Tag: University of Missouri

Eight African Americans Earn Truman Scholarships for Graduate Study in 2017

Dontae Bell, Taylor Cofield, Lexis Ivers, Chelsea Jackson, Thomas Mitchell, Kathleen Nganga, Shyheim Snead, and Soreti Teshome (photos via jbhe.com)

article via jbhe.com

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation has announced the selection of the 2017 Truman Scholars. Each Truman Scholar is awarded up to $30,000 for graduate study. They also receive priority admission to several top-tier graduate schools, have career and graduate school counseling opportunities, and are fast-tracked for internships within the federal government.

Truman Scholars must be U.S. citizens and be in the top 25 percent of their college class. They must express a commitment to government service or the nonprofit sector. Since the establishment of the program in 1975, 3,139 students have been named Truman Scholars.

This year, 62 Truman scholars were selected from 768 candidates nominated by 315 colleges and universities. While the foundation does not release data on the racial and ethnic make up of Truman Scholars, a JBHE analysis of this year’s class of 62 Truman Scholars, concludes that it appears that 8, or 12.9 percent, are African Americans. Here are brief biographies of the African Americans named Truman Scholars this year:

Dontae Bell is a junior at Howard University in Washington, D.C., studying economics and military science. He is a member of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and was selected as a pilot candidate this spring. After graduation, Dontae will commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Eventually, he hopes to earn a master of public administration degree before pursuing a career in public service.

Taylor Cofield is a junior political science and international studies major with a minor in Middle East studies at the University of Missouri. She also is studying Arabic. Cofield is a member of the university’s track team and is current legislative intern with the Missouri State Senate. Upon graduation, she hopes to fulfill a two-year assignment in the Peace Corps and then pursue a dual master’s and law degree program in contemporary Arab studies and national security law.

Lexis Ivers is a third-year student at American University in Washington, D.C., where she studies law and policy. She is the founder and director of Junior Youth Action DC, a mentorship program focused on the academic and personal development of foster youth. She plans to pursue a career in child welfare law, which will allow her to advocate for children when foster care systems fail.
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University of Missouri Taps Michael Middleton as Interim President

University of Missouri Interim President Michael Middleton (photo via
University of Missouri Interim President Michael Middleton (photo via latimes.com)

COLUMBIA, Missouri (AP) — One of the University of Missouri’s first black law school graduates was appointed Thursday to lead the four-campus system through a tumultuous period of racial unrest, drawing praise from students who said he’s well-equipped to confront the problems they felt his predecessor largely ignored.

Michael Middleton, 68, has spent 30 years at the university — as an undergraduate, law student, faculty member and finally, administrator. At a news conference announcing his appointment as the university system’s interim president, he vowed to take on the racial problems that inspired the protests that helped force Monday’s abrupt resignation of President Tim Wolfe and another top administrator.

Middleton takes over as black student groups, calling for change over the administration’s handling of racial issues, were given a boost last weekend when 30 black football players vowed not to take part in team activities until Wolfe was gone.

Middleton said the university “has faced its share of troubling incidents and we recognize that we must move forward as a community. We must embrace these issues as they come, and they will come to define us in the future.”

article by Summer Ballentine and Alan Scher Zagier, AP via thegrio.com

Associated Press writers Jim Suhr and Jim Salter in St. Louis and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

#CrisisAtIthaca: Students Stage Walkout, Demand Presidential Resignation Over Racism At Ithaca College

Students of Ithaca College stage walkout to protest racism on campus (photo via YouTube)
Students of Ithaca College stage walkout to protest racism on campus (photo via YouTube)

Following the uprising at The University of Missouri at Columbia, over 1,000 students at New York’s Ithaca College staged a walkout Wednesday afternoon demanding the resignation of President Tom Rochon, who students believe has inadequately responded to incidents of racism on campus.

As reported by CNN, students gathered in the quad on Wednesday afternoon chanting “Tom Rochon, No Confidence.” Protesters gave testimonials and speeches before laying on the ground in silence for a 25 “die-in”. The college newspaper, The Ithacan posted a copy of the document passed out by protesters titled “The Case Against Tom Rochon.” In it, students outline several major complaints against Rochon including his “disregard for minority community members” and his “questionable” ethics. The document also sites grievances that span the duration of President Rochon’s seven year tenure and allege that the racial climate at Ithaca has led to “exceptionally low campus morale” and overall student dissatisfaction.

