The Spectacular Progress of Blacks in Master’s Degree Attainments

In the 2004-05 academic year blacks earned 54,482 master’s degrees at U.S. colleges and universities. This was 9.5 percent of all master’s degrees awarded that year. The number of blacks earning a master’s degree was up 8 percent from the previous year. Since 2000 the number of African Americans earning master’s degrees has increased by more than 51 percent.

Blacks have made significant progress over the past 20 years in increasing the number of master’s degrees earned. In 1985, 13,939 African Americans were awarded master’s degrees from U.S. universities. During the 2004-05 academic year, this figure had nearly quadrupled to more than 54,000. The percentage of all master’s degrees earned by blacks has increased from 5 percent in 1985 to 9.5 percent today.

Black women are leading the way. In the 2004-05 academic years, black women earned 38,749 master’s degrees compared to 15,733 for black men. Thus, black women accounted for 71 percent of all master’s degrees awarded to African Americans.


“Being able to see young men and women with white lab coats and stethoscopes walking down 125th Street will mean kids from our schools will say, ‘I want to be one of them.’”

— Congressman Charles Rangel of New York, speaking at the opening ceremonies of the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harlem (see story below)


Slight Improvement in African-American College Student Graduation Rates

New data shows that the college graduation rate for all black students at the nation’s largest universities has inched upward from 43 percent to 44 percent. The black student graduation rate improved by one percentage point for both black men and black women. The current graduation rate for black men is 37 percent. For black women the graduation rate is 11 percentage points higher at 48 percent.

The overall college graduation rate for whites remained the same at 63 percent. Thus there was a very small reduction in the still very wide black-white graduation rate gap.


Williams College Joins the No Loan Parade

Williams College, the nation’s highest-ranked liberal arts college, announced late last week that it would eliminate student loans from the financial aid packages it offers students. Now all financial aid offered by the college will be in the form of scholarship grants. Some financial aid packages at Williams had included loans of $13,800 over four years.

Williams estimates the cost of the new plan will add $1.8 million to its financial aid budget. The college is following the lead of Princeton University, Davidson College, and Amherst College, which previously eliminated all student loans from their financial aid awards.



African-American College Students Are Major Beneficiaries of the Five-Year Extension of the D.C. College Tuition Program

President Bush has signed a five-year extension to the District of Columbia Tuition Assistance program. Under the plan, residents of the District of Columbia, which has a black population approaching 60 percent, can attend any state university in the United States and pay the same tuition as residents of that particular state. There is a maximum assistance credit of $10,000 per year and a lifetime $50,000 limit per student.

Under the plan, students in the District of Columbia can also receive up to $2,500 per year to attend a private college or university in Virginia or Maryland or any private historically black college or university in the nation.

The only major departure from the original law is that students from families with annual incomes of $1 million or more are no longer eligible for benefits.

Since the program was set in place, the percentage of high school graduates in the District of Columbia who went on to college has increased from 30 percent to 57 percent. Two thirds of the funds allocated under the program go to graduates of the predominantly black public school system.


Checking on the Progress of the Black Male Initiative at CUNY’s Medgar Evers College

Nationwide, black women are becoming an increasingly larger share of all African-American enrollments in higher education. But Medgar Evers College, the predominantly black campus of the City University of New York in Brooklyn, is seeking to reverse that trend. In 2001 Medgar Evers College established the Male Development and Empowerment Center in an effort to boost black male enrollments and graduation rates.

Since 2001 Medgar Evers reports that it is achieving success, albeit at a slow pace. In 2003 there were 1,044 black male students on campus. This year there are 1,371, an increase of more than 31 percent. In 2003 black males were 22.1 percent of the total enrollment. Today they are 24.7 percent of the student body.

The college reports that 139 black male students earned either a bachelor’s or two-year associate’s degree in the 2006-07 academic year. This was up 47.9 percent from the previous year.


Black Freshman Enrollments Nearly Triple at Bowdoin College

Many of the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities will use the fact that they are located in rural areas far from black population centers as an excuse for low black enrollments. But don’t count Bowdoin College among this group.

Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, is very far from southern states where more than half of the nation’s black population resides. It is also far from the predominantly black urban centers of the Middle Atlantic and the Midwest.

Yet this fall there are 42 black freshmen at Bowdoin who make up 8.8 percent of the entering class. This ranks Bowdoin in fifth place among the 30 highest-ranking liberal arts colleges in the annual JBHE survey of black enrollments at these institutions.

Furthermore, the number of black freshmen at Bowdoin increased from 15 in 2006 to 42 this year, a remarkable increase of 180 percent.


Editors Seek Readers’ Opinions on the Publication of Data That Shines Unfavorable Light on Black Progress in Higher Education

Earlier this year JBHE published a long list of scientific fields in which 2,100 Ph.D.s were awarded in 2006. There were no African Americans who won Ph.D.s in any of these fields.

