Reflections on ‘The Changing Face of Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ - Higher Education
Higher Education News and Jobs

Reflections on ‘The Changing Face of Historically Black Colleges and Universities’

Email




by Alvin J. Schexnider

Alvin Schexnider

Alvin Schexnider

Recently, the Center for Minority Serving Institutions, located at the University of Pennsylvania, released a new study that provides fresh insights on changes underway on Black college campuses. Aptly titled “The Changing face of Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” the report spotlights the value HBCUs add to American higher education — and in a way that enhances our understanding of the subject while underscoring its importance as an area of intellectual interest and scholarly pursuit.

This report is much needed and timely. It is needed because it fills a void by presenting empirical research that informs our understanding of Black colleges rather than relying on anecdotes and assertions. It is timely because it appears when the role of HBCUs is under increased scrutiny; they are under severe fiscal stress; and their future is imperiled by federal budget cuts including, for example, the Parents Plus Loan (PPL) Program.

Much of the literature about Black colleges ranges from the romantic to the negative. However well-intentioned, neither is a match for the solid research and data required to shape discussions and inform public policy regarding the sustainability of HBCUs. This is what makes the report’s findings significant. “The Changing Face of Historically Black Colleges and Universities” corrects misperceptions and provides refreshing insights. For example, it notes that Black colleges are often depicted as having lackluster retention and graduation rates. The report reminds us, however, that “most HBCUs are in the South, where all but four states have graduation rates below the national average.”

It will surprise some to learn that the demographic profile at HBCUs is changing consonant with national shifts: since 1980, Hispanic and Latino enrollment has increased by more than 123 percent while Asian enrollment has grown by 60 percent. Yet another surprise finding is that the average endowment at Black colleges is higher at public institutions than private ones, a matter of huge importance in the future. The report also focuses attention on the growing gender gap on HBCU campuses; at several institutions the percentage of females is above 70 percent, and this too has enormous implications for their individual futures and for public policy.

Related:  Can a rift be avoided? Historically Black and Hispanic-serving institutions are all vying for the same federal funds - includes related article on the US Dept. of Education's proposed changes in the Title III - Cover Story

The lead author of the report, Professor Marybeth Gasman, is a highly regarded scholar on this subject. She has assembled and trained an impressive team of young researchers who are capable of improving our understanding of minority-serving institutions far into the future. As we move closer to becoming a nation of minorities and acquiring a better appreciation of the role of minority-serving institutions in the panoply of American higher education, their scholarship will be indispensable.

Alvin J. Schexnider is a former chancellor of Winston-Salem State University and the author of “Saving Black Colleges” (Palgrave Macmillan, fall 2013).

RELATED ARTICLES >>
Wake Forest Opens Dorm Honoring Poet Maya Angelou WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wake Forest University has named a new dorm in honor of poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. Multiple media outlets report Wake Forest cut the ribbon on the five story residence hall for 224 students on Friday. Ang...
Mique’l Dangeli Puts Indigenous Art on Center Stage When she isn’t on campus at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) in Juneau, Dr. Mique’l Dangeli may sometimes be seen at various venues around the country performing with Git Hayetsk (People of the Copper Shield), an internationally renowned Nort...
Alabama House Votes to Block Money to ‘Sanctuary Campuses’ MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama House of Representatives voted Tuesday to block state funds to colleges and universities that declare themselves so-called sanctuary campuses for immigrants in the country illegally. House members voted 72-28 for the...
Scholar Lara Thompson Navigates an Unconventional Route Take one step into Dr. Lara A. Thompson’s engineering lab at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), with its high-tech equipment, and you will quickly get a glimpse of why Thompson loves what she does. “None of this was here before,” sa...
Semantic Tags:

One Response to Reflections on ‘The Changing Face of Historically Black Colleges and Universities’

  1. My old school St Paul’s in Lawrenceville Va. is closing at the end of the month. There was low school registration, it loss it’s accreditation etc.
    It is so sad
    peace
    oggi

    oggi ogburn
    June 7, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *