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Nearly Half a Million African Americans Earned Degrees in the 2008-09 Academic Year

The U.S. Department of Education has released preliminary data on degree attainments during the 2008-09 academic year. That year more than 467,000 African Americans were awarded higher education degrees.

The survey reports that 94,409 associate’s degrees were awarded to blacks. Blacks accounted for 12 percent of all associate degree awards.

In the 2008-09 academic year, 145,834 bachelor’s degrees were earned by African Americans. This was 9.1 percent of all bachelor’s degrees.

In the same period, 62,169 master’s degrees were awarded to blacks. Blacks were 9.4 percent of all master’s degree recipients.

Another 9,300 blacks earned doctoral or professional degrees. Blacks were 6 percent of the degree earners at this level.

Historically Black Virginia State University Takes on the High Price of Textbooks

A recent survey by Public Agenda found that the high cost of textbooks is one reason that many students drop out of college and graduate school. The Reginald F. Lewis School of Business at Virginia State University has entered into an agreement to provide electronic books that will significantly reduce student costs. Under the agreement with Flat World Knowledge Inc., students will be able to receive all course materials in digital format for $20 per course. Students will be able to obtain text on their iPads or Kindle devices or they can download PDF files onto their personal computers. Professors can customize text to conform with their study plans and to eliminate unnecessary materials.

Allstate Insurance Aims to Raise Money for UNCF Scholarships

This month the Allstate Insurance Company is donating $5 to the United Negro College Fund for each automobile insurance quote issued at its website or through participating Allstate agents. The company hopes to raise $100,000 which will be earmarked for UNCF scholarships.

To obtain an auto insurance quote that will generate the $5 contribution, click here.

The University of the District of Columbia Is No Longer Just a Commuter College

The historically black University of the District of Columbia has been exclusively a commuter school. But this semester the first college housing has opened. A group of two-bedroom apartments in a building across the street from the main campus is now occupied by about 90 UDC students. The students pay $4,200 a semester.

In 2012 a new residence hall with room for 300 students is planned for the UDC main campus. A $40 million student center will also open in 2012.

The First Black Major General of the Virginia Army National Guard Holds Two Degrees in Electrical Engineering

Frank E. Batts Sr. is the first African American to reach the rank of major general in the Virginia Army National Guard. General Batts is commander of the 29th Infantry Division, based at Fort Belvoir. He served in Afghanistan from May 2004 to April 2005.

General Batts is a graduate of the ROTC program at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. There, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering. Batts is also a graduate of the Army War College.

While not serving in the Guard, Batts is an electronics engineer at the NASA Langley Research Center.

The Higher Education of Iowa’s First Black Female Judge

Last month, Romonda Belcher-Ford was named district judge in Polk County, Iowa. She is the first black woman to serve in a judicial position in the state of Iowa. (Iowa’s first black male judge, William V. Parker, was elected in 1963 to the municipal court bench in Waterloo.)

Judge Belcher-Ford is a native of North Carolina. She is a graduate of Howard University and the Drake Law School. She has worked as an attorney for the Polk County government for the past 15 years. Polk County includes the capital city of Des Moines.

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.

  • Acting White: The Curious History of a Racial Slur by Ron Christie (St. Martin’s Press)

Are We Born Racist? New Insights From Neuroscience and Positive Psychology edited by Jason Marsh et al. (Beacon Press)

Assumed Identities: The Meanings of Race in the Atlantic World edited by John D. Garrigus (Texas A&M University Press)

Between Race and Reason: Violence, Intellectual Responsibility, and the University to Come by Susan Searls Giroux (Stanford University Press)

Children of Fire: A History of African Americans by Thomas C. Holt (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

Disciplining Women: Alpha Kappa Alpha, Black Counterpublics, and the Cultural Politics of Black Sororities by Deborah Elizabeth Whaley (State University of New York Press)

Dream Walker: A Journey of Achievement and Inspiration by Bernard Harris (Greenleaf Press)

From Africa to Jamaica: The Making of Atlantic Slave Society, 1775-1807 by Audra A. Diptee (University Press of Florida)

Never to Leave Us Alone: The Prayer Life of Martin Luther King Jr. by Lewis V. Baldwin (Fortress Press)

The Diversity Paradox: Immigration and the Color Line in 21st Century America by Jennifer Lee and Frank D. Bean (Russell Sage Foundation)

The Poetics and Politics of the American Gothic: Gender and Slavery in Nineteenth-Century American Literature by Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet (Ashgate Publishing)

The Struggles of John Brown Russwurm: The Life and Writings of a Pan-Africanist Pioneer, 1799-1851 by Winston James (New York University Press)

Un/Common Cultures: Racism and the Rearticulation of Cultural Difference by Kamala Visweswaran (Duke University Press)

Youth Violence: Sex and Race Differences in Offending, Victimization, and Gang Membership by Finn-Aage Esbensen et al. (Temple University Press)

In Memoriam

Cecilia Jane Myrick (1951-2010)

Cecilia Myrick, university professor and author, died late month in her sleep from a brain aneurysm. She was 59 years old.

