a perceived hostile racial environment on campus. But university officials did their homework. They contacted scores of black students who had been accepted to the university but enrolled elsewhere to see why they had chosen other schools. Only a handful of black students said the campus climate was a factor. The overwhelming reason that black students didn’t enroll was because they received more attractive financial aid awards at other institutions.

The University of Kentucky responded by infusing more money into its Diversity Scholarship program. These grants are available to minority and low-income students.

The strategy appears to have paid off. This year there are 296 black freshmen on campus, almost double the number of a year ago.


The Most Racially Diverse University Campuses

According to the new U.S. News & World Report rankings, the Rutgers University campus in Newark, New Jersey, is the most racially diverse university in the nation. Current Department of Education data shows that Asian Americans are the largest minority group on campus making up 23 percent of the student body. Blacks are 19.9 percent of the undergraduate students on campus. Hispanics are 17.7 percent of the student body. Whites are the largest group at 27 percent of the total.

Other universities rated as among the most racially diverse where African Americans are the largest minority group are Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, St. John’s University in Queens, New York, the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and the University of Texas at Arlington.


30.2%  Percentage of all black children under the age of 18 in 2001 when President Bush first came into office living below the poverty line.

34.5%  Percentage of all black children under the age of 18 in 2005, the first year of President Bush’s second term, living below the poverty line.

source: U.S. Bureau of the Census


Where Different Racial Groups on Campus Do, And Do Not, Get Along

According to the Princeton Review’s annual survey in The Best 361 Colleges, there is a great deal of racial interaction on the campuses of Rice University, Stanford University, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Wesleyan College (Georgia), and the Webb Institute.

According to the Princeton Review survey, there is very little interaction between racial and ethnic groups on the campuses of Miami University, the University of New Hampshire, Washington and Lee University, Trinity College, and Vanderbilt University.

Duke University ranked in sixth place among the universities with little racial interaction. But many of the student surveys were undoubtedly collected by the Princeton Review before the racial controversy surrounding the alleged rape of a black student by white members of the Duke University lacrosse team took place.

It seems likely that this incident, regardless of what actually happened, has further soured race relations on the Duke campus.



Black Enrollments Take a Dive at Indiana University

This past May the board of trustees at Indiana University passed an initiative calling for a doubling of black and other minority students by 2013. They have not gotten off to a very good start in achieving their goal.

This fall more than 7,250 freshmen enrolled at Indiana University in Bloomington. This is the largest incoming class in the university’s history. Yet while overall enrollment is up, the number of black freshmen is down more than 16 percent. There are 345 black first-year students on campus this year, down from 412 a year ago. Blacks are 4.8 percent of the incoming class.


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