Black Student Enrollments in U.S. Law Schools Down From a Year Ago

In the 2007-08 academic year there were 9,493 black students attending the 194 U.S. law schools accredited by the American Bar Association. Total black law school enrollments decreased by four-tenths of one percent in the 2007-08 academic year from the 2006-07 academic year. Blacks now make up 6.3 percent of all law school enrollments. In the year 2000 blacks were 7.1 percent of all law school enrollments.

Of the 30 highest-ranked law schools in academic standing, the largest percentage of black students occurs at Harvard. Blacks are 11.5 percent of the student body at Harvard Law School. The only other high-ranking law school at which blacks make up more than 10 percent of the student body is the William and Mary College of Law. Blacks make up at least 9 percent of the student bodies at the law schools at Emory University, Georgetown University, and the University of Southern California.

Three high-ranking law schools have student bodies that are less than 4 percent black. They are UCLA, Boston University, and the University of Minnesota.



Women Continue to Outpace Men in African-American Degree Awards

A preliminary report from the U.S. Department of Education shows that African Americans earned more than 137,000 bachelor’s degrees in the 2006-07 academic year. That same year black Americans earned more than 55,000 master’s degrees and more than 6,000 professional degrees.

The report reveals that black women earned 66 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded to African Americans. Black women took 72 percent of all master’s degrees and 64 percent of professional degrees awarded to African Americans.


Yale University Awards Prize for Best New Book on Slavery

Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition has announced the winner of its 2008 Frederick Douglass Book Prize. The $25,000 award is given annually to the best book written in English on slavery or abolition. This year’s honoree is Stephanie E. Smallwood, associate professor of history at the University of Washington.

Professor Smallwood won the award for her book Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora.


University of Georgia Honors Segregationist Governor

The University of Georgia has named a resident hall after S. Ernest Vandiver, a man who served as governor of Georgia from 1959 until 1963. In 1958 Vandiver campaigned as a staunch racial segregationist. At that time he vowed that “not one” African American would ever enter one of the state’s white universities. But when the courts ordered the racial integration, Vandiver complied with the court mandate, avoiding confrontations that would later encompass the campuses of the University of Mississippi and the University of Alabama.

After the initial racial integration of the University of Georgia, Vandiver pushed through the repeal of legislation that required public schools in the state to close if black and white students were obliged to attend the same school.


Study Finds That Increased Racial Diversity on Campus Provides Social Benefits, Particularly for White College Students

A new study authored by Mary J. Fischer, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, finds a direct correlation with the level of racial diversity on a college campus and the number of interracial friendships. The study, published in Social Science Quarterly, found that greater diversity increased the number of interracial friendships among all racial groups. Whites were found to have fewer interracial friendships than blacks. But the study showed that the greater the racial diversity on a particular campus, the smaller the difference between whites and blacks in the number of interracial friendships.

The author concludes that the data shows the “evidence of the social benefits of assembling a diverse student body, particularly for white students.” Fischer says that her data offers a valid argument for continuing race-sensitive admissions at the nation’s highest-rated colleges and universities.


Blacks in Higher Education: A Decade Down the Road

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education estimates that in the year 2017, 2,870,000 African Americans will be enrolled in higher education. Over the next decade, the report estimates that black enrollments in higher education will increase nearly 24 percent. Overall enrollments are predicted to increase by about 12 percent.

If these predictions come true, in 2017 blacks will make up 14.3 percent of all students enrolled in higher education. Today, blacks are 12.8 percent of total enrollments.



In Memoriam

Lloyd C. Elam (1929-2008)

Lloyd C. Elam, former president of Meharry Medical College, died after suffering a heart attack earlier this month while traveling in Mississippi. He was 79 years old.

Dr. Elam came to Meharry in 1961 as a professor of psychiatry. Seven years later, at the age of 39, Elam was named the sixth president of the medical school. He served as president for 13 years.

Dr. Elam was a native of Chicago. He was a graduate of Roosevelt University. In 1957 he became the first African American to graduate from the University of Washington School of Medicine.



• Helene A. Cameron was appointed director of career services at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. She held a similar position at Winston-Salem State University.

Cameron holds a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Hampton University.

• Marvin V. Curtis was named dean of the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts at the South Bend campus of Indiana University. He was assistant dean and choral director at Fayetteville State University.

