Columbia University Leads the Ivy League in Black Freshman Enrollments

This fall there are 153 black freshman students at Columbia University. They make up 11.4 percent of the entering class. This is the highest percentage of black first-year students in the Ivy League. Yale comes in second place with an entering class that is 9.2 percent black. Blacks are 8.7 percent of the first year class at Harvard University. The University of Pennsylvania ranks fourth with an entering class that is 8.4 percent black.

The number of black freshmen at Columbia University is up over 22 percent from a year ago. Dartmouth College and Yale University are the only other Ivy League schools to show an increase in black enrollments this year compared to 2006.


I am “inherently gloomy about the prospect for Africa because all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says, not really.”

James D. Watson, the 79-year-old Nobel laureate who did pioneering research on the structure of DNA, in an interview with the London Sunday Times


The First Black Woman to Earn a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at MIT

Last month Alicia Jillian Hardy became the first African-American woman to achieve a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A graduate of a public high school in Philadelphia, Hardy was an exceptional student. She was accepted at 14 different colleges and universities. But in 1995 she chose MIT and planned to major in MIT’s writing program in the humanities. But she quickly became career oriented and switched her major to mechanical engineering. She also was a member of the women’s crew team.

Hardy earned her bachelor’s degree in 2000 and stayed on at MIT for her master’s, where her thesis explored ways to improve the efficiency of large-scale power plants that use methane or hydrogen fuel. Her Ph.D. work was done in collaboration with Ford Motor Company engineers who are working on a new type of internal combustion engine which is far more fuel efficient.

Dr. Hardy is now doing a postdoctoral internship at BMW in Munich. This coming March she will begin a job at General Electric where she will be working on biofuel technology.

Hardy is the third member of her family to earn a doctorate. Her mother has a doctorate in education and her brother holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering.



Black Alumni Create Scholarship at Wichita State University

Recently, black students who graduated from Wichita State University in Kansas between the years of 1964 and 1974 held a reunion on campus. The reunion attendees established a scholarship to honor Vashti Lewis, one of the first black women faculty members at the university.

Today, Wichita State University has a student body that is 7 percent black.


Stanford Center on Race Has Awarded Fellowships to Three Black Scholars

The Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University has awarded fellowships for the current academic year to three black scholars. The fellowships fund specific projects dealing with research and scholarship concerning racial issues.

Following are the three black scholars who were awarded fellowships this year:

• Dorothy E. Roberts is the Kirkland and Ellis Professor at the Northwestern University School of Law. She is conducting research on race consciousness in law, politics, and biotechnology.

• Mark Q. Sawyer is an associate professor of political science and African-American studies at UCLA. He is also director of the UCLA Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics. He is conducting research on how the concept of race and racial politics has evolved in the United States.

• Harvey Young, an assistant professor of theater at Northwestern University, is completing a book entitled Embodying Black Experience: Performing the Past in the Present. Young is a graduate of Yale University and holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. from Cornell University.


Center for African-American Studies at Princeton Moves Into Its New Home

Earlier this month, the Center for African-American Studies at Princeton University moved into its new home on the centrally located front campus of the university. The center is now housed in Stanhope Hall, a 204-year-old structure that was completely renovated to house Princeton’s black studies program.

Valerie Smith, the director of the center and Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature, stated, “Our location in the center of campus makes visible the importance of research and teaching about race to a liberal arts education and announces the university’s commitment to African-American studies as a field of study to the campus and to the outside world.”

Since the center was founded last year, six new faculty members have been hired with joint appointments in other academic departments at Princeton. They are:

• Wallace Best, professor of religion
• Anne Cheng, professor of English
• Joshua Guild, assistant professor of history
• Angel Harris, assistant professor of sociology
• Melissa Harris-Lacewell, associate professor of politics
• Tera Hunter, professor of history

Princeton president Shirley Tilghman recently commented that the location of the new  Center for African-American Studies in the heart of campus reflects that African-American studies is central to the academic purpose of the university.


Harvard Medical School Honors a Black Pioneer

The classrooms and hallways of buildings on the Harvard University campus are adorned with hundreds of portraits of alumni, faculty, and administrators from the past. Of the nearly 700 portraits either on display or in storage in Harvard’s collection, almost all of them are of white men. Many of them, in fact, appear in powdered wigs and lace collars.

In 2002 then Harvard president Lawrence Summers took steps apparently aimed at blunting the damage that developed when black professors Cornel West and K. Anthony Appiah left Harvard for Princeton. The president pledged $100,000 to the Minority Portraiture Project.

