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Academic Disciplines of African-American College Faculty

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education finds that blacks make up 5.5 percent of all full-time instructional faculty at colleges and universities throughout the United States. Non-Hispanic whites are more than 80 percent of all college and university full-time faculty.

The report also offers data on the percentage of black faculty in certain academic disciplines. Blacks have their highest level of participation in the social sciences. Blacks are 7.6 percent of all full-time instructional faculty in the social sciences. The lowest level of black participation is in agriculture/home economics. Blacks are only 2.3 percent of the faculty in this area.

Blacks are only 3.6 percent of the faculty in the natural sciences and 4.7 percent of the engineering faculty.


California Community College With Significant Drops In Black Enrollments

Last week we reported a significant drop in black enrollments in the California community college system of more than 20,000 students. But the decline is not uniform across the board. The decline in black enrollments is particularly heavy at certain community colleges in California. Compton College near Los Angeles, which is in danger of losing its accreditation, has seen black enrollments drop from 6,298 in 2001 to 2,066 in 2004. This is a decrease of more than 67 percent. At East Los Angeles Community College, black enrollments have gone from 1,352 in 2001 to to 791 in 2004, a decrease of 41.5 percent. At Los Angeles City College, black enrollments are down nearly 20 percent during the three-year period. At West Los Angeles College, black enrollments have dropped from 5,079 in 2001 to 3,654 in 2004. This is a decrease of 28 percent.

Drops in black enrollments are also occurring at community colleges outside the Los Angeles area. At Oxnard College north of Los Angeles, black enrollments are down 32 percent. At San Diego City College, black enrollments are down 45 percent. At Santa Ana College, black enrollments have dropped more than 21 percent.


How Students at the Black Colleges Rate Their Professors

Students at many of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities have been frequent users of the Web site Logging on to this site, students can post comments about their teachers and rate them on the quality of their teaching. They can also read comments from other students about their experiences with particular professors.

When JBHE visited the site recently, 318 of the professors at Howard University had been rated by students. This was the largest number of faculty members rated at any historically black college or university. More than 100 faculty members at Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Hampton University, and Texas Southern University have been rated.

It is probable that there were far fewer ratings of professors at selective black colleges such as Morehouse and Spelman, because these schools have relatively small student bodies. The institutions with a significant number of professor ratings on the Web site tend to be the state-operated universities with large student bodies.

For black colleges and universities with ratings for at least 10 professors, the highest average rating was at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. There, the average quality score for all rated professors was 4.7 on a 1 to 5 scale with 5 being the perfect score. The rated faculty at Lincoln University in Missouri, Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and Cheyney State University in Pennsylvania all had an average score of 4.2. Virginia Union, Delaware State, Langston, and Dillard universities all posted average ratings of 4.0 for their rated professors.

Among the historically black colleges and universities with listings for at least 10 professors, the lowest average was at Jackson State University in Mississippi. Rated teachers there received an average quality score of 2.0.

These ratings tend to be highly idiosyncratic and it is unlikely that small numbers such as these carry much meaning or value.


“Literate black people were not immune to the mob violence and intensifying racism that greeted all African Americans after the Civil War. Nevertheless, the ability to read and write gave them a vantage point on their circumstances and protected them from swindlers who regularly stripped illiterate people of land and other assets. For these families, literacy was a form of social capital that could be passed from one generation to the next. By contrast, nonliterate families were disproportionately vulnerable to the Jim Crow policies and social exploitation that often locked them out of the American mainstream for generations on end.”

— Brent Staples, writing in The New York Times, January 1, 2006


Blacks at the Nation's Most Conservative Colleges

The Young America’s Foundation, a right-wing interest group based in Herndon, Virginia, has announced its list of the 10 most conservative colleges in the United States. The group has avoided the far right fundamentalist colleges that are not considered academically rigorous and instead chose colleges that are somewhat selective in their admissions process.

It will come as no surprise that most of the colleges on the Young America’s list have very few black students. Among the top 10 conservative colleges, Grove City College in Pennsylvania, Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California, and the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri, all have student bodies that are less than one percent black.

Three of the top 10 colleges do not even report racial enrollment statistics to the federal government because they have decided to forgo all federal financial aid. They are Hillsdale College in Michigan, a well-regarded liberal arts institution founded in 1844, Patrick Henry College, a small Christian school founded in 2000 which caters to students who were home-schooled, and Christendom College, a Catholic college founded in 1977 in Front Royal, Virginia, that was founded on the principle that “only an education which integrates the truths of the Catholic faith throughout the curriculum is a fully Catholic education.”

Among the top 10 conservative colleges is only one school with a significant numbers of black students. At Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, blacks are nearly 11 percent of the student body. Liberty University is an evangelical Christian college with extensive distance education offerings.


