Year 2000: A Retrospective
T he year 2000 brought with it plenty of news and many “firsts,” such as Dr. Ruth Simmons being named the first African American to lead Brown University, an Ivy League institution, and Dr. James Walker who became the first African American president of Southern Illinois University. Lawsuits against universities for using race as a factor in admissions have kept schools such as the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the University of Georgia in the courts. Various athletic organizations called on the NCAA to boycott holding events in South Carolina and Georgia — states that continue to fly the Confederate flag. But at year’s end, there remained only four Black Division I-A football head coaches, and no new ones were named to fill any of the 11 vacancies that became available.House Republicans held a summit for presidents of historically Black colleges and universities, led by Black Congressional Republican Rep. J.C. Watts, Okla., sparking criticism from Congressional Black Caucus leaders who doubted the sincerity of the move.Several historically Black colleges and universities, such as Southern University of Baton Rouge, kicked off the year 2000 by tightening security after receiving a threatening racist hate letter. Others schools that reportedly received the letter included Oakwood College; Alabama A&M University; Alabama State University; and Stillman College.There are many more significant events to list, but following are some highlights from 2000. A Few of the Many “Firsts”• University of Mississippi elects Nic Lott, the first Black student body president in the school’s history.• Harvard University names African American professorship after Quincy Jones, the legendary producer-arranger-composer, making it the first endowed professorship in African American Studies given to any American university by a corporation [Time Warner Inc.].• Dr. James Walker was named president of Southern Illinois University, making him the first African American to hold the position.• University of Pittsburgh names $16,000 nursing scholarship for first Black nursing student, Adena Johnson Davis, a 1947 graduate.• Dr. Ruth Simmons, president of Smith College, was named president of Brown University, making her the first African American to lead an Ivy League institution, effective July 2001.
Professionals on the Move• Dr. William B. Harvey was appointed vice president and director of the American Council on Education’s office of minorities in higher education.• Dr. Yolanda T. Moses was appointed president of the American Association of Higher Education. • Jacqueline Woods, formerly community college liaison for the U.S. Department of Education, was named executive director of the American Association of University Women.• Dr. Donna Shalala, secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration, was named president of the University of Miami, effective June 2001.• Dr. John Brooks Slaughter was named president of the National Action Council for Minorities in Education.• Herman Frazier was named athletic director of the University of Alabama-Birmingham.• John Thompson III was named head coach of men’s basketball at Princeton University.• Kenneth Nunn, associate dean for law school affairs at University of Florida, resigns his position over minority hiring practices. Nunn was the highest-ranking Black administrator at the law school. • Dr. Stanley O. Ikenberry, president of the American Council on Education, announces he will resign his post after four years, effective June 30, 2001.
In Academia• On the heels of a challenge to its admissions policy by anti-affirmative action groups, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville reports a 25 percent drop in Black student applications, which was the largest single-year drop in Black applicants in the school’s history. However, the school continues to boast the nation’s highest Black student retention and graduation rate among highly selective public universities.• Yale University announces it will give departmental status to its African American Studies program.• The Alabama Commission on Higher Education approves Black Studies major at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The university had offered a minor and courses in Black studies since the 1970s and had been lobbying for a major for several years. • The Board of Trustees at Xavier University in New Orleans approve its computer engineering program.• Howard University’s Board of Trustees approve the doctoral program in education.• University of Idaho pulls picture of nine students from its Internet site after discovering that it had been altered to replace the heads of two White students with those of two minority students.• Harvard Law School honors its Black alumni and the Brown vs. Board of Education litigation team, many of whom were Harvard Law grads.• University of Wisconsin is embroiled in controversy following the doctoring of a university brochure in which a Black student was digitally inserted in efforts to illustrate a diverse enrollment.• Texas officials report that enrollment data shows minority representation has increased as a result of the state’s implementation of the Ten Percent Plan, which guarantees admission to University of Texas institutions for all Texas high school seniors in the top 10 percent of their class.In addition, Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush also announces that his controversial One Florida Initiative has resulted in the number of minorities attending Florida public universities increasing by 12 percent.• University System of Georgia Chancellor, Dr. Stephen Portch, calls for more White students to enroll at the state’s three historically Black public colleges, in efforts to increase diversity.• The Florida Board of Regents selects Orlando for new Florida A&M University Law School site. Other sites under consideration were Lakeland, Tampa and Daytona Beach.• Smith College and Wesleyan University announce the launch of a scholarly journal devoted to women of color.• West Virginia’s state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People calls for historically Black West Virginia State College to become a university. West Virginia State is the only 1891 land-grant school in the nation that is not a university.• Educational Testing Service releases report predicting a surge in minority enrollment by 2015. Eighty percent of new students will be African American, Hispanic or Asian. However, ETS reports that increase in Black students will be relatively modest. • The Association of American Medical Colleges report that minority medical school faculty promotion rates continue to lag behind those of White faculty.• The Association of American Colleges and Universities release a report indicating that more than half of American colleges now have diversity requirements in their curriculum.
