Blacks Are Very Scarce Among Udall Scholars

Congress acted unanimously in 1992 to establish the Morris K. Udall Foundation to honor the long-serving U.S. congressman from Arizona. Since 1996 the foundation has awarded more than 1,000 scholarships to undergraduate college students who are engaged in environmental or Native American studies. Each year up to 80 Udall Scholars are awarded $5,000 each.

This year 80 students from 66 different colleges and universities were named Udall Scholars. These students were selected from 515 nominations by 233 colleges.

While applicants for Udall Scholarships are not required to identify their race, the foundation told JBHE that to its knowledge there are no black Udall Scholars this year. Since 1996 when the scholarships were first awarded, only14 blacks have been known to have won awards.

Racism is not the culprit here. The fact of the matter is that few African-American students in the United States are pursuing degrees in environmental studies and thus there is a very small pool of black candidates who would qualify.

The foundation has undertaken new efforts to publicize the Udall Scholars program at black colleges and universities in the hope of attracting more African Americans to the program.