Now Half of All Black Women Entering Four-Year Colleges Go On to Earn Their Degree

According to the most recent statistics, the nationwide college graduation rate for black students stands at an appallingly low rate of 45 percent. This figure is 19 percentage points below the 64 percentage rate for white students. This is a huge disparity.

This year the black male graduation rate remained steady at a very low 38 percent. Looking back over 20 years, the positive news is that black men have improved their graduation rate from 28 percent to 38 percent.

The most impressive story is the performance of black women. This year the college graduation rate for black women rose by one percentage point, to 50 percent. This is the first time in history where one half of all black women students who enter a particular college will go on to earn their degree from the same institution. Black women have achieved spectacular improvement in college completion rates from 34 percent in 1990 to 50 percent in 2009. Despite this progress, black women have a college completion rate that is 17 percentage points below the rate for white women.


Study Finds Black Children Cope Better With Problems in Their Environment Than Their White Peers

Melvin Wilson, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, recently completed an eight-year study of white, black, and Hispanic children in three different regions of the country. His research, published in the journal Prevention Science, found that black children had the highest exposure to risk factors that lead to behavioral problems. These factors included high rates of mobility, low or fluctuating family income, substance abuse by parents, being raised in single-parent homes, and living in high-crime neighborhoods.

But despite the high exposure to these risk factors, black children showed no higher incidence of behavioral problems such as deviant behavior, violence, or being disruptive in school than white or Hispanic children. Professor Wilson believes that black children who are exposed to many risk factors develop a sort of immunity allowing them to better cope with the problems of life.

Professor Wilson’s study did show that many black children tended to “internalize” their problems associated with the various risk factors. While these black children were no more likely than their peers to develop behavioral disorders, the study states that the internalization of problems by black youth could lead to greater stress, anxiety, and depression.


Black Students Lag Their White Peers in Taking SAT II Subject Tests

Most of the nation’s academically strongest colleges and universities require applicants to take one or more SAT II subject tests. Most lower-tier institutions do not require applicants to take these tests. Therefore, students who take SAT II tests tend to be the academic cream of college-bound high school students.

In 2009, 294,893 high school seniors nationwide took at least one of the advanced SAT II subject tests. Within this group there were 16,182 black students who took one or more SAT II tests. Therefore, blacks made up only 5.5 percent of all students who took at least one of the SAT subject tests. In contrast, blacks made up more than 12 percent of all students who took the regular SAT test.

Looking at the racial gap in SAT II test takers another way, we find that in 2009, 7.7 percent of all black students who took the standard or regular SAT also took one or more of the SAT II tests. In contrast, 15.2 percent of the white students who took the SAT I also took one or more SAT II tests.



Historically Black Bowie State University Reports Record Enrollments

Bowie State University, the historically black educational institution in Maryland, reports that current enrollments are the highest in the school’s 144-year history. This fall there are 5,617 students on campus. Officials point out that one of the major reasons for the increase in enrollments is a higher retention rate for returning students. The university recently instituted additional tutoring and academic advising programs that have been successful in boosting the retention rate.


Number of Minority Business School Professors Triples in Past 15 Years

The Ph.D. Project was established by the KPMG Foundation 15 years ago to increase the number of black and other minority professors at U.S. business schools. At the time there were 294 minority professors with Ph.D.s at U.S. business schools.

Now there are 1,000 minority business school professors, more than triple the number from 15 years ago. Recently, Shalei Simms successfully defended her dissertation to complete her Ph.D. in organization management at Rutgers University. She is an assistant professor of management at the Anisfield School of Business at Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey. Her dissertation was entitled, “Why Who You Are at the Time Matters: An Examination of the Relationship Between Social Identity Salience and Risky Decision Making.”

Dr. Simms earned her undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.


4.3%  Percentage of all whites ages 15 to 24 in 2008 who were enrolled in graduate school.

1.8%  Percentage of all blacks ages 15 to 24 in 2008 who were enrolled in graduate school.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Kevin McDonald was named chief diversity officer at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. He was vice president for equity and inclusion at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg.

A graduate of Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, McDonald earned a law degree from Ohio State University.

• Regina Robinson Alston was appointed director of the Quality Enhancement Plan office at North Carolina Central University in Durham. The office is entrusted with enhancing students’ written and speaking skills. Professor Alston has been a member of the university’s English department since 1978.

