Monthly Archives: November 2014

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December News

Concussion: Meet the Real Doctor Who Took on the NFL and Changed Football Forever

Baseball may still be billed as the national pastime, but football actually surpassed it in popularity a long time ago. So for anyone born and raised in the United States, challenging the NFL is just unthinkable.

Dr. Bennet Omalu wasn’t born and raised in this country, however. Had he been, it’s doubtful that the forensic neuropathologist from Nigeria would have discovered CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a degenerative disease associated with repeated brain trauma that doesn’t show symptoms, and its connection to the NFL. He would never have felt the wrath of the NFL, either, and we wouldn’t have Concussion, which marks Will Smith’s finest performance to date.

The Root caught up with the good doctor for a one-on-one discussion about the film, his faith, his wife’s support and his status with the NFL.

The Root: When you turned down this road, did you have any idea of the magnitude of your actions?

Bennet Omalu: Remember, I grew up in Africa. Growing up as a child, I perceived America to be heaven on earth, a country that was closest to what God wants us to be as his sons and daughters. And I came from Nigeria, which is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. So when I came here, I had the study of Mike Webster and other retired football players, and I wondered: If they played this game where they had to wear a helmet, could it be they were damaging their brains without knowing it?

And so I did the autopsy on Mike Webster. I identified the disease and I most gladly took it to the NFL, believing that I had discovered something that would enhance the game. But then I got this pushback, and I discovered there was this systematic and systemic cover-up to conceal the truth. So that reawakened my faith in me, my faith in the truth.

God is the truth. The American experience and the American experiment are founded on the truth. Science was founded on the truth. My faith is founded on the truth. So you have a convergence of both science and America, my faith, coming together to this common objective or common exploit of the truth.

So it was my search for the truth, to become part of that American family, to contribute my part to a society and a country that has given me so much. Because, as the greater American family, we are one love, we are one spirit, we are one hope, we are one joy. So that was what kept me going. Because when you seek the truth, truth shall set you free.

The truth is liberating. Isn’t that what America is all about? One person at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time, we shall continue to build a greater family, if only we would start by the truth. That is what kept me going.

TR: Is the truth still leading you?

BO: Yes, the truth is still leading me. Meeting people like Will Smith, like Peter Landesman, the director, these are people who have reaffirmed my perception of America as a land of perfection. Will Smith epitomizes that perfection. He is such a pristine man. Such a good man. Has such a good heart.

What is going on now is that my story is beginning to reach out to other members of the American family who have been touched and now taking the torch, like Will Smith is doing, the movie is doing, Sony is doing, Ridley Scott is doing; taking this story from the depths of the valley to the mountaintop, or the peak of the mountain of the American psyche, to increase awareness, to enlighten people of the dangers of exposing your head to repeated force.

Don’t get me wrong—this is not anti-football, this is not anti-sports, this is not anti-NFL. This is just about the truth. Because when you walk with the truth or by the truth, the impossible will become possible, which is what the American dream is about.

TR: So, again, you had no idea what football means in this country?

BO: I did not even know what football was. I did not know what the NFL was. All I knew was that this was a game that people dressed up to play. It was called football, but they threw the ball with their hand. I wondered why it was called football, and then I wondered why they had to wear helmets. I didn’t know how big it was. And that may have been what made me to keep on keeping on.

But when I realized how big the NFL was, I was not in fear. I did not fear because of my faith. We were called to not be afraid. Do not be afraid. That “the Lord is my light and salvation—of whom should I fear? The Lord is my stronghold—of who shall I be afraid of?”

TR: You never had any doubts?

BO: As a human being, there were moments I had my doubts. There was those down times where I regretted ever meeting Mike Webster. There were days I just wanted to be left alone. But as my doubts became deeper, the stronger my faith became. And luckily, my wife would advise me: “Bennet, people made sacrifices for you to be where you are. Sixty years ago you may not have been allowed to even walk into some hotels. People fought and died for that. Nothing good comes easy. That it is your call to become the sacrificial lamb. They need you to become the voice of the voiceless. You are a highly educated man. Use your education that the God Almighty has given you; use it as an instrument of God’s peace and become the voice for the voiceless.”

TR: Are you still doing your research?

BO: Yes, in the past two years, because of the movie, I pretty much suspended everything just to focus on the movie, but I still examine brains. I’m still doing research of brains. If people buy the book Concussion—it’s everywhere now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble—it goes into greater depth about my story.

And also visit the website called It was set up by Ridley Scott, the great director in Hollywood, and his wife, Giannina Scott. They are both producers of this movie. Ridley dreams that we can find a cure for CTE, and that is what this country is about, the land of dreams, where people dream big dreams.

You dream the impossible. You dream to make the impossible possible. So I think, again, this is about the great American story. Like Will Smith has said, that it is only in America that you can have a Will Smith. And I agree with him. It is only in America that my story could be true.

TR: When did the film start, and how involved were you?

BO: It started in 2009, about six years ago. I was involved through the entire process, so it is an accurate depiction of the historical events.

R: Was it important that your wife, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, be in the film?

BO: She didn’t want to be part of the movie. The director convinced her because she was emotional. She was there when I was treated so poorly.

TR: Are you still public enemy No. 1 to the NFL?

BO: I’m nobody’s enemy. Nobody is my enemy. I carry love in my heart. I love everybody, but I stand by the truth.

Editor’s note: Concussion opens nationwide on Christmas Day.

White Lady Gets Caught Making Fun Of LeBron & He Sets Her Straight

Watching the game tonight (December 25th) it was pretty clear that LeBron James may have been getting stressed out. After all, Steph Curry is that boy to be reckoned with, so who could blame him.

But, any who, we all saw that little white lady who was sitting behind James as he stood on the side of the court. Making fun of him with her other white lady friend, you can see the woman referring to him as a “cry baby.”

Yeah, we may not all like his presence on the court, however, that chick quickly changed her tune when she realized that the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player caught her making fun of him.

This is not the first time that someone has referred to James as a ‘boo-hooer,’ but I think tonight made it pretty clear that you wouldn’t say it to his face, even if you had the chance.

Short Bio:

Bron Bron played high school basketball for St. Vincent-St. High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and was highly promoted in the national media as a future NBA superstar. After he graduated from high school, the young basketball player was selected as the first overall draft pick in the 2003 NBA draft by the Cavaliers.

Leading Cleveland to their franchise’s first Finals appearance back in 2007, the team unfortunately lost to the Spurs.

In 2010, James left Ohio with his wife and children to move to Miami and play for the Heat, it was highly publicized in a special called ‘The Decision.’ Playing there for a total of four seasons, he was able to reach the Finals in all four seasons and win back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013.

King James led the Heat on a 27-game winning streak, which was the third longest in the entire league.

Following his final season with the Heat, James finally decided to return back home to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Two-Year Perkins Extension Clears Senate

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday breathed new life into colleges’ efforts to revive the expired federal Perkins Loan Program.

Lawmakers passed, on a voice vote, a bipartisan deal that would revive the expired federal loan program for the next two years.

The bill by Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee would also impose some new restrictions on how students receive the loans. For instance, borrowers would have to exhaust their eligibility for federal direct loans before being able to receive a Perkins Loan, which is a need-based program.

Alexander, a Republican who chairs the Senate’s education committee, previously blocked efforts to continue the Perkins Loan Program, citing a desire to simplify and streamline the federal government’s various loan offerings for students. The program expired Sept. 30.

Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Alexander calledthe two-year extension — with new eligibility restrictions — a “fair compromise” to keep the program while lawmakers “work on a long-term solution for simplifying the student aid program” in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Senate Democrats, many of whom pushed for the program to be renewed, also praised the deal on Wednesday.

The legislation now awaits approval from the U.S. House, which earlier this fall passed a one-year extension of the program.

The Obama administration has indicated that it supports the program.

JCSU earns SACS accreditation for more master’s degrees

Charlotte, N.C. / Dec. 15, 2015— Johnson C. Smith University was recently approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) for continued accreditation at an advanced degree level. SACSCOC previously approved the University’s application to move from a Level II to a Level III institution in December 2013 to offer a Master of Social Work program.  The recent decision extends JCSU the opportunity to offer additional master-level degrees.

“Our work in developing a strong Master of Social Work program will be very valuable as we add master’s degrees in other disciplines,” said President Ronald L. Carter. “The graduate program will provide an additional revenue stream for the University while increasing opportunities for non-traditional students to earn master’s degrees. Our vision-in-mission is thriving as we continue to build a national reputation for innovative programs.”

In March 2015, a Substantive Change Committee conducted an on-site review. During this visit, the committee reviewed JCSU’s compliance with several principles of accreditation, including governance and administration, institutional effectiveness, educational programs, faculty, library and learning resources, student services, financial resources and physical resources. Based on the committee’s report and the University’s response report, the SACSCOC Board of Trustees gave a positive vote at its December annual meeting in Houston.

The decision furthers the University’s goal of developing a comprehensive graduate program and increases JCSU’s footprint as a new urban university.

“This decision is further evidence of the quality of our faculty and staff and the commitment of our administration and Board of Trustees to move the University forward with quality graduate programs,” said Dr. Jeanne F. Cook, director of the MSW program. “I am delighted that SACSCOC has recognized this.”

Daniel Holtzclaw And The Reality Of Police Brutality Against Black Women

The decision was reached on his 29th birthday.

After four full days of deliberation, former Oklahoma cop Daniel Holzclaw was found guilty of rape and sexual battery Thursday. Holtzclaw sobbed relentlessly after an all-white jury convicted him on 18 of the 36 charges he faced, which included six first-degree rape counts and a slew of sexual battery charges.

The verdict came after weeks of harrowing witness testimoniesegregious tactics by defense attorneys and pleas from prosecutors who said Holtzclaw preyed on black women with criminal records and substance abuse problems because he thought they wouldn’t speak up.

Holtzclaw was wrong. They did.


Holtzclaw carried out calculated attacks of sexual violence against one of America’s most marginalized and mistreated groups: black women. Yet his lewd acts are just one example of brutality and sexual assault cases against black women by police that too often go ignored.

What kind of police do you call on the police?”A 17-year-old victim who testified about her rape by Holtzclaw

For seven months, Holtzclaw patrolled one of the state’s poorest black neighborhoods and individually sought out black women with criminal records and/or a history of drug use.

Prosecutors said Holtzclaw specifically targeted these victims because he believed them to be too vulnerable or fearful to do or say anything against a criminal cop acting under the color of authority. Ultimately, he believed that his gender, race and policeman status would intimidate his victims enough to protect his purported innocence. Again, he was wrong.

The youngest victim was a 17-year-old girl who said Holtzclaw raped her on her mother’s porch and whose DNA was found in the crotch area of his uniform pants, one expert testified. “What kind of police do you call on the police?” the victim asked in court. A 57-year-old grandmother sparked an investigation after she reported her assault by Holtzclaw to authorities last year. She told them Holtzclaw forced her to perform oral sex during a traffic stop.

In court, Holtzclaw’s defense attorney Scott Adams used the background of these women as ammunition to paint victims as violators of the law who “want to work forward their own agenda” and “don’t care about the truth.”

But the real truth is:

THIS is what rape culture looks like;

THIS is what police brutality can look like against black women.


Sadly, we’ve seen this victim-blaming narrative played out countless times before in cases against black women — hell, against all women — robbing them of the sympathy and support they so desperately deserve.

Holtzclaw specifically targeted on women with criminal histories who in turn wereput on trial themselves as they testified against him.

“It wasn’t coincidence who he chose to violate, it was methodical and it was deliberate,” Benjamin Crump, a national civil rights attorney, told the press on Friday. “Some might not consider them model citizens, but they were citizens. They were Americans, and their lives mattered.”

Their lives matter just as much as the blistering number of black boys and men killed by police, who have also been unfairly treated by both the media and law enforcement officials in twisted attempts to criminalize them.

They matter just as much as the countless number of black women, with criminal histories or not, who have not escaped the same or similar level of racial profiling and violent police aggression.

“They patted around my waistline and butt. They were so aggressive.”Crystal Pope

In 2013, I wrote a story on Crystal Pope, a 23-year-old black woman who told me police officers stopped and frisked her while searching for a male rapist on the loose.

“They patted us down and ran their hands through my front and back pockets,” Pope told me. “They patted around my waistline and butt. They were so aggressive,” she said.

Similar instances of brutal treatment of black women by white male police officers also occurred in cases like those of 16-year-old Dajerria Becton in McKinney, Texas and 51-year-old Marlene Pinnock in Los Angeles.  That is to say, as we’ve said before: For black women, police brutality and sexual harassment go hand in hand.

A detailed report by the Associated Press published in November found that in a six-year period, roughly 1,000 officers nationwide have lost their licenses over sexual misconduct, in cases of rape, sodomy and other sex crimes. However, that number reflects only officers who lost their badges in states with laws in place to decertify them for such behavior (large law enforcement agencies in California and New York, for instance, do not follow such protocol).

“It’s happening probably in every law enforcement agency across the country,” Chief Bernadette DiPino of the Sarasota Police Department in Florida told the AP. “It’s so underreported and people are scared that if they call and complain about a police officer, they think every other police officer is going to be then out to get them.”

Information gathered from the report suggests there are likely at least hundreds of other cases of current officers who abuse their power to perform acts of violence against women, particularly black women. A report released earlier this year by the #SayHerName campaign, which highlights police brutality against black women, confirmed this, providing an accurate reflection of the ongoing sexual exploitation black women battle every day.

As we decry the ongoing police violence committed against many of our black men and boys, campaigns like #SayHerName#YouOkSis and other initiatives, aim to recognize and respect the value of black women whose names rarely receive national attention.   They fill the void left neglected by so many, including black men, who are largely absent in the rally to fight the injustices black women face.


While justice was delivered in Holtzclaw’s case, his victims are still left scarred, scared and surrounded by haunting memories — both of their physical attacks by him and the excessive ridicule by defense attorneys who attacked their credibilityand dehumanized their character.

And there are countless of other black women who likely face some of the same battles.

So, what do black women do when we are attacked by those put in place to protect us? Where are we to turn in times of such tragedy? Who can we go to for support?

These are all questions similar to those Holtzclaw’s prosecutors posed to the court:

“Who will care?” they asked. “Who will believe them?”


Trump Praises Justice Clarence Thomas

Donald Trump slammed Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and named Associate Justice Clarence Thomas as his favorite judge on the high court, the Associated Press reports.

“Justice Roberts really let us (conservatives) down. What he did with Obamacare was disgraceful, and I think he did that because he wanted to be popular inside the Beltway,” Trump told about 4,000 supporters at an event hosted by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.

The Republican presidential candidate was referring to Roberts voting two times to support President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

Trump described Thomas, the only black justice on the Supreme Court, as “very strong and consistent.”

While Thomas is the high court’s sole black justice, his decisions and behavior during oral arguments tend to be at odds with most African Americans.

Most recently, many blacks heard Thomas’ loud silence when Associate Justice Antonin Scaliasuggested that African Americans are better suited for “slower-track schools where they do well.” Thomas probably looked the other way because he has made similar suggestions in other cases.

Thomas was on the losing side earlier this year when a majority of justices voted to save a key component of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which outlaws housing discrimination.

In his dissenting opinion, Thomas pointed to the disproportionate number of black professional basketball players to argue that the existence of racial disparities does not necessarily indicate that racism exists.

FSU graduation: Don’t allow the goal to overshadow the journey

THE CEREMONY: 26th Winter Commencement, Fayetteville State University, 9 a.m. Saturday, at the Cumberland County Crown Coliseum

NUMBER OF DEGREES CONFERRED: 240 attending, 460 total

SPEAKER: Stephen Christopher Pennink, 2010 graduate of Fayetteville State, entrepreneur and business executive, Fayetteville native who lives in Charlotte.

THE MESSAGE TO GRADUATES: Pennink described his life growing up in a single-parent home and using adversities in life as excuses to fail. His grandfather said something that changed his life. “You can’t truly help others until you learn to help yourself,” Pennink quoted. “It was like a slap in the face and a breath of fresh air” rolled into one.

Pennink said he uses adversities as challenges to overcome, and succeeds by breaking them down into small segments he can accomplish.

Applied to his studies, Pennink discovered that reading one minute a day for a year would allow him to read an entire book. Or, taken to a logical next step, reading 20 minutes a day makes it possible to read 20 books a year.

“Break it down into small tasks and it becomes achievable,” Pennink said. “Choose to not allow the goal to overshadow the journey.”

WHAT I’LL REMEMBER MOST ABOUT COLLEGE: Timara Jefferies, of Kings Mountain, earned her bachelor’s degree in social work and was the first in her family to go to college. She learned that the fun of her freshmen year came to an end when her grade point average dipped and she had to stay at home and study rather than go out with friends frequently.

“You realize you don’t have time,” Jefferies said. “I had to focus and study more.”

She credits Dr. Debra Brown on the staff with her success.

“She motivated me to keep going,” Jefferies said. “I raised up my GPA and got honors in my major.”

GOOD ADVICE: James A. Anderson, the school’s chancellor, described the students’ experiences with long hours of homework and taking tests, but said the reward was worth the effort.

“The word ‘homework’ will be a foreign concept,” Anderson said. “The real test is the test of life. If you mess up on that one, the consequences are dire.”

Without a degree you are “guaranteed no income or low income,” Anderson said. “Become the person you want to be.”

PROUD MOMENT: Dionne Scott Lennon of Fayetteville, originally of Columbia, South Carolina, earned her Bachelor of Science in birth through kindergarten education while taking care of a family, working a full-time job at Trinity Christian School and while dually enrolled in Fayetteville Technical College and Fayetteville State.

“I failed a class and wanted to give up,” Lennon said. But a professor encouraged her to continue. “It took me five years.”

DID YOU SEE? They gathered in the fog before dawn, waiting outside the coliseum, but once inside, it was all about cheering the graduates. There were waves, shouts, tears and excitement everywhere, as friends and family watched the new honorees. Some were almost timid, while others bounced with a swagger of confidence in a future still to be written.

NOW WHAT? Jefferies is bound for graduate school at UNC Charlotte and Lennon seeks to continue with graduate school and has a dream for the future.

“I hope to have my own business – an early childhood learning center,” Lennon said.

Wake Up, Black People. The Supreme Court Is Poised to Drop a Bomb on You

So, there’s nothing new about a spoiled rich white dude saying crazy things so he can get a bump in a poll. On real, tell us something we don’t know about professional megaphone Donald Trump. Yet that’s all we spent much of this week munching on … while a conservative Supreme Court quietly considered how to best roll back 50 years of civil rights brought to you by our bloodied, beat-up, battle-weary ancestors.

Funny enough, we were so caught up in the latest rhetorical best hits on the campaign trail that we took little notice and made no noise over two crucial cases that slowly snaked their way into oral arguments Monday and Wednesday. Both cases could fundamentally reshape or effectively destroy core pillars of the civil rights movement: voting rights and affirmative action.

Whichever way either case goes, it’s not looking good. The highest court in the land can’t seem to stay off the subject. As if black people (clearly the aggrieved) are the ones actively oppressing, Supreme Court justices keep eagerly tinkering with issues that were settled quite a while back.

“The petitioners in these cases are looking to reopen precedent that’s been around for 50 years,” Liliana Zaragoza, an NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund litigation fellow and lawyer who’s worked feverishly on both cases, told The Root. “We’re opening up cases that have long been confirmed by the court.”

Putting faith in this particular high court to decide the fate of voting rights and affirmative action is potentially putting history on a five-decade reverse course: What would the nation look like if the civil rights movement had lost key fights? Suddenly we’re ending up in a parallel universe, a sloppy purgatory mixed with present racial tensions and refreshed assaults on critical legal, policy and political gains that African Americans hold near and dear.

One case, Evenwel v. Abbott, would—especially if it goes south—arguably be the most impactful policy decision since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and it could be the most consequential decision since the three-fifths clause in the Constitution. Evenwel challenges legislative districts apportioned by raw population. It would remove from the count those who can’t vote; immigrants, children for example. The other, Fisher v. University of Texas, could mark the complete destruction of affirmative action—or, at the very least, a bizarre reconfiguration.

