In four of six cities surveyed in a report from the Service Employees International Union, Bank of America ranked last in locating bank branches in predominantly minority neighborhoods and was twice as likely as its top two competitors to lend to white mortgage applicants than to African-American mortgage applicants in two other cities, Chicago and Detroit. The report “Shut Out of the American Dream: How Bank of America Is Systematically Under-serving Communities of Color and Harming Low-Income Families with Questionable Practices” examines the bank’s pattern of branches against those of Citibank and JPMorgan Chase in Buffalo, N.Y.; Chicago; Detroit; New York City; Philadelphia; and St. Louis, Mo.—cities the U.S. Census Bureau ranks among the top 10 most racially segregated in the country. With more than 5,700 locations, Bank of America has five times as many branches as Citibank and twice as many as Chase.
Science & Engineering Faculties
A national study of tenured and tenure-track faculty at the top 100 university departments finds women and minorities still underrepresented in each of 15 science and engineering disciplines. The study was conducted by Donna J. Nelson, University of Oklahoma, and funded by grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation. In the physical sciences and engineering, chemical engineering has the highest representation of minorities in full professorship positions at just 4.9 percent; women from underrepresented groups are nearly nonexistent among faculty in the physical sciences and engineering departments at research universities; minorities comprised 7.9 percent of electrical engineering Ph.D. recipients from 1996 to 2005, yet only 4.0 percent of current assistant professors are minorities; from 2000 to 2005, Blacks increased from 10.6 percent to 12.5 percent of computer science B.S. recipients, but Black faculty in the top 50 computer science departments increased from just 0.3 percent in 2002 to 0.8 percent in 2007.
Spelman Gets $10 Million
Lehman Brothers committed $10 million to establish the Lehman Brothers Center for Global Finance and Economic Development at Spelman College. The funds will be used to develop an interdisciplinary curriculum, and a scholarship program and to recruit new faculty. The goal is to create a model that prepares women of African descent for successful executive and entrepreneurial careers in the financial industry and global marketplace. The Center’s curriculum will emphasize critical thinking, problem solving and quantitative reasoning, as well as the ability to communicate ideas with clarity and to demonstrate socio-cultural understanding.
The Rural School and Community Trust’s report “Why Rural Matters 2007: The Realities of Rural Education Growth” says minority enrollment in rural schools is up by 55 percent, with some states experiencing increases of more than 100 percent, against an overall enrollment increase of 15 percent. The report’s priority states, located in the Southwest, Southeast, Mid-South Delta and Appalachia, track student populations with the severest socioeconomic challenges, especially high poverty levels, and operate with less money than rural schools in other states. Among other findings, rural graduation rates are below 70 percent in 10 states, mostly in the Southeast; recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers is an acute challenge; and teacher salaries are lowest.
Black Catholic United, an organization of parents, alumni and community leaders, said a plan to turn seven Washington, D.C., Catholic schools into charter schools is “a major blow to education in the District” and vowed to take its fight to keep them open to the Vatican. The group said the schools are high- achieving schools that provide an outstanding education to predominantly African-American students. A formal statement accused Archbishop Donald Wuerl of distributing misinformation about the finances of the consortium that has been helping to provide financial assistance to the schools. It said the archdiocese refused to help parishes find ways to keep the schools open as Catholic institutions and that the archbishop’s quick deadline for parishes to come up with a financial plan for their schools ensured that such efforts would end in failure.
Elizabeth Arden Inc. entered into an exclusive global licensing agreement with Iconix Brand Group Inc. for the development, marketing and distribution of men’s and women’s fragrance, cosmetics and skincare products with Rocawear. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. A debut fragrance is planned to launch in the fall of 2008. Iconix purchased the Rocawear brand in March 2007. Rocawear co-founder Shawn Carter spearheads all product development, marketing and licensing for Rocawear.
Iconix Brand Group also owns, licenses and markets such brands as Candie’s, Bongo, Badgley Mischka, Joe Boxer, Ram-page, Mudd, London Fog, Mossimo, Ocean Pacific, Danskin, Cannon, Royal Velvet, Fieldcrest and Charisma.
Cell Phone Attacks
Dutch scientists at Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam demonstrated that newer model mobile telephones with Internet access can cause dangerous electromagnetic interference in hospital devices, according to a study published in Critical Care, an online journal. The researchers examined the effects of mobile phone signals on critical-care equipment such as ventilators and pacemakers. Of the 50 electromagnetic interference incidents recorded during the study, nearly three-quarters were significant or hazardous. Hazardous incidents varied from a total switch off and restart of mechanical ventilators and complete stops without alarms in syringe pumps to incorrect pulsing by an external pacemaker. Interference was recorded at distances of closer than one inch and up to one yard, depending on the type of mobile phone.
According to The Nielsen Co.’s Consumer Insight, there are few differences among African-American and non-African-American households when it comes to shopping at grocery, mass merchandisers and warehouse club stores, but a much higher proportion of African-American consumers shop at convenience stores; 46 percent of African-American households shop beauty supply stores, almost three times the rate for non-African-American households; automotive supply stores and electronic stores follow beauty stores as the most popular alternative shopping channels for African-American consumers; African-American shoppers make more shopping trips each year compared to the average household (175 versus 165), but spend less per trip ($39 versus $44). The collective buying power of African-Americans is expected to reach $1.1 trillion by 2012.
A report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington, D.C., says older workers are continuing to work full time primarily out of fear for their current and future economic and health-care security. According to the report, the number of workers over 55 in the labor force increased from 29 percent in 1993 to 38 percent in 2006. For workers in the 65–69 age bracket, only 18 percent were working in 1985 while 29 percent are working today. EBRI further reports that private pension plans covered 34 percent of the U.S. workforce in 1985, while savings plans such as IRA and 401(k) plans, covered 25.2 percent. By 2005, however, private pensions covered just 15.1 percent of the workers, while IRA and 401(k) plans covered 46.3 percent.
Baby Boomer Solution
More companies seem to be turning to former employees who took time away from their careers to raise their children as the answer to replacing the growing number of retiring baby boomers. Twenty-three percent of human resource executives said they believe stay-at-home parents are valuable to consider in recruiting plans and 50 percent said their companies already casually work with former employees, according to a survey of 100 human resource executives conducted by Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.