High-Ranking Universities That Are Making Progress In Increasing Enrollments of Low-Income Students

Last week JBHE published its rankings of the nation’s leading universities in enrolling low-income students. UCLA and Berkeley led the group by a large margin.

But it is important, too, to note which high-ranking universities are making progress in increasing their percentage of low-income students. We are pleased to report that since 2006, 23 of the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities have shown an increase in their percentages of low-income students. Two universities had the same percentage as was the case two years ago and only five showed a decline in the percentage of low-income students. The largest gains were at Harvard University, Emory University, MIT, and Stanford.

Washington University, Cornell University, UCLA, Vanderbilt, and Carnegie Mellon University were the five high-ranking universities to show a decline in low-income students in the 2006 to 2008 period.

Over a longer, five-year period from the 2003-04 academic year to the 2008-09 academic year, only seven of the top 30 universities have shown an increase in low-income students. Harvard has shown the largest gain. In 2004, 9.4 percent of Harvard undergraduates were from low-income families. During the 2008-09 academic year, the figure had increased to 15 percent. Princeton, MIT, and Emory University also posted significant gains over the five-year period.



Black College Football Hall of Fame to Induct First Members in 2010

Doug Williams, the only African-American quarterback to win the Super Bowl, and James “Shack” Harris, one of the first black quarterbacks in the National Football League, have announced plans to establish the Black College Football Hall of Fame.

Williams and Harris, who both played football for historically black Grambling State University and are now executives for NFL teams, are soliciting donations and corporate sponsors for the project. The Hall of Fame will induct its first members this February at a ceremony in Atlanta.

Initially the Black College Football Hall of Fame may be a traveling exhibit or be housed in a wing of the College Football Hall of Fame. But Williams and Harris hope that eventually the museum will find a permanent home.


Celebrating 40 Years of Diversity Efforts at Pitt

Forty years ago, in 1969, members of the Black Action Society occupied the computer center at the University of Pittsburgh. The protesters called on the university to recruit more black faculty and African-American students.

Last month the African American Alumni Council held a celebration on campus to commemorate the anniversary and the progress that has been made since that time. Today the student body at the University of Pittsburgh is 8 percent black and there are more than 13,000 African-American alumni of the university.

As part of the celebration, the black alumni association launched a $3 million fundraising campaign to raise money for three scholarship programs for black students.


Black Professor at Vanderbilt Called an “Apologist for White Supremacists”

Carol M. Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, was harshly criticized as an “apologist for white supremacists” by officials at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, for her endorsement of the documentary film, A Conversation About Race. Professor Swain is quoted on the cover of the DVD of the film saying the work is “outstanding and meticulously done.”

But the Southern Poverty Law Center says the film, which claims that racism has subsided in the United States but that blacks continue to play the race card to gain greater advantages, is “a hit among white supremacists looking for a smart-sounding defense of their beliefs.” The center reports that the filmmaker, Craig Bodeker, has referred to President Obama and other African Americans as “monkeys.”

Professor Swain told JBHE that she did not learn of the charges of racism against Bodeker until after she had reviewed the film. She also did not endorse the content of the film but merely expressed the belief that it could be used in social science classes to generate debate.

Professor Swain also related to JBHE that after the controversy was reported in the Nashville newspaper, “there has been both negative and positive reaction in the black community. Mostly, the reaction has been positive from people who understand newspaper sensationalism.”


University Scientists Link Black Children’s Exposure to Lead Paint as a Contributing Factor in the Racial Test Score Gap

A study by researchers at Duke University and North Carolina Central University finds that early exposure to lead has a direct correlation with lower scores on standardized tests given to fourth-grade children in North Carolina. The study, published in the journal NeuroToxicology, found that lead exposure accounts for as much as 16 percent of test score differences.

Because black children are more likely than their white peers to be exposed to lead-based paint in older housing, the findings appear to explain some of the racial gap in standardized test scores. While further research would be required, lead exposure may also be a factor in lower scores for blacks on standardized tests for admission to college and graduate school.



Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Robert J. Walker was named professor and chair of the department of education at Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis. For the past year he has been training teachers at Debre Birhan University in central Ethiopia. He previously was on the faculty at Alabama State University.