Recently this data was published and widely disseminated on the Web sites of several white supremacist organizations to support their beliefs in the innate mental inferiority of blacks. For example, the racist National Alliance published the information under the headline, “The Negro Contribution to Science: Nil.”

Some of our readers say that we do our cause no good by publishing data of this nature.

We would like to hear what you think. E-mail your response to info@jbhe.com.


In Memoriam

Elizabeth Hadley (1950-2007)

Elizabeth Hadley, an associate professor of Africana studies at Simmons College in Boston, has died from breast cancer at the age of 57.

Professor Hadley grew up in foster homes in Harlem but excelled in school and graduated from the University of Rochester. She later earned a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a Ph.D. in history from Indiana University. Her dissertation documented the life of black aviator Bessie Coleman.

Dr. Hadley spent a year at the Kenyatta University under a Fulbright scholarship. Upon returning to the United States, she held teaching positions at Northeastern University, Boston College, Boston University, Dennison University, Lasell College, and Wheelock College. In addition to Africana studies, Professor Hadley taught courses in theater, cinema, and women’s studies.

Lewis F. Boddie (1913-2007)

Dr. Lewis F. Boddie, a longtime medical educator, physician, and humanitarian, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 94.

Dr. Boddie is believed to be the first black board-certified physician in obstetrics and gynecology on the West Coast. In a Los Angeles practice that spanned nearly 45 years, he delivered thousands of babies. For more than a quarter-century, he served as a clinical assistant professor at the School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Dr. Boddie was also the first president of a Los Angeles adoption board and spent a great deal of his time finding homes for orphans.

Lewis Boddie, born in Forsyth, Georgia, was the grandson of slaves. His mother, father, and brother were all physicians, as are two of Boddie’s surviving children. A graduate of Morehouse College, Boddie earned his medical degree at Meharry Medical College in Nashville. He retired in 1993 at the age of 80.



Jalane Schmidt was appointed an assistant professor of religion at the University of Virginia. She was an instructor at Oberlin College in Ohio.

A graduate of Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas, Schmidt holds a master’s degree in divinity and a Ph.D. in religion from Harvard University.

Anne L. Taylor was named vice dean for academic affairs at the Columbia University School of Medicine. She was a professor of medicine and associate dean for faculty affairs at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

A graduate of Hofstra University, she completed her medical training at the University of Chicago. Her primary research interest is cardiovascular disease in women and minorities.

Marian W. Smith, a professor of education at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, was appointed to the Commission on the Development and Preparation for Teaching the Whole Child of the Association of Teacher Educators. Professor Smith has been on the faculty at FAMU since 1991.

Terrence Williams, vice president of human resources for the New York Times Regional Media Group, was elected to the board of visitors of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.

Williams is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University and holds a master’s degree from Troy State University.


Under the New Affirmative Action Ban, Black Enrollments Are Still Way Down at the University of Michigan: But Its Alumni Association Vows to Offer Race-Based Scholarships

Last November, voters in Michigan overwhelmingly approved Proposal 2 which was also called by the deceptive misnomer, The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. This initiative made it against the law for the University of Michigan and other state universities to use race as a factor in their admissions process. It also barred these state-operated universities from using race in granting scholarships, hiring faculty and staff, and in contracting awards.

The University of Michigan recently released data on this year’s entering class, the first admitted under the new admissions rules. Black freshman enrollments were up by 1.2 percent this year. But overall first-year enrollments of all races increased by 11 percent. Therefore the percentage of blacks in the entering class declined from 6.1 percent to 5.6 percent. Just two years ago in 2005, there were 443 black freshmen at the University of Michigan. In sum, black freshman enrollments have declined by 25 percent in two years.

The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan is a private, nonprofit organization with no legal ties to the university and therefore is not bound by the provisions of Proposal 2. The association has decided that beginning next fall, it will offer scholarships to entering students with a preference given to blacks and other underrepresented minorities. The association’s endowment will provide the seed money for the program and additional donations will be solicited to boost the overall number of grants that will be awarded.

Opponents of the plan note that the alumni association, while a separate legal entity, operates an alumni center on campus grounds and maintains Web pages on the university’s umich.edu domain.



The Higher Educational Attainment of the Parents of Black and White Children in the United States Today

Probably one of the best indicators that a child will go to college is whether one or both of his or her parents attended college. Here blacks trail whites by a large margin.

For children ages 6 to 18, 31.7 percent of whites have a mother who has obtained a four-year college degree. For black children, 15.3 percent of their mothers have a bachelor’s degree.

When we look at the educational attainment of fathers, we find that 35.1 percent of white children have a father who has a four-year college degree. Only 17.3 percent of black children have a father who has completed college.

Nearly 9 percent of white children have a mother that holds a master’s degree compared to 4.7 percent of black children. More than 13 percent of white children have a father who has earned a graduate degree. Only 4.3 percent of black children have a father who holds a graduate degree.


