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The Highly Anticipated Year In Higher Education

The Highly Anticipated Year In Higher EducationI began my last Editor’s Note in 2002 with “2003 is gearing up to be a memorable year,” primarily because we knew by then that the U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to hear the University of Michigan’s Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger cases, which supporters and opponents of affirmative action hoped would clarify whether race could be used as a factor in college admissions.The higher education community had to wait out the court’s decision for half of the year, but by June, the court had ruled, striking down Michigan’s undergraduate case, but upholding the law school’s admissions policy. And even though most supporters of affirmative action felt vindicated by the court’s ruling that race could be used as a factor in admissions, the overall feeling in the air was that this issue would be revisited again in the future and that the lifespan for affirmative action was probably limited.You can read more about the Michigan cases and other highlights in higher education for 2003 in our annual “Year in Review” feature in the pages to follow. Compiling the events and milestones for this particular edition provides a good opportunity to look back over the year at the news events and newsmakers.Earlier this year we conducted an extensive interview with Berkeley professor Dr. John Ogbu about his research on the performance gaps between Black and White middle-class students, and a few months later we received word that Ogbu had died following back surgery. We received positive feedback about the piece with Ogbu, and we, too, found his research to be very compelling. We’re fortunate we were able to meet with him, and share his research and insights with our readers.One of the most satisfying things about being in the news business is that you never stop recording history and documenting important issues and events.For example, after 15 years of trying to get the House and Senate to approve the building of a Black history museum in the nation’s capital, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., finally can claim victory as the House overwhelmingly voted to establish the museum last month. Talk about perseverance paying off (see story, pg. 6). And just as we were wrapping up this edition, Green Bay Packers’ running backs coach Sylvester Croom was named the SEC’s first Black head football coach, taking over the program at Mississippi State University (see story, pg. 22). This year we’ve had several influential people in higher education retire or announce their retirements. Florida A&M University’s trailblazing business school Dean Sybil Mobley retired in June; UNCF president and CEO William Gray said he will step down in March 2004; and Dr. Oswald P. Bronson Sr., president of Bethune-Cookman College since 1975, also plans to retire next June.And in addition to Ogbu, the higher community mourned the passing of several leaders during the year such as Christopher Fairfield Edley, president emeritus of the UNCF; community college leader Dr. Donald G. Phelps; and most recently, higher education “legend” Dr. Clark Kerr. We honor those leaders and others as we take a look back at 2003. We are also looking forward to 2004, where many in the civil rights and education communities will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. In addition, we invite you to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Black Issues In Higher Education with us next June.
And since this is our last edition for the year, we would like to wish everyone a safe and happy
holiday season. 

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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