Disappointing Results in Performance of the Nation’s Top Liberal Arts Colleges in Enrolling More Low-Income Students

Last week JBHE released its highly disappointing results showing significant declines in low-income students at the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities.

Now we turn our attention to the performance of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges in enrolling low-income students.

JBHE’s data on federal Pell Grants for low-income students, obtained from the Department of Education, shows that over the past 23 years only 10 of the nation’s 30 highest-ranked liberal arts colleges have shown progress in increasing the percentage of low-income students enrolled in undergraduate programs. Smith and Mount Holyoke posted the largest gains. The largest declines have occurred at Barnard, Oberlin, and Macalester.

In the 1993 to 2006 or intermediate period, only six of the 30 top liberal arts colleges had gains in their percentage of low-income students. Twenty-four colleges saw their percentage of low-income students decline.

Since 2004 only four of the nation’s 30 highest-ranked liberal arts colleges have shown improvement. They are Williams, Bowdoin, Carleton, and Colby.



Racial Differences in the Use of Social Networking Web Sites by College Students

Social networking Web sites such as FaceBook and MySpace are very popular among college students. The sites are used by college students to share news, find friends with similar interests, and to post messages, photographs, and videos.

Eszter Hargittai, an assistant professor of communications studies and sociology at Northwestern University, surveyed more than 1,000 students at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The results, which were published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, showed that 88 percent of the students used social networking sites and 74 percent frequently used one particular site.

Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed said that they used FaceBook, a site that was originally designed exclusively for college students. Fifty-five percent of the respondents said that they used MySpace. Less than 7 percent of all respondents reported using the less popular social networking sites Xanga, Friendster, Orkut, and Bebo.

The results showed differences by race. Black students were less likely than other students to use social networking sites. Blacks who did use the sites were less likely than whites to use the four less popular social networks. And blacks made up a larger percentage of the users of MySpace than their percentage of total users at Facebook. Asian American students were far more likely than other students to use the four least popular sites. Hispanic students tended to prefer MySpace over the other social networks.


New Chancellor at Winston-Salem State University States His Top Goal Is to Raise the Graduation Rate

Donald Reaves, the new chancellor of Winston-Salem State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina, has stated that his primary goal is to boost the retention and graduation rates of students. “It’s the primary reason we’re here,” Reaves said. “In the end that is the measure of success.”

Currently only 18 percent of entering freshmen earn a bachelor’s degree in four years and 44 percent earn a degree within six years. Over the next five years, Reaves aims to increase the four-year graduation rate to 30 percent and the six-year graduation rate to 56 percent.

To meet these goals, Reaves seeks to raise admissions standards so that better-prepared students come to Winston-Salem State. He also plans to change the curriculum so that there are more courses and more sections of required courses so that students are not shut out of classes that they need to fill their major requirements. He also plans to hire a new group of advisers to help students navigate through college.


Emory University Establishes New Visiting Scholars Program for Civil Rights Research

The James Weldon Johnson Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies at Emory University in Atlanta has announced the establishment of the Mellon Scholars program. The program, funded through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will bring three to five visiting scholars to Emory each academic year to conduct research on the civil rights era. The scholars will teach one course, host public lectures, participate in a joint colloquium with other Mellon Scholars, and have access to the vast civil rights resources at Emory and other universities in Atlanta.


Study Finds That Black Freshman College Students Do Better Academically If They Have Another Black Student From Their High School in Their Entering Class

Research presented at the recent conference of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management in Washington, D.C., finds that African-American college freshmen do better in school if there is at least one other black student from their high school at the same college.

In examining the academic performance of entering students at the University of Texas, researchers found that black freshman students with at least one other black student from their high school had on average a 0.13 point higher grade point average than black students who were the only African American in their high school class who went to the University of Texas.

The study was co-authored by Marta Tienda, professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University, and Jason M. Fletcher, an assistant professor of public health at Yale University. The authors report similar results for Hispanic students and they have also found that the same effect exists for minority students at other universities.



Berkeley’s Unique Doctoral Program in Black Studies

Hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States now have established black studies programs. However, there are very few doctoral programs in the field. But the African Diaspora Studies Program at the University of California at Berkeley recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. Over the past decade, the program has produced 12 Ph.D.s, all of whom currently hold tenure-track faculty positions or postdoctoral fellowships at research universities.

Among the program’s graduates are Elisa Joy White, an assistant professor of ethnic studies at the University of Hawaii. Dr. White’s doctoral dissertation concerned the status of blacks in Ireland. Another graduate of the program, Xavier Livermon, did postdoctoral work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and will be joining the faculty at Wayne State University. His dissertation was on how music and performance art have influenced cultural change in South Africa.


At the College of DuPage, Black Students Are Recruited at an Early Age

Colleges and universities across the United States go to great lengths to recruit promising African-American students. At the College of DuPage, a community college in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, recruitment starts at a very young age. A new program hopes to plant the seeds of attending college in fifth-grade students in the school districts near the college campus.

