All Articles Tagged "historically black colleges and universities"
It appears that the Republican Party is leaving no stone unturned in its latest efforts to reach out to the African-American community. The GOP, which already went on a listening tour, is even dong outreach to Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs).
After again being defeated by President Barack Obama who had the overwhelming support of minority voters, Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman, commissioned a report to outline a new strategy for the party, reports Diverse Education magazine. The 97-page Growth and Opportunity Project report was unveiled last month and among its suggestions was to find new ways to reach the black community. And recommended seeking out HBCUs, which said the report are institutions at which Republicans can engage African-Americans “with the goal of educating the community on Republican ideals and the party’s history.”
“HBCUs are part of the African-American community. We want to be engaged in all parts of the African-American community. So it’s important for us to do outreach to HBCUs,” Raffi Williams, the RNC deputy press secretary and the outreach coordinator to African Americans, told the magazine. “We’re still in the planning process, obviously, figuring out what the best strategy is moving forward.”
He added, “We want to be involved with conservatives all across the country. Specifically if it helps us doing outreach to HBCUs, [those campus groups] will be very important for us and something that we hope to utilize.”
Dr. Robert Ford, a professor of chemistry at Texas Southern University (TSU) and an adviser to the Young Conservatives organization at the Houston-based historically black university, told the publication that the effort could increase GOP black votes in the next presidential election. According to Ford, the Republican Party initiative could help stimulate interest in helping reinvigorate the TSU group, which currently has just 15 members.
“I think there’s a newfound recognition that young people vote and that young people can be effective messengers in their communities that has brought more attention to HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions in getting out its new message of inclusiveness,” Ford said to Diverse Education.
With members of the right wing making comments like this about new MSNBC host Karen Finney, the GOP’s outreach efforts are being undermined by its own people.
There’s a major college competition heating up. Morgan State is set to defend its title at the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC). It is an intense academic competition for students from Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs). The National Championship Tournament (NCT) will take place April 7 and 8 on the campus of American Honda Motor Co, Inc., a culmination of the year-long program.
More than 250 students from 18 states represent 48 HBCUs. They have spent many months training for their chance at the National Championship by participating in pre-NCT matches.
The students participate for the opportunity to win a share of the more than $300,000 in institutional grants awarded annually by Honda. According to a press release, the two-day competition tests students’ knowledge of history, science, literature, religion, the arts, social science, and popular culture.
Here’s how it works: The competitors will be split into eight divisions and will compete in a modified round-robin format. The top two teams from each division will advance to the “Sweet 16” and will compete in a single elimination playoff. The final two teams that emerge from the playoffs will battle for the title of National Champions and the grand prize of $50,000. The grand prize, along with the other institutional grants, will support academic activities at the participating HBCUs.
The competition has been going on for 24 years, awarding more than $7 million in grants. HCASC is one of Honda’s largest and longest running philanthropic initiatives in the United States.
As we recently reported, hundreds of students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are finding themselves with less financial aid due to changes made on federal student loan applications.
Now the HBCUs are fighting back. According to the Washington Times (via Black Blue Dog), HBCUs may end up having to sue President Obama’s administration for allowing changes in student loan standards. These changes have disproportionately affected minority populations. On the HBCU side, they say they were not given advanced notice of changes in loan standards resulting from new eligibility requirements coming from the US Department of Education.
“We’re going to continue to pursue the legislative process to find a better solution,” Johnny C. Taylor, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund told the Washington Times. “We are not itching for a fight, [but] we need to do what is necessary to protect what is the most vulnerable and fragile in our society.”
On the White House side, the Obama Administration has said that they made the changes so that the expectations for these loans match industry standards for getting other types of loans. This has not happened, however, for many black students, especially those at HBCUs. “[D]ue to differences in wealth levels, African Americans are often left behind,” writes Black Blue Dog. “Before, less than a quarter of PLUS loan applicants were denied. That number has risen to more than half,” the article continues.
Separately, but related, the average debt for HBCU students is $32,000. So though those loans are needed, many students are walking off campus for the last time with a high degree of debt.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are already struggling financially, and now new requirements for a popular student loan program is hitting HBCUs hard. According to a new report, changes to a government student loan are making it difficult for thousands of students to afford college this school year. The federal Parent PLUS loan program requirements are more stringent. And for HBCUs that need as many students as possible, this is affecting their enrollment stats as more of their students come from low-income families.