What makes both cases suspect is that they’re both underwritten and filed by the same crunchy band of fringe conservative legal insurgents, the Project on Fair Representation, led by former stockbroker Edward Blum. He and his donors have a thing for picking cases and plaintiffs that have big racial chips on their shoulders: If PFR isn’t pushing the Evenwel or Fisher case up the federal legal ladder, it’s winning the seminal Shelby County v. Holder case in 2013 or the pregame Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder, both of them providing the one-two knockout punch that gutted the very necessary Voting Rights Act.

The Supreme Court just can’t stop giving them an audience.

Now, with the outfit receiving funding from a number of shadowy and very rich conservative donors, PFR could very well be on track to two more legal Super Bowl wins—in the name of what is, real talk, white-collar white supremacy. The plaintiffs in Evenwel are putting a detonation device on the age-old principle of “one person, one vote”: the essence of every vote being counted. Without it, blacks and women would never have had the right to vote; nor would there be as many (if any) black and Latino elected officials as there are today (even if we still have a long way to go in that category).

But the folks at PFR argue that the Constitution should be stingy about that, so let’s just erase kids, immigrants, ex-felons, prisoners and intellectually disabled folks from the voter rolls forever. Let’s just create a really bad slippery slope that, essentially, redefines the legal definition of a person, shall we? Should the high court agree with Blum, Evenwel could destroy voting rights for tens of millions of people and dramatically redraw congressional districts to the point where many black members of Congress disappear. It won’t stop there, either.

NCCU Awards 560 Degrees During 126th Commencement

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) awarded 560 diplomas Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, during the university’s 126th annual Commencement Exercises.

Tom Ross, president of the University of North Carolina (UNC) delivered the Commencement address.

His address to NCCU graduates is his final major address to a university audience as president of the UNC system.

“NCCU is a very special place to give my last Commencement speech,” said Ross.

Ross gave graduates advice on how to be a great leader. “To be a effective leader: know yourself; communicate well; care for yourself; clarify your values; embrace differences; involve others with talent; and take risks,” said Ross.

“We need leaders now more than ever. Each of you can be a strong effective leader,” he told the audience.

Ross concluded his address by advising graduates to seize the opportunity to make a difference by leading for the common good.

NCCU presented Ross with a formal commendation recognizing his achievements as a proponent for public higher education in North Carolina.

During the ceremony, NCCU Chancellor Debra Saunders-White recognized Department of Public Health Education graduate Salima Taylor.

Taylor is a native of Durham, whose been a student leader at NCCU and played a pivotal role in establishing the university’s community garden in 2013. She conducted a summer internship in Gaborone, Botswana. Taylor will continue her research studies at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management before applying to medical school.

Saunders-White closed with words of encouragement to graduates by saying, “I charge you to eradicate the world of fear, because in fear we will never succeed. Soar and be great, for it is not enough to be leaders but also be change agents. Stand and dare others to do the right thing everyday of your life.”

To view a rebroadcast of the 126th Commencement Exercises for NCCU, go to to view the Commencement photo album, go to

Minority Serving Community Colleges: Meeting the Future Now

The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) hosted the first Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) convening for two-year colleges on November 16th and 17th. I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank all the representatives of MSIs, the experts from academia and the philanthropic sector, and the staffs of the White House, Congressional legislative staff and the many federal agencies, including the Department of Education, who collaborated to make this convening such a success.

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Mark Mitsui welcomes Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) leaders from across the country.

As our nation becomes more diverse, a growing number of community colleges are designated as, or are eligible to be designated as Minority Serving Institutions. These colleges play a key role in the higher education completion agenda and have a lot of hard-earned wisdom, experience, and knowledge about student success that needs to be shared. Our work on November 16th and 17th was a major step in the right direction. OCTAE hosted over 120 institutions. More than 250 participants in the convening exchanged practices with peers, networked with representatives from 13 federal agencies, and discovered how philanthropy, research, and national student success initiatives intersect with their work. Attendees also had the opportunity to engage in dialogue with several different divisions within the Department of Education and with Congressional staff. A panel of excellent students provided their perspectives.

This conference built on the foundation of work these institutions have already established to help their students to be successful. The energy and enthusiasm at the conference was inspiring and I am looking forward to the work ahead.

Participants agreed to join one of the MSI communities of practice, some of which had been established prior to the convening by volunteer leaders at various community colleges across the country. These communities will continue to exchange promising practices, share invaluable experiences, and connect with federal agencies in an online format.

If you are interested in joining one of the communities of practice or want to discuss other matters with us, please email me at

With this said, let me once again take the opportunity to thank the attendees for their participation in the convening, for the ideas and aspirations you shared with us, and for your continuing commitment to the well-being and success of your students.

Mark Mitsui is the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges.

SCSU junior receives Joyner scholarship

South Carolina State University junior Kordell Walker, a mechanical engineering technology major, was named the Tom Joyner Foundation “Hercules Scholar” for the week of Dec. 3.

Walker, whose hometown is Manning, received a $1,500 scholarship named after Hercules L. Joyner.

The 2015-2016 president-at-large of Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANNRS), has a 3.6 grade point average and plans to pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. He also is a member of the S.C. State Honors College.

Hercules Joyner was an HBCU graduate and father of Tom Joyner, the nationally syndicated radio personality, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Walker is the seventh student from S.C. State who has been recognized as a Hercules Scholar. He shares this distinction with:

  • Corey Hagans, senior, music education
  • Allen Fleming, freshman, professional drama
  • DouDou Gueye, junior, business
  • Cordell Brown, freshman, biology
  • D’Angelo Simmons, sophomore, nuclear engineering
  • Antonio Hamilton, junior, physical education


with students in The Reginald F. Lewis College of Business

Is your company looking to increase its exposure on a leading college campus?

Are you interested in developing a real professional intimacy with bright college students?

Tired of the same old career fairs & competing with dozens of other employers for students’ attention?


SPEND A DAY AT VSU with students in The Reginald F. Lewis College of Business

is an exclusive opportunity for your company to market to a select group of students absent

the distraction of other employers in the room.

HOW IT WORKS 1) pick a Wednesday in the spring semester 2) identify a preferred

time of the day to spend a minimum of three hours on campus 3) choose three options from

a list of five opportunities (operate a career booth, conduct mock interviews, facilitate a

small-group role-play session, teach a class, host students for a lunch) 4) contact Jonathan Young at

804-524-5987 or at

WHY YOU SHOULD PARTICIPATE regards an opportunity to augment your

company’s brand on our campus, work with hand-picked students that have been identified

as a right fit for your company, and participate in a highly selective program. Oh, by the way,

there is NO cost to you to participate!







Jonathan M. Young
Director of Corporate Relations

Virginia State University

Reginald F. Lewis College of Business
P.O. Box 9398
Virginia State University, VA 23806
804-524-5987 (o)
804-928-9881 (cell)

Did you know?


We are the 2011 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Innovative Use of Technology in Higher Education.

We are the 2012 RichTech Technology Innovation Deployment Awardee for being Digital at the Core.

Of over 100 HBCUs nationwide, our business programs took top honor in 2012.

Your company can host a student for a 1 day “Project Shadow” visit; over 600 students have participated.

More than 250 companies have facilitated innovative small-group role play for students regarding “real-world” skills including sales, cold-calls, conflict resolution, customer is always right, elevator speech, etc.

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Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson gives $250,000 to JCSU scholarship fund

Charlotte, N.C. / Dec. 7, 2015 – Johnson C. Smith University announced that Carolina Panthers owner/founder Jerry Richardson has made a $250,000 donation to the President’s Gap scholarship fund.

“When it comes to paying college tuition many families are left distressed, or have to leave their dreams behind altogether,” Richardson said. “Our hope is that this gift will help Johnson C. Smith University open doors for more families and continue to be a place that affects change in people through education,” said Richardson.

The President’s Gap scholarship was established in 2012 expressly for the purpose of closing the monetary shortfall students face between their financial aid packages and the cost of tuition. JCSU Trustee Cameron Harris, who is also part-owner of the Panthers, helped secure the gift. Richardson was swift to respond when he learned of the need. The donation will help provide education, internships and employment opportunities for students who otherwise might have been shut out by lack of funds. This is the latest example of the strong partnerships the University has built with key leaders in Charlotte and beyond.

“Mr. Richardson upholds JCSU’s mission as an independent urban university: To provide an outstanding education for talented and motivated students from diverse backgrounds,” said President Ronald L. Carter. “His dedication to the students we educate ensures they will continue to smash the mold.”


About Johnson C. Smith University

Founded in 1867, Johnson C. Smith University is an independent, close-knit urban university located in Charlotte, N.C. It has a growing national reputation for integrating the liberal arts with business, the sciences and technology in ways that empower tomorrow’s diverse entrepreneurial citizens and leaders. Offering 23 fields of study, including a master’s degree in social work, to more than 1,400 students from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, the university’s excellent academic programs focus on servant leadership, civic engagement and global responsibility. For more information about JCSU, visit or follow the university on social media sites Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Higher Education Groups Seek Flexibility for Accreditors

Three major higher education groups on Friday urged the U.S. Department of Education to allow federally recognized accreditors to evaluate colleges differently based on the colleges’ performance.

The goal is to allow colleges with strong student outcomes to face a less intensive review process, which many institutions find to be “long, arduous, expensive and complicated,” the associations wrote in a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. It was signed by the leaders of the American Council on Education, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Association of American Universities.

“Because the current process requires accreditors to treat all institutions the same and spend equal amounts of time on all institutions regardless of performance, that necessarily limits the time accreditors can focus on institutions with weaker outcomes that actually need greater oversight,” they wrote. “Indeed, it is important to keep in mind that some institutions with low records of student success actually may need to be reviewed more closely.”

The groups also published a legal analysis, which argued that nothing in federal law prohibits the Education Department from recognizing an accreditor that varies its approach to evaluating a college based on the college’s characteristics.

Last month, as part of a package of accreditation announcements, the Education Department said it was studying the issue. Duncan instructed department officials to clarify the authority that accreditors have to apply varying levels of scrutiny to different institutions by early next year.

JCSU to revitalize West Side ties with $200,000 from Knight Foundation

Charlotte, N.C.—Dec. 2, 2015—Johnson C. Smith University is launching a series of public events in the Northwest Corridor (Beatties Ford Road) as a way to encourage a “sense of place,” according to President Ronald L. Carter, which will promote a close-knit sense of community. The plan is supported by a $200,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which will be disbursed over the next two years.

The first event will be the Northwest Holiday Soul Celebration, Dec. 6 from 4-6 p.m., immediately preceding JCSU’s annual vespers service.

“By creating a sense of place in the Northwest Corridor, we are increasing connections in Charlotte’s historic West End, bringing together residents, students, faculty and artists,” said Carter. “We hope these events contribute to the ongoing West End renaissance.”

About eight events per year are planned to take place, each featuring a mainstage act of music, spoken word or work by local artists, including emerging and student artists. The celebrations will be outdoors and visible from Beatties Ford Road, a signal that not only is JCSU’s campus open to the community, but is shaped by the community and vice versa. The series is a continuation of the Knight Foundation’s Soul of the Community project.

The steering committee is made up of community leaders such as J’Tanya Adams of Historic West End Partners, INDABA elders and JCSU staff. They hope the events enrich ties and positively impact local businesses as well.

“We want the community to have ownership and input in this series,” said Kelly Musante, a committee member and development officer at JCSU. “This is a vibrant area with a growing arts scene, and by creating a regular hotspot we are adding to the cultural capital of the Northwest Corridor.”

Two Visions of Desegregation

In Maryland, a lawsuit over the desegregation of historically black colleges and universities has people in the state and those who watch the higher education wondering: Did HBCU advocates ask for too much? Did the state give too little? Are both sides gearing up for a court battle that might just reach the U.S. Supreme Court and change states’ legal obligations to their public black colleges?

Two years ago a federal judge ruled that the Maryland Higher Education Commission perpetuated segregation by allowing predominantly white universities (PWIs) to duplicate programs offered by HBCUs, assuring that white students would overlook black colleges and setting off enrollment struggles at some of the state’s four public black institutions.

Since then the two sides have bitterly disagreed on how to remedy the segregation — with the state of Maryland most recently arguing against many of the theses that have governed desegregation strategies in the past and disagreeing with nearly all the proposals offered by HBCU advocates, calling the proposals “manifestly risky, costly and intrusive in the extreme.”

Indeed, the black college advocates’ proposals are sweeping. Earlier this year they submitted a proposal to a federal judge that sought wide-scale program transfers from PWIs to HBCUs, a redefining of the state’s public online college and the merger of an HBCU and another state institution. The proposals would have targeted programs at such institutions as the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and the University of Maryland University College, the former known for unusual success in educating black scientists, and the latter of which has an undergraduate enrollment that is more than one-quarter black.

For many affiliated with the state, the request went too far.

“They’re asking for a massive transformation of higher education in Maryland,” said Laslo Boyd, who has served as an education adviser to Maryland’s governor and as the state’s acting secretary of higher education, though he is not currently employed by the state. “The plaintiffs, in asking for almost everything imaginable, opened themselves up to an argument that they have not tried to just remedy wrongs but have created wish lists.”

In a Nov. 20 response, the commission argued that such proposals offer “no likelihood of increasing Maryland students’ educational options,” and said there is no evidence program transfers or mergers would boost enrollment at HBCUs or attract more white students. In fact, the state argued, there are several examples where unique programs at HBCUs have netted fewer white students than duplicated programs at the same HBCU.

In questioning whether starting new, high-demand programs at HBCUs would net the desegregative results desired by plaintiffs, the state broke with reasoning that has long governed similar cases where HBCU advocates have accused or sued a state for program duplication resulting in segregation. Most of the time the question is not whether to offer new programs, but how many to offer. In Pennsylvania, for example, the state system — which is also being sued by HBCU advocates — is working with Cheyney University to develop such programs in an effort to boost enrollment.

When most people think of the desegregation of higher education, images come to mind of the first black students enrolling at places like the University of Mississippi. But much of the litigation of higher education desegregation has focused on historically black colleges — and how state systems can be dismantled without simply dismantling black institutions. In the years of Jim Crow, black colleges were denied much in terms of money, programs and land — so advocates for HBCUs have said that simply dropping de jure segregation wouldn’t go far enough to promote equity.

One argument in Maryland was to question the idea that its public colleges are indeed segregated, noting the high levels of racial diversity at Maryland’s PWIs — including that a nearly equal number of black and white students attend the University of Baltimore, the very institution plaintiffs want to merge into Morgan State University, a HBCU located 30 miles away. The state said a merger, if anything, would lead to less racial diversity at the resulting institution.

So in its most recent filing, the commission didn’t agree to the plaintiffs’ proposals to transfer programs or merge institutions. In fact, it didn’t even suggest the creation of new, independent programs at HBCUs. Instead, the commission suggested a six-year, $10 million fund to create joint and dual programs between PWIs and HBCUs.

Johnny Taylor, president of the Thurgood Marshall Fund, an organization that advocates for HBCUs, said the $10 million fund was not nearly enough money to begin to rebuild the damages inflicted on the state’s HBCUs. He also called the commission’s insistence on joint programs, over new or transferred programs, insulting.

“I am really surprised by the level of intransigence that we are seeing from the state of Maryland. We have a finding now. That’s law,” Taylor said, adding that the state appears to continue its argument — made earlier in the case before a federal judge decided program duplication did put Maryland’s HBCUs at a disadvantage to their PWI peers — that program duplication is often not harmful. “So the question should be how do we reverse these losses and make these schools whole?”

The lawsuit against the state by a group of HBCU supporters called the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education spans nearly a decade — and people on both sides expect the case to continue for several more years. Both sides are prepared to appeal the judge’s forthcoming decision on how best to rectify the segregative effects of program duplication in Maryland.

The coalition brought the suit in 2006 after the University of Baltimore and Towson University, both located in the Baltimore area, created a joint M.B.A. program. The program was similar to an existing one at Morgan State University, an HBCU in Baltimore. Frustrated by Morgan’s shrinking white enrollment, the coalition sued the state, and in 2013 U.S. Judge Catherine C. Blake ruled that unnecessary program duplication had indeed harmed the state’s HBCUs. She cited the M.B.A. program as a strong example of that harm, and in its November filing the state said it would disband the joint M.B.A. program — yet the commission offered few other concessions.

Marybeth Gasman, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Minority-Serving Institutions, says throughout the last decade, neither the commission nor the coalition has found much common ground — and she’s not hopeful they’ll find any in the near future.

Maryland, she says, “has been so rigid in its approach to HBCUs,” first arguing that program duplication was not a problem and now, in its most recent filings, minimizing the perceived harmful effects of duplication. Meanwhile, she says, the coalition is unlikely to get all the concessions it’s asking for and will need to find ways to compromise.

“Something has to be done in the state of Maryland. This cannot keep going on,” Gasman said, describing the decade-long lawsuit as a perpetual game of tug-of-war in which neither side has compromised. “You’ve got two groups that are pulling on that rope and nothing is happening. It has been like that forever.”

Fundamental Disagreements

Both sides disagree on whether a merger or program transfer would attract white students, and in one case they’re each using the same example to support their viewpoint.

HBCU advocates point to the merger of Tennessee State University with the University of Tennessee at Nashville in the 1970s as an example of a successful merger between a PWI and HBCU. The university under the Tennessee State name has a robust enrollment of more than 9,000 students and a six-year graduation rate of 62 percent, which is quite high among HBCUs. Yet the commission, in its filings, said the merger is a failure in terms of diversification. It noted how nonblack enrollment comprised 51 percent of students at the two colleges before the merger. In 2014 that number had shrunk to 29 percent, according to federal data.

The Tennessee case “suggests that merging UB into Morgan would destroy one of the most diverse public universities in the state,” the commission’s filings said. While not a HBCU, UB enrolls more black students than white ones (47 percent versus 37 percent, respectively). At Morgan, just 2 percent of students are white.

“Is the aspiration of diversity about students or institutions? Are you trying to create opportunities of advancement for minorities, or are you trying to strengthen HBCUs regardless of the effect?” asked Boyd, adding that the state’s filing questions the very idea of what constitutes a desegregated system of higher education. “The state seems to be arguing that minorities have lots of opportunities at a full range of institutions.”

The state also disagreed with the coalition’s central premise that creating unique, high-demand programs at HBCUs is “fundamental to developing institutional identities that go beyond race and, in turn, attract not only white students but students regardless of race,” saying the position was unsupported by scientific research. According to the state, creating such programs “would not contribute to diversity” at HBCUs. In fact, an analysis by the state found that the percentage of white students enrolled in unduplicated programs that already exist at Maryland’s HBCUs is negligibly different, and in some cases lower, than the overall low percentage of white students enrolled in HBCUs.

“This is a novel theory, this notion that, in transferring programs from a majority institution to a minority institution, white students won’t follow and the program would be harmed,” said Taylor, adding that if a transferred program is adequately supported and funded, there should be no difference in performance or enrollment.

“The idea that something, because it’s at Morgan State, won’t be as attractive is racist itself. You’re essentially saying a black college can’t deliver with the same resources that a majority [white] college can. You’re making all sorts of assumptions,” he continued. And the idea that white students won’t matriculate into a specialty program at a HBCU that is of equal caliber is one that assumes, and then permits, students to make decisions out of bias, he offered. “That is really a sad commentary on what is the state of race relations in the state of Maryland.”

Gasman says there is “historical evidence, legal evidence and just practical evidence” that white students “tend to hold racial bias against black institutions,” which can keep them from enrolling in HBCUs. Yet Gasman said that if resources are put into a program and it is perceived as unique and high quality, students generally overcome that bias. She notes that currently about 13 percent of HBCU students nationally are white, and that enrollment figures are higher at HBCUs in areas where there are more limited options for college. Maryland, meanwhile, is geographically small and students have lots of in-state options for college.

“It’s great that these other institutions are more diverse. It’s great that they’re desegregated. But just because that’s taking place doesn’t mean Maryland has lost its obligation to make sure its HBCUs are strong,” Gasman said. She added that diversity at traditional institutions does not solve the issue in question: that a federal judge found the state had allowed program duplication to harm and weaken HBCUs.

