May 2, 2011, 5:00 am
This past week, the United Negro College Fund’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute released a new report entitled “Students Speak! Understanding the Value of HBCUs From Student Perspectives.” The report examines the reasons why current students chose to attend HBCU’s, and what they valued most about their experiences while in attendance. Below I summarize the report’s findings and offer my own perspectives on these findings.
Students attended HBCUs because:
• They felt a “strong desire for a sense of belonging.” In particular, students wanted access to a small environment that welcomed them. They also wanted to be a part of college campus that empowered them both culturally and academically. Research, most recently that of Terrell L. Strayhorn (The Ohio State University), shows that a “sense of belonging” is absolutely instrumental to the success of…
April 13, 2011, 3:44 pm
Last week I attend a day full of events at the National Press Club in Washington. The National Association for Equal Opportunity (NAFEO), an advocacy group for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as well as Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), sponsored the day. The day focused on refuting negative perceptions of HBCUs, the ranking of HBCUs by U.S. News and World Report (I moderated that session), and HBCUs’ relationships with the media. As with any conference on HBCUs that I attend, I learned a lot and took a lot of notes. Here are some of the highlights, coupled with my own spin on the issues.
The opening session of the day featured Ohio University professor and fellow Innovations blogger Richard Vedder. Not long ago, Vedder wrote a not-so-supportive piece for the Chronicle on HBCUs. After reading the piece, NAFEO president Lezli Baskerville reached out…
March 20, 2011, 1:46 pm
This week the Louisiana board of regents voted 9-6 in favor of consolidating the University of New Orleans (UNO) and Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) to create a new University of Greater New Orleans with two separate academic units. The units would have separate accreditation, admission standards, and faculty governance. The regents’ decision will need to receive two-thirds legislative approval in order to move forward. Regardless of its tentative nature, many people in New Orleans and beyond are upset and concerned. The situation is volatile and colored by a history of racism in the city and throughout our nation. It is also influenced by the horrors of Hurricane Katrina. In this essay, I examine the perspectives of the various parties involved in the SUNO-UNO situation.
Supporters of SUNO argue that the institution is historic in nature and has served as a foundation for…
February 24, 2011, 1:55 pm
They are at it again and just in time to close out Black History Month. This time it’s David Leonhardt, writing in The New York Times. Last time it was Jason Riley writing in The Wall Street Journal. Neither of these writers is familiar with the large amount of empirical research on HBCUs, yet they both feel compelled to trash these institutions in prominent newspapers—papers that carry value with funders and policy makers.
Riley relied mainly on nearly 40-year-old research by Christopher Jencks and David Riesman to make claims about HBCUs not measuring up to Ivy League institutions (a comparison that is difficult for any college or university). For an understanding of Jencks and Riesman’s work and its lack of empirical rigor, please see an article I wrote a few years ago entitled “Salvaging ‘Academic Disaster Areas.’” Relying on this dated research when there is a large a…
December 15, 2010, 12:23 pm
This past week, the United States Commission on Civil Rights released a report on the educational effectiveness of HBCU’s. Although the data from the report is a few years old, there is much to be learned from and confirmed by the Commission’s findings.
Relying on expert testimony from leading researchers, policy analysts, and national leaders, the Commission found the following:
• Although HBCU students tend to have lower SAT scores and high-school grades than their African-American counterparts at historically white institutions (HWI’s), they produce 40 percent of black science and engineering degrees with only 20 percent of black enrollment.
• Faculty members’ dedication to teaching, student-support networks, encouragement to pursue leadership posts in their fields of study, and the availability and access of faculty role models help to explain the success of an HBCU…
December 7, 2010, 10:04 pm
Anyone who works at an HBCU, attended an HBCU, or does research related to HBCU’s has heard the phrase, “HBCU’s do more with less.” In many ways, this phrase builds internal strength. It is a constant reminder to students, faculty, and administrators who work tirelessly that even though there are fewer resources, HBCU’s do an admirable job of educating students and preparing them for future careers and study. HBCU’s add value to their students.
A few years ago, I was at a meeting with Johnnetta B. Cole, the respected former president of both Spelman College and Bennett College for Women. Those at the meeting were talking about the ability of HBCU’s to stretch resources and Cole said, (and I’m paraphrasing) “I’m tired of doing more with less—I want to do more with more.” Her line got some laughs, but everyone in the room got the point. HBCU’s need more resources and “doing …
November 9, 2010, 3:27 pm
This past week, I attended and presented at a symposium entitled “Beyond Stock Stories and Folktales: African Americans and the Pipeline to the Professoriate: An Evidence-based Examination of STEM Fields.” The symposium was co-hosted by William Tate of Washington University in St. Louis and Henry Frierson of the University of Florida. The event brought together some diverse and interesting people to talk about the challenges and successes of African Americans in the STEM fields. There were some scholars talking about STEM success at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), while others discussed efforts that have worked at Historically White Institutions (HWIs) such as the Meyerhoff Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
After listening to all of the presentations, I was left with one thought: we know how to increase the success of African Americans …