And, according to NPR news program “Here & Now,” thousands of HBCUs “got an unexpected shock this year when their renewals for the PLUS loans were denied.” The loans allow parents to borrow money for tuition, room and board, books and other school-related expenses.
The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education estimates that 14,000 students at HBCUs were denied PLUS loans – about half the students at those schools who applied for them.
“Dr. William Harvey, president of Virginia’s Hampton University, estimates that the change has cost HBCUs about $168 million,” reports “Here & Now.”
But experts are advising the denied parents to appeal the denials. The Department of Education will reinstate loans during appeal if families had PLUS loans in the past.
New students, however, are out of luck.
According to WBTV, the U.S. Department of Education made the changes to the PLUS loan program in an effort to make sure government loans line up with industry standards to decrease the rate at which students default on the loans.
College student loan debt is a problem, but is this the way to solve it?
For the past 25 years Morehouse College has held the “A Candle in the Dark” gala, the largest fundraiser for the historically black college. During this year’s event, The Ray Charles Foundation bestowed a $3 million gift on the only all-male historically black institution of higher learning in the United States.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the gift will go towards the naming of the academic wing of the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center at the college after Charles’ mother, Aretha Robinson.
“I know that Ray Charles had a long-standing relationship with Morehouse based on professionalism, integrity and honesty,” Valerie Ervin, president of the foundation, said in a statement. “He genuinely valued the education and preparation that Morehouse provides to young men.”
In the past, Charles had been invited to perform with the college’s jazz ensemble. It was actually Charles’ long-time manager, Joe Adams, who introduced the music legend to Morehouse. Adams was an avid contributor to Morehouse, having given a personal gift in support of the construction of the performing arts center now named for Charles, reports the newspaper.
“Morehouse is fortunate to have been able to forge a relationship with Mr. Charles. More important, we are grateful to him, Ms. Ervin, and The Ray Charles Foundation for all they have done to promote appreciation of the arts and humanities and to further music education at the College,” said Morehouse president John Silvanus Wilson Jr. in a press statement.
This isn’t the first monetary gift that has been made in the singer’s name. In 2001 after receiving an honorary degree from Morehouse, Charles made two $1 million gifts to the school. Morehouse was not actually the first choice for a performing arts center in his name. That would be Albany State University. But, according to AJC, late last year the foundation reclaimed $1.2 million of $3 million in donations to Albany State because the school did not use the money to build a performing arts center. Charles, who died in 2004, made gifts totaling $3 million to Albany State in 2001 and 2002 to build a performing arts center named in honor of his mother. The building was never built.
When the foundation asked that the university return the money, the Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens even stepped in. Albany State President Everette J. Freeman said that returning the money “brings to a close negotiations with the Ray Charles Foundation,” reports AJC.
Hopefully, Morehouse will go forward with their plans to build the performing arts center. The Ray Charles Foundation will obviously hold Morehouse to its promise.
Hollywood or Bust: Fox Partners With HBCUs To Develop Diversity Program for the Entertainment Industry
Fox has announced a partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that will will bring HBCU students, faculty and alumni together with executives from Fox’s media and entertainment divisions, reports Target Market News. The new union, called the FOX/HBCU Media Alliance (FHMA), is an effort to encourage students who are interested in pursuing careers in the film and television industry. It also aims to advance the careers of HBCU alumni currently working in media and entertainment across the Fox businesses.
The initiative will be spearheaded by Fox Audience Strategy, the company’s cross-divisional unit that focuses on advocating diverse perspectives in entertainment. This is just one division of the company that brings you Fox News, Fox Business, 20th Century Fox and programs like The Cleveland Show, American Dad, and Glee.
“As a HBCU alumnus, I know first-hand the extraordinary level of talent coming out of these schools,” said Nicole Bernard, Senior Vice President, and head of FOX Audience Strategy, in a press statement. Bernard received her undergraduate degree at Howard University before earning her J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center.
“I am excited that we will have the opportunity through regional events, workforce initiatives and social networking platforms to not only identify, cultivate and advance the best and brightest from this vast community, but to provide an array of tangible platforms for their creative gifts,” she continued.
Through the partnership, FOX Audience Strategy is also establishing and funding the Fox Film Grant that will enable one FHMA member to participate in the diversity and mentorship program Project Involve, a year-long program of Film Independent, nonprofit arts organization that champions the independent filmmaker.
