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Latest Data Shows More Than 2.2 Million African Americans Enrolled in All Levels of Higher Education

The U.S. Department of Education has released preliminary data on total enrollments in higher education in the fall of 2007. The data shows that in 2007 there were 1,052,166 African Americans enrolled in four-year college programs. Nearly 62 percent of all black students enrolled in four-year programs attended state-operated universities. For whites enrolled in four-year programs, 66.5 percent attended state-operated colleges and universities.

There were another 912,978 African Americans enrolled in two-year community college programs. More than 46 percent of all black undergraduate students were enrolled in two-year community colleges compared to 40 percent of white undergraduates.

In addition, 230,233 blacks were enrolled in graduate programs and another 25,043 blacks were enrolled in professional schools.

All told, there were more than 2.2 million African Americans enrolled in higher education in the fall of 2007.

“John Hope Franklin lived for nearly a century and helped define that century. A towering historian, he led the recognition that African-American history and American history are one.”

Richard H. Brodhead, president of Duke University (See story at right.)

New Information on the First Black Graduates of the University of Notre Dame

Several years ago The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education conducted research to determine the first black graduates of the nation’s highest-ranked universities. At that time we reported that the first black graduate of the University of Notre Dame was Frazier L. Thompson. He arrived on the Notre Dame campus in July 1944 as a member of a naval officers’ training program. When the war ended, he stayed on at the school and earned a varsity letter as a sprinter on the track team in both 1945 and 1946. Unable to find a job as an engineer, after graduation Thompson worked for the Postal Service. In 1955 he finally landed an engineering position with International Resistor Corporation. He later tested space suits for a NASA contractor.

Thompson was the first black student on campus, but university records now show that a second black student also received a bachelor’s degree on the same day in 1947 that Thompson graduated. Carl Richard Coggins enrolled at Notre Dame in February 1945, also as a member of the naval officers’ training program. He was called to active duty in July 1946. However, Coggins was awarded a bachelor’s degree at the June 1947 commencement ceremony. Records do not indicate how Coggins completed his degree requirements spending only 17 months on the Notre Dame campus, but university officials believe he probably arrived at the university with a significant number of college credits.

After completing his service in the Navy, Coggins returned to Notre Dame to earn a master’s degree in civil engineering in 1952. The university has no records about what happened to Coggins after he left Notre Dame. However, federal government records show that he died in 1984.

Historically Black Florida A&M University Facing Major Budget Cuts

The board of governors of the state university system in Florida has cut more than $300 million for the operating budgets of the 11 public universities in the state. Additional cuts are undoubtedly in store for the 2009-10 academic year.

At Florida A&M University, the only predominantly black university in the state system, the operating budget decreased from $120.9 million to $102.7 million. State appropriations for the university may be only $90 million or less for the 2009-10 academic year.

University officials are scrambling to meet the budget shortfall. Some classes have been eliminated and many other classes will have more students. Restrictions have been placed on faculty and staff travel. Other measures under consideration are a hiring freeze, the permanent elimination of 122 positions that are now vacant, the dropping of one summer school session, a switch to a four-day university schedule, and a mandatory unpaid furlough for all faculty and staff.

Student Body President at Abilene Christian University Was Impeached: Black Student Says He Is Not Sure If Race Was a Factor in His Ouster

The student body president at Abilene Christian University in Texas was impeached and removed from office. The African-American student was accused of not putting in the required 20 hours a week to fulfill his duties, as well as his being frequently late to meetings and being disrespectful to faculty. The student congress voted 25-5 to oust its leader, considerably more than the 75 percent majority required by the student government bylaws.

Last fall the student leader found a noose on the chair in his campus office. He stated that he is not sure if his impeachment was related to race. Blacks make up about 13 percent of the student body at the university.

Survey Finds That College Faculty Are More Likely to Value Racial Diversity Programs Than Was the Case Three Years Ago

A new poll by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles finds that college faculty today are significantly more likely to value racial and ethnic diversity programs than was the case just three years ago. The survey, The American College Teacher: National Norms for the 2007-08 HERI Faculty Survey, found that more than 75 percent of college faculty say that they work to “enhance students’ knowledge of and appreciation for other racial/ethnic groups.” This is an increase of 17.6 percentage points from a survey taken three years earlier.

Hundreds of Thousands of African-American College Dropouts

Often when JBHE or other publications report graduation rates of African-American college students the discussion is presented in terms of percentages. But this tends to obscure the fact of how many African-American people are harmed by having to actually drop out of school.

For example, in the 1997 to 2000 period nearly 267,000 black students enrolled as freshmen at the 320 colleges and universities that make up Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Of these, only 44 percent went on to earn a diploma within six years. Therefore, a huge number of nearly 150,000 blacks entered these schools but did not graduate.

