The Solid Progress of African Americans in Graduate School Enrollments

A new report from the Council of Graduate Schools shows the tremendous progress blacks have made in graduate school enrollments. The most recent data for the fall of 2008 shows that there were 167,348 African Americans enrolled in all levels of graduate programs at U.S. colleges and universities. That year blacks made up 9.6 percent of all graduate school enrollments (including foreign students) and 13.4 percent of all U.S. citizens and permanent residents enrolled in U.S. graduate schools.

The average annual growth in African-American graduate school enrollments over the past decade has been 8.8 percent. The average total increase in graduate enrollments for white Americans has been 1.5 percent.

From 2007 to 2008, black graduate school enrollments increased by 7 percent, compared to an overall increase of 3 percent.


The Persisting Racial Income Gap Puts Black Families at a Severe Disadvantage in Paying for College

Money remains a major problem hindering further progress of blacks in higher education. More than two thirds of all black students who drop out of college do so for financial reasons. Tuition increases and cuts to financial aid budgets resulting from the nation’s severe economic recession will put further financial pressures on tens of thousands of African-American college students.

New data from the Census Bureau shows that black families are far less likely to be able to afford the costs of higher education on their own. In 2008 the median black family income in the United States was $34,218. This is only 61 percent of the median income of white families in this country.

The census figures also show that 23.2 percent, almost one in every four white families, have incomes over $100,000. These families are likely to have the income or other assets to be able to afford to send their children to college without having deep concerns about affordability.

In contrast, only 10 percent of black families have incomes above $100,000 per year.



Disappointing News on Black Enrollments at Two Flagship Universities in the South

The University of Arkansas has a record number of students on campus this fall. There are 1,040 African Americans enrolled at the flagship campus in Fayetteville. But these black students make up only 5.2 percent of the total enrollments. This about one third the percentage of blacks in the state’s population.

In 1999, there were more than 3,000 students on the flagship campus of the University of South Carolina in Columbia. They made up a whopping 19.3 percent of the student body. This was the highest percentage of black students of any flagship state university in the nation.

The most recent data shows that black enrollments have declined by more than 700 students, a drop of 24 percent. Blacks now make up 11.6 percent of total enrollments at the University of South Carolina.

University officials note that tuition at the Columbia campus nearly doubled during the 1999-2008 period. And tuition is more affordable at other universities in the state system.


Wheelock College Looks to Expand the Number of Black Men Studying to Become Teachers

According to the U.S. Department of Education, less than 2 percent of all master’s degrees in education are awarded to black men. Less than 2 percent of the nation’s K-12 teachers are black men.

In an effort to boost the number of black males in the teaching profession, Wheelock College in Boston has established the Leadership Academy for Future Educators. Eleventh-grade students from the Boston public school system and the Eagle Academy for Young Men in the South Bronx in New York City who have expressed an interest in becoming teachers are selected for an eight-day retreat where they attend workshops on leadership. And they are counseled on college and career choices. Students selected for the Leadership Academy will participate in other activities throughout the school year. A special financial aid fund has been established for Leadership Academy members who apply to and are accepted at Wheelock College.


Morgan State Fights to Protect Its Academic Turf

In 2005 Morgan State University, the historically black educational institution in Baltimore, sought to prevent the establishment of a joint MBA program between the University of Baltimore and Towson State University. Morgan State argued that the new duplicative MBA program would draw white students away from its own MBA program and as a result serve to increase racial segregation in the state’s higher education system. Under a desegregation agreement with the U.S. Department of Education, Maryland is prohibited from establishing academic programs at predominantly white universities that are “unnecessarily duplicative” of programs at the state’s historically black universities. Morgan State lost the legal battle. Today the joint MBA program at Towson and the University of Baltimore enrolls far more students than the small program at Morgan State.

Now Morgan State is fighting the establishment of an educational doctorate program for community college administrators initiated by the University of Maryland University College. Morgan State offers a similar degree program. About 70 students are currently enrolled in the doctoral program at Morgan State.



Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• M. Brian Blake was appointed professor of computer science and engineering and associate dean for strategic initiatives at the College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Blake was director of graduate studies in computer science at Georgetown University.

Dr. Blake is a 1994 graduate of Georgia Tech. He holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Mercer University and a Ph.D. in information and software engineering from George Mason University.

• Patricia Sims was promoted to dean of instructional and student services at Drake State Technical College in Huntsville, Alabama. She has been an administrator at the college since 2002.