Based in Los Angeles, FHMA will also have chapters in Washington, D.C. and New York City, led by HBCU alumni in the media and entertainment industry, according to Target Market. Membership in the Alliance is open to all current HBCUs, their students, faculty and alumni who work in the media and entertainment sector.
“This partnership will help Howard and other HBCUs to continue their tradition of producing quality talent that creates award-winning work,” said Sidney A. Ribeau, Ph.D., president of Howard University, in a press statement.
Colleges and universities are standalone institutions. When you graduate, your diploma says you went to one particular school. But colleges also tend to fall into categories that group them into a special place in higher education. For example, the party schools. The liberal arts schools. The Ivy League. The colleges with great sports programs.
And the HBCUs.
Last week, we tweeted this NPR interview between John Silvanus Wilson, the new president of Morehouse, and “Tell Me More” host Michel Martin. The interview covered a wide range of topics — from the financial struggles that HBCUs face to the low level of alumni giving to the need for operational improvement at black colleges where the financial aid office gets the most criticism from alums.
But the big question is this: Do we still need HBCUs?
A former executive director for an Obama initiative on historically black colleges and universities, Wilson said this about the continued need for these institutions: “They continue to serve a special function. We have a better time graduating students. It is a more nurturing environment, in some cases.”
But, he said, “It is because, as many people are recognizing across higher education, black and white, the value proposition and the financial model, particularly for liberal arts institutions – they are under a lot of stress.”
HBCUs at one point provided an opportunity for African Americans to go to college when other schools wouldn’t allow it. Now that the options are broad, students still choose the HBCUs for the unique experience they offer.
But, according to Wilson, HBCUs haven’t done, what women’s colleges have done. Women’s colleges, at one point,offered opportunity to a group that wouldn’t otherwise have had a chance at a college education. But today women’s colleges are thriving where HBCUs struggle.
“So you see Wellesley and Smith and Mount Holyoke doing major capital campaigns, just like … the more sophisticated institutions in higher education,” said Wilson. “You have to remain sophisticated, and you have to remain up-to-date with the current definition of institutional strength in higher education. That has not happened to the same degree with HBCUs, and I would say that with the all-male institutions we lag in that respect as well.”
According to one reader, Tiarra Currie, who talked with us on Twitter about this topic, she chose Syracuse and Columbia’s Teacher’s College, in part, because what she heard from HBCU alumni convinced her it wasn’t the right environment for her.
“When I hear tales from HBCU students, the most common commentary is unorganized, lack of financial aid, and homecoming,” she told us in an email.
As a women’s college grad, my personal experience was one that was, to use Wilson’s word, current. The roles and needs of women have evolved, both individually and in society. Women’s colleges, in my experience, have tried and — in many ways — succeeded in keeping up with that.
If you went to an HBCU, I’d be curious to hear if you think black colleges have done a good job of keeping up with their evolving student body.
But by no means, does that imply that women’s colleges, or any college, for that matter, has it figured out completely. The New York Times reported just a few days ago that colleges and higher education associations are making it a “priority” to better meet the needs of a student population that’s a little older and more interested in part-time coursework, online classes, and other untraditional options. By taking these steps, they hope that graduation rates will rise.
Moreover, the job market is making a college education seem extraneous. New Labor Department research shows that nearly half — 48 percent — of people with a four-year degree are doing a job that doesn’t require one. However, The Christian Science Monitor points out that people who have a college degree make more money.
“At the same time, the story of economic progress is one of continuous development of new tools and the skills to use them – and good jobs will flow to nations that can keep pushing further down this path,” writes the article.
So the issue isn’t whether we need higher education. It’s whether that education is meeting modern needs. Which has less to do with HBCUs or women’s colleges or party schools. It’s a transformation that all schools of every stripe have to make to meet the challenges of the modern world.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was founded on January 16, 1920 on the campus of Howard University. Recognized by its colors of “royal blue” and “pure white,” Zeta’s motto dedicates them to scholarship, sisterly love, service and finer womanhood. Their outreach has impacted hundreds of thousands of women internationally. Take a look at which celebrity women pledged Zeta.
Sheryl Underwood is an American comedienne and current 23rd International President of the sorority. Known for her comedic performances on several shows and films including The Beauty Shop and I Got the Hook Up, Sheryl demonstrated her passion for comedy by founding the African-American Female Comedian Association. A self proclaimed “sexually progressive, God-fearing, Black Republican. ” When she’s not cracking jokes, Sheryl’s being active with the NAACP or engaged in business with the NPHC.
