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Northwestern University Anticipates a More Diverse Freshman Class

Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, reports that 7.2 percent of this fall’s entering class will be African Americans. A year ago there were 147 black freshmen at Northwestern. They made up 6.9 percent of the entering class.

This fall, 99 of the 2,149 entering freshmen will be participants in the Good Neighbor, Great University program. This program benefits academically talented low-income students from the Evanston and Chicago public schools.

Rutgers University Ph.D. Candidate Explores the History of Black Nuns in Desegregating American Education

Shannen Williams, a graduate student at Rutgers University, is completing work on her dissertation entitled “Subversive Habits: Black Nuns and the Struggle to Desegregate Catholic America After World War I.” Williams’ research shows that black nuns played a major role in opening up Catholic higher education to African Americans.

For example, in the 1920s African Americans in New Orleans took off-campus classes at all-white Loyola University that were taught by the Sisters of Charity of Seton-Hill. In the early 1930s, the Obate Sisters of Providence worked with the archbishop of Baltimore to re-integrate the Catholic University of America, which had banned blacks during World War I. Williams’ research also examines the extensive network of black secondary schools operated by Catholic nuns that in many cases were the only quality education available to black youths.

Williams won a $25,000 Newcombe Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation for the 2011-12 academic year. The fellowships are given to students writing Ph.D. dissertations on religious and ethical values.

A native of Memphis, Williams is a magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Agnes Scott College. She earned a master’s degree in Afro-American studies from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2006.

Williams told JBHE that several university presses had expressed interest in publishing her dissertation.

Postdoctoral Fellowships for Minority Scholars Available at Penn

The University of Pennsylvania is once again offering its Academic Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. The program is open to scholars and educators from diverse backgrounds or whose life experiences will contribute to Penn’s academic excellence.

Fellows will receive three years of funding, benefits, travel expenditures, and research stipends. Scholars can be in any discipline and must have completed a Ph.D. within the past three years.

Readers interested in the fellowships can find more information here. The deadline for applications is August 1.

Cato Laurencin to Step Down as Dean of the Medical School at the University of Connecticut

Cato T. Laurencin has announced that he will step down as head of the University of Connecticut Health Center and dean of the University of Connecticut Medical School. In a message to the health center community, Dr. Laurencin stated that he was satisfied he has assured “the long-term future of the Health Center. It was my number-one goal in coming to UConn and I’m excited it has been accomplished.”

After giving up his administrative duties, Dr. Laurencin will focus on research and clinical work. He will continue his work as director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. He will take a pay cut from $780,000 to $566,000.

Dr. Laurencin is a 1980 graduate of Princeton University. In 1987 he earned a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering/biotechnology from MIT and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School. Before coming to the University of Connecticut, he was chair of the department of orthopedics at the University of Virginia.

University of Oregon Teams Up With West African Nation of Gabon

The University of Oregon has entered into a research and training partnership with the West African nation of Gabon. The agreement calls for the establishment of the Gabon-Oregon Transnational Research Center on Environment and Development, which will have offices in Eugene, Oregon, and Libreville, the capital of Gabon.

The University of Oregon will help Gabon convert to an oil-based economy to one based on eco-tourism, natural resource management, with a significant investment in education.

University Study Finds That Light-Skinned Black Women Receive Lesser Sentences and Spend Less Time in Jail Than Dark-Skinned Black Women

A new study by researchers at Villanova University in Pennsylvania has found black women with lighter skin receive shorter sentences and spend less time in jail than black women with darker skin. The researchers examined the cases of 12,158 African-American women who spent time in prison from 1995 to 2009. When controlling factors such as previous criminal record and the type of crime committed, the data showed that women with lighter skin received, on average, 12 percent lower sentences and spent 11 percent less time in jail.

The research was published in Social Science Journal. Readers interested in the entire article can download it here.

Three-Judge Panel of Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Rules Michigan’s Ban on Affirmative Action Admissions Is Unconstitutional

A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Proposal 2 which was passed by Michigan voters in 2006 by a 58-42 margin. The referendum then became part of the state constitution. It banned the use of race in hiring or contracting by any agency of the state government. The ban included the consideration of race in making admissions decisions at state-operated colleges and universities.

The ban on race-sensitive admissions has resulted in lower black enrollments at the University of Michigan. In 2006, before the ban went into effect, there were 2,454 African Americans enrolled at all levels of the University of Michigan. In 2010, there were 1,777 African-American students on campus. This is a reduction of 27.6 percent. During the same period. overall enrollments at the University of Michigan increased by more than 3,000 students.

