Study Finds Persisting Racial Bias in the SAT College Admissions Test

In what some in the educational community are calling a “bombshell,” a new study presents evidence of continuing racial bias in test questions contained on the SAT, the most widely used college entrance examination.

The study, published in the Harvard Educational Review, found that there is no racial bias on the mathematics section of the SAT. But the authors found what is called “differential item functioning,” or DIF, on several questions on the reading test. The results of these questions showed significant racial disparities in correct answers even when other factors such as educational background are similar. The questions with a DIF favoring white students were on the easier portion of the reading section of the SAT. But there was no DIF favoring whites on the harder reading questions. The authors theorize that the easier questions concern cultural norms in white society that are ingrained in the mind of white test takers whereas the more difficult questions are on words that are learned in school by both black and white students.

The research was conducted using data from students in the University of California system. The article was written by Maria Veronica Santelices, an assistant professor of education at the Catholic University of Chile, and Mark Wilson, a professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California at Berkeley.

In their conclusion, the authors of the study warn colleges and universities that using the SAT as a gatekeeper to higher education could present legal challenges if the test is shown to favor one ethnic group over another.


At South Carolina State University, Board Rehires Fired President

In June, the South Carolina State University board of trustees voted 7 to 4 not to renew the contract of university president George E. Cooper. Cooper had served in the position for only two years.

On July 1, the terms of two trustees who had voted against Cooper expired. Two new trustees began their terms. A new vote was held and the board voted to reinstate Dr. Cooper as president by a vote of 8 to 5.

Dr. Cooper is a graduate of Florida A&M University. He holds a master’s degree in animal science from Tuskegee University and a Ph.D. in animal nutrition from the University of Illinois.


Two African Americans Among the New Fellows of the National Humanities Center

The National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, has announced its 2010 class of fellows. This year there are 36 new fellows chosen from 442 applicants. Twenty-nine of the scholars are from the United States and seven are from foreign countries. The scholars are faculty at 26 different colleges and universities. Four scholars are from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and three are from Duke University, educational institutions that are located close to the National Humanities Center.

Each fellow will work on an individual research project and will have the opportunity to share ideas in seminars, lectures, and conferences at the Center. The fellows will share $1.3 million in grants to enable them to pursue their scholarly efforts without financial burden.

JBHE research has determined that two of the new NHC fellows are black:

Sharon Harley is an associate professor and chair of the African-American studies department at the University of Maryland at College Park. She holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Howard University. She will use her time at the NHC to work on her project entitled, “In the Shadow of Race: Gender Formation, Women’s Labor, and the Quest for Citizenship in Post-Emancipation United States.”

Bayo Holsey is an assistant professor of cultural anthropology and African and African-American studies at Duke University. She earned her Ph.D. in 2003 from Columbia University. Her NHC research project is entitled, “Spectacles of Slavery: Marketing the Past in the New Millennium.”



Black College Considering Reintroducing Football After a 60-Year Hiatus

LeMoyne-Owen College, the historically black educational institution in Memphis, has not lost an intercollegiate football game since 1951. The reason is that the LeMoyne-Owen Magicians haven’t fielded a team in almost 60 years.

But now the college is considering reviving its football program. The college estimates that it would cost $2 million to $3 million to start up a program. It won’t make the commitment unless the program can be financially sound and not be a drag on the school’s budget.

LeMoyne-Owen College recently went through some difficult financial times but was helped by local and state governments as well as corporate and foundation donors. Now enrollments are at a 10-year high. Robert Lipscomb, chair of the college’s board of trustees, hopes a football program will attract more students and provide an impetus for additional alumni-giving.


Good News and Bad News on Accreditation Status for Black Colleges in the South

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has placed on probation historically black Concordia College in Selma, Alabama, and Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Virginia. The colleges were placed on probation due to financial troubles facing the small, private HBCUs. If the problems are not corrected, the two colleges risk being stripped of their accreditation. Students at colleges which lose their accreditation are no longer eligible for federal aid.

Stillman College, a historically black educational institution in Alabama, was placed on warning status, which is less serious than being placed on probation.

In contrast, Texas Southern University and Tougaloo College in Mississippi, two historically black educational institutions, were restored to fully accredited status. Texas Southern University had been on probation status since 2007. Tougaloo College was on warning status.


In Memoriam

Wendell Morris Logan (1940-2010)

Wendell Logan, the founder of the jazz studies department at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and professor of music at Oberlin College in Ohio, has died in Cleveland, Ohio. He was 69 years old.

