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Number of Blacks Earning Doctorates Reached an All-Time High in 2009

According to the National Science Foundation, in 2009 there were 2,221 African Americans who earned doctoral degrees from U.S. universities. This was the highest number of doctorates awarded to blacks in any single year. African-American doctoral awards increased by a healthy 10.1 percent from 2008 to 2009. Since 2005, black doctoral awards are up by 23.5 percent.

African Americans won 4.5 percent of all doctorates awarded in the United States last year. If we exclude foreign students, we find that African Americans made up 6.9 percent of all U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents who earned doctorates.

Blacks earned 947 Ph.D.s in scientific fields, up from 825 in 2008, an increase of nearly 15 percent. Another 1,274 African Americans earned doctorates in non-scientific fields. Many of these doctorates were in the field of education.

Among the Nation’s Highest-Ranked Liberal Arts Colleges, Bucknell and Washington & Lee Report the Best Black Student Yield

Last week JBHE reported that, according to our annual survey of the nation’s highest-ranked universities, Harvard posted the best black student yield. So-called yield, the percentage of applicants who decide to go to a college that issues an invitation to them, has become the standard measure of an institution’s strength and drawing power.

Among the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, the annual JBHE rankings show Bucknell University and Washington & Lee University with the highest black student yield at 56.4 percent. Colby College in Maine and Wellesley College in Massachusetts were the only other high-ranking liberal arts colleges reporting a black student yield greater than 40 percent.

Two Books on Slavery Share the 2010 Frederick Douglass Book Prize

The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition has announced the winners of the 2010 Frederick Douglass Book Prize. This year the prize will be shared. Judith A. Carney, a professor of geography at UCLA, and Richard Nicholas Rosomoff, an independent writer, were honored for their book, In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World. The other winning entry was Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery by Siddharth Kara of Harvard University.

The three authors will share the $25,000 in prize money.

Carolyn W. Meyers Named President of Jackson State University

The board of trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning in Mississippi has selected Carolyn W. Meyers as the next president of Jackson State University. Dr. Meyers is the former president of Norfolk State University in Virginia. She left Norfolk State in June 2010 after serving four years of a five-year contract. Earlier this year she was a finalist for the presidency of Morgan State University.

Dr. Meyers holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Howard University. She earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech.

Lawsuit Seeks $2 Billion for Maryland’s Four Historically Black Universities

The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education has filed a lawsuit against the Maryland Higher Education Commission. The suit claims that the state has not done enough to end racial segregation at its state universities. The suit is seeking $2 billion in funding to upgrade campus facilities and to enhance educational programs.

Blacks make up about 30 percent of the population in Maryland. But African Americans are only 12 percent of the undergraduate student body at the flagship campus of the University of Maryland at College Park. In contrast, blacks make up 82 percent or more of all students at the four historically black student universities: Bowie State, Morgan State, Coppin State, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

The plaintiffs include alumni and current students of the state’s four historically black universities. The universities are not party to the lawsuit. The trial, in federal court, is scheduled to begin in June 2011.

Fisk University Placed on Warning Status by Accrediting Board

Fisk University, the highly regarded historically black educational institution in Nashville, has been placed on warning status by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The accrediting body stated that Fisk was not in compliance with its standards on financial stability. Fisk must submit a report within six months demonstrating that it has a plan to deal with its financial problems.

Fisk hopes to be able to sell a share of its vast art collection to raise the money necessary to shore up its financial situation. But the plan to sell the art has been tied up in the courts for several years.

Race Relations on Campus Database

Periodically, JBHE Weekly Bulletin will publish a selection of racial incidents that have occurred on the campuses of colleges and universities. Here are the latest incidents:

• Two white male students at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, wore tennis skirts and dressed in blackface to impersonate Serena and Venus Williams for a campus costume party. In a message to the campus community, the vice provost for student affairs stated that the students were unaware of the historical context of their actions. (Easton Express-Times, 5-17-10)

• An interracial couple attending a football game at Pennsylvania State University were verbally abused by other fans in the grandstand. The couple, who wore the colors of the opposing team, were subjected to racial taunts including the word “nigger.” (York Dispatch, 11-23-10)

• A poster was displayed at West Chester University in Pennsylvania announcing the meeting of a support group for white students who “feel underrepresented on campus.” The administration determined that there was no white student groups and that the poster was meant solely to spark a discussion of racial issues on the university campus. (Philadelphia Inquirer, 12-2-10)

Honors and Awards

Eddie Ellis, director of bands at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, received the Dr. G. Johnson Hubert and Cleophus Johnson Award for Distinguished Achievement in Music.

