Group Files a Lawsuit to Protect Desegregation Efforts in Maryland Higher Education

The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to require the state to eliminate programs at predominantly white state universities that are duplicative of programs at Morgan State University, the historically black educational institution in Baltimore.

Specifically, the suit calls for ending the joint MBA program recently established at Towson University and the University of Baltimore. This program, according to the lawsuit, will draw white students away from the Morgan State University MBA program and lead to an increased level of racial segregation in the state’s system of higher education.

Under a desegregation agreement with the U.S. Department of Education, Maryland is prohibited from establishing academic programs at predominantly white universities that are “unnecessarily duplicative” of programs at the state’s historically black universities.

The suit also asks the court to stop the University of Baltimore from implementing a plan next year to admit freshman and sophomore students. The suit claims that this decision will draw white students away from applying to Morgan State University and Coppin State University, the two black colleges in the city. Currently, the University of Baltimore has accepted only junior and senior transfer students into its undergraduate programs.


“One thing that’s great about this country is you can file a lawsuit against a ham sandwich. But you’ve got to go into court and prove it doesn’t taste right.”

Calvin W. Burnett, Maryland secretary of higher education, defending the state’s decision to establish an MBA program at two predominantly white universities that will compete for students with a similar program at historically black Morgan State University, in the Baltimore Sun, October 14, 2006 (See story above.)


Black Faculty in Higher Education Found to Have More Innovative Teaching Styles Than Their White Counterparts

The Department of Education estimates that 28 percent of all undergraduate students in U.S. higher education are African American, Hispanic, Asian American, or Native American. Blacks make up about 11 percent of total enrollments. But for faculty, only 14 percent of the total are people of color and 5 percent of all faculty are black.

Despite their relatively small numbers, black and other minority faculty make a significant contribution to American higher education. In a paper published recently in the journal Research in Higher Education, Professor Paul Umbach at the University of Iowa conducted a 2003 survey of nearly 13,500 faculty members at 134 predominantly white colleges and universities nationwide. He found that black and other minority faculty were more likely than white faculty members to interact with their students and to use a broader range of teaching techniques. He found that black faculty were also more likely than their white peers to use active and collaborative learning techniques, to create environments that increase diverse interactions, and to emphasize higher-order thinking activities in the classroom.

Professor Umbach speculates that because black and other minority faculty come from diverse backgrounds themselves, they are more likely to have unique perspectives and different teaching methods. He also believes that many black faculty feel they have to work harder at teaching to overcome stereotypical expectations that they are not up to the job.


Almost No Blacks Among the Top Scorers on the SAT

Under the SAT scoring system, most non-minority students hoping to qualify for admission to any of the nation’s 25 highest-ranked universities and 25 highest-ranked liberal arts colleges need to score at least 700 on each portion of the SAT. Yet only a minute percentage of black test takers score at this level.

In 2006, 150,643 African Americans took the SAT test. They made up 10.3 percent of all SAT test takers. But only 976 African-American college-bound students scored 700 or above on the math SAT and only 1,117 scored at least 700 on the verbal SAT. Nationally, more than 95,000 students of all races scored 700 or above on the math SAT and nearly 69,000 students scored 700 or above on the verbal SAT. Thus, in this top-scoring category of all SAT test takers, blacks made up only 1 percent of the students scoring 700 or higher on the math test and only 1.6 percent of the students scoring 700 or higher on the verbal SAT.

In a race-neutral competition for the approximately 50,000 places for first-year students at the nation’s 25 top-ranked universities, high-scoring blacks would be buried by a huge mountain of high-scoring non-black students. Today, under prevailing affirmative action admissions policies, there are about 3,000 black first-year students matriculating at these 25 high-ranking universities, about 6 percent of all first-year students at these institutions. But if these schools operated under a strict race-neutral admissions policy where SAT scores were the most important qualifying yardstick, these universities could fill their freshman classes almost exclusively with students who score at the very top of the SAT scoring scale. As shown previously, black students make up at best between 1 and 2 percent of these high-scoring groups.



Black First-Year Enrollments Up Sharply at Three of Five State Universities in Kentucky

In 2005, the University of Kentucky experienced a huge 40 percent drop in first-year black enrollments. Last fall, blacks were only 4 percent of the incoming class at the state’s flagship institution. The poor performance in recruiting black students resulted in a great deal of bad publicity for the university and protests from state legislators that the university was not doing enough to increase racial diversity on campus.

It appears the administration at the University of Kentucky got the message. This fall, black first-year enrollments almost doubled. There are 296 black freshmen this fall compared to 156 a year ago.

Kentucky State University, the historically black educational institution in Frankfurt, also had a large increase in first-year enrollments. There are 493 black freshmen at Kentucky State this year, up 54 percent from a year ago. At Western Kentucky University, the number of black freshmen jumped 40 percent, from 324 in 2005 to 454 this year.

The University of Louisville had a slight drop in entering black students this year. Morehead State University saw its first-year black enrollments drop by 25 percent, from 80 in 2005 to 60 this year.


