Fields in Which Not One African American Earned a Doctorate in 2009

In 2009, 49,562 doctorates were awarded by American universities. As previously reported by JBHE, there were 2,221 black U.S. citizens or permanent residents in this country who earned a doctorate in 2009. This is an all-time high.

But not all the news is good. African Americans earned only 1.6 percent of all doctorates awarded in the physical sciences by American universities. The 25 blacks who earned a Ph.D. in mathematics were only 1.6 percent of all doctorates in the field given out by U.S. universities. African Americans earned only 1.8 percent of all doctorates in engineering.

In 2009, 1,418 doctorates were awarded in the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, theoretical chemistry, paleontology, number theory, logic, marine science, chemical and physical oceanography, nuclear physics, nuclear engineering, agronomy, horticulture, wildlife/range management, animal breeding and nutrition, Spanish, and the classics. Not one of these 1,418 doctorates was awarded to an African American.

Third Time’s a Charm? African-American Law Professor Once Again Nominated to Federal Bench

For the third time since taking office in 2009, President Obama has nominated Louis B. Butler for a seat on the federal district court in western Wisconsin.

Butler was the first African-American justice to sit on the Wisconsin Supreme Court when he was appointed to the post in 2004. Four years later, Butler lost an election for a full, 10-year term on the court. Since that time, Butler has been an adjunct professor of law at the University of Wisconsin.

Twice, the U.S. Senate has failed to act on Butler’s nomination. Some senators believe that a justice who was rejected by Wisconsin voters should not be placed on the bench in Wisconsin. Other senators have criticized Butler’s rulings as having an anti-business bias.

Butler is a graduate of Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and the University of Wisconsin Law School.



James Ammons Prepares to Wield the Budget Axe at Florida A&M University

James Ammons, the president of historically black Florida A&M University, is facing deep cuts in appropriations from the state government. This will be the fourth year in a row that appropriations from the state will be reduced. And this year there will be no money from the federal stimulus programs to offset the losses of state funds. As a result, Dr. Ammons has stated that there will be significant changes in the university budget he will submit to the university’s board of trustees in March.

In a recent forum held on campus, President Ammons admitted that there will be staff and faculty layoffs. He also stated that the university may eliminate one of the two summer school sessions, reduce the number of schools within the university, and realign academic programs and departments.

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Race-Sensitive Admissions at the University of Texas

In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the University of Texas is justified in using race as a factor in its admissions decisions. The plaintiffs in the case argued that the university’s “10 percent plan,” which automatically admits students at any high school in the state who finish in the top 10 percent of their graduating class, is a viable race-neutral means of achieving diversity on campus.

One judge on the panel wrote that the university’s admission plan adhered to the Supreme Court’s “narrowly tailored” affirmative action requirement stipulated in the 2003 Grutter decision, which upheld the race-sensitive admission program at the University of Michigan law school. But another judge on the panel criticized the Grutter decision as “a digression in the course of constitutional law” but said the University of Texas plan “is a faithful, if unfortunate, application of that misstep.”

The plaintiffs have vowed to appeal the ruling either to the full Fifth Circuit panel or directly to the Supreme Court. Remember that with the retirement of Sandra Day O’Connor and the seating of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the Court is more conservative on the issue of affirmative action than it was in 2003 when the Grutter ruling was handed down. President Obama’s two appointments to the Court, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, replaced justices who were supporters of race-sensitive admissions.


Southern University Abandons Plan to Tighten Admissions Standards

In 2010 Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, announced plans to toughen its academic standards for admission. Applicants were to have been required to maintain a 2.5 grade point average in high school, an increase from the current 2.0 standard. Also, the minimum score on the ACT college entrance examination was to be increased from 20 to 22 on the test’s 1 to 36 scoring scale.

The new standards were initially postponed until this year. But now university system president Ronald Mason Jr. has shelved the plan for the foreseeable future. President Mason feared that the tougher standards would lead to a decline in enrollments. This would reduce tuition revenue and place further pressure on the university’s tight budget.


Black College Offers New Online Degree in Early Childhood Studies

St. Philip’s College, the historically black educational institution in San Antonio, has launched a new online associate’s degree program in early childhood studies. The college has been offering a traditional on-campus degree program in the field since 2001 and more than 400 students have earned a degree.



