White Coats, White Faces: Checking the Pulse of Blacks in Medical School Admissions

Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians now make up nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population. But only 6 percent of the physicians currently practicing in the United States are members of minority groups. As a result, the Association of American Medical Colleges has set a top priority of increasing the number of blacks and other minorities who enroll in medical school.

To date, this strategy has had limited success. The number of black students who apply to medical school has risen from 2,983 students in 2002 to 3,471 this year. This is an increase of more than 16 percent over the past five years. In 2007 blacks were 8.2 percent of all medical school applicants.

But despite an increase in applicants, there has been no increase in the number of black students who are accepted or enroll at medical schools. In fact, from 2002 to 2007, the number of blacks accepted at U.S. medical schools actually declined. Slightly more than 38 percent of all blacks who applied to medical school in 2007 were accepted. For whites, the acceptance rate was 47 percent.

This fall 1,281 blacks enrolled in their first year of medical school. They made up 7.2 percent of all entering students. In 2002 there were 1,283 black students who enrolled in medical school. They made up 7.8 percent of all first-year enrollments.

It is likely that the decline in the number of black students accepted to medical school is due to sharp cutbacks in affirmative action throughout the nation.


“Eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to disturb the status quo. What integration there is tends to be more cosmetic.”

Marvin King, assistant professor of political science at Ole Miss, discussing the persistence of a racially segregated fraternity and sorority system at the University of Mississippi


Despite the Promise of More Money for Higher Education, There Has Been a Huge Drop in Black Army Recruits

In the past, many young African Americans saw service in the U.S. military as a good opportunity to secure money to finance their higher education. But the war in Iraq has resulted in a huge drop-off in black recruits since 2000. The Army, which bears the brunt of the fighting in Iraq, has seen black recruits drop from 41,185 in 2000 to 17,399 in 2005, the latest year for which data is available. This is a huge decline of nearly 58 percent. During the same period, the number of white recruits dropped by 10 percent.

In response, the Army has instituted an aggressive new marketing campaign targeted at young African Americans. Bonuses are offered to new recruits and the amount of money available for college tuition after Army service has been increased.



Postal Service Honors Charles W. Chesnutt

The United States Postal Service has issued the 31st stamp in its Black Heritage series which honors notable African Americans throughout history. Many of the African Americans who have been honored have been literary figures or academics, including Carter G. Woodson, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Benjamin Banneker, and Mary McLeod Bethune.

The newest stamp in the series honors author Charles W. Chesnutt. Born in Cleveland in 1858, Chesnutt could have passed for white but chose to be true to his Negro heritage. He passed the Ohio state bar in 1887 and operated a successful legal stenography business. He also was the nation’s first commercially successful African-American writer of fiction. Among his books are The House Behind the Cedars, The Colonel’s Dream, and The Marrow of Tradition.


New MBA Program at North Carolina Central University

North Carolina Central University, the historically black educational institution in Durham, is offering a new concentration for business school students. The university will now offer an MBA with a concentration in hospitality and tourism management. The university expects that about 25 students will enroll in the new program when classes begin next fall.


The First Chemical Engineering Graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology Was a Black Man

Several years ago, when the chemical engineering program at the Illinois Institute of Technology was celebrating its centennial, it searched its records to identify the first graduate of the program. It came as a major surprise that its first graduate — Charles Warner Pierce — was a black man. He is believed to be the first African American to have earned a college degree in chemical engineering. The school has now named its award for distinguished alumni in Pierce’s honor.

Pierce was born in La Grange, Georgia, in 1876 but spent most of his younger years in Texas. He and his twin brother were the youngest of 14 children. At age 17 the twins moved to Chicago because the educational opportunities for young black men in Texas were almost nonexistent. Since he had no high school education, Pierce enrolled in the preparatory school of what was then known as the Armour Institute of Technology. He completed his high school education in one year and enrolled as a college student in 1897 and completed his degree in chemical engineering in 1901. In the 1901 yearbook Pierce is quoted as saying, “Mislike me not for my complexion.”

Pierce joined the faculty at Tuskegee University in Alabama and later chaired the department of chemical engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. He returned to Chicago in 1910, but at that time there were no opportunities there for a black man to teach at the college level. As a result, he spent the remainder of his career as a high school teacher.

Pierce retired from teaching in 1941 at the age of 65. He died six years later in 1947 from heart disease.


