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Letters to the Editor

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
I read with interest the article you wrote on Dr. David Swinton and Benedict College, which appeared in the June 10, 1999 issue of Black Issues In Higher Education.  I commend you for writing such a fine article.  I also commend Dr. Swinton for the aggressive manner in which he has built upon the more than 125-year legacy of Benedict.
There is one factual [omission] in your article that I wish to point out.  You wrote that I had resigned in 1993 “after the school had fallen into debt.”  The table, which you print on page 24 of the article, clearly shows that the last year for which I was responsible (1993), there was a surplus of $848,572.00. Prior to leaving Benedict, I put in place procedures to ensure that the college would not be in debt.

Dr. Marshall C. Grigsby
Former President, Benedict College
Staff Member, House Education and
Workforce Committee

Looking Beyond Ethnic Studies
I am writing to express a concern that I hope that Black Issues In Higher Education will address in the immediate future. While I generally have found the magazine useful, I wish that occasionally an article could be published on scholars of color in the humanities and social sciences who have chosen nontraditional fields, i.e. nonethnic studies.  For example, I am a Black female who is a doctoral student in Russian history.  I have a B.A. in Russian/Russian Area Studies and an M.A. in Russian Area Studies. I am fluent in French, Russian, and Spanish, with a reading knowledge of German. 
Role models of color have been few and far between, with the exception of Dr. Allison Blakely at Howard University, Dr. Charles Herod at SUNY-Plattsburgh, and Dr. Condoleezza Rice at Stanford University. Students of color in the humanities and social sciences who want to pursue fields other than ethnic studies are discouraged not only by many of their White colleagues, but by many scholars of color as well. 
[Take for example] my interactions with the Association of Black Women Historians. After four months of trying to acquire membership information, I finally joined the association in April 1998. Since then, the only correspondence I have received was a letter in September 1998 stating that my membership application and fee had been received. I never received a newsletter or even information about the conference that is held annually in either September or October. My interactions with several of the association’s officers have also left a sour taste in my mouth. I have left several telephone messages of inquiry to no avail. 
 If a Black, female graduate student cannot turn to the professional association earmarked for Black women in her field, to whom can she turn? I thought that the ABWH was for Black women historians, not only Black women who do African or African American history.

Cheri C. Wilson
Doctoral student, Russian history
University of Minnesota

Journalism Education Needs the Proper Balance
Thank you for alerting your readers to a potentially devasting situation at Florida A&M University (see Black Issues, May 27, 1999).
The Executive Board of the Black College Communication Association, which represents 41 historically Black colleges with mass communications programs, stands in support of Dean Robert Ruggles and the FAMU School of Journalism in their efforts to maintain a faculty that balances professional media experience with academic expertise. The president’s decision to deny tenure to journalism faculty with substantial professional backgrounds because they have not completed doctoral degrees flies in the face of what experts support (see Betty Medsger’s Winds of Change: Challenges Confronting Journalism Education, The Freedom Press, 1996) and what the best schools do. None of the country’s top journalism and mass communications schools require doctoral degrees for tenure. Those schools recognize the need for seasoned journalists in their classrooms, along with those who have theoretical, historical backgrounds.
The events at FAMU are disturbing, particularly when we consider their potential impact on journalism and mass communications programs at other historically Black colleges and universities. Sixty-five percent of the African American students who complete journalism degrees come from HBCUs. We believe those students deserve the same kind of quality education they can receive in such programs at traditionally White institutions where the balance that Dean Ruggles has argued for is the standard.

Dr. Jannette L. Dates
Chairperson, Black Colleges Communications Association
Dean, School of Communications
Howard University

15 Years of Meeting
 the Challenge
I read — with joy — about your 15th anniversary of publication in a recent edition of Black Issues and I wanted to simply express my congratulations.
As an African American, I try to formally acknowledge challenges and recognize accomplishments of others. This makes it easier for me to hold on to my personal conviction and life-long adage that talent comes in all colors and both genders, and we are one family.
Again, congratulations for 15 years of publishing Black Issues In Higher Education.

Phillip W. Miner
Assistant Vice President, University Relations
Hamline University

Bush Preceded Clinton
Black Issues was in error when it reported in the June 10, 1999 edition that President Bill “Clinton became the first sitting president to deliver a commencement speech at an HBCU, when he delivered the commencement address at Morgan State University in Maryland” in 1997.
Hampton University was proud to welcome then-President George Bush to address its graduates at commencement exercises in May 1991. As you know, Bush served as President from 1989 to 1993. 

Victoria L. Jones
Director, News Bureau
Hampton University

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