Title

Marginally accepted: Policies and practices influencing the enrollment of Black students at Syracuse University from 1942 to 1969

Date of Award

1998

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Higher Education

Advisor(s)

Joan N. Burstyn

Keywords

Enrollment, Black students, Syracuse University, New York, GI Bill, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Civil rights movement

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Higher Education and Teaching

Abstract

This dissertation explores the evolution of policies and practices that affected the enrollment of black students at Syracuse University between 1942 and 1969. Variables examined include: the G.I. Bills, the implications of Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Movement, admissions criteria at predominantly white and historically black colleges, the relationship between the university and the local black community, and institutional culture.

Historical research methods were used to describe changes in national and local events related to race relations, to investigate the institutional culture at Syracuse University, and to provide examples of how administrative policies and practices evolved in response to changes in attitudes and perceptions. Data sources include administrative communications and policy statements, transcripts of speeches, financial records, administrative reports, city and university newspapers, videotapes, and college catalogues. Personal interviews were used to enrich the archival records, define terms, and to verify archival data.

The study concludes that the university culture was dominated by interscholastic competition and team sports. Increases in enrollment of black students can be linked to the popularity of men's basketball and football and the use of grants-in-aid (athletic scholarships) to recruit black star athletes. The grants-in-aid policy increased the enrollment of black student athletes at the university, but it did not encourage the enrollment of black scholars who were not athletes; these students tended to enroll elsewhere.

The climate for black students at Syracuse University improved under the leadership of Chancellor Tolley. However, I found that black athlete and non-athlete students were discriminated against by members of the campus community. There was also a difference between the perception of white students and black students regarding the presence of black students on campus. Black student athletes enrolled to earn degrees and prepare themselves for careers, using athletic scholarships to pay for colleges costs. However, white students perceived the black students primarily as athletes, not as members of the academic community.

To increase diversity on campus, Syracuse University needs to address these historical issues of perception in embracing black students as an integral part of its academic, social and athletic community.

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