Officials from the Maryland attorney general’s office and the state higher education system declined to comment for this article, but the system did release a statement saying that transferring programs to HBCUs would adversely affect diversity at PWIs. Yet Taylor said the state, in its reasoning, is placing its PWIs ahead of its HBCUs, and “making a value judgment that it prefers that those institutions be racially diverse at the expense of the HBCUs being racially diverse.”

William Kirwan, former chancellor of the system, highlighted how complicated and involved program transfers can be. “People have a misconception that moving programs is like moving pieces on the chessboard,” he said. In reality, he adds, it’s not so simple. One must consider elements like accreditation and faculty appointments, which would be at risk if a program was transferred.

“The faculty may not go, so then the program doesn’t exist,” he continued. “There’s no evidence that it works and it puts at great risk programs that are very successful in serving a state interest.”

Boyd suggested that program duplication is not responsible for many of the issues facing HBCUs. Demographic changes and the rise of online education have also shifted the landscape for black colleges. He noted how Morgan’s M.B.A. enrollment was showing signs of struggle even before Towson and UB launched their hotly contested joint program. “Even if you move every high-demand program to Morgan, it’s not clear what the effect would be,” he said. “Particularly in a day when so much is offered online. You’re not limited by geography anymore.”

Kirwan is quick to point out how Maryland’s flagship public university, the University of Maryland at College Park, is among the most diverse member institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities. “Maryland has a good record of diversifying its traditionally white institutions,” he says.

Indeed, many of Maryland’s PWIs are diverse — with several providing better outcomes for black students than their HBCU peers.

At UMBC, 16 percent of undergraduates are black and black students have a six-year graduation rate of 59 percent, compared to 61 percent for all undergraduates. At Towson, 16 percent of undergraduates are black and black students have a 67 percent six-year graduation rate, compared to 68 percent for all undergraduates. At College Park, 13 percent of undergraduates are black. Black students there have a 77 percent graduation rate, compared to 85 percent for all undergraduates.

UB, a minority-majority institution, has one of the system’s lowest graduation rates, partly because of the university’s commuter profile. UB’s six-year graduation rate among black students is 30 percent, compared to 43 percent for all undergraduates.

Meanwhile, Maryland’s HBCUs are much less diverse and their outcomes are generally less rosy than those of their PWI peers. At Morgan, 84 percent of students are black and just 2 percent are white. The six-year graduation rate is 32 percent. At Bowie State University, 87 percent of students are black and 3 percent are white. Bowie’s graduation rate is 33 percent. At Coppin State University, 82 percent of students are black and 2 percent are white. The graduation rate is 17 percent. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is by far the state’s most diverse HBCU — 72 percent of its student body is black and 12 percent is white. The six-year graduation rate is 37 percent.

HBCU advocates say the difference in performance is due mainly to HBCUs not being supported by the system, and also because many of the students that HBCUs serve are low income and first generation, groups that generally struggle with college at any institution. In particular, they say, the state has duplicated programs at majority institutions that have drawn well-performing and racially diverse students away from the HBCUs and precipitated academic decline.

“The state puts all the signature programs at non-HBCUs and then blames HBCUs for not being able to attract students,” Gasman said.

Yet whatever the cause, there is sharp disagreement about how to remedy struggles facing the state’s HBCUs. The state suggests joint programs between HBCUs and PWIs as a solution. It also proposed a summer academy that would expose aspiring college students to HBCU campuses. The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education and other advocates are doubtful that the joint programs proposed by the state would be an equal partnership, and instead are seeking more drastic measures — like mergers and transfers.

Though Kirwan thinks program transfers would be harmful to public higher education in Maryland, he departs from his former colleagues at the commission in his robust support of program creation. Where the commission, in its filings, says there is no concrete evidence program creation leads to more diversity at HBCUs, Kirwan disagrees. He calls the University of Maryland Eastern Shore “the poster child for how building program inventory can work.”

The 4,300-student university is located 20 miles from the system’s 8,800-student Salisbury University, but is otherwise geographically distant from any other public college. Its pharmacy and engineering programs have been successful in attracting students, and the college is one of the most racially diverse HBCUs in the country.

“The state should invest in increasing the program inventory at the HBCUs and provide money to start up programs that are in high demand,” Kirwan said.

HBCU advocates interviewed for this article said they expected more support for program creation from the commission. “I’m just surprised that the state did not come back and say” we don’t want to move an existing program, but “here are three brand-new, cutting-edge programs that we’re going to give you,” offered Taylor.

Boyd, the former commission official, has a theory. Each side, he surmises, is giving as little ground as possible in order to make their case stronger, given the likelihood the lawsuit will be appealed to a higher court — perhaps even the highest court.

“Both sides are planning on this going as far as it can go,” he says.


Algeania Marie Warren Freeman, Ph.D., President

It is a tremendous pleasure to share the GOOD NEWS about the things that are occurring at Wilberforce University.  The followings items are but a few things that are being worked on to continue moving Wilberforce University beyond the Show-Cause accreditation status:

  1. We are working on a $43 million bond issue.
  2. We are working on final closure of the $2 million gift from the AME Church.
  3. We are working on the regular audit and A133 federal audit.
  4. We are working on submitting HLC Financial Data Report to the Higher Learning Commission.
  5. We are working on trying to get forgiveness from the U.S. Department of Education $3.5 million in financial aid penalties for the years of 2009, 2010, and 2011. We are currently paying on financial aid penalties for 2009.
  6. We are preparing our presentation before a federal judge on January 19, 2016 for financial aid penalties for the year 2010.
  7. We are working on getting an external vendor who would be willing to construct two modular housing units with 500 beds for students off of the balance sheet for an estimated cost of $1.5 to $1.7 million.
  8. We are working on putting in a new Jenzabar administrative software system which is better suited for a smaller size institution.
  9. We are replacing our network infrastructure. We are putting in thirty (30) switches, and we are replacing our core server.
  10. We are installing eighteen (18) network security cameras.
  11. We are installing thirty (30) wireless network access points.
  12. We are finalizing the last migration of our telephone system to a true voice over IP hosted system.  Putting in this new system will save the University $3,500 to $4,500 a month.
  13. We will be integrating over 120 computers in the next few months, and replacing older computers for staff and faculty.
  14. We are working on enhancing distance education by installing Structure Canvas.  Faculty members are already being trained on the use of the new system, and they have begun using the new system.  The Canvas system replaces Blackboard. Canvas is a cheaper system, more compatible with other software systems, and easier to use.
  15. We are currently building out an audio recording studio and brand new internet radio and television stations which will increase communications ability and capacity worldwide with the community, alumni, and the AME Church.
  16. We are working on reconditioning two buildings to house our student services and financial aid programs that will allow students to earn while they learn so that they can leave Wilberforce debt free as a part of our Promise Program.
  17. We are working on Performance Reports for the HBCU and SAFRA grants that are due in January 2016.
  18. We are working hard to maintain and exceed our Fall 2015 student enrollment (653 students in Fall 2015 as compared to 353 in Fall 2014).
  19. We are in the process of signing 21 partnership contracts with Warrensville Heights City School District, East Cleveland School District, Maple Heights City School District, Cleveland Public School District, and various other agencies and groups in the City of Cleveland, Ohio.
  20. We have been accepted into the prestigious HLC Assessment Academy that will enhance the University’s ability to remain compliant with its assessment requirements.
  21. We sent 29 persons to the 2015 Assessment Institute in Indianapolis.
  22. We have completed academic program reviews for the business and CLIMB programs.
  23. We produced the first Wilberforce University FACT book which provides comprehensive data and information on the status of the institution.
  24. We have met with NASA officials several times to work on a pre-collegiate project.
  25. We are working on trying to get funding support for various projects from foundations.
  26. We hosted a corporate reception in the City of Dayton, and we are currently hosting individual meetings with potential corporate donors.
  27. We are continuing to host our strong Student Leadership Development program with workshops being conducted by Griffin and Associates.
  28. We are having tremendous success with reinstituting our Chapel and Vespers programs, and we established a new Chapel and Student Development Office.
  29. We are continuing with academic program reviews and credential audits.
  30. We are launching a $4 million fund raising project to establish our 160 year legacy Memorial Gardens and to support student scholarships.

Stability and Modest Growth Expected for U.S. Colleges

Stability and modest growth. That’s what U.S. colleges and universities can expect over the next year to 18 months, according to a 2016 outlook by credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service.

Tuition revenue growth is expected to be between 2 and 3 percent for public and private universities, with overall revenue growing at about 3 percent. State funding for public universities is anticipated to grow between 2 and 4 percent.

Moody’s outlook is based off a comprehensive look at the agency’s higher education portfolio, which includes 230 public universities and 275 public universities.

Though Moody’s predicts most colleges will see some revenue growth, it says between 20 to 30 percent of the colleges it rates will struggle to reach the 3 percent revenue growth figure. The ones that will struggle the most, according to Moody’s, are small colleges with limited economies of scale.

National Association of Title III Administrators, Inc.  Scholarship Recipients 2015

National Association of Historically Black Colleges and Universities

     Title III Administrators, Inc.


National Association of Title III Administrators, Inc.

Scholarship Recipients 2015


Applicant Name HBCU Region Award Amount
Danielle Ebelle Virginia Union University 2 $1,000.00
Patrice Harris University of the Virgin Islands 4 $1,000.00
Paris Wright Denmark Technical College 5 $1,000.00
Prentiss Smiley Grambling State University 6 $1,000.00
Laura Hucklueby Tuskegee University 7 $1,000.00
Tremaine Sails American Baptist College 8 $1,000.00
Evan Ridley Albany State University 4 $500.00
Maleek Montgomery Savannah State University 4 $500.00
Anitra Bosley Savannah State University 4 $500.00
Tia Bolden Savannah State University 4 $500.00


Executive Committee

2015 – 2017

Ms. Helga Greenfield


Mr. Dayle Barry

Vice President

Mrs. Luanne Baker


Dr. Brenda Jackson



Mr. Ronald E. Range

Financial Secretary

Mr. Erick Akins


Mrs. Nichele Harper O’Conner Member-at-Large



Ms. Tori Willis


Mr. Samuel Melton, Jr.




Mr. Samuel T. Rhoades, Esq.

President Emeritus



Dr. Brenda R. Shaw

Immediate Past President



Graduation Rates Rise, for Some

Graduation rates have been steadily improving at universities for about a decade now.

But a report released today by the Education Trust shows that at some public institutions, the gap in graduation rates between minority students and white students is actually growing. The Education Trust is an advocacy group for low-income and minority students.

At 26 institutions, the researchers found, the completion rate increased more for minority students than for white students from 2003 to 2013, resulting in a narrowing of the racial gap. At 17 colleges, by contrast, graduation rates for students of color declined and gaps between white students and minorities on their campuses grew. The Education Trust focused its analysis on 328 public institutions where overall graduation rates increased, and specifically on a group of 255 universities within that pool that had at least 50 minority and 50 white students in their graduation cohorts.

“We caution institutional leaders who celebrate their graduation rate gains to take a good look at their data and ask whether they are doing enough to get more African-American, Latino and Native students to graduation and to close completion gaps,” said Kimberlee Eberle-Sudre, a policy analyst at Ed Trust and co-author of the report, in the news release.

Over all, the report found that two-thirds of four-year institutions have increased graduation rates from 2003 to 2013. Of the 255 institutions that serve a sizable minority population, 77 percent increased graduation rates for their minority students. But the minority graduation rates increased only slightly more than for white students — 6.3 percentage points compared to 5.7 percent. So the completion gap between white and minority students has narrowed by less than 1 percentage point in 10 years, according to the report.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga topped the list of the 17 institutions that had the widest completion gaps, though its overall graduation rate increased. The Education Trust, using U.S. Department of Education data, found that the completion gap between white and minority students there increased 18.7 percentage points between 2003 and 2013. Minority graduation at the university fell by 11.9 percentage points, but overall graduation increased by 2 percentage points. The overall rate was boosted by an increase in success for white students — by 6.8 percentage points.

Four-Year Public Institutions With Increasing Gaps
Institution 10-Year Change in Minority Grad Rates 10-Year Change in Overall Grad Rates 10-Year Change in White Student Grad Rates 10-Year Change in Completion Gap
U of Tennessee at Chattanooga -11.9% 2% 6.8% 18.7%
Texas A&M U-Commerce -7.1% 4% 10.1% 17.2%
U of Missouri-Kansas City -6% 3.6% 9.4% 15.3%
U of Central Arkansas -9.5% 1.5% 4.3% 13.8%
Auburn U at Montgomery -7.2% 1% 5.7% 13%
Kutztown U of Pennsylvania -3.6% 4.6% 7.2% 10.8%
Auburn U -5.4% 2.8% 5.1% 10.4%
U of Alabama in Huntsville -5.7% 3.1% 4.6% 10.3%
U of Southern Mississippi -5.5% 0.5% 4.4% 9.9%
Weber State U -6.4% 1.9% 3.5% 9.9%

The university has seen an increase in retention among its minority students more recently, said Chuck Cantrell, associate vice chancellor of communication and marketing for UT-Chattanooga.

“We’re focusing on all students’ success and we recognize the need to address the needs of students in certain multiracial and multicultural populations,” he said. “We have implemented a couple of programs that although they serve all students, the participation rates tend to be minority students.”

According to UT-Chattanooga’s retention data, retention of first-time, full-time black students increased from 70 to 80 percent, in 2015. That increase is higher than the 1 percent increase in retention among white students from 70 percent last year.

Cantrell said within the last two years the university established a summer bridge program to better prepare high school students for college-level math and writing, and a minority mentorship program. That mentor program matches upperclassmen with underclassmen to help minority students feel more engaged on campus.

The University of Montana — the only flagship to make the list of 17 — had a decrease of 3.5 percentage points in its minority graduation rate and an increase in the completion gap of 8 percentage points.

The minority population at Montana is substantially Native Americans, who account for about 800 of the approximately 13,000 students on the campus, said Perry Brown, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the university.

Brown said the university has been working to increase retention and graduation rates for Native students, although he added that he couldn’t speak to why there were declines in the minority rates. Last year, the university renewed its participation in the federal TRIO program, a slate of initiatives and projects that help low-income, first-generation and minority students to succeed in college.

For years the university has had Native American advising offices at the college level to help students. Brown points to the College of Forestry and Conservation, where a Native American advising office was installed about 10 years ago and the retention rate increased from about 10 percent to 80 percent in that time, he said, adding that the number of graduates also increased from about one or two students a year to about eight a year.

Andrew Nichols, director of higher education research and data analytics for Education Trust, said the group’s findings don’t suggest that the 17 universities where the completion gap is growing aren’t committed to diversity or focused on advising or increasing aid to low-income students.

“But it does seem what they are doing isn’t necessarily working,” he said.

Leading the 26 universities that have narrowed the completion gap between white and minority students was the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, which has closed the gap by 15.2 percentage points due to the institution’s efforts to increase freshman retention.

Each university is different, but the researchers identified some explanations for why some universities were better than others at closing the completion gap and increasing both minority and white graduation rates.

“It usually comes down to a couple of specific things, and one of the most important is leadership and having folks on campus who take these issues seriously and recognize there must be targeted intervention for students of color,” Nichols said. “Another is financial aid. So ensuring low-income students and students with the least ability to pay have the ability to pay not just in their first year, but so they can return to college year after year.”

Washington State University, which saw the minority graduation rate increase by 13 percentage points over 10 years and the completion gap narrow by 5.4 percentage points, credited the institution’s first black president, Elson Floyd, with leading the initiative to increase diversity on the campus. Floyd served as president from 2007 until his death in June.

North Carolina State University had a 12 percentage point increase in the minority graduation rate and closed the completion gap by 4.8 percent. Administrators there attributed the success to increasing financial aid for low-income students, Eberle-Sudre said.

The 26 institutions that are closing that completion gap also pointed to using targeted advising approaches or using their own data to examine subgroup performances in courses that had high withdrawal rates and then working with faculty to re-evaluate how they offer those courses or examining if additional tutoring was needed, according to the report.

“The traditional approach to advising has been on the student to seek help, but these institutions have flipped the narrative on its head and been more proactive in how they approach advising,” Nichols said, adding that either they’re mandating advising time for students or counselors are sitting down with students to help map out the courses they need to take to reach a degree.

Education Trust is also releasing two briefs to accompany the report that will delve deeper into the gaps between black and white students on these campuses and Latino and white students.

Minority student protests have taken off in the past few weeks over retention, lack of minority faculty and other issues that students feel hinder their success on campus. Those protests led to the resignation of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe. Missouri’s Kansas City campus also made the list of institutions failing to close the completion gap and experiencing decreases in minority graduation.

“What we’re seeing in the data is that all of these things are part of the mix or part of the issue and that maybe leads to lower completion rates for black students,” Nichols said. “Generally when we have these conversations we are in some ways more likely to focus on income as the predictive issue and we’re less likely to talk about race and challenges with racism in America.”

Nichols said even when they examine the performance of people with similar socioeconomic backgrounds, race is still a factor.

The report also found that similar institutions, with similar SAT scores and percentage of minority students or demographics, could differ in widening or closing the completion gap.

“It really comes down to what that specific institution is doing, and that goes back to leadership, advising and the use of data,” Nichols said. “What they do on campus matters at the end of the day.”

VSU, AG produce film to counter heroin epidemic

If there’s one message that Jesse Vaughan hopes his new documentary on the heroin epidemic will drive home, it’s this:

“Young people are dying every day,” the Emmy-winning filmmaker at Virginia State University said.

“We’ve become so immune to death that we just sort of brush it aside, but behind all of those deaths are families that are being destroyed.”

Vaughan is director of “Heroin: The Hardest Hit,” a documentary produced with the state attorney general’s office that will premiere next week at the Library of Virginia.

In 2014, 728 people died in Virginia from heroin and prescription drug overdoses, up from 661 in 2013, according to the attorney general’s office. In the last five years, fatal overdoses have increased by 57 percent and claimed nearly 3,000 Virginians.

What was once seen as an urban problem has spread to rural areas and middle-class suburban neighborhoods, Vaughan said.

“We want people to know that this is in your back yard,” he said. “You can close your eyes to this epidemic. But I suggest you should open your eyes because it can happen to you.”

Vaughan is director of VSU’s Advance Creative Services Group, which produces commercials, documentaries and the TV show “VSU Today.” His team, which has won 13 Emmys in the past four years, in April produced “Living in a Food Desert,” a documentary about food insecurity in Richmond.

The attorney general’s office sought VSU’s help with the film as part of its initiative to counter an epidemic of heroin and prescription drug overdose that killed more Virginians than car crashes in 2014.

“Heroin is so addictive, so dangerous, so deadly,” Attorney General Mark Herring says as the film opens, his words interspersed with a 911 overdose call. “It has become one of the worst drug epidemics in Virginia’s history.”

The 48-minute film, narrated by journalist Ed Gordon, says deaths nearly doubled from 2011 to 2013, with increases of 164 percent in Northern Virginia, 94 percent in Hampton Roads and 50 percent in the Richmond metro area.

The path to addiction often begins innocently with painkillers prescribed after surgery and proves fatal when users turn to heroin laced with dangerous additives. In the Richmond area, heroin was found to have been mixed with powerful horse tranquilizers, the film reports.

Recovering addicts recount “the start of the end,” as one put it, and mothers tell of their heartache from the epidemic that spans all social strata and walks of life.

“She thought she would beat it but the drug was too strong,” says Carolyn Weems of Virginia Beach.

Her daughter, Caitlyn, died at 21 from a heroin overdose while in rehab from her addition, which began when she was prescribed painkillers after dental surgery to repair an injury that occurred during a high school soccer game.

Another mother tells how her daughter was found unconscious next to her napping son.

“They took me to a room and showed me her brain scan and told me right then and there to start planning her funeral,” Denise Hannan says of the death of her 23-year-old daughter, Lauren, in Winchester.

The film will be shown in free screenings around the state in December and aired on television in January. It also will be available Dec. 2 to view on the attorney general’s website, DVD copies and screenings with OAG staff also can be requested.

“This film is a priority for our office because we think it really has the chance to save lives,” Herring spokesman Michael Kelly said by email.