Dr. Walker is a graduate of Tougaloo College. He holds master’s degrees from Jackson State University in Mississippi and Webster University in St. Louis. He earned a doctorate in early childhood education from Jackson State.

• Anthony Holloman was appointed director of athletics at Tuskegee University in Alabama. He was the associate vice provost for university advancement at Tuskegee. He previously served as assistant vice president for development at Tennessee State University.

• Luther McKinney Jr. was named director of institutional research at Bowie State University in Maryland. He was the director of institutional research and planning at Maryville College in Tennessee.

Dr. McKinney holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

• Aisha Peay has joined the faculty at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville as an assistant professor of English. A graduate of Purdue University, she earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. at Duke University.

• Tammy L. Mann was named executive director of the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute of the United Negro College Fund. She was deputy executive director of Zero to Three, the nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the well-being of young children.

Dr. Mann is a graduate of Spelman College. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Michigan State University.

• Eve J. Higginbotham was named senior vice president and executive dean for health sciences at Howard University. She was dean and senior vice president for academic affairs at the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Dr. Higginbotham is a graduate of MIT and the Harvard Medical School.

• Ivan L. Harrell II was appointed dean of student services at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland. He was the coordinator for student affairs at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Virginia.

Dr. Harrell holds an educational doctorate from Florida State University.


2.8%  Percentage of all black high school students in the state of Alabama in the 2006-07 academic year who dropped out of school.

16.6%  Percentage of all black high school students in the state of Michigan in the 2006-07 academic year who dropped out of school.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Grants and Gifts

• Southern University, the historically black educational institution in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, received a $285,000 grant from the Institute of International Education. The university’s Navy ROTC program will use the grant to establish an African language and cultural immersion program and to fund study-abroad opportunities in Africa for Southern University students.

Historically black Wilberforce University in Ohio received a six-year, $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant money will be used to support the university’s graduate program in rehabilitation counseling.

• Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York, received a $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a program to ease the transition of biomedical science students from community colleges to four-year institutions. Blacks are 86 percent of the student body at Medgar Evers College.

• Georgia State University won a three-year, $675,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its Center for Leadership in Disability. The center will work in conjunction with the historically black Morehouse School of Medicine to develop a program to reduce disparities in health related to disabilities and minority status.

• Delaware State University, the historically black educational institution in Dover, received a five-year, $5 million grant from NASA. The research will include six primary projects including using lasers to navigate in space and to detect life in extreme environments.

• Naa Oyo A. Kwate, assistant professor of sociomedical sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study how racism affects the health of African Americans.

• Xavier University, the historically black educational institution in New Orleans, received a five-year, $10.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to promote cancer research at the university.

The University of South Carolina has been awarded funding from the Humanities Council of South Carolina to hold a conference next March, whose topic is, “The University of South Carolina and African-American Research in the Twenty-First Century.” The keynote speaker will be Henrie Monteith Treadwell of the Morehouse School of Medicine.

For breaking news and previews of upcoming articles


Five Black Scholars Inducted Into the Institute of Medicine

The Institute of Medicine’s mission is to serve as adviser to the nation to improve health. The institute provides unbiased, evidence-based, and authoritative information and advice concerning health and science to policymakers, professionals, leaders in every sector of society, and the public at large. Election to membership is an honor but carries with it a commitment to public service.

There is no official data on the race of the institute’s members. But JBHE has determined that five of this year’s 65 inductees are African American.

Here are brief biographies of the new black members:

Michael R. DeBaun holds the Ferring Family Chair in Pediatric Cancer and Related Disorders and is professor of biostatistics and neurology at the School of Medicine of Washington University in St. Louis. A graduate of Howard University, he received his medical training at Stanford University.

Joan Y. Reede is an associate professor of medicine and dean for diversity and community partnership at Harvard Medical School. She is the first black woman to hold the position of dean at the medical school. Dr. Reede is a graduate of Brown University and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

John A. Rich is a professor and chair of the department of health management and policy in the School of Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Dr. Rich received his medical training at Duke University School of Medicine. He also holds a master’s degree in public health from Harvard University.

Griffin P. Rodgers is director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Rodgers earned bachelor’s, master’s, and medical degrees from Brown University. He later earned an MBA from Johns Hopkins University.

