Leaders of State College Systems Pledge to Cut Racial and Socioeconomic Gaps in Enrollment and Graduation Rates

The leaders of 19 state college systems have come together to pledge to close the gap in college enrollments and graduation rates between low-income or minority students and the student population as a whole. The goal is to cut the gap in enrollment and graduation rates in half over the next eight years.

As part of the effort, the systems have agreed to publish a wide range of data on enrollment and graduation trends among low-income and minority students. Data on enrollments and graduation rates by race are already widely reported but the data by income levels will be breaking new ground.

Each institution will formulate its own strategy for improving the enrollment and graduation rates of blacks and other minorities as well as low-income students. But they have pledged to share information on their success.

One key element in the strategy is a promise to increase need-based financial aid. The universities will also be looking to beef up remedial education programs, seek ways to better prepare students for college, and to improve introductory courses in the curriculum so that students will get off to a good start.

While 19 state college systems agreed to join the effort, as did the University of Puerto Rico System, 35 members of the National Association of System Heads declined to participate.

The 19 state systems participating in this joint effort are listed below. Included on the list is the Southern University System of historically black campuses in Louisiana.

University of Arkansas System   

Minnesota State College and Universities

California State University System 
Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning
City University of New York
University of Missouri System
Connecticut State University System
Montana University System
State University System of Florida
Rhode Island Board of Higher Education
University of Hawaii System
South Dakota Board of Regents
Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education
Southern University System
University of Louisiana System
State University of New York
University of Maine System
Vermont State Colleges
University System of Maryland


“We need to get out of this rat race toward exclusivity that people have been on.”

Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust, announcing a new effort by her organization and the leaders of 19 state university systems to boost enrollment and graduate rates of minority and low-income students. (See story above.)


In Graduation Rates, Black Athletes Outperform Black Students as a Whole

Despite the public’s perception of black college athletes as “dumb jocks” who are in college only to compete on the athletic field, the evidence is clear that black scholarship athletes actually perform better academically than black students as a whole. Overall, without reference to athletics, only 37 percent of black men who enter college in this country graduate within six years. But 48 percent of black male scholarship athletes earn their diplomas within the six-year period.

For black women, the overall graduation rate is 48 percent, but the graduation rate jumps to 64 percent for black women who are scholarship athletes. The graduation rate for black women athletes actually is higher than the national average for all white male college students, including athletes and nonathletes.

It is likely that the financial aid provided by an athletic scholarship is a critical factor in enabling many black student athletes to stay in school.



New Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration to Be Offered at HBCU in North Carolina

Winston-Salem State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina, has announced plans to offer a new master’s degree program in healthcare administration. The degree program is targeted at professionals who already work in healthcare settings but want to move up into management ranks. The program, which will take two and a half years to complete, will be housed in the university’s business school.

The university hopes to enroll at least 10 students in the master’s degree program next fall.

New Center to Help Black Men Prepare for College Is Proposed by Governor of Ohio

Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio has announced plans to establish the Leadership Center for African-American Males. The new research center will have its own faculty and will be supported with private funding. The goals of the center will be to get more black men to enroll in college in Ohio and also to provide support for black male college students so that they will stay in college and complete their degrees.

Eric D. Fingerhut, chair of the Ohio Board of Regents, has been given six months to come up with a plan for creating the center and building its endowment.


After Years of Civil War, Liberia Prepared to Reopen Teacher Training Colleges

The Zorzor Rural Teachers Training Institute in Liberia was established in 1960 and was administered by the government of the West African nation through a partnership with Tuskegee University, the historically black educational institution in Alabama.

The school was closed 17 years ago after its campus was destroyed and looted as a result of civil war. Now a $2.5 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development will help to reopen the school some time in the next year. The Liberian government, under the direction of Harvard-educated President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, also has plans to open other teacher training colleges throughout the nation.


Howard University Scholars Honored for Their Book on Black History

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference has given its Arline Custer Award for the best book of 2007 to Legacy: Treasures of Black History. The book was edited by Thomas C. Battle, director of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, and Donna M. Wells, curator of prints and photographs at the center.

The book includes 12 chapters on African-American history from the slave trade to the civil rights movement and beyond. More than two dozen black scholars contributed to the work, including the eminent historian John Hope Franklin, who wrote the book’s introduction. Included are 150 photographs, maps, documents, and letters from the Moorland-Spingarn archives.


Ohio University Names New Dormitory After Its First Black Journalism Graduate

The newest residence hall at Ohio University in Athens has been named to honor the first African American to graduate with a degree in journalism from the educational institution. The new Adams Hall is the first new dormitory built on the campus in 30 years. It houses 350 students.

Alvin C. Adams graduated from Ohio University in 1959. He worked for the Chicago Defender and Jet magazine. Adams also founded the Multicultural Genealogical Center in Chesterville, Ohio, an organization documenting the history of blacks and other minorities in the Ohio River Valley.