Ellis is a graduate of Morris Brown College in Atlanta. He holds a master’s degree in music education from Georgia State University.

CBS News is providing funds to establish an endowed professorship at the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication at historically black Florida A&M University. The chair will honor the late Harold Dow, who served as a correspondent for the CBS News program 48 Hours.

Tolor E. White, vice president for finance at Southern University in Baton Rouge, was given an honorary doctorate in business. White has been a faculty member and administrator at Southern University for the past 53 years.

White is a graduate of Southern University and holds a master’s degree in accounting from Louisiana State University.

Alvin F. Poussaint, professor of psychiatry and associate faculty dean for student affairs at Harvard Medical School, received the 2010 Herbert W. Nickens Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges. The award is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to promote justice in medical education.

Monica L. Miller, associate professor of English at Barnard College in New York City, is the recipient of the William Sanders Scarborough Award from the Modern Language Association. Professor Sanders was honored for her book Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity.

Professor Miller is a graduate of Dartmouth College and holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Wash A. Jones, assistant professor of agriculture, nutrition, and human ecology at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, received the Honorary American Degree from the National FFA Organization, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America.


In the statistic of the week, JBHE shows that white children are more than twice as likely as black children to be living in married-couple families. How big a factor is this statistic in explaining the educational gap between black and white children?
The most important factor
Very important
Significant, but other factors are more important
Not that important

Among Caribbean Nations, Jamaica Sends the Most Students to U.S. Colleges and Universities

Last week JBHE reported that the annual report of the Institute of International Education found that there were 37,062 students from Africa at U.S. colleges and universities in the 2009-10 academic year. But not all foreign black students are from the African continent. In the 2009-10 academic year there were more than 13,000 students from Caribbean nations attending colleges and universities in the United States. In all probability, many of these students are black.

Jamaica sent 3,530 students to U.S. colleges and universities in the 2009-10 academic year, the most of any Caribbean nation. Trinidad and Tobago ranked second with 2,402 students in the United States. Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas each sent more than 1,000 students to higher educational institutions in the U.S.

Two African Americans Named Mitchell Scholars

The Mitchell Scholars program is a national competitive fellowship sponsored by the US-Ireland Alliance. The Mitchell Scholars program, named to honor former U.S. Senator George Mitchell who helped negotiate an end to the violence and political turmoil in Northern Ireland, provides tuition to an Irish university, plus housing and living expenses and an international travel stipend. Up to 12 scholars are chosen each year. This year, two of the 12 Mitchell Scholars are black.

Ivanley Noisette is a graduate of Villanova University, where he majored in political science and was the editor of The Culture Magazine. He is currently completing a master of public service degree at the William J. Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas. He has spent considerable time and effort in Haitian relief efforts. He will study law at the University of Ulster.

Anise Vance is a senior at Dartmouth College, majoring in geography. He is the son of an Iranian mother and an African-American father. He spent last summer researching residential segregation patterns in Hartford, Connecticut. He will study human geography at Queen’s University in Belfast.

Texas Southern University Adds an Academic Partner: Students Can Earn Bachelor’s and Chiropractic Degrees in Six Years

Texas Southern University, the historically black educational institution in Houston, has entered into an academic partnership with the Texas Chiropractic College. Under the agreement the two schools will establish a six-year program in which students will earn a bachelor’s degree at Texas Southern and a doctor of chiropractic degree from TCC. Students will spend three years at each educational institution.

Study Finds That Black Teens Who Do Well in School Often Pay the Price in Lower Social Acceptance

New research by Thomas Fuller-Rowell, a developmental psychologist at the University of Michigan, and Stacey N. Doan, an assistant professor of psychology at Boston University, has found that black teenagers are more likely than white teens to suffer socially because of success in school.

The researchers asked more than 13,000 teenagers if they felt accepted, were lonely, or believed that peers had been unfriendly to them or disliked them. The authors then analyzed these responses in relation to the grade point averages of the respondents. The results, published in the journal Child Development, found that, after controlling for differences in family, school, and socioeconomic status, black teens were more likely than their white peers to suffer from what the authors call the “nerd penalty.”

When Black High School Students Fear For Their Safety, Preparing For College is Not Their Priority

It is obvious that when one’s personal safety is in question, it is difficult to concentrate on academic matters. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of black students in the nation’s public schools must constantly look over their shoulder rather than look down at their textbooks or up at their teachers in front of the classroom.