Selwyn M. Vickers is Jay Phillips Professor and chair of the department of surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis. He received bachelor’s and medical degrees at Johns Hopkins University. His research is focused on gene therapy for pancreatic cancer.


“We play the violin too much. We think people owe us something.”

John S. Wilson Jr., executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, speaking on the challenges facing HBCUs, during a lecture at Southern University in Baton Rouge


Morehouse College’s New Dress Code Prohibits Cross-Dressing

Morehouse College, the highly selective liberal arts college for African-American men in Atlanta, has instituted a new dress code. The Morehouse “Appropriate Dress Policy” prohibits students from wearing hats or sunglasses indoors. Students cannot wear pajamas outside or go barefoot on campus. Do-rags and sagging pants are not permitted anywhere on campus.

But a more controversial provision prohibits Morehouse men from wearing women’s clothes. The dress code says that students cannot wear makeup, women’s clothes, or high heels. Morehouse men cannot carry purses. William Bynum, vice president for student services at Morehouse College, explained, “We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men.”



Illinois to Restore Funding to Grant Program for Low-Income Students

Due to state budget cuts, about 137,000 low-income college students in Illinois were not going to get grants under the state’s Monetary Award Program (MAP) for the second semester of the current academic year. The loss of state money for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission would certainly have forced many of these low-income students, a large percentage of whom are black, to drop out of college.

But faced with public pressure and lobbying from state university presidents, the legislature passed a law directing Governor Pat Quinn to borrow money from other state programs to come up with the $200 million needed to make MAP grants for the spring semester.


Good News! Number of Black Medical School Students Is Increasing

The Association of American Medical Colleges reports that 3,482 African Americans applied to medical school in 2009. This is up by more than 4 percent from a year ago. Overall applications to medical school were up by less than 1 percent. The number of black applicants to medical school is approaching the all-time high of 3,527, which occurred in 1996.

There were 1,312 new black entrants at U.S. medical schools in 2009. This is 19 more than in 2008. But the number of new black entrants at U.S. medical schools is still 14 percent below the level that existed in the mid-1990s.


Major Roadblock Placed in the Path of Black Students Who Want to Enroll at Berkeley

Faced with severe budget cuts from the state government, the University of California at Berkeley has announced that it will accept 600 fewer students from California in future years and will replace them with full-paying students from out of state or from foreign countries.

At the present time about 14 percent of all incoming freshman students at Berkeley are from outside of California. Under the new proposal this percentage will rise to 23 percent.

This new plan will make it much harder for college-bound black students in California to gain admission to the state’s flagship university. Since the enactment of Proposition 209 in 1996, race cannot be considered in admissions decisions at state-operated universities in California. As a result, black enrollments have plummeted at Berkeley. This year blacks make up only 3.1 percent of the entering class.

Now with fewer slots available for students from California, the competition for places at Berkeley will become more intense. Students with higher SAT scores and grade point averages will have the edge. Whites and Asian Americans tend to make up a huge percentage of the highest performing group.

Furthermore, UCLA and the University of California at San Diego, the two other most prestigious campuses in the state system, are also considering reducing the number of students admitted from California and replacing them with out-of-state or foreign students.


GOP Has Put a Hold on Nominee to Head the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

In July, President Obama nominated Jackie Berrien as chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency that investigates and often litigates complaints involving racial discrimination in employment. But Republicans in the U.S. Senate have placed a hold on the nomination until the president adds a new GOP appointee to the commission.



Honors and Awards

• Michelle R. Howard-Vital, president of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, was named the recipient of the Educational Leadership Award from the Philadelphia Beauty Showcase National Historical Museum.

President Howard-Vital holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in English language and literature from the University of Chicago. She earned a doctorate in public policy analysis from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

• Donald Henry Kortright Davis, professor of theology at the Howard University Divinity School in Washington, D.C., was awarded an honorary degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary.

Dr. Davis received his doctoral degree from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.

• Langston D. Smith, chair of the department of endodontics at the Howard University College of Dentistry, was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame at Morehead State University in Kentucky.

• Keisha Elder, an assistant professor in the School of Optometry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, received the Charles Barkley Award for health disparities research from the university. The award includes $60,000 to fund research on ocular inflammation in African Americans.

Dr. Elder is a graduate of Clemson University and holds a master’s degree and a doctorate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.



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