A native of Thomson, Georgia, Logan was a graduate of Florida A&M University.  He went on to earn a master’s degree in music from Southern Illinois University and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. Before joining the Oberlin faculty in 1973, Dr. Logan taught at Florida A&M, Ball State University, and Western Illinois University.

Over his long career he composed more than 200 works.


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Chiquita V. White, associate director for research and product development at Procter & Gamble, was named to the board of the MIT Corporation. She is a 1985 graduate of MIT and holds a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

This past spring Haki R. Madhubuti, prolific African-American author and poet, resigned his position as Distinguished University Professor at Chicago State University. He has now accepted an appointment as the Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor at DePaul University.

• Roberta Troy was named interim provost at Tuskegee University in Alabama.  She has been serving as assistant provost for undergraduate studies.

Dr. Troy holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from Tuskegee University and a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Florida.

• Donald Martin Carter was awarded tenure in Africana studies at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Professor Carter previously taught at Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, and Dickinson College. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

• Bonita J. Hairston was named chief of staff for the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She had served in a similar position at the University of North Texas in Denton. She holds bachelor’s and law degrees from Wake Forest University.

• Walter R. Dean Jr., longtime professor of urban affairs at Baltimore City Community College, has retired. Dean was a civil rights activist while a student at Morgan State University during the early 1960s. He was arrested for his participation in a lunch counter sit-in. He later served in the Maryland House of Delegates for 12 years.

• William Watkins was promoted to vice president for student affairs and dean of students at California State University Northridge. Since 2003 he has served as the associate vice president for student affairs.

Dr. Watkins is a 1974 graduate of CalState Northridge, where he was the first African American to serve as student body president. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California and an educational doctorate from the University of California at Los Angeles.




Honorary Degrees Bestowed on Blacks at This Spring’s Commencement Ceremonies of the Nation’s Leading Liberal Arts Colleges

Last week JBHE reported that 30 honorary degrees were given out to blacks this year at the commencement ceremonies of the nation’s leading universities and liberal arts colleges. In that issue JBHE listed the honorees at the nation’s highest-ranked universities. Here are the honorees who received degrees at the nation’s top liberal arts colleges:

Amherst College: Walter Dean Myers, author of children’s books

Bates College: Rennie Harris, hip-hop choreographer

Bowdoin College: Joan Cannady Countryman, educator

Carleton College: Margaret Simms, director of the Low-Income Working Families Project at the Urban Institute

Colgate University: Ronald A. Crutcher, president of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts

Haverford College: Bob Herbert, columnist for The New York Times

Oberlin College: Stevie Wonder, recording artist, Bill Cosby, author and entertainer, and Camille Cosby, philanthropist and education advocate

Smith College: Peggy M. Shepard, executive director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice

Swarthmore College: Robert Michael Franklin, president of Morehouse College

Wesleyan University: Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University

Williams College: Stephanie Wilson, astronaut



Three African Americans Named to Interim President Positions

Recently three African Americans were named interim president of colleges and universities. They will serve until permanent presidents are hired. Here are brief biographies of these three new interim presidents:

Walter E. Massey was appointed interim president of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Massey was president of Morehouse College in Atlanta from 1995 to 2007. Previously he was provost and senior vice president for academic affairs of the University of California system and was director of the Argonne National Laboratory and professor of physics at the University of Chicago.

• Tuskegee University in Alabama has named Charlotte P. Morris interim president following the retirement of Benjamin F. Payton. For the past 22 years she has been executive associate to the president and secretary of the university’s board of trustees. She previously taught at the university’s College of Business and Technology.

A native of Kosclusko, Mississippi, Dr. Morris graduated from Jackson State University. She received a master’s degree from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, and a doctorate in education and business management from Kansas State University.

Jannett Jackson was named interim president of the College of Alameda in California. Since 2004 she has been serving as vice president for instruction at the college.

Jackson served in the military for 28 years including eight months as a company commander during the first Gulf War. When Jackson retired from the military, she was the only African-American brigade commander in the California National Guard.

Dr. Jackson holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University Fresno and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Texas.


Africa’s First Master’s Degree Program in Hospital Administration Produces Its First Class of Graduates

A new master’s degree program in hospital and health care administration at Jimma University in Ethiopia has produced its first class of graduates. The effort is the only master’s degree program in the discipline in Africa.

The new program was established as a partnership between Jimma University, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, and the Global Health Leadership Institute at Yale University. The two-year degree program includes academic courses and practical applications in a hospital setting. Yale University faculty members developed the curriculum and serve as mentors to the master’s degree students.