Dr. Sims is a graduate of the University of West Alabama. She holds a master’s degree in secondary education from Alabama A&M University and an educational doctorate from Vanderbilt University.

• Charles P. Austin was named dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. He was the city manager for Columbia.

Dr. Austin is a graduate of South Carolina State University. He holds a master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of South Carolina and a second master’s degree in divinity from the Erskine Theological Seminary. He earned a doctorate in pastoral ministry from Central Christian University of South Carolina.

• Robert Payne Jr. was appointed professor of aerospace studies and commander of the Air Force ROTC detachment at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. He was the operations officer for the 741st Missile Squadron at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

• Denis G. Antoine was named executive director of international programs and exchange at the University of the District of Columbia. He formerly served as the Grenadian ambassador to the United States.

• William B. Smith Jr. is the new director of residential education at Delaware State University in Dover. He was the associate vice president of residential education at Southern Oregon University in Ashland.

Smith holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Indiana University.

• James A. Wilson Jr. was appointed director of the honors program at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. Previously he served as an assistant professor of history at the University of Texas and Wake Forest University.

Dr. Wilson is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. He holds master’s degrees from Cornell University and Princeton University and a Ph.D. in history from Princeton.

• Carol Wayne White was promoted to full professor of religion at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Dr. White has been on the Bucknell faculty since 1993.

A graduate of Loyola College, Dr. White holds a master’s degree from the Andover Newton Theological School and a Ph.D. in religion from the University of Denver.

For breaking news and previews of upcoming articles


Black Colleges and Universities Bear the Brunt of Cuts in Federal Research Grants in Scientific Fields

A new report from the National Science Foundation finds that during the current economic recession, historically black colleges and universities have received a smaller percentage of federal research grants in science and engineering fields. According to the study, black colleges and universities received $406 million in research grants in 2007. This was down 8.6 percent from the previous year. Overall, federal research spending was down 0.4 percent in 2007 compared to the previous year.

The $406 million total was the lowest level of federal research support of black colleges since 2001. Federal grants to black colleges and universities accounted for only 1.6 percent of all federal grants for science and engineering.


“The Republican Party walked away from the black community in the late 1960s. It was stupid. It was dumb to pursue a southern strategy and it came back to bite them.”

GOP chair Michael Steele, speaking at historically black Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, 9-21-09


Professor Alleges Widespread Racial Bias in the Hiring and Promotion of Black Faculty at the University of Memphis

Larry Moore, an associate professor at the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis, sent a scathing letter to state legislators in Tennessee charging that in terms of faculty hiring the university “appears to operate under a 1960s form of tokenism.” Moore has also filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

In his letter, Professor Moore explains what he believes is an elaborate ruse to cover up policies that seek to exclude black scholars:

"Every two or three years a qualified black is hired with a great fanfare and given a high position with a great salary and often with a full professorship. Then in an alternate year they will again, with high fanfare, honor some well-known black like Ben Hooks or Maxine Smith. This gives the impression that blacks are welcome and are well represented on campus, but in reality, this is solely a scam to continue to mislead the legislature, fool donors, and stay under the radar of the EEOC, but after the fanfare, there is little or nothing else done to support or promote black professors or Ph.D. students. In fact, few blacks are ever hired, and fewer still are promoted. Indeed, many of the current blacks who have been promoted to a full professor at the University through the regular tenure and promotion process were promoted under previous administrations. Also, of those blacks who have been promoted, a large percentage are Africans, with American-born black men generally at the lower end of the salary and promotion scale.”

Professor Moore states that his salary is $52,000, whereas the average for people in his position is between $75,000 and $80,000.

In defending its record, the University of Memphis issued a statement saying there are 167 black faculty members on campus making up 8.5 percent of the total faculty. University officials also point out that seven, or 11.7 percent, of the 60 faculty members hired over the past year are black. Blacks make up 39 percent of the undergraduate enrollments and 28 percent of all graduate enrollments at the university.


Black College Backs Off Athletics to Focus More on Academics

Benedict College in South Carolina has numerous financial problems. This past spring the college was warned by the U.S. Department of Education that it did not meet the standards set for financial responsibility under the federal financial aid program. Yet Benedict College’s football team plays in a new $14 million football stadium.

In contrast, Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina has announced that it will back off from its 2005 decison to move from the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division II to Divison I.

