Black Colleges and Universities Fare Well in Washington Monthly’s College Rankings

The magazine Washington Monthly has released its new rankings of liberal arts colleges and universities. The magazine’s rankings are markedly different from those compiled by other ratings organizations, most notably U.S. News & World Report. The editors say that their rankings are “a measure of not just what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for the country.” The editors go on to say that “in our eyes, America’s best colleges are those that work hardest to help economically disadvantaged students, contribute new scientific discoveries, and emphasize the obligations students have to serve their communities.” Thus, factors in the Washington Monthly rankings include the percentage of students who receive Pell Grants, the number of students who go on to serve in the Peace Corps and ROTC programs, and the percentage of their budgets dedicated to research.

The Washington Monthly rankings for the best liberal arts colleges include schools such as Amherst, Williams, Haverford, and Swarthmore that are also included in the lists compiled by U.S. News and other services. However, unlike U.S. News, several black colleges rank very high in the Washington Monthly ratings. Morehouse College in Atlanta sits in the 14th position, ahead of such schools as Middlebury, Vassar, Oberlin, and Pomona. Spelman College ranks in 21st place in the Washington Monthly list. Also in the top 50 liberal arts colleges, according to Washington Monthly, are Dillard University, Fisk University, and Tougaloo College.

In the university rankings, three campuses of the University of California occupy the top three positions. In what may be a surprise to readers, historically black South Carolina State University ranks sixth in the Washington Monthly tabulations, ahead of Harvard and the other Ivies, MIT, and the University of Michigan.

Jackson State University comes in at 21st in the Washington Monthly ratings, just ahead of Yale. Howard University, Florida A&M University, and Clark Atlanta University all rank in the top 75.


The Mystery of Hattie McDaniel’s Oscar: It Has Been Missing From Howard University for Nearly 40 Years

In 1940 Hattie McDaniel won the Academy Award as best supporting actress for her portrayal of Mammy in the classic film Gone With the Wind. McDaniel died in 1952 from breast cancer. She bequeathed the award to the Howard University drama department. The Oscar, which in those days was a plaque, not the familiar statuette of today, was displayed in a glass-enclosed case on the Howard campus.

But in the late 1960s or early 1970s, the Oscar disappeared and its whereabouts remain unknown. There are a number of theories on what happened to the plaque. One legend states that black power protesters threw the plaque into the Potomac River to protest McDaniel’s portrayal as a stereotypical black servant. Some believe that a faculty member at Howard confiscated the plaque. But there has been no trace of the award for almost 40 years.

The artifact, one of the more significant pieces of African-American film history, has been valued at more than $500,000.


A Huge Racial Gap Persists in High School Graduation Rates

New data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that in 2008 there were 415,111 black graduates at public high schools in the United States. Only 61.5 percent of black students who were high school freshmen four years earlier earned their high school diploma in 2008. For white students, the high school graduation rate was 81.0 percent.

The highest black graduation rates were in the states of New Hampshire, Vermont, and North Dakota. The lowest black student high school graduation rates were in Indiana, Louisiana, and Alaska.


African-American President of Indiana University of Pennsylvania to Step Down

Tony Atwater, who has served as president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania for the past five years, has announced that he will step down at the end of this month. The university, one of 14 colleges that make up the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, is located 45 miles east of the city of Pittsburgh. About 11 percent of the university’s 12,000 undergraduate students are black.

Dr. Atwater has accepted a position as a senior fellow at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Atwater’s resignation comes six months after the faculty senate overwhelmingly supported a resolution of no confidence in his leadership. The no-confidence resolution contained a list of 31 complaints that faculty members had compiled that were critical of Dr. Atwater’s management.

In announcing his resignation Dr. Atwater noted that he had been successful in increasing enrollments at the university. Atwater also noted that annual giving to the university had doubled during his tenure.

Dr. Atwater is a 1973 graduate of Hampton University, the historically black educational institution in Virginia. He holds a Ph.D. in communication research from Michigan State University. Prior to assuming the presidency of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Atwater was provost and vice president of academic affairs at Youngstown State University in Ohio.

76%  White percentage of the U.S. population in 1990.

66%  White percentage of the U.S. population in 2010.