The VSU team created a video “we think is going to open a lot of eyes to the realities of heroin and prescription drug abuse in the commonwealth,” he said.

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November News

JCSU: The university’s finances are sound

Responding to recent news stories, Johnson C. Smith University asserted that although it has faced occasional cash-flow problems, its finances are fundamentally sound.

In a statement posted on the university’s website this week, JCSU President Ron Carter said the U.S. Department of Education has given the university high marks for its financial audits. The university says that in fiscal year 2014, it got the highest possible composite financial score.

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Ron Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University Observer file photo Observer file photo

“Although financial stability is not easy in this difficult and highly competitive era, JCSU is building the financial foundation to support its future growth,” Carter’s statement reads.

The school received a score of 2.5 out of 3.0 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, the education department said.

The university has declined the Observer’s requests for a copy of its latest audited financial statement. JCSU also has turned down the newspaper’s requests to interview Carter.

Nov. 20 story in the Observer noted that the federal education department placed the university on its “heightened cash monitoring” list of more than 550 colleges and universities. It is the second year in a row that JCSU made the list. That means JCSU must undergo additional financial oversight.


University President Ron Carter

Carter’s statement said the education department has not questioned JCSU’s finances, but it placed it on the watch list because it was late filing an audit report. The education department’s monitoring list does indicate that JCSU had a late auditing report.

The Observer’s story also noted that the university had a $7.5 million deficit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, after reporting a $29 million surplus two years earlier.

Carter’s statement called that a “misunderstanding,” saying that gifts for construction projects affected those results. In 2012, the Duke Endowment pledged a $35 million gift, which on paper improved the university’s bottom line that year. But the university had to pay the actual construction costs over the following three years, the university’s statement said.

JCSU also said:

▪ It has developed a balanced budget for the current academic year.

▪ It now has 62 more students than had been projected for the fall semester, thanks in part to new online and social work programs. About 1,450 students are enrolled in the school.

▪ It has “settled all outstanding audit issues” related to prior financial audits.

Cash-flow challenges

Talmadge Fair says he is not impressed with the university’s latest statement. Concerned about JCSU’s financial problems, the former university trustee has petitioned to have Carter removed as president.

Fair contends that Carter’s recent statement fails to answer fundamental questions, such as why the university is having trouble paying some of its bills when for years it had money in the bank. Under Carter’s leadership, Fair says, the university appears to have increased its expenses but not its income.


Former JCSU trustee Talmadge Fair

“Clearly something is broke at JCSU,” says Fair, a 1961 JCSU graduate and president of the Urban League of Greater Miami. “And the sooner we can find out what this is, we can fix it.”

The Observer’s Nov. 20 story quoted a current employee who said he regularly fields phone calls from vendors who have not been paid.

JCSU acknowledged it sometimes experiences cash-flow problems. Most of its cash receipts happen at the beginning of each semester, the university’s statement said, and unexpected expenses late in the semester – such as a major maintenance problem – can pose “a challenge to the University’s normal cash flows.”

At the end of last year, the university stopped outsourcing its business operations to a third party and brought the work back in-house.

“The transition was not as smooth as we would have liked,” Carter’s statement said. “The Chief Financial Officer … challenged disputed invoices even if it led to late payment. This issue has since been resolved.”

Ames Alexander: 704-358-5060@amesalex

Read more here:


Voorhees welcomes six new trustees

DENMARK — The Voorhees College Board of Trustees recently added six new members to assist the governance of the institution.

“The new board members are very distinguished leaders who retain expertise in various areas,” President Dr. Cleveland L. Sellers Jr. “They will be the necessary assets that are needed to continue to move our institution in the right direction.”

The trustees are:

  • Michelle Meekins is an assistant superintendent for school leadership for Elementary Schools Group Two in Greenville, S.C. She graduated from Voorhees in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in English and was inducted into the Voorhees College Hall of Fame in 2011. Meekins earned a doctorate degree from the University of South Carolina.
  • Alan Duesterhaus is an instructor in the undergraduate business program at the University of South Carolina-Upstate in Spartanburg and has experience in budget management, policy formulation and strategic planning. Duesterhaus earned a doctorate degree from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.
  • Dr. Robert A. Hymes is the director of orthopaedic clinical research for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus in Falls Church, Va. Hymes earned a doctorate degree from the University of California-San Francisco.
  • Daraka E. Satcher is a chief executive officer of The Satcher Group in Atlanta where he manages international business developmental projects. He earned a juris doctorate degree from Emory University. Satcher has years of legal experience and has worked for the United States Department of Commerce as a deputy assistant secretary.
  • Vincent M. McNeil is product line manager for Analog Sensors and Group in Temple, Ariz. McNeil earned a doctorate degree in electrical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the co-inventor of six issued patents and has developed three organizational development trainings.
  • Dr. Robert L. Dodd is an assistant professor for the Department of Neurosurgery and the Department of Radiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif. Dodd earned a doctorate degree from Stanford University.

Copyright 2015 The Times and Democrat. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redis

Drake State President has been placed on administrative leave,

Helen McAlpine, long-time president at Drake State Community & Technical College in Huntsville, has been placed on administrative leave, according to an after-hours press release from the Alabama Community College System office.

No reason was given for McAlpine’s leave.

Kemba Chambers, dean of math, natural science and pre-engineering at Calhoun Community College, has been appointed acting president, effective immediately.

McAlpine, a former administrator for Huntsville City Schools, was hired at Drake State in 2000. She shepherded the school through a dramatic increase in enrollment, peaking at 1,484 in the fall of 2010. The school now has 894 students.

Drake State received regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools (SACS) for the first time in 2012 and the next year, the school formally transitioned to a community college.

Discount Much?

Is a high discount rate a guaranteed trouble sign for colleges? Not necessarily, experts say — sometimes colleges can leverage discounts to increase revenue, at least if they are increasing enrollment. But maintaining very high discount rates can be a risky strategy and an indicator a college is in distress.

The average discount rate offered by colleges to first-year students has risen significantly in recent years. In 2014 it was 48 percent — the highest level ever, according to a survey of 411 private colleges by the National Association of College and University Business Officers — up one-fifth from 2007’s average of 39 percent.

Many private college leaders say they needed to raise the rate, even beyond their comfort level for such decisions in prior years, to respond to family concerns about paying for college after the economy tanked in 2008. But if 48 percent is one thing, what about 60 percent or higher? And it’s not lost on many higher education finance experts that Sweet Briar College decided to close when it topped a 60 percent discount rate (even if the college’s alumnae subsequently intervened and the college revived itself). But some colleges are going to large discounts as part of enrollment strategies they think could reshape their institutions.

And of the 411 colleges surveyed, 39 — or 9.5 percent — had discount rates at or above 60 percent. That marks a near doubling from five years earlier, when 5 percent of colleges surveyed had discount rates at or above 60 percent.

In many ways, tuition discounting has become par for the course in today’s pricing structure for colleges. In 2010, 62 percent of colleges surveyed by NACUBO offered 90 percent or more of their student some level of discount. By 2014 that number had grown to 69 percent, according to figures provided to Inside Higher Ed by NACUBO.

In many areas of the country, the number of high school graduates is shrinking and colleges are having to do more — programmatically, academically and financially — to attract students. For many colleges “it might be the case if you discounted more deeply, you might end up with more kids and more net revenue,” explains David Strauss, a principal of the higher education consulting firm Art & Science. In cases where discounting is successful, a college may increase its discount rate and charge less per student, but enroll more students, meaning the overall financial picture is rosier than the discount rate might suggest.

Oftentimes colleges participate in discounting because the market demands it: students and their parents react better to a college with a large sticker price that offers them a large scholarship than they do to a college that is simply cheaper and offers no or little scholarship funds.

“Parents and students are not expecting to pay full price,” says Lucie Lapovsky, a higher education financial consultant who used to help NACUBO compile its tuition discounting study. “This is an industry that’s known for being on sale.”

A more expensive college is perceived to be more valuable by students, and students often see scholarship offers as proof a college values them as an applicant. More and more, families are expecting colleges to offer them a “discount” off a college’s sticker price when their child is offered admittance. It’s far from unusual for families to try to leverage a scholarship offer from one college to seek more money from another potential college.

Tuition discounting can be a way to increase interest in a college and perceived value, and therefore enrollment. More and more colleges are engaging in the practice — with many of them ticking their discount rates up a little each year.

“You [can have] a situation where you’ve got a college in a highly competitive area, people are shopping around for the best deal — or the student body that has gone to that college just can’t afford it — and the college starts to offer more and more of a discount just to get students through the door,” Edith Behr, a Moody’s analyst, said. “The competition has grown to a point where the college is lowering its price to attract students. If that process is accelerated, it may mean the college is approaching, or [is] in, a financial stress situation.”

High Tuition Discounting Over Time
Year Number of colleges with
discount of 60% or more
Percent of surveyed colleges
2010 20 5.2%
2011 24 6%
2012 35 9.1%
2013 39 9.7%
2014 39 9.5%

Negative Side of Discounting

Discounting has a negative side as well — one that becomes even more perilous the higher a college’s discount rate creeps.

Oftentimes colleges struggling with enrollment will discount their tuition more and more each year in an effort to entice students to enroll. Yet in many cases these colleges are unable to adequately increase their enrollment enough to also increase their overall net revenue — a necessity if struggling colleges are going to dig themselves out of financially strained circumstances. Thus, if enrollment isn’t increasing — or if the discount required to get students to enroll is just too steep to be sustainable — then ultimately discounting can hurt these colleges financially.

“There’s a lot of people out there who talk about putting more aid out there to bring more people,” Strauss said. “There’s an old-fashioned notion that more people means more revenue. Not necessarily. If you have discount so much more deeply to get a few more kids, than you lose money on the transaction.”

Yet once a student population is used to paying a certain price, it can be very difficult for colleges to walk back their discount rates. So, more often than not, extremely high discount rates — when a college is sacrificing 60 percent or more of its potential tuition revenue through discounting — are a sign that a college is in distress. And, equally often, high discount rates can further contribute to that stress.

The result of extreme discounting is often an academically weaker class. Sometimes colleges, in an effort to sustain their discount rates, spend so much money on financial aid they don’t have enough resources to remain competitive in other areas that contribute to student success and satisfaction, like residence life or advising. And many students are swayed to attend these colleges because of the high discount offered to them as applicants, not because they necessarily think the college is the best fit. So colleges with high discount rates often suffer from poor first-year student retention rates.

David W. Breneman, a higher education finance expert and former dean of the University of Virginia’s education school, said the practice of families that “shop their child around” is “a game that can cause people to make the wrong choices in the college they attend.”

Breneman was a trustee at Sweet Briar College in Virginia when the college decided to shutter earlier this year — a decision that has since been reversed after a group of alumnae raised enough money to keep the college alive another year.

Sweet Briar’s discount rate for first-year students had risen from 48 percent to 62 percent in six years — Breneman said the college was essentially buying students, and the result was hurting, not helping, the struggling college. And despite the increased discounting, during that six-year period Sweet Briar’s enrollment declined by 50 students, to 560.

“We were just simply finding that we were getting less academically qualified students as a result, and therefore we were having more difficulty. And the retention rate was dropping. You get into this downward spiral,” he recalled.

So as Sweet Briar’s discount rate grew, its net revenue declined. It was spending more and more from its endowment and nevertheless getting so small that it wasn’t benefiting from the economies of scale that save larger universities money. Financially struggling small colleges, Breneman says, “are running up a set of economic realities that I’m not sure discounting is going to get them out of any longer.” Raising one’s discount rate year after year is not sustainable, he said.

“If your discount rate is at 60 percent, that’s a very dangerous warning sign,” he continued. “If you were any other business of any other sort [you wouldn’t] think you were in a very good position.”

Canisius College in upstate New York has, in recent years, offered average first-year discount rates above 60 percent, according to a 2014 Moody’s rating. In 2013 a consultant warned the high rate wasn’t sustainable and said Canisius needed a new strategy, according to a Buffalo News article from May. The next year Moody’s downgraded the institution, citing increased tuition discounting as one of the reasons. Though tuition was published at $34,000, the college was collecting less than $16,000 per student.

Moody’s said the practice of overdiscounting “resulted in a decline in net tuition per student, reflecting the college’s very limited pricing power and representing a significant challenge to increasing total revenue as Canisius is heavily dependent on student generated revenue.”

In the News article, Canisius President John Hurley admitted the practice of recruiting increasingly larger classes through such high levels of aid was too expensive, but said some level of discounting was expected by students. Canisius has shrunk from 3,280 undergraduates in fall 2012 to 2,670 undergraduates this fall, according to institutional data. Officials with Canisius declined requests for an interview.

And Canisius is far from the only college rated by Moody’s where discounting is spiraling and having a negative effect on overall tuition revenue. Earlham College in Indiana was downgraded by Moody’s in 2014 and the credit agency again cited weak tuition revenue as a result of high discounting as a factor. As the college’s discount rate approached 60 percent, its net tuition revenue shrank by more than one-fifth over the course of five years.

Moody’s said the college needed to reduce its deficit by growing its net tuition revenues — but admitted it would be a tough row to hoe. “One of Earlham’s strategic goals is to increase enrollment to 1,400 to 1,600 students from the current 1,100. Another is to manage its tuition discount. Effectively executing this strategy will prove challenging in the face of a highly competitive market and the need to provide substantial financial aid,” Moody’s wrote in the 2014 report. Yet this fall the college’s enrollment had actually declined, hitting 1,070 undergraduates.

Net Revenue Important

A college’s discount rate is only part of the story. Over and over again, higher education finance experts interviewed for this story said a college’s discount rate means little if considered outside the context of that college’s net tuition revenue. For example, Princeton University and Grinnell College both have discount rates above 60 percent, according to Moody’s. But are both among the upper echelon of financially healthy universities, and their discount rates are purposefully high because they leverage large endowments to offer generous aid packages to a large number of their students.

Whether the overall money a college is getting from tuition is growing or shrinking reveals whether that college’s financial strategy — including discounting — is working successfully.

“Even if an institution has a very high discount rate, you have to peel back the onion a little more just to see what facts are participating in that strategy,” says Erin Ortiz, an analyst with Moody’s.

Birmingham Southern University has a discount rate of over 60 percent, yet in 2014 Moody’s upgraded the college’s credit rating and characterized its financial outlook as stable. The university was able to grow its enrollment 29 percent in three years, and though Moody’s characterized its net tuition revenue as “stagnant,” it praised the institution’s diverse set of revenues, including sources like fund-raising and the endowment. In the 2014 report, Moody’s said its Birmingham rating “incorporates expectations that enrollment will gradually recover and support growth of net tuition revenue.”

Yet while Birmingham’s most recent rating is an improvement from past ratings, Moody’s nonetheless gave the college a B3 rating, which is considered “not prime” and among the lowest ratings Moody’s awards. Moody’s said a “inability to increase net tuition revenue” would eventually cause the college’s rating to suffer. The college in 2010 was found to have erroneously awarded millions in financial aid, further deepening its financial difficulties.

Lapovsky said she’s seen cases where a college benefits from increasing its discount rate. The key, she said, is to do so temporarily.

Small colleges that want to grow in size, and perhaps want to increase their academic portfolio, might for a short time offer high-ability students hefty scholarships in an effort to entice them to enroll.

“In one year a strategy like that can significantly change the composition of your class,” Lapovsky said, calling a short-term strategy that requires a high discount rate a financial investment akin to any other, including investments like a climbing wall or new academic building.

Yet the dilemma for many colleges that try this strategy is making sure increased cost of sustaining a high discount rate is temporary.

“It’s always hard to start rolling the discount rate back. There’s just insecurity as to what’s going to happen. How well will you attract students, or will you not get the quality of students you had, if you cut back this rate,” Lapovsky continued.

Marlboro College is in the early stages of trying such a strategy. The college has fewer than 200 undergraduates, and enrollment has been steadily declining in recent years. It plans to offer a full scholarship to a highly qualified student in every state — enticing potentially 50 new students to its Vermont campus and likely skyrocketing its discount rate to around 65 percent. At the same time, Marlboro plans to spend more from its endowment and increase fund-raising in an attempt to sustain the high discount rate.

These changes are aimed at increasing enrollment and increasing the academic portfolio of Marlboro’s freshman class. Officials are hoping more students will hear about Marlboro through the scholarship program, and also that more will be interested in attending as the college raises its academic strength. They want enrollment — specifically of students who are paying some measure of their tuition bill — to increase to the point of overall revenue gains. Once the college gets to this point, officials are hoping they can accomplish the difficult task of walking back the discount rate.

Marlboro President Kevin Quigley understands the move could be seen as a Hail Mary, but he says the college can’t afford to get much smaller. Marlboro’s fall enrollment of 179 students was its lowest level in three decades. “It’s a bold experiment,” he says.

Moody’s earlier this year predicted that the number of college closures would triple — from about five annually to 15 — by 2017. The credit rating agency predicted that the closures would, in large part, be due to institutions’ tuition dependency.

Among the colleges that do close, expect to see a trend: growing discount rates paired with shrinking enrollments.

“You’ve got situations, which are growing, particularly with small private colleges, where they’re running structural deficits, they have a high discount rate and in a lot of cases dipping into the corpus of the endowment,” said Richard A. Hesel, a partner at Art & Science. “In some cases you can do something, and in some cases it’s maybe hopeless. We haven’t seen too many hopeless cases, but we’ve seen a few.”

Can Racial Problems at Predominantly White Universities Pave the Way For a Resurgence at Historically Black Colleges and Universities?

The recent explosion of activism on predominantly white college campuses, fueled by Black students who are protesting racially hostile environments in which they are unsafe, reveals that uch is wrong with these institutions of higher learning.  Is now the time to explore Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs?  Should we now focus on building the endowments of these institutions?

There are calls to fortify these institutions, in which Black young people are supported and loved.  In a nurturing, healthy environment free of the garbage we see in majority-white academic institutions, young, gifted and Black minds can grow and secure their sense of self-worth.  This is a way for Black young people to avoid the debilitating and crushing psychic damage that they will face at majority-white colleges, as has been the case for the years since Black students were first admitted.

The scope of the problem is clear.  Black students at the University of Missouri, facing hate crimes, demand diversity reform at the University of Missouri, 46 years after their first, unmet set of demands.  The university president and chancellor resign as a result.   At Yale, Black students protest racial insensitivity from faculty and administrators, and call for the renaming of Calhoun College, named for a defender of slavery and hero of the Confederacy.  Meanwhile, Princeton students stage a sit-in as the university considers eliminating the name of Woodrow Wilson—who supported the Ku Klux Klan and resegregated the federal government–from their buildings.  And at Harvard Law School, a hate crime is committed as someone places tape over the pictures of Black professors on the wall.  Who needs this?

Adrienne Green in The Atlantic poses the question as to whether Black colleges are the safe spaces Black students seek.  “Many mainstream colleges, schools that enroll a majority of white students, have benefited from the diversity minority students provide—often creating a synthetic microcosm of the real world—but they appear less moved to ensure they serve as spaces that are inclusive for the students they work so hard to attract,” she notes.

HBCUs face challenges due to funding and resources, concerns over low graduation rates, and a perception of providing an inferior education–even from African-Americans. The endowments of all 105 HBCUs combined would only amount to 10 percent of Harvard’s endowment, which at $30 billion is the heftiest in the world, as USA Today reports.  However, although HBCUs are merely 3 percent of the nation’s institutions of higher learning, they supply nearly 20 percent of Black students with undergraduate degrees, and 20 percent of Black students earning bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering.  Further, more than 50 percent of Black professionals and public school teachers graduate from HBCUs.

Moreover, for all of their challenges, HBCUs produce graduates that fare better than their peers who attend other institutions.  A recent Gallup poll of 56,000 college graduates found that 55 percent of Black HBCU alums say their college prepared them well for life after graduation, as opposed to 29 per­cent of non-HB­CU col­lege gradu­ates. Further, HBCU grads are much more likely to say they benefited from encouraging professors and mentors, are more fulfilled and involved at work, and more are thriving financially (40 percent) than their non-HB­CU peers (29 percent).

