A Mixed Bag of Results on 2010 Black Applicants to High-Ranking Universities

Several of the nation’s most selective colleges and universities have reported data on black applicants for places in this fall’s entering classes.

At Northwestern University, overall applications were up 9 percent from a year ago and they have increased by 70 percent over the past five years. Applications from black and Hispanic students increased by a larger percentage than was the case for applicants as a whole.

At the University of Southern California, blacks are 7.1 percent of the applicant pool. This is down from 7.8 percent a year ago.

At Wesleyan University in Connecticut, overall applications are up slightly. Blacks make up 8 percent of all students who applied. A year ago, blacks were 8.8 percent of the applicant pool at Wesleyan University.


Study Finds Little Hope for Significant Improvements in the Racial Diversity of Medical School Faculty

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan finds that minorities continue to be severely underrepresented among faculties of U.S. medical schools. And the racial demographics of students in the current pipeline who are training for medical school faculty positions make it unlikely that there will be any improvement in racial diversity among medical school teaching ranks any time soon.

The report found that although underrepresented minorities make up 27 percent of the U.S. population, only 7 percent of practicing physicians and 7.3 percent of medical school faculty are minorities. Blacks are now 6.4 percent of all enrollments in medical school.


California State University System Starts New Program to Boost Black Student Graduation Rates

Last week JBHE reported that this month CalState administrators were recruiting at 100 churches with predominantly black congregations. But the university’s efforts are not restricted to enrollments. The trustees of the California State University system recently announced a new initiative to boost the graduation rate of students, particularly those from low-income and minority groups. The goal is to increase the systemwide graduation rate from the current 46 percent to 54 percent by 2016. One method to improve the overall graduation rate is to reduce the racial gap. Universities will be given specific targets for raising their graduation rates among each ethnic minority. The goals call for improving black and Hispanic graduation rates at a pace greater than the targeted increase for whites.

Among the programs that will be implemented to boost graduation rates are summer bridge programs for entering freshmen to help them transition to a college-level curriculum, additional academic advising, and increased student usage of online learning. Students will also be required to declare a major earlier and will face restrictions in their ability to drop classes, ensuring that students have an adequate course level to achieve graduation in a reasonable time period.

Some skeptics have pointed out that the huge rise in student fees and insufficient financial aid from the state will make it extremely difficult to increase black student graduation rates. JBHE research has shown that two thirds of the black students who drop out of college do so because of financial reasons.



Survey Finds That the Economic Recession Is Having a Major Negative Impact on African-American College Students

A survey by researchers at the University of Arizona finds that black students are having a more difficult time than white students in coping with the economic recession. The Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students is following the college careers of 2,000 students who enrolled as freshmen in the fall of 2007. About 3.4 percent of the students in the research group are black.

Among the findings in the latest data is that black students have on average $258 in credit card debt. This is more than twice the credit card debt held by the average white student. The credit card debt of black students has increased 219 percent since the previous survey, which was published last summer. In contrast, the average credit card debt of white students increased by 64 percent.

The research also showed that black students had amassed an average of $5,140 in student loan debt. This is quadruple the average student loan debt held by white students. The student loan debt of black students increased by more than 200 percent since the previous survey whereas the average student loan debt of white students increased by 45 percent.

The survey found that African-American students had the lowest “financial self-confidence” of any ethnic group on campus. Black students also reported the greatest decrease in their assessment of their personal health.


African-American Scholar Named President of Grinnell College

Raynard S. Kington was elected the 13th president of Grinnell College, the highly selective liberal arts institution in Iowa. Dr. Kington, who is currently the deputy director of the National Institutes of Health, will take office at Grinnell on August 1, 2010.

At the age of 16, Kington entered the University of Michigan’s joint undergraduate/medical school program. He completed college and medical school by the age of 21. After completing his residency in Chicago, Dr. Kington was named Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. He earned an MBA at the Wharton School and a Ph.D. in health policy at Penn.

Before accepting his current post at the NIH, Kington was a division director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Previously he was a senior scientist at the RAND Corporation where he was co-director of the Charles R. Drew University Center on Health and Aging. He has taught at the medical schools at UCLA and Johns Hopkins University. In 2006 Kington was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science.


63.4%  Percentage of whites who earned doctorates in 2008 who had a father who was a college graduate.

33.4%  Percentage of African Americans who earned doctorates in 2008 who had a father who was a college graduate.

source: National Science Foundation


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Billy R. Thomas was promoted to assistant vice chancellor for diversity at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. He was the associate dean for diversity at the university’s College of Medicine.

• Kimberly Barnes was named assistant director of event planning and communications in the alumni office of Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. A 2004 graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, she has been working as a corporate events planner.

• Winston Crisp was promoted to vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was the assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and has served as an administrator at the university for 18 years.

