Promises for Another Memorable YearWe’re in the homestretch of 2002, and those of us in the higher education community already know that 2003 is gearing up to be a memorable year. By now you’ve heard that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the University of Michigan’s affirmative action cases. As long as I’ve been working with Black Issues, we have been covering the two cases challenging Michigan’s use of race as a factor in admissions, and next year the court is scheduled to clarify this hot-button issue once and for all.
Access to higher education for students of color may forever be changed — or not. Nevertheless, it’s ironic that at the same time the Supreme Court has agreed to revisit the use of race in college admissions, Black Issues continues to report on White fraternities that dress up in blackface at a number of schools. There’s no doubt that the need still exists for colleges and universities to continue their efforts to make their campus communities a welcoming and comfortable environment for both students and employees, not to mention an environment where students of all ethnicities can live and learn together and from each other.
Should the court rule against the University of Michigan, I honestly believe that the majority of colleges and universities will continue to take steps toward diversifying their communities. Because unless college officials are living under rocks or haven’t checked out the latest census data, they know that this country is becoming increasingly more multicultural and diverse in academia and the workplace.
Speaking of diversity, the “Year in Review” provides an opportunity to look back at the strides that people of color, particularly African Americans, have made over a particular year. I first worked on the Year in Review in 2000. Dr. Ruth Simmons had been named the president of Brown University, making her the first African American to head an Ivy League institution. That same year the University of Mississippi elected its first Black student body president. This year the University of Missouri appointed Dr. Elson Floyd to be president of the four-campus system, making him the first African American to hold that position; Tyrone Willingham became the first Black coach of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish football program; and Brigham Young University, a campus with a 1 percent Black student population, elected its first Black student body president.
Year after year, strides continue to be made. And though you may find it difficult to utter “The first Black” … in 2002, such events nevertheless represent progress. And when we stop recording “firsts,” it’s either because Black Americans have truly “made it,” or because progress has come to a halt.
As we are upon the holiday season and winter months, we begin to hear more about homelessness and those in need. It seems appropriate, then, that our cover stories look at the scholarly contributions being made by the academy to issues surrounding homeownership, affordable housing and community development. Ronald Roach and Lydia Lum examine the role that both colleges and universities, as well as individual scholars, are playing in advancing the national debate on this issue.
As we close out the last edition of the year of Black Issues In Higher Education, I would like to thank our staff and readers for their dedication and wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.
Hilary Hurd Anyaso
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