Legal Matters• The Organization of American Historians decides to relocate its annual meeting from Adam’s Mark Hotel in St. Louis over some of its members threatening to boycott hotel because of an alleged pattern of discrimination against minorities. The Adam’s Mark hotel chain files lawsuit against the OAH for pulling its annual meeting from their St. Louis hotel. In addition, a federal judge throws out $8 million settlement between the Adam’s Mark hotel chain and five Black guests who say they were discriminated against at the Black College Reunion in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1998.• The Georgia Appeals Court rules in favor of White plaintiffs that claim the University of Georgia uses race as a factor in admissions. University of Georgia, president, Dr. Michael F. Adams, announces that the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia will file appeal of a federal judge’s decision that the university could not use race as a factor in admissions. Later U.S. lawyers urge appeals court to overturn a decision against the University of Georgia’s use of race in its admissions. Lawyers say judge was wrong to conclude that using race-conscious admissions to achieve a diverse student body was not of compelling government interest.• The American Civil Liberties Union files lawsuit against the state of Michigan over its merit scholarships, charging that using a standardized test as the sole criteria for the scholarship discriminates against ethnic minorities. Lawyers say judge was wrong n The Fifth U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the University of Mississippi has the legal right to ban spectators from waving the Confederate flag at campus athletic events.• The University of Tennessee at Knoxville announces the creation of a vice president position specifically to boost minority enrollment and hiring.• Twenty of America’s largest and best-known corporations file a legal brief strongly supporting the University of Michigan in the lawsuit challenging its admissions policies. Two lawsuits have been filed on behalf of three White applicants who claim the university unconstitutionally uses race as a factor in admissions.
In Protest…• The Black Coaches Association and the National Association of Basketball Coaches joined forces in asking the National Collegiate Athletic Association for a change of venue to move the 2002 Division I men’s south regional basketball tournament from Greenville, S.C., over the state’s continuance to fly the Confederate flag. Philadelphia colleges’ athletic teams also join South Carolina boycott over flag issue.In addition, the NCAA rejects calls from civil rights groups and National Association of Basketball Coaches to move upcoming basketball tournaments from Georgia unless the state removes the Confederate battle symbol from its state flag.• Black leaders and members of the Florida community, protest Gov. Jeb Bush’s One Florida Plan, which wipes out race and ethnicity as factors in college admissions. The plan also guarantees admission to the state’s universities to the top 20 percent of each high school senior class.• American Indian student group at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor file discrimination complaint against the university alleging discrimination against American Indians.The complaint also accuses Michigamua, a secretive campus society, of mocking and misusing American Indian customs and artifacts.• Florida A&M University students protest voting irregularities in Florida during the presidential election.
Washington Review/Politics • The U.S. Department of Education offers $5 million to colleges and universities with a track record of serving low-income and first generation college students.• The U.S. Department of Labor program looks to HBCUs, Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges. • The GOP holds an HBCU summit for presidents of historically Black colleges and universities, led by Black Congressional Republican Rep. J.C. Watts, Okla., sparking criticism from Congressional Black Caucus leaders who doubt the sincerity of the move. Watts later announces the formation of a task force to follow up on the HBCU summit.• The National Commission on Math and Science Teaching in the 21st Century recommends that 10 times more money should be spent to train science and math teachers.• The U.S. Department of Education reports that nation’s student loan default rate fell to another new low in 1998, with only 6.9 percent of students behind on federal loan repayments.• After Election Day, Nov. 7, the U.S. presidential race between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George Bush was too close to call and no winner was announced until more than four weeks (and counting at Black Issues’ press time) later, due to ballot recounts in the state of Florida and several lawsuits filed on behalf of both candidates.
Technology• Historically Black universities Hampton and Tennessee State make the university rankings of the Yahoo! Internet Life’s “Most Wired Colleges 2000 List.” Wilberforce University and Morehouse College make the “Most Wired” college rankings.• Africana.com, a Web site based on a Black encyclopedia project originally conceived by the late Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, is sold to AOL-Time Warner.• The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education releases a report showing that historically Black colleges and universities are more “wired” that originally assumed, but that most HBCU students do not have ready access to the campus networks.• The College Fund/UNCF announces a $130 million partnership with Microsoft and IBM to bring Black colleges and universities into the Internet era.• Community College Foundation’s Tech Ed 2000 Conference examines digital divide issue.• The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering Inc. teams up with MCI WorldCom to create programs to boost the number of minority graduates.• More than 300 million people worldwide are online, with fewer than half from North America, according to the State of the Net report by the U.S. Internet Council.• The Association for Computing Machinery’s study finds that the percentage of women in computer science programs will likely remain stagnant while overall undergraduate computer science enrollments increase rapidly over the next few years.• The NAACP receives a $1 million technology grant to support the civil right group’s Technology Capacity Building Initiative.
In Memoriam• Dr. Miller A.F. Ritchie, was president of Pacific University from 1959-1970. Ritchie was chairman of human relations at the University of Miami in the late 1940s and 1950s, when his interest in promoting racial equality was pioneering and controversial.• Dr. Barbara T. Christian, professor of African American Studies at the University of California-Berkeley, was best known for her landmark study, Black Women Novelists: The Development of a Tradition. Christian was the first Black woman to be granted tenure at Berkeley (1978). This year, Christian was awarded Berkeley’s highest honor, the Berkeley Citation.n Dr. Rhonda M. Williams, acting director of Afro-American Studies at the University of Maryland-College Park was a widely published scholar. In 1997, she co-edited Race, Markets and Social Outcomes. Most recently, she hosted a conference on race, ethnicity and wealth that brought scholars from all across the nation to College Park.n Gwendolyn Brooks, Distinguished Professor of English at Chicago State University and poet laureate of Illinois, received the Pulitizer Prize in 1950 for her book of poetry Annie Allen.
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