Tag Archives: college

When a College is Historically White, Then Black, Then White Again: Black History Month

The University of South Carolina was founded by a state charter in 1801 and was the 23rd college founded in the United States. It was only for white people. When South Carolina started the Civil War, the students went off to fight for the South and the school closed, then it was occupied by Northern forces. After the war (1865) it was reopened under South Carolina’s reconstruction government.library reading room

They, the reconstructionists, made the school open to Black people. And it wasn’t just the students. One of the new professors they hired after the war ended was Richard Theodore Greener, America’s first Black professor at any state run flagship university (he was also the first Black person to graduate from Harvard). By 1875 ninety percent of the student body were Black.

When reconstruction was abandoned and democrats retook the state government (1876), they quickly closed the school down. Then in 1880 they reopened the school, but only to White people. After the passing of Brown vs. the Board of Education, which outlawed segregation, USC became the nation’s first college to require an entrance exam. That was 1954. The school did not admit any Black students till 1963.museum

Mind you, Professor Greener (who left the school when the democrats closed it down) graduated Harvard back in 1870, almost 100 years earlier.

History is not a straight line ascending up and up eternally. It weaves a drunkards path, back and forth, forward and back. Forward progress is not, and has never been, natural or inevitable.

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Leaving Nature for my Natural Habitat

The winter break is over and the kids, those of my own and those at the University, are back in class. That means I am as wellIMG_9862

Of course back in class does not mean classy. What it does mean is that if we hope to operate at a university level we could discuss and dissect what exactly “classy” means.

Is it visible? Is it observable? Who decides what constitutes class? What are the ties between what is considered “classy” (behavior, clothing, topics, etc.) and socio-economic class?

Is there value in being classy? Is this value only in how those with high social class perceive the one in question?IMG_9870 (34)

I might suggest that most of us who ask such questions would not likely feel good about the answers.

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The Letter on My Chest: Hillflint

I once spent a day in the archives of the University of Pennsylvania. I was doing research on the history of American football, focusing on its roots as an elitist quasi military ivy league creation and then its metamorphosis into a blue collar American religion. In the course of investigation I was able to handle a number of artifacts of various type and description, but my favorite item, was a sweater.sweater stuff

After handling this 100 year old piece of knitwear, woven back in those primitive times, I was a bit surprised at how hard it was to find one of like quality today. I started in my own college’s bookstore, one of those misnamed retailers of pennants and polo shirts but no dice. Plenty of t-shirts, but no classic P. In my various travels and continued research I was able to find some schools with similar items, but not the one I wanted. I looked everywhere. Lots of sweaters, but not the right one.

Then there was the internet and this one website. Hillflint.
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I found it and finally, over the holiday, I got it.

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The letter was not a felted applique patch but rather an intarsia knit letter woven right into the chest, just like the original I found in the archive.

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The little bit of branding in the waistband was their own touch but I liked it. This was not a jersey meant to be worn on Franklin Field, it was a sweater meant to be pulled over a button down on a crisp campus afternoon. Or in my case, a California evening when it dips down to the unheavenly temperature of 60 degrees.
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The Size of the Nightmare: Azusa Pacific University

Azusa Pacific University was founded in 1899 as the West Coast’s first bible college. It started offering degrees in 1939.

Today the school, located a half hour East of Los Angeles, still has evangelical ties and all students take religion courses. Azusa has a student body of over 10,000 people making it the second largest evangelical student body in the country (next to Liberty University in VA).IMG_3899

Azusa Pacific also boasts the second best NFL running back to ever be a character in Nintendo’s Super Techmo Bowl (next to Bo Jackson).

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While mingling at a business event I saw a black man standing alone at a table. He wasn’t talking to passers by and those who passed did not appear to notice him. I knew no one there so I walked over to say hello. As I approached I recognized his face, but didn’t believe my eyes. I didn’t believe my eyes because the face I recognized belonged on the body of a giant, and this man was exactly my size. I do not consider myself giant.

IMG_3199I got close enough to read his name tag, we all wore gigantic name tags, and there it was, written in Times New Roman, “Christian Okoye”.

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Christian Okoye came to AzusaPacific directly from Nigeria. He went there on a track scholarship with hopes of making the 1984 Olympic team. When team selections id not go his way he looked around for something else to do and he landed on football. He did not know the game, but he knew how to run and he was a giant. This giant got drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs and quickly earned the nickname the “Nigerian Nightmare”. It was disconcerting to meet a giant from your childhood and not only find him incredibly friendly, but also not so much a giant. Maybe he just looked bigger because I was 8 years old at the time.