Adams died in 2004.


Thanks to all those readers who took the time to answer our query last week about whether or not JBHE should publish news that shows a lack of progress of blacks in some areas of higher education. We received many
thoughtful responses. We will publish excerpts from these responses in an upcoming issue of our journal and on our Web site.


In Memoriam

Hunter D. Hamlett (1924-2007)

Hunter D. Hamlett, who served on the faculty at Virginia State University for three decades, has died of cancer at the age of 83.

Professor Hamlett was the youngest of nine children in a carpenter’s family from Boston. After serving in World War II, he earned a bachelor’s degree at Virginia Union University, the historically black educational institution in Richmond. He received a master’s degree in embryology from Virginia State and a Ph.D. in zoology from Ohio State University.

Dr. Hamlett joined the Virginia State University faculty in 1961 as an associate professor of biology. In 1982 he became chair of the life sciences department, a position he held until his retirement in 1991.

Julius E. Thompson (1946-2007)

Julius E. Thompson, professor of history and director of the black studies program at the University of Missouri at Columbia, died suddenly at University Hospital in Columbia. He was 61 years old.

Professor Thompson led the black studies program at the university for the past 11 years. He was not only a noted scholar on African-American history but was also an accomplished poet.

Professor Thompson was a graduate of Alcorn State University in Mississippi. He went on to earn a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in history from Princeton University. His first teaching job was at Jackson State University in his home state of Mississippi.


Leonard L. Haynes III was appointed executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Since 2003 he has been serving as the director of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. Haynes has taught at Howard University, the University of Maryland, and several other institutions.

A graduate of Southern University, Dr. Haynes holds a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a doctorate in higher education administration from Ohio State University.

George E. Curry, a syndicated newspaper columnist, was appointed chair of the board of trustees of Knoxville College, the historically black educational institution in Tennessee. Curry is a 1970 graduate of the college.

William A. Darity Jr. was named the Arts and Sciences Professor of Public Policy Studies at the Terry Sanford Institute at Duke University. Professor Darity previously held an endowed chair at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Professor Darity holds a Ph.D. in economics from MIT.

Wanda L. Nelson was promoted to associate vice president for pre-college youth development and student diversity initiatives at the University of Texas. She was assistant vice president for outreach centers.

• Kimberly Godwin, senior producer for the CBS Evening News, was elected to the board of visitors of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. She graduated from the FAMU journalism school in 1984.

• Kendall T. Harris was named dean of the College of Engineering at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. He was an associate professor of mechanical engineering and an associate dean.

A graduate of the University of Kansas, Dean Harris holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Mississippi.

• Nuriyah Angela Boné-Owens was appointed interim assistant director of the Center for Learning, Teaching, and Research at Colgate University. She is the founding CEO of a consulting firm.


Blacks Making Steady Progress in Professional Degree Awards

In the 2004-05 academic year, blacks earned 6,313 professional degrees, which made up 7.2 percent of all professional degrees awarded in the United States that year. These include degrees in medicine, law, dentistry, and several other fields.

The number of blacks earning professional degrees has increased at a slow but steady rate in recent years, but there was a far more rapid pace of improvement in the early 1990s. Law and medical degree awards, the two disciplines with the most professional degrees, have seen a drop-off in blacks in recent years. Blacks have seen significant professional degree gains in pharmacy, podiatry, and divinity.

However, blacks continue to have a very small presence in professional degree awards in dentistry, osteopathic medicine, optometry, chiropractic medicine, and veterinary medicine.



New Report Shows Blacks Have Almost No Presence on the Science Faculties at Major Research Universities

Nationwide, blacks make up 5.3 percent of the total full-time faculty in American higher education. But a new report by Donna J. Nelson, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma, finds that blacks are very scarce on the science faculties at the universities that are doing the greatest amount of research.

Dr. Nelson conducted surveys of faculty in 15 different fields. In each case she sought faculty data from the 100 departments in each field that are ranked by the National Science Foundation as having the largest research budgets in that particular discipline.

Of the 15 disciplines surveyed by Professor Nelson, sociology had the highest percentage of black faculty at 7.9 percent. In political science, blacks are 4.2 percent of the faculties at the universities with the 100 largest research budgets in the field. Psychology ranked third with blacks making up 3.4 percent of the total faculty.

In the other 12 academic fields, which include several engineering disciplines, mathematics, the natural sciences, and economics, blacks are 2 percent of the total faculty or less. In the fields of computer science, physics, and earth sciences, blacks are less than one percent of the total faculty.

Professor Nelson’s report offers detailed tables on each discipline. These tables include institution-by-institution data on black faculty by rank. For example, there are 43 black faculty in the chemistry departments of 100 universities with the largest research budgets in the field. There are 17 full professors who are black. The University of Washington is the only one of the 100 institutions that has two black full professors. Eighty-four of the 100 institutions have no black full professors of chemistry.

