Blacks Show Solid Progress in High School Completions

The latest data from the U.S. Department of Education contains good news on black progress in high school graduations.

In 2007, 88.8 percent of African Americans ages 18 to 24 had completed high school or had obtained a high school equivalency certificate. This percentage was up significantly from 84.8 percent in 2006. Whites also improved their rate of high school completions. In 2007, 93.5 percent of 18- to 24-year-old whites had completed high school. This was up from 92.6 percent in 2006.

The racial gap of 4.7 percentage points in high school completions is the smallest in U.S. history. Thirty years ago the gap was 14 percentage points. A decade ago the gap was about 8 percentage points.


A Record Number of Black Freshmen at the University of Kentucky

In most southern and border states, black students make up only a small fraction of the student body at the flagship universities compared to the percentage of blacks in the college age population in the state. But this is not the case in Kentucky.

This fall the University of Kentucky has its largest number of black freshmen in school history. There are 404 black freshmen on campus this fall, a 17 percent increase from a year ago. Blacks are 9.7 percent of the incoming class. Last year blacks were 8.4 percent of incoming freshmen. The figures are all the more remarkable considering African Americans make up about 8 percent of the state’s total college age population.

It should be noted that the university is not lowering academic standards in order to increase racial and ethnic diversity. This year the quality of incoming students, as measured by test scores and high school grade point averages, increased.

Overall there are 1,774 blacks on the University of Kentucky campus this fall, an increase of 9 percent from a year ago.



City of Orlando Apologizes to the University of Buffalo for 1958 Racial Slight

In 1958 the University of Buffalo was selected to play in the Tangerine Bowl against Florida State. Organizers of the bowl in Orlando, Florida, informed the University of Buffalo that due to the racial customs of the South, the university’s two black players would not be permitted to participate in the game. Team members of the University of Buffalo stood behind their black teammates and voted to decline the invitation to play in the bowl game.

This fall the city of Orlando made amends. It invited 34 members of the 1958 University of Buffalo team to Orlando to watch the university’s team play the University of South Florida. The trip was paid for by the city of Orlando. An official apology was offered to the 1958 team during a halftime ceremony.


Papers of Tupac Shakur Are Donated to the Atlanta University Center

The Robert W. Woodruff Library, which serves the historically black colleges and universities that make up the Atlanta University Center, will receive the papers of Tupac Shakur. The papers were donated by the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, which is directed by the hip-hop artist’s mother. Shakur was shot and killed in 1996 at the age of 25.

The collection includes movie scripts, letters, lyrics, notes, and music video treatments. The papers, which include works from 1989 to 1996, will be available for scholarly research.


With Accreditation Hanging in the Balance, Paul Quinn College Enrollments Are Down by 65 Percent

This past June, Paul Quinn College, the historically black educational institution in Dallas, Texas, was stripped of its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The college took the matter to court and was able to maintain accreditation while the legal process takes its course.

The college opened for classes last week with only 150 students. This is about one third the enrollment level for the fall of 2008.

The college did have some good news to report. A $500,000 donation was received from the Meadows Foundation of Dallas. This was the largest cash gift to the college in over a decade.


In Memoriam

Lisle C. Carter Jr. (1926-2009)

Lisle C. Carter Jr., former chancellor of the Atlanta University Center and the first president of the University of the District of Columbia, has died from complications of pneumonia at a hospital in northern Virginia. He was 83 years old.

Carter was born in Manhattan to immigrants from the Caribbean island of Barbados. His father was a dentist. Carter attended Cazenovia College for two years and then transferred to Dartmouth College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1945. After serving in the Army, he earned a law degree at St. John’s University.

After heading the Urban League offices in New York and Washington, in 1961 Carter was named to an administrative post in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in the Kennedy administration. President Johnson named him assistant secretary of HEW.

In 1974 Carter was appointed chancellor of the Atlanta University Center. Three years later he accepted the position as the first president of the University of the District of Columbia.

Robert Eric Hayes Sr. (1920-2009)

In 1971 Robert Eric Hayes Sr. was serving as the assistant to the bishop of the United Methodist Church. The bishop sent him to Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, to make preparations to close the institution, which was $6 million in debt and had lost its accreditation.

