Alarming Drop in Black High School Graduates Entering College

News of a serious development has been released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The data reveals that 55.7 percent of the black students who completed high school in the spring of 2005 had enrolled in some form of higher education by October of that year. This is a serious decline from a year earlier. In 2004 the percentage of black high school graduates who went right on to college was 62.5 percent. Therefore, there was a nearly 7 percentage point decline in one year.

Whites, on the other hand, show a significant increase in college matriculations. In the same period, the percentage of white high school graduates who went on to college immediately after high school increased from 68.8 percent in 2004 to 73.2 percent in 2005. Therefore, the racial gap in high school graduates who enrolled in college right after high school increased from 6.3 percentage points in 2004 to a whopping 17.5 percentage points in 2005.

This is the largest racial gap since 1991. Whether this trend is a one-year statistical anomaly or a new trend bears close watching in the years ahead.


“To navigate successfully an increasingly diverse and global workplace and society, it is essential that our students be exposed to the broad range of perspective that can only be achieved through a diverse student body.”

— from a letter by Adam Herbert and Michael McRobbie, outgoing and new president of Indiana University, supporting a plan to double the number of black students at the university by 2013


Morehouse College Receives $2 Million to Fund an Endowed Chair

The Goldman Sachs Group has donated $2 million to Morehouse College, the historically black educational institution for men in Atlanta. The money will be used to endow the Goldman Sachs Leadership Chair in Civil and Human Rights at the college.

The yet-to-be-named scholar who will be chosen for this new endowed professorship will assume the directorship of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection. The collection includes more than 10,000 pages of documents and other memorabilia.


Former Norfolk State University Professor Convicted of Treason in Ethiopia: His Crime Was Winning a Seat in Parliament for the Opposition Party

Yacob Hailemariam, who served on the faculty at Norfolk State University in Virginia for more than 20 years, returned to his native Ethiopia in 2005 to run for parliament. He was elected along with a host of other reform politicians. But Prime Minister Meles Zenawi stripped the reform politicians of power in the new government. Supporters of the reform movement took to the streets in protest. More than 200 people were killed in riots that followed.

Hailemariam and 37 of his colleagues were arrested and charged with treason and genocide. Earlier this month he was convicted of these charges and is now waiting to learn if he will be executed or sent to prison for the rest of his life.

Ethiopia has been an ally of the Bush administration in its war on terrorism, so it appears that the U.S. government is unwilling to strain relations with the Zenawi government by interceding on Hailemariam’s behalf.

Hailemariam’s family remains in Virginia lobbying for the U.S. government and the international community to come to his aid. Readers can follow developments in the case at http://www.FreeYacob.com.


President of Johnson C. Smith University to Step Down in 2008

Dorothy Cowser Yancy, the first woman president of Johnson C. Smith University, the historically black educational institution in Charlotte, has announced that she will step down in June 2008. Yancy, who has led the university for 13 years, will not retire and will consider other opportunities, perhaps in educational consulting.

During her tenure at the university, applications tripled. The average combined score of entering students on the SAT college entrance examination rose 200 points. The university’s endowment rose from $13.8 million to $53 million. In 2000 she instituted a new policy where all incoming students were issued a laptop computer. This month Dr. Yancy is wrapping up a fundraising campaign which exceeded its $75 million goal.

A native of Alabama, Dr. Yancy is an alumna of Johnson C. Smith University. She holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Massachusetts and a Ph.D. in political science from Atlanta University.


Almost No Progress in Increasing Blacks in Assistant Coaching Positions in College Athletics

Last week JBHE reported the snail-like progress over the past decade in increasing the number of black head coaches in college sports. But the progress has been even slower in assistant coaching positions.

According to data in a new report from the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the percentage of black assistant coaches for men’s teams increased from 15.1 percent in 1996 to 15.5 percent in 2006. For women’s teams, the percentage of black assistant coaches increased from 11.5 percent to 12.1 percent.

There were wide differences in progress in increasing black assistant coaches depending on the particular sport. Only seven college sports showed an improvement in the period whereas14 college sports posted a decline in black assistant coaches.

In women’s basketball, the percentage of black assistant coaches increased from 20.7 percent to 25.9 percent in the 1996-2006 period. No other college sport showed an increase of greater than 2.1 percentage points.

Of the 14 college sports that showed a decline, the largest decreases were in men’s tennis and women’s golf. In men’s ice hockey, there were no black assistant coaches in either 1996 or 2006.


Johns Hopkins University Aims to Soothe Race Relations on Campus

Last fall the Sigma Chi fraternity at Johns Hopkins University held a “Halloween in the Hood” party. The invitation asked attendees to wear “bling bling ice ice, grills, and hoochie hoops.” It went on to say, “For the record, we want to thank Johnnie L. Cochran for being a true homie and getting Orenthal Simpson acquitted.”

Black students on campus were justifiably offended by a skeleton that was hanging from the roof of the fraternity house by a noose. The incident provoked protests and a reexamination of race relations on the university campus.

This summer Johns Hopkins is requiring all incoming freshmen to read Beverly Daniel Tatum’s Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race. Tatum, who is the current president of Spelman College, writes on racial identity development and gives the reader a perspective on what it is like to be a black student on a predominantly white campus.

The book will be the focus of group discussions during freshman orientation at Johns Hopkins this fall. The university is also encouraging all returning students, faculty, and staff to read the book.


The Roller-Coaster Ride of Black Freshmen at Rice University: But This Year the News Is Good

The first students enrolled at Rice University in 1912. For more than half a century the university was faithful to the racial stipulations of its founder that no black students be admitted. After a legal battle in 1965 to overturn the “whites only” provision of the university’s charter, black students were finally admitted to Rice in 1966.

But racial integration came slowly until 1993, when new Rice president Malcolm Gillis made racial diversity a priority. In just two years, blacks were 10 percent of the incoming class at Rice University.

But in 1996 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Hopwood case ruled that the race-sensitive admissions program at the University of Texas law school was unconstitutional. Legal counsel at Rice decided that the decision also applied to their university. Race-sensitive admissions were halted and black admissions plummeted.

Since that time the number of black first-year students has widely fluctuated, despite the fact that race-sensitive admissions were reinstated after the 2003 Grutter ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. But this year there is good news to report. Rice expects 55 black students to matriculate this fall, an increase of nearly 45 percent from a year ago.

Another 37 students expected to enroll this fall at Rice self-identified themselves as “multiracial.” In past years students who checked both boxes for white and black on their admission form were classified as black. Undoubtedly, many of this year’s students in the multiracial category have black ancestors. Therefore, the increase in the number of students with African-American heritage at Rice this year is actually greater than the official numbers indicate.


Georgia Supreme Court Rules That Clark Atlanta University Was Within Its Rights to Shut Down Its Engineering Program

The Supreme Court of Georgia ruled earlier this month that Clark Atlanta University, the historically black educational institution in Atlanta, was within its rights to close down its program in engineering. In 2003 the university announced that it was dropping its engineering program to cut costs. It delayed the closing until 2008 so that all engineering students enrolled at the school in 2003 could complete their degree programs before the program was ended.

In 2005 faculty and engineering students at the university filed a lawsuit seeking to force the university to keep the program. A state court threw out the case and the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed that decision.


Sharp Rise in Honorary Degree Awards to Blacks From the Nation’s Highest-Ranked Universities

In the spring of 2007, 25 honorary degrees were awarded to blacks from the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities. In 2006 these 30 high-ranking universities bestowed 13 honorary degrees on blacks.

Brown University gave honorary degrees to three blacks this year. Among the high-ranking universities, Harvard University, Princeton University, Tufts University, Dartmouth College, the University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Notre Dame each gave honorary degree to two black scholars.



• This spring Terry Bozeman, an assistant director of the comprehensive writing program at Spelman College, received a Ph.D. in English from Georgia State University. He is the first African-American man to earn a doctorate in English from Georgia State University.