Dr. Myrick earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Georgia State University. She had taught at Governor’s State University in Illinois, Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida, Fort Valley State University in Georgia, and Morris Brown College in Atlanta, where she was chair of the teacher education program. Dr. Myrick was the author of the multimedia textbook African Legacy.

At the time of her death, Myrick was an independent educational consultant. She also was working on a textbook for a course on African-themed literature.

Honors and Awards

• E. R. Braithwaite, the author of the best-selling book To Sir, With Love, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. The book, which was made into a blockbuster film of the same name starring Sidney Poitier, related Braithwaite’s experiences teaching school in 1950s London.

• Ayo Coly, associate professor of African and African-American studies at Dartmouth College, received the John M. Manley Huntington Award for Newly Tenured Faculty from the office of the dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences at the college.

Grants and Gifts

• Tougaloo College, the historically black educational institution in Mississippi, received a five-year, $322,282 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support efforts to increase the college’s retention and graduation rates.

Historically black North Carolina Central University in Durham received a $100,000 grant from Innovative Senior Care Home Health which will provide internship opportunities for NCCU students at elderly care facilities.

The Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina received a five-year, $6.7 million grant to fund the Institute for Partnerships in Elimination of Health Disparities. The program is under the direction of Saundra Glover, associate dean for health disparities and social justice.

• Delaware State University, the historically black educational institution in Dover,   received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist local African-American farmers with efforts to gain financing and to develop business plans.

Historically black Alabama State University received a $107,200 grant from the National Science Foundation to purchase a genome sequencer.

Do you think the problem of violent hazing is more prevalent among black fraternities and sororities on college campuses than it is among white Greek organizations?

Blacks Make Up a Tiny Percentage of Applicants to U.S. Veterinary Schools

According to statistics tabulated by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, African Americans make up only a tiny percentage of all applicants to the 28 veterinary schools in the United States.

Twenty-five of the nation’s 28 veterinary schools use the AAVMC’s Veterinary Medical College Application Service. Prospective students can file one application and have it sent to any of the participating veterinary colleges. (The veterinary school of historically black Tuskegee University does not participate in this common application service.)

The data for applicants for the 25 schools that participate in the common application service shows that in 2010 there were 113 black applicants to veterinary school. They made up 1.84 percent of all applicants.

The number of black veterinary school applicants dropped in 2010 compared to a year ago. In 2009 there were 135 black applicants, 2.17 percent of all students who applied to veterinary schools.

Low-Income Students in New Jersey Face a Cut in State Tuition Grants

The state of New Jersey supplies Tuition Aid Grants to low-income students to help them pay for college. Low-income students who attend in-state private or public colleges and universities are eligible for the grants. The grant amount is based on the type of college attended and the student’s family income.

Funding for the program was increased by 18 percent this year to $294 million. But the number of students eligible for the program has increased to such a degree that the maximum grant has been reduced.

As a result, many low-income students in New Jersey will see a reduction in their state aid, while at the same time the costs at New Jersey colleges have gone up. For example, at the state’s flagship institution, Rutgers University, the maximum grant award under the TAG program will be reduced by $714. But tuition and other fees at Rutgers have increased by $673 this year. Low-income students attending private colleges in New Jersey will see the maximum grant award cut by $872.

Tutu Teaching at Sea

Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of the Anglican Church in Cape Town, South Africa, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is spending the fall semester aboard the MV Explorer, a 590-foot ship that houses the Semester at Sea program. The University of Virginia serves as academic adviser to the Semester at Sea program and appoints the 37-member faculty.

Tutu will spend 100 days aboard ship as it travels from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Europe. It will then head south to Cape Town. The voyage will continue, stopping in India, Vietnam, Singapore, China, Japan, Hawaii, and several other ports before concluding in San Diego in December. There are 604 undergraduate students on the current voyage. More than 60 percent are women. Blacks make up 4.5 percent of the student body on the current voyage.

