It Is the Black Colleges That Are Enrolling All the Students From Low-Income Families

As we have shown in recent editions of the JBHE Weekly Bulletin, most of the nation’s highest-ranked colleges and universities enroll very few low-income students who receive federal Pell Grant awards.

But at the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, an entirely different story emerges. In fact, at a majority of black colleges, two thirds or more of all enrolled students receive federal Pell Grants.

The latest data from the Department of Education shows that for the 2004-05 academic year there are 10 HBCUs at which more than 90 percent of all students receive Pell Grants. At five black colleges virtually every student who enrolls comes from a low-income family. These five colleges where almost all enrolled students are from low-income families are Edward Waters College, Stillman College, Voorhees College, Morris College, and Benedict College.

There are only 13 HBCUs at which low-income students are not a majority of all students. Hampton University in Virginia has the smallest percentage of low-income students than any black college at 32.4 percent. At Morehouse College, less than one third of the students receive Pell Grants. There are only four other HBCUs at which low-income students make up less than 40 percent of the total enrollments. They are Bowie State University, the University of the District of Columbia, Spelman College, and Howard University.


“This is a day to rejoice. This is a monument to the power of peace to overcome violence. And it is a monument to the power of love to overcome hate.”

Congressman John Lewis, giving the keynote address at the ceremony dedicating a monument on the campus of the University of Mississippi honoring James Meredith, the institution’s first black student


Enrollment Declines at Some Black Colleges

Overall enrollments at the nation’s historically black colleges and universities have increased in recent years. But an analysis of Department of Education data by the Associated Press finds that there have been declines in enrollments at 26 of the 87 black colleges surveyed. The largest decline was at Talladega College where enrollments were down 54 percent from 1995 to 2004. Fisk University and Tuskegee University, two of the most prestigious black colleges, also had drops in enrollments. The study found that in 1976, 18.4 percent of all African-American students were enrolled at a historically black college. In 2001 that figure had dropped to 12.9 percent.

Clearly, increased competition for black students from predominantly white colleges has hurt enrollments at some black colleges. More attractive financial aid awards at the predominantly white colleges and universities, compared to those available at the often financially strapped historically black institutions, undoubtedly is another factor in the declining enrollments at these institutions.


Harvard Civil Rights Project Urges Rejection of the Department of Education’s New Proposed Racial Classifications for College Students

A new analysis from the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University finds that the proposed new Department of Education rules for the racial identification of students will result in confusion and make it extremely difficult to track the progress of blacks and other minorities in higher education.

The new proposed racial classifications for college application forms would include a “mixed race” category which would not distinguish the ethnic backgrounds of students who chose this option. The Civil Rights Project states that “the proposed changes would suddenly produce vast changes in the apparent racial composition of our educational system, create a new category that is a grab bag of many forms of multiracial backgrounds, and would very seriously undermine research and policy analysis.” The report continues by saying that the new classifications “would make it impossible to compare future patterns and trends with past ones or to know whether various institutions were making progress in educational outcomes by racial and ethnic group.”


New Ph.D. Program at Norfolk State University

Norfolk State University in Virginia has received approval from the State Council of Higher Education to move forward with its doctoral program in materials science and engineering. The new program, to start next fall, will be the second doctoral program at the historically black university. Norfolk State also offers a doctorate in social work.



Settlement of Alabama’s Higher Education Racial Desegregation Litigation

With a court date pending, the parties in a 25-year-old racial desegregation lawsuit against the state of Alabama and its higher education system have agreed to a settlement. The suit was first filed in 1981 after no action was taken following a 1979 Department of Education finding that the state still operated a dual system of higher education for blacks and whites.

The settlement calls for payments of $25.8 million to Alabama State University and $7.3 million to Alabama A&M University, the two historically black state-operated universities in the state. In addition, the state has agreed to establish a new $10 million need-based financial aid program that will be open to students of all races.


Pepper Hamilton Teams Up With Villanova University in an Effort to Increase Racial Diversity in the Legal Profession

The Pepper Hamilton law firm of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, has announced a cooperative effort with the Villanova University School of Law. Under the program the law firm will fund two full scholarships for minority law school students at Villanova. In addition, the firm will sponsor a six-week summer intern program at the law school for sophomores and juniors who are enrolled at historically black colleges and universities in an effort to encourage them to pursue careers in the legal profession. The firm will also employ two minority students at the Villanova School of Law as first-year summer associates and as part-time law clerks during their second and third years in law school.