New Medical School Opens in Harlem

The Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, located across the street from the Apollo Theater in Harlem, is the first new medical school to open in New York State in the past 30 years. The Touro medical school states that it “was founded to improve medical care in the Harlem community and increase the number of minorities practicing medicine.” It is the first osteopathic medical school in the United States whose primary mission is to increase the number of blacks and other minorities in the field.

The school is located in a 100,000-square-foot building which used to be a department store in the heart of Harlem. The inaugural class has 135 students.



More Than 650 Colleges Sell Socially Conscious T-Shirts From Africa

Today more than 650 college stores across the nation are selling T-shirts from Edun-Live, an offshoot of a socially conscious clothing line based in Ireland. The company was founded by rock star Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson. The college distribution network was founded at Miami University in Ohio.

The shirts are made from African-grown cotton and sewn in Africa for export to the United States. Colleges and universities can then imprint their own logos on the shirts for sale at their stores. The goal of the project is to promote economic development in sub-Saharan Africa.


8.8%  Percentage of white K-12 students in public schools in 2003 who had been suspended from school at some point in their educational careers.

19.6%  Percentage of black K-12 students in public schools in 2003 who had been suspended from school at some point in their educational careers

source: U.S. Department of Education


Bill Calls for Boosting Online Education Initiatives at the Black Colleges

A new survey by the Babson Survey Research Group finds that nearly one in five college students took at least one course online in 2005. Online education can be particularly important to single mothers and students who must work while enrolled in college, two groups that include large numbers of African Americans.

Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas is sponsoring legislation to increase online education opportunities for African-American college students. Under the legislation nine historically black colleges and universities will be provided with start-up funds to enable them to begin online education programs or to enhance programs that already exist at these institutions.


University of Virginia Continuing Education Program Offers a Bus Tour of Civil Rights Historical Sites

The University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies is offering a seven-day travel and learn program that visits several civil rights historical sites. The bus tour starts in Atlanta on March 1 and travels to Birmingham, Selma, and Montgomery, Alabama. Prices for the tour ranges from $1,895 to $2,705, depending on hotel accommodations selected.

The tour guide will be Julian Bond, chair of the NAACP and a professor of history at the University of Virginia.

The tour is open to the general public. For more information click here.


University of Kentucky Honors a Racial Pioneer

In 1954 Doris Y. Wilkinson, the valedictorian of her high school class and a member of the National Honor Society, was one of the 20 black students who were the first African-American undergraduates admitted to the University of Kentucky.  She majored in social work with a minor in English. Wilkinson completed her course work in three and a half years and became the first African American to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky.

Wilkinson went on to earn a master’s and Ph.D. in medical sociology from Case Western University and a master’s in public health from Johns Hopkins University. In 1967 Wilkinson became the first black woman appointed to the full-time faculty at the University of Kentucky. Wilkinson founded the black studies program. She is now a full professor of sociology at the university.

Recently the university unveiled a new conference room in Breckinridge Hall that is named in Wilkinson’s honor. A portrait of Wilkinson is hanging on the wall of the room. The university has also announced that it has launched a fundraising campaign to establish the Doris Wilkinson Distinguished Professorship in Sociology and the Humanities.



Honors and Awards

James L. Moore III, an associate professor of physical activity and educational services at the College of Education and Human Ecology of Ohio State University, was one of 13 candidates worldwide who was designated an Emerging Leader by Phi Delta Kappa International.

Dr. Moore is a graduate of Delaware State University and holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in counselor education from Virginia Tech.

Winston-Salem State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina, was named the 2007 Educational Institution of the Year by the National Black MBA Association.



Spelman College received a $60,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for development of digital learning tools for the women’s studies curriculum.

The University of Arkansas received a $661,018 grant from the National Institutes of Health for a study on the proteins in cancer cells. The research will be under the direction of Paul Adams, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the university.

Clark Atlanta University, the historically black educational institution in Georgia, received a $6.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for the establishment of the Center of Excellence for Prostate Cancer Research, Education, and Community Services. The grant will support three research projects on prostate cancer and provide scholarship money for undergraduate and graduate students conducting work in prostate cancer research.

Meharry Medical College, the historically black medical school in Nashville, Tennessee, received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop programs aimed at increasing the number of black physicians and other healthcare professionals.

• Fifteen historically black colleges and universities will receive a combined $1.5 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to generate funds for new business creation and farm cooperatives in rural areas. The grants range from $75,000 to $115,000. Universities participating in the grant program are Tuskegee University, Alabama A&M University, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Delaware State University, Fort Valley State University, Florida A&M University, Kentucky State University, Southern University-Baton Rouge, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, North Carolina A&T State University, Langston University, South Carolina State University, Tennessee State University, Prairie View A&M University, and West Virginia State University.

Hampton University, the historically black educational institution in Virginia, received two grants from the National Science Foundation totaling $428,000. The funds will be used to purchase a magnetic resonance spectrometer so chemistry students can study molecular compounds. The grant will also fund the creation of a computation and simulation laboratory in the chemistry department.



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