Green notes that these Black institutions provide not only cultural centers for students of color, but a community, from the students to the faculty, and a deeply entrenched support system that is concerned about the mental health of young Black people.  “HBCUs allow students to unapologetically learn—without fear of violent criticism—about themselves as it pertains to their race,” she writes, while students of color at mainstream institutions are forced to navigate on their own, with no support from school officials and with hostility from white classmates.  And as predominantly white universities drag their feet on the road to change, the prospects of an HBCU resurgence—free from the oppression of white supremacy– are increasingly relevant and demanding of our attention.

Predominantly white colleges and universities are facing pushback from Black students because they have offered diversity—sprinkling some dark faces around—while mistaking this for inclusion, a goal which requires more time and effort.  Much has been written and reported on the benefits of diversity, and the ways in which diverse environments benefit the learning environment, particularly for white students, and foster more innovative workplaces.  At the same time, diversity efforts face criticism as band-aid approaches that fail to address systemic racism.

Carla Shedd, an assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies at Columbia University argues in a new book that the school you attended shapes your attitudes about inequality. In Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice, Shedd examines students at four Chicago public high schools to conclude that students at more racially diverse schools are more aware of racial injustice and inequality than those whose classmates look like them.

Further, study abroad programs, in which Blacks are underrepresented, offer many benefits to students’ well-being, as well as educational and economic benefits, and a heightened understanding of the world.

The benefits of diversity notwithstanding, the debate over HBCUs vs. predominantly-white institutions should not be viewed as an either-or, mutually exclusive proposition.  Still, in order to wield power and gain security, the Black community must build its own prestigious institutions and solve its own problems. Those students fighting for change at Mizzou, Yale, Princeton and elsewhere must be applauded for doing the necessary work to reform these places. And yet, there needs to be an alternative for those who would rather not expend the psychological and physical energy necessary to fight to feel safe, only to emerge as a water carrier for white supremacy.

Now is the perfect opportunity to assist HBCUs in building their endowments, and supply them with the resources to create safe spaces to allow young people to thrive.  During the Harlem Renaissance and the days of Black Wall Street, Black America protected itself and succeeded.  If Black people want to exist successfully in America with white folks, we need to build our community.  And if the HBCUs are not supported, they cannot improve and become what we want them to be.

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JCSU President Ron Carter faces questions over leadership

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is investing $1.5 million over three years to help revitalize Charlotte’s Northwest corridor, along the site of the upcoming Gold Line streetcar. Motorists drive along Beatties Ford Rd. in front of the Mosaic Village Tuesday, June 30, 2015. TODD SUMLIN


Ron Carter arrived at Johnson C. Smith University seven years ago as a change agent, and testaments to his vision include the new light-filled science center on campus and the colorful Mosaic Village housing development along Charlotte’s northwest corridor.

Supporters say Carter, who has been president since July 2008, is just what the university – and west side – need to revitalize.

Talmadge Fair, former JCSU trustee.

But as JCSU continues to struggle financially, some people question whether Carter has the business savvy and leadership skills to sustain his vision for the school and its neighborhood. What began as worried whispers around campus surfaced publicly three weeks ago when a former trustee petitioned to have Carter removed as president.

“We have a significant cash-flow problem,” said Talmadge Fair, a 1961 JCSU graduate and president of the Urban League of Greater Miami. “We have no reserves. We have vendors who have not been paid on time. Morale is low.”

Documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service show a $7.5 million deficit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, and a $10 million deficit for the year ending June 30, 2013. Contrast that with a $29 million surplus for the year ending June 30, 2012.

For two years, Fair said he pressed for answers and was rebuffed. “They say everything is fine. I see a big hole.” After he voiced concerns for the second time in August, he was removed as a trustee.

Carter declined several requests for an interview. A statement from the college said Carter has an open door policy for students, faculty, staff and alumni but “does not respond to their concerns through third parties, including the media. Any alumnus, JCSU employee or JCSU student who has questions or concerns about the University is encouraged to meet with Dr. Carter.”

The statement said the university’s finances are reviewed and approved by a committee of the board of trustees, and said the board includes experts in business, banking, finance and law.

The public scrutiny comes eight months after the U.S. Department of Education placed the university on its “heightened cash monitoring” list of more than 550 colleges and universities. Eight of the nation’s 100 historically black colleges and universities are on the list.

That means JCSU must undergo additional financial oversight. It is the second year in a row that JCSU made the list. In a statement posted on its website last year, JCSU said its listing resulted from filing documents late.

Cash-flow problems?

As with other historically black colleges and universities, JCSU has struggled with declining enrollment and cuts in federal aid to students.

“I have some cash concerns!!!!” began a 2014 email from the university’s controller to its chief financial officer. The email cited nearly $2 million in outstanding checks, but less than $1.2 million in available funds.

In an interview with The Observer, a current employee talked about regularly fielding phone calls from vendors who have not been paid. “It’s really embarrassing,” said the employee, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. “It’s constant late-payments on everything.”

Jeweler Darrell Roach, who attended JCSU, said he is owed $100 – “not a lot of money” – and has not been paid for months. “Ron Carter owes the alumni, the entire JCSU family and the city an explanation,” Roach said. “We have the right to ask questions.”

‘On eggshells’

Several current and former employees said Carter does not like to be second-guessed – what one former employee called “speaking truth to power.”

“Talmadge Fair being kicked off the board is consistent with that notion,” the former employee said.

Those interviewed questioned several of Carter’s management decisions and expressed concern about a “brain drain” of talented employees, including the recent departures of Elfred Pinkard, chief operating officer, and Ron Matthews, director of alumni affairs.

Pinkard could not be reached for comment. Said Matthews: “It was just time for me to move on.” Gerald Hector, a former vice president of business and finance who resigned in 2013, declined to comment.

More than 100 supporters have signed Fair’s petition online, but he said he also has heard privately from many JCSU employees and graduates who are afraid to speak publicly. “I’m shocked at the depth of it,” he said.

A former employee told The Observer, “People are scared to say stuff. They’re walking on eggshells.”

‘Our forward trajectory’

JCSU bills itself as a “new urban university.” Located on Charlotte’s west side, it is a private university, founded in 1867 as The Freedmen’s College of North Carolina. It has an enrollment of 1,452 students.

Jim Woodward, former chancellor of UNC Charlotte and a former JCSU trustee, praised Carter for steering the university through financial hardships over the past seven years. He said Carter was hired to “connect JCSU to the community” and “has been superbly successful.”

Carter came to Charlotte from Coker College in Hartsville, S.C., where he was provost and dean of faculty for 11 years. Prior to that, he worked at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and as dean of students at Boston University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Center.

He quickly became a high-profile public figure in Charlotte, serving on various civic boards ranging from Charlotte Center City Partners to Opera Carolina to Council for Children’s Rights.

“You go to any event in the community, chances are Ron’s going to be there,” Woodward said. “He’s done a really good job raising a lot of money in the community.”

Monroe Miller, chairman of the JCSU board of trustees, declined to be interviewed but in a written statement noted the importance of such fundraising:

“Our work is paying dividends as we attract the attention and funding of major foundations and corporations. We will continue our forward trajectory as a student-centered new urban institution dedicated to applied research, intellectual rigor in our undergraduate, graduate and professional programs, as well as strong partnerships and engagement with the Charlotte community.”

The Duke Endowment has been one of the university’s staunchest supporters, giving more than $142 million since 1924, including a record $35 million grant in 2011. The bulk of that grant –$25 million – went to build the new science center, and the rest for scholarships and capital improvements.

“Our board is comfortable with the progress and direction of the university,” said Susan McConnell, the foundation’s director of higher education. “With the progress reports that we get, the money that we give is being used for those purposes.”

The university recently announced another big grant – $1.2 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to boost graduation rates of low-income and other underserved students.

‘People are fed up’

In his “State of the University” speech in August, Carter likened the university to a ship on a dangerous voyage, buffeted by “furious winds of education debt” and “dark grey waves smashing seeming paradoxes of federal and state compliance mandates upon us.”

The shore, he said, is near.

Some people might disagree with the university’s path, he said, but he concluded: “… The time has come for me to say to them, with all due respect, if they feel they cannot read from the same vital navigational equipment with the rest of us as we draw close to land, they may need to consider disembarking now to seek another destination.”

Fair said he loves the university too much to disembark. He said the situation is “frighteningly worse” than he expected, based on information he has received about finances and Carter’s leadership since posting his petition. “I’m going to push forward with every fiber in my body to make sure this time next year Dr. Ron Carter is not president of this institution.”

Staff researcher Maria David contributed.


Collaboration or Merger?

Maryland officials call a proposal to merge a commuter institution with a HBCU a “far-reaching, risky scheme,” arguing instead that joint degree programs can better end decades of racial inequity among the state’s public colleges.

November 23, 2015


Kellie Woodhouse

Maryland’s state higher education body and a group advocating on behalf of the state’s four public historically black colleges and universities disagree on how best to solve inequities that, according to a federal judge, are perpetuating segregation and putting HBCUs at a disadvantage to their predominantly white peers.

In a Friday court filing, the Maryland Higher Education Commission called a proposal to merge Morgan State University with the University of Baltimore a “far-reaching, risky scheme.”

Instead of a merger, the state suggested creating a $10 million fund that would promote collaborative degree programs between HBCUs and other state universities — a concession to calls to further integrate Maryland’s public universities, but a more moderate approach than the one HBCU advocates favor.

The filing was a response to U.S. Judge Catherine C. Blake’s2013 ruling that Maryland had allowed the state’s predominantly white universities to duplicate programs offered by HBCUs, causing enrollment and other struggles at the state’s black institutions and furthering segregation in the system. At the time, Blake ordered mediation between MHEC and the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, which first sued the commission in 2006. Then each party was tasked with coming up with proposals to remedy inequities in the system.

In May the coalition, which consists of alumni of and advocates for the state’s HBCUs, suggested a merger of the University of Baltimore into Morgan.

Such a merger, the group said, would address years of program duplication at UB that has negatively affected enrollment at Morgan and “establish Morgan as the most distinctive public university in Baltimore.” The coalition also suggested transferring some academic programs from the state’s traditional institutions to its HBCUs and repositioning the state system’s online college to primarily serve the state’s public black colleges.

UB and Towson University, both located in the Baltimore area, created a joint M.B.A. program in 2005, despite objections that the program would duplicate an existing one at Morgan. The result, plaintiffs say, was lackluster white enrollment in the Morgan program. Blake, in her 2013 ruling, highlighted the joint M.B.A. program as a strong example of how the Maryland commission allowed program duplication to damage HBCUs and cause segregation within the system.

In the response filed late Friday, MHEC said it was phasing out the joint degree program between Towson and UB.

A merger between Morgan State and the University of Baltimore, however, would be costly and difficult because of the different cultures at the two institutions, the MHEC response stated. For example, Morgan is a residential college, whereas UB is largely a commuter institution. Also, MHEC noted that UB is already one of the most racially diverse public institutions in the state.

“Conditions for a successful merger of UB into Morgan do not exist, because the colleges have different missions and serve different student populations,” MHEC’s Friday filing said.

Instead, the commission proposed creating a fund to support collaboration between the state’s traditional universities and HBCUs, including new joint and dual degree programs. The fund would provide as much as $10 million over the course of six years to support collaborative initiatives, which MHEC says would be the most “educationally sound and practicable way to expand the white student presence at Maryland HBIs while increasing, rather than restricting, academic opportunities for Maryland students.”

MHEC also proposed an “early summer academy” at each of the HBCUs where rising high school upperclassmen could receive college credit during six weeks of residential study at the colleges. MHEC argues that the academies would expose students to the state’s HBCUs and in turn result in an enrollment boost for those institutions.

“Remedies which emphasize the normal processes of educational institutions, and increase choices for their current and prospective students, hold great promise,” the MHEC filing said. “They also avoid the extraordinary costs imposed by Plaintiffs’ far-reaching, risky scheme.”

With MHEC’s filings submitted Friday, proposals from both sides of the 2006 lawsuit are before Blake, who will ultimately decide on a chosen remedy for segregation within Maryland’s public universities.

Moody’s: Colleges have entered the new normal of flat tuition revenue

It’s going to be another year of lackluster tuition revenue growth for universities, as the pipeline of students heading to college slows and families remain sensitive to prices, Moody’s Investors Service said in a report Thursday.

In its annual survey of colleges and universities, the credit rating agency said private and public schools estimate net tuition revenue — the money earned from students after schools provide financial aid — will grow approximately 2 percent to 3 percent for fiscal year 2016. That level of growth is close to the historic rate of inflation, reversing a years-long trend of college tuition rising faster than that rate.

“Overall demographics for college-going students has been flat or declining. Families are becoming more sophisticated consumers of the higher education sector, shopping by price, considering the cost of a full freight of four or five years in college,” said Erin Ortiz, assistant vice president at Moody’s and co-author of the report. “That puts more pressure on these colleges to be able to increase tuition at prices above inflation.”

Years of breakneck increases in college pricing has raised concerns about affordability, leading some state lawmakers to impose tuition limits and freezes at public universities. As a result, nearly two thirds of those schools expect less than 3 percent growth in tuition revenue, a significant departure from the more than 5 percent annual growth they recorded between the fiscal years of 2005 to 2013. Still, a bump in state funding will cushion the blow for many schools, though it is not a dollar-for-dollar exchange, according to the report.

Small regional or rural public colleges will face the most pressure because they rely heavily on the enrollment of local students subject to state limits on tuition, whereas flagship universities benefit from a diverse population of higher-paying out-of-state and graduate students.

Moody’s has similar high hopes for large private universities with brand recognition to draw international students, who can offset declines in domestic enrollment. Private schools project a median increase in net tuition revenue of about 2 percent, in line with recent years, yet nearly a quarter of them are anticipating a decline in tuition revenue of up to 5 percent. Schools with niche markets, particularly law schools and those with geographic concentration, are the most exposed to revenue volatility as they have limited ability to adapt to shifting demand, the report said.

“There is a material portion of this sector that is experiencing a lot of pressure. We expect to see more college closures and consolidations, so that bifurcation of the industry is continuing,” said Susan I. Fitzgerald, associate managing director at Moody’s and co-author of the report.

Nearly half of the nation’s private universities are setting published prices artificially high and then offering deep discounts, a practice known as tuition discounting. Schools with stellar bond ratings can finance discounts through philanthropic gifts and endowment income while maintaining strong net tuition revenue growth. But for small private schools with lower ratings, discounting has a much more significant budget impact as they have limited resources, Moody’s said.

[Is resetting tuition the solution to the broken college pricing model? This school thinks so.]

Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, argues that the credit rating agency underestimates the ability of small private schools to adapt to the changing landscape in higher education. Many small schools, he said, rely on strong alumni giving to fund institutional grants and scholarships.

While Ekman agrees that the shrinking population of college-age students will hurt the bottom line of some small private schools, along with the broader universe of colleges, he said schools have been reducing staff and programs to adjust.

“A number of colleges have not given raises to faculty for a few years, reduced staff,” he said. “Colleges are always looking for ways they can collaborate to save money. There are purchasing agreements among groups of colleges for supplies … so colleges are doing all that you would expect them to do to economize.”

College enrollment across the board has trailed off since reaching peaks before and during the recession, Moody’s said. Roughly 40 percent of universities estimate lower total enrollment this fall compared to the fall of 2010. Most of the pressure has been felt in the Midwest and Northeast, regions that are facing below-average or weak population growth.

[The era of soaring college prices might be at an end, report says]

Moody’s findings dovetail with a recent report from the College Board that showed the rate of price increases moderating in recent years. But that report pointed out that students who enrolled in four-year state schools this year still paid three times more than they would have in 1985. And with incomes declining during the past decade for all but the highest-earning families, even modest tuition increases can feel like tremendous burdens.

Median family income declined at an average rate of 0.2 percent a year after inflation between 2005 and 2014, while incomes rose 0.8 percent between 1995 and 2005, according to the College Board. So while tuition caps are putting pressure on colleges’ net revenue and might give families some breathing room, many will still feel stress paying for college.

Want to read more about paying for college? Check out these stories:

How your family finances factor into financial aid calculators

What to do when you haven’t saved much for your kid’s college education

Middle-class families are fed up with their financial aid options

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel covers the economics of education, writing about the financial lives of students from when they take out student debt through their experiences in the job market. Before that, she wrote about the banking industry.

National Association of Title III Administrators , Inc. Scholarship Recipients 2015

Applicant Name Address HBCU Region Award Amount
Danielle Ebelle 1500 North Lombardy Street, Richmond, VA 23224 Virginia Union University 2 $1,000.00
Patrice Harris #2 John Brewers Bay, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas 00802 University of the Virgin Islands 4 $1,000.00
Paris Wright 1126 Solomon Blatt Boulevard, Denmark, SC 29042 Denmark Technical College 5 $1,000.00
Prentiss Smiley P.O. Box 371 ,Homer, LA 71040 Grambling State University 6 $1,000.00
Laura Hucklueby 1200 West Montgomery Road, Tuskegee, AL 36088 Tuskegee University 7 $1,000.00
Tremaine Sails 1800 Baptist World Center Drive, Nashville, TN 37207 American Baptist College 8 $1,000.00
Evan Ridley 504 College Drive, Albany, GA 31705 Albany State University 4 $500.00
Maleek Montgomery 3219 College Street, Savannah, GA 31404 Savannah State University 4 $500.00
Anitra Bosley 3219 College Street, P.O. Box 51352, Savannah, GA 31404 Savannah State University 4 $500.00
Tia Bolden 3219 College Street, P.O. Box 28133, Savannah, GA 31404 Savannah State University 4 $500.00


The 40 Most Affordable Colleges for Low-Income Students

At these schools, students from families earning less than $48,000 can typically graduate debt-free.

Nearly every college claims to be “affordable,” but which ones really are?

A new benchmark indicates that comparatively few good colleges are fully affordable for the approximately 15 million families earning less than about $48,000. That group makes up more than one-third of all families with children under the age of 18.

The Lumina Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving higher education access and success, recently proposed that a college be called “affordable” if the cost of a bachelor’s degree for a student is no more than the total of:

  • 10% of the family’s discretionary income over 10 years
  • The amount a student can earn working 10 hours a week during the school year.

For families who don’t have much discretionary income, that means a college is “affordable” only if it charges no more per year than a student can earn working part-time, which Lumina estimates at $3,625 a year.

MONEY tested this new definition of affordability against the net prices that colleges report to the government for different income groups.

Using this measure, we found only 40 “affordable” colleges for low-income students that met our standard for acceptable graduation rates (either significantly above what would be expected for their student population or at least the median for their type of school). All of the colleges on this list appear to provide enough scholarships so that a typical low-income student who works part-time should be able to graduate debt-free.

We also found dozens of top-notch colleges, including the University of MichiganYale, and Georgia Tech that were just a few hundred dollars above this threshold. This list highlights only the 40 most affordable ones.

To measure affordability, we looked only at the net prices colleges charged families earning less than $48,000, per year, in part because those numbers are the most reliable. We assumed that families earning less than $48,000 a year had no discretionary income, and thus could not contribute any savings to their child’s college costs.

The U.S. Department of Education’s financial aid formula does assume that many families earning more than about $30,000 can contribute to their children’s college costs. But the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators says that for many families, that formula is unrealistic. The federal formula “no longer produces a reasonable estimate of what many families can be expected to contribute,” says NASFAA senior policy analyst Karen McCarthy.

Instead, other analysts say that families earning less than $48,000, which is about twice the federal poverty line for a family of four, typically have no discretionary income. The Economic Policy Institute, for example, estimates the minimal family budget for a family of four “to secure an adequate but modest living standard” is at a least $49,000, but in high-cost cities such as Washington, D.C. can exceed $100,000. )

So here are the most affordable colleges for students from families earning $48,000 a year or less.

