Major Shortfall in Doctorates to African Americans in the Natural Sciences

New data from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago shows a persisting shortfall in Ph.D. awards to African Americans. In 2006, 13.1 percent of doctorates awarded to whites were in the physical sciences. This is nearly triple the percentage for African Americans, which stood at 4.4 percent in 2006.

The very large racial Ph.D. gap in the natural sciences is striking when we examine black Ph.D. awards in specific disciplines. African Americans earned only 16 doctorates in mathematics. This was just 1.2 percent of all doctorates awarded in the field by U.S. universities.

In a major weakness, blacks earned only 12 degrees, or about 0.9 percent, of the more than 1,300 doctorates in physics. In computer science, blacks won 1 percent of all Ph.D. awards. In chemistry, only 1.2 percent of Ph.D.s went to blacks. In 2006, 133 African Americans were awarded a Ph.D. in the biological sciences. But they were only 2.0 percent of all doctorates awarded in the discipline.


Being a College President Does Not Necessarily Relieve an African American of the Indignities of Race

In the summer of 2006 Dr. Velvie Green, then serving as provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan, was named president of Glendale Community College in Arizona. Green holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Western Michigan University and a doctorate from Michigan State University.

But when she and her husband were searching for housing in the Phoenix area, she was reminded of the fact that, without regard to her educational and occupational credentials, some people will judge her first on the color of her skin.

According to a lawsuit filed by the Arizona attorney general, the Greens sought a townhouse rental through an agent. When the agent approached the owner with the offer, the agent was asked if the couple was black. At the same time, the owner made disparaging remarks about African Americans. The owner refused to give the rental at the asking price and sent the Greens a counteroffer at a higher price. The Greens accepted the higher rate but they were still not given a lease. The owner told the rental agent that she did not want to rent to black people.

The owner and the rental agent recently agreed to a $55,000 settlement of the case. While they admitted no wrongdoing, the owner and the rental agent both agreed, as part of the settlement, to attend fair housing training.


Blacks Fuel Jump in Overall Graduate School Enrollments

A new report from the Graduate Record Examinations Board and the Council of Graduate Schools finds that over the 1996 to 2006 period there was a one percent average annual growth in graduate school enrollments. When the data is broken down by race, the statistics show that white enrollments in graduate programs were stagnant. But African Americans saw an average annual growth in enrollments of 4 percent during the period. Other minority groups also showed significant gains in graduate school enrollments.

Among the 680 colleges and universities participating in the survey, there were 155,230 African Americans enrolled in graduate programs. They made up 13 percent of all graduate students at these schools.



The White Supremacists’ Choice for President

Early next month voters will cast the first ballots in the 2008 presidential caucuses and primaries. Although given almost no chance of becoming the Republican nominee, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas has made a splash on the campaign trail and has astonished most political observers with his ability to raise money over the Internet from small donors.

Congressman Paul is a libertarian who wants to bring U.S. troops home from abroad, abolish the IRS, and do away with scores of federal programs. But Congressman Paul also has an uncompromising streak of racism. In 1999 Paul was the only member of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote against awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Rosa Parks. Last year he was one of 33 House Republicans to vote against the extension of the Voting Rights Act. He has gone on record as saying that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 violated the Constitution and reduced individual liberty.

At one point Paul wrote a scathing criticism of the famed African-American congresswoman Barbara Jordan in his newsletter, the Ron Paul Political Report. Paul wrote: “The University of Texas affirmative action law professor is a fraud. Everything from her imitation British accent to her supposed expertise in law to her distinguished career in public service is made up. She is the archetypical half-educated victimologist, yet her race and sex protect her from criticism.”

In another issue of his newsletter, Paul wrote that it was his opinion that nearly all black men in Washington, D.C., were “semicriminal or entirely criminal.” He wrote further that black teenagers frequently were able to get away with their crimes because they are “unbelievably fleet of foot.” In another issue of his publication, Paul wrote that black people were more inclined toward crime than any other profession and “intellectually incapable of grasping important social and political issues.” Paul wrote in the same issue that “only 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions.”

Paul has received nationwide support from white supremacists such as David Duke and leaders of the National Alliance, Stormfront, and other neo-Nazi groups. The white supremacist Stormfront Web site features an article and a public forum promoting Paul’s candidacy.


Genetics Testing Concludes That James Watson Is an Octoroon

James D. Watson, who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the structure of DNA, recently resigned as head of the prestigious Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Watson came under fire for his comments in a London newspaper that he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect for Africa because all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours.” He said that it would be nice to believe that everybody is equal but “people who deal with black employees find this not true.”

Watson’s statements were not merely a slip of the tongue. He has a long history of racist statements.

Now an analysis of Watson’s own genetic makeup by deCODE Genetics of Iceland concludes that it is probable that Watson had a great-grandparent who was black. Under the racial classifications of the nineteenth century, Watson, by law, would have been considered a Negro.