Instead, Hayes, a graduate of Wiley College and the Gammon Theological Seminary, launched a successful effort to raise funds to restore the college’s academic credibility.

Hayes died last month in Houston at the age of 89.

Grady Deese (1947-2009)

Grady Deese, director of admissions at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina, died suddenly during a recruiting event in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. He was 62 years old.

Deese was a graduate of Livingstone College and held a master’s degree from Columbia University. Before coming to Elizabeth City State University, he held similar admissions positions at Livingstone College and Barber-Scotia College.


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Jonathan N. Pinson was elected chair of the board of trustees of South Carolina State University in Orangeburg. Pinson, who is president of Professional Staffing Solutions in Greenville, South Carolina, has been on the board since 2005.

• Kimberly Springer was named Sterling Brown 1922 Visiting Professor of Africana Studies at Williams College. She has been on the faculty of Kings College in London for the past five years.

A graduate of the University of Michigan, Professor Springer earned her Ph.D. at Emory University.

• Alphonso Simpson was named interim chair of the department of African-American studies at Western Illinois University in Macomb. Since 2000 he has been serving as an associate professor in the department.

Dr. Simpson is a graduate of Alabama State University. He holds a master’s degree in music education from the University of Missouri and a doctorate from the University of Wyoming.

• Isabel Wilkerson, who in 1994 won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing while at the New York Times, is joining the journalism faculty at the College of Communication at Boston University. A graduate of Howard University, Wilkerson was a journalism professor at Emory University.

• Donaldson L.T. Byrd, an internationally renowned jazz trumpeter, was named artist in residence at Delaware State University in Dover. He will teach master’s courses and participate in fundraising activities.

Donald Byrd is a graduate of Wayne State University and the Manhattan School of Music. He holds an educational doctorate from Columbia Teachers College.

• Dwight Brooks was named director of the School of Journalism at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. He was chair of the department of mass communications at Jackson State University.

Dr. Brooks is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. He holds a master’s degree from Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in communication studies from the University of Iowa.

• Sterling Steward Jr. was appointed associate director of athletics for compliance at Alabama State University. He will also serve as interim athletics director. He was the assistant athletics director at Kentucky State University in Frankfort.

Steward holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi.

• Marlon James was appointed assistant professor of English at Macalester College in Minnesota. The author of two novels, James had been teaching at the Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City.

James is a graduate of the University of the West Indies. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from Wilkes University.

• Linda Florence Callahan, a professor of journalism and mass communication at North Carolina A&T State University, was appointed to the board of directors of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.



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Black Insurance Company Donates Its Historical Archives to Two Universities in Durham, North Carolina

The historical archives of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company have been donated to the Duke Library Service Center, a facility that serves both Duke University and historically black North Carolina Central University. North Carolina Mutual is the nation’s oldest and largest insurer that was founded by African Americans. Today the company has $7.7 billion of insurance in force.

The collection includes thousands of business documents, photographs, newsletters, promotional items, marketing materials, and company correspondence. The collection will be available in public displays and for scholarly research.


“It is important that investments be made in minority-serving institutions of higher education, including research funds, which will open up all kinds of doors of opportunity.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking of legislation that provides $2.5 billion for historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions of higher education


More Than $14 Million in Stimulus Funds Will Be Used to Restore Historic Buildings on Campuses of Black Colleges and Universities

The United States Department of the Interior announced that 20 historically black colleges and universities will receive a total of $14.25 million in grants under the economic stimulus act to preserve historic buildings on their campuses. To be eligible for the funds, the buildings must be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

For a complete list of the HBCUs and the projects receiving funds, click here.


USC’s Ernest J. Wilson Elected Chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Ernest J. Wilson III, dean of the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California, has been elected chair of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Dean Wilson is the first African American to serve as head of the corporation.

Dr. Wilson is a graduate of Harvard University. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Prior to coming to USC in 2002, Dr. Wilson was professor of government and politics, senior research scholar, and director of the Center for International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland at College Park. He has also served on the faculty at the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania.


The Re-Branding of Voorhees College

Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina, was founded in 1897 by Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, a 23-year-old black woman who had been educated at Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute. Seed money for the new college was provided by New Jersey philanthropist Ralph Voorhees. At that time, only a high school curriculum was offered.

