More Than 4.6 Million African Americans Now Hold a College Degree

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that there are 3,111,000 African Americans who hold a bachelor’s degree but no graduate degree. Another 1,215,000 African Americans have a master’s degree. More than 160,000 black Americans have earned a professional degree and 127,000 African Americans hold a doctorate. All told, more than 4.6 million African Americans now hold a college degree.


Fraternity Bans Members From Wearing Confederate Army Uniforms

The fraternal organization Kappa Alpha Order was founded in 1865 at what is now Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. The founders of the organization stated that they were inspired by Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Today the Kappa Alpha Order has nearly 150,000 members and 124 chapters nationwide.

For many years members of the fraternity dressed in Confederate uniforms for parades and other celebrations. Such displays of Confederate symbolism by fraternity members have caused black student protests.

Now the Kappa Alpha Order has banned members from wearing Confederate uniforms on campus. The fraternity’s executive director said in a statement, “The Order can ill afford to offend our host institutions and fend off significant negative national press and remain effective at our core national mission, which is to aid young men in becoming better community leaders and citizens.”

As a result of the ban, the Kappa Alpha Order at the University of Alabama called off its annual Old South parade. However, after the ban was announced a Confederate flag was seen on the front of the fraternity house on the Tuscaloosa campus.


Racial Differences in Student Loan Debt

A new report from the Advocacy and Policy Center of The College Board finds that about two thirds of all bachelor’s degree recipients in the 2007-08 academic year graduated with student debt. About one quarter of these students had debt greater than $30,500. Thus, 17 percent of all graduating college students had more than $30,500 in debts.

When the figures are broken down by race, the study shows that only 19 percent of African-American college students graduated debt free. This is slightly less than one half the rate for white college graduates. Some 16 percent of white college graduates had debts of $30,500 or more. For African-American college graduates, 27 percent had high levels of debt. A full one third of all African-American college graduates at private educational institutions had accumulated more than $30,500 in debt. For white graduates of private educational institutions, 23 percent had a high debt total.



Dillard University Announces Cutbacks in Academic Programs

Historically black Dillard University in New Orleans has announced a major reduction in its academic structure that will replace the institution’s six divisions with four new colleges. The number of majors will be reduced from 32 to 26.

The college campus was devastated in the fall of 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. The campus was flooded with eight feet of water. Three dormitories were destroyed by fire. The university closed for a semester and reopened in a downtown hotel. Damage at the Dillard campus was estimated to be $400 million.

Enrollment dropped from about 2,100 students at the time of the hurricane to 957 a year later when the campus reopened. Enrollments remain about one half the level that existed prior to the hurricane.


Hampton University Receives Archives of Black Military History

Author and historian Bennie McRae Jr., considered one of the leading authorities on African-American troops in the Civil War, has donated his research archives to the Hampton University Museum. The archives include documents compiled over 20 years of research, much of which has been displayed on three Web sites.

McRae is an Air Force veteran and he also worked for the Federal Aviation Administration. He is a graduate of Antioch College and holds a master’s degree from Central Michigan University. McRae is the author of the book, Nineteenth Century Freedom Fighters.


Race Relations on Campus Database

Each month JBHE Weekly Bulletin will publish a selection of racial incidents that have occurred on the campuses of colleges and universities. Here are this month’s incidents:

• An aerospace engineering student at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces reported that someone had drawn two swastikas and the words “White Power” in the dust on his vehicle. (Las Cruces Sun-News, 4-9-10)

• Two student government leaders at Saint Louis University in Missouri, resigned their posts after a photograph showing them holding a noose was widely circulated on campus. The photo had been posted on Facebook. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4-8-10)

• A professor of English and Africana studies at Cornell University was accused of calling two African-American graduate students “black bitches.” The incident, and the lack of a sufficient reprimand from the university, prompted a group of black alumni to issue a statement complaining of a racist and sexist environment at the university’s Africana Studies and Research Center. (Cornell Daily Sun, 4-12-10)

• The president of Associated Students at California State University at Chico was the victim of a racially motivated attack. The student, who is a native of Nigeria, was threatened by two males who used racial slurs. The men followed the student and attacked him. One of the assailants repeatedly stabbed the student in several places causing serious injuries. (Chico Enterprise-Record, 4-19-10)

• Racist graffiti was found scratched into a bathroom wall on the campus of Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington. The graffiti included the letters “KKK,” swastikas, and a racial slur. The slur was directed against an African-American faculty member at the college. (Kitsap Sun, 4-22-10)

• Two white female students at the University of Minnesota at Duluth engaged in a discussion on Facebook about a black student. The discussion was viewed by the white students’ network of friends and was quickly disseminated across the campus. The discussion included several racial slurs. The chancellor of the university called the discussion “horrendous and despicable.” (Duluth News Tribune, 4-23-10)

• As they walked across campus, two female students at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville were harassed by three male students. One of the male students called one of the female students a “nigger.” The incident, which was caught on a surveillance camera, prompted an open letter to the campus community by university president John T. Casteen III.