The first three portraits of African Americans, unveiled in 2005, were of Archie C. Epps III, the late dean of students, Eileen Jackson Southern, the first black woman to hold a tenured faculty position at Harvard, and David L. Evans, an electrical engineer who worked on the Apollo project, which sent men to the moon. Evans subsequently served as a senior admissions officer at Harvard for more than 30 years.

Now, another portrait of an African American has been added to the series. The new honoree is Harold Amos, who was a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School for nearly half a century. Dr. Amos was the first black department chair at the medical school. He died in 2003 at the age of 84 after suffering a stroke.

Additional portraits of black scholars that have been commissioned and are in progress will be of Ewart Guinier, Nathan Huggins, and Martin Kilson, all of whom were among the university’s first black studies faculty.



In Memoriam

Trevor Purcell (1945-2007)

Trevor Purcell, associate professor and chair of the department of Africana studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa, died late last month. He was 62 years old.

Professor Purcell was one of the more popular faculty members at the University of South Florida. He was known as the “chief” and called his students adopted sons and daughters.

A native of Jamaica, his father was a sugarcane farmer. Purcell dropped out of high school to work at a Nestle chocolate factory. After immigrating to the United States, he joined the Army and served in Vietnam. After his discharge he continued his education, earning a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.

He joined the faculty at the University of South Florida in 1992 as an assistant professor of anthropology. He was named chair of the Africana studies department in 2000.



Dolores Spikes, who served as president of the Southern University system and later as president of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, was honored at a ceremony in Baton Rouge. Southern University named its Honors College and honors program after Dr. Spikes.

Spikes was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics from Louisiana State University.

Toccarra Cash, a 24-year-old graduate theater student at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, won the Princess Grace Award from the Princess Grace Foundation. The award is given to emerging stars in the theater, in dance, or in film. Cash, who is originally from Dayton, Ohio, is a graduate of Spelman College. The award comes with a $10,000 prize which Cash will use to help pay her graduate school tuition.



Banish the Stereotype That African-American College Students Tend to Major in Black Studies

New Department of Education figures on degree attainments show that the stereotypical view of the African-American college student rushing into black studies majors is totally false. Only 1,051, or 0.8 percent, of all African-American bachelor’s degree recipients received their degree in any type of ethnic studies discipline. Therefore, only one out of every 130 bachelor’s degrees awarded to blacks was in ethnic studies. In fact, there are more blacks who majored in the physical sciences — a field in which there are very few African Americans — than African Americans who earned their degree in black studies. There are more than six times as many blacks majoring in computer science and more than five times as many blacks majoring in the biological sciences than in black studies.



The Black Colleges Have the Nation’s Most Racially Diverse Faculties

At the nation’s highest-ranked colleges and universities, blacks usually make up less than 5 percent of the total full-time faculty. In contrast, the nation’s historically black colleges have the most racially diverse faculties of any of America’s colleges or universities. In 2005, according to Department of Education figures, blacks were 58.9 percent of all faculty at the nation’s historically black colleges and universities. Whites made up 23.8 percent of all faculty members at these schools, and 17 percent of the faculty were either of other races or did not identify their race.
From 1997 to 2005, the white percentage of the total faculty at the black colleges has declined from 27.1 percent to 23.8 percent.


New Dormitory at the University of Texas Honors a Black Woman

The University of Texas at Austin has named a new dormitory on campus after Almetris Marsh Duren, an African-American woman who mentored many of the early black women students at the university.

Duren was a native of Oklahoma and came to Austin to study at what is now Huston-Tillotson University. In 1956 she was hired by the University of Texas to manage the Eliza Dee dormitory for black women, located several blocks from campus. Black students were not permitted to live on campus. When this building was torn down to make way for a highway, black women students were housed in what became known as the Almetris Co-op.

After the racial integration of the university campus, Duren stayed on, working for the dean of students. She was responsible for the establishment of a black choral group and managed the university’s first black student recruitment program. She was the coauthor of the 1979 book Overcoming: A History of Black Integration at The University of Texas at Austin.

Duren died in 2000 at the age of 90.


62%  Percentage of white SAT test takers in 2007 who had at least one parent who had a four-year college degree.

39%  Percentage of black SAT test takers in 2007 who had at least one parent who had a four-year college degree.

source: The College Board


Measuring Racial Differences in Student Satisfaction Levels at Different Types of Colleges and Universities

The Noel-Levitz Consulting Group recently surveyed a large group of college students for its 2007 National Student Satisfaction and Priorities Report. The survey asked the students to rate their overall satisfaction with their experience at the college or university where they are enrolled.

