African Americans Are Increasingly Studying Abroad

During the 2008-09 academic year more than 260,000 American college students spent some time abroad. In 1999 there were 143,590 American college students who spent at least one semester abroad.

From 1999 to 2006 the black percentage of all students who went abroad remained stagnant at a low 3.5 percent. Undoubtedly, travel and other added expenses are a major reason the percentage of African Americans in the study-abroad pool has been so low.

But over the last several years the black percentage of the students studying abroad has increased. In 2007 blacks were 3.8 percent of all students who went abroad. In 2008 the percentage increased to 4.0 percent. In 2009, 4.2 percent of all students who went abroad were black.



Missouri State University Makes Further Amends to Its First Black Applicant Who Was Rejected Because of Her Race

In 1950, Mary Jean Price graduated second in her high school class in Springfield, Missouri. At the time, higher education in Missouri was racially segregated. She could not afford to travel and live on campus at historically black Lincoln University in Jefferson City, so she applied to Southwest Missouri State College in Springfield. She was the first black student to apply to the college, which is now Missouri State University.

But Price never received the courtesy of a reply from the college. Records show that college administrators were well aware of the application and plotted legal strategies to keep her from enrolling in the all-white institution.

Price never went to college. She worked as an elevator operator and later married and had children. In 2009 she retired from her job at the Springfield Discovery Center. She had worked there for eight years as a custodian.

Sixty years after Mary Jean Price sent in her application, this past spring Missouri State University gave her an honorary degree. Now the university has established the Mary Jean Price Walls Multicultural Scholarship program.

Today there are 600 black students enrolled at Missouri State.


University of Michigan Study Finds a High Rate of Depression Among Black Fathers, Particularly Those With a Low Level of Education

A study conducted at the University of Michigan School of Social Work finds that black fathers are twice as likely to suffer from depression than men generally. The data, published in the journal Research on Social Work Practice, shows that one quarter of all black fathers were depressed at some point during the five years of the study. The study found that black men without a high school diploma were twice as likely to be depressed as other black men.


Vassar College Students Conduct Research at Black Cemetery

Students in the African-American history class of Quincy T. Mills at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, teamed up with students of earth science and geography on a research project at the Negro Burial Ground in Rhinebeck, New York. The students used high-tech geophysical equipment at the half-acre cemetery and determined that there were far more people buried there than grave markers indicated.

A simultaneous search of historical documents found that there was a vibrant black community in Rhinebeck in the nineteenth century, including a large colony of artisans.

Professor Mills, who joined the Vassar faculty in 2006, is a graduate of the University of Illinois. He holds an MBA from DePaul University and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago. His forthcoming book is entitled Shaving Men, Grooming Race: A History of Black Barbers and Barber Shops, 1830-1970.



Valerie Smith Named Dean of the College at Princeton University

Valerie Smith, the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature and professor of English and African-American studies at Princeton University, was named dean of the college. As dean she will be the senior officer in charge of undergraduate academic programs. She will assume her new duties on July 1.

Professor Smith is a graduate of Bates College and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. She served on the faculty at Princeton from 1980 to 1989 before spending 11 years on the faculty at UCLA. She returned to Princeton in 2001 and was appointed director of the African-American studies program in 2002. She is the author of three books including the forthcoming Toni Morrison: Writing the Moral Imagination.


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.

A Level Playing Field: African American Athletes and the Republic of Sports by Gerald L. Early (Harvard University Press)

American Uprising: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt by Daniel Rasmussen (Harper)

Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade by David Eltis and David Richardson (Yale University Press)

Blacks and Blackness in Central America: Between Race and Place edited by Lowell Gudmundson and Justin Wolfe (Duke University Press)

Convergences: Black Feminism and Continental Philosophy edited by Maria del Guadalupe Davidson et al. (State University of New York Press)

Global Circuits of Blackness: Interrogating the African Diaspora edited by Jean Muteba Rahier et al. (University of Illinois Press)

New Philadelphia: An Archaeology of Race in the Heartland by Paul A. Shackel (University of California Press)

Obama’s Race: The 2008 Election and the Dream of a Post-Racial America by Michael Tesler and David O. Sears (University of Chicago Press)

Producing Local Color: Art Networks in Ethnic Chicago by Diane Grams (University of Chicago Press)

Reasoning From Race: Feminism, Law, and the Civil Rights Revolution by Serena Mayeri (Harvard University Press)

Reproducing Race: The Paradox of Generation Mix by Rainier Spencer (Lynne Rienner Publishers)

