College and University Administrators: Look for an Expected Backlash From the Election of Barack Obama

The election of Barack Obama as president of the United States is expected to produce solid advances in the educational opportunities of blacks and other racial minorities.

Nevertheless, Obama’s election to the presidency is likely to encourage right-wing opposition to educational initiatives that are currently part of the Obama educational agenda.

Here is the thrust of the arguments that we expect opponents of further aid to minorities in higher education are likely to make:

“We gave you 40 years of affirmative action in which African-American students with substandard SAT scores frequently were admitted to colleges in preference to better qualified white kids.”

“In some cases college and university faculty have given black students more favorable grades than equal grading standards would call for.”

“Sometimes we have even broken the law in covertly setting up special college scholarships earmarked for African-American students.”

“In some cases, in fact, we have lowered academic standards in recruiting African-American faculty and college administrators.”

“Sometimes we have tenured African-American academics in preference to better qualified whites.”

“Many of our colleges and universities have poured resources into black studies initiatives in opposition to the wishes of very large numbers of our faculties.”

“We have recruited black trustees to the boards of our colleges and universities who, in many cases, were not as well qualified as whites who were competing for these positions.”

“Against our best judgment and in violation of the First Amendment, we have sometimes enacted campus speech codes to protect the feelings of black students.”

“Now we have elected a black man president of the United States.”

“What more do you want?

“Please, no more special favors.”

“Isn’t it time that you got up on your own two feet and stopped asking for special breaks?”

JBHE expects appeals of this nature will stand in the way of Obama’s programs for advancing the higher educational opportunities of African Americans.



Dare We Hope That Racism Has Gone Away?

The election of Barack Obama as president of the United States is a historic milestone of monumental proportions. Obama won Virginia, the state which held the capital of the Old Confederacy. He also carried Indiana, where a Democrat hadn’t won since 1964. The results in these two states demonstrate the major change that has occurred.

Some commentators and editorial writers have put forward the notion that Obama’s election demonstrates that America has finally overcome its 400-year-old struggle with race. But it’s unlikely that America has put aside its racial problems.

Consider these facts:

• In a year in which Democrats had everything going for them, Obama lost the white vote by a landslide margin. McCain won 57 percent of the white vote to Obama’s 43 percent. Among white men the margin was even greater.

• Exit polls from across the nation show that nearly one in every five Americans admitted that the race of the candidate played a major role in their decision on whom to vote for.

• On the night Obama won the presidency, the phrase “Obama assassination” for the first time became one of the top 100 search terms nationwide at Google.com. Also among the top 100 terms searched that day were “Obama AntiChrist,” “KKK Obama,” and “Uncle Tom.”

• The extent of the continuing racial divide was most apparent in the states of Mississippi and Alabama. In both states McCain won 88 percent of the white vote. Obama won 98 percent of the black vote. In Louisiana, McCain won 84 percent of the white vote and only 4 percent of the black vote.

• Immediately after the election, JBHE’s sister publication, The Race Relations Reporter, found a huge surge in hate-related incidents. Several incidents occurred on college campuses including Baylor University, North Carolina State University, and Purdue University.


Princeton University Expands Its Prize Competition for Students Who Work to Achieve Better Race Relations

This past spring, the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, sponsored by the Princeton University Alumni Association, was awarded to 29 high school students across the country who made a positive impact on race relations at their school or in the community. Competitions for the awards were held in 20 different regions across the nation. Winners received a cash prize of $1,000 and were brought to the Princeton University campus for a two-day symposium.

The Princeton Alumni Association has announced that the competition will expand to three new cities for the 2008-09 academic year. Students in Denver, Detroit, and Pittsburgh will now have the opportunity to compete for the awards.

More information, including a downloadable application for the award, is available by clicking here. The deadline for submitting applications is January 31, 2009.



University of Alabama Receives Donation of 1,700-Piece Collection of African-American Art

The University of Alabama received a 1,700-piece collection of African-American art from Atlanta collector Paul R. Jones. The collection, which Jones began assembling in the 1960s, is valued at nearly $5 million.

The collection involves works from more than 600 different artists including Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, and Carrie Mae Weems.

Paul R. Jones was born in 1928 and was raised in the Muscoda Mining Camp of the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company, a division of U.S. Steel, in Bessemer, Alabama. He attended Alabama State University but transferred to Howard University to complete his college education.

He served for 15 years in several positions in the federal government. He was also deputy director of the Peace Corps in Thailand.


Denny’s Funds a Single-Parent Resource Center at a Black College in Florida

Denny’s Restaurants is funding the Single Parent Student Resource Center on the campus of Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens. The center offers counseling, career advising, and other services geared specifically for single parents who attend the university. A child care area is housed in the center where single parents can study while their children read, play, watch television, or get help with their homework.

More than 60 percent of the students at the university are women and many are single parents. There are about 200 single parents among the university’s 1,800 students.