Black Coaches Struggle to Gain a Toehold in College Football

The so-called “Rooney Rule” in the National Football League mandates that teams seek out and interview at least one minority candidate before they hire a new head coach. This season six of the league’s 32 head coaches are African Americans.

There is no such requirement in college football to interview minority candidates when head coaching positions become available. As a result, when openings became available after the 2007 regular season was completed, the University of Mississippi and Texas A&M University hired new white coaches within a matter of days after their previous coaches were let go. No minority candidates were seriously considered for either position.

This past season there were six black head coaches among the 119 colleges and universities in major college football. After the regular season was over, one of the six black coaches — Karl Dorrell at UCLA — was fired despite the fact that he had led UCLA to a bowl game in each of the past five seasons.


An African-American Finalist in the Search for a New Dean at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business

The business school at the University of Alabama Birmingham has announced three finalists, one of whom will be named dean. Eli Jones, professor of marketing and associate dean for executive education at the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, is one of the three candidates. If selected, Professor Jones would be the first African American to be named dean of the business school at the University of Alabama Birmingham.

Dr. Jones has been on the faculty at the University of Houston for the past decade. Previously he attained experience in corporate sales for companies including Quaker Oats, Nabisco, and Frito-Lay. Professor Jones holds a bachelor’s degree, an MBA, and a Ph.D., all from Texas A&M University.

The other finalists are Frank Messina, chair of the department of accounting and information systems at the University of Alabama Birmingham, and David R. Klock, dean of the business school at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. A decision on the new dean is expected in January.


Stanford University Funds Major New Program Aimed at Increasing the Number of Minority Faculty

Stanford University has announced a new $4.5 million program to increase the number of minority students who pursue careers in the academic world. Over the next four years 36 doctoral candidates will be awarded fellowships that will provide faculty mentors, funds for seminars, money to visit undergraduate institutions where they might find a faculty position, and the opportunity to present their research and scholarship. The program is called Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence (DARE) Fellowships.

In addition, four of the DARE Fellows will be offered one-year assistant professorships at Stanford after they complete their Ph.D.s.


In Memoriam

Reynaldo P. Glover (1943-2007)

Reynaldo P. Glover, chair of the board of trustees of Fisk University, has died from pancreatic cancer. He was 64 years old.

Glover, a corporate lawyer, was a 1965 graduate of Fisk. He went on to earn his law degree at Harvard. Glover served as president of TLC Beatrice International after the death of black entrepreneur Reginald Lewis. From 1988 to 1991 Glover served as chair of the board of trustees of the City Colleges of Chicago.



• LaShone M. Gibson, senior associate director of the Institute for Global Enterprise at the University of Evansville in Indiana, was the recipient of the Dorothy Brickman Award for Outstanding New Professional by NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

Gibson is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and holds a master’s degree in international studies from North Carolina State University.

• Joe Omojola, professor of mathematics and physics at Southern University at New Orleans, received the Presidential Award for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring from the National Science Foundation.

A graduate of the University of Ife in Nigeria, Professor Omojola holds a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Arizona in Tucson.



• Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, received a four-year, $880,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a program to provide financial support and mentoring research opportunities for minority and low-income students who hope to pursue graduate study leading to a Ph.D.

• Hampton University, the historically black educational institution in Virginia, received a $440,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute. The funds will be used to introduce two new courses at Hampton on molecular and environmental epidemiology. The grant will also support research in environmental oncology at Hampton University.



Black Women Are Increasing Their Share of All African-American Enrollments in Law School

Women make up 47 percent of all enrollments at the nation’s law schools. But JBHE’s analysis of enrollment data furnished by the American Bar Association finds that black women now make up 61.5 percent of the African-American enrollments at the nation’s 50 highest-ranked law schools.

There are only seven of these 50 top-rated law schools where men make up a majority of the African-American students. At more than half of these top-rated schools, black women make up more than 60 percent of the African-American students. At 11 of the top 50 law schools, black women make up 70 percent or more of all African-American enrollments. In 2000 there were only five top law schools where black women made up 70 percent of all African-American enrollments. At the University of Washington and Baylor University, black women are now 80 percent or more of all African-American enrollments.

Furthermore, while the percentage of women of all races who are enrolled in law school has declined in recent years, JBHE data shows that the percentage of all African Americans enrolled in law school who are women continues to increase. While the percentage of women of all races in law school has dipped from 50 percent to 47 percent since 2002, the percentage of women among African Americans enrolled in law school has increased from 59.6 percent to 61.5 percent.


“I don’t want to wake up four years from now and discover that we still have more black men in prison than in college.”

— Presidential candidate Barack Obama at a political rally in Harlem


More College-Bound African Americans Are Taking the SAT II Subject Tests

Each year nearly 1.5 million high school students take the basic Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT). A much smaller group — usually those applying to the nation’s most highly selective colleges and universities — also sit for the more rigorous SAT II subject examinations. These examinations were formerly known as Achievement Tests. Most of the nation’s academically strongest colleges and universities require applicants to take one or more of these SAT II tests so that their admissions officers have another tool to rate students against other applicants in the pool.