The university’s board of trustees decided that the financial resources necessary to upgrade its athletics programs were not available. Since 2005 the university has doubled its athletic budget and expanded the number of athletic scholarships. But in the process the athletic program ran up a $6 million deficit in four years. The athletics department deficit was projected to reach $15 million by 2012.

To cover the red ink, the university had to shift assets away from other programs on campus, including academic offerings. Donald Reaves, chancellor of the university, found this unacceptable and supported the effort by the trustees to scale back the athletics program.



New Academic Journal on Race From the University of Pittsburgh

A new academic journal on racial issues has been launched by the Center on Race and Social Problems at the University of Pittsburgh. The journal — Race and Social Problems — offers, according to its editorial board,  “a forum for issues germane to race and its enduring relationship to psychological, socioeconomic, political, and cultural problems.” Editors will consider manuscripts in fields such as communications, criminology, economics, education, law, political science, psychology, public health, history, demography, public policy, international relations, social work, and sociology.

The journal is available in both print and online editions. The online edition will be available free of charge through 2010. For more information, click here.


Chinua Achebe Joins the Faculty at Brown University

Brown University has announced a major hiring coup. Nigerian author Chinua Achebe was named the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and professor of Africana studies. For the past 19 years, Achebe has been on the faculty of Bard College, most recently as the Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Language and Literature.

His first novel, Things Fall Apart, has sold more than 12 million copies in English and has been translated into over 50 languages. In 2007 Achebe won the prestigious Booker International Prize for outstanding fiction. He is the recipient of more than 40 honorary degrees.


4.5%  Percentage of all employed white Americans in 2008 who worked at home.

2.3%  Percentage of all employed African Americans in 2008 who worked at home.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


In Memoriam

Hannibal E. Howell Jr. (1932-2009)

Hannibal E. Howell Jr., a physician and longtime medical director at historically black Hampton University in Virginia, has died at the age of 77.

In 1955, after graduating from what was the Hampton Institute, Dr. Howell was the first African American to enroll at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. And he was the first African American to complete his residency at the George Washington University Hospital.

M. Delmar Edwards (1926-2009)

M. Delmar Edwards, the first African American to graduate from the medical school at the University of Arkansas and a founding trustee of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, died last month in Columbus, Georgia, after a long illness. He was 83 years old.

In 1964 Dr. Edwards moved from his home state of Arkansas to Columbus, Georgia. At the time he was the only black surgeon in the city and because he held a medical degree from a predominantly white medical school, he was the only black physician in the city who was allowed to admit patients to the local hospital.

For his efforts as a mentor to dozens of young black medical students and doctors,  a scholarship in Dr. Edwards' name has been established at the Morehouse School of Medicine.


Honors and Awards

• Colorado State University in Fort Collins is the recipient of the Role Model Award from the Maryland-based nonprofit organization Minority Access Inc. The university was honored for its efforts to promote greater diversity in higher education.

• Henry Panion III, University Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, received the Civic and Cultural Advancement Award from the Congressional Black Caucus. Panion, who has won two Grammy Awards, has served as the conductor and arranger for the recordings of Stevie Wonder.

Dr. Panion is a graduate of Alabama A&M University and holds a Ph.D. in music theory from Ohio State University.

• Robert Mayo, chair of the department of communications sciences and disorders at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, was named a Diversity Champion by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Dr. Mayo is a graduate of George Washington University. He holds a master’s degree from Ohio State University and a doctorate from the University of Memphis.


Grants and Gifts

Historically black South Carolina State University in Orangeburg received a $199,853 grant from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The money will be used for scholarships for students in nuclear education and for curriculum development in the field.

• Bowie State University, the historically black educational institution in Maryland, received a five-year, $50,000 grant from the Maryland Hospital Association. The funds will be earmarked for programs seeking to increase the number of students graduating with a degree in nursing.

Historically black North Carolina A&T State University received a three-year, $582,738 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The funds will be used by the university’s department of computer science to develop a secure software engineering program.

The United States Department of Education has awarded Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program Grants to 16 colleges and universities. The grants provide funds for minority students to conduct research in scientific fields in order to prepare for doctoral work. The schools that received grants ranging from $215,000 to $220,000 include: Bloomfield College, Texas A&M University, the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Winthrop University, Earlham College, and Heritage University. Also receiving grants were the University of Wisconsin-Stout, California State University-Northridge, Murray State University, Arkansas State University, Montana State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Fayetteville State University, the College of Charleston, and Northern Michigan University.

• Valparaiso University in Indiana received a $100,000 grant from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation for a scholarship fund established for minority students.


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