Consider the following statistics in a report from the Education Department and the Bureau of Justice Statistics entitled, Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2010:

• In 2008, 259,700 black students ages 12 to 18 were victimized by crime while at school. More than 142,000 black students at secondary schools were victims of violent crime. Of these, 28,000 black students were the victims of serious violent crimes such as rape, sexual assault, or robbery. Blacks were more than three times as likely as whites to be victims of serious violent crimes while at school.

• More than 37 percent of black students ages 12 to 18 in 2007 reported that there were gangs in their school. For whites, the figure was 16 percent.

• More than 33 percent of black students ages 12 to 18 in 2007 said they had seen hate-related graffiti at their school.

• In 2009 more than 17 percent of black high school students reported having been involved in a physical fight while on school grounds. This is double the rate for whites. Nearly 41 percent of black high school students reported being involved in a physical fight either at school or off campus.

• In 2007, 8.6 percent of black students ages 12 to 18 were afraid of being attacked or harmed at school. This was more than double the rate for white students.

For black students preparing for college in our nation’s high schools, it’s tough to hit the books when they are worried about getting hit.

To download the new report on school safety, click here.

In Memoriam

Margaret Taylor Burroughs (1915-2010)

Margaret T. Burroughs, an artist, poet, educator, and co-founder of the DuSable Museum of African-American History in Chicago, died late last month in Chicago. She was 95 years old.

Burroughs was born in Louisiana, but at a young age moved to Chicago with her family. She studied at what is now Chicago State University before earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Burroughs taught in the Chicago public school system for 20 years. In 1961 she and her husband Charles Burroughs founded the Ebony Museum of Negro History and Art in their home. In 1968 the museum was renamed to honor Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the first black settler of Chicago. In the early 1970s the museum moved to a city-owned building near the campus of the University of Chicago.

Burroughs taught at Elmhurst College and for a decade was a professor of humanities at Kennedy-King College.

Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

Joseph F. Johnson was appointed senior vice president at Virginia Union University in Richmond. He was senior professor of educational leadership at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

Dr. Johnson is a graduate of Fayetteville State University. He holds a master’s degree from Virginia State University and an educational doctorate from Virginia Tech.

Martin Philbert was named dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. He has been serving as senior associate dean for research and professor of toxicology at the school.

Dr. Philbert is a graduate of Cambridge University and the London University Royal Postgraduate Medical School.

Ruth Okediji, William L. Prosser Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota, was appointed to the committee of the National Academies that will make recommendations on copyright policy in the digital age.

Professor Okediji is a graduate of the University of Jos in Nigeria and the Harvard Law School.

Darryl Scriven, professor of philosophy at Tuskegee University, has been recently appointed to serve as associate director of education for the Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care.

Dr. Scriven is a graduate of Florida A&M University and holds master’s and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy from Purdue University.

Roberta M. Troy was appointed the founding director of the Health Disparities Institute for Research and Education at Tuskegee University in Alabama. She has been serving as interim provost at the university.

Dr. Troy holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from Tuskegee and a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Florida.

Duncan M. Chembezi, professor of agribusiness and director of the Small Farms Research Center at Alabama A&M University, was elected vice president of the Missouri Valley Economic Association. After a one-year term as vice president, he will serve a two-year term as director of the association.

Dr. Chembezi holds a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri.

Grants and Gifts

The University of Virginia received a $254,600 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to preserve and digitize films from the civil rights era that were produced by WSLS-TV in Roanoke. The 16-millimeter film archive contains nearly 12,500 news clips made from 1951 to 1971.

The Odessa Chambliss Wellness Center on the campus of historically black Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida, received a $100,000 grant  from the board of governors of the state university system of Florida. The grant will fund a program to train community health workers for anti-obesity efforts in three Florida counties.

Virginia State University, the historically black educational institution in Petersburg, received a $449,956 grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for programs to increase the number of minority students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines.

The Missouri University of Science and Technology received a $115,000 grant from the Department of Defense and the National Security Agency to develop an undergraduate program in information assurance or cyber-security for students at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, a historically black educational institution.

The United Negro College Fund received a $500,000 donation from the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation for a scholarship program aimed at seniors at the UNCF’s 39-member institutions.

The Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta received a $13.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish the medical school’s database of genetic information to fight racial disparities in healthcare.

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