Strangers in Blood: Relocating Race in the Renaissance by Jean E. Feerick (University of Toronto Press)

The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934-1960 by Lawrence P. Jackson (Princeton University Press)

The Oxford Handbook of Slavery in the Americas edited by Robert L Paquette et al. (Oxford University Press)

Troubled Ground: A Tale of Murder, Lynching, and Reckoning in the New South by Claude A. Clegg III (University of Illinois Press)

Writing the Black Revolutionary Diva: Women’s Subjectivity and the Decolonizing Text by Kimberly Nichele Brown (Indiana University Press)




Grants and Gifts

North Carolina A&T State University, the historically black educational institution in Greensboro, received a $395,000 grant from the University of North Carolina System to purchase equipment for its chemistry department.

The David A. Clarke School of Law at the historically black University of the District of Columbia received a six-year, $675,000 grant from the law firm Crowell and Moring to fund the Took Crowell Institute for At-Risk Youth. The institute will provide youth in the community with more than 10,000 hours of legal representation by attorney-supervised law students.

The Center for Health Disparities Research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas received a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a pregnancy prevention program for African-American teenage girls.

The law school at historically black North Carolina Central University in Durham received a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fund an eight-week paid internship program at EPA offices and a two-week workshop at the environmental law program at the Vermont Law School for five NCCU students.

Historically black Hinds Community College in Raymond, Mississippi, received a five-year, $1.75 million grant from the National Science Foundation to increase the number of students studying the sciences and mathematics.

Virginia State University, the historically black educational institution in Petersburg, received a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation to fund a yearlong series of breast cancer awareness and prevention programs for the campus community and the citizens of Petersburg.



How important is it for African-American college students to spend a semester abroad?
Very important
Somewhat important
Not important


At Many Top-Ranked Universities, Black Student Acceptance Rates Remain a Well-Guarded Mystery

It is well recognized that the percentage of black applicants who actually receive invitations to join a university’s freshman class is a valuable gauge of an institution’s commitment to racial diversity. Yet this figure is regarded as the most sensitive of all admissions data. This is particularly true for some of the very highest ranked institutions. Of the 30 highest-ranked universities that responded to JBHE’s 2010 survey, 10 declined to reveal their black acceptance rates. Unquestionably, public and private litigation threats to affirmative action policies in college admissions have been a factor in producing this sensitivity. With this in mind, admissions officers — who on the whole are solidly supportive of affirmative action — have apprehensions when statistics on black admissions are made available to the public. There are standard concerns too that racial conservatives on faculties and among alumni and trustees may interpret the figures as suggesting a so-called dumbing down of academic standards and a favoring of “unqualified” blacks over perhaps more qualified whites.

But, at the same time, it is critical to keep in mind that an institution’s high black acceptance rate often indicates nothing more than the fact that the admissions office of a given institution had a very strong and well-qualified black applicant pool in that particular year.

At 12 of the 20 universities that supplied acceptance rate data to JBHE, the black student acceptance rate was higher than the acceptance rate for all students. In some cases the differences were substantial. For instance, at the University of Virginia the black student acceptance rate of 41 percent was significantly higher than the 32 percent acceptance rate for all applicants. At Tufts University 38 percent of black students were accepted compared to 24.4 percent of all applicants.

Eight of the high-ranking universities we surveyed had black acceptance rates that were in fact lower than the overall acceptance rate. At the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Los Angeles, both of which were prohibited from taking race into account during the 2010 admissions process, the black acceptance rate was significantly below the rate for all accepted students.

The black acceptance rate was also lower than the overall rate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Emory University, the University of Southern California, Northwestern University, Washington University, and Wake Forest University.




Slow Progress in Achieving Racial Diversity on College and University Boards of Trustees

The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges has issued two reports on the makeup of the boards of trustees of the nation’s private and public colleges and universities. The data shows that in 2010, 12.5 percent of the board members of private colleges and universities were racial or ethnic minorities. This was up only slightly, from 11.9 percent in 2004. The average private college or university board of trustees had 29 members, two of whom were black.

For state-operated colleges and universities, 23.1 percent of the board members were minorities. This is up from 21.3 percent in 2004. The average board had 12 voting members, two of whom were black.

The two reports can be purchased online at the association’s website.