Ban on Affirmative Action Likely to Have a Devastating Impact on Black Admissions to the Law School at the University of Michigan

After voters approved Proposal 2 in Michigan this past November, the University of Michigan was obliged to eliminate the use of race in its admissions programs for both undergraduate and graduate programs. Preliminary statistics for this fall’s entering class at the undergraduate level show that black enrollments will hold steady under the new system.

At the University of Michigan Law School, the number of blacks in the first-year class is also expected to be very similar to last year’s entering class. But a closer look at the numbers shows that there is cause for major concern.

The University of Michigan Law School uses a year-round rolling admissions policy. Prior to the ban on affirmative action, which went into effect in late December, of the 396 applications received by minority students, 157, or 39.6 percent, were admitted. After the affirmative action ban became law, the school received 476 applications from minority students. Only 26, or 5.5 percent, were accepted. Admissions officials say that the statistics are somewhat misleading because they encouraged many minority students to apply early last year because of the uncertainty of the outcome on Proposal 2.

However, the numbers portend huge drops in black first-year enrollments next year when the affirmative action ban will be in effect for all applicants.


Three Black Students Named Goldwater Scholars

Barry Goldwater, the famed conservative U.S. senator from Arizona and 1964 GOP presidential nominee, was a dedicated promoter of scientific and engineering research.  

In 1986, when Congress created a new scholarship program to encourage graduate study in mathematics, science, and engineering, Goldwater’s name was attached to the new program.

Students chosen as Goldwater scholars can obtain tuition grants of $7,500 per year for two years to an accredited graduate program in science, mathematics, or engineering. Since its founding the program has awarded 5,202 scholarships with a value of more than $51 million. Nearly 70 Goldwater scholars have gone on to win Rhodes scholarships.

This year 317 Goldwater scholars were chosen from a pool of 1,110 applicants. Applicants are not required to identify their race, and in fact less than 30 percent did so. But JBHE has identified three of this year’s winners of Goldwater scholarships as black. The following are the three black Goldwater scholars:

Warren M. Perry is a biological science major at North Carolina State University. He plans to obtain an M.D./Ph.D. in neurology and genetics. He would like to specialize in research on diseases affecting the central nervous system.

Kwame T. Porter-Robinson is majoring in electrical engineering and applied mathematics at New Mexico State University. He is interested in conducting research on nonlinear control theory and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in electrical engineering.

Benjamin O. Gordon is studying mechanical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. He plans to obtain a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and to teach at the university level. His research interest is in improving energy efficiency and performance.


Asian-American College Students Report a Low Comfort Level When Dealing With African-American College Students

Much has been written about the relationships and interaction of black and white students on the campuses of colleges and universities in the United States. But there has been very little research on how Asian students interact with whites and blacks.

Researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah surveyed white and Asian students about their attitudes on race relations. As expected, both whites and Asians told researchers that they were more comfortable associating with members of their own race.

Outside their race, Asians were most comfortable associating with whites and least comfortable in relationships with African Americans. Whites who participated in the survey were least comfortable dealing with Latinos and most comfortable dealing with blacks.

The authors speculate the reason that whites reported they were most comfortable in dealing with blacks is because there are few African Americans at the university. They believe that whites’ perceptions about blacks were derived more from media representations of blacks in entertainment and sports rather than from interpersonal relationships.



Obama Bill Would Provide Funds for Predominantly Black Colleges

Barack Obama, U.S. senator from Illinois and current candidate for president of the United States, recently introduced the Predominantly Black Institution Act of 2007 for Senate consideration.

The bill authorizes the secretary of education to make grants to colleges and universities with at least 1,000 students working toward a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. For an institution to be eligible for grant money, at least one half of all students must be from low-income families and 40 percent of the students have to be African Americans. Senator Obama estimates that approximately 75 colleges and universities nationwide with total enrollments of more than 250,000 students would meet the criteria for grant eligibility. Many of the eligible schools would be large, urban universities that are not eligible to receive funds reserved for historically black colleges and universities.