The student run, People of Color at Ithaca College group is urging a student vote of “confidence” or “no confidence” in Rochon by November 30. The college’s faculty council also is seeking a referendum on Rochon.  According to The Ithacan, racial tensions on the campus have been bubbling over the last several weeks with  many faculty members walking out of the Oct. 27 “Addressing Community Action on Racism and Cultural Bias” event with students, also led by People of Color at Ithaca College.

Several of the inciting incidents at Ithaca include a “Preps” or “Crooks” party that encouraged students who wanted to participate at “Crooks” to dress in a “thuggish” style with “bling.” The party was canceled following student complaints. This followed an earlier panel event where a Black female was student was referred to as a “savage” by alumni panelist. That followed a protest in September against racial profiling by campus police officers.

“In general, the college cannot prevent the use of hurtful language on campus. Such language, intentional or unintentional, exists in the world and will seep into our community. We can’t promise that the college will never host a speaker who could say something racist, homophobic, misogynistic or otherwise disrespectful.” Rochon said in a statement to the posted on the Ithaca College website in October. He adds, “Even so, we reaffirm our commitment to making our campus an inclusive and respectful community,”

A vote of no confidence would not force Rochon to step down, although students and faculty are hoping it will force the Board of Trustees to take action.

Chair of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees, Tom Grape, issued a statement on Wednesday. In it, he validates student concerns but does not indicate any intention of removing Rochon. Full statement below:

It is not easy to see the IC community that I love going through such a difficult time—to see so many of our students recounting experiences that leave them feeling fear, pain, and alienation at a time in their lives when they should instead be feeling welcomed, supported, and inspired.

I respect that many of our students and faculty are choosing to express their concerns about Ithaca College’s climate and direction though their public discussions and their votes. The board members and I remain committed, as always, to making decisions that take into consideration the input we receive from the college’s executive leadership, as well as the voices of faculty, students, staff, parents, and alumni.

Tough times bring out the true character of a community. I hope that we will continue to see these conversations maintain the standard of mutual respect, a commitment to truth, and an assumption that human beings must seek connection and common ground in order to make a difference.

The most vital role of the Board of Trustees is to ensure that Ithaca College has the best possible leadership and the strongest possible resources to ensure its short-term and long-term health. Board members and I are in contact on a daily basis with the president and other campus leaders about the issues that are taking place, and I am committed to helping the institution address its problems so that we may become the Ithaca College that we all know we can be.

We understand that the issues are serious and significant, and we are listening. I am certain that Ithaca College will emerge from this chapter stronger and more resolute in its direction forward, and the board and I are actively partnering with Tom Rochon and other campus leaders to make sure that happen. – Tom Grape, Chair of Ithaca College, Board of Trustees

President Tom Rochon announced the new chief diversity officer position on Nov. 10. Wednesday, Roger Richardson, associate provost for diversity, inclusion and engagement was appointed as interim while a national search is conducted to fill the position.

article by Leigh Davenport via hellobeautiful.com

Student and Faculty Protests Over Mishandled Racist Incidents Cause University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe to Resign

Michael Sam Becomes First Openly Gay Man Selected in the NFL Draft (VIDEO)

CREDIT: AP

Michael Sam, a defensive end for the University of Missouri, was drafted by the St. Louis Rams on Saturday, making him the first openly gay athlete to be drafted in any of the four major American sports, and putting him on track to be the first openly gay player in the National Football League.

Sam, who was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, went as the 249th pick. He is only the second person ever to hold that title and fall out of the top 33 picks of the NFL draft. The other was Chad Lavalais of Louisiana State University, who was picked 142nd back in in 2004. Before the draft, CBS had Sam’s prospect ranking at 169.

If Sam went so late in the draft because teams were concerned about the unwanted attention that selecting the first gay player, they did not seem to be concerned about such impressions across the board; Zach Mettenberger, who plead guilty to sexual battery after groping a woman outside of a bar, went second in the sixth round of the draft. Prince Shembo, who was investigated in connection with the sexual assault of a woman who soon after committed suicide, was the 139th pick.

