Pell Grants Are the Lifeblood of African-American Higher Education

Since 1976 federal Pell Grants, named after Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell who championed the cause of making college more affordable, have provided money for tens of millions of low-income students. The latest data obtained by JBHE from the U.S. Department of Education shows that in the 2008-09 academic year, nearly 6.4 million students received Pell Grants. While students from the lowest income levels are eligible for awards of up to $5,350, the average Pell Grant in 2008-09 was $2,842. The federal government awarded more than $18 billion in Pell Grant awards in the 2008-09 academic year.

About 46 percent of all African-American undergraduate students receive federal Pell Grant awards. They account for approximately one quarter of all Pell Grant recipients. All told, it appears that blacks received more than $4.5 billion in federal Pell Grants during the 2008-09 academic year. This is a huge sum of money that greatly eases the financial burden faced by more than 1 million black college students each year.


Black Faculty at the Nation’s Highest-Ranked Universities

Nationwide, blacks make up 5.3 percent of all full-time faculty at American colleges and universities.

New data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that there are 287 black faculty members at Columbia University, the most at any of the 30 highest-ranked universities. There are also more than 200 black faculty members at the University of Michigan and Emory University in Atlanta. The University of Pennsylvania is the only other of the 30 top-ranked universities to have more than 150 black faculty members.

Among the 30 highest-ranked universities, CalTech has the fewest black faculty at 10. There are fewer than 30 black faculty members at Dartmouth College, Tufts University, the University of Notre Dame, and Rice University.

At 6.4 percent, Emory University has the highest percentage of black faculty among the highest-ranked universities. Columbia University is second with blacks making up 6.3 percent of the total faculty. None of the 28 other high-ranking universities have a percentage of black faculty that is equal to the national average of 5.3 percent.

At Rice University, Stanford University, MIT, and CalTech, blacks make up less than 2 percent of the total faculty.



Black Biomedical Engineering Professor at Virginia Tech Engages New Jersey High School Students in His Research

Joseph Freeman is an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Virginia Tech. He recently received a $175,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for research on artificial bone scaffolding. His research involves developing methods for rebuilding fractured bones from the core outward using nanofibrous materials.

Dr. Freeman is using part of his grant money to establish an education program for students in science classrooms in Newark, New Jersey, where his mother is a teacher. Students will be kept abreast of Freeman’s bone scaffolding research and will be able to ask questions through live Web feeds. In addition, some of the high school students will spend some of their summer vacation at Virginia Tech working in Dr. Freeman’s lab.

Dr. Freeman is a chemical engineering graduate of Princeton University and holds a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.


Race Relations on the Campus of Eastern Kentucky University

A survey of students and faculty at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond found widespread support for campus diversity efforts. Ninety-five percent of all faculty members stated that they thought the campus was receptive of racial minorities. Only 77 percent of the student body agrees that race relations on campus are good.

The survey also found that 23 percent of the faculty and 18 percent of the students reported that they had seen racial discrimination or harassment on campus. Five percent of the faculty and 8 percent of the students said that they had personally been the victims of racial harassment or discrimination.

Blacks make up 5 percent of the student body at Eastern Kentucky University.


Tennessee State University Enrolls Record Number of Black Male First-Time Students

Tennessee State University, the historically black educational institution in Nashville, reports that enrollments have increased 8 percent this year compared to a year ago. There are 6,827 undergraduates and 1,997 graduate students on campus this fall.

The university reports that the incoming freshman class is the largest in five years. Particularly encouraging is the fact that there are a record number of African-American males who have enrolled as first-time students this fall.

The most recent Department of Education data shows that women made up 64 percent of all undergraduates at Tennessee State.


In Memoriam

Charles J. Stanley Jr. (1921-2009)

Charles J. Stanley Jr., who served on the faculty of Florida A&M University for 57 years until his retirement in 2006, has died in St. Louis. He was 88 years old.

Stanley was a native of Montgomery, Alabama, where his father was a minister. He attended private school and although he was valedictorian of his high school class, his applications to both Harvard and Yale were rejected. Instead, Stanley enrolled at Talladega College, the historically black educational institution in Alabama. After serving in the Army during World War II, he did win both a master’s degree and an educational doctorate from Yale University.

Stanley joined the faculty at Florida A&M in 1949 where he served as a professor of secondary education.