Foundation Offers Cash Awards to Minority Students Who Score High on Advanced Placement Tests

Studies from The College Board show that black high school students are far less likely to take honors and advanced placement courses which would better prepare them for college entrance examinations and for the rigors of a college curriculum. Now the Pershing Square Foundation is trying a new approach to encourage black and other minority students to take these challenging courses.

Students at 25 predominantly black or Hispanic high schools and six parochial schools with large numbers of minority students in New York City have been selected for a pilot program which will give cash awards to students who perform well on Advanced Placement examinations. A student who receives the best possible score of 5 on an AP test will receive $1,000. A score of 4 will generate a cash award of $750 and a score of 3 will produce a $500 reward. Students can take several AP examinations in any given year and cash awards can be won on each test. (Foreign language AP examinations are excluded because, for some students, English is not their first language.)



A Black Man Is One of Two Finalists for the Presidency of the 10-Campus Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh

Alex Johnson, chancellor of Delgado Community College in New Orleans, was named one of two finalists for the presidency of the Community College of Allegheny County, which operates 10 campuses in and around Pittsburgh. Blacks make up 15 percent of the 18,000-member student body at the two-year college.

Dr. Johnson is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University. He holds a master’s degree from Lehman College and an educational doctorate from Penn State University.

The other finalist for the position is Philip R. Day, a white man who is chancellor of San Francisco City College.



Ruth J. Simmons, president of Brown University, was elected to the board of Howard University, the historically black educational institution in Washington, D.C.

Modupe Gloria Labode was named assistant professor of history and public scholar in African-American history and museum studies at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. She was the chief historian at the Colorado Historical Society.

Lenora Ashford, principal of Detroit’s Lewis Cass Technical High School, was appointed to an eight-year term on the board of control for Michigan Technological University.

Ashford is a graduate of Central State University and holds a master’s degree from Wayne State University.

Ngonidzashe Munemo was appointed assistant professor of political science at Williams College in Massachusetts. A graduate of Bard College, he holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in comparative politics from Columbia University.

Sally Dickson was named associate vice provost for student affairs at Stanford University. Dickson was associate vice provost for faculty development at Stanford.

Lynette A. Redd was appointed director of multicultural alumni programs at Virginia Tech. She was the director of alumni affairs at West Virginia State University.

Redd is a graduate of Mercy College and holds a master’s degree from Marshall University.

Maurice Cox, an associate professor of architecture at the University of Virginia, was appointed to a two-year term as director for design for the National Endowment for the Arts. Professor Cox had been on the faculty at UVA since 1993.



Germaine McAuley, athletic director at Spelman College in Atlanta, received the Nell Jackson Administrator of the Year Award from the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators.

McAuley is a graduate of High Point University and holds a master’s degree from North Carolina A&T State University. She has been at Spelman since 2004.

Valerie White, an assistant professor of journalism at Florida A&M University, received the Distinguished Adviser Award from the College Media Advisers. Professor White was recognized for her work as the faculty adviser to the student newspaper on the FAMU campus.


For Both Blacks and Whites, Business Is the Most Popular College Major

There is very little difference in the fields of study chosen by black and white college students. For blacks who graduated from four-year colleges and universities in 2005, business management was by a large margin the most popular major. Blacks earned 34,464 bachelor’s degrees in the field of business management and administration in the 2004-05 academic year. This was 25.3 percent of all bachelor’s degrees earned by blacks.

Most white college students have the same goals. Business management was also the most popular field of study among whites.

The fields of psychology, communications, social sciences, education, and health sciences were popular majors among both racial groups.



New Nursing School to be Named in Honor of a Black Politician and Scholar

The new nursing school at the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles will be named after Mervyn M. Dymally. Dymally is currently a California state assemblyman. He previously was a state senator, a U.S. congressman, and lieutenant governor of California.

Born in Trinidad, Dymally came to the United States at the age of 19 to pursue higher education. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Los Angeles State College and a master’s degree in government from California State University at Sacramento. He later was awarded a Ph.D. from what is now Alliant International University.

Dymally was the first foreign-born black to be elected to the United States Congress.


University of South Carolina Purchases Rare Book by Phillis Wheatley

The University of South Carolina recently paid $35,000 to acquire a first edition of Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, one of the first books published by an African American. The book was originally published in London in 1773. There are about 100 copies of the book still in existence.

Wheatley came to America from Gambia in 1761 aboard the slave ship Phillis. She was 7 or 8 years old. She was sold as a house slave to John Wheatley of Boston. Six years later she published her first poem.

The value of the Wheatley book has increased tremendously over the past decade. In 1998, a first edition sold for $19,550.