• Shirley Franklin, the outgoing mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, was named William and Camille Cosby Endowed Professor at Spelman College in Atlanta. Franklin will teach politics and urban leadership courses during the spring 2010 semester.

• Karla FC Holloway, the James B. Duke Professor of English and professor of law at Duke University, has been elected a fellow of the Hastings Center. The center, based in New York, is a leading research institution in the field of bioethics.

• George Harris was named dean of university records, admissions, and financial aid at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was dean of academic advising and registrar at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina.

• John A. Williams, was named interim provost, interim vice president for academic affairs, and vice president for institutional research, assessment, and planning at Tuskegee University in Alabama. He was director of institutional effectiveness at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia.

Dr. Williams is a graduate of Southern University at Baton Rouge and holds an educational doctorate from Kansas State University.


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Three Blacks Among Those Selected as Authors of the Best Southern Books of All Time

Oxford American, a magazine devoted to the writing of southern authors, has made its selections of the best southern books of all time. The best novel, according to the editors of Oxford American, is William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! Faulkner had two other books among the top 10 novels, The Sound and the Fury (third place) and As I Lay Dying (seventh place). All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren ranked second. Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was in fourth place followed by Harper Lee’s classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man was rated the eighth best southern novel of all time. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston ranked tenth.

In the nonfiction category, James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was rated as the best southern book. But close behind in second place was Richard Wright’s autobiographical Black Boy.


“In the context of race relations in America, a great deal has changed; but to achieve full equality, a great deal of work still lies ahead.”

Ryan P. Haygood, codirector of NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Political Participation Group, in announcing the group’s new publication, “Post-Racial” America? Not Yet


Three Black Graduate Students Receive Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships

Paul Soros, a Hungarian Jew, immigrated to the United States after surviving the Nazi occupation of his country during World War II. Soros made a fortune as head of a large New York City engineering firm. His brother George Soros made a fortune on Wall Street and is now a leading philanthropist and liberal political activist.

Slightly more than a decade ago, Paul and Daisy Soros set up a $50 million endowment fund that would provide scholarships for graduate study for “New Americans.” As immigrants themselves, the Soroses know that newcomers to this country often need a helping hand.

Each year the scholarships are available to resident aliens, naturalized citizens, or children of naturalized citizens under the age of 30. The 30 students who are awarded Soros Fellowships for New Americans each receive $20,000 and up to $16,000 to cover half of their graduate school tuition.

This year three of the Soros Fellows went to black students:

Sava Berhané is a first year student at Yale Law School. Her parents were both born in Ethiopia but now live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Berhané graduated with honors from Mount Holyoke College, where she served as president of her class and chair of the black student association. She worked for the Obama presidential campaign in Alabama.

Ayirini Fonseca-Sabune is a student at Harvard Law School. Her father is a naturalized citizen from Uganda. Her mother was born in Guyana. The family now lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Fonseca-Sabune is an honors graduate of Harvard University. After graduation from college she spent time working in prisons and in a community health training program in Rwanda.

Marianna Ofosu is a graduate of Howard University, where she majored in the classics. After college she went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and earned a master’s degree in developmental studies. She is now enrolled at Yale Law School. Ofosu was born in Poland to a Polish mother. Her father is from Ghana. She came to the United States at age 11 and is now a naturalized citizen.


Debut of a New Online Journal on Higher Education in Africa

James S. Etim, professor of education and coordinator of the middle grades education program at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, was appointed editor in chief of the new quarterly journal, Review of Higher Education in Africa.

Professor Etim has considerable experience in African higher education as he taught for eight years at the University of Jos in Nigeria.

Dr. Etim is a graduate of Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, Illinois. He holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Wyoming.

The journal, only available online, features articles about faculty, faculty associations, education and development, private and public funding of education, and educational research. The Web-based publication also features videos and audio submissions.

Readers who would like to read the new journal can download a copy by clicking here.


Historically Black Tennessee State University Receives Archives of Gospel Singer Bobby Jones

Tennessee State University in Nashville received a donation of the archives of Grammy Award-winning gospel singer Bobby Jones. The collection of recordings and television videotapes from Bobby Jones Gospel and Video Gospel, shown on Black Entertainment Television, have an appraised value of $6 million. The archives will be made available for scholarly research.