In 1924 the American Church Institute for Negroes, a division of the Episcopal Church, agreed to provide funding for the college. The affiliation with the Episcopal Church continues to this day. In 1947 Voorhees became a junior college and in 1962 it was accredited as a four-year institution.

Cleveland L. Sellers Jr., the new president of Voorhees College, is leading an effort to make the college a premier liberal arts institution. He wants to double enrollments and add a number of new majors and departments. Sellers, who previously headed the African-American studies program at the University of South Carolina, went to Voorhees when it was a high school.

Sellers recently unveiled the university’s new Web site which includes its new slogan, “Changing Minds and Changing Lives.”

Dr. Sellers’ efforts appear to be paying off. The college received 2,689 applications this year, up from 1,791 a year ago. This fall Voorhees has the largest number of new students in a decade. There are 650 students in total enrollments this fall, up 14 percent from 2008.


New Admission Requirements Will Make It More Difficult for Blacks to Gain Admission to State Universities in Florida

All told, the 12 universities in the Florida State University System enroll more than 300,000 students. More than 41,000 are African Americans. Blacks make up about 14 percent of the total enrollments.

However, it should be noted that nearly 12,000 students are enrolled at historically black Florida A&M University and 94 percent of the undergraduate enrollments at Florida A&M are black. Therefore, blacks make up less than 10 percent of all enrollments at the 11 other universities in the system.

State universities in Florida are prohibited from considering race in admissions decisions. Therefore, there is no affirmative action or racial preferences, and black students must compete for spaces at these universities with whites and other races based solely on grade point averages and SAT scores.

Now the state university system plans to raise admission standards. At the present time, students need a 3.0 grade point average in high school in order to qualify for admission. But students who score high on the SAT college entrance examination can gain admittance with a grade point average as low as 2.0.

The new proposal will exclude all students who do not achieve a 2.5 grade point average. In addition, minimum thresholds will be established for a student’s scores on all three sections of the SAT test: reading, mathematics, and writing. Blacks in Florida score about 15 percent lower on the SAT than white students in Florida.The new admission standards undoubtedly will make it more difficult for blacks to gain entrance to the state university system.



Honors and Awards

• Juanita Johnson-Bailey, professor of education and interim director of the Institute for Women’s Studies at the University of Georgia, has been elected to the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame.

Dr. Johnson-Bailey is a graduate of Mercer University. She holds a master’s degree and educational doctorate from the University of Georgia.

• Linda Darling-Hammond, the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University, received the 2009 Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education from educational publisher McGraw-Hill. The prize comes with a bronze statue and $25,000.

Dr. Darling-Hammond is a graduate of Yale University and holds a doctorate in urban education from Temple University.

• John Edgar Wideman, professor of English and Africana studies at Brown University, was awarded the 2009 Janet Weis Fellowship in Contemporary Letters at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The award is given to honor “the highest level of achievement in the craft of writing.”

A 1963 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Wideman was selected as a Rhodes Scholar.

• Julian Bond, professor of history at the University of Virginia and chair of the NAACP, was given an honorary degree at the fall convocation of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.


21.5%  Percentage of all white mothers of young children in the United States in 2007 who were stay-at-home moms.

13.5%  Percentage of all African-American mothers of young children in the United States in 2007 who were stay-at-home moms.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


Grants and Gifts

• Southern University, the historically black educational institution in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, received a $35,000 grant from the Boeing Company that will be used to fund scholarships in the College of Business, the College of Engineering, and the department of computer science.

• The Community College of Philadelphia was awarded a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish the Center for Male Engagement, a program designed to increase the success of black men in college.

• Jackson State University, the historically black educational institution in Mississippi, received a $636,136 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The grant will be used to create an uninterrupted power system for the university’s information technology hub.

• South Carolina State University, the historically black educational institution in Orangeburg, received a $13 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The grant money will fund a program to develop and produce textbooks for school students in Tanzania. The grant is the largest ever received by the university.

The medical school at the University of Minnesota received a $6.24 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund the creation of a Center for Excellence in Health Disparities Research, Engagement and Training.

• Xavier University, the historically black educational institution in New Orleans, received a $3 million grant to be shared with New York University from the National Science Foundation. The two universities will collaborate in a program to increase the number of minority students in the field of materials science.

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