Four Months After Hurricane Katrina, Turmoil Continues at Southern University of New Orleans

Southern University in New Orleans is about to begin the spring semester operating out of hundreds of trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Association. Robert Gex, the interim chancellor of the university, resigned in late December saying that he was stepping down because in his view the search to find a permanent chancellor was a “sham.” The next day Victor Ukpolo, vice president for academic and student affairs for the Southern University system, was installed as chancellor. Gex criticized the plan to get Southern University on its feet after Hurricane Katrina by eliminating 19 academic programs and concentrate on job training programs. It is believed the Ukpolo was one of the main architects of the reorganization plan.

Before coming to Southern University, he was the associate vice president for academic affairs at California State University in Los Angeles. Ukpolo is a graduate of the University of Maryland and holds a master’s degree and a doctorate from The American University.


Who Says Low-Income Blacks Can't Compete For Admission to the Nation's Highest-Ranked Universities?

Gaston College Prep in Gaston, North Carolina, opened in 2001. Its student body is predominantly black and most of these students come low-income families. But students at Gaston Prep pursue a rigorous curriculum and their test scores compare favorably with white students in North Carolina.

The secret to how black students at Gaston College Prep have closed the racial gap in test scores is quite simple. They work hard. Students attend classes from 8 a.m to 5 p.m every weekday. Students also attend classes for four hours every other Saturday. Tutoring is available each afternoon after classes for students who have trouble keeping up. Students who enroll at the school attend a three-week summer session to prepare them for the rigorous academic environment. Each teacher at the school is given a cellular telephone and all students and parents are given the number. If a student is experiencing trouble with a homework assignment, he or she is expected to call the teacher for help in the evenings.


Black College Students in Britain are Segregated Into Second- and Third-Tier Institutions

Data from Britain’s Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that blacks are having a difficult time securing places at elite universities in the United Kingdom. The data shows that at nine of the 19 elite private universities there are fewer than 30 blacks of Caribbean descent. The study found that there are more black students enrolled at London Metropolitan University than at all 19 of the elite group of universities combined.


A Half Century Ago, Georgia Tech Made a Racial Stand That Changed College Football Forever

Fifty years ago this month, an earthquake of change rattled through college football when the University of Pittsburgh participated in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans against Georgia Tech. At the time Pittsburgh had one black player named Bobby Grier.

Governor Marvin Griffin

The selection of Pittsburgh to play in the Sugar Bowl caused an uproar in Georgia. Governor Marvin Griffin asked the state board of regents to prohibit Georgia Tech from playing in a football game in which a black player would be on the field. In a telegram to the board, Griffin wrote, “The South stands at Armageddon. The battle is joined. We cannot make the slightest concession to the enemy in this dark and lamentable hour of struggle. There is no more difference in compromising integrity of race on the playing field than in doing so in the classrooms. One break in the dike and the relentless seas will rush in and destroy us.” A headline in the Atlanta Journal echoed the governor’s call. It read simply, “Ban Interracial Sports.”

But 2,000 Georgia Tech students marched on the state capitol building in Atlanta demanding that the team be permitted to play. Georgia Tech players and head football coach Bobby Dodd had no problem playing a team with a black player and adamantly demanded to go to New Orleans. At a hastily called meeting of the board of regents Georgia Tech president Blake Van Leer told the members of the board, “Either we’re going to the Sugar Bowl or you can find yourself another damn president of Georgia Tech.”

The regents agreed to permit the team go to New Orleans where it won the game 7-0. After the game, a banquet was held at the segregated St. Charles Hotel. Several Georgia Tech players made a point to sit with Bobby Grier. It was the first time that a black man had ever sat down to dinner at the hotel.

Grier graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and served in the Air Force for 11 years. He then spent 28 years as an administrator for the Community College of Allegheny County. He retired in 1998. Now 73 years old, he lives in suburban Pittsburgh.

Fifty years later the Georgia Tech football team has 79 players on athletic scholarships. Fifty-three of those players, or 67 percent, are black.


Alumna of Fisk University Said To Be Mistress of Martin Luther King, Jr.

A new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch alleges that just before he died, civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. revealed to his wife Coretta that he had a mistress. According to Branch, the mistress was a married woman who was an alumna of Fisk University, the historically black educational institution in Nashville. Branch provides no further information on the identity of the woman.

The book, At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Year’s 1965-1968, also states that King was losing patience with his associate Jesse Jackson. King allegedly screamed at Jackson, “If you want to carve out your own niche, go ahead, but for God’s sake, don’t bother me."


No Progress In Closing the Racial Scoring Gap on the Law School Admission Test

In 1998 the mean score of white students taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) was 151.96. (The LSAT is graded on a scoring scale of 120 to 180.) The mean score for black students taking the test that year was 141.80, about 17 percent lower than the mean score of whites.

The latest data shows a slight improvement for both blacks and whites, but there was no progress in closing the racial scoring gap. In 2004 the mean score for whites on the LSAT was 152.47. For blacks, the mean score was 142.43. The 10 point, or 17 percent, scoring gap has remained constant throughout the period with only very minor fluctuations.