In 2007, 286,573 high school seniors nationwide took at least one SAT II subject test. Within this group there were 14,682 black students who took one or more SAT II tests. Therefore, blacks made up only 5.1 percent of all students who took at least one of the SAT subject tests. Looking at the racial gap another way, we find that in 2007, 9.3 percent of all black students who took the standard or regular SAT also took one or more of the SAT II tests. In contrast, 16.3 percent of the white students who took the SAT I also took one or more SAT II tests.

It is encouraging to note that the percentage of all black students taking the SAT II subject tests is on the rise. In 2006 blacks made up 8.0 percent of all SAT II test takers. In 2007 this figure, as stated above, rose to 9.3 percent.


Continued Progress in Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree Attainments by African Americans

Preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Education for degree attainments in the 2005-06 academic years shows that African Americans are continuing to make major progress. The data shows that the number of African Americans earning bachelor’s degrees was up 4.5 percent from the previous year. At the master’s degree level, blacks achieved a hefty 7.6 percent increase in the number of degrees earned. This continues a major surge in master’s degree attainments by blacks that has occurred over the past decade.

The news is not good on the professional degree level. The preliminary data shows a slight 2 percent decline in professional degrees awarded to African Americans.


Black Faculty Are Scarce in Top Physics Departments

In recent weeks JBHE has reported research conducted by Donna Nelson, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma, on black faculty in a wide range of scientific disciplines. This week we turn to physics.

Professor Nelson’s data finds a total of 22 black faculty at the 100 physics departments with the most research in the field. All told there are 3,335 physics faculty at these institutions. Therefore, blacks make up 0.7 percent of the total physics faculty at the 100 universities with the largest research budgets in the field.

Twelve of the 22 black physicists hold the rank of full professor. Two are at Florida State University. Other universities where blacks hold the rank of full professor of physics are the University of Maryland, the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, and Yale University. Full professors of physics are also found at the University of Iowa, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Fisk University, and the University of Connecticut.

Of the 22 physics department faculty at these 100 top research universities who are African American, only two are women. There are black women serving as assistant professors of physics at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Illinois.


11.0%  Percentage of black high school students in 1995 who reported being threatened with a weapon while on school property.

8.1%  Percentage of black high school students in 2005 who reported being threatened with a weapon while on school property.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Goods News and Bad News on Accreditation of Black Colleges

After two years on probation, LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis received a favorable accreditation ruling from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The college had received pledges of more than $4 million to keep it financially viable. This undoubtedly was the major factor in the school’s receiving accreditation for the next 10 years. Dillard University, the historically black educational institution in New Orleans which had experienced financial difficulties over the past several years, also received a favorable ruling from the SACS.

Florida A&M University was not so lucky. The association decided to keep FAMU on probation for the next six months. The decision came just after a state auditor issued a clean bill of health for the university, prompting FAMU president James Ammons to call the accreditation decision “very disappointing.” Ammons stated that the new audit report may not have reached the commissioners in time for them to factor it into their deliberations on accreditation.

Also, the accrediting body placed Texas Southern University, the historically black educational institution in Houston, on probation. Texas Southern University has had numerous financial difficulties in recent years which apparently were the major factors in the decision to place the university on probation.



Colleges and Universities Increase Financial Aid for Low-Income Students

Duke University announced a new financial aid plan that will eliminate the family contribution for students from families with annual incomes below $60,000. In addition, all students from families with incomes below $40,000 will no longer receive student loans as part of their financial aid package. All assistance for these low-income students will be in the form of scholarship grants. Students from families with higher incomes but who still qualify for need-based financial aid will benefit from a cap on student loan debt.

Duke estimates that the new plan will increase its financial aid budget by $12.7 million annually, about 17 percent.

The California Institute of Technology is also eliminating loans from financial aid packages for low-income students. However, this has little to do with African-American higher education. African Americans make up about one percent of all students at the university.

Swarthmore College eliminated all loans from its need-based financial aid packages. The switch from loans to scholarship grants will increase Swarthmore’s $20 million financial aid budget by less than 10 percent.

Pomona College is also eliminating student loans from its financial aid packages. The new program will add an estimated $2.3 million to the college’s financial aid budget, which currently stands at $21.6 million.



• Myron K. Lawson was elected chair of the Southern University System board of supervisors. Lawson, an insurance broker and graduate of Southern University, had been serving as vice chair of the board.

• Beverly McIver was named a visiting professor of art at North Carolina Central University in Durham for the Spring 2008 semester. She has served as an associate professor of art at Arizona State University for the past five years.

McIver, an award-winning painter, is a graduate of North Carolina Central University. She holds a master’s of fine arts degree from Pennsylvania State University.

• Julius W. Becton Jr. was appointed to the board of trustees of the American Public University System. The system provides online higher education to more than 27,000 civilian and military personnel across the globe.

A retired Army lieutenant general with 40 years of military service, Becton previously served as president of Prairie View A&M University.

• William Hayes was named director of athletics at Florida A&M University. He was the director of intercollegiate athletics at North Carolina Central University in Durham.



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