The university has created a searchable, digitized copy of the book which is available online. To access the digital version click here.



Chicago Business School Establishes Minority Scholarship

The Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago has established the Enid Fogel Diversity Scholarship for a black or Hispanic student. The new scholarship will provide at least $50,000 toward the two-year tuition fee, which now stands at about $89,000. The business school already has several other scholarship awards that are earmarked for underrepresented minorities and women.

The scholarship is named for Enid Fogel, a former associate dean of the business school who died in September at the age of 84. She was the wife of Robert Fogel, the Nobel Prize-winning economist.


27%  Percentage of all Americans who have not read a book in the past year

20%  Percentage of African Americans who have not read a book in the past year

source: Associated Press-Ipsos Poll


Valuable Tips for Recruiting and Retaining Black Faculty

The American Historical Association recently released a document entitled Equity for Minority Historians in the Academic History Workplace: A Guide to Best Practices. The document issues guidelines to history departments at colleges and universities on how they can take steps to increase diversity in their faculty ranks.

The recommendations offer a good overall blueprint that can be used to help recruit and retain minority faculty. And the guidelines will be useful not just to history departments but to almost any academic field at a university looking to increase racial diversity among its faculty.

To download the guidelines click here.


New Admissions Standards for the University of North Carolina System Will Have Their Greatest Impact at Historically Black Universities

The board of governors of the University of North Carolina is considering implementing new admissions standards that could impact black enrollments in the system. The new standards would require that students score at least 700 on the SAT test and maintain a 2.0 grade point average in high school. The standards would rise to a 750 score on the SAT and a 2.3 grade point average in 2011. By 2013, students would need to score 800 on the SAT and have a 2.5 grade point average.

These new standards would not affect admissions to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and several other campuses in the system that already have high standards for admission. But the new requirements could have a major impact at five historically black universities in the state system. Many black students currently enrolled at these schools would not have been admitted. For example, an analysis of students admitted to North Carolina A&T State University in 2006 found that 12 percent did not meet the 800 SAT score or 2.5 grade point average standard.

The average SAT score for black students in North Carolina is 851. Thus, under the new SAT requirement, perhaps 40 percent of all black students in the state would be ineligible for admission to a four-year university in the state system under the new standards.


Lehman Brothers Teams Up With Spelman College to Provide New Opportunities for Black Women in Global Finance

Spelman College has announced the establishment of the Lehman Brothers Center for Global Finance and Economic Development on its campus. Backed by a $10 million grant from Lehman Brothers, the New York-based investment banking company, the new center will hire finance and economics faculty and offer new courses that will be geared toward increasing the number of black women who pursue careers in the financial industry. Scholarships and internship opportunities will also be established.



In Memoriam

James T. Crutcher (1933-2007)

James T. Crutcher, the former pastor of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, has died. The church was the site of a September 1963 bombing by the Ku Klux Klan which killed four young black girls, an event that galvanized public support for the civil rights struggle.

Reverend Crutcher served as pastor of the church from 1968 to 1982. He then was appointed chaplain of the hospital at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He was the first African American to hold the position. He served as chaplain at University Hospital for 13 years.

Mikel LaMar Husband (1971-2007)

Mikel LaMar Husband, the director of communications at Howard University, died at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore from an infection resulting from a heart condition. He was 36 years old.

Husband served as an adjunct professor of journalism at Howard and was also an adviser to the student newspaper and yearbook.

A native of California, he graduated from Howard University in 1993. He later earned a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern University.



Norfolk State University, the historically black educational institution in New Jersey, received a $150,000 grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation. The grant will fund a program where university faculty and employees will work with black churches in the area to lower the risk of heart disease. Programs will include health screenings, exercise classes, healthy cooking classes, mental health workshops, and blood pressure and cholesterol monitoring.

The program will be under the direction of Bennie Marshall, chair of the nursing program at Norfolk State University.

The University of Virginia has won a three-year, $850,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation for a research project on developing successful business models for community development financial institutions.

The lead investigator on the grant will be Greg Fairchild, an African American who is a professor at the Darden School of Business at the university.

• The National Institute on Aging has issued a $2.7 million grant to four educational institutions to study racial disparities in health among older Americans. The program will focus on health problem affecting older African Americans in rural areas.

Participating educational institutions are the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Tuskegee University, and the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Hampton University, the historically black educational institution in Virginia, received a three-year $420,111 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support the university’s forensics chemistry program and to fund a new forensics laboratory on campus.



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