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The Famed Conservative Scholar Who Recognizes the Persisting Problem of Race

James Q. Wilson

Over the years JBHE has had limited respect for racial conservatives such as Dinesh D’Souza and Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom who take the right wing line that racism is an attitude of the past. Data collected by JBHE and its sister newsletters The Race Relations Reporter demonstrate that they are indisputably in error.

But Pepperdine University professor of public policy James Q. Wilson, a staunch conservative intellectual, continues to believe that America still has a major problem with race. Writing in the National Review, Professor Wilson says, “To me the largest domestic question is how to make sense of the civil rights revolution. The main domestic concern of policy-engaged intellectuals, liberal and conservative, ought to be to think hard about how to change these social weaknesses of the black family. We have learned next to nothing about how to develop two-parent families. Many blacks have made rapid progress, but we are not certain how.”


African-American College Students are the Focus of Teacher Recruiters for the Boston Public School System

About one half of all the students in the Boston public school system are black. Another 33 percent of the students in the school system are Hispanic. But only 25 percent of the teachers in the city’s schools are black, the same level that prevailed a decade ago.

New programs have recently been implemented to increase the number of blacks teaching at the city schools. Current teachers are paid to make recruiting visits to black fraternities and sororities at local colleges. Black teachers’ aides are given scholarships so they can earn their teaching certificates, and special recruitment efforts are being made at black colleges and universities in the South. One advantage the recruiters have is that the average teacher salary in Boston’s schools is $69,022, one of the highest rates for a city school system in the country.

The school system has made better progress in hiring black principals. Blacks are now nearly one half of all principals in the city school system, an increase of 58 percent from a decade ago.


In Memoriam

Joan Harris, former associate of Linus Pauling, university professor, and executive of the American Sociology Association, died in late December of renal failure at a hospice in Boston. She was 77 years old. According to a report in the Boston Globe, when her minister asked her just before she died about the struggle she had with her health, Professor Harris responded, “I was a black woman in academia, so I know what struggle is.”

Professor Harris was a native of Chicago. Her father was a dentist and her mother a librarian. She enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio with the hope of becoming a physician but dropped out after getting married. She worked as an assistant to Linus Pauling at the California Institute for Technology when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

During the period Harris enrolled at California State University at Los Angeles. She received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees at CalState. She then went on to earn a Ph.D. in sociology at Brandeis University. While getting her doctorate she taught at the University of Massachusetts and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. After finishing her dissertation she took a position at Howard University. She finished her academic career in the department of sociology at Washington State University.

In 1988 she moved to Maryland to conduct research for the National Institutes of Health on racial disparities in health care. In 1998 she moved to Boston and joined the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement.


In Memoriam

Alan M. Voorhees, a celebrated civil engineer and a major benefactor of Voorhees College, the historically black college in Denmark, South Carolina, died in late December. He was 84 years old. Voorhees College was named after his great-uncle Ralph Voorhees.

Alan Voorhees, a white man, is largely credited with developing the mathematical model that predicted the flow and volume of automobile traffic. This model was used to design the Interstate highway system. He also designed the subway systems for many cities throughout the world.

In the late 1990s Voorhees donated more than $3 million to Voorhees College, with $700,000 earmarked to upgrade the college’s computer systems.


In Memoriam

Lou Rawls, the legendary jazz, gospel, and pop singer, died from cancer this past Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 72 years old.

Rawls was also a talented actor and vocalist. He appeared in 20 films and did voiceovers in television commercials. He also was the voice for several cartoon characters.

It is to be particularly noted by blacks concerned with higher education in the United States that in 1980 he started the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars Telethon. This annual television event has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to benefit the United Negro College Fund.


19%  Percentage of all white children in the United States in 2003 who lived in a family where no parent held a year-round, full-time job.

42%  Percentage of all African-American children in the United States in 2003 who lived in a family where no parent held a year-round, full-time job.

Source: The American People, Census 2000.



Daniel Hastings was named dean for undergraduate education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Hastings has served on the MIT faculty since 1985 and is currently a professor of aeronautics and astronautics engineering systems. A graduate of Oxford University, Professor Hastings holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in plasma physics from MIT.



Johnny B. Hill was named assistant professor of theology at the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Kentucky. A graduate of Morehouse College, Hill was a teaching assistant at the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, where he earned his doctorate.



Pius Langa was appointed the first chancellor of the new Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. He had been serving as the chief justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.



Hampton University received a $170,885 grant from the Science Mission Directorate of the NASA’s Solar System Division. The grant will be used for research and data analysis for NASA’s Outer Planets Research Program.



Farah Jasmine Griffin, professor of English and comparative literature and director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University, was awarded the Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award. The award honors exceptional teaching in the arts and sciences and recognizes faculty who demonstrate unusual merit across a range of professorial activities, including scholarship, university citizenship and professional involvement.