Dr. Curtis is a graduate of North Park University in Chicago. He holds a master’s degree from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia, and an educational doctorate from the University of the Pacific.

• Edwin L. Knox was appointed acting dean of the School of Business at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York. He was executive director of enrollment management and a professor of business at the school.

Knox is a graduate of Florida A&M University. He holds an MBA and a master’s degree in tourism administration from George Washington University. He currently is a Ph.D. candidate in management at Morgan State University.

• Kenneth Olden was named founding dean of the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College in New York City. The school is scheduled to open in 2010. Dr. Olden is the former director of the Institute of Environmental Health Science and the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Olden is a graduate of Knoxville College. He holds a master’s degree in genetics from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in cell biology and biochemistry from Temple University.

• Berhanu Nega was appointed associate professor of economics at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Nega served as mayor of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and was later jailed as a political prisoner. He had taught at Bucknell from 1990 to 1994 before returning to Ethiopia to teach at Addis Ababa University.

• Barkley L. Hendricks, professor of art at Connecticut College, is currently serving as artist-in-residence at Duke University. During the term he will present three lectures, teach class, take part in seminars, and critique student art projects.



Virginia State University, a historically black educational institution in Petersburg, received two grants totaling $334,483 from the National Science Foundation. The grants will be used to enhance course content and curriculum and fund faculty and student research in engineering.

• North Carolina A&T State University, the historically black educational institution in Greensboro, received a 42-month, $747,528 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the impact of increased ethanol production on groundwater.

• Howard University, the historically black educational institution in Washington, D.C., received a $250,000 grant from the American Association of Advertising Agencies. The grant will be used as start-up money for the university’s new Center for Excellence in Advertising.

The University of Texas has received a $750,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research for a program to increase outreach programs for minority students at the university’s Cockrell School of Engineering. The university will begin a summer internship program for undergraduate students at three historically black universities.

Co-chairing the program is Ofodike Ezekoye, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas.

• Cheyney University, the historically black educational institution in Pennsylvania, received a $149,512 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant will be used to purchase equipment for chemistry laboratories and to provide funds for chemistry research.

• William S. Kisaalita, an associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering at the University of Georgia, has received a $200,000 grant from the Global Development Marketplace on Sustainable Agriculture. Professor Kisaalita’s research involves the field test of a renewable energy milk cooler at a small dairy farm in Uganda.

• Florida A&M University, the historically black educational institution in Tallahassee, received $12.4 million from the U.S. Department of Defense for several research projects. The research will include development of sensors for unmanned Army vehicles, detection of improvised explosive devises, and sensors for nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.

Most High-Ranking Liberal Arts Colleges Show a Decline in Low-Income Students

Last week JBHE reported that over the past three years 25 of the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities had seen a drop in the percentage of their undergraduate students who come from low-income families. This occurred despite wide-ranging efforts by these universities to enrich their student financial aid programs so that low-income students could attend without incurring large debt.

Now we turn to the performance of the selective liberal arts colleges. Among this group Davidson College and Amherst College have led the way by eliminating all student loans and replacing them with scholarship grants. Most of the other leading liberal arts colleges have followed by making their financial aid packages more attractive to low-income students.

But data obtained by JBHE from the U.S. Department of Education on recipients of Pell Grants at these high-ranking liberal arts colleges shows that these educational institutions have not been successful in increasing the socioeconomic diversity of their student bodies. (Pell Grants are reserved for students who come from families with low incomes.) JBHE’s analysis shows that despite these new financial aid programs, only six of 30 leading liberal arts colleges have shown an increase in the percentage of low-income students. At Williams College, the percentage of the student body that comes from low-income families increased from 11.3 percent in 2004 to 13.5 percent in 2007. Amherst College also showed a good increase of 1.1 percentage points. Colby College, Kenyon College, Barnard College, and Trinity College all showed smaller gains. At Bryn Mawr College and Washington and Lee University, the percentage of low-income students remained the same during the period.

But at 22 of the 30 leading liberal arts colleges the percentage of students from low-income families has declined between 2004 and 2007. The largest drop was at Scripps College in California. There the percentage of low-income students dropped from 13.7 percent to 10.1 percent. Grinnell College, Bucknell University, Mount Holyoke College, Claremont McKenna College, Wellesley College, and Oberlin all saw a drop of more than two percentage points.


“Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.”

Georgia Congressman John Lewis, comparing the GOP ticket’s campaign rhetoric to that of segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace


Leadership Struggle Engulfs University of the District of Columbia

Allen L. Sessoms did not take long to make his presence known at the University of the District of Columbia. Less than a month after taking office as the university’s president, Sessoms announced that he was disbanding the faculty senate. The group had been established in 1995 to enact bylaws and advise the provost and president. Sessoms claimed that the group did not perform the duties with which it was entrusted and did not keep records of what went on at senate meetings.

Some members of the faculty stated that the action was taken in retaliation for criticisms of the manner in which the presidential search had been conducted. Sydney O. Hall, professor of public health and leader of the faculty senate, was the only member of the trustees’ presidential selection committee to vote against hiring Sessoms.

Prior to taking his new position, Dr. Sessoms was president of Delaware State University, a historically black educational institution in Dover. Previously, he was president of Queens College, part of the City University of New York system.



The New President of Mississippi Valley State University

Donna H. Oliver, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida, has been chosen as the new president of Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena.

Dr. Oliver is a graduate of Elon University. She holds a master’s degree from North Carolina A&T State University. She holds a second master’s degree and a doctorate in curriculum and teaching from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


Indiana University to Preserve Oral History of Rhythm and Blues Music

The Archives of African-American Music and Culture at Indiana University has received a grant from the Grammy Foundation to digitize more than 300 hours of oral history interviews with legends of rhythm and blues music. Included are many hours of interviews with music legend Ray Charles. When completed the interviews will be available online for researchers.

The interviews, which were recorded as long as 27 years ago, include discussions with vocalists, musicians, producers, promoters, record company executives, and composers. Many of the interviewees have since died.


Vanderbilt University Eliminates Student Loans

Vanderbilt University has joined the growing list of high-ranking colleges and universities that will no longer include student loans in its financial aid packages. Starting next fall Vanderbilt will substitute scholarship grants for loans to all students qualifying for financial aid.

Vanderbilt University has made tremendous progress in recent years in increasing the number of black students on campus. In 1995 only 4 percent of incoming freshmen at Vanderbilt were black. In 2007 blacks made up more than 10 percent of the freshman class at the university. Vanderbilt ranked fourth in the 2007 JBHE annual survey of black freshmen at the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities.


68.3%  Percentage of all American families who own the home where they live.

46.7%  Percentage of all African-American families who own the home where they live.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


Are Black Students Stigmatized by Affirmative Action?

Opponents of race-sensitive affirmative action admissions programs make the argument that black students who are admitted to college or graduate schools that practice affirmative action are stigmatized with a badge of inferiority. Clarence Thomas and other black conservatives often use the stigmatization argument in their attempts to discredit affirmative action programs.

According to the stigmatization theory, black students admitted to these schools — regardless of whether they were aided by affirmative action or not — are considered less capable by white students and faculty members. Sometimes, according to this view, black students themselves hold to the belief that they cannot adequately compete with white students who were admitted without the benefit of affirmative action.

But a new study, which will be published in the December issue of the California Law Review, finds that black and other minority law school students are not stigmatized by the possibility that they may have been given a leg up in the admissions process. The study surveyed more than 600 students at seven public law schools. Four of the schools practiced race-sensitive admissions and three did not. The results showed that black law students at schools that had race-sensitive admissions were just as confident in their abilities as black students at schools where race-sensitive admissions were not permitted.

Also, students at the affirmative action schools reported that they felt no stigmatization from white students or faculty members.

Angela Onwuachi-Willig, professor of law at the University of Iowa and one of authors of the study, stated, “Well-meaning people who value diversity can be influenced by the stigmatization argument if they buy the idea that affirmative action hurts the people it was designed to help. Our study suggests that it does not.”




• Bobby J. Donaldson, assistant professor of history and African-American studies at the University of South Carolina, received the Helen Kohn Hennig Award from the Historic Columbia Foundation. The award recognized an oral research project which documented the cultural history of an inner-city neighborhood of Columbia, South Carolina.

• James M. Rosser,who has served for nearly three decades as president of California State University at Los Angeles, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The 100 Black Men of Los Angeles organization.



Copyright © 2008. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.