The problem of African-American college dropouts is best illustrated by the number of blacks who are enrolled in colleges and universities nationwide as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. As shown in the accompanying chart, there is a significant drop-off each year in African-American enrollments as students progress toward a four-year degree.

This data confirms that there are hundreds of thousands of young blacks who drop out of college each year. African-American college graduates have median incomes nearly equal to whites. If these hundreds of thousands of black students were able to stay in college and earn a degree, there would be a major impact in reducing racial inequality in the United States.

Tuskegee President to Step Down

Benjamin F. Payton, president of Tuskegee University, the historically black educational institution in Alabama that was founded by Booker T. Washington, has announced he will step down at the end of the 2009-10 academic year. Dr. Payton, currently one of the longest-serving university presidents in the nation, is only the fifth president of Tuskegee since its founding in 1881.

During his tenure, Dr. Payton was a successful fundraiser, growing the endowment from $15 million to over $100 million. More than $350 million in construction projects have been completed. Academic programs have been strengthened and professional and doctoral programs have been established or greatly expanded.

Prior to coming to Tuskegee, Dr. Payton was a senior program officer in higher education for the Ford Foundation. President Payton has stellar academic credentials. He holds bachelor’s degrees from Harvard University and South Carolina State University. He earned a master’s degree at Columbia University and a Ph.D. at Yale University.

Andrew F. Brimmer, chair of the university’s board of trustees, has established a presidential search committee. Applications will be accepted up to May 31, 2009.


Sherman Wooden, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, has announced his retirement. He has been at the university for 19 years. He will continue his work as director of the Center for Anti-Slavery Studies in Montrose, Pennsylvania, an organization that conducts research on abolitionists and the Underground Railroad in northeastern Pennsylvania.

• Shannon Márquez was appointed associate dean for academic affairs and associate professor of public health in the Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. She is a member of the Philadelphia Board of Health and previously was an associate professor of public health at Temple University.

Dr. Márquez is a graduate of Prairie View A&M University in Texas. She holds a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Texas A&M University and a Ph.D. in environmental health sciences and engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

• Michele M. Moody was named dean of the college at Columbia University in New York City. Her appointment is effective on July 1. She currently serves as the Hutchinson Professor of Philosophy and vice provost for undergraduate education at Cornell University. She is also director of the Program on Ethics and Public Life at Cornell.

Dr. Moody is a graduate of Wellesley College. She received a second bachelor’s degree at Oxford University before earning her master’s degree and Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University.

• James Shade III was promoted to assistant professor of English at Xavier University in New Orleans. He teaches courses in screenwriting and playwrighting.

A graduate of Xavier University, Shade holds a master of fine arts degree from the University of New Orleans.

• Thomas S. Sayles was appointed vice president for government and community relations at the University of Southern California. He was senior vice president for government affairs and corporate communications for Rentech Inc. in Los Angeles.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University, Sayles holds a law degree from Harvard Law School.

John Hope Franklin (1915-2009)

John Hope Franklin, the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University and one of the most prolific and respected historians of the twentieth century, died of congestive heart failure on March 25 at Duke University Hospital. He was 94 years old.

His seminal work, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans, originally published in 1947, is still in print and is widely assigned in college history courses nationwide. More than 3.5 million copies of the book have been sold. Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W.E.B Du Bois Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard University, told JBHE that From Slavery to Freedom was a pioneering feat of scholarship in African-American studies; “it has no precedent — none.”

John Hope Franklin was born in Rentiesville, Oklahoma, in 1915. His grandfather had been a slave. His father was one of the first black lawyers in Oklahoma. His mother was a schoolteacher. Franklin was named after John Hope, the former president of Morehouse College and Atlanta University.

Franklin attended racially segregated schools in Oklahoma. He was valedictorian of his high school class. He wanted to attend the University of Oklahoma but at that time, and for many years later, the state’s flagship university was closed to blacks.

In 1931 Franklin enrolled at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, with the intention of studying law. However, at Fisk, Franklin became a history buff under the mentorship of white professor Theodore Currier. After Franklin graduated from Fisk, Currier lent him the money to pay for graduate study at Harvard University. Franklin earned his master’s degree in 1936 and his doctorate five years later in 1941.

After completing his dissertation, Franklin taught at the North Carolina College for Negroes, now known as North Carolina Central University in Durham. In 1947 Franklin was named to the faculty at Howard University in Washington, D.C. While there he worked with Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund working on briefs for cases that included Brown v. Board of Education.

In 1956 John Hope Franklin finally landed a teaching position at a predominantly white educational institution. He was hired to chair the department of history at Brooklyn College in New York.

In 1964 Franklin was hired to the faculty at the University of Chicago. He remained there for 16 years before accepting a position at Duke. He later spent seven years on the faculty of Duke Law School. He retired from teaching in 1992.

