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Bush Education Department Looks to Bully Colleges and Universities in an Effort to Reduce the Use of Race-Sensitive Admissions

More than five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its last decision regarding race-based affirmative action in admissions to institutions of higher education. The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education now has issued new guidelines to colleges and universities regarding race-sensitive admissions. The guidelines, issued in a letter from Stephanie J. Monroe, assistant secretary for civil rights, stipulate that for all higher educational institutions receiving federal financial assistance of any kind:

• Use of race must be essential to an institution’s mission and stated goals;
• The diversity sought by the postsecondary institution must be broader than mere racial diversity;
• Providing individualized consideration is paramount and there must be no undue burden on other-race applicants;
• Before using race, there must be serious good-faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives; and
• Periodic reviews are necessary and the use of race must have a logical end point.

Assistant Secretary Monroe is a graduate of the University of Maryland and has a law degree from the University of Baltimore.

Clearly, the lame-duck Bush administration is making a last-ditch attempt to further scale back race-sensitive admissions at colleges and universities. But a new administration will take office in January. Without further clarification from the Supreme Court, it is doubtful that the new guidelines will have much impact on college and university admissions procedures.

Meharry Study Examines Teenage Seat Belt Usage by Education and Race

More than 5,000 teenagers ages 16 to 19 die in automobile accidents each year. Motor vehicle-related fatalities are the highest cause of death in this age group. Another 400,000 teenagers are injured in automobile accidents.

Researchers at Meharry Medical College, the historically black educational institution in Nashville, Tennessee, have found that large numbers of college-age teenagers do not use their seat belts when driving or riding as a passenger in a vehicle. The study found that 59 percent of teenagers said they always use their seat belt when driving but only 42 percent reported that they wear their seat belts as a passenger. The study found a direct positive correlation between how well students did in school and seat belt usage. Students who received mostly As in school use their seat belt 70 percent of the time while driving. Only 44 percent of students who received average grades of C use their seat belts.

The research, which was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, also showed significant racial differences. More than 60 percent of white teens wear their seat belt while driving compared to only 47.3 percent of black teenagers. For passengers, 42.3 percent of whites use their seat belts compared to 36.9 percent of African American teens.

The Florida Merit-Based College Scholarships That Go Mostly to Whites

In 1997 the Florida Legislature created the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program. This Florida lottery-funded scholarship rewards students for their academic achievements during high school by providing funding for them that is equal to full tuition at state-operated colleges and universities.

In order to qualify for a Bright Futures scholarship, students must have a 3.5 grade point average in high school and score 1270 on the combined mathematics and reading sections of the SAT college entrance examination.

This final requirement eliminates most black students in Florida. The average combined SAT score of black students in Florida is 861 points. This is 200 points below the average score for whites and 400 points below the qualification level for Bright Futures scholarships.

While data on the race of scholarship winners is not released, it is clear that most recipients of these merit-based scholarships are white. This is confirmed by the fact that 72 percent of the students at the predominantly white University of Florida and 58 percent of the students at predominantly white Florida State University receive Bright Futures scholarships. But only 12 percent of the students at historically black Florida A&M University receive the scholarship awards.

Blacks Very Scarce in Oregon Higher Education

The Oregon University System reports that over the past decade the percentage of all minority students on the system’s campuses increased from 12 percent to 14 percent. During the same period the minority percentage of all seniors graduating from high school in the state rose from 14 percent to 21 percent.

Blacks make up 2 percent of all enrollments in the Oregon University System and 3 percent of all high school graduates in the state. The number of black faculty on all campuses of the system declined from 64 in 1997 to 59 in 2007.

New Center for International Law at Florida A&M University

The Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando has announced plans to establish the Center for International Law and Justice. The new center will conduct research and offer courses on international law and comparative law of developing nations. The center will have a fellowship program and will provide international internships and study-abroad opportunities for FAMU law students.

The director of the new center will be Jeremy I. Levitt, associate dean for international programs and distinguished professor of law. Levitt formerly worked for the World Bank and as a consultant to the United Nations.

Brown University Bestows Honorary Degree on Liberian President

Brown University recently awarded an honorary degree on Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. After the award ceremony President Sirleaf appeared in a public conversation with Brown President Ruth Simmons in Sayles Hall on the university campus.

Record Black Freshman Enrollment at the University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky reports that it enrolled more African-American freshmen this fall than at any time in its history. There are 341 black first-year students at the university this fall, up from 258 a year ago. This is an increase of more than 32 percent over last year.