History Professor at College of William and Mary Discovers Factual Errors Concerning African Americans in Textbooks Used in Virginia High Schools

Carol Sheriff, an assistant professor of history at the College of William and Mary, was the first scholar to point out serious flaws in two textbooks approved for use in Virginia high schools. One book stated that there were two black battalions that fought for the Confederate Army. After the initial discovery, scholars have pointed out many other factual flaws in the textbooks, many of which have to do with African Americans.

In 2010 the Virginia Board of Education approved the use of Our Virginia: Past and Present and Our America to 1865, both published by Five Ponds Press, which is based in Weston, Connecticut. Now the board is reconsidering its endorsements of the text.

Meanwhile, the publisher has made dozens of changes to an online version of Our Virginia and says more are forthcoming.


In Memoriam

Mariagnes Elizabeth Lattimer (1924-2011)

Mariagnes Elizabeth Lattimer, former assistant dean of the graduate school at Rutgers University, died earlier this month at a hospital in Princeton, New Jersey. She was 86 years old.

Dr. Lattimer was a 1966 graduate of Monmouth College in Long Branch, New Jersey. In 1974 she earned a Ph.D. in organizational behavior and development from the Union Institute in Cincinnati. Later, in 1981, she was awarded a master’s degree in social work at Rutgers University.

Lattimer began her academic career teaching black studies courses at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, New Jersey. She joined the faculty at Rutgers University in 1968 and retired from teaching in 1986.


Honors and Awards

• Henrietta Mays Smith, professor emerita at the school of Library and Information Science at the University of South Florida in Tampa, received the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Practitioner Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Library Association.

Dr. Smith is a graduate of Hunter College. She holds a master’s degree in library science from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from the University of Miami.

• Mary Frances Early, who in 1962 was the first African American to earn a degree at the University of Georgia, received the President’s Fulfilling the Dream Award from University of Georgia president Michael F. Adams.

Early taught in the Atlanta public school system for 37 years. Later she was an adjunct professor at Spelman College and Morehouse College and chaired the department of music at Clark Atlanta University. She retired in 2005.

• Victor LaValle, an assistant professor at Columbia University, received the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. He was honored for his novel, Big Machine.

LaValle is a graduate of Cornell University and holds a master of fine arts degree from Columbia University.


Grants and Gifts

Wayne State University in Detroit received a $297,224 grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to develop a text messaging system that will be used to inform African Americans with hypertension when it is time to take their medication.

Delaware State University, the historically black educational institution in Dover, received a five-year, $250,000 grant from the AstraZeneca Corporate Community Alliances to support the establishment of the Delaware Center for Health Promotion.

Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania received a grant from the Consortium of High Achievement in Success to develop a program to attract and retain more women and minorities into the field of economics.

Historically black Tennessee State University received a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to create the TSU Interdisciplinary Graduate Engineering Research Institute. The institute will work with corporations in joint engineering research projects.


Do you think the nation's historically black colleges and universities should prohibit students, faculty, and staff from carrying guns on campus?


Building in Baltimore Where a Historic Civil Rights Protest by Black College Students Was Staged Is Now Scheduled to Be Razed

In the winter of 1960 students from North Carolina A&T State University staged a sit-in protest at the lunch counter at the F.W. Woolworth store in downtown Greensboro that refused to serve black patrons. The protest ignited the lunch counter sit-in movement that spread throughout the South. The building where the protest took place is now a civil rights museum.

Five years before the Greensboro protest, students at what is now Morgan State University in Baltimore staged a sit-in at the lunch counter at Read’s drugstore in Baltimore. The protest led to Read’s desegregating its lunch counters.

Now the location where the historic protest took place is a vacant property owned by the city of Baltimore. It is scheduled for demolition to make way for a housing and retail project. But some activists want to preserve this piece of civil rights history and are petitioning the city not to raze the old Read’s store.


University Research Explores Racial Differences in Corporal Punishment

New research from scholars at the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Tulane University, and the University of Chicago finds stress and alcohol and drug abuse are major contributing factors in whether fathers spank their children. The research, published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, used survey data on more than 2,900 fathers of 3-year-old children.

The results show that 61 percent of fathers do not spank their children. Nearly a quarter of the fathers said they were moderate users of corporal punishment and 16 percent said they spank their children frequently. Fathers who were under a great deal of stress or who abused drugs or alcohol were more likely to spank their children. And younger fathers were more likely to hit their children than older fathers.