The program is the brainchild of Robert K. Nichols, an African American who is the associate dean for technology at the college. Under the program, fifth-graders are brought to campus for an introductory tour. The next year the students return to campus as sixth-graders to shadow a current college student as he or she goes about daily academic routines. The sixth-graders are paired with college students who share the same interests. In later years the students are invited to college, career, and financial aid fairs held on campus. The most academically talented students are encouraged to investigate dual-credit opportunities where they can take classes at the college during their high school years.


Enrollments Drop at Florida A&M University as the School Awaits Decision on Its Accreditation

From all indications, James Ammons, the new president of Florida A&M University, has hit the ground running in his effort to revitalize the struggling institution which has been beset by a host of financial and management problems. Currently, the university is on accreditation probation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Some students have been reluctant to enroll at an institution where its academic future is in doubt. Students at schools that lose their accreditation are no longer eligible for federal financial aid. As a result, enrollments at the university have dropped 12 percent since 2004 and are currently at a nine-year low.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools will meet on December 8 to decide on the university’s accreditation. The association could vote to continue the probation or to reinstate or revoke full accreditation.



• Wesley T. Bishop was named associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern University in New Orleans. He is a tenured assistant professor of criminal justice at the university and an attorney at the New Orleans law firm Spears & Spears.

Bishop is a graduate of Southern University in New Orleans. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Mississippi and a law degree from Ohio State University.

• William Woodson was appointed director of MBA programs at the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dr. Woodson is the founder of Forward Motion Management Consulting. He is a graduate of Brown University and holds a master’s degree from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Michigan.

• Ivan T. Mosley Sr., professor of manufacturing systems at North Carolina A&T State University, was elected vice chair of the executive board of the National Association of Industrial Technology. He is the first African-American male to hold the position.

• Mickey L. Burnim, president of Bowie State University in Maryland, was named chair of the executive membership development committee of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities.



Obama Proposes Free Community College for All

Presidential candidate Barack Obama unveiled a new plan that would provide a tax credit for the first $4,000 spent by a family on college tuition. According to the Obama campaign, this would effectively make community college “completely free for most Americans.”

In announcing the proposal at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Obama stated, “For too long policy makers in Washington have treated community colleges as a stepchild of the higher education system instead of essential resources. These schools produce the lifeblood of our communities and the backbone of our work force.”


“We don’t have quotas, we don’t have preferential admissions, we don’t have the type of things that have been issues in other states. So I don’t know why people think this is necessary to put into our constitution.”

Ron Withem, a lobbyist for the University of Nebraska, commenting on the proposed public referendum in Nebraska to ban the use of race in university admissions, hiring decisions, contracting, and scholarship awards


Will Dropping Early Admissions Result in Fewer Black Students at Harvard and Princeton?

A year ago Princeton University and Harvard University both ended their early admissions programs. It was expected that many other high-ranking colleges and universities would follow suit. But this did not come to pass.

Now it appears that the disappearance of early admissions programs at Harvard and Princeton has produced a surge of early admission applications at many other top-ranked universities. Yale reported a 36 percent increase in early applicants this year. The University of Chicago had a 42 percent increase in early admission applications. At Georgetown University, early applicants were up by 30 percent. Dartmouth and Brown also showed significant increases in early admission applicants.

In the past, many black students were reluctant to apply to colleges and universities with binding early admission programs. This was the case because, if accepted, the student was obligated to enroll at that particular educational institution. This meant that black students admitted under binding early admission could not bargain with different universities over the financial aid award that they were to receive. But over the past decade blacks have been increasingly applying early because it was generally perceived that early applicants have a better chance of being accepted.

Now Harvard and Princeton may have put themselves at a severe disadvantage in attracting the most academically gifted black students. Yale, Dartmouth, Penn, Columbia, and most other high-ranking universities are in a position to use the early admission process to accept large numbers of black students and to assure themselves of an academically strong and diverse entering class.

Many high school seniors, black and white, want to get the college selection process over with as quickly as possible. As a result, many academically strong black students may apply early admission to a particular school and many of them will be accepted. This may dramatically decrease the pool of academically qualified black students available during the regular admissions process for Harvard and Princeton.


MIT Sets Up New Campus Committee to Foster Better Race Relations

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has established the Committee on Race and Diversity. The committee’s responsibilities will include assessing the racial climate on campus and suggesting strategies to improve race relations. The committee will also sponsor events to increase racial understanding and to foster inclusion for all racial and ethnic groups. The committee will also have funds at its disposal to make grants to campus organizations that are seeking to better race relations at MIT. The new committee, which will include students, faculty, and members of the administration, will be chaired by J. Philip Thompson, an associate professor of urban politics.