Pepper Hamilton, founded in 1890, has more than 400 partners and associates with offices in seven states and Washington, D.C.

The latest data from the American Bar Association shows that blacks make up 3.8 percent of the students at the Villanova University School of Law.


Texas Oilman Endows Scholarship for Black Engineering Students

The new David C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering at Mississippi State University in Starkville

Over the past 20 years Texas oilman David C. Swalm has contributed more than $30 million to his alma mater, Mississippi State University. The School of Chemical Engineering at the university has been renamed in his honor and a new $18 million, 95,000-square-foot classroom and laboratory building has opened.

Swalm, a white man who graduated from Mississippi State with a degree in chemical engineering, invested $6,000 of his own money in 1968 to start Texas Olefins, a petrochemical manufacturing firm. He sold the company in 1996 for $500 million.

Now Swalm has endowed a new scholarship program to benefit black students seeking advanced degrees in chemical engineering. A $3 million endowment will fund scholarships for science graduates of historically black Jackson State University who want to study for a graduate degree in engineering at Mississippi State. In addition to the graduate level opportunities, undergraduate students at Jackson State who want to pursue a course of study in engineering not offered at that university can apply for a scholarship to transfer to Mississippi State.




Larry L. Earvin, president of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, was recently inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame in the education category. Dr. Earvin is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University.

Among the other inductees at this year’s ceremony were Alexis M. Herman, former secretary of labor, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, and Professor John Hope Franklin.

Erich Jarvis, associate professor of neurobiology at Duke University, was named one of the “Brilliant 10” by Popular Science magazine. The award recognizes scientists who are conducting groundbreaking research in their particular field. Professor Jarvis’ research involves how birds learn to sing and how their development of language relates to similar cognitive processes in humans.



• The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced a series of grants totaling more than $13 million to 38 institutions and organizations. The grant money will be used to support efforts to eliminate racial disparities in healthcare.

Among the organizations receiveing grants are a number of black colleges and universities including Howard University, Tougaloo College, Albany State University, Central State University, and Huston-Tillotson University.

Meharry Medical College, the historically black medical school in Nashville, Tennessee, received a five-year, $4.2 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a research project to develop violence prevention strategies among youth. The pilot program will be developed in Nashville with the hope that it can be emulated in other cities across the nation.

North Carolina Central University, the historically black educational institution in Durham, received a $150,000 grant from the Darden Restaurants Foundation. The funds will be used to buy equipment, furniture, and instructional aids for the university’s hospitality and tourism program.

Senator George Allen’s Former Teammates At the University of Virginia Say He Commonly Referred to Blacks as “Niggers”

George Allen, U.S. senator from Virginia who is in a tough battle for reelection, has found himself in serious hot water recently after he was heard using a derogatory term meaning “monkey” to refer to a black campaign aide of his opponent.

Now three football teammates of Allen when he was at the University of Virginia in the early 1970s said that Allen routinely referred to blacks as “niggers.” One teammate said Allen told him he came to the University of Virginia because it was a university “where blacks knew their place.” Another teammate said that on a hunting trip Allen severed the head of a deer and then asked for directions to the nearest African-American household. He then reportedly stuffed the head of the deer into the mailbox at the home. The teammates said that Allen’s nickname at the time was “Wizard,” jokingly making a reference to a leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Senator Allen denies all the allegations. Whatever the outcome of this year’s Senate race, it seems likely that the racial controversy has dealt a fatal blow to Allen’s plans for a 2008 White House run.

Allen’s Democratic opponent James Webb, the secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, also was accused of using racial slurs in the past. An acquaintance of Webb at the University of Southern California, said that Webb drove through black neighborhoods of Los Angeles with his ROTC buddies and pointed guns at black residents and called them “nigger” to scare them. Webb says that he may have used the term in the past but not as a racial slur.


Income Differences Do Not Explain the Large Racial Gap in SAT Scores

There always has been a direct correlation between family income and SAT scores. For both blacks and whites, as income goes up, so do test scores. In 2006, 24 percent of all black SAT test takers were from families with annual incomes below $20,000. Only 4 percent of white test takers were from families with incomes below $20,000. At the other extreme, 8 percent of all black test takers were from families with incomes of more than $100,000. The comparable figure for white test takers is 31 percent.