Crisp is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte and the University of North Carolina School of Law.

• Shanna Jackson was named dean of extended services at the Williamson County campus of Columbia State Community College in Franklin, Tennessee. She was director of off-campus services and executive assistant to the president at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee.

Dr. Jackson holds an educational doctorate from Tennessee State University.

• Larry Robinson, professor of environmental science and vice president for research at the Environmental Studies Institute at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, was appointed by President Obama as assistant secretary for conservation and management at the U.S. Department of Commerce. In this position he will oversee ocean policy at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

• William C. Jenkins was named co-director of the Minority Health Project at the University of North Carolina. Previously he was affiliated with the Institute of African-American Research at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Jenkins is a graduate of Morehouse College. He holds a master’s degree in biostatistics from Georgetown University and a master of public health degree and a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina.

• Margaret Hanétha Vété-Congolo, a member of the Bowdoin College faculty since 2001, was promoted to associate professor of Romance languages and was granted tenure.

Dr. Vété-Congolo holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane on the island of Martinique.


Grants and Gifts

Historically black Jackson State University received a grant from the Jimmy Smith Foundation to establish a mentoring program for youths in the Jackson Public Schools. The grant money will be used to train Jackson State students to act as mentors to the public school students.

Jimmy Smith is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. He is a graduate of Jackson State University. He played for 14 years in the National Football League.

Virginia State University, the historically black educational institution in Petersburg, has received two grants totaling over $465,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Commission. The grants will be used to study the feasibility of alternative crops to replace tobacco-growing because many small Virginia farmers have been hurt by the elimination of federal tobacco price supports.

Historically black Meharry Medical College in Nashville received a five-year, $2 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote AIDS prevention programs in the South.

North Carolina A&T State University, the historically black educational institution in Greensboro, received a $926,329 grant from NASA to improve science and technology education in the Guilford County, North Carolina, school system. Under the program, 40 middle and high school teachers will participate in a summer institute on the NCAT campus where they will learn innovative, interactive lesson plans. Also, graduate students at the university will serve as teacher’s aides in science classes during the school year.

Black Colleges Absent From the List of Colleges and Universities That Send the Most Graduates to the Peace Corps

Since its creation in 1961 hundreds of thousands of young Americans have worked as Peace Corps volunteers in foreign countries helping people in developing nations with agriculture, healthcare, and education. Currently, there are 7,671 Peace Corps volunteers serving in 76 host countries around the world. Most, but not all, are college graduates.

But new statistics from the Peace Corps show that graduates of black colleges and universities are unlikely to enlist. There are no black colleges or universities among the 75 schools in three size categories that send the most graduates to the Peace Corps.

The University of Washington has 101 graduates who are currently in the Peace Corps. The University of Colorado, Berkeley, and Michigan State University each have more than 80 graduates who are Peace Corps volunteers.

Among smaller schools with undergraduate enrollments of between 5,000 and 15,000 students, the leaders in Peace Corps volunteers are George Washington University, American University, and Cornell University.

At schools with fewer than 5,000 undergraduates, a group that includes many black colleges and universities, the leader is St. Olaf College with 26 volunteers. The University of Mary Washington, Middlebury College, the University of Portland, the University of Puget Sound, and Williams College each have at least 20 graduates currently serving in the Peace Corps.

Why is there such a low level of Peace Corps participation by graduates of black colleges? Perhaps graduates of black colleges are anxious to enter the workforce to pay off student loans or to support their families. Or, graduates of HBCUs may be more likely to volunteer in domestic organizations that assist people living in the inner city or in low-income rural areas of the South.


“I don’t have words for it. It’s immeasurable. I believe I can do anything I want. I want to go to college.”

William Butler, a 22-year-old black man in Washington who is studying for his high school equivalency diploma, discussing how the election of Barack Obama inspired him to go back to school, in the Washington Post, 1-29-10


UCLA Study Finds That Charter Schools Are Producing Higher Levels of Racial Segregation in K-12 Education

Charter schools are independently managed public schools that often are not required to follow regulations and procedures governing other schools in a particular school district. While the results are mixed, many charter schools have an excellent record of increasing student performance.

Charter schools are becoming increasingly popular. About 2.5 percent of all K-12 students are enrolled in charter schools. This is triple the rate from just seven years ago.

The Civil Rights Project at the University of California at Los Angeles finds that 70 percent of African-American children who attend charter schools are enrolled at schools where 90 percent or more of all students are minorities. This is double the percentage for black students in the public schools as a whole.


The First African-American Olympic Gold Medalist Was a Graduate of the University of Pennsylvania

Congratulations to African-American speed skater Shani Davis for winning the gold medal in the 1,000-meter event at this month’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Davis, who also won gold in 2006, joins a long line of African Americans who have distinguished themselves at the Olympic Games.