[ The Most Affordable Colleges For Low-Income Students]

School Money rank State Affordable for families earning up to $48,000 from: Acceptance rate
Stanford University 1 CA Any state 6%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 3 MA Any state 8%
Princeton University 3 NJ Any state 7%
Harvard University 6 MA Any state 6%
Amherst College 9 MA Any state 14%
University of Pennsylvania 12 PA Any state 12%
University of Virginia-Main Campus 17 VA VA 30%
Texas A&M University 20 TX TX 69%
Duke University 21 NC Any state 13%
Vanderbilt University 24 TN Any state 13%
Columbia University in the City of New York 28 NY Any state 7%
Brown University 32 RI Any state 9%
University of Washington-Bothell Campus 36 WA WA 76%
Pomona College 38 CA Any state 14%
University of North Carolina School of the Arts 38 NC NC 45%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 46 NC NC 28%
Berea College 52 KY Any state 34%
Bowdoin College 56 ME Any state 15%
University of Washington-Seattle Campus 56 WA WA 55%
CUNY Bernard M Baruch College 71 NY NY 25%
California State University-Stanislaus 82 CA CA 72%
Colby College 85 ME Any state 26%
Vassar College 96 NY Any state 24%
California State University-Long Beach 121 CA CA 31%
CUNY College of Staten Island 123 NY NY 100%
Wesleyan University 134 CT Any state 21%
California State University-Fresno 141 CA CA 58%
Haverford College 147 PA Any state 23%
Indiana University-Bloomington 157 IN IN 72%
University of Washington-Tacoma Campus 184 WA WA 85%
North Carolina State University at Raleigh 191 NC NC 50%
Texas A & M International University 237 TX TX 48%
California State University-San Bernardino 268 CA CA 58%
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College 268 LA LA 76%
CUNY Queens College 284 NY NY 37%
California State University-Fullerton 307 CA CA 46%
North Carolina A & T State University 380 NC NC 70%
CUNY Hunter College 426 NY NY 30%
University of South Florida-Main Campus 566 FL FL 45%
Elizabeth City State University 616 NC NC 57%


AAMU Raises Over $19M to Surpass Capital Campaign Goal

Alabama A&M University recently announced that its Imagine the Future Capital Campaign has garnered more than $19 million in philanthropic support. The campaign’s original goal was set at $16.25 million.

During the university’s October 30 trustees meeting, the board approved an increase of the campaign goal to $22,187,500 in commemoration of the institution’s founding year of 1875.

“This campaign would not have been successful without the leadership of our chair and member of the board of trustees, John Hudson; Archie Tucker and the development team; and the efforts of the entire board, alumni, and faculty/staff, who participated at a rate of more than 70 percent,” said AAMU President Andrew Hugine, Jr.

The campaign is the first of its kind at AAMU, and campaign chair Hudson noted its success, while also commending the work of AAMU’s development staff.

“Archie and his team have done a tremendous job building awareness of the value of Alabama A&M over the course of this campaign,” said Hudson. “Their efforts have increased interest among long-standing supporters and introduced the university to an entirely new group of community and alumni donors.”

“The commitment that exists among alumni to this institution is unmatched. We have received tremendous support from alumni and friends from across the nation. However, although the original goal was exceeded, there is still more work to be done,” added Tucker, chief development officer.

Some of the campaign’s highlights include a 128% increase in the number of donors, a 770% increase in alumni giving, and tremendous increases in the average gift received and total giving.

The official campaign period ends in 2017.

Source: Paul Gattis, Alabama A&M University

Despite efforts to increase them, university graduation rates fall

More than 150,000 of students who started college in 2009 never finished


November 17, 2015

In spite of years of efforts to raise them, including financial incentives for public colleges and universities, America’s higher-education graduation rates are dropping at an accelerating rate, a new report shows.

The proportion of people who entered college in 2009 and have since graduated has declined at every type of institution, and for every kind of student, from traditional aged to adult learners.

The Topic:Graduation rates released for students who started college in 2009.

Why it Matters: The massive push to increase graduation rates has not appeared to work.

That is despite a pledge by President Barack Obama, also in 2009, to restore the United States to first in the world in the proportion of its population with college and university degrees, and legislation in many states tying budget allocations to public universities to graduation rates and other measures.

Among the 2009 starters, 53 percent have graduated within the subsequent six years, down 2 percentage points from the class that entered in 2008, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, an independent organization that tracks this. This comes even as the White House and others warn that more degree holders are needed to fill jobs in the knowledge economy.

The rate at which students left school without earning any degree also rose, from about 30 percent to 33 percent. That means 153,000 students appear to have dropped out altogether with nothing to show for their educations except, in at least some cases, debt.

The biggest drop came among older students—those who started college not at 18, but at ages 20 to 24—fewer than 34 percent of whom graduated, down from more than 38 percent the year before.

The higher-education institutions with the worst graduation rates were four-year private, for-profit colleges and universities, fewer than a third of whose students got degrees.

Seventy-two percent of students at four-year private, nonprofit universities and colleges graduated, and 61 percent at four-year public universities.

Among students who began at community colleges, 38 percent finished within six years—15 percent of them with four-year degrees, presumably having transferred to four-year institutions or earned bachelor’s degrees at the increasing number of community colleges that offer them. That’s down from 16 percent the year before.

AAMU Raises Over $19M to Surpass Capital Campaign Goal

Alabama A&M University recently announced that its Imagine the Future Capital Campaign has garnered more than $19 million in philanthropic support. The campaign’s original goal was set at $16.25 million.

During the university’s October 30 trustees meeting, the board approved an increase of the campaign goal to $22,187,500 in commemoration of the institution’s founding year of 1875.

“This campaign would not have been successful without the leadership of our chair and member of the board of trustees, John Hudson; Archie Tucker and the development team; and the efforts of the entire board, alumni, and faculty/staff, who participated at a rate of more than 70 percent,” said AAMU President Andrew Hugine, Jr.

The campaign is the first of its kind at AAMU, and campaign chair Hudson noted its success, while also commending the work of AAMU’s development staff.

“Archie and his team have done a tremendous job building awareness of the value of Alabama A&M over the course of this campaign,” said Hudson. “Their efforts have increased interest among long-standing supporters and introduced the university to an entirely new group of community and alumni donors.”

“The commitment that exists among alumni to this institution is unmatched. We have received tremendous support from alumni and friends from across the nation. However, although the original goal was exceeded, there is still more work to be done,” added Tucker, chief development officer.

Some of the campaign’s highlights include a 128% increase in the number of donors, a 770% increase in alumni giving, and tremendous increases in the average gift received and total giving.

The official campaign period ends in 2017.

Source: Paul Gattis, Alabama A&M University

We Will Miss You!

Ronald E. Blakely, Associate Director Mr. Blakely, served as an Associate Director, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Mr. Blakely, joined the White House Initiative staff in 2007. His primary duties involved working with Federal Agencies, HBCU Presidents and Sponsored Program Officials on procurement, contracting and program issues.

He served as the Department of the Army’s HBCU/MI Program Manager in the Army Small Business Office for 10 years, where he developed highly successful HBCU/MI initiatives that consistently exceeded the Army contracting goal.

He has worked closely with federal agencies, HBCU advocacy groups and private sector organizations to implementing policies and programs that increase federal funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions and Tribal Colleges and Universities.

Mr. Blakely, previously served as an EEO Manager at the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Rights with responsibilities for the Affirmative Employment and Special Emphasis Programs. He created EPA’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program with the support of senior managers and significant input from HBCU presidents. The HBCU Program focused on Research and Development, Faculty Fellowships, Internships and Equipment Transfer Programs.

He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work at Tuskegee and Master’s of Arts in Human Resources Management, Pepperdine Universities and a Certificate in Contracting and Procurement from the University of Virginia. Mr. Blakely retired from the USAF Reserves in 2000 as a Lt. Col. He is an active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and a 33° Prince Hall Mason. He currently resides in Prince George’s County, Maryland with his wife and daughter.

Presidential Search Statement

As the search for Virginia State University’s 14th President concludes, we are very pleased that Dr. Pamela Hammond has agreed to continue serving as Interim President through January.

The Search Committee continues to vet finalists and anticipates an announcement before the end of the year.

Tom Reed

Assistant Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Virginia State University

(804) 524-5045


10 Historically Black Colleges Where Alumni Contribute the Most

The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matter to you in your college or graduate school search.

There’s almost no better way for college grads to thank their alma maters than by writing a check.

At many schools, alumni donations fund scholarships, start new programs and help maintain campus facilities.

And graduates are getting more generous. Alumni donations increased 9.4 percent in 2014, according to the Council for Aid to Education.

[Learn about what it’s really like to attend a historically black school.]

Graduates from some historically black colleges and universities give more than others.

At Claflin University, for example, an average of 48.9 percent of alumni donated during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years. It had the highest percentage of alumni who donated among 46 historically black schools that submitted data to U.S. News in an annual survey.

Claflin has also topped this list in the past, but some new schools have joined the top 10.

Bennett College, an all-women’s school, is right behind Claflin with an average of 38.2 percent of alumni who donated during a two-year period. Fisk University, where NAACP co-founder W.E.B. Du Bois attended, had an average of 23.9 percent of alumni who donated.

[Know if you should attend a historically black school.]

At a few of these schools, hardly any graduates donated during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 period. At Texas Southern University​, an average of 2 percent of alumni donated.

Below are the 10 historically black colleges and universities with the highest percentage of alumni who donated in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.

School name (state) Average percentage of alumni who donated U.S. News historically black colleges and universities rank
Claflin University (SC) 48.9% 8
Bennett College (NC) 38.2% 15
Spelman College (GA) 37.4% 1
Tuskegee University (AL) 25.1% 5
Fisk University (TN) 23.9% 7
Livingstone College (NC) 23.8% RNP*
Johnson C. Smith University (NC) 16.3% 16
Tougaloo College (MS) 16% 11
Morehouse College (GA) 15.5% 4
Fort Valley State University (GA) 14.4% 39 (tie)

*RNP denotes an institution that is ranked in the bottom one-fourth of its ranking category. U.S. News calculates a rank for the school but has decided not to publish it.

Don’t see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find alumni giving data, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.

U.S. News surveyed nearly 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2015 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News’ rankings of Best CollegesBest Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The alumni giving data above are correct as of Nov. 10, 2015.

The Tom Joyner Foundation’s HBCU’s Of The Month

January                North Carolina Central University

February              Wiley College

March                   Bowie State University

April                      Miles College

May                       Allen University

June                      Philander Smith College

August                  Mississippi Valley State University

September           Hampton University

October                Delaware State University

November            Albany State University and Fort Valley State University

More info to follow the SOTM HBCU training sessions (November 9 and November 21).  Please share this announcement with your alumni chapter presidents and other officers!

  1. Loraine Green Lee

The tom joyner Foundation

Manager, College Partnerships and Planning

13760 Noel Road, Suite 750

Dallas, Texas  75240


Help Their Leap to College Soar!

Challenges of an Accreditor Crackdown

In announcing a set of new college accreditation measures earlier this month, Education Secretary Arne Duncan reiterated his criticism that accreditors are the “watchdogs that don’t bite.”

But will the department itself have more bark than bite as it attempts to crack down on those accreditors?

The administration last week unveiled ambitious legislative proposals on accreditation, calling on Congress to give the Education Department the power to force accreditors to stop approving colleges where too few students graduate and many are unable to repay their loans.

Since that plan faces long odds of going anywhere in the current Congress, though, much of the attention on accreditation in the coming months will focus on how the Obama administration enforces existing federal accreditation rules.

Education Department officials say that even without a change in the law, they are now going to pay greater attention to student outcomes in their oversight of federally recognized accreditors. The department has suggested that it may take a more aggressive approach to its process of granting federal recognition to accreditors.

But it’s unclear whether the administration will back up its tough rhetoric on accreditors with concrete actions against them, given some external barriers and the government’s own track record.

Focus on the Recognition Process

Although the Education Department does not directly regulate accrediting organizations, it decides which accreditors carry any weight in the eyes of the federal government. The department, on a routine basis, determines whether an accreditor should be recognized by the federal government based on a range of criteria outlined in federal law and regulation. The department typically grants recognition to an accrediting agency for a period of several years, though it often shortens the time if it has concerns about an accreditor.

The department has rarely stripped accrediting agencies of their federal recognition. Since colleges must be accredited by a federally recognized accreditor in order to receive federal student aid, such an action — especially against a large accreditor — could have drastic consequences for college and students.

Only a handful of accrediting agencies are responsible for giving colleges access to the bulk of all federal student aid, anInside Higher Ed analysis of department data shows.

The stamp of approval from regional accreditors opened up the most federal aid to colleges, accounting for more than three-quarters of all federal student aid in the 2014-15 academic year. Colleges accredited by national accreditors received far smaller slices of the overall federal support, but they still account for billions of dollars in funding.

If the department were to remove the recognition of nearly any of the largest accreditors, it would jeopardize the flow of at least $1 billion in federal student loans and grants to colleges.

Colleges affiliated with that accreditor would need to immediately secure approval from a different accrediting agency in order to continue allowing their students to receive federal loans and grants. And if any colleges were unable to do so and had to close, the Education Department would be stuck with the bill for wiping out students’ federal loans through closed school discharges.

David Bergeron, who now directs postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, was an Education Department official at the beginning of the Obama administration when the department’s Office of Inspector General urged the department to consider revoking the recognition of the Higher Learning Commission, the nation’s largest accrediting agency. The inspector general said that the commission’s approval of a for-profit college with significant problems raised questions about the integrity of its accreditation decisions. (The commission disagreed with that finding.)

The episode opened up a range of issues and led to a congressional hearing. But as the department grappled with how to resolve those issues, officials were mindful of the size and breadth of the Higher Learning Commission, Bergeron said.

“I, nor anyone else, at the department could say with a straight face that we were going to remove the recognition of HLC,” he said. “How quickly could hundreds of institutions find new accreditors?”

The contentious case of California and other western states’ community college accreditor has also highlighted what some critics view as accreditors being too big to fail. After the accreditor sought to terminate the accreditation of the troubled City College of San Francisco, the college’s powerful allies — faculty unions, politicians and the Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi — went after the accreditor’s recognition by the federal government.

The Education Department in 2013 cited a range of problems and issued a reprimand to the accreditor — the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges — but it did not strip the accreditor’s federal recognition as some CCSF supporters would have liked. Doing so would have jeopardized the accreditation of hundreds of institutions. The California’s community college system is discussing switching to a new accreditor, but that process could take years.

Access to More Data

The Education Department is barred by law from setting certain minimum standards of student academic performance, a prohibition passed by Congress in 2008 after the George W. Bush administration sought, unsuccessfully, to similarly hold accreditors more accountable for student outcomes.

Still, the department sees some room for getting tougher on accreditors under the existing law. Each accrediting agency is required to have some standard, and department officials suggested that they’re going to take a harder look at whether accrediting agencies are following their own self-set standards.

One of the department’s goals, Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said last week, is to signal to accreditors “that we’re paying attention” to student outcomes and that they are “going to matter.”

As part of that effort, the department said it’s going to provide its small staff that oversees accreditors with data on student outcomes and other information about the institutions they accredit.

The department will also brief the federal panel that makes recommendations about accrediting agencies on student outcomes at their next meeting next month.

Susan Phillips, chair of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, said the committee will be discussing how it can use student outcome data — collected by both the government and accreditors — during its discussions.

“There’s a whole new light being shed on student achievement,” said Phillips, who is also provost at the State University of New York at Albany. “Maybe we want to have that information front and center when we review an agency.”

Some members of NACIQI, though, have for some time been pushing for accreditors to focus more on student outcomes — or at least explain the outcomes of the institutions they accredit. And those efforts have been met with limited success.

During the last NACIQI meeting, several members of the panel posed tough questions of the Higher Learning Commission, the nation’s largest accrediting organization. Panel members were concerned that the organization was accrediting colleges with single-digit graduation rates.

The committee recommended that the Education Department continue to recognize the accreditor for the next two and a half years but also require it to return before the committee this December to explain its student outcomes.

The Obama administration in September extended the accreditor’s recognition, but rejected the committee’s request to compel the accreditor to appear before the committee to explain its student outcomes.

Last year, the department’s staff recommended that the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities be found in violation of a standard relating to how they measure student achievement. The staff wrote that the accreditor, among several other things, should be required to provide more robust evidence that it checked to see whether its colleges were monitoring student achievement. NACIQI agreed with that determination, and the department accepted the committee’s recommendation.

But the accrediting organization, availing itself of new due process rights for accreditors that the Obama administration added in 2010, filed a formal appeal. And Secretary Duncan reversed the department’s decision, siding with the accrediting agency. He wrote in the appeal that the department staff and NACIQI had too narrowly read the regulation.

Several panel members welcomed the department’s efforts to provide student outcomes data as a first step to focusing more on outcomes.

Simon Boehme, who was the Education Department’s appointee to the panel to represent students, has been aggressive in questioning accreditors during NACIQI meetings. He said he was optimistic that the new data would force conversations about student outcomes — even if it will take Congress to make changes that have actual teeth.

“Hopefully some of these accreditors will decide that they don’t want to face the NACIQI or the public without having focused on student outcomes,” he said. “This provides us with the ability now to go at the heart of accreditation, which in my mind is student outcomes.”

One likely flash point will be next spring when the Education Department will have to decide whether it will continue to recognize the controversial national accrediting agency that administration officials have repeatedly criticized for continuing to approve Corinthian Colleges as that for-profit chain collapsed.

That accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, has been under growing scrutiny in Washington. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has demanded records from the agency as part of an investigation involving the accreditation of for-profit colleges. And a Senate investigative panel has sought records from ACICS as well as other accrediting agencies. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a Democrat, had a contentious exchange with the head of the accrediting agency at a congressional hearing over the summer. Warren grilled the agency over its accreditation of Corinthian Colleges in spite of various allegations and lawsuits against the for-profit college chain.

Her questions perhaps foreshadow some of the questions the agency will receive from the NACIQI next year, though the department’s ultimate action on the accreditor will test the administration’s tougher posture on accreditors.

W.Va. State University Awarded Nearly $1.8 Million in Federal Grants

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – West Virginia State University (WVSU) will receive grant funds totalling nearly $1.8 million from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for projects addressing agricultural research and healthy families.

“Each day, through research, public service and economic development, West Virginia State University students, faculty, researchers and staff work together to fulfill our mission of supporting our communities and fellow West Virginians, and with these funds we can further our commitment, improve the quality of life in the region and state, and make a difference with research and service at the epicenter of our efforts,” WVSU President Brian O. Hemphill said.

WVSU’s awards total approximately $1.79 million, the maximum amount of funds eligible in the USDA’s competitive grant program.

“To receive this level of funding speaks volumes about the talented research and teaching faculty at State,” said Dr. Orlando F. McMeans, Vice President for Research and Public Service. “This is not only the maximum amount of funding a university can receive, it’s also the most WVSU has received in an award cycle.”

WVSU is one of 19 institutions eligible to compete in the program, exclusive to the nation’s 1890 land-grant universities. The monies fund four proposed research, teaching and extension projects.

Three of the projects deal with improving food security in West Virginia through research and teaching. Two projects focus on improving crop quality for plant breeding and disease-resistant traits in watermelons. Another seeks to develop an educational agriculture incubator in southern West Virginia and a fourth focuses on providing tools and education to grandparents who provide custodial care to their grandchildren.

Launched in 1990, the 1890 Institution Teaching and Research Capacity Building Grants Program strengthens the linkages among the 1890 institutions, other colleges and universities, USDA and private industry, while improving the quality of academic and research programs at the 1890 institutions. The program focuses on advancing cultural diversity in the scientific and professional workforce by attracting and educating more students from underrepresented groups. It is authorized by section 1417 (b)(4) of the National Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching Policy Act of 1977.

2016 NIDDK/ OMHRC Diversity Summer Research Training Program (DSRTP) Application Now Available

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) through the Office of Minority Health Research Coordination (OMHRC) is now accepting applications for the Diversity Summer Research Training Program (DSRTP). Please visit  to start the online application process.