Now that Sam has been drafted, he will move onto the next challenge of securing a spot on the roster. He’ll need to make the team over the summer to become the first openly gay player actively in the NFL, and his spot isn’t guaranteed. As Alex Leichenger previously pointed out here on ThinkProgress, “Sam is considered undersized for an NFL defensive end and may have to become a linebacker in the pros…. His pass-rushing ability would be an advantage at outside linebacker, but there will be questions about whether he has the speed to play in pass coverage in the NFL.” Sam also had a fairly bad showing at the scouting combine earlier this year.

Still, some predicted that Sam would have difficulty finding a team that would draft him because of his coming out. One general manager predicted that he would not be drafted at all. And while public statements from teams and players in the league were encouraging, behind-the-scenes talk from people in the league showed doubt that Sam would garner a pick in the draft.

“I just know with this going on this is going to drop him down,” an NFL scout anonymously told Sports Illustrated. “There’s no question about it. It’s human nature. Do you want to be the team to quote-unquote ‘break that barrier?’”

Below is video of the moment when Sam got the news:

article by Annie-Rose Strasser via thinkprogress.com

Michael Sam to Receive Arthur Ashe Courage Award at ESPYs

Michael SamYesterday University of Missouri’s defensive end Michael Sam was selected as the winner of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The award, which is given to individuals who transcend sports, will be presented at The 2014 Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly (ESPYs) on July 16th. Other recipients of the award include Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela and Billie Jean King.

Michael Sam made history in February by becoming the first Division I college football player in history to come out as gay.  Sam, who was named the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-SEC selection during his senior year at Missouri, is expected to be picked in the NFL Draft in the upcoming days.  

Sam joined a growing list of notable athletes who have come out recently, including Jason Collins, Robbie Rogers, Brittney Griner, Orlando Cruz, Megan Rapinoe, Lori Lindsey, and Tom Daley.

article by Hayley Miller via hrc.org

Gay NFL Draft Prospect Michael Sam Praised for his Courage by First Lady Michelle Obama

Michael Sam in Irving, Texas, on 1 January 2014
Michael Sam is a former defensive lineman for the University of Missouri

Michael Sam, who aims to become the NFL’s first openly gay player, has won praise from First Lady Michelle Obama.  The 24-year-old former University of Missouri athlete revealed his sexuality on Sunday.  Mrs. Obama took to Twitter to call Sam “an inspiration to all of us”.

The National Football League has also welcomed the defensive lineman’s announcement, saying Sam has “honesty and courage.”  Mrs. Obama said of Sam: “We couldn’t be prouder of your courage both on and off the field.”

In the interview that aired on ESPN on Sunday, Sam said: “I came to tell the world I’m an openly gay man. If I work hard, if I make plays – that’s all that should matter.”

The athlete completed his college football career in December and is expected to be drafted by an NFL franchise in May.  He is said to have revealed his sexuality to his former college teammates at the University of Missouri’s Mizzou Tigers, but admitted doing so publicly was “a weight off his chest.”  “I probably may be the first but I won’t be the last,” he added. “And I think only good things will come from this.”

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How a Gay Football Star Could Change Black America for the Better

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Michael Sam of the Missouri Tigers recovers a fumble for a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs on Oct. 12, 2013, in Athens, Ga. (KEVIN C. COX/GETTY IMAGES)

On Sunday night, Michael Sam made history. The college football standout and likely top NFL draft pick publicly acknowledged that he is gay, which would make him the first athlete in a major American professional team sport to announce he is gay at the very beginning of his career. Sam’s announcement is already one of the biggest sports stories ever, but the timing of his announcement could make it one of the biggest cultural stories ever as well.

Some of you may be scratching your heads right now trying to figure out why this story matters in an age in which the president of the United States is on the record supporting same-sex marriage, and NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay last year. But Sam’s story will likely have a far more significant impact than either of these milestones. Here’s why:

President Obama certainly has a measure of influence, particularly among black audiences. When he first ran for president, data showed an “Obama effect” among black test-takers whose scores markedly improved when he won. But influencing test scores in a condensed time frame is very different from having a long-term impact on community behavior. For instance, so far there is no data to suggest that the image of the president’s nuclear family, comprised of two married parents raising their children and two dogs together, has significantly altered the landscape within the black community, in which single parenthood has become the norm. That is simply to say that altering social behavior in a meaningful way is a tall order for any one man, but it may be particularly tough for a president.