The first African American to win an Olympic gold medal was John Baxter Taylor. Running as a member of the 4-by-400 relay team at the 1908 Olympics in London, the quartet set a world record in the event.

Taylor was born in Washington, D.C., but was raised in Philadelphia. After graduating from Philadelphia’s Central High School he enrolled at the preparatory school at Brown University. In 1903 Taylor enrolled at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. After two years of study at Wharton, in 1905 he transferred to Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine. He received his degree as a member of the Class of 1908.

Less than six months after winning his gold medal, Taylor, at age 26, died of typhoid pneumonia.


Black Colleges Looking to Become Global Universities

Delaware State University has signed an agreement to establish an MBA program at Vietnam National University in Hanoi. Faculty from Delaware State University will spend time in Hanoi teaching classes, and students in Hanoi will participate in other DSU classes online. Later this year, the program will be expanded to the VNU campus in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon.

Coppin State University in Baltimore has entered into a partnership with the Akhbar Elyom Academy in a suburb of Cairo, Egypt. The four-year Egyptian university offers degree programs in journalism, engineering, business administration, and computer science.

Coppin State faculty recently completed an eight-day seminar for journalism students in Egypt. In the future, there will be student and faculty exchanges and academic collaboration between the two universities. Fifteen students from Egypt will study at Coppin State this coming summer.


Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates Jr. Makes a Unique Donation to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture

Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Fletcher University Professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University, has made a unique donation to the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African-American History and Culture. The museum, scheduled to open on the National Mall in 2015, received the handcuffs used to restrain Dr. Gates when he was arrested last July at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Professor Gates was arrested on disorderly conduct charges when a Cambridge police officer, investigating the report of a break-in at Gates’ home, saw Professor Gates through the glass panes of the front door of the home. The officer knocked on the door and said he was investigating a possible burglary. He told Professor Gates to step outside and produce identification.

Gates was outraged that he, as a black man, was being hassled by police while in his home. Professor Gates asserted that he was a victim of racial profiling. He was taken away in handcuffs. The charges were dropped the next week. But the incident produced a national debate about racial profiling.

The police officer who arrested Gates later gave the Harvard professor the handcuffs as a souvenir.


Hotels Pull Up the Welcome Mat for Gathering of Academic Bigots

This past weekend, a scaled-back American Renaissance Conference was held at an undisclosed location in suburban Washington, D.C. The gathering of academic racists had abruptly been called off one day before the meeting was to take place when the hotel that had agreed to hold the conference canceled the contract. Three other hotels in the area had previously declined to host the conference.

This was the ninth biannual conference held by the white-supremacist New Century Foundation led by Yale University graduate Jared Taylor. In the past, speakers have included Nick Griffin, chair of the British Nationalist Party, former KKK grand wizard David Duke, J. Philippe Rushton, president of the Pioneer Fund, a group supporting research trying to prove black intellectual inferiority, and racist City College professor Michael Levin.


In Memoriam

Lucille Sayles Clifton (1936-2010)

Lucille Clifton, the first African American to serve as poet laureate of Maryland, has died at Johns Hopkins University Hospital after a long battle with cancer. She was 73 years old.

Clifton, who published 11 collections of poetry and 20 children’s books, was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and in 2001 won the National Book Award.

Clifton attended Howard University but dropped out after two years to concentrate on writing her poetry. In the early 1970s, she served as poet-in-residence at what is now Coppin State University in Baltimore. She later taught at St. Mary’s College in Maryland and at Columbia University. Clifton held honorary doctorates from Dartmouth College, Fisk University, and several other universities.

Richard Allen Carroll Sr.

Richard A. Carroll Sr., professor emeritus of English at Spelman College, died earlier this month in Atlanta. He began teaching at Spelman in 1964 and retired in 1987 as the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of English. He also served as an editor of the College Language Association Journal. Dr. Carroll’s wife, Evelyn, is a retired professor of education at Spelman.


Honors and Awards

• Frederick D. Gregory, former astronaut and currently a member of the board of advisers of the Howard University School of Engineering, received the Golden Torch Legacy Award from the National Society of Black Engineers.

In 1985 Gregory became the first African American to pilot a spacecraft. Four years later he was the first African American to command a space mission.

• Lynette Gibson, associate professor of nursing at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, received the Magellan Scholar Award from the university for her research on breast cancer in African-American women.

Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina has named a new endowed chair to honor its former chancellor. The Cleon F. Thompson Jr. Distinguished Professorship in Nursing was made possible by a donation from the C.D. Spangler Foundation.

• John E. Ware, who holds the Rosa Keller Endowed Chair in Music at Xavier University in New Orleans, received the Big Easy Entertainment 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Foundation for Entertainment Development and Education.




Copyright © 2010. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.