The 2-1 majority ruled that Proposal 2 placed “special burdens on minority interests” and therefore violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

State officials have stated they plan to appeal the decision to the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the case may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. While the case is under the appeal, the University of Michigan will, in all liklihood, not reinstitute race-sensitive admissions.

In Memoriam

David E. Epperson (1935-2011)

David E. Epperson, dean emeritus of the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, died after suffering cardiac arrest at a meeting of the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh. He was 76 years old.

Dr. Epperson served as dean of the School of Social Work from 1972 until his retirement in 2001. During his tenure, enrollment tripled and the school ranked among the top 10 percent of social work schools in the country.

A native of Donora, Pennsylvania, Epperson was the son of a steelworker. He served in the Air Force for four years and then enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1961, a master’s degree in social work in 1964, a second master’s degree in political science and international affairs in 1970, and a Ph.D. in political science and public policy in 1975.

One of his daughters, Lia, is a professor at the law school at American University and she is married to Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP.

Epperson is largely credited with building the School of Social Work into what it is today. When he retired in 2001, 22 percent of the students and 25 percent of the faculty were underrepresented minorities. In 2008, an endowed chair in Epperson’s name was established at the School of Social Work.

Thomas E. Lyle (1929-2011)

Thomas E. Lyle, who served as director of bands at Alabama State University from 1964 to 1988, died last month at the age of 82.

Lyle was a graduate of Tennessee State University and completed graduate work at the University of Michigan. After leaving Alabama State, he was director of bands at Stillman College.

Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Renaldo R. Murray was named director of the marching band at Alcorn State University in Mississippi. He was the interim director of bands and instructor of music at Jackson State University.

A graduate of Alcorn State University, Dr. Murray holds a master’s degree from Jackson State and a doctorate in music education from the University of Mississippi.

• Eve J. Higginbotham, executive dean for health sciences and senior vice president at Howard University in Washington, D.C., was elected to the board of trustees of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Higginbotham holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MIT and is a graduate of Harvard Medical School.

• Elizabeth I. Dadzie is the new associate vice president for enrollment management at Tuskegee University. She previously was on the administrative staff at Indiana University.

Dadzie is a graduate of the University of Ghana and holds an MBA from Indiana University.

• Adjoa A. Aiyetoro was named the founding director of the Institute on Race and Ethnicity at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Since 2004, she has served as an associate professor at the university's William H. Bowen School of Law.

Professor Aiyetoro is a graduate of Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. She earned a master of social work degree at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis and a law degree at Saint Louis University.

• Leroy Dorsey was appointed chair of the department of communication at the University of Memphis. He was associate chair of the department of communication at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Dorsey holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University, Hayward. He earned his Ph.D. at Indiana University.

• Babatunde A. Ogunnaike, who holds the William L. Friend Chair of Electrical Engineering at the University of Delaware, was named interim dean of the College of Engineering at the university. He has been on the university’s faculty since 2002.

Dr. Ogunnaike is a graduate of the University of Lagos in Nigeria. He earned a master’s degree in statistics and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin.

• Helen Diggs was named director of the Laboratory Animal Resource Center at the Oregon State University in Corvallis. Since 2008, she has been director of the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital and associate dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the university.

Dr. Diggs received her doctorate in veterinary medicine at Oregon State.

• Lemuel W. Watson was named dean of the College of Education at the University of South Carolina. He was dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

Dean Watson is a graduate of the University of South Carolina. He earned a master’s degree at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, and a doctorate from Indiana University.

Last week a federal appeals court struck down Michigan's voter-approved ban on race-sensitive admissions at state universities. In your opinion, did the federal court overstep its authority?

The University of Kentucky Approves a New Diversity Plan

The board of trustees for the University of Kentucky has approved a new diversity plan for the 2011-15 period. At the current time, blacks make up 7.2 percent of the undergraduate student body and 4.9 percent of the graduate students at the university. The plan’s goal is to raise these levels to 7.7 percent, the percentage of blacks in the state’s overall population.

The plan also sets goals for retention and graduation rates of black students. Also, goals are established for the hiring of black administrators, professionals, and faculty.

Terry Allen, associate vice president for institutional equity stated, “The ultimate goal is consistency in providing opportunities that contribute to the University of Kentucky becoming an inclusive and welcoming postsecondary educational institution.”

Readers who would like to look over the entire diversity plan, can download the document here.

New Historical Society for Black Railroaders Hopes One Day to Provide College Scholarships

Recently, the National Black Railroaders Historical Society was founded in Miami, Florida. The society has an exhibit in the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami and hopes to one day move at least part of the collection to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, scheduled to open on The Mall in Washington, D.C., in 2015. The current collection includes about 250 artifacts and photographs.