In Memoriam

Zenobia Lawrence Hikes (1955-2008)

Zenobia Lawrence Hikes, vice president for student affairs at Virginia Tech, has died from complications after undergoing open heart surgery. She was 53 years old.

Dr. Hikes came to Virginia Tech in 2005 after serving as dean of students at Spelman College. At Virginia Tech she had authority over 15 university departments and more than 2,000 employees. She is credited with playing a major role in bringing together the university community in the days following the massacre of more than 30 Virginia Tech students on April 16, 2007.

A 1977 graduate of Spelman College, Dr. Hikes held a master’s degree from Georgia Southwestern University and an educational doctorate from the University of Delaware.

Alex Rivera (1913-2008)

Alex Rivera, one of the most celebrated photographers of the civil rights era and a long-time administrator at North Carolina Central University in Durham, has died at the age of 95.

A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Rivera was the son of a dentist and civil rights activist. After graduating from Howard University, he was recruited to start up a news bureau at what was then called the North Carolina College for Negroes.

After serving in the military in World War II, Rivera worked as a photojournalist for several black-owned newspapers, criss-crossing the South covering civil rights protests, lynchings, and the desegregation of public schools.

He returned to North Carolina Central University in 1977 as director of the Office of Public Relations. He remained in that role until his retirement in 1993 at the age of 80.

In 1993 Rivera was presented with the Order of the Longleaf Pine, the highest civilian honor given by the state of North Carolina.


Honors and Awards

Rita Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia, Pulitzer Prize winner, and former Poet Laureate of the United States, received the 2008 Library of Virginia Lifetime Achievement Award.

• Donna Y. Ford, Betts Professor of Education and Human Development at the Peabody College of Education of Vanderbilt University, was named 2008 Scholar of the Year by the National Association for Gifted Children.

Professor Ford hold bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, all from Cleveland State University.

• Lauretta F. Byars, vice president for student affairs and institutional relations at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, received the Lyman T. Johnson Award from the University of Kentucky Alumni Association.

• Von Best Whitaker, an associate professor at the School of Nursing of North Carolina A&T State University, was named Research Nurse of the Year by the North Carolina Nurses Association.

A graduate of Columbia Union College, Whitaker holds a master’s degree from the University of Maryland. She earned a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.



• Sojourner-Douglass College, a predominantly black educational institution in Maryland, received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand their practical nursing program at campuses in East Baltimore, Annapolis, Cambridge, and Salisbury.

• Cheyney University, the historically black educational institution in Pennsylvania, received two grants totaling $480,000 from the Friends Fiduciary Corporation to support the renovation of Humphreys Hall on campus and to add to the Richard Humphreys Scholarship fund for Cheyney students.

The Institute for Higher Education Policy received a $4.2 million grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation to support first-generation college students at predominantly black colleges and universities, at Hispanic-serving educational institutions, and at tribal colleges and universities.

The University of Illinois received a three-year, $380,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York for a project to integrate automated systems at several university libraries in Africa.

The law school at Howard University, the historically black educational institution in the nation’s capital, received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to operate a fair housing legal clinic education program.

Ward Connerly Had Major Losses in His 2008 Effort to Abolish Race-Sensitive Admissions at Public Universities in Five States

A year ago Ward Connerly of the American Civil Rights Institute had planned a Super Tuesday this November when five states would vote to abolish the consideration of race in admissions to state universities. Connerly had previously met with success in offering similar public referenda in California, Washington State, and Michigan.

But efforts to get initiatives on the ballots in Oklahoma, Arizona, and Missouri came up short. Connerly was able to get the issue before the voters in Colorado and Nebraska.

In Nebraska, 58 percent of the voters approved the anti-affirmative action measure by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin. But in Colorado, Amendment 46 to the state constitution was narrowly defeated. In Colorado, a slim 50.6 percent majority rejected the proposal to ban affirmative action.


“Now we all drink from the same water fountain.”

— former New York City mayor David Dinkins, commenting on the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States


Blacks Lose Ground in Medical School Applications and New Enrollments

The Association of American Medical Colleges reports that for the first time since 2002, the number of applicants to medical school has declined. In percentage terms the decrease was very small, only two tenths of one percent.

But the number of black applicants has declined at a greater rate. In 2007 there were 3,471 black applicants to U.S. medical schools. This year there were 3,342, a decline of 3.7 percent.

While the number of applicants was down, the number of black students entering medical school this year was slightly higher than a year ago. In 2008, 1,293 black students began medical training in the United States. This was up from 1,281 students a year ago, an increase of less than 1 percent.

But the black gains lagged the increase for all new students matriculating at U.S. medical schools. For students of all races in 2008 there was a 1.6 percent increase of new entrants into medical school.


Columbia University Leads the Ivy League in Black Freshman Enrollments

For the third year in a row Columbia University in New York City enrolled the highest percentage of black first-year students in the Ivy League. Since 2004 the percentage of blacks in the freshman class at Columbia has increased from 6.8 percent to 12.1 percent. There were 90 black freshmen at Columbia in 2004. This year there are 162, an increase of 80 percent.