Grants, which would be a minimum of $250,000, could be used for a wide variety of purposes including academic instruction, community outreach programs, endowment enhancement, student retention efforts, and other programs to “enhance the institution’s capacity to serve more low- and middle-income African-American students.”

The bill has been referred to committee and no action is expected in the near future. Readers interested in seeing the text of the Obama legislation can click here.


Dillard University Is Back on Its Feet

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in August 2005, much of the campus of historically black Dillard University was left under eight feet of water. Estimates of the total damage were placed at nearly $400 million. Insurance covered only a small fraction of the damages.

Over the past two years the university has received more than $35 million in grants to help in its reconstruction efforts. In addition, Dillard was able to secure a large low-income loan from the federal government. Dillard will borrow $160 million from the federal government with a 1 percent interest rate over the 30-year term of the loan.

The university was closed for the fall semester in 2005 and reopened for the spring semester at a downtown hotel. In August 2006 Dillard’s main campus reopened but enrollments were down by 55 percent. The university hopes to enroll 375 freshman students this year, up from 200 a year ago. Prior to the storm there were 400 freshman students at Dillard.

For her work to get Dillard back up and running, President Marvalene Hughes recently was awarded an honorary degree from Brown University.


The First Grandmother to Graduate From Yale Medical School Is a Black Woman From Pennsylvania

This spring Karen Morris became the first grandmother of any race to earn a degree from the Yale Medical School.

Morris, now 44 years old, had her first of five children at age 16 while she was in high school. She completed high school and operated a beauty shop in her home while raising her family.

At age 29 Morris enrolled in the nursing program at Harrisburg Area Community College. After earning an associate’s degree, in 1996 she transferred to York College where she completed her bachelor’s degree in 2002 earning magna cum laude honors.

This spring she completed her medical training at Yale with more than $160,000 in debt. She and her five children, four grandchildren, and new husband were invited to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show. There Dr. Morris was informed that she was the recipient of the first Ambi Skincare Scholarship in Science and Medicine. The scholarship funds will pay off her educational debt in full.


45.6%  Percentage of all whites over the age of 16 in 2005 who were enrolled in some type of adult education course.

46.4%  Percentage of all African Americans over the age of 16 in 2005 who were enrolled in some type of adult education course.

source: U.S. Department of Education


Among Young Blacks and Whites, Huge Racial Disparities Persist in College Completions

Today in the United States, 18.5 percent of all African-American adults over the age of 25 have earned a four-year college degree. For white adults over the age of 25, the figure is about 31 percent.

But data from the Census Bureau and the Department of Education on educational attainment of African Americans is somewhat misleading. Included in the data on the educational attainment of African-American adults are millions of blacks who grew up prior to the civil rights era when higher educational opportunities for African Americans were almost nonexistent.

For blacks in the 25- to 29-year-old age group, 18.6 percent hold a four-year college degree. This is only slightly better than the rate for black adults as a whole. For whites in this age group, 34.3 percent hold a four-year college degree. This is 3.4 percentage points higher than the white adult population as a whole. Therefore, the college-completion rate gap between young blacks and young whites is actually larger than for the population as a whole.

These figures are discouraging and portend continuing economic gaps between the races for the foreseeable future. If the educational gap between young blacks and whites is larger than the educational gap for black and white adults as a whole, it is near certain that racial gaps in income, wealth, poverty, and unemployment will persist for generations to come.



Matari Jones was named director of public and community relations for St. Philip’s College, a historically black institution in San Antonio, Texas. Jones, a graduate of Texas A&M University, was a television reporter in San Antonio.

Delila Owens, an assistant professor of counselor education at Wayne State University in Detroit, was reappointed by Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm to the Michigan Board of Counseling. A graduate of Ferris State University, Dr. Owens holds a master’s degree from Central Michigan University and a Ph.D. in counselor education from Michigan State University.

Wanda M. Thompson was appointed associate senior vice president for operations at the Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. She was the deputy executive commissioner for system support services for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. A graduate of Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, she holds master’s and doctoral degrees in education from the University of Texas at Austin.





Copyright © 2007. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.