Four African Americans Named Rhodes Scholars

A Rhodes Scholarship is the most prestigious award given to college students. Winners of the Rhodes Scholarship receive an all-expenses paid graduate education at Oxford University in England.

This year 326 colleges and universities across the United States nominated 805 students for a Rhodes Scholarship. While the Rhodes Trust does not divulge the race of scholarship winners, JBHE research has determined that there were four African Americans among the 32 students selected to be Rhodes Scholars.

Ugwechi W. Amadi, a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is from Camden, North Carolina. She is majoring in brain and cognitive science with a major in literature. While at Oxford, Amadi plans to study for a master’s degree in psychological research.

Darryl W. Finkton, from Indianapolis, is a senior at Harvard University. He is majoring in neurobiology with a secondary concentration in African-American studies. Finkton plans to earn a master’s degree in global health science at Oxford.

Jean A. Junior is currently a Fulbright Scholar conducting research in South Africa on HIV/AIDS. Originally from Troy, Michigan, Junior is a 2008 graduate of Harvard College with a degree in sociology. At Oxford, Junior will study for a master’s degree in social policy.

Andrew J. McCall is the first Rhodes Scholar from Truman State University where he is majoring in philosophy and religion. He is a five-time All-American and captain of the Truman State swimming team. McCall plans to study philosophy at Oxford.


The Widening Racial Scoring Gap on SAT II Subject Tests

Last week JBHE reported that in 2009 there were large racial scoring gaps on all of the most popular SAT II subject tests. These tests are required for students applying to many of the nation’s most selective colleges and universities.

But there is more bad news. On the 11 most popular SAT II tests listed in the accompanying table, the racial scoring gap has increased over the past decade. In most cases the scoring gap has significantly increased unfavorably for African Americans. The only exception is the physics test, where the racial gap over the past 10 years has increased by only two points.

The largest increase in the racial scoring gap has been on the Spanish SAT II subject test. On this test in 1999 the racial gap was 47 points. It has now opened up to 83 points. The scoring gap has increased by a large margin on tests for French, chemistry, biology, Latin, mathematics, and American history.


Football Star Gives Back to His Alma Mater

Madieu Williams, a defensive back on the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings, has made a $2 million contribution to the University of Maryland, his alma mater. The money will create an endowment to fund the Madieu Williams Center for Global Health Initiatives on the College Park campus.

The center will focus on public health issues on the national, state, and local levels with an emphasis on Prince George’s County, Maryland, where Williams grew up, and in the nation of Sierra Leone, where he was born.


Florida A&M University Hopes to Add a College of Dental Medicine

The board of trustees of historically black Florida A&M University in Tallahassee has made a request to the state’s governing body seeking $1.5 million in planning funds with the goal of establishing a dental school. The state reports that it ranks 29th in the number of dentists per capita, and the shortage of dental professionals in Florida is acute in rural areas with large populations of blacks and low-income families. At the present time there are only two accredited dental schools in Florida.

If approved, Florida A&M University plans to develop an undergraduate curriculum to track students to its dental school. The school would not open until at least 2012. It would be the first new dental school at a historically black institution since 1886.


Head of Thurgood Marshall College Fund to Step Down

Dwayne Ashley, president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, has announced that he is stepping down. The fund provides scholarships for students at 47 publicly operated historically black colleges and universities. Ashley has served as president of the organization for the past decade. During his tenure, the fund has increased its annual revenues from $1.5 million to an average of $15 million.

Ashley did not state his future plans. He is a graduate of Wiley College in Texas and holds a master’s degree in governmental administration from the University of Pennsylvania.


46.6%  Percentage of all white students in poor-performing public schools whose families paid for tutoring services during the 2006-07 academic year.

22.6%  Percentage of all African-American students in poor-performing public schools whose families paid for tutoring services during the 2006-07 academic year.

source: U.S. Department of Education


In Memoriam

Benny O’Berry (1916-2009)

Benny O’Berry, the first African-American graduate of the University of Miami and longtime pastor of the Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, died late last month of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 93 years old.