Blacks make up 8.4 percent of the freshman class. This is a significant level in view of the fact that blacks are just 7.2 percent of the overall Kentucky population.

Blacks also made significant progress at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. There, black freshman enrollments are up 20 percent from a year ago. There are 500 black freshmen at the university. The university says that progress has been achieved due to increased outreach efforts directed at minority students, diversity scholarships, and two open house Preview Days targeting black and other minority students which are held each year.

Honors and Awards

• Calvin W. Burnett, who served as president of Coppin State University for 33 years and later as Maryland Secretary of Higher Education, was honored by having a street in Baltimore named in his honor.

Dr. Burnett is a graduate of Saint Louis University where he also earned a Ph.D. in social psychology.

• Kynna Wright-Volel, assistant professor of nursing at UCLA, received the Nurse Faculty Scholar Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The award includes a three-year, $350,000 grant which Wright-Volel will use to fund her research to eliminate health disparities among overweight children.

Wright holds five degrees, including a doctorate in public health, from UCLA.


• Johnson C. Smith University, the historically black educational institution in Charlotte, North Carolina, received a $325,000 grant from the Duke Endowment to improve the university’s academic programs.

The University of the South School of Theology in Sewanee, Tennessee, received a $199,500 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. The money will be used for scholarships for black and other minority students.

• North Carolina Central University received a donation of 14 paintings from a North Carolina collector. All of the donated art is the work of A.B. Jackson, an African-American artist who was a graduate of Yale University and later became the first black faculty member at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Jackson died in 1981 at the age of 55.

• Canada College in Redwood City, California, received a three-year, $900,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase the number of black and Latino students in the fields of science, mathematics, technology, and engineering. The grant will be used to create a summer bridge program to prepare students for college-level curriculum in these fields.

• Alabama A&M University, the historically black educational institution in Normal, Alabama, received a $75,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The grant will be used to develop a business curriculum and conduct training workshops for local community leaders and entrepreneurs.

Racial Differences in Ph.D. Completion Rates

The Council of Graduate Schools recently published data on the Ph.D. completion rates of students at a large number of research universities in the United States. The study examined students who entered Ph.D. programs in the years 1992 to 1995 to see how many had actually earned their doctorate a decade later.

The data showed that 57 percent of the students who entered Ph.D. programs had earned their degree during the ensuing decade. The survey found that 55 percent of white Ph.D. students received their degree within 10 years compared to 47 percent of black students.

Counting by race there are major differences in specific Ph.D. fields. Sixty percent of black students in Ph.D. programs in the life sciences earned their degree in 10 years. This was identical to the success rate of white students and higher than the rate for either Asian Americans or Hispanic Americans. Blacks actually had a slightly higher success rate than whites in humanities fields.

But in other fields, black Ph.D. candidates did not fare as well. Only 47 percent of black students pursuing Ph.D.s in engineering earned their degrees within 10 years compared to 60 percent of whites. In mathematics and physical sciences, only 37 percent of black candidates earned their Ph.D. in 10 years. For whites, 52 percent completed their degree within a decade.

“Sister President, you keep on standing up for the people who have been pushed down.”

J. Lorand Matory, professor of anthropology and chair of the Association of Black Faculty at Harvard University, complimenting Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust on her efforts to increase racial diversity of the faculty

Persisting Racial Disparity in High School Completions

While many barriers remain restricting access to college for African Americans, a high school diploma remains an essential ticket to higher education. A new report from the Department of Education reveals that blacks continue to graduate from high school at a rate well below that of their white counterparts.

The data shows that in the November 2005 to October 2006 period, 3.8 percent of all black students in grades 10 through 12 dropped out of school during that one-year period. For whites the rate was 2.9 percent. The good news is that the one-year dropout rate for black students was at its lowest level since the Department of Education began tracking dropout rates.

The Department of Education also calculates the percentage of all young people ages 15 through 24 who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate. For all young blacks, nearly 11 percent dropped out of school and did not complete their high school education. This is nearly double the white rate of 5.8 percent.

University of Virginia Professor Examines Diversity Management in American Corporations

Martin N. Davidson, associate professor at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, is currently putting the finishing touches on a new book with the working title of Leveraging Difference for Excellence. Professor Davidson’s research shows that some companies see racial, gender, and ethnic diversity as a problem that must be dealt with by human resources executives. These companies are often preoccupied with political correctness.

