Sunday, May 19, 2013

Today's DSU graduation

Number 122 ...

No rain (although it kept trying), and one of the better organized events I've seen in the past 22 years here ...

671 graduates (the largest number in history), of whom about 73% were African-American ...

It is often difficult to maintain the traditions of an HBCU (Historically Black College/University) in a rapidly changing world, but to do so is pretty damn important.

Over the past twenty years, the faculty demographics at many HBCUs began changing, primarily because the larger academic job market finally opened up, on a more or less level playing field, for African-American scholars, who abruptly found themselves able to make considerably more money at majority white institutions.

(When I came to DSU in 1990 there were many social studies teachers at high schools in the surrounding community making more money than I did as an assistant professor of history.  Even today, DSU and other HBCUs pay well below national norms at all ranks in salary.  A DSU full professor makes only about 2/3s of what his/her colleague will at UD, and most Del Tech Instructors make more than DSU associate professors.)

So the percentage of African and African-American faculty at DSU and other HBCU's declined, despite the institution's best efforts to the contrary.

My own Department of History and Political Science had nine white males, one white female, and one African-American female on the full-time faculty when I arrived in 1990.  Since then we have conducted ten searches for full-time faculty.  Five of those positions were secured by African-Americans (three male, two females); one by an Asian male; and four by caucasians (one male, three females).  So over that twenty years we have taken some pretty significant steps to increase the diversity of our department.

Overall, DSU's faculty has become one of the most diverse in the nation.  According to our 2011-2012 Self-Study for Middle States accreditation, of the 211 individuals holding full-time faculty status we are 42% caucasian, 39% African/African-American, 19% Asian/Indian, 4% Other, and 1% Hispanic.

Far from the "whitening" that concerns some researchers interested in HBCUs, DSU has embraced the idea of global cultural diversity within a strong African-American heritage.

While we were missing the rain today at DSU's graduation, the men of Morehouse College (another of the nation's pre-eminennt HBCUs) were not so lucky:  the rain apparently fell in sheets.  That could not diminish the crowd's enthusiasm (smaller than ours:  they only graduated 500 today) at hearing President Obama address them.

Regular readers will know I find little common ground with this President, but I think his comments at Morehouse were right on the money:
"Sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down," he said. "I had a tendency to make excuses for me not doing the right thing. But one of the things that all of you have learned over the last four years is, there's no longer any room for excuses."
There are, obviously, a lot of other viewpoints about what is happening (and what will happen) to HBCUs in this country.  Some passionately (but, I believe, misguidedly) think that the day of HBCUs is over.  Others, through fear or opportunism, are sounding an unrealistic alarm that the whole premise of the HBCU has been subverted and sold out.

Looking around Alumni Stadium today, I don't see it.


kavips said...

Very nicely done...

delacrat said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steven H. Newton said...


I had to remove your comment because I cannot, for legal reasons, have a discussion about this individual here before the end of the hearing of that part of the case in which I am involved.

I will return the comment and answer any questions you've got as soon as I can legally do so.

Hube said...

HBCs appear to be in direct contradiction to the "diversity rationale" supposedly needed for higher ed -- the "critical mass" argued for in the Michigan [higher ed] affirmative action cases.

delacrat said...


Notre Dame is historically catholic. Brandeis is historically jewish and the U of D is historically white.

But nobody says those institutions are "in direct contradiction to the 'diversity rationale' supposedly needed for higher ed"

Hube said...

That's mostly true. But then again, racial bean counters don't care about religion. Just skin tone.

At any rate, I'm not the one making (or, agreeing with) the ridiculous "critical mass" arguments that prevailed in the Michigan cases. Personally, I could care less if a college is an HBC, Jewish, Catholic, or whatever. I just enjoy making radical diversity nuts look foolish with their own arguments.

Victor said...

This is cool!