Banish the Stereotype That Blacks Are Incapable of Advanced Scientific Research

A report from the Africa News Service notes that Esther Effiong of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development in Nigeria is coming to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. in synthetic chemistry at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The report notes that Ms. Effiong is the first student in the 140-year history of Howard University to achieve a perfect score on the university’s Ph.D. placement examination.


16.2%  Percent of all public schools in the United States in 2006 where minorities were less than 5 percent of the student body that had at least one incident of possession of alcoholic beverages on campus.

12.6%  Percent of all public schools in the United States in 2006 where minorities were more than 50 percent of the student body that had at least one incident of possession of alcoholic beverages on campus.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Racial Differences in Educational Attainments in 2006 for Students Who Were Sophomores in High School Four Years Earlier in 2002

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education offers a snapshot of the educational attainments of students in 2006 who were sophomores in high school four years earlier in 2002. The study found that over 91 percent of the white students had achieved a high school diploma compared to 82 percent of African-American students.

The results showed that 75 percent of the white high school sophomores in 2002 had enrolled in college or other postsecondary educational institution by 2006. For blacks, 62.3 percent went on to higher education. More than 46 percent of the white students had enrolled in a four-year college. For blacks, 32.7 percent were enrolled in four-year colleges or universities. Nearly 17 percent of white high school sophomores had enrolled in highly selective colleges and universities by 2006. This was more than four times the rate for blacks.


Competition at Ole Miss Designed to Foster Better Race Relations on Campus

The Emmy Award-winning Amazing Race is a popular television reality show where teams of contestants travel around the world performing various tasks and stunts.

At the University of Mississippi the format for this reality show was recently used to foster better race relations on campus. The OMazing Race pitted 20 teams of four members each. Contestants were split up into groups so that each team had people from different gender and ethnic groups and religions. The aim was to take students from different backgrounds and have them work together as a team.

The OMazing Race included a three-hour scavenger hunt across the Ole Miss campus. The winning team was awarded a $2,000 cash prize.


An Academic Emergency at Clark Atlanta University

Clark Atlanta University, the historically black educational institution in Georgia, announced a new faculty, administration, and student initiative to tutor students who are experiencing academic difficulty. The initiative was announced after it was revealed that 4,900 course grades of D or F were assessed at midterm of the fall semester. There are 4,300 undergraduate students at the university.

The poor performance was attributed to reduced enrollment, a hiring freeze, and a chaotic course registration period which made many students miss classes at the beginning of the semester.

In a letter to the campus community, Carleton E. Brown, provost at Clark Atlanta, stated, “The faculty and administration has made it clear that academic standards will not be lowered or compromised.”



In Memoriam

Amadou Cisse (1978-2007)

Amadou Cisse, a native of Dakar, Senegal, and a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago, was shot and killed during an armed robbery on a street adjacent to the campus. He was 28 years old. A week after the slaying, police arrested a 16-year-old youth and charged him as an adult with first-degree murder. A second youth was also arrested in connection with the case.

Just days before this tragedy, Cisse had successfully defended his doctoral dissertation which was entitled, “Photodegradation of Poly (Methyl-Methacrylate) and Applications in Surface Science and Diffusion Studies.”

Cisse was a 2001 graduate of Bates College. At a memorial page on the Bates College Web site, one of his colleagues said that Cisse “was the brightest chemistry student I have ever met.”

As a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Chicago, Cisse was extremely popular among both students and faculty. An avid weightlifter, Cisse loved African music and literature. He was fluent in several languages.

Tomorrow, he will be posthumously awarded his Ph.D. degree in chemistry from the University of Chicago.

Charles Brady Hauser (1917-2007)

Charles B. Hauser, a civil rights pioneer and long-time professor of education at Winston-Salem State University, died last month from complications of pneumonia at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. He was 90 years old.

C.B. Hauser was arrested in 1947 for failing to move to the back of a Greyhound bus when instructed to do so by the driver. The charges were later dismissed and Hauser won a $2,000 settlement from Greyhound. He used the money to buy a car and never had to take the bus again.

Hauser was born in Yadkinville, North Carolina, the third of 13 children. He was a graduate of Winston-Salem State University and earned a master’s degree and doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the faculty at Winston-Salem State University in 1956 and remained there until his retirement in 1977.



• Johnson C. Smith University, the historically black educational institution in Charlotte, North Carolina, has received a $1 million grant from the Wachovia Foundation. The grant will be used to fund the Wachovia Excellence Endowed Scholarships and the JCSU Student Leadership Program.

• Meharry Medical College, the historically black medical school in Nashville, Tennessee, received a $1 million grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation to fund the medical school’s Women’s Health Research Center. The center conducts research in diseases that disproportionately impact women and minorities, particularly diseases that affect African-American women.

The center is under the direction of Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, senior vice president for health affairs and dean of the school of medicine.

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