The study found that African-American fathers were more likely than their white counterparts to engage in moderate use of corporal punishment but there were no racial differences in the rates of fathers who frequently spank their children.


Faculty Senate Votes No Confidence in President of Historically Black South Carolina State University

By a vote of 19-3 the faculty senate at historically black South Carolina State University has passed a resolution of no confidence in George Cooper, the university’s president. The resolution claims that President Cooper has not consulted the faculty, has not provided strong financial oversight, and has not stated a compelling vision for the educational institution.

When presented with the resolution, Jonathan Pinson, chair of the board of trustees, stated he did not believe the views of the faculty senate reflected those of the faculty as a whole. Pinson said that the board continued to support Dr. Cooper and his administration.

Dr. Cooper became president of SCSU in July 2008. Previously he was an administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He had taught at Alabama A&M University and Tuskegee University.

Dr. Cooper is a graduate of Florida A&M University. He holds a master’s degree from Tuskegee University and a Ph.D. in animal nutrition from the University of Illinois.

Two Academic and Football Powerhouses Appoint Black Head Coaches

Only a handful of the nation’s highest academically ranked research universities have major college football programs. At these schools, such as Notre Dame, Northwestern, and the University of Virginia, athletes must still meet rigid academic standards.

Two of these major college football programs at academically prestigious universities have recently hired African-American head coaches. At Stanford, whose football team was ranked fourth in the nation this past season, David Shaw was named Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football. Shaw, a 1995 Stanford graduate, is the 34th head football coach in university history. He has served as the team’s offensive coordinator for the past four seasons. He previously coached at the University of San Diego and in the National Football League.

Also, James Franklin was named head coach at Vanderbilt University. He is the first African American to lead the Vanderbilt program. He was the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at the University of Maryland. Franklin previously coached at Kansas State University, Idaho State University, Kutztown University, James Madison University, Washington State University, and in the National Football League.

Franklin is a 1995 graduate of East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. He also holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Washington State University.


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:

• A black man who formerly served as an affirmative action officer at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, has filed a race discrimination lawsuit against the university. The man claims he faced discrimination after testifying against the university in a lawsuit several years ago. After truthfully testifying, he claims he saw a reduction in pay and was demoted. In 2008, the man claims he was forced to retire. (Camden Courier Post, 12-18-10)

• A group of black and Hispanic students at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, was charged with hate crime violations after an incident at a local restaurant. The students became agitated when a white man and a black man sat down at an adjoining table. One student allegedly made disparaging racial remarks and then smashed a plate on the head of the white man. The other students then punched and kicked the white man while he lay injured on the floor. (New York Daily News, 12-21-10)

• A black student at Mars Hill College in North Carolina was walking to class when he was verbally abused by white passengers in a pickup truck. The truck slowed down and one passenger stuck his head out the window and yelled “nigger.” (Asheville Citizen-Times, 1-6-11)


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Kevin J. McLin Sr. was named senior director of communications and public relations at Tuskegee University. He was chair of the School of Mass Communications at Dillard University.

McLin is a graduate of Loyola University in New Orleans. He holds two master’s degrees from the University of New Orleans.

• Deborah Waters was named a professor of professional psychology at Touro University Worldwide. A graduate of the medical school at the University of California at San Diego, Dr. Waters has served as chief medical officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee.

• Cheryl M. Thomas was appointed senior director of development at Tuskegee University. She was director of planned giving and senior development officer at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. Thomas is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana.

• Gregory Robinson was promoted to associate dean for academic administration and resource management at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Dr. Robinson holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a master’s degree in Urban Planning from Morgan State University, and the master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Howard University.

• Deborah Stanley, director of financial aid at Bowie State University in Maryland, was recently appointed to serve a four-year term on the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance (ACSFA) in Washington, D.C. Stanley has directed the financial aid program at the university for the past four years.

• Deborah L. Voltz was named dean of the School of Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has been serving as a professor of curriculum and instruction and director of the university’s Center for Urban Education.

Dr. Voltz is a graduate of the National College of Education in Evanston, Illinois. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an educational doctorate from the University of Alabama.

• Thierno Thiam was named a postdoctoral fellow at Tuskegee University in Alabama. He was conducting research at the Institute for State Effectiveness in Washington, D.C., and teaching at Howard University and the University of Maryland at College Park.

Dr. Thiam holds a Ph.D. from Purdue University.

Copyright © 2011. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.