African Americans have a rich history of involvement with American railroads from laying track to serving as conductors and Pullman porters.

In the future the society hopes to provide college scholarships for African Americans seeking careers in transportation or hospitality industries.

Stanford University Running in Place in Efforts to Boost Black Faculty

Stanford University has announced that it is on pace to hire 10 scholars whose research is concentrated on ethnicity or race. The goal was to hire the 10 new professors over a five-year period. Since 2007, 12 scholars have been offered positions and six new hires have joined the Stanford faculty. The university hopes to add three additional scholars this year and two offers have been made.

However, due to turnover and the loss of black faculty to other universities, Stanford has made little progress over the past decade in increasing the number of blacks and other minority faculty on campus. In the recent academic year there were 49 blacks on the Stanford faculty. Ten years earlier there were 47 blacks teaching at Stanford. Due an increase in total faculty during the decade, the black percentage of the faculty at Stanford decreased from 2.8 percent to 2.6 percent. Without Stanford’s laudatory Faculty Development Initiative to create 10 new positions for scholars dealing with race or ethnicity, the black faculty statistics would be lower.

These figures were announced prior to the announcement that Claude Steele would be returning to Stanford as dean of the School of Education. Professor Steele was serving as provost at Columbia University.

Fayetteville State University Introduces a New Logo and Slogan

Fayetteville State University, the historically black educational institution in North Carolina, has designed a new logo showing the university’s traditional lamp logo within the university’s original entrance. The new logo includes the lantern in day and night mode signifying diversity. The university intends the logo as a “beacon of guidance and inspiration.”

In addition to the new logo, a new tagline was introduced. The new slogan, “Proud to Be,” hope to convey “pride and truth that guides the FSU community as a university of action and accomplishment.”

Recent Books That May Be of Interest to African-American Scholars

The JBHE Weekly Bulletin regularly publishes a list of new books that may be of interest to our readers. Here are the latest selections. Click on any of the titles for more information or to purchase through

African Americans in South Texas History edited by Bruce A. Glasrud (Texas A&M University Press)

Authentic Blackness/“Real” Blackness: Essays on the Meaning of Blackness in Literature and Culture edited by Martin Japtok and Jerry Rafiki Jenkins (Peter Lang Publishing)

Crusade Against Slavery: Edward Coles, Pioneer of Freedom by Kurt Leichtie and Bruce G. Carveth (Southern Illinois University Press)

Faulkner and Whiteness edited by Jay Watson (University Press of Mississippi)

If We Must Die: From Bigger Thomas to Biggie Smalls by Aime J.  Ellis (Wayne State University Press)

Masculinity in the Black Imagination: Politics of Communicating Race and Manhood by Ronald L. Jackson and Mark C. Hopson (Peter Lang Publishing)

New Essays on Phillis Wheatley edited by John C. Shields and Eric D. Lamore (University of Tennessee Press)

Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball by Rebecca T. Alpert (Oxford University Press)

Racism in the Modern World: Historical Perspectives on Cultural Transfer and Adaptation by Manfred Berg and Simon Wendt (Berghahn Books)

Somalis in Maine: Crossing Cultural Currents edited by Kimberly A. Huisman et al. (North Atlantic Books)

The City on the Hill From Below: The Crisis of Prophetic Black Politics by Stephen H. Marshall (Temple University Press)

The Commercial Church: Black Churches and the New Religious Marketplace in America by Mary Hinton (Lexington Books)

The Inequalities of Love: College-Educated Black Women and the Barriers to Romance and Family by Averil Y. Clarke (Duke University Press)

The Rise of Chicago’s Black Metropolis, 1920-1929 by Christopher Robert Reed (University of Illinois Press)

Thyra J. Edwards: Black Activist in the Global Freedom Struggle by Gregg Andrews (University of Missouri Press)

Honors and Awards

The State University of New York at New Paltz received the 2011 Innovation Award from the Diversity in Global Education Network. The university was honored for its efforts to increase the opportunities of minority students to participate in study abroad programs.

Grants and Gifts

The University of Southern California received a two-year, $100,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to explore the influence of urban African-American mothers on their sons use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.

The Southeastern Universities Research Association received a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to sponsor a joint conference of the National Society of Black Physicists and the National Society of Hispanic Physicists. The conference will be held at the University of Texas in Austin this September.

This summer Hyatt Hotels Corporation and its local affiliates are sponsoring summer bridge programs at five historically black colleges and universities. From 20 to 25 students who are interested in careers in the hospitality or tourism industries will attend these programs. The participating educational institutions are Virginia State University, Delaware State University, Tuskegee University, North Carolina Central University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.



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