Duke University and North Carolina Central University Try to Patch Up Their Strained Relationship

This past spring the campus of Duke University was rocked by charges that three white members of the lacrosse team raped a black student from nearby North Carolina Central University. The woman, who had been hired as an exotic dancer for a party off-campus hosted by a lacrosse team member, was allegedly subjected to slurs and other racist comments prior to the reported assault. The players all deny that a sexual assault took place.

As a result of the incident, relations between Duke and the nearby historically black North Carolina Central University have been strained. Recently a Unity Fest was held in downtown Durham in an attempt to repair the relationship. About 300 students attended the event lured by free food and performances by bands and dance groups.

The universities used the occasion to announce a joint academic program on the history of Durham’s Black Wall Street. In the early 1900s, Durham’s West Parish Street was a center of black economic enterprise as it housed the headquarters of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, Mechanics and Farmers Bank, and several other black-owned businesses. The history class on Durham’s Black Wall Street will be open to students at both universities and will be held at each university on alternate weeks.



White Woman Takes Over as President of Historically Black Medical School

Recently, Susan Kelley was installed as president of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. This historically black institution, which enrolls about 100 medical students, has been beset with all kinds of financial and academic problems in recent years. Kelley, a native of Australia, is the first woman and the first Caucasian to lead the institution. She has actually been on the job since May but was not formally inaugurated until this month.

Kelley has a big job ahead. The affiliated Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center will lose its federal funding at the end of the year. This makes it imperative for Kelley to find a new hospital for the medical school’s residents. She also vows to increase student enrollments, raise necessary funds, and to construct two new buildings on campus.

Kelley, a graduate of the University of Tasmania majoring in psychology and English literature, is not a medical doctor. She does hold a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Melbourne.



Chimalum Nwankwo was named chair of the English department at North Carolina A&T State University. He previously taught at East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Greenville, and North Carolina State University. A graduate of the University of Nigeria, Professor Nwankwo holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas.

Dennis M. Robinson was named chief advancement officer for the Arizona State University Foundation in Tempe. Robinson, a graduate of Fisk University, was the associate vice president for institutional advancement at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana.

James P. Mayes was named director of the criminal justice program at North Carolina A&T State University. He previously was a legal counsel for the U.S. Department of State. A graduate of Princeton University, Mayes holds a master’s degree from Ohio State University and a law degree from the University of Baltimore.



City College of New York received a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to create a national urban model for minority biomedical engineering education. The goal of the grant is to increase the number of black and other minority students in the study of biomedical engineering.



Debra A. Miller, director of marketing and communication at Clark Atlanta University, is the recipient of the 2006 Gold Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America. The award is the association’s highest honor.


University of Washington’s “Husky Promise” for Low-Income Students Will Provide Scholarship Grants to 20 Percent of Its Undergraduates

The University of Washington has joined the growing list of colleges and universities that are increasing financial aid for low-income students. The recently announced “Husky Promise” will cover scholarship grants to students who come from families whose income is below 65 percent of the state median income. Currently, this would be for families with incomes below $46,500.

But the University of Washington grant program will cover only tuition and fees and not room and board. Low-income students will have to live at home or find other financial aid resources to cover room and board expenses.

The University of Washington estimates that about 5,000 students will be eligible for the Husky Promise grants, about 20 percent of all undergraduate students. There are currently about 825 black undergraduates at the flagship state university. They make up about 3 percent of all students on campus.


University of Texas Law Students Hold “Ghetto Fabulous” Party

A group of first-year law students at the University of Texas in Austin held a “Ghetto Fabulous” party. Partygoers were dressed in Afro wigs, wore necklaces with large medallions, and had nametags bearing traditionally black names. Partygoers were given 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor to drink.

About 70 of the 1,300 law students at the University of Texas are black. The dean at the law school admonished the students' behavior but stated that he did not believe the students intended to insult their fellow black students. He further stated that no disciplinary actions would be taken against the white law students.



Fort Valley State University Is on the Mend

This past spring, Larry E. Rivers assumed the presidency of Fort Valley State University, the historically black educational institution in Fort Valley, Georgia. One of his main goals to help strengthen the struggling state-operated university was to boost enrollments. Over the past decade, total enrollments at the black college had dropped from 3,024 to 2,174. The future looked even bleaker. First-year enrollments in 2005 had dropped to 306.

In his first 90 days in office, Rivers visited 100 high schools, college fairs, and other locations for the purpose of encouraging more students to come to Fort Valley State University. A new admissions director was hired and a media campaign was instituted to publicize the university. Admissions counselors and recruiters were sent out to high schools throughout the state.

These efforts appear to have been a resounding success. This fall, there are 555 new freshmen at the university, an increase of 81 percent from a year ago.


14.8%  Percentage of all white high school sophomores in 2002 who said it is important to correct social and economic inequality.