Yale University ranked second among the eight Ivy League colleges. Ten percent of the freshman class at Yale is black. Blacks make up more than 9 percent of all first-year students at the University of Pennsylvania and Dartmouth College.

For the first time in recent memory, Harvard University is in the bottom half of the Ivy League rankings of the percentage of black freshmen. This year, 8.4 percent of the freshman class at Harvard is black.

Cornell University, once again, has the lowest percentage of black freshmen. Despite considerable progress earlier in this decade, the number of black freshmen has dropped in each of the past two years. In 2006 there were 192 black first-year students at Cornell. This year there are 142, a drop of 26 percent in just two years.



New Scholarship Fund Established for Black or Other Minority Graduate Students in Sports Medicine

John A. Mayes, director of athletic training and sports medicine at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, has established a scholarship fund through the National Athletic Trainers Association. The endowment will provide a scholarship for a black or minority entry-level graduate student in athletic training or sports medicine.

The donation establishing the scholarship fund is the largest individual contribution made to the NATA since its founding in 1991.


Cornell University Acquires Hip-Hop Archive

The Cornell University Library recently received the archival collection of hip-hop memorabilia entitled “Born in the Bronx: The Legacy and Evolution of Hip-Hop.” The collection was donated by Johan Kugelberg, a collector and writer on popular culture. Over the years he has assembled a wide range of posters, photographs, and recordings documenting the early years of hip-hop music.

Cornell University celebrated the acquisition of the collection with a two-day symposium late last month featuring many of the genre’s founding artists, music historians, and scholars of African-American culture.


13.6  Number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births to African-American mothers.

5.8  Number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births to mothers in Cuba.

source: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development


LeMoyne-Owen College Is Back on Its Feet

The commissioners of Shelby County, Tennessee, have renewed their commitment to the privately operated LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis. The historically black college will receive a $500,000 grant from the county for basic operating expenses. Another $600,000 donation was recently received from the Plough Foundation.

In the summer of 2007 the college was in severe financial difficulties and many believed that the educational institution would have to close its doors. But $4 million in grants from businesses, religious groups, the city of Memphis, the county government, and the state government gave the historically black institution new life.

Now, Johnnie B. Watson, president of LeMoyne-Owen, believes that the college will operate with a budget surplus for the current academic year.



Black Student Law School Scholarship Honors Contributions of Professor at Charleston School of Law

The National Black Law Students Association chapter at the Charleston School of Law in South Carolina is establishing a scholarship fund to honor John L.S. Simpkins, assistant professor of law and director of diversity initiatives at the law school. The association hopes to award several $5,000 John Simpkins Scholarships each year.

As a member of the African Network of the International Association of Constitutional Law, Professor Simpkins has worked to help build democratic institutions in Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa. He is a cofounder of the Center for a Better South and a senior associate at the Richard W. Riley Institute of Government, Politics, and Public Leadership at Furman University.

Professor Simpkins is a graduate of Harvard College and the Duke University School of Law.


University of Texas Honors Late Black Studies Scholar

Last week the University of Texas held a ceremony to commemorate the renaming of its Center for African and African-American Studies. The new name is the Dr. John L. Warfield Center for African and African-American Studies.

Professor Warfield was a faculty member at the university’s College of Liberal Arts for more than a quarter of a century. He was instrumental in building the black studies program at the university. Professor Warfield died in October 2007 at the age of 71.




• Hugh D. Price was named to a five-year term as the John Weinberg/Goldman Sachs Visiting Professor of Public and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University. Price is the former president of the National Urban League.

• Travis L. Gosa was appointed assistant professor of Africana studies at Williams College in Massachusetts. He had held research positions at the Maryland Department of Education and the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Gosa is a graduate of Shepherd University in West Virginia and holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Johns Hopkins University.

• Charlita L. Shelton was named president of the University of the Rockies in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She previously was associate vice president for campus academic affairs and organizational diversity at the University of Phoenix.

Dr. Shelton is a graduate of Western Michigan University. She holds a master’s degree from National University in San Diego and a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Fielding Graduate University.

• Linda McCabe Smith was named interim associate chancellor for diversity at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Dr. Smith, who is an associate professor of communications disorders and sciences, will serve in the post for the remainder of the academic year.

Professor Smith holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from North Carolina Central University. She earned her Ph.D. in speech-language and hearing pathology from Southern Illinois University.

• Hezekiah N. Simmons was named vice president of administrative services at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York. Simmons has been on the staff at the college since 2003, most recently as interim vice president.

A graduate of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, Simmons holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

• Diane Crayton was appointed assistant professor of nursing at California State University, Stanislaus. She is a licensed nurse practitioner and holds her nursing degree from Sonoma State University.




Copyright © 2008. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.