But more successful companies, according to Davidson, advance diversity in their work forces as a strategic advantage. They use the diversity of the companies to foster creativity and develop processes so that people can work more productively together.

Professor Davidson is a graduate of Harvard College. He holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Central State University Takes First Steps in Effort to Triple Enrollments Over the Next Decade

Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, had about 2,000 students in the 2007-2008 academic year. As part of a strategy to improve the financial soundness of the historically black university, the board of trustees set a goal of tripling the total enrollments to 6,000 over the 2007-2017 period. To reach the goal, black enrollments must increase 10 percent each year over the next decade. The state legislature budgeted nearly $10 million to help the university reach its goal.

The university is off to a good start. Freshman enrollments have increased 14 percent this fall and overall enrollments are up 7 percent.

Colleges and Universities Where Blacks and Whites Get Along, and Where They Have Little Interaction

The Princeton Review recently released The Best 368 Colleges. The report contains the results of a survey given to 120,000 students at the colleges profiled in the guide. The Princeton Review then ranked the colleges on which institutions have the best food, the most pot smokers, the most parties, and 59 other categories.

Of special interest to readers of JBHE are two rankings that show which colleges and universities have the most interaction between students of different races and which schools have the least interaction among the races. Below are the lists of the top 15 in each category.

Most Interaction Between the Races

Least Interaction Between the Races

Pitzer College

Trinity College (Connecticut)

Rice University

Miami University (Ohio)

Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

Fairfield University

Wesleyan College (Georgia)

University of New Hampshire

Baruch College-CUNY

Wake Forest University

Stanford University

Providence College

St. Mary’s College of Maryland

University of Richmond

Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham

Syracuse University

Beloit College

Texas Christian University

Prescott College

Rollins College

Macalaster College

Univ. of California-San Diego

Mount Holyoke College

Lehigh University

Oglethorpe University

Gettysburg College

Webb Institute

Union College (New York)

Randolph College

University of Georgia

North Carolina A&T State University Is the First Historically Black Institution to Be Selected as a Site for a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center

When it comes to federal dollars for scientific research, the nation’s historically black colleges and universities almost always come up short. In large part, this is due to racial views in government that black scholars are incapable of conducting serious research in science, mathematics, or engineering.

Now, for the first time in history, a historically black educational institution has been selected as the location for a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro will receive $18.5 million over the next five years to conduct research in biomedical engineering.

A new academic department in biomedical engineering will be established that eventually will grant bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in the field.

66%  Percentage of white parents of preschool children in 2007 who believe that it is important to teach their children the alphabet.

43%  Percentage of black parents of preschool children in 2007 who believe that it is important to teach their children the alphabet.

source: U.S. Department of Education


• Dorothy Brown was appointed professor of law at the Emory University School of Law. Brown had been serving as a visiting professor at Emory. Previously she taught at the law school at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.

A graduate of Fordham University, Professor Brown holds law degrees from Georgetown University and New York University.

• Alvin Thornton was named interim provost and chief academic officer at Howard University. He has served as associate provost for six years and has taught political science at the university for over a quarter of a century.
• Traki Taylor-Webb was appointed dean of the School of Education at Bowie State University in Maryland. She was associate dean of the School of Education and Human Services at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Dean Taylor-Webb is a graduate of Coppin State University. She holds master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois.

• Juliette Bell was hired as interim provost at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. She was provost and chief academic officer at Fayetteville State University, also in North Carolina.

Dr. Bell is a graduate of Talladega College. She holds a Ph.D. from Atlanta University.

• Ernest Waiters, chief of public safety at Bowie State University in Maryland, was elected to a two-year term as president of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Law Enforcement Executives Association.

• Sulayman Clark was appointed vice president for institutional advancement at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. He was vice president for institutional advancement at Fisk University.

Dr. Clark is a graduate of Cheyney University. He holds a master’s degree from Stanford University and an educational doctorate from Harvard University. He is the author of the historical novel, The Rains: Voices for American Liberty.

• John F. Knight Jr., was named executive vice president and chief operating officer at Alabama State University in Montgomery. Knight, a graduate of Alabama State, is an elected member of the Alabama House of Representatives.

• Mwalimu J. Shujaa was named provost and executive vice chancellor at Southern University in Baton Rouge. He was dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Education at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York.

Dr. Shujaa is a graduate of Pittsburg State University in Kansas. He holds a master’s degree from the College of New Jersey and a doctorate in the anthropology of education from Rutgers University.


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