A Record Number of Blacks in the Entering Class at West Point

Recently the Class of 2014 at the United States Military Academy reported to West Point to begin a summer of basic training. Of the nearly 1,400 cadets in the first-year class, 250 are women and 375 are from underrepresented minority groups. Included in the class are 126 African Americans, the largest number in the history of West Point. In addition to the African-American cadets, there are students from Rwanda and Zaire among the 12 international students in the first-year class. Blacks make up about 9 percent of the freshman class.


The Higher Education of Indiana’s First Black Federal Judge

Tanya Walton Pratt has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a seat on the federal bench in the southern district of Indiana. She is the first African American to be named a federal judge in Indiana.

Judge Pratt has served as a judge in the Marion Superior Court since 1997. There she presided over 20 to 35 jury trials each year. Pratt is a graduate of Spelman College and the Howard University School of Law.


Walter Bumphus to Head Community College Association

The American Association of Community Colleges has named Walter G. Bumphus as its president and CEO. The association represents more than 1,200 public two-year colleges in the United States.

Dr. Bumphus was serving as a professor in the Community College Leadership Program and chair of the department of educational administration at the University of Texas at Austin. Previously he served as president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

A native of Kentucky, Dr. Bumphus holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Murray State University and an educational doctorate from the University of Texas.

Court Rules Columbia University Can Expand Its Campus Into West Harlem

The New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, has ruled that a state development agency has the right to use eminent domain to clear the way for Columbia University in New York City to expand its campus into the predominantly black community of West Harlem. As a result of the ruling, Columbia will be able to proceed with a $6.3 billion expansion plan on 17 acres in a blighted Manhattanville neighborhood.

Columbia had bought a lot of properties in the area but there were some holdouts who would not sell. Critics of the Columbia plan said that the university allowed the properties that it had bought to deteriorate so the area would be declared blighted and eligible to be designated for eminent domain.

Dating back to the 1960s, Columbia University has had an uneasy relationship with the surrounding community, as documented in the recent book, Harlem vs. Columbia University by Stefan M. Bradley, an assistant professor of history and African-American studies at St. Louis University. (See JBHE, Number 65, Autumn 2009, p. 96.)


Frank Pogue Named the Eighth President of Grambling State University

In December 2009, Frank G. Pogue was appointed interim president of Grambling State University. Since that time he has impressed almost every constituency in the Grambling community. As a result, the university’s board of supervisors has decided to make Pogue’s appointment permanent.  He is the eighth president in the university’s history.

Dr. Pogue has nearly a half-century of experience as a faculty member and administrator in higher education. Most recently, he was president of Chicago State University. Previously, he served for 11 years as president of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

A graduate of Alabama State University, Dr. Pogue holds a master’s degree from Atlanta University and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh.


Honors and Awards

• Benjamin F. Payton, the outgoing president of Tuskegee University in Alabama, was honored by the announcement of plans to construct a new building complex which will bear his name. The new complex will include science labs, seminar spaces, meeting rooms, a fitness center, and residential suites. Ground will be broken for the new $20 million project next spring.

• Archibald A. Alexander, the first African American to play varsity football at the University of Iowa, was inducted posthumously into the university’s Distinguished Engineering Alumni Academy. Alexander earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1912. He designed the Tuskegee Airfield in Alabama and two buildings on the University of Iowa campus. In 1954 he was appointed governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands by President Eisenhower. Alexander died in 1958.

• Leland B. Ware, Louis L. Redding Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of Delaware, received the Ubuntu Award from the university’s department of black American studies. Professor Ware was honored for his efforts to establish a museum in the childhood home of legal scholar Louis Redding, the first African American to be admitted to the bar association in Delaware.

• Jared Sexton, associate professor of African-American studies and film and media studies at the University of California at Irvine, was inducted into the Diversity Hall of Fame at the University of New Hampshire. Professor Sexton was student body president at UNH in 1996.

• The School of Journalism at the University of Arizona is the recipient of the 2010 Robert P. Knight Multicultural Recruitment Award for its efforts to promote diversity in high school journalism.

• William Sizwe Herring, building activities supervisor at the Floyd-Payne Campus Center at Tennessee State University, received the Tennessee Alliance for Progress Long Haul Award for his efforts to raise environmental consciousness in the Nashville community.


Grants and Gifts

• Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, received a $160,000 grant from the Jessie Ball Dupont Fund to support internships and study-abroad opportunities for low-income students.

• Pitzer College in Claremont, California, received a $100,000 grant from the Hearst Foundation for a scholarship fund for low-income students.

• Clark Atlanta University received a $400,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to improve the quality of life in low-income and minority communities that have been exposed to environmental hazards.

• Columbia University in New York City received a $427,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation of Chicago for a research project on how environmental policies impact infants in poor and minority communities.

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