28.8%  Percentage of all black high school sophomores in 2002 who said it is important to correct social and economic inequality.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Right-Wing Group Seeks to Sway the Vote on Banning Race-Sensitive Admissions at the University of Michigan

The Center for Equal Opportunity, the right-wing public interest group which led the fight against affirmative action in higher education, has released a new report on admissions at the University of Michigan. The Center used the state’s Freedom of Information Act to secure admissions data from the university. The data shows that the median SAT score for black students admitted to the University of Michigan in 2005 was 1160. This was 190 points below the median score of admitted white students. The average black score was 100 points below the median score of Hispanic students admitted to the university.

The data also shows that the median grade point average for admitted black students was 3.4 compared to a mean GPA of 3.9 for whites. The study concluded that a black student with a 1240 score on the SAT and a 3.2 GPA had a 90 percent chance of being admitted. For a white student with identical grades and test scores, the odds of admission were 1 in 10.

The report was released just before Michigan voters are to vote on a public referendum that would ban use of race-sensitive admissions at all state-operated universities in Michigan. Clearly the report was timed to generate backlash among Michigan’s white voters. Critics of the report said that the statistics were meaningless because they failed to take into account economic background.

Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, threatened that if Michigan voters did not pass the referendum banning race-sensitive admissions, the group’s data could fuel a lawsuit against the university for going beyond the Supreme Court’s definition of “narrowly tailored” affirmative action.


The Impact of the Nation’s Black Colleges and Universities on the American Economy

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education shows that the nation’s historically black colleges and universities have a huge impact on the American economy. According to the report, in 2001 black colleges and universities spent $6.6 billion in their local communities. This initial spending is multiplied by additional spending generated by the $6.6 billion in HBCU outlays, which amount to a total economic impact of more than $10 billion annually. In terms of total revenues and spending, the nation’s historically black colleges and universities as a group would rank 232nd on the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest companies.

The black colleges and universities employ over 180,000 workers, roughly equal to the work force of Bank of America, the nation’s 23rd largest private employer.


Black-Only Scholarship Ended at the University of Memphis

Sheri Lipman, legal counsel at the University of Memphis, said recently that because of the settlement of the longstanding racial desegregation case in Tennessee higher education, it is now illegal for the University of Memphis to make classifications based on race. As a result, the Geier Scholarship program for black students has been discontinued. “The bottom line is we don’t have a choice,” Lipman told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. This is what the law says, and this is what we have to do.”

In the current academic year there are 193 Geier Scholars at the University of Memphis. They will continue to receive scholarship funds under the program until they graduate but no new Geier scholarships will be awarded. The scholarships have provided up to full tuition for eligible students plus $1,000 in spending money.

In its place the university has established the Memphis Advantage scholarship program. These scholarships are available for a student from any underrepresented minority group, those students who are the first generation in their family to attend college, or to residents of rural West Tennessee counties.



Brown University Confronts Its Past Ties to Slavery

In 2003, Brown University president Ruth J. Simmons, the great-granddaughter of slaves, formed a commission to examine the university’s ties to slavery and to make recommendations on what steps the university should take to make amends for any involvement that it had with the institution. The 16-member Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice recently issued its report. The document reveals extensive ties to slavery in the university’s past including the fact that the university’s first president had a personal slave, the university’s oldest building was built in part by slave labor, and the Brown brothers for whom the university was named were involved in the Atlantic slave trade.

The committee states that the university benefited to a large degree from its association with the institution of slavery. But the university stops short of issuing an apology for its past. Instead, several measures were proposed to make amends:

  • Create a memorial on campus which acknowledges Brown’s ties to slavery;
  • Establish an annual day of remembrance on campus each year;
  • Rewrite the official Brown University history to include a complete discussion of the institution’s involvement in slavery;
  • Give new vigor to campaigns to recruit African-American students;
  • Increase recruiting of black students from the Caribbean and Africa;
  • Offer tuition waivers for master’s degree in education students who agree to work for at least three years in Providence city schools;
  • Offer one course per semester free of charge to every public school teacher in the state of Rhode Island;
  • Establish a center for the study of slavery and justice on the Brown campus. The center would have a full-time director and an endowed professorship;
  • Offer assistance to other universities that want to examine their past ties to slavery; and
  • Include a discussion of the university’s past ties to slavery in the freshman orientation program.

President Simmons stated that she will take some time and gather a wide range of opinion on the committee’s recommendations and at the appropriate time will issue the university’s official response.


In Memoriam

Sandye Jean McIntyre II (1923-2006)

Sandye J. McIntyre II, a longtime professor and director of the Fulbright Scholarship program at Morgan State University in Baltimore, died earlier this month as a result of multiple organ failure at a hospital in Baltimore. He was 83 years old.

Professor McIntyre was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, but spent most of his time growing up in Cleveland. He joined the Army in World War II working in the intelligence division in France. He was awarded the Bronze Star.

After returning from Europe, McIntyre earned a bachelor’s degree at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte and a master’s degree and a doctorate from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. McIntyre spoke French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Portuguese.

In 1948 he joined the faculty at Morgan State where he would remain until his retirement in 1988. There, he guided scores of students through the process of winning Fulbright scholarships, which he himself had used to study at the Sorbonne.



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