Archaeological Dig Finds 3,000 Artifacts From Historically Black Latta University in Raleigh, North Carolina

Morgan L. Latta was born a slave in 1856. He later graduated from Shaw University and entered the ministry. He authored an autobiography entitled The History of My Life and Work. In 1892 he founded Latta University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The university was actually a trade school for African-American men and women. Men were taught to be carpenters and blacksmiths. Women learned to cook and sew. The university also included a large orphanage for black children and a working farm.

Latta University closed in the early 1920s. The Latta House, home of the university’s founder, stood at the site until it was destroyed by fire in 2007.

Now an archaeological dig has uncovered more than 3,000 artifacts from Latta University. Only 40 square feet of the several hundred acres have been excavated. The city of Raleigh plans to create a historical park on the site.

Hampton University’s Living Legend

Reuben V. Burrell earned an industrial arts degree at what is now Hampton University in 1947. He then earned a master’s degree in industrial arts at New York University. In 1949 he was hired as the official photographer at Hampton. He has remained in that post for the past 60 years.

Over that span Burrell has chronicled every major event on the Hampton campus including athletic events, guest speakers such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, and the past 60 commencement ceremonies.

Now 90 years old, Burrell walks to campus each morning from his home. He works from 8 a.m. to noon in the same room in which he lived when he was a student at Hampton more than six decades ago.

More than 20,000 of Burrell’s photographs are being preserved in a digital archive at the Hampton University Museum.

A Growing Racial Gap in Graduation Rates in the University of Maryland System

University of Maryland officials report a growing racial gap in graduation rates throughout the 13-campus system. The most recent data shows that 40 percent of all black students matriculating in the system will earn a bachelor’s degree within six years. For whites the rate is 65 percent. Thus, there is a 25 percentage point racial gap. Three years ago the racial gap was only 15 percentage points.

One reason for Maryland’s poor graduation rate performance is the system’s historically black universities. For example, at Coppin State University in Baltimore, the graduation rate is only 17 percent, down from 26 percent a decade ago.

The university system also points out that African-American enrollments have increased systemwide and many of these black students come from low-income families. Because of the economic recession many have been unable to complete their college education for financial reasons.

59.5%  Percentage of all white Americans over the age of 65 who visit the dentist at least once a year.

40.7%  Percentage of all African Americans over the age of 65 who visit the dentist at least once a year.

source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Blacks Making Progress in Nursing School Enrollments

The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that the demand for nurses will grow substantially over the next decade due to an aging population and an increased need for healthcare services. This will worsen what is already an acute shortage of nursing professionals in some areas.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that in 2006 there were 18,000 African Americans enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs in nursing. They made up 12 percent of all undergraduate nursing students. This is a marked improvement since 1990. At that time there were 6,862 blacks enrolled in undergraduate nursing programs. They made up 9.9 percent of all nursing students.

In Memoriam

Francis O. Showi (1952-2009)

Francis O. Showi, longtime associate professor of industrial technology and two-term president of the faculty senate at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, died last month after a long bout with cancer. He was 56 years old.

Dr. Frank, as he was called on campus, was the son of a Nigerian chieftain. He came to the United States in 1985 and earned a Ph.D. in environmental engineering at Jackson State University. He joined the faculty at Mississippi Valley State University in 1989.

Honors and Awards

• Lafayette Frederick, professor of botany at Howard University, received the Alumni Achievement Award from the Washington State University Alumni Association for his long career in teaching, research, and mentoring botany students.

Dr. Frederick is a graduate of Tuskegee University. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and a Ph.D. in plant pathology and botany from Washington State University.

• Christopher Brown, a professor of history at Columbia University, received the university’s Distinguished Faculty Award for exceptional merit in scholarship and dedication to teaching. The award includes a $25,000 stipend for each of the next three years.

• Wanda Raby Spurlock, associate professor of nursing at Southern University, received the Nightingale Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Louisiana State Nurses Association.

Professor Spurlock has been on the nursing school faculty for 15 years. A graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, she holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in nursing science from Louisiana State University.

• Julie D. Goodwin, general counsel at Morgan State University, the historically black educational institution in Baltimore, received the Practitioner of the Year Award from the Black Law Students Association at the University of Maryland School of Law.


• Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business received a $500,000 grant from Ernst & Young to establish the Foundations for Leadership Program. The program will seek to increase diversity among students and faculty at the business school.

• Meharry Medical College, the historically black educational institution in Nashville, Tennessee, received a $9 million endowment from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of Princeton, New Jersey. The funds will be used to establish a center for health policy at the medical school.

The goal of the new center is to increase the number and diversity of sociologists and economists who participate in health services and health policy research.

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