As we begin the second year of the new millennium, I wanted to take this opportunity to offer a brief status report. One of the tricky elements to giving such a report is determining which barometers to use. In the field of higher education, there are more indicators of progress than this selection will allow. But the following brief indicators may be helpful.
In terms of overall impact, the quality of access and equity to higher education is probably the most vexing question on the horizon. I say “quality” because who and in what numbers will be admitted to the top-tier institutions is really what is at stake.
Later this year, the U.S. Supreme Court likely will take the University of Michigan’s affirmative action case. And since the universities of Georgia and Texas have thrown in the towel on their affirmative action plans, all the eggs are now in the Michigan basket. If the court eliminates affirmative action, the key question becomes whether individual top-tier colleges and universities will readily acquiesce to the decision.
In addition, the leadership and gender barometers ironically reflect the across-the-board trend of Black women outpacing Black men. Dr. Belle Wheelan, former president of Northern Virginia Community College and the newly appointed secretary of education of Virginia; Dr. Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University; and Dr. Condoleezza Rice, President Bush’s national security adviser and former Stanford University provost are representative of the long overdue, yet continuous strides Black women are making in the field of education. Unfortunately, the steady flow of Black males into the criminal justice pipeline guarantees a bleak future for Black families.
Speaking of criminal justice, this edition features two paradoxically related subjects — the scholarly efforts to stem the flow of Blacks into the criminal justice system and varied efforts to stimulate the flow of Blacks into the highest levels of competitive golf. Because I worked in a state prison while attending graduate and law school and continue my quest to get to a single digit golf handicap, these two subjects are quite familiar to me.
As Paul Ruffins’ and Ronald Roach’s articles on Black criminologists and criminal justice reform attest, the criminal justice situation continues to sap the community. A major issue is whether education can divert Black men from continuing to be the engine that drives a very profitable and destructive criminal justice machine.
Craig Greenlee’s report on the status of Blacks in intercollegiate golf provides another example for which progress might be gauged (see pg. 34). Former Stanford University standout Tiger Woods’ dominance of other players on the PGA Tour is by almost any standard a phenomenal success. But when one looks at the golfing pipeline, it is easy to become discouraged about the future for emerging Black golfers.
In any case, we do feel compelled to report to you — our subscribers, advertisers, friends and supporters — and early in the new year seemed like an appropriate time. Black Issues In Higher Education, which is in its 18th year of publication, owes its longevity to you. And for that continuing loyalty, we can never thank you enough.
On the personal indicator side of things, you can see from the gray in my coiffure that I nor any of you can prevent the aging process. Aging comes easy. Stimulating wisdom, however, doesn’t come as easy or naturally. Gaining true wisdom is a continuous, ongoing and never-ending quest.
“Wisdom is the prime thing. Acquire wisdom; and with all that you acquire, acquire understanding.”
— Proverbs 7:8.
Until the next time and again, thanks.
Frank L. Matthews
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