But, regrettably, income differences do not explain the racial gap in SAT scores. Consider these three observable facts from The College Board’s 2006 data on the SAT:

  • Whites from families with incomes of less than $10,000 had a mean SAT score of 993. This is 130 points higher than the national mean for all blacks.
  • Whites from families with incomes below $10,000 had a mean SAT test score that was 11 points higher than blacks whose families had incomes of more than $100,000.



Miles College Doubles the Size of Its Campus

Miles College, the historically black educational institution in Fairfield, Alabama, has purchased the 41-acre site adjacent to its campus which once housed the Lloyd Nolan Hospital. The acquisition more than doubles the size of the Miles College campus. The college will now conduct a study on whether to renovate the existing hospital structure for the college’s use or to raze the hospital and construct new buildings on the site. The college plans to house a health and wellness center, a fine arts facility, the School of International Studies and Public Policy, and a new law school on the acquired property.

Miles College, founded in 1905, has total enrollments of about 1,750 students, almost all of whom are black.


Minor Progress in Black Enrollments at the University of Colorado

The 2005-06 academic year is one most black students at the University of Colorado at Boulder would rather forget. A black student leader received a racist death threat in an e-mail sent from a campus computer. The message read, “Why don’t you and all your black nigger friends disappear off our campus. You guys don’t belong. You will die if you run for student government again.” Several days later, racist fliers were posted on campus and additional fliers were slipped under dormitory room doors at the university. The previous year there had been several other racial incidents on campus.

As a result, in order to make black students feel welcome on campus, the University of Colorado made a concerted effort to attract more black students. This fall there are 78 black freshmen on campus. This is up 18 percent from a year ago. Yet overall enrollments at the university are up 12 percent. So blacks are only 1.4 percent of the first-year class, up only slightly from 1.3 percent a year ago.

Blacks are nearly 4 percent of the total population in Colorado.


48%  Percentage of all white high school seniors in 2006 who took the SAT college admissions test who had grade point averages in the A range.

24%  Percentage of all African-American high school seniors in 2006 who took the SAT college admissions test who had grade point averages in the A range.

source: The College Board


Small Numbers of Black Men at Flagship State Universities

A new report from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington examines the enrollment of black men at the nation’s 50 flagship state universities. The study found that black men make up only 2.8 percent of the total enrollments at these large research institutions. The report found that at 30 of the 50 flagships there were fewer than 500 black male students.

The study recommends increased outreach to black male students and the continuation of affirmative action admissions programs at universities that have them and the institution of such programs at universities that currently do not practice race-sensitive admissions.

Race-sensitive admissions at flagship universities are currently illegal in only three states: California, Florida, and Washington.



Alumni Group Files Suit Against Administration of Grambling State University

The Grambling University National Alumni Association has filed a federal lawsuit against the administration of the historically black educational institution in Louisiana. The suit claims that the university administration is unfair to its employees and is leading the institution in the wrong direction. The suit seeks an injunction that would prevent the administration from taking any “actions or inactions against the university’s best interests.”


In Memoriam

John F. Utendale (1937-2006)

John F. Utendale, a black pioneer in professional hockey and the first black faculty member at the Woodring College of Education at Western Washington University in Bellingham, died recently from cancer. He was 69 years old.

A native of Edmonton, Alberta, he was the first black player to sign a contract with a National Hockey League team. He had played minor league hockey for several years before while enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Alberta.

He later went on to earn a master’s degree from Eastern Washington State College while playing for the Spokane Jets of the Western Hockey League. He then accepted a faculty and administrative position at Washington State University in Pullman where he earned an educational doctorate.

After three years in Pullman, Utendale joined the faculty at Western Washington University where he remained until his retirement in 2001.



Renee Jones-Welch was promoted to assistant director of external education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Previously, she was a senior program coordinator at the university.

LeCounte C. Conaway was named assistant director of athletics for media relations at Delaware State University. He was the assistant director for sports information and marketing at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Ricardo Guthrie is the new director of the Africana studies program at Palomar College in San Marcos, California. Guthrie completed his Ph.D. in communications from the University of California at San Diego this summer. He is teaching five courses this semester.

Marion Gillis-Olion, a professor of education at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, was elected to the board of directors of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. She is a graduate of Kean College and hold a master’s degree and a doctorate from Ohio State University.



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