Black Students Mount Protests on the Campus of Cornell University

Earlier this month, Kent Fuchs, provost at Cornell University, announced that the Africana Studies and Research Center would now be under the jurisdiction of the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Previously, the director of the center reported directly to the provost. As a result of the decision, students mounted protests on campus and Robert L. Harris Jr., professor of history and director of the center, resigned. Dr. Harris agreed to rescind his resignation after a unanimous request of the center’s faculty. A member of the Cornell faculty since 1975, Harris had served as vice provost for diversity and faculty development from 2000 to 2008.

In a statement, the faculty of the center said they were “surprised and appalled” that they had not been consulted before the decision was announced. They further said that the decision by Provost Fuchs was “was patronizing, autocratic, and non-negotiable.”

Professor Harris told JBHE, “We object to the arrangement and have asked that it be placed on hold until we have had an opportunity for the type of discussion that should have taken place before the decision was made.”

The university has tried to diffuse the situation by pointing out that the center would actually see a funding increase and would launch a Ph.D. program that would increase the size of its faculty and staff.



In Memoriam

Kathryn Lawson Morgan (1919-2010)

Kathryn L. Morgan, the Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot Professor Emerita of History at Swarthmore College, died late last month at a healthcare facility in Media, Pennsylvania. She was 91 years old.

Professor Morgan was a native of Philadelphia. In 1952 she earned a bachelor’s degree at Howard University. She earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1970 Morgan was hired to teach at Swarthmore College. She was the first African American on the college’s faculty. Later she was the first African American to be awarded tenure. Professor Morgan also taught at Bryn Mawr, Haverford, the University of Delaware, and the University of California at Berkeley.

In 1991 she became the first African American elected to the executive board of the American Folklore Society. Her most widely known book was Children of Strangers: The Stories of a Black Family, which was published in 1980. She retired from teaching at Swarthmore in 1995.

Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Leon Wyden was named vice president of financial affairs at Virginia Union University in Richmond. For the past three years he has been deputy controller at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Wyden is a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy.

• Jamal Sowell was appointed executive assistant to the president of the University of Florida. A former student body president at the university, Sowell has spent the last three years in the Marine Corps. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 and earned a master’s degree at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

• Luther S. Williams was named provost and vice president for academic affairs at Tuskegee University in Alabama. He has been serving as dean of graduate studies and director of the integrative biosciences Ph.D. program.

Dr. Williams is a graduate of Miles College in Birmingham, Alabama. He holds a master’s degree from what is now Clark Atlanta University and a Ph.D. in microbial physiology from Purdue University.

• Reena N. Goldthree is a new instructor of African and African-American studies at Dartmouth College. She is completing her Ph.D. in history at Duke University. Goldthree is a graduate of Columbia University and holds a master’s degree from Duke.

• Jerolyn Chapman Navarro was appointed vice chancellor of diversity and outreach at the University of California at San Francisco. Since 1990 she has been a member of the anesthesia faculty at the university.

Dr. Navarro completed her medical training at the University of California at San Francisco and added a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.

• Huey Thornton was named chief of police and deputy director of public safety at Alabama State University in Montgomery. Thornton served for 21 years on the Montgomery Police Department, most recently as head of the traffic division.


Honors and Awards

• Dorothy Holland, assistant vice president for student affairs at Bowie State University in Maryland, received the Presidential Medallion for extraordinary service to the university. Holland has served as an administrator at Bowie State for 39 years.

• Kenneth Walker, director of outreach services at the University of West Alabama in Livingston, received the 2010 National Role Model Award from Minority Access Inc., a nonprofit group that seeks to increase diversity in higher education. Walker is a graduate of Alabama State University.

• James L. Moore III, professor of physical activity and educational services and director of the Todd A. Bell National Resource Center on the African-American Male at Ohio State University, is the recipient of the 2010 W.E.B. Du Bois Higher Education Award presented by the National Alliance of Black School Educators.

Dr. Moore holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, all from Virginia Tech.

• Wangari Maathai, the 2004 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, will receive the Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal from Vanderbilt University this coming spring. Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement, is now a member of the Kenyan parliament.

Dr. Maathai is a graduate of Mount Saint Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas. She holds a master’s degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh and a Ph.D. in anatomy from the University of Nairobi.

• Halvan J. Lieteau, a longtime IBM employee and, later, a successful entrepreneur, is the recipient of the Victor H. Labat Alumnus of the Year Award bestowed by Xavier University of New Orleans. He has served as chair of the university’s alumni chapters in both New York and New Orleans.

• The new high technology science building on the campus of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, will be named in honor of Ivory V. Nelson, the university’s president.

Dr. Nelson has served as the university’s president since 1999. He is a graduate of Grambling State University and holds a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of Kansas.


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