49%  Estimated white percentage of the U.S. population in 2042.

source: U.S. Census Bureau


In Memoriam

Annie Parena Woodard (1935-2010)

Annie P. Woodard, the first African-American woman to hold a faculty position at Polk State College in Lakeland, Florida, has died after a battle with cancer. She was 74 years old.

Woodard joined the faculty at what was then Polk Community College in 1968. She remained on the faculty for 35 years until her retirement in 2003.

Dr. Woodard was a native of Alabama and graduated from Tuskegee University. She held a master’s degree from Indiana University and an educational doctorate from the University of Alabama.


Honors and Awards

• Tommie Morton-Young received the Distinguished Alumna Award from the Peabody College of education at Vanderbilt University. Morton-Young, the author of 10 books and a retired full professor in the University of North Carolina system, was the first black graduate of Peabody College in 1955.

Professor Morton-Young was a graduate of Tennessee State University. She earned a master’s degree at Peabody College and a doctorate at Duke University.

• Alexander Byrd, associate professor of history at Rice University in Houston, received the university’s Presidential Mentoring Award. Dr. Byrd is a graduate of Rice University and holds a Ph.D. from Duke University.

• James Hawkins, dean of the School of Journalism and Graphic Arts at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, was named Educator of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. Dean Hawkins began teaching at Florida A&M in 1977.

• Harold L. Martin Sr., chancellor of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, was named 2010 Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech.

Dr. Martin earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at North Carolina A&T State University and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech.

• Rudolph P. Byrd, Goodrich C. White Professor of American Studies at Emory University, received the university’s Thomas Jefferson Award for outstanding service to the educational institution.

• Karen A. Baskerville, assistant professor of biology at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, received the university’s Hildrus A. Poindexter Distinguished Research Award.

Dr. Baskerville is a graduate of Northwestern University and holds a Ph.D. in anatomy and neurobiology from the University of Tennessee.

The Office of Community Relations at Cornell University received the Judges’ Citation award from the Council for University Advancement of the State University of New York. The office was commended for holding community forums to deal with racism in local schools and businesses.


Grants and Gifts

Delaware State University, the historically black educational institution in Dover, received a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to fund its Minority Access to Research Careers program.

The University of Notre Dame received a $100,000 grant from the Pentecostal and Charismatic Research Initiative of the University of Southern California. The grant will support the research of two Notre Dame faculty members into the Roman Catholic Charismatic Movement in sub-Saharan Africa.

The University of South Carolina’s College of Social Work received a three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to train five undergraduates and three graduate students to investigate racial disparities in kidney disease.

U.S. Navy Launches Oral History Project of Its First Black ROTC Recruits at a Black College or University

The United States Navy is conducting an oral history project involving the first black recruits to an ROTC program at a historically black college or university. In 1968, 13 African-American men enrolled in the new ROTC program at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. At the time, there were 236 African Americans among a total of 72,000 officers in the Navy. Of the 13 recruits, 10 eventually became naval officers and three joined the Marines. Of the 10 black Navy officers to come out of the 1968 ROTC class at Prairie View A&M, two rose to the rank of admiral.

The oral history interviews, which include the recruits and two of their instructors, were conducted at the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C.


“Education is meant to be the great equalizer.  It shouldn’t matter your race or ZIP code. Equal education is the civil rights fight of our era.”

Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education, speaking at North Carolina Central University in Durham


Hampton University Professor Gives Back to the Community

Natalie S. Robertson, an associate professor of history at Hampton University in Virginia, has launched a job training center in a low-income neighborhood of Newport News. Using $150,000 of her own money, Professor Robertson bought a boarded-up building that once housed a nightclub and a printing business. She formed the non-profit Community Empowerment Network and is seeking to raise funds from government and private organizations.

Once renovations to the building are complete Professor Robertson plans to open the Micro Enterprise Institute, where aspiring entrepreneurs can learn how to run a small business. The other part of the building will be used as a job training center with an emphasis on the construction industry.

Professor Robertson is a graduate of the University of Detroit. She holds a master’s degree in museum studies from Hampton University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in American studies from the University of Iowa. She is the author of The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Making of AfricaTown, USA: Spirit of Our Ancestors.


UCLA Honors Two Black Panther Party Member Students Who Were Slain on Campus in 1969

On January 17, 1969, two African-American students were shot and killed on the campus of the University of California at Los Angeles. The two students, Alprentice Carter and John J. Huggins Jr., were both members of the Black Panther Party. The shooting allegedly occurred during a dispute over leadership of the new black studies program at UCLA.

The alleged shooter was never apprehended. Two others were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and were given life sentences. Both escaped from prison in 1974. One of the two lived as a fugitive in Suriname for 20 years before giving himself up. The other conspirator remains at large.

Now a plaque honoring the slain students will be placed in a glass case in the classroom building where the murders occurred.

UDC Has a Friend in Marion Barry

The Patricia R. Harris Education Center in Washington, D.C., was a public school that was closed in 2008. Since that time, the 358,000-square-foot facility has housed training programs for fire department personnel and the office of the city’s child welfare agency.

But as the city council was preparing to pass its budget late last month, a provision was inserted at the last moment that transferred ownership of the building from the city to the University of the District of Columbia. City Council chair Vincent C. Gray included the transfer in the budget at the behest of former mayor and current council member Marion Barry. Other members of the council objected to the “giveaway,” but were unwilling to vote against the total budget package.

Barry, who holds degrees from LeMoyne College and Fisk University, has been a major supporter of the University of the District of Columbia. The university will use the building as a campus of its newly established community college.


Black College Announces New Degree Program

Voorhees College, the historically black educational institution in Denmark, South Carolina, has announced the establishment of a new major in sports management. The new major will be available beginning in the 2010-11 academic year. The college expects to graduate 80 to 100 students in the discipline over the next five years.


Study Finds Large Racial Disparities in Prescription Drug Abuse by High School Students

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that one in five high school students in the United States has abused prescription drugs. Students were surveyed and asked if they had ever taken drugs such as Percocet, Vicodin, or Xanax without a doctor’s prescription.

The results showed that white students were more likely than their black peers to abuse prescription drugs. Some 23 percent of white students had abused prescription drugs compared to only 12 percent of black students.

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:

• A racial slur was written on the dry-erase board on the dormitory room door of an African-American student at San Diego State University. The next day, the university’s vice president for student affairs sent a letter to the campus community stating that such behavior is unacceptable and could result in the expulsion of the offender.

• A black professor at the Aurora campus of the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine claims that he has been paid less than white colleagues and is subjected to racial snubs and jokes. The professor claims that the racial discrimination has persisted for 29 years. (Denver Post, 5-13-10)

• A white student at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota, appeared in blackface during a skit in a student talent show. The student wore baggy pants and had dreadlocks and gold teeth.  The student issued an apology to the campus community. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 5-11-10)

• Two students at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, had their residence broken into while they were at class. Swastikas and ethnic slurs were found written inside the apartment. (Bangor Daily News, 5-22-10)

• The former football coach at historically black Savannah State University in Georgia claims in a federal lawsuit that he was forced to resign because he is white and is engaged to marry a black woman. The former coach said that he was told the mixed-race marriage would cause problems with alumni and members of the local community. (Associated Press, 5-28-10)


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Jonathan Holloway, professor of history, African-American studies, and American studies at Yale University, was appointed to a second term as master of Calhoun College, a residential community on the Yale campus.

• Rixon Campbell was named executive assistant to the president for administration at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was director of business development and training for FDY Inc., a food services company.

Campbell is a graduate of Bethune-Cookman University. He holds a master’s degree from St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, New York, and is completing work on a doctorate in business administration from Argosy University.

• Tim Turner was promoted to associate professor of music at Xavier University in New Orleans. Dr. Turner, who serves as chair of the music department and director of bands, holds a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Memphis.

• Stephen L. Mayo, Bren Professor of Biology and Chemistry and vice provost at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, was named chair of the university’s division of biology.

Dr. Mayo is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University and he holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from CalTech.

• Barbara D. Jumper was promoted to vice president of facilities and real estate at the University of the District of Columbia. She was associate vice president and previously had served as chief financial officer of the university.

• Dwaun J. Warmack was appointed vice president for student affairs at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. He was associate dean of students at Rhodes College in Memphis.

Warmack holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. He is currently completing a doctorate in educational leadership from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.

• Lance R. Collins, S.C. Thomas Sze Director of the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University, was named dean of the College of Engineering at the university.

Dr. Collins is a 1981 graduate of Princeton University. He holds a master’s degree and Ph.D., both in chemical engineering, from the University of Pennsylvania.



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