At the age of 19, Bobby Jones graduated from Tennessee State University. He holds a master’s degree from Tennessee State and a doctorate from Vanderbilt University.


Study Finds Harlem Children’s Zone Programs Eliminate Black-White Academic Achievement Gaps

The Harlem Children’s Zone is a community-based program seeking to provide education, social services, and healthcare to children and their families in a 97-block area of New York City. The program includes two charter schools that serve more than 1,200 students in grades K-12.

A new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research co-authored by Roland G. Fryer Jr., a professor of economics at Harvard University, finds that the black-white academic achievement gap has been virtually eliminated by children participating in the Harlem Children’s Zone schools. The study was unable to conclude whether the charter schools were the principal reason for the success of the students or if the organization’s other social programs were major factors in the students’ achievements.


For All Age Groups Combined, Blacks Are Significantly More Likely Than Whites to Be Enrolled in School

Since the end of slavery when prohibitions against blacks learning to read and write were abolished, African Americans have shown a strong thirst for education. This continues today.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in October 2008, there were more than 11.4 million African Americans enrolled in some level of schooling. This includes young blacks in nursery school all the way up to African Americans in graduate education. Nearly one third of all African Americans over the age of 3 were enrolled in school.

At the same point in time in October 2008, there were 45.4 million whites enrolled in some level of school. But only 24 percent of all whites over the age of 3 were enrolled in school.


The New President of Morgan State University

David Wilson was named the twelfth president of Morgan State University in Baltimore. Dr. Wilson will take office on July 1.

Dr. Wilson is currently chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and the University of Wisconsin-Extension. During a 31-year career in higher education, he has held administrative positions at Rutgers University, Kentucky State University, Radcliffe College, Auburn University, and Tuskegee University.

Dr. Wilson holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tuskegee University. He earned a second master’s degree and an educational doctorate from Harvard University.


In Memoriam

Earnest A. Smith (1913-2009)

Earnest A. Smith, the ninth president of Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi, died in a hospital in Yazoo City after a brief illness. He was 96 years old. Dr. Smith served as Rust College president from 1957 to 1967, during the height of the civil rights struggle.

A lecture series and the honors program at Rust College are named in his honor.


Honors and Awards

• Tanisha Jenkins, associate director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs at the University of Tennessee, received the 2009 Bobby E. Leach Award from the Southern Association for College Student Affairs for her efforts to promote multicultural relations on campus.

Jenkins is a graduate of Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. She holds a master’s degree in counselor education from Clemson University.

• Syrulwa Somah, associate professor at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, received the humanitarian award from Africa Environmental Watch. Dr. Somah was honored for his efforts to prevent malaria in Liberia.

• Woodrow Lucas, a Ph.D. candidate at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, received the 2009 Ph.D. Trailblazer Award from the National Black MBA Association.

Lucas is a graduate of Northwestern University and holds an MBA and a master’s degree in theological studies from Vanderbilt University.

• Sybil Brown, professor of mathematics and statistics at Lake-Sumter Community College in Leesburg, Florida, was named professor of the year by the Florida Association of Community Colleges.

A graduate of Spelman College, Brown holds a master’s degree from the University of Florida.


Grants and Gifts

• North Carolina A&T State University, the historically black educational institution in Greensboro, received a federal $750,000 grant in conjunction with the University of North Carolina at Pembroke to develop affordable alternative energy for farmers from biofuels.

Historically black Hampton University in Virginia received a three-year, $116,011 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project to assess the validity of using case studies to teach electrical engineering to undergraduates.

• Xavier University, the historically black Catholic educational institution in New Orleans, received a $1 million grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to fund summer bridge programs in mathematics and science to prepare students for a college curriculum.

The University of Maryland School of Medicine received a $2.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for research to determine how to increase the participation of blacks and other minorities in clinical trials.

• Langston University, the historically black educational institution in Oklahoma, received an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for urban renewal projects in Langston. Part of the grant money will be used to conduct housing and foreclosure seminars for low-income residents of Oklahoma City.

Historically black Florida A&M University received a $225,079 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a program to assist beginning farmers and ranchers.

• Bethune-Cookman University, the historically black educational institution in Daytona Beach, Florida, received a $250,000 federal grant that will be used to enhance the university’s science laboratories.

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