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

Jean-Pierre Karegeye was named assistant professor of French and Francophone studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He recently completed his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley.

• Kedra Ishop was promoted to vice provost and director of admissions at the University of Texas at Austin. She was the associate director of admissions.

Dr. Ishop holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Texas.

• Theaster Gates was named director of arts program development at the University of Chicago. Gates is a visual and performance artist and has been a lecturer in visual arts at the university.

• Deidre Hill Butler, an associate professor of sociology, was granted tenure at Union College in Schenectady, New York. A graduate of Oberlin College, she holds a master’s degree from Cornell University and a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Clark University.

• Warren L. Woolford was appointed to the board of trustees of the University of Akron. For 20 years, he was director of planning and urban development for the city of Akron until his retirement in 2008.

A graduate of Coppin State University in Baltimore, in 1974 Woolford earned a master’s degree in geography from the University of Akron.

• Reuben Warren was appointed director of the National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care at Tuskegee University. He was director of the Institute for Faith-Health Leadership at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta.

Dr. Warren is a graduate of San Francisco State University and the dental school at Meharry Medical College. He holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in public health from Harvard University and a master of divinity degree from the Interdenominational Theological Center.

• Mary A. Smith, an associate professor for the past four years, was named chair of the department of biology at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro.

Dr. Smith earned her Ph.D. in plant physiology at Cornell University.

• Alanka Hayes Brown was named associate dean of academic affairs/academic outreach at Corning Community College in Corning, New York.

Dr. Brown is a graduate of Florida A&M University. She holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Florida State University and a doctorate in higher education administration from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.




For breaking news and previews of upcoming articles


Examining the Role of Slavery in the Early Days of the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland was founded in 1859 on land donated by slave owner Charles Benedict Calvert. Calvert owned 52 slaves, according to the 1860 Census.

A fire that ravaged the College Park campus a century ago destroyed many of the paper records of the university’s earliest days. As a result, there is no direct evidence that slaves participated in the construction of buildings on campus.

But a yearlong investigation of the university’s ties to slavery by students in an undergraduate history course led by Ira Berlin, one of the nation’s foremost scholars of the slavery era, concluded that slaves undoubtedly played some role. The students found no “smoking gun" evidence but they concluded that slavery was so intrinsic to the state’s economy in those days that it can be presumed that slaves were involved in the construction of the University of Maryland.


“If the buildings were not built by slaves, certainly the bricks used were minted by slaves, or the horses and carts carrying the bricks were driven by slaves.”

Ira Berlin, Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, writing in the introduction of a report examining the university’s ties to slavery (See story above.)


Dispute Plagues the Black Studies Program at Ohio State University

For the past three years, Judson L. Jeffries has served as director of The Ohio State University’s African-American and African Studies Community Extension Center in Columbus, Ohio. This responsibility was in addition to his full teaching load as a professor of African-American studies at the university.

The extension center was founded in 1972 as an outreach effort to the black community of the city of Columbus. In 1985 the extension center moved into a new, 7,000-square-foot headquarters on Mount Vernon Avenue in the heart of the city’s historic black neighborhood. The center is about 10 minutes from the Ohio State campus.

The center hosts a number of community activities for children, teens, adults, and seniors. Non-credit courses, health fairs, computer literacy classes, and a host of other activities are offered to inner-city residents. Students, faculty, and staff members at the university all contribute their time to make the center a success.

This past August, Dr. Jeffries received a one-page letter from Anthonia C. Kalu, the chair of the African and African-American studies department, dismissing him as head of the extension center. The letter accused Jeffries of a failure to communicate and work with Dr. Kalu, who, just three months earlier, had come to Ohio State from the University of Northern Colorado. In her letter, Kalu said that Jeffries’ actions resulted in “wasted effort, energy, and time for the department.”

Jeffries replied that Kalu had made “deliberate attempts to degrade and intimidate” him. Supporters of Jeffries at the extension center and in the black community held protests on the Ohio State University campus demanding his reinstatement.

The university provost called on Joseph Steinmetz, executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, to investigate the matter and to make a determination about what should be done. Dean Steinmetz ruled that since Kalu had arrived on campus only a short time ago, she acted too hastily in changing the leadership of the center. He reinstated Jeffries as director while he undertakes a six-month assessment of the center’s operations and programs.