The overall goal of this program is to build and sustain a biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social science research pipeline focused on NIDDK mission areas. The NIDDK Diversity Summer Program is particularly interested in increasing students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research, including individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

At the end of the summer, students participate in the NIH Summer Research Program Poster Day. This provides an opportunity for students to present their work before the NIH scientific community. Students are also expected to participate in meetings and seminars in their individual laboratories. In addition, with permission from their preceptors, students may also attend formal lectures and symposia, which are listed in the weekly “NIH Calendar of Events.” The NIH Calendar of Events is only available for students working at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

Research performed by the laboratories and branches of the NIDDK covers an extraordinarily diverse area but is unified by a commitment to excellence in both basic and clinical investigation. The basic science laboratories include outstanding groups in many facets of modern molecular biology, structural biology, including x-ray crystallography and NMR, cell biology, and pharmacology. Systems under study include viruses, prokaryotes and eukaryotes, including yeast and mammalian cells. Developmental biology is represented by studies ranging from those on cellular slime molds to those on mouse oocyte development. Several laboratories use the most up-to-date techniques in receptor pharmacology, natural products chemistry, and organic chemistry to study a wide variety of compounds, particularly neuroactive agents. Not only biochemical but also mathematical and physical chemical methods are applied to a variety of fundamental problems.

The clinical branches of NIDDK combine basic science and clinical investigation with patient care. Several branches study endocrine diseases and general aspects of signal transduction, including growth factor and hormone action. Molecular biologic and molecular genetic techniques have been used to elucidate specific gene mutations representing the underlying defect in a variety of diseases, including thyroid hormone resistance, certain forms of diabetes, and other disorders of signal transduction. Several NIDDK scientists have created transgenic and knockout mice models of human diseases.

Program Highlights


  • Independent research in a NIH laboratory;
  • Weekly research and career development seminars;
  • Summer seminar series where senior NIH investigators discuss the latest developments in biomedical research.
  • Poster presentation
  • Will be required to attend courses in Ethics in Research and Lab Safety.
  • Students will be paired with post baccalaureates or postdoctoral fellows for informal guidance.
  • Bi-weekly informal meetings with OMHRC staff.




  • Undergraduate students who have completed at least 1 year at an accredited institution
  • U.S. Citizen or permanent resident status
  • Minimum of 3.0 GPA
  • Health Insurance coverage



  • Student Participation Allowance ($2,600)
  • Housing
  • Travel expenses to Bethesda, Maryland or Phoenix, Arizona (up to $700)


Location and Duration


  • 10 weeks, starting in June through mid-August.
  • Bethesda, Maryland or Phoenix, Arizona


Application Procedure


  • Complete the on-line application at
  • Include a copy of your curriculum vitae.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation from faculty members/advisors who can address your intellectual and personal suitability for the Program.
  • Personal Statement – Describe your research interest, career goals, and reasons for applying to this program in 600 words or less; double-space.
  • Official Transcript – The official college transcript mailed directly from your school.
  • Deadline: February 15, 2016

NCCU News: Alumni Increased Spirit of Giving During 2015 Homecoming

North Carolina Central University received a record number of alumni gifts during the 2015 Ultimate Homecoming Experience as donors responded generously to the “Every Eagle. Every Year.” campaign.

More than 1,061 alumni showed their support through contributions during Homecoming with the total growing to just over $1 million and setting the record for the most donors ever during the weekend festivities.

“The increase in alumni contributions to the university during Homecoming signals significant momentum in support of this year’s ‘Every Eagle. Every Year.’ campaign,” said Harriet F. Davis, Ph.D., vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement. “We are extremely appreciative to our alumni who recognize the importance of supporting the university.”

Homecoming festivities brought alumni back to NCCU to participate in activities hosted by NCCU’s Division of Institutional Advancement and Office of Alumni Relations. The NCCU alumni concert featuring R&B artist Jeffrey Osborne
and saxophonist Michael Phillips was a sold-out event.

Participation in “Every Eagle. Every Year.” came from alumni of all ages throughout the weekend of Homecoming. Individuals celebrating class reunions this year played a large part in elevating the giving numbers, with so many giving a gift through “Every Eagle. Every Year.”

The following three reunion classes have the highest contributions and participation rates:
• Society of Golden Eagles: Class of 1925 – 1964 ($619,082) – 31 percent class member participation
• Class of 1965, the “Golden Class” ($124,021) – 57 percent class member participation
• Class of 1975 ($186,179) – 35 percent class member participation

NCCU Chancellor Debra Saunders-White hosted a special Donor Tailgate celebration for members of the Shepard Society and above. More than 460 donors make up the Shepard Society.

During the last fiscal year, alumni giving participation climbed to 15 percent, a 3 percent increase over fiscal year 2013-2014. NCCU received $2.1 million in gifts donated by alumni during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2015. With a great network of alumni across the nation, the “Every Eagle. Every Year.” campaign is projected to be a success again this year.

NCCU is currently enhancing its culture of philanthropy. The university’s strength and status as a global, premier institution is partly attributed to the engagement of alumni through giving. As NCCU’s campus continues to grow, students will benefit from the support of donors. To give to the “Every Eagle. Every Year.” Campaign, visit

FVSU to host annual tree lighting ceremony

Fort Valley State University is celebrating the launch of the holiday season with its 2015 Annual Christmas Tree Lighting (located in the Hunt Memorial Circle besides the Anderson House) at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1 in the parking lot of Huntington Hall. During the ceremony, the university’s Voices of Faith Choir will serenade the crowd with traditional holiday carols and songs. The entire community is invited.

Free refreshments of hot cocoa, warm apple cider and holiday cookies will be provided to guests.

Apple and Thurgood Marshall College Fund Build Tech Pipeline for HBCU Scholars

Apple Inc. and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund have partnered to build a pipeline for African-American students into the world’s largest information technology company, with a new internship effort called the Apple HBCU Scholars Program

This year, 31 students from HBCUs will each be awarded $25,000 during their senior year of study. They will also participate in a 10-day see-it-all visit to the company prior to the three-month internship. Additionally, each student will also be paired with an employee from Apple during his or her time in Cupertino, Calif., where Apple is headquartered.  

There has been recent criticism, spearheaded by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, regarding the lack of diversity at large tech companies. Apple’s program is the first of its kind to focus specifically on African Americans and to use the obvious source of HBCUs, which graduate thousands of students in science, technology, engineering and math fields, as a connector. 

“Many companies talk about wanting a more diverse workforce. Apple is actually demonstrating its commitment—and in a big way,” Thurgood Marshall College Fund President Johnny C. Taylor Jr. told The Root Friday in Washington, D.C.   

“To select 31 students from nontraditional recruitment sources like HBCUs is simply unheard of and worthy of special attention. Apple is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to workforce diversity,” Taylor added. 

The inaugural program will allow African-American students from HBCUs to experience in detail different departments at the popular company. Students must have at least a 3.3 GPA to participate in the program. Graduate students and students outside the engineering fields, such as business, may also apply.  

Lauren Patterson, 20, who is a junior computer science major at Hampton University, said she heard about the program through the department chairman at Hampton and was accepted for an internship. 

“When I found out I was accepted, everyone was super excited, and of course, flying all the way across the country to work at this fabulous company is a dream come true for me,” Patterson toldThe Root Friday. 

One of the requirements for participating in the program is that students must spread the word about the initiative at their respective campuses after their internship is completed. That stipulation, combined with the outreach to HBCUs by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, is likely to build a permanent pipeline of black STEM scholars within the company.

Morgan State Cuts Ribbon On New $72M Business Center

The long-awaited, $72-million Morgan Business Center, home of the Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management, officially opened on Friday, November 13th. President David Wilson, along with members of the Morgan State University Board of Regents, local and state leaders, students and the business community cut the ribbon to declare the facility open for the business of educating students about today’s global marketplace.

“This business building is the latest jewel on Morgan’s campus,” said MSU President David Wilson. “It is going to provide our faculty with the tools they need to teach at a higher level and our students with unique opportunities to be innovators on the global stage and to learn in a world class environment that is second to none.”

The $72-million state-of-the-art facility features a Center for Innovation, computer labs, classrooms, a real-time Capital Markets stock trading center, seminar rooms, and a 299-person-capacity auditorium that includes an 80-person lecture hall. The building also houses a demonstration kitchen and a block of 10 functional hotel rooms for the business school’s hospitality management program.

Nine undergraduate majors are currently housed within the school of business (Accounting, Business Administration, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Hospitality Management, Information Science & Systems, Management, Marketing, and Supply Chain & Services); there are four master’s-level programs (MBA, Accounting, Hospitality Management, and Project Management); and courses for the doctorate in Business Administration.

The Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management is fully accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International. Less than five percent of business programs around the world have received the coveted AACSB accreditation.

“We appreciate the university’s commitment to the school of business and we are very excited about our new home,” said Dr. Fikru Boghossian, dean of the Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management. “Our students deserve the best that we can give them and this new building is going to provide that and more. It not only serves as an attractive focal point for the campus, but it also serves as a great tool to support our outreach efforts to attract the top students and the most talented faculty.”

Located on a nine-acre site at the east end of the Northwood Shopping Center, the nearly 140,000-square-foot complex is the University’s first expansion across Hillen Road and one of several planned projects for the West Campus. Construction of a 660-foot pedestrian bridge across Hillen Road, which will connect the business school to the main campus, will be completed soon. Plans also call for the eventual addition of a parking garage.

Following the conclusion of the ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the new building, NFL Hall of Famer and successful businessman Willie E. Lanier, Sr., presented the inaugural lecture for the Graves School of Business and Management’s Willie E. Lanier, Sr. Endowed Lectureship in Business Ethics. Lanier spoke on the topic “Ethics in the Historically Black College: Then and Now” in the business school’s auditorium. In May 2015, he made a $500,000 gift to the University to establish the endowed lectureship.

“Committing to this lectureship,” said Lanier, “allows me to build upon the things I learned as a student in the business school and make a positive contribution to an area that touches all aspects of what we do in life – ethics.”

Lanier earned a degree in business administration from Morgan in 1967 after an outstanding collegiate football career playing for legendary coach Earl Banks. He went on to become one of the National Football League’s “100 Greatest Football Players,” inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986 and in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000. He currently serves as a senior advisor with Cary Street Partners and manages his successful Virginia-based investment firm, Lanier Group LLC. Lanier also serves as chairman of the Morgan State University Foundation, Inc.’s Board of Directors.

About Morgan State University

Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie classified doctoral research institution offering more than 60 academic programs leading to bachelor’s degrees as well as programs at the master’s and doctoral levels. As Maryland’s public urban university, Morgan serves a multi-ethnic and multi-racial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information on Morgan State University, visit

Why We Should Retire the HBCU vs. PWI Debate

Recent events at University of Missouri have sparked national conversation and action in response to racism on college campuses. Previously, we saw UCLA Law andHarvard students express their distress, and now Twitter and Facebook users have created #BlackOnCampus to do the same. Students have also opened a conversation we’ve seen one too many times: Are black students better off attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) or predominantly white institutions (PWIs)?

For the HBCU vs. PWI debate to resurface at this time of racial turmoil is utterly ridiculous. It is a conversation that only serves to divide the black community, is always masked in a call for solidarity or unity, and conveniently arises when pertinent issues plaguing black people are being discussed. Let’s examine why the HBCU vs. PWI debate should be retired immediately.

1) You Can’t Hide from Racism
One of the major suggestions for black students when dealing with racism is, in fact,not to deal with it at all by making the choice to attend an HBCU instead of a PWI. As if in a cheesy infomercial, “Yes, friends, now you can conveniently avoid racism by avoiding white people everywhere! Attend your choice of HBCU today!” Because that worked out so well for our ancestors throughout history and that’s what they would agree with. No, ma’am. That argument is not only poorly constructed, but cowardly.

Black spaces can help you cope with racism and other social ills amongst your peers, but they will never protect you from racism, neither in your daily life nor institutionally. Thurgood Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston didn’t take Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka to the Supreme Court in 1954 for us to retreat in 2015. James Meredith didn’t march to his University of Mississippi classes with soldiers in 1962 for us to do so either. Running away won’t win us our rights or respect, and asserting that black students at PWIs are responsible for the racism they face is victim-blaming. As stated in a recent Medium article addressing this issue, “In order to change a system, there has to be resistance to the system; there has to be sabotage of business as usual.”

2) You’re Promoting Division, Not Unity
Everything in this argument stating that black students at PWIs would know more about unity if they attended HBCUs is false. The very fact that those making this argument are judging and disparaging others shows that they are completely misguided about the meaning of unity. In a time when the black community should come together as one, people making the HBCU vs. PWI argument are just taking advantage of another opportunity to tear one another apart. For people so adamant about seeking solidarity and not “assimilating,” they are strongly perpetuating “divide and conquer” rhetoric and the notion that black people are “crabs in a barrel.”

Furthermore, it seems that people have selective amnesia when it comes to black students succeeding in white places. Alpha Phi AlphaKappa Alpha Psi, and Sigma Gamma Rho, three of nine National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations, were all founded at PWIs. In addition, many HBCUs were founded with money from white donors and run by white presidents for years. Black leaders have emerged from both HBCUs and PWIs for over a century, from Booker T. Washington and Ida B. Wells to President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. Every black student that we see attending school and graduating with a college degree, regardless of the institution, should be celebrated.

3) You Need to Check Your Feelings and Facts
In season 3 of A Different World, an episode called “Here’s to Old Friends” aired that addressed the HBCU vs. PWI argument. Dwayne Wayne’s stance on Hillman College likely brought pride and joy to the hearts of HBCU students and alumni everywhere. But it also made the one representative of black PWI students an antagonist. People are understandably sensitive about where they’ve invested their time and money for an education, but the typical attitude in this debate towards PWI students is one of hostility. As if playing into the field vs. house slave, light vs. dark skin dispute, PWI students are framed as if they have betrayed the black community by attending a different school.

There are statistics to support one’s decision to attend either type of institution, but that decision has no effect on another individual’s life. Until, that is, black people feel under attack, and, for some reason, then feel the need to attack each other. At the end of the day, no matter which we’ve attended, we are still black. That will never change, despite any institutions we choose to avoid or engage. With that knowledge, we should be standing together rather than falling apart.

The opinions of PWI and HBCU students that aim to disparage one another are often the loudest. They are the ones that spark Twitter debates and get screenshots posted on popular instagram pages. The aggression can and has come from both sides. But there are many black students, from PWIs and HBCUs, who support one another in spite and even because of what institution they attended. Those are the voices we need to uplift, and those are the ones that will bring us unity in today’s student movement.

FVSU’s new president meets with faculty, says he has no hidden agenda

The Fort Valley State University campus community gathered in the C.W. Pettigrew Auditorium on Thursday, Nov. 12 to meet with the institution’s new president, Dr. Paul Jones, and First Lady Sylvia Jones during a special meet and greet. In addressing some anticipated fears from the campus community about his selection, Jones said he had no hidden agenda for accepting the post.

The new president said his leadership style is collaborative, transparent and open.

“Some believe that my appointment is an indication of a hidden agenda,” Jones said. “As I mentioned earlier, I take pride in being a transparent leader. The only agenda I intend to promote is to develop strategies that will enhance student success, and to ensure that we have improved health and well being, so this university will be successful for many years to come.” Jones said he would be implementing an “aggressive transition plan,” and would be meeting with alumni groups and other community stakeholders to listen about their hopes for the university’s future course.

FVSU faculty, staff, students were joined by elected officials and community members to engage with the university leader who was appointed earlier this week by the Georgia Board of Regents. Jones was introduced to the campus by University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby.

“It’s an important day, and exciting one for us to be here,” Huckaby said. “I want to express our appreciation to Dr. Jessica Bailey for stepping in and doing an excellent job of bringing us to this point. [The selection of a new president] is a decision that the Board of Regents took very seriously, because we’re dedicated to doing everything we can to bring Fort Valley State University forward. But, we’ve got to work together and have to be good colleagues for doing our of serving students. It’s not about the administration, faculty or the staff. It’s about the students who deserve as good of an education here as anywhere else.”

Huckaby, who had recommended Jones outright for the position after opting to forgo an extensive search, told the FVSU audience the Board of Regents is confident in Jones’ leadership ability. Huckaby also said in addition to deciding against an expensive $300,000 search that FVSU would have been responsible for paying, he believes Jones is the best person to lead the institution because of his background in educational and administrative leadership and finance. Jones, he said, will help stabilize the university’s financial future.

“Dr. Jones is a person we’ve watched a number of years as he moved up through the university system,” Huckaby said. “We’re delighted that he is always willing to take his assignment seriously and do a good job. We are pleased and proud. We know that he will work hard, but it will take the effort of all of us. If we’re not dedicated to making this school all it can be, then it won’t happen.”

Jones thanked Bailey for her leadership as interim and the state’s Board of Regents’ for trusting him to take the helm at FVSU. He introduced his wife of 39 years, Sylvia Jones, who is a Wells Fargo’s Education Financial Services expert to the audience. FVSU’s new first lady also possesses a decade of experience in higher education and financial aid.

“Your support becomes more important as we address our current issues while educating our students,” Jones said. “I know about the rich history and legacy of this university as a regional and land-grant university and HBCU, which has fueled the success of countless alums throughout the state, nation and world. That is why I am elated to become part of this great family. I do not take this appointment lightly, and will do my absolute best to serve you and our stakeholders to ensure that our future is bright for our students.”

Jones said there were critical challenges facing the university that the campus must face as a united team. Jones assured the audience he has a proven track record working with faculty, staff and other stakeholders, and said he has worked at all levels of higher education (that included educational administration, fiscal affairs, student affairs and institutional leadership.

The president also noted his experience working as an American Council on Education Fellow, where he spent a year studying higher education administration. He said he visited with more than 50 leaders throughout the United States and United Kingdom. FVSU’s new leader visited two HBCUs — Dillard and Southern University — after the Hurricane Katrina tragedy. He said he appreciated the insights he received of leading institutions before and after a historic tragedy. He also completed a leadership training program called “On the Road to the Presidency” at Hampton University.

Dr. Jones also revealed information about his past, including a childhood of growing up poor in South Central Los Angeles. At one time, he said, he had been labeled a “special needs child,” but had managed to work past the negative labels to enter college, receive an education and become a scholar. The new president also received experience in higher education administration at Colorado Mesa University, Utah State University, Georgia State College and University and Darton State College.

“It’s incumbent on all of us to come together at this moment and know that we did something special, and did the heavy lifting required for us to have a bright future at this university,” Jones said. “What we need to be focused on for the sake of our students is the future, and I know we have a bright future ahead of us, so long as we all step up to the plate.”

Following Jones’ introduction, system officials and the president held a question and answer session for the FVSU family and the community where elected officials, including Fort Valley’s mayor Barbara Williams, faculty senate president Dr. Josephine Davis and others welcomed the president.



Trustees: SCSU employees not turning in SACS paperwork

South Carolina State University is working to have its accrediting agency lift its probation, but some employees haven’t been turning in the required paperwork.

“Your accreditation of this university is hanging in the balance,” trustee Dr. Doris Helms said during Thursday’s board meeting.

“There is no more important thing than getting those documents in and anybody who does not do so shouldn’t be in the position that he or she is in,” she said.

The university has submitted the first draft of a report to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Interim President Dr. W. Franklin Evans said.

The university’s accreditation committee, headed by Dr. Rita Teal, is still trying to pull together supporting documents, he said.

Trustee James Clark said he learned that the school’s academic departments hadn’t turned in any of the required documents. Additionally, he said that only one department had turned in more than one document.

Helms noted that documentation should have been submitted with the report.

Another report is due in January, she said. The documentation for that report should be turned in to Teal by Dec. 1.

After board discussion, Chairman Charlie Way told Evans that the new board has not carried on “business as usual since May of this year.”

“If Dr. Teal needs something by Dec. 1 and the faculty doesn’t give it to her, then we expect you to handle it,” he said. “If you give a directive to your faculty and it’s not carried through, then this board expects you to handle it.”

Howard U on Alert After Online Threat

Officials at Howard University increased security on and around campus Thursday after someone claiming to be a University of Missouri student made a violent threat against Howard students.

“We are aware of the threat made against the university and its students and are working with campus, local and federal law enforcement on this serious matter,” Wayne A. I. Frederick, Howard’s president, said in a statement. “This is an ongoing investigation. However, in an abundance of caution, the university has increased security on campus and at area Metro stations. We strongly encourage the campus community and our neighbors to stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity.” ​

Posted anonymously in an online forum Wednesday night, the threat was made by a person who claimed to be a Missouri student who came home to Maryland because he or she “couldn’t put up” with the recent protests on campus. The author of the post said if any black students were on Howard’s Washington campus or using the nearby subway stations on Thursday, they would be killed. “Sometimes the best thing to do is to put stupid out of its misery,” the person wrote. “After all, it’s not murder if they’re black.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it is investigating the threat, and some Howard professors canceled classes Thursday.

