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Keisha Lance Bottoms 2019 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola - Ernest N. Morial Convention Center - Day 2

Source: Paras Griffin / Getty

 

Congrats are in order for Atlanta mayor Kiesha Lance Bottoms. The former City Councilmember has been selected as the first honorary member of Clack Atlanta University’s new certification program.  The initiative which was launched alongside The HBCU Executive Leadership Institute will help to develop and hone the skills of future HBCU leaders and presidents. The program aims to increase the number of qualified candidates to retain and hopefully pass down the coveted roles at Black educational institutions.

HBCU ELI’s website states that between 2010 and 2014 presidents’ tenures have “lasted on average of 3.3 years” while the average tenure of presidents across all 4-year-high education institutions is around 7 years.

 

This needs to change!

 

In a statement, Bottoms expressed her excitement for the inaugural role.

“For more than 150 years, HBCUs have not only played an important role in American higher education, but also in building stronger communities and world-class leaders in every sector of society. As a proud graduate of Florida A&M University, I am excited to accept this honorary fellowship and support HBCU ELI’s efforts to ensure this legacy continues,” she shared.

 

The move comes at a dire time for Black colleges and universities who have been severely impacted by historically low graduation and enrollment rates– even before the pandemic.

A study issued by the U.S. News & World Report analysis found that among a pool of 41 HBCUs surveyed, “the average four-year graduation rate was about 22 percent for first-time, full-time students who started in fall 2013.” Furthermore, the six-year graduation rate, a more common metric used for HBCUs suggests that the number is around 37 percent.

This year Black educational institutions have seen a 5 to 7 percent decrease in enrollment but the numbers will continue to decline as students struggle to head back to school come fall some administrators predict.

Hopefully, the new plan will help to craft and lead the future of HBCUs to a better place and Keisha Lance Bottoms is certainly the woman to help do it! Congrats to her!

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