Tutu will teach a course in global studies during the voyage and serve as host when the ship docks in Cape Town.

Northwestern University Creates New Scholarship Program for Graduates of City High Schools

Northwestern University, the high-ranking research university in Evanston, Illinois, has launched its “Good Neighbor, Great University” financial aid program. Under the new plan, graduates of Evanston or Chicago city high schools will be eligible for increased financial aid packages. Large percentages of students at these city high schools are black.

Under the plan, student loans will be replaced with scholarship grants. In addition, students who qualify for the new plan will not be required to hold work-study jobs. The new scholarships could save students up to $7,500 a year.

The university hopes to award about 100 Good Neighbor, Great University scholarships to first-year students in the fall of 2011. As many as 200 first-year students will participate in the program in the future. Northwestern currently enrolls about 2,000 freshman students each year. The new scholarship program may facilitate Northwestern’s efforts to increase racial diversity on campus.

New Major Debuts at Historically Black South Carolina State University

South Carolina State University, the historically black educational institution in Orangeburg, is offering a new major in communications. The program will be under the auspices of the Department of English and Modern Languages. Students enrolling in the new major will have the opportunity to concentrate in either journalism or broadcasting.

Emerson College, Which Recently Has Been Accused of Racism in Faculty Hiring, Chooses an African-American President

In the Spring 2009 issue of JBHE, we reported on allegations of racism in tenuring decisions at Emerson College in Boston. At the time we noted that since the college’s founding in 1880, only one African American had been awarded tenure without first filing a racial discrimination lawsuit against the college. This spring, four of Emerson’s 117-member tenured or tenure-track faculty were African Americans. Blacks make up about 3 percent of the student body at Emerson.

Earlier this year a three-member panel issued a report that said it could find no overt racism in faculty hiring. But the report concluded, “There are to be found at Emerson unexamined and powerful assumptions and biases about the superiority, preferability, and normativeness of European-American culture, intellectual pursuits, academic discourse, leadership and so on.” As a result, there is a “disproportionate undervaluing of African Americans.”

This past week, Emerson College announced that in July 2011, M. Lee Pelton will become president of the college. Pelton will be the college’s first black president.

Pelton is currently the president of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. There he is credited with greatly increasing the diversity of the student body.

Dr. Pelton is a graduate of Wichita State University. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Harvard University, where he later served on the faculty and was a member of the board of overseers. Pelton has also served as dean at both Colgate University and Dartmouth College.

At the announcement of his hiring, Pelton told the Boston Globe, “Diversity is not an add-on, but really is core to the academic mission of institutions that thrive on having diverse points of view, divergent backgrounds, and different ethnic heritages come together. We need to make some progress in that area.”

Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Timothy Blackwell was named head of the Army ROTC program at Bowie State University, the historically black educational institution in Maryland. He previously was stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas.

Major Blackwell is a graduate of Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. He holds a master’s degree in management from Webster University in St. Louis.

• Maxine Adegbola was named a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Iowa College of Nursing. She has been serving as an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Texas at Arlington. At the University of Iowa she will be conducting research on pain and associated symptoms.

Dr. Adegbola holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Hunter College of the City University of New York. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Arlington.

• Roland Corvington was appointed assistant vice president and director of public safety at Saint Louis University. He was special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s eastern Missouri district. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western Illinois University.

• Anayochukwu Ezeigbo was named assistant vice president for business operations at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Norfolk State University in Virginia and a master’s degree in architecture from Miami University of Ohio.

• Melissa Shivers was named assistant vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She was director of the department of intercultural affairs at the University of Georgia.

A graduate of Georgia Southern University, Shivers holds a master’s degree from Clemson University. She is completing work on her doctorate in college student affairs administration from the University of Georgia.

• Henderson Hill is the new director of the Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. He was assistant director of student activities at Belmont University in Nashville.

Hill is a graduate of Tennessee State University and holds a master’s degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

• Derek Horne was named director of athletics at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. He was senior associate athletic director at the University of Mississippi.

Horne is a graduate of the University of Mississippi, where he was captain of the basketball team.

• Robert Martin Screen has stepped down as chair of the department of communicative sciences and disorders at Hampton University in Virginia. Professor Screen founded the department and has served as chair for more than a half-century. He will remain on the faculty of the department.

A 1953 graduate of Hampton University, Dr. Screen holds a master’s degree from New York University and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University.

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