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’


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:  College Costs Increase, but Record Amount of Financial Aid Available to Students

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).

We Don’t Have a ‘Diversity’ Problem in Education White supremacy. For many, it is a term that conjures imagery of White men in white hoods surrounded by burning crosses. It is not a term that, for most, conjures imagery of public schools, teachers and students. Instead, in a never-ending project...
Tennessee State University Raising Admissions Standards NASHVILLE, Tenn. ― Tennessee State University is planning to raise admissions standards for the next incoming class in an effort to draw higher-performing students who will have a greater likelihood to graduate. WPLN-FM reports the historically Blac...
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Suspended at Missouri University S&T ROLLA, Mo. ― The Missouri University of Science and Technology has suspended the small Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and is making students move out of the fraternity house after two new members were hospitalized. The students were injured Thursday d...
San Francisco State University Slams Posters Attacking Professor SAN FRANCISCO ― San Francisco State University officials are condemning posters accusing a professor specializing in Palestinian studies of collaborating with terrorists. The posters by the David Horowitz Freedom Center single out an ethnic studies ...
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

    oggi ogburn
    June 7, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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