O’Berry was orphaned at age 16 and had to drop out of school to support himself. He fulfilled a promise to his dying mother and finished high school in Miami at age 21.

O’Berry joined the Army in 1941 and was sent to the South Pacific. He was the only survivor of a ship that sunk off of Guadalcanal. His wife was informed that he had died and a funeral service was held.

After the war, O’Berry earned a two-year associate’s degree at DePaul University in Chicago. He then returned to Miami and started South Florida’s first black-owned driving school. He then decided to go back to school and earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Miami in 1962, the first black to do so.


Honors and Awards

• Charles Davis, founder and artistic director of the African-American Dance Ensemble, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

• Lamont A. Flowers, Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership and executive director of the Charles H. Houston Center for the Study of the Black Experience in Education at Clemson University in South Carolina, received the W.E.B. Du Bois Higher Education Award from the National Alliance of Black School Educators.

Dr. Flowers is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Iowa.

• Paul Ampadu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Rochester, received the Special Recognition Award from the Black Engineer of the Year Awards Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Global Competitiveness Conference.

A native of Ghana, Dr. Ampadu earned his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering at Cornell University.

• Judy Perkins, chair of the department of civil engineering at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, received the Regents Professor Award from the Texas A&M University system. The award includes a medal and a $9,000 stipend.


Grants and Gifts

• Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, received a two-year, $315,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to provide management assistance to universities in Africa that are instituting gender-equity projects.

• Elon University in North Carolina received a $100,000 grant from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation for scholarships for minority students in its School of Communications.

• Southern University, the historically black educational institution in Baton Rouge, received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation for a program to increase the number of students with disabilities who study in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

High-Ranking Colleges and Universities Where There Is Little or No Racial Gap in Graduation Rates

Many academics and administrators will be surprised to hear that there are in fact three selective colleges in the United States that report a higher graduation rate for blacks than for whites. According to the latest statistics from Smith College, Grinnell College, and Trinity College, a black student on these campuses is more likely to complete the four-year course of study and receive a diploma than a white student.

At Claremont McKenna College in California, black and white students have identical graduation rates of 86 percent.

At some other high-ranking educational institutions, the difference in black and white graduation rates is very small. At Swarthmore College, Emory University, Rice University, and Yale University, the black student graduation rate is two percentage points below the rate for whites. At Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, Wake Forest University, Stanford University, Harvard University, Vanderbilt University, and Davidson College, the racial difference in graduation rates is only three percentage points.


“Dr. Franklin is an apologist for the late Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, a prominent crusader for civil rights and a sponsor of communist fronts.”

— from a 1965 memo included in a 515-page file on John Hope Franklin maintained by the FBI, which was recently released under a Freedom of Information Act request (See story below.)


Independent Study Recommends Breaking Up the Two- and Four-Year Colleges of the University of the District of Columbia

A study commissioned by DC Appleseed, a nonprofit organization conducting research on public policy issues affecting the nation’s capital, recommends that the new community college of the University of the District of Columbia be split off from the parent institution. The report states that the university “has been troubled by a distrustful faculty, high administrative overhead, poorly maintained and outdated facilities, chronic mismanagement, and internal dissension and unacceptably low graduation rates.”

The study concludes that the community college stands a better chance of success if it were unburdened by the “baggage” of the larger university.


Students at Historically Black Texas Southern University Send Experiment Into Space

Students at historically black Texas Southern University in Houston have developed an experiment that flew aboard the recent mission of the space shuttle Atlantis. The experiment, constructed by undergraduate and graduate students at the university’s Center for Bionanotechnology and Environmental Research, involved observing the growth of microbes in a low-gravity environment.


Historically Black Virginia State University Names New President

Keith T. Miller has been selected as the new president of Virginia State University. Miller will replace retiring Eddie N. Moore Jr., who served as president for the past 17 years.

Dr. Miller, who will take office on July 1, 2010, is currently the president of Lock Haven University, a member of the state university system of Pennsylvania. Prior to taking the helm at Lock Haven, he was provost and vice chancellor at the University of Wisconsin. He has also served as dean of the College of Business at Niagara University and associate dean of the business school at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

President Miller holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Arizona.


U.S. Navy Teams Up With Tuskegee University

The Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, Florida, has entered into an agreement with historically black Tuskegee University in Alabama. The Navy will participate in designing specialized systems coursework in the university’s electrical engineering program. Under the program, 16 graduate students at Tuskegee will undertake a 12-month intensive training program working toward a master’s degree in electrical engineering. During the summer months, the students will work at a Navy warfare center. In return for their graduate education, the students pledge to give three years of government service working for the Navy as civilian employees with a salary of approximately $70,000.


Blacks Outpace Whites in So-Called Subbaccalaureate Higher Education Awards

A new report from the Department of Education shows that in the 1997 to 2007 period, African Americans increased the number of two-year associate’s degrees by 61.1 percent. This is double the increase in the total number of associate’s degrees awarded to all races. Whites increased their number of two-year degrees by 12.9 percent during the period.

The report also noted that the number of blacks earning postsecondary occupational certificates from for-profit trade and technical schools increased from four to five times the rate for whites. Blacks increased their number of short-term occupational certificates, those earned in less than one year, by 61.2 percent in the 1997-2007 period. For whites, the number of certificates earned rose by 14.1 percent. For moderate-term certificate programs, those taking one to two years to complete the course of study, the number of blacks increased by 38.7 percent over the decade. For whites, the increase was 7.6 percent.


Cornell University to Archive Oral History Project of the First Black Fraternity

The nation’s oldest black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, has agreed to donate a collection of audiotapes to the Division of Rare and Manuscripts Collections of the Cornell University Library. The tapes are part of an oral history project that the fraternity conducted for its 100th anniversary. The fraternity was founded at Cornell on December 4, 1906.

Included in the collection are interviews with Senator Edward Brooke, historian John Hope Franklin, entertainer Lionel Richie, and Urban League president Marc Morial.


J. Edgar Hoover Kept Tabs on John Hope Franklin

A Freedom of Information Act request by Talking Points Memo Muckraker has revealed that the FBI maintained an extensive file on the late African-American historian John Hope Franklin. Franklin, a professor emeritus of history at Duke University, died in March 2009.

The FBI under J. Edgar Hoover was suspicious of Dr. Franklin because of the noted historian’s support of W.E.B. Du Bois. Du Bois had joined the Communist Party at the age of 93 and left the United States to live in Ghana. Dr. Franklin was also critical of the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

The FBI’s 515-page file on Dr. Franklin contained testimonials collected from his associates during background checks when he was appointed to government boards and committees. But the file also contained a favorable review of one of his books that appeared in the Daily Worker, the newspaper of the American Communist Party, and the text of a speech Franklin gave in opposition to the Vietnam War.


Appointments, Promotions, and Resignations

• Russell J. Rickford was named assistant professor of history at Dartmouth College. He recently completed his doctoral dissertation at Columbia University.

Dr. Rickford is a graduate of Howard University. He holds two master’s degrees from Columbia University.

• Irvin T. Clark III was appointed vice president for student development and dean of students at Frederick Community College in Frederick, Maryland. He was director of student services at the Prince Frederick campus of the College of Southern Maryland.

Dr. Clark holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate from Morgan State University.

• Stephanie Felks, senior extension director at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, was elected president of the South Carolina chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi, a national organization of cooperative extension professionals.

• Ronald S. Rochon was named provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. He was associate vice president and dean of the School of Education at Buffalo State College.

Dr. Rochon is a graduate of Tuskegee University. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois.

• Etta Ruth Hollins was named to the Kaufman Endowed Chair in Urban Education at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. She was a professor at the Rossier School of Education of the University of Southern California.

Dr. Hollins holds a doctorate from the University of Texas.

• Anita Jenious was promoted to the office of director of the Opportunity Development Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She has been an administrator at the university for the past decade.

Jenious is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee School of Law.



Copyright © 2009. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.