The results show that at public four-year colleges and universities, 58 percent of all white students said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their experience. Only 38 percent of black students said they satisfied or very satisfied. At four-year private colleges and universities, 58 percent of whites and 43 percent of blacks responded that they were satisfied.

But black student satisfaction jumped significantly at two-year community colleges. At these educational institutions, 62 percent of whites and 58 percent of blacks indicated overall satisfaction.



George C. Bradley Named President of Paine College

Paine College, the historically black educational institution in Augusta, Georgia, announced this past week that George C. Bradley would become the 14th president of the college. Dr. Bradley, who is a professor and executive vice president of Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, will take office in January.

Dr. Bradley holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from South Carolina State University. He holds a doctorate in higher education and research from Iowa State University.


In College Football, It Is Still Mostly Black Players and White Coaches

According to a new report prepared by the Black Coaches and Administrators Association by C. Keith Harrison, associate professor of sport business management at the University of Central Florida and director of the Paul Robeson Research Center for Academic and Athletic Prowess at the University of Michigan, blacks continue to make very slow progress into the coaching ranks of college football.

African Americans make up more than one half of all football players on athletic scholarships at the nation’s largest college football programs. But since 1982 there have been 437 openings for a head football coach at colleges and universities in Division IA of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Only 21 of these openings have been filled by black coaches. Since 1996 there have been 12 black coaches selected for the 197 available positions.

There are currently 120 colleges and universities that compete in the top division of college football. There are six black head coaches. The universities currently with black head coaches are Mississippi State University, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Buffalo, Kansas State University, the University of  Miami, and the University of Washington.

There are 122 colleges and universities in the second tier of college football, which was previously called Division I-AA and is now known as the Football Championship Subdivision. There are four black head coaches at these 122 schools. The four universities with black coaches in this division are at Valparaiso University, Southeast Missouri State University, Indiana State University, and Columbia University.


Black Couple Make History: Both Will Be College Presidents

Last week JBHE reported that Irwin D. Reid, president of Wayne State University, will retire at the end of this academic year. This January, Dr. Reid’s wife, Pamela Trotman Reid, will become president of Saint Joseph College in West Hartford, Connecticut. Thus, for six months, the Reids will both be college presidents. It is thought that this is the first time in American history where a married black couple have both held posts as college presidents.

Pamela Trotman Reid is currently provost and executive vice president of Roosevelt University in Chicago. She previously taught at the University of Michigan and the City University of New York Graduate Center. Dr. Reid is a graduate of Howard University and holds a master’s degree from Temple University and a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.




Bessie House-Soremekun was named professor of political science and public scholar in African-American studies, civic engagement, and entrepreneurship at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. She was a professor of political science at Kent State University.

Professor House-Soremekun holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Denver.

J. Renee Navarro was appointed to the new post of director of academic diversity at the University of California at San Francisco. She has served as associate dean of academic affairs in the university’s medical school since 2004. She is also a clinical professor of anesthesia and perioperative care.

Donald Spivey, a professor of history at the University of Miami, was named a Cooper Fellow in the College of Arts and Sciences for the 2007-09 academic years. The fellowship is one of the college’s highest honors.

Joyce Q. Rogers was appointed vice president of development for Ivy Tech Community College, a 23-campus system in Indiana enrolling 110,000 students. Rogers was the CEO of Indiana Black Expo.

Rogers is a graduate of Indiana State University and holds a law degree from Indiana University.

Keith Wailoo, Martin Luther King Professor of History at Rutgers University, was elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine. Professor Wailoo is a native of Guyana. He is a graduate of Yale University and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Stanley C. Trent was appointed assistant dean of diversity and equity at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. For the past decade, Dr. Trent has been an associate professor of curriculum, instruction, and special education at the school.

Professor Trent is a graduate of Virginia State University. He holds a master’s degree from Temple University and a doctorate from the University of Virginia.



Alcorn State University, the historically black educational institution in Mississippi, received a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The grant will be used to help establish the university’s degree program in radiation safety education and training.

Delaware State University, the historically black educational institution in Dover, received a $231,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a program to help disadvantaged students prepare for doctoral study. Funds will be used for internships, tutoring, academic counseling, and financial aid.

Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, received a $50,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a program that will fund research to determine better ways to recruit minority students.


Copyright © 2007. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.