“Minority” and “orchestra musicians” are not words you see often in the same sentence, much less spoken, but the Sphinx Organization is becoming a major player in changing the face of classical music.
The brainchild of former University of Michigan graduate student, Aaron Dworkin, Sphinx would host a competition to attract outstanding young minority string players from around the country. Dworkin’s professors were initially skeptical about his proposal, but ultimately assisted him in making his dream a reality. Fast forward 12 years, and the Sphinx Organization not only hosts music competitions, but has expanded its offerings to include various professional development and music-education programs. The younger musicians are appreciative of the opportunities that Sphinx has provided, but Anthony Elliott, a cello professor at the University of Michigan has another perspective: “It will be very different for today’s young musicians than it was for us. … They will not have to make this journey alone,” says Elliott, who’s African-American. Read more about this unique organization in our cover story by Carla DeFord.
Another area in which minorities are not well represented is in international study abroad programs. Much of our coverage about these programs focuses on the dismal numbers of minority students, specifically Black students, who study abroad. However, Diverse correspondent Ken Cooper reports on one historically Black university in particular that has made a significant dent in diversifying the applicant pool for the prestigious Fulbright program, the largest international exchange program for students and scholars sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
The historically Black university is Baltimore’s Morgan State University, which has produced 120 Fulbright students over the course of 50-plus years — more than any other HBCU. The university’s former Fulbright adviser, the late Dr. Sandye Jean McIntyre II, has been credited with Morgan State’s impressive track record. Since the mid-1990s, several other HBCUs including Howard University, Spelman College, Florida A&M and Lincoln University, just to name a few, have also produced Fulbright Students. It’s a competitive program that takes dedication on the part of the campus adviser to educate and prepare students about the application process. Read more in “Promoting International Interest” about the Fulbright program as well as how these HBCUs prepare their students.
Lastly, as we approach the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Diverse contributing editor Lydia Lum looks at how collegiate sports are faring in New Orleans. While the city’s professional sports teams, namely the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and the NBA’s Hornets have rebounded with the assistance of their respective leagues, many of the city’s college teams are struggling with poor attendance, lean coaching staffs and inadequate training facilities. Furthermore, several colleges and universities have not reinstated all of their sports teams. But these schools are trying to make the best out of a challenging situation. In “A Quick Rebound? Not So Fast,” Lydia reports on the challenges New Orleans collegiate athletic programs are facing and what some of them are doing to stay afloat.
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