The full report is available online. You can download the report by clicking here.


Former Professor at Norfolk State University Vows to Return to Ethiopia to Continue the Struggle to Promote Democracy

In 2005 Professor Yacob Hailemariam gave up his faculty position at Norfolk State University to return to his native Ethiopia to run for parliament. He was elected along with a host of other reform politicians. But Prime Minister Meles Zenawi stripped the reform politicians of power in the new government. Supporters of the reform movement took to the streets in protest. More than 200 people were killed in riots that followed.

Hailemariam and 37 of his colleagues subsequently were arrested and charged with treason and genocide. This past summer Hailemariam was convicted of treason in an Ethiopian court and sentenced to life imprisonment. Then, in a surprise, Hailemariam and his codefendants were pardoned and set free.

Professor Hailemariam returned home to his family in Virginia. But now he has vowed to return to Ethiopia before the end of the year in an effort to promote freer democracy prior to nationwide elections scheduled for 2010.

“There is a chance we could go back to prison,” Hailemariam told the Virginian-Pilot. “But what are you going to do? We have made promises to the people, and we can’t renege on those promises.”



The Fiscal Dilemma Facing Fisk University

For the past two years Fisk University, the historically black educational institution in Nashville, has been embroiled in legal action over its efforts to raise money by selling artwork that had been donated to the university by Georgia O’Keeffe. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has sought to block any sale on the grounds that breaking up the collection was strictly forbidden in O’Keeffe’s original bequest to the school. The museum agreed to buy one O’Keeffe painting and to allow Fisk to sell another on the open market. This deal was voided by the Tennessee Chancery Court. Then the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art proposed to give $30 million to Fisk in return for having the collection displayed in Little Rock for six months of every year. The O’Keeffe museum objects to this plan because it believes it violates Fisk’s original agreement with the artist.

The courts have put off until February any further consideration of a proposed sale. However, Fisk finds itself in a tough spot because it will run out of operating cash on December 15. Fisk has raided its endowment in the past to supplement operating expenses but the remaining funds in its small $14.7 million fund are restricted.


8.2%  Percentage of white K-12 students in public schools in 2003 who had repeated a grade at some point in their educational careers.

17.1%  Percentage of black K-12 students in public schools in 2003 who had repeated a grade at some point in their educational careers.

source: U.S. Department of Education


New President at Historically Black Talladega College

Billy C. Hawkins was named president of Talladega College, the historically black educational institution in Alabama. Since 2000 Dr. Hawkins has been president of Texas College in Tyler, Texas. He will take over at Talladega on January 1.

Dr. Hawkins is a graduate of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. He holds a master’s degree in education administration from Central Michigan University and a doctorate from Michigan State University.


Blenda J. Wilson to Serve as Acting President of Cedar Crest College

Last week Cedar Crest College in West Allentown, Pennsylvania, announced that Jill Leauber Sherman, who had served as president since July of this year, was no longer at the college. Officials at the college declined to state why Sherman had resigned.

The trustees appointed Blenda J. Wilson as acting president. In December 2006 Wilson retired as CEO of the Nellie Mae Foundation. Previously she had served as president of California State University Northridge and as president of the American Association of Higher Education.

Dr. Wilson is a graduate of Cedar Crest College. She holds a master’s degree from Seton Hall University and an educational doctorate from Boston College.


Honors and Awards

Derek Walcott, the 1992 Nobel laureate in literature, was honored with the 2007 Janet Weis Fellowship in Contemporary Literature by Bucknell University. Weis is a trustee emerita of Bucknell.

John Lewis, veteran of the civil rights struggle and currently a congressman from Georgia, received the Dole Leadership Prize from the University of Kansas.

Cornell University won the 2007 Exemplary Voluntary Efforts Award from the U.S. Department of Labor. The award is given to organizations that have made “outstanding efforts to develop and maintain equal employment opportunity programs.”



Hampton University, the historically black educational institution in Virginia, received a $221,566 grant from the National Institutes of Health for a biomedical research training program for Hampton students at universities in Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

• The University of Georgia’s International Center for Democratic Governance at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government received a grant from the U.S. State Department for a program of exchange visits of women leaders between Kenya and the United States. Under the program 28 women from Kenya will travel to the university for three weeks of study in politics and policymaking.

Virginia Tech received a five-year, $1,125,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support its Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program. The program is designed to help 25 black and other minority students each year make the bridge from college to doctoral studies.

• The American Dental Education Association received a $550,457 grant from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation for a program aimed at increasing the number of black and minority students pursuing careers in dentistry. The grant will be used to develop a seven-year, flexible dental education program that will be attractive to minority students. Under the program, high school students will be recruited by participating colleges and dental schools for the combined undergraduate and professional degree program.

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