I think he is the only nightmare to ever be associated with Azusa.IMG_3905

What is associated with the school is community service and teachers. The magazine Diverse Issues in Higher Education recognized APU as one of the nation’s top school’s in awarding degrees to racial minorities, particularly Latinos.

IMG_3904So apparently they aren’t only good at creating Nintendo legends but they do the whole college thing as well.IMG_3887

 

 

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UCLA: its the UC located in LA

California’s system of public higher education can be a bit tough for an outsider to understand. UC vs. CU, vs. IDK. It doesn’t help that there are 23 different CU schools and 10 different UC schools.  Most outside the system don’t even know it’s a system.

But they all know about UCLA.UCLAarches

The University if California at Los Angeles. I had a couple Bruins in my cohort in grad school and they were almost insufferable in their love for their alma mater. I’m a generally jaded guy so this sort of vigor intrigues me. It bears investigation. (did you see what I did there?)

In said investigation a couple things have drawn my attention, the newly formed Lowell Milken Institute and the not so newly formed, but unique nonetheless, Critical Race Studies program, also in the school of law. No, I am not a lawyer… but I have friends who are. I am also obviously not a comedian… nor am I a friends with any.570_UCLA_School_of_Law

The Lowell Milken Institute studies entrepreneurism and law. I have no real desire to work for myself but I love the idea of chasing one’s own dreams. I’m a fan of that. I’m a fan of the idea of lawyers chasing dreams rather than ambulances. I get the impression the folks over at UCLA agree with me on that.

Critical Race Studies (CRT) was birthed in the practice of law but most schools do not have dedicated programs. UCLA claims it has the only one. I like the idea of the program not because this is all I care about, though many may make that argument, but I like that such things are studied in a practical way. Law is at its core practical. You go argue a theoretical idea, that then becomes, or strikes down, a law, and then people’s lives become structured by it.

Things that touch our lives, especially things like race, should absolutely be studied not just pontificated or legislated independent of ideas and research. Which I guess is why the law school isn’t just one blanket program. But I’m only guessing.

But all this being said, most everyone knows as much about the CRT or Lowell Milken centers as they do the California CU/UC system.

That’s okay, just remember, UCLA. (say that part out loud).

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Cal Poly Pomona: don’t eat your Wheaties

Cal Poly Pomona has more than 22,000 students. More than 1,000 are international. I’m not sure how many people from Pomona they have, but I do know they have about 85 purebred Arabian horses.

front doorI’ll get to the horse in a minute.

The school was officially founded in 1938, but the ball had been rolling for some years before that.  The Voorhis school for boys started in 1928. It had some hard times during the depression, almost made it out the other end, but come 1938 the place was broke and gave control over to The California Polytechnic School in San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly Pomona was born.palmtreesandpointythingToday the school offers 94 different bachelor’s degrees, and boasts the largest civil engineering program in the United States. The University is part of the California State University system, claims Forest Whitaker as an alumni, and has a strange connection to breakfast.libraryIn a strange twist regarding Mr. Whitaker, Cal Poly Pomona almost gave Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe’s dictator) an honorary doctorate back in 1998. Students protested and the honor was never awarded. Skip ahead to 2006 and alum Forest Whitaker portrays that same Mugabe in a movie and won the academy award for best actor. Not sure all of that connection is something they boast about over there but “Go Broncos!”

kellogsThe breakfast connection goes back to 1925 when founder of the Kellogg company (the ones who make Cornflakes) started a horse ranch in Pomona. In 1949 Mr. Kellogg donated the ranch, along with its herd of Arabian horses, to the state of California. The State of California gave the ranch to Cal Poly Pomona. The old stables, and the horses are still there. Strangely enough the horses now have new stables and the old ones now house the offices of the student clubs. When I was there I strolled past the open stable door of the Greek Life organization and chuckled at an “Animal House” joke I thankfully never said out loud.

IMG_2461The school, like most California public schools today, is officially “impacted”. This means it is full. No room for any more students. No Mas! But they still accept applicants. You can get accepted but then you have to wait your turn for classes. This is what happens when your yearly tuition is $6,350. So while waiting to get your class, you will have both the time and money to go shopping.usedclothes

 

 

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“Your Mom Goes to College” ~Kip

Last year I visited 105 college campuses.

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Having reviewed the data I may have a bit of a geographical gap in my area of expertise.

I need to fix that.

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