• Three students at Harvard Law School had a discussion on race and affirmative action over dinner. Later, one of the students e-mailed a friend to clarify her position. In the message she wrote, “I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent.” The e-mail was leaked to members of the Harvard Law School community, and the student issued a letter of apology. (Boston Globe, 4-30-10)

Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California, has punished a music instructor who directed a student to sing the original version of the song “Old Man River.” The original version includes the word “niggers” in the lyrics. The professor was told to apologize to the class and was obliged to take diversity training. A college spokesperson said that the incident “will affect his employment.” (Contra Costa Times, 4-26-10)

9.0%  Black percentage of all students enrolled in degree-granting educational institutions in 1990.

13.5%  Black percentage of all students enrolled in degree-granting educational institutions in 2008.

source:U.S. Department of Education


Honors and Awards

• Janice Witt Smith, associate professor of management in the School of Business and Economics at Winston-Salem State University, received the Award for Excellence in Teaching from the University of North Carolina board of governors.

Dr. Smith is a graduate of Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. She holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in organizational studies from Virginia Tech.

• Joseph O. Arumala, professor of technology at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, received the University System of Maryland Regents’ Faculty Award for public service. A native of Nigeria, Professor Arumala has taught at the university for more than 14 years.

Dr. Arumala is a graduate of the University of Lagos. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Clemson University.

• Grace E. Harris, a distinguished professor in the Center for Public Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University, is the inaugural recipient of the Grace E. Harris School of Social Work Community Engagement Award. She has been a faculty member and administrator at the university since 1967.

Dr. Harris is a graduate of Hampton University. She holds master’s degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Virginia.

• Mary Frances Early, the first African American to earn a degree from the University of Georgia, received the 2010 Alumni Service Award from the university’s College of Education. She earned a master’s degree in music education from the University of Georgia in 1962. She went on to chair the department of music at Clark Atlanta University.

• Yvonne C. Williams, the Hampton and Esther Boswell Distinguished University Professor of Black Studies at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, received the Paul Robeson and Zora Neale Hurston Celebrated Elder Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service in the Promotion of Black Studies by the National Council for Black Studies.

• James Dobbins, director of postdoctoral training at Wright State University's School of Professional Psychology, received the James E. Stamps Award from the National Alumni Council of the United Negro College Fund.

This September Elizabeth Alexander, chair of the African-American studies department at Yale University, will receive the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award for poetry from the Cleveland Foundation.



Five African Americans Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. It has a membership of more than 4,000 scholars from a wide variety of academic disciplines including all the natural sciences. Its membership includes at least 250 Nobel Prize winners and more than 60 winners of a Pulitzer Prize. This year, 229 new fellows were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. As in past years, the academy has not disclosed the racial makeup of the new members. But through an analysis of the new members list, JBHE has been able to determine that at least five of the 229 new members are black.

The following are the new African-American members:

Roger W. Ferguson Jr. is an economist who serves as president and CEO of TIAA-CREF. He is the former vice chairman of the board of governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System. He holds a bachelor’s degree, a Ph.D., and a law degree, all from Harvard University.

Joseph S. Francisco is the William E. Moore Distinguished Professor of Physical Chemistry at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a graduate of the University of Texas and holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

James Sidney Jackson is the Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and director of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. He holds a Ph.D. from Wayne State University.

Olufunmilayo I. Olopade is the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, founding director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics, and associate dean for global health at the University of Chicago. She is one of the nation’s leading scientists in breast cancer research.

Theodore Walter “Sonny” Rollins is a jazz saxophonist and composer from New York City. Now 80 years old, Rollins began performing on the piano at age 11.

All told, there are about 4,000 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. By JBHE’s count there are 101 African-American members. Thus, approximately 2.5 percent of all members are black.


“Now that your minds have been opened, it's up to you to keep them that way.”

President Barack Obama, addressing the graduates of historically black Hampton University in Virginia, May 9, 2010


The New Class of Gates Millennium Scholars

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program has announced the 1,000 winners of this year’s awards. This year’s winners come from 45 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories.

The scholarships are awarded to African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics, and Asian Americans from low-income families. To be eligible, students must have a 3.3 grade point average in high school and must qualify for a federal Pell Grant. The Gates scholarships fulfill any unmet financial need that the students have after they have exhausted federal, state, and institutional scholarship opportunities.

Since the program’s inception in 1999, more than 13,000 minority students have received Gates scholarships.


Two Blacks Win Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships

More than a decade ago, Paul and Daisy Soros set up a $50 million endowment fund that would provide scholarships for graduate study for “New Americans.” As immigrants themselves, Paul and Daisy Soros recognized that newcomers to this country often need a helping hand in gaining access to the nation’s most prestigious educational programs.

