FOLLOW UP: Reader Suggestions for Changing HBCUs to Keep Them Relevant

February 5, 2013  |  

Last week, we reported on an in-depth interview with the new president of Morehouse, John Silvanus Wilson, and NPR host Michel Martin. The big topic — maintaining the relevance of HBCUs. From Wilson’s point of view, colleges in general need to update their business model. HBCUs specifically need to work on things like alumni giving and financial aid.

Madame Noire readers have some suggestions also.

Since that story was published, we’ve heard from readers on Facebook and Twitter, who’ve shared their suggestions for improving HBCUs.

“[HBCUs] need more online classses & degrees. To keep up w/ the other colleges who offer it,” Ms Melody said on Twitter. @BigAppleInnATL agrees, and says, “…[A]lso they can make [registration] online for current students instead of long lines.”

A couple of Facebook commenters tackled the issues with the course offerings directly. @Chase Ross commented on Facebook: “There’s a disconnect between liberal arts education and work-ready skills. There should be a series of free online tutorials and proficiency tests/certifications that students should have to complete before graduation in programs such as excel, photshop, prezi, etc. They should also provide personal finance tutorials.” And @Tanisha Waggoner says she actually decided against an HBCU because of a lack of computer courses.

Once again, this by no means implies that issues with higher education only exist at HBCUs. Across the college spectrum, educators are looking for ways to modernize their schools and programs in order to keep up with the needs of students and the jobs marketplace.

And all that said, one of the commenters on that previous story, a Spelman grad who thinks there needs to be a focus on areas of study other than liberal arts, took a moment to discuss why HBCUs are very necessary. “What makes HBCUs so great is the deep tradition that most of them still hold to today. HBCUs break the stigma that ‘all Black people are alike,’ Tiffaney Graham writes. “It allows you to get to not only know yourself as you’re becoming an independent adult but as a person of color too.”

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