Dr. Jeffries is a graduate of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He holds a master’s degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.


Black Freshman Enrollments Plummet at the University of Michigan

In 2006 voters in Michigan overwhelmingly approved Proposal 2, which was also called by the deceptive misnomer, The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. This initiative prohibited the University of Michigan and other state universities from using race as a factor in their admissions process.

In 2005, the year before the voter referendum, there were 443 blacks in the first-year class. They made up 7.2 percent of all freshmen. This year there are 290 black freshman students. This is down nearly 35 percent from 2005, when race-sensitive admissions were permitted. This year blacks are 4.8 percent of the entering class.

Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan, stated, “While we continue to avoid the precipitous losses seen by our peer institutions in states where similar laws exist, this trend is troubling. I am concerned about our diversity losses in the incoming class, and am working with staff to redouble our outreach efforts.”

The university reports that this fall, blacks make up 6.2 percent of all undergraduate students and 5.9 percent of all graduate students on campus. All told, there are 2,158 black students on campus out of a total of 41,674.


Historically Black Johnson C. Smith University to Start New College for Nontraditional Students

Johnson C. Smith University, the historically black educational institution in Charlotte, North Carolina, has announced plans to establish its Metropolitan College for nontraditional students. The new college will be geared toward working individuals, older adults, single mothers, and other atypical college students. The new Metropolitan College will offer mostly night classes.

Metropolitan College will offer a degree program in criminology and social work and other classes aimed at improving job skills.


Mobile Test Center Brings GMAT Test-Taking to Black College Campuses

The GMAT Mobile Test Center is hitting the road this week on an eight-month coast-to-coast journey that will visit the campuses of several historically black colleges and universities. All black colleges that are more than 40 miles away from a regular testing site will be visited by the Mobile Test Center.

The test center on wheels gives students at colleges and universities that are located far away from traditional testing sites the opportunity to take the Graduate Management Admission Test on their own campus. The mobile test center houses six testing stations with secure satellite communications links.

For more information on the tour of the GMAT Mobile Test Center, click here.


Emory University Awards Six With James Weldon Johnson Medals

On November 4, Emory University’s James Weldon Johnson Institute will award the Johnson Medal to six individuals at an award ceremony at the Carter Center in Atlanta. The award is presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to humankind in the tradition of James Weldon Johnson.

The six medalists are Alice Walker for literature, Gloria Steinem for journalism, as well as John Lewis and Myrlie Evers Williams for civil rights. Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin and E. Neville Isdell, former CEO of Coca-Cola, will be honored for their humanitarianism.

An educator, lawyer, novelist, poet, songwriter, diplomat, musician, and civil rights leader, James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) was a true Renaissance man and one of the great black intellectuals of the early twentieth century.


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


Honors and Awards

• Wilbur C. Rich, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, received the Norton Long Career Achievement Award from the American Political Science Association. The award is given to a political scientist for a scholarly contribution to the study of urban politics.

Dr. Rich, a member of the Wellesley College faculty since 1991, is a graduate of Tuskegee University. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.

• Richard J. Powell, the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History at Duke University, received the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal from the Yale University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The award is given to distinguished alumni of the graduate school.

Powell, a graduate of Morehouse College, earned a master’s degree in African-American studies and a Ph.D. in art history from Yale.

• Mary Evans Sias, president of Kentucky State University, received the Educational Leadership Award from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Dr. Evans is a graduate of Tougaloo College. She holds an MBA from Abilene Christian University and master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from the University of Wisconsin.


Grants and Gifts

• Meharry Medical College, the historically black medical school in Nashville, received a $750,000 grant from the state of Tennessee to establish a new prenatal care program for groups of expectant mothers.

Historically black Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, was awarded a $214,897 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support the university’s research in the structure of proteins.

The university also received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support its biotechnology program.

• St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas, received a $396,648 grant from the National Science Foundation for a program to increase the number of minority students seeking careers in mathematics, engineering, technology, and the sciences.

• Winston-Salem State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina, was awarded a four-year, $249,896 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The university, in cooperation with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, will establish a student and faculty exchange program with three universities in Brazil.

• Grambling State, the historically black university in Louisiana, received a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a program to train minority students in the biomedical sciences.

Historically black Fort Valley State University in Georgia received a $312,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The grant will go toward purchasing laboratory equipment that will be used in veterinary disease research.

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