Each year 30 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans are awarded. The scholarships are available to resident aliens, naturalized citizens, or children of naturalized citizens under the age of 30. The 30 students who are awarded the fellowships each receive $25,000 and up to $20,000 to cover half of their graduate school tuition.

This year two of the 30 Soros Fellows went to students of black African descent:

Abdulrasheed Alabi is the son of Nigerian parents who were pursuing graduate studies in the United States when he was born. Alabi grew up in Nigeria but returned to the United States to enroll at Johns Hopkins University. He is currently seeking a combined medical degree and Ph.D. in neuroscience at Stanford University Medical School.

Dena Simmons grew up in the Bronx, New York. Her mother came to the United States from Antigua. Dena excelled in school and earned a scholarship to a private preparatory school in Connecticut. She enrolled  at Middlebury College in Vermont where she majored in Spanish. With the help of a Truman Scholarship, she went on to earn a master’s degree in childhood education at Pace University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in health education at Columbia Teachers College.


African Language Speakers in the USA

A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that more than 55 million people over the age of 5 — nearly one quarter of the U.S. population — speak a language other than English at home.

While a great many of the people who use a second language at home are Spanish speakers, there are large numbers of people who speak French, Chinese, Korean, and other languages. Included in this group are more than 700,000 people who speak an African language. About one third of this group of 700,000 African language users report that they are deficient in their English language skills.

Among the African language speakers, 267,000 speak Yoruba or similar dialects from West Africa. There are 90,000 users of the Cushite language, many from Somali backgrounds. There are also 72,000 Swahili speakers.


Harvard Hires Annette Gordon-Reed

In a major hiring coup, Harvard University has appointed award-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed to its faculty. Professor Gordon-Reed has secured a triple appointment. She will serve as a professor at Harvard Law School and a professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. She will also become the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Professor Gordon-Reed was the Wallace Stevens Professor of Law at New York Law School and the Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers University. She is the recipient of the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize in history, and the National Humanities Medal.

Gordon-Reed is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School.


Elena Kagan Won’t Alter the Conservative Leanings of the Supreme Court

The nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court was generally met with approval by many in the African-American community. Kagan, who clerked for former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, is thought to be a solid progressive on the important issues of concern to African Americans. Kagan, who is Jewish, is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She taught at the University of Chicago School of Law and was dean at Harvard Law School.

It is important to remember that Kagan is replacing Justice John Paul Stevens, one of the Court’s more liberal members. So the Kagan appointment will do nothing to change the conservative direction of the Court. On issues such as affirmative action in higher education, the Court continues to have a conservative majority.


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• George Campbell Jr., president of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City, has announced that he will retire at the end of the 2010-11 academic year. He was appointed president in 2000.

A graduate of Drexel University, Dr. Campbell holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Syracuse University.

• Lee Reed was named director of athletics at Georgetown University. For the past eight years he has been athletics director at Cleveland State University.

Reed is a graduate of Cleveland State University and holds a master’s degree in sports administration from the University of New Mexico.

• Larry E. Rivers, president of Fort Valley State University in Georgia, was appointed by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to the board of directors of the Georgia Humanities Council.

• Darnita Killian was named vice president of student affairs at Spelman College in Atlanta. She was vice president for student affairs at Pace University in New York.

Dr. Killian is a Spelman alumna. She holds an MBA from Clark Atlanta University and an educational doctorate from the University of San Francisco.

• Larry L. Earvin, president of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, received a five-year contract extension. He has served as president of the university for the past decade.

Dr. Earvin is a graduate of Clark College. He holds a master’s degree from Georgia State University and a doctorate from Emory University.

• Ivan H. Allen was named interim president of Griffin Technical College in Georgia. Since 2005 Dr. Allen has served as president of Middle Georgia Technical College in Warner Robins, Georgia.

Dr. Allen is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College. He holds a master’s degree from Georgia State University and an educational doctorate from Nova Southeastern University.


Grants and Gifts

Historically black University of Maryland Eastern Shore has received a $3 million grant from the state of Maryland to design a new home for its engineering and aviation sciences programs. The new 163,000-square-foot building is expected to cost $103 million. It is hoped construction can be completed by the fall of 2014.

The University of Illinois has been awarded a four-year, $1.4 million grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to study the effects of online racial discrimination on adolescents of various racial and ethnic groups. The research team is headed by Brendesha Tynes, a professor of educational psychology and African-American studies at the University of Illinois.

Delaware State University, the historically black educational institution in Dover, received a five-year, $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The program will provide undergraduate scholarships for students majoring in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.

The University of the District of Columbia, the historically black educational institution in the nation’s capital, received a $2.2 million grant from the District’s Department of the Environment. The money will fund a new storm water management system on campus.

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