There is something about attending a historically black college or university that isn’t always easily summed up in words. There is something special, reverent that—if you are fortunate enough to have attended and graduated from one—you can’t always explain to someone who explored different higher education options. Some people doubt the relevance of an “all black” school in a “real world” that is far from all black. Some dismiss the caliber of education received at HBCUs as sub par.
For those who chose to attend an HBCU when they very easily could have chosen their pick of the litter, you know what others do not. You know that there is no place that can embrace you, challenge you, love you, frustrate you, prepare you and propel you into destiny quite like the right HBCU. You, like I, didn’t reserve your alma mater as a back up plan. You surveyed your myriad options and decided that it, hands down, was the best choice. When others tout their degrees from other institutions they deem more rigorous and acceptable, you smirk because—without taking anything from their accomplishment—you know the truth…and the truth never needs to be argued. It stands alone.
There seems to be a kinship shared amongst graduates of historically black institutions. If you’re out and you come across someone else who graduated from an HBCU, it’s as if there is an immediate commonality, even if he or she attended a different school. “You went to Spelman? Man, I went to Hampton.” And so the conversation goes. It’s almost like we’re all a part of this overarching fraternity. Yet, at the same time there is unending rivalry as well. It is understood that not all HBCUs are created equal. As such, it is common for alumni to one up each other in a quest to solidify their institution of choice as the best.
I recently attended a fundraiser where another attendee asked what school I graduated from. When I responded, he followed with a quick, “Ok, so you graduated from the second best HBCU that exists huh?” Baffled, I asked which institution was considered the best. He informed me that his alma mater, FAMU, was. I chuckled because, again, the truth never needs to be argued.
You see, I am a proud graduate of Howard University, the place we alums affectionately refer to as the Mecca. Like many HBCUs, Howard feels like home. In fact, as you walk onto the hilly campus, you are greeted by a sign that literally says “Welcome Home.” You are surrounded by a sea of beautiful blackness. And while it may seem sometimes that it’s just about looking the part, Howard’s campus is filled with brilliantly beautiful minds. As you walk through the hallways of Douglas Hall, you are reminded of legends who walked those very halls centuries earlier. It is difficult to not be humbled by the sheer weight of the importance that such an institution, and other institutions like it, has played in the history of people of the African Diaspora. It gives me great pride to be associated with such a legacy of excellence.
I recently saw a poster that said that the first African American Supreme Court Justice, African American U.S. Senator, female mayor of a major city, African American female lawyer, African American U.S. governor, African American U.S. Ambassador, African American General in the U.S. Army, and I could go on and on, were all graduates of Howard University. That is what an HBCU education will get you, for those who were wondering. To all of my fellow Bison, I send an “awwwww HU” your way. And to my HBCU companions who didn’t choose Howard, I love you too. But like Kanye, when he hopped on stage and interrupted Taylor Swift, I submit to you “No disrespect to your school, Howard is the best; in fact, it’s the standard.” I kid. Not really.
While I am clearly biased—I unabashedly, indubitably, and unequivocally herald Howard as the best—I am sure that if you are a graduate of a historically black institution that you have a similar pride in your alma mater. Let’s talk about it.
Are you proud that you attend or have graduated from a historically black institution? If so, what sets your school apart from the others?
Sheena Bryant is a writer and blogger in Chicago. Follow her on twitter at @song_of_herself.
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The University of California and black colleges are creating a pathway for black students to attend business school. Called the UC Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders, the program is geared to boost minority attendance in its graduate business programs.
The all-expensive paid fellowship program is a two week program for two consecutive years. While students from all majors at historically black colleges and universities are welcome to apply, they must possess and interest and experience in business. Participants meet with some of the leading CEOs and CFOs in the nation and take summer classes dealing with business development and entrepreneurship as network with their peers. At the end of the second program session, the students will receive a Certificate of Completion as an emerging manager and leader in business.
The LA Times reports that UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business will host the inaugural round of students. This summer the 25 selected students will visit UC Berkeley and five other UC campuses. The $125,000 budget for the fellowship was sponsored by Anthem Blue cross and Wells Fargo, as well as donations from other corporate and private entities. Fundraising for next year’s session has already begun.
The deadline for the summer program is March 30. More information can be found on UC’s website.