Earlier this week, following the resignation of the University of Missouri’s president, police arrested two people in Missouri for making similar threats against black students. On Thursday, Jonathan Butler, the Missouri graduate student who went on a hunger strike last week to protest the university’s handling of a string of racist incidents there, tweeted about the Howard threat. “Dear Howard,” he said. “Stand strong and remember that they can’t break us.”

Chair of Congressional Black Caucus to Visit Virginia Union

Congressman George Kenneth “G. K.” Butterfield, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)will address students at Virginia Union University (VUU) on Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and will be held in Wall Auditorium, which is located in Ellison Hall.

Congressman Butterfield was elected to represent North Carolina’s First Congressional District in July of 2004. He sits on the Committee on Energy and Commerce as the fifth most senior Democrat on the Health Subcommittee. He also serves as a member of the subcommittees of Communications and Technology, and Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade.

In November of 2014, Congressman Butterfield was unanimously elected chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, where he has focused on promoting anti-poverty programs, expanding economic development and job creation, protecting voting rights, advocacy for the appointment of African American judges, and increasing diversity in leadership positions in corporate America.

Congressman Butterfield is a graduate of North Carolina Central University’s undergraduate program and law school. He practiced law across eastern North Carolina for 13 years. In 1988, he was elected Resident Superior Court Judge for the First Judicial Division and presided over civil and criminal courts in 46 counties throughout North Carolina. He served two years on the North Carolina Supreme Court.


New Appointments for the NCCU Community



Johnson C. Smith University receives innovation grant

Johnson C. Smith University receives innovation grant

4-year partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aims to boost graduation in underserved populations



Johnson C. Smith University has been identified by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as one of 35 high-potential Institutional Partnership (IP) Sites committed to transforming its organization to ensure that more students—especially low-income and first-generation students and students of color—graduate at higher rates with high-quality degrees or certificates.

With this designation comes a four-year commitment to JCSU and the other designated IP Sites to help the institutions get more students to and through college, and financial support from the foundation. Specific goals include:

  1. Accelerating the production of degrees and credentials by an average of 4.5% per year
  2. Collecting, sharing and scaling learning with partners through deliberate and consistent strategies.
  3. Refining and improving particular interventions and the deployment of them.
  4. Accelerating implementation through a networked approach to engaging with partners.

“Johnson C. Smith has been on a trajectory of radical transformation for seven and a half years, aligning the university’s historical narrative, core beliefs, academic programming and business plan to maximize  new developments within the higher educational landscape,” said President Ronald L. Carter. “We are proud to see our efforts recognized and will use this partnership to continue serving the needs of our students purposefully, now and in the future.”

Some of the innovative programs that are accelerating student graduation and certification at JCSU are University College, which recognizes non-cognitive skills and success predictors in admissions and gives students the support needed to succeed; the Foster Village Network Center, which provides youth phasing out of foster care with the tools and guidance to realize their educational ambitions; Metropolitan College’s online degree programs target working adult learners; and the increased recruitment and enrollment of Latino students.

As the IP institutions develop the playbook around transformative change, the grant will provide a platform for them to collect, analyze and share what they learn, in order to scale the best models for promoting student success nationally. The ultimate goal is to uncover best practices to produce credentials in underserved student populations.


‘Gentler War on Drugs’ For Whites Is a ‘Smack’ in Black America’s Face

The New York Times recently published an article titled, “In Heroin Crisis, White Families Seek Gentler War on Drugs.”

In this piece, middle-class white families, mostly from suburbs and small towns, detail their traumatic experiences with heroin addiction, also known as “smack.” One white New Hampshire man interviewed for the piece talks about how he viewed people battling addiction as “junkies” until he recognized their faces in his own high-achieving, privileged daughter.

Here are some revealing numbers from the piece:

  • Deaths from heroin rose to 8,260 in 2013, quadrupling since 2000 and aggravating what some were already calling the worst drug overdose epidemic in United States history.
  • Nearly 90 percent of those who tried heroin for the first time in the last decade were white.

No wonder “compassion” is the word of the day.

The article includes the personal and political positions of GOP presidential candidates Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, who have all expressed that there is a need to decrimilize addiction. This is a glaring departure from the party of Ronald Reagan. It was through his backroom dealings with Nicaragua’s Contras that the War on Drugs intensified as crack cocaine and guns flooded inner-cities, laying the groundwork for mass incarceration that has ravaged black communities; yet, here are his political descendants struggling to frame addiction as the health issue it has always been without making the GOP look like the party of hypocrites that it has always been.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has also had to step into the breech in an attempt to sanitize the insidious racism that shades her husband’s legacy at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Former President Bill Clinton was complicit in getting the onmibus crime bill passed in 1994, which included the “3 Strikes Law,” thus expanding the War on Drugs. He has since acknowledged and apologizedfor his role in the devastation that bill caused for black families, but it’s much too little, much too late.

For over three decades, racist, drug sentencing disparities have been stark. According to NAACPCriminal Justice Fact Sheet and the Sentencing Project:

  • About 14 million whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug
  • 5 times as many whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of whites
  • African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.
  • African Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months). (Sentencing Project)

The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 may have reduced the disparity in sentencing between crack cocaine and powder from 100:1 to 18:1, but the stigma attached to crack has not been shed under this “gentler” approach to tackling addiction. It clings to the societal-inflicted stigmas of poverty and mental illness; it clings to the dehumanizing lens through which this nation views black Americans.

Case in point: According to the NYT, “32 states have passed “good Samaritan” laws that protect people from prosecution, at least for low-level offenses, if they call 911 to report an overdose.” Eric Adams, a white former undercover narcotics detective, now sees the humanity in those battling drug addiction. His job now is not to set up stings that entrap people of color, it is to seek people battling addiction and help them get into treatment.

“The way I look at addiction now is completely different,” Mr. Adams said. “I can’t tell you what changed inside of me, but these are people and they have a purpose in life and we can’t as law enforcement look at them any other way. They are committing crimes to feed their addiction, plain and simple. They need help.”

I think we can all figure out what changed.

Did black people addicited to crack cocaine not need help? Do their lives not have purpose? Are there not underlying reasons for crime in black communities that don’t hinge on the pathologizing of black people as innately more criminal than their white counterparts?

It is a grave insult for Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, to condescendingly suggest in the NYT piece that the sole difference between the treatment of heroin users and crack cocaine users lies in the political acumen and savvy organizational skills of white people who understand how to petition government for change. As if black activists and families have not been passionately fighting back against racist drug policies for decades.

This suggestion that if only we had enough intelligence, if only we had made enough noise, then African American communities would have been treated more gently by police officers when they came through the hood stopping and frisking for drugs, is disingenuous and dangerous.

What that says is if only black Americans understood the complexity of bureaucracy, perhaps Tarika Wilson would not have been killed when a Lima, Ohio SWAT team raided her home to arrest her boyfriend on drug charges, and perhaps her 14-month-old son would not have been shot as she held him in her arms.

If only we had organized enough, perhaps Ramarley Graham would not have been gunned down by Officer Richard Haste, 30, inside of his grandmother’s home as he attempted to flush a bag of marijuana down the toilet.

If only we cared enough, perhaps 1 in 12 black men between the ages of 25-54 would not be behind bars, compared with 1 in 60 non-black men in the age group, or perhaps 1 in 200 black women would not be behind bars, compared to 1 in 500 nonblack women, many on low-level drug charges.

If we were only “empowered,” perhaps former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw would not be on trial for the sexual assault and rape of 12 black women and one, underage black girl — some in possession of drugs or facing non-violent drug charges — because he knew that they knew the system would not be “gentle” with them if he hauled them off to jail instead.

Or, perhaps, we should accurately define the War on Drugs as a “War on the Most Vulnerable Communities in Black America.”


Though Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign is a thing of the past, while our government is finding ways to be “gentle” with white, heroin addicts, they are still just saying no to black people in this country.

“Just say no” to dismantling a racist system that funneled drugs and guns into black communities with limited access to education and employment.

“Just say no” to food and health benefits for affected families who are trapped in cycles of poverty and violence.

“Just say no” to then treating the inevitable rise in addiction as a health issue.

“Just say no” to decriminalizing black, low-level drug offenders and reinstating their basic rights to citizenship after their inevitable incarceration.

Drug addiction is absolutely a dire health issue across the United States, and regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, it needs to be decriminalized. But what we are witnessing is the protection of white Americans while black Americans continue to be penalized.

Police officers and politicians are simply making it clear that the War on Drugs was never supposed to include them. It is racist, systemic, purposeful violence in the truest sense of the word and there is nothing gentle about that.

Arne Duncan, Education Secretary, Sees Challenges for U.S. Colleges

WASHINGTON — American higher education is the envy of the world, with the most renowned universities attracting young men and women from around the globe.
As Americans consider college possibilities, the choices are terrific: large and small, public and private, in every region, along with a robust community-college system that is a gateway for many immigrants and for training older workers.

Yet higher education faces severe problems. It is unaffordable for many, creating a more than $1 trillion mountain of student debt. About half of students graduate. Politics and budget squeezes affect great public institutions such as the University of California at Berkeley and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Few people have thought more about this than Arne Duncan, who will step down as education secretary in December after seven years in the post.

“We have the best system of higher education in the world,” he said in an interview, “but have real and serious challenges.” The facts are sobering. Tuition and fees in recent decades have soared at public and private colleges, for-profit schools and two-year community colleges. Seven in 10 students leave with debt, with the average borrower owing $28,950.

Mr. Duncan is proud of the sizable increases in investment and aid during the administration of President Obama, but he acknowledges that these have been outstripped by rising costs. Forty-seven of 50 states have cut back on per-student higher education spending in the past five years.

At both public and private institutions, research shows, the number of administrators has increased far more than that of tenured faculty. Mr. Duncan says these higher administrative overhead costs are “pretty stunning.” Some of the solutions he and the president have proposed have been thwarted by the Republican-controlled Congress. These include tuition-free community colleges, which he considers the “engines” of the new economy. Other measures are taking effect. Starting next month, anyone with a student loan will not be assessed more than 10 percent of their monthly income for repayment, and there are moves to renegotiate lower interest rates.

But Mr. Duncan, who will return to his native Chicago where he once headed the school board, says nothing will work without several overarching changes: improving the share of students who graduate, which now stands at just 59 percent for four-year schools and 29 percent for two-year schools; greater transparency in higher education; and more creative innovations.

Graduating affects job opportunities and earning potential; graduates also are much less likely to default on student loans.

A few years ago, Mr. Obama and Mr. Duncan proposed a ratings system for colleges.

The higher education lobby and Republicans on Capitol Hill quickly killed the idea. But the fallback has been a scorecard, which Mr. Duncan says is better anyway. It provides consumers, prospective students and parents, with basic information about each school’s costs, including financial aid packages, educational options, graduation rates and the average earnings of graduates. Two-thirds of students apply only to one school, and Mr. Duncan believes that making this information more accessible will produce better choices and results.

He argues for more innovation and experimentation with different approaches and incentives as well as a greater appreciation for different kinds of students: Those in their 30s, 40s and older. The options, he says, certainly include for-profit colleges, though he has been a harsh critic of some that have “taken advantage of veterans and single moms.” On the larger picture, Mr. Duncan, a former Harvard basketball star — he admits that may be an oxymoron — exudes optimism. He believes that over the next five to 10 years, the inexorable trends toward more transparency, innovation and the realization that “the nontraditional student today is traditional,” will make higher education more accessible, affordable and better.

Albany State University Fall 2015 enrollment drops 10.7 percent

ALBANY — If you want to know why Albany State University is deactivating 10 degree program majors, all one need do is look at the fall 2015 enrollment numbers released Thursday by the University System of Georgia (USG).

ASU’s fall 2015 enrollment dropped 10.7 percent from a similar period in 2014, from 3,910 students to 3,492. That is largest decline percentage-wise among the 30 schools of the University System.

Overall, the USG reported a 1.7 percent uptick in enrollment from 312,936 students to 318,164.

ASU officials last week cited falling enrollment numbers as a factor in the decision to deactivate 10 program degree majors — most coming at the expense of liberal arts.

“The issues to which we must give greater attention are recruitment and retention here at Albany State,” said Vice President and Provost Abiodun Ojemakinde. “About 418 students are no longer here for various reasons. We realize that what we must do is strengthen our retention plan and pursue an aggressive recruitment effort.”

Ojemakinde added that the issues are “much more complex” than they may appear on the surface.

He said the university has hired a new associate provost for enrollment management, a new financial aid director, and a new academic advisement and retention director; transformed institutional research to institutional effectiveness; and, brought in a new registrar within the last year.

Associate Provost Paul Bryant said efforts have also included a change in the student recruitment cycle, for recruiting to begin in the fall, instead of the spring and summer of the coming academic year.

“We are now better positioned to follow the data when it comes to retention,” Bryant said. “With the aggressive efforts of the new enrollment management and recruiting team, we exceeded the recruiting goal for freshmen in fall 2015. We must work on efforts to keep them here, with stronger recruiting, enhanced marketing efforts and a focus on bringing more of the best and brightest to Albany State.”

ASU officials said recruiting teams are spreading out across the region in the coming months. Marketing efforts have intensified to reach out to potential students in the border states of Florida, Alabama and South Carolina, and other programs such as “Go Back. Move Ahead.” and “Complete College Georgia” are now in full swing.

Additionally, collaborations with other institutions are being expanded, like the one that will begin in 2016 at the Darton State College – Cordele Campus. In January, ASU and Darton will kick off a bachelor’s degree program in one of ASU’s signature programs, Supply Chain and Logistics Management.

Regionally, Darton recorded an enrollment decline of 2.7 percent from last year (from 5,623 to 5,471); Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College fell 1.9 percent (from 3,458 to 3,393) and Georgia Southwestern State University saw a 3.3 percent increase (from 2,666 to 2,755).

As Kajieme Powell’s Killers Walk Free, St. Louis’ Racist History Again Laid Bare\

It only took 23 seconds for two white police officers to kill 25-year-old St. Louis-native Kajieme Powell on Aug. 19, 2014. It took 14 months for the circuit attorney’s office to tell us that those officers would get away with killing him. Sadly, most people knew this would be the case. Kajieme is one of twelve victims of police killings in St. Louis in the last year. None of the officers in any of the cases have faced charges. They haven’t even been terminated. Honestly, I thought Kajieme’s case would be different. We had undisputed proof of excessive force. Video footage shows the two officers using their guns when Kajieme was clearly showing signs of mental distress. Still, in St. Louis City, even camera footage is not enough. His name goes next to Mike Brown, Jr, and Vonderrit Myers, Jr. as a victim who did not receive justice. So that leaves a question, what will it take to get accountability?

St. Louis is ground zero for a movement that has challenged our nation to finally think critically about racial injustice. It started on Canfield Drive in Ferguson, Missouri after a young man laid in the hot sun for more than four hours. The images of dogs, tear gas and Mike Brown’s lifeless body continue to be a topic of conversation within the movement and nationally as people attempt to understand why police disproportionately kill unarmed black and brown people. Even our presidential candidates have to answer whether they believe that black lives matter. So why didn’t Kajieme Powell get justice?

The answer lies in the history of St. Louis. This city is rooted in racism. St. Louis, where Dred Scott was told he was not a citizen in a free state. Missouri, the last state to concede to the Union and free slaves. A city that has always viewed black bodies as less than their white counterparts cannot give a black family justice. Our elected officials have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. They are comfortable because our laws allow them to thrive, both socially and economically. Missouri is the only state remaining that does not have a limit on campaign donations. Our elected officials are bought and sold to the highest bidder, which means that racial equity will never really be on the table. Private prisons fund our elections. Big business dominates our state legislature. Police unions dictate the policy conversation. Twenty-four states passed legislation moderating use of force and promoting accountability, but Missouri was not one of them.

Missouri failed Kajieme Powell. With state funding for mental health services stripped annually, and police departments continuously being overfunded, he fell through the masterfully designed cracks in our system. His life was taken because for centuries, Missouri has devalued black life in countless ways. There was no better place for this movement for black lives to be born because it is one of the hardest places to achieve racial equity. But I believe that we will. We have to. We owe it to Kajieme Powell, Mike Brown, Vonderitt Myers and the dozens of others who have lost their lives at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve. We have to keep fighting for them and those whose names we don’t know.


  1. Delaware

The State of Delaware has two public universities, the University of Delaware (UD) in Newark and Delaware State University in Dover (one of Delaware’s most affordable cities). UD is significantly larger, with roughly five times the undergraduate enrollment of Delaware State. So, as UD goes, so goes the State of Delaware’s higher education system. The good news is that the University of Delaware is one of the best public universities in the country. It has a student-to-faculty ratio of just 15:1 and a six-year graduation rate of 80%, which contributes to the State of Delaware’s national best 73% graduation rate across all public four-year universities and colleges.

See the most affordable cities in Delaware here.

  1. Virginia

Led by the University of Virginia, which was the second ranked public university in 2015’s annual U.S. News rankings, Virginia’s public higher education system rated in the top 20 for five of the six metrics we considered. Virginia’s weighted graduation rate of 68% was third highest of any state, as was the 20-year return on investment of over $420,000, which makes paying off student loans that much easier. Along with UVA, other top schools in the state include the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) and James Madison University, which boasts the 12th ranked undergraduate business school in the country, according to BusinessWeek.

  1. North Carolina

Public higher education has long been a priority in the Tar Heel state—longer, in fact, than anywhere else. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was founded in 1789, making in the oldest public university in the country. It is also one of the best, with a graduation rate of 90% and a student-to-faculty ratio of just 13:1.

While North Carolina’s universities and colleges offer among the best public educations in the country, they also make that education very accessible. We found that over half of North Carolina high school graduates attend a state school within 12 months of graduating, the ninth highest rate in the country.

  1. Wyoming

The University of Wyoming is Wyoming’s only public university, but, given that Wyoming is the least populous state in the country, one university serves the state well. The UW has an undergraduate enrollment of about 10,000, and a student-to-faculty ratio of just 14—which means Wyoming’s overall student-to-faculty ratio is also 14, second best in the country.

  1. Iowa

There are three public universities in the state of Iowa: The University of Iowa (Iowa), Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. Of these, Iowa is the most highly rated, coming in 27th on the 2015 U.S. News rankings of public universities, but all three have graduation rates well above average. Iowa State offers the highest return on investment of any of Iowa’s three public universities: $413,600 over 20 years, compared with $371,100 for the University of Iowa, and a national average of $310,000 for state systems.

  1. California

Most discussions of the best state university systems include the state of California, and with good reason. The state’s three-pronged approach to higher education, which includes the UC system, the California State Schools and California’s Community College System, is as comprehensive as it is effective. Some 49% of California high school graduates enroll in a state college or university directly out of high school, well-above the national average of 43%. Equally impressive is that, despite its size, California maintains the eleventh highest overall graduation rate, weighting for enrollment, of any state in the country.

  1. New Jersey

New Jersey’s higher education system rated in the top ten for three of the five metrics we considered. Its enrollment-weighted return-on-investment of $395,030 was fifth highest overall, as was its graduation rate of 65%, and its student-to-faculty ratio of 15.4 to 1 was seventh best in the country. In fact, the only metrics by which New Jersey fell below average are both measures of accessibility. Just 33% of New Jersey high school graduates attend an in-state university of college, which may be due in part to the relatively high cost of attendance at state schools—New Jersey’s enrollment-weighted net price is 11th highest in the country.

  1. Michigan

Both the University of Michigan and Michigan State University are among the top 35 in the 2015 U.S. News rankings of public universities, with the U of M coming in at number four. While having that kind of quality at the top is important, those two schools only account for about 27% of the total undergraduate enrollment of Michigan’s public four-year colleges and universities. Schools like Western Michigan, Wayne State and Grand Valley State, are equally important parts of Michigan’s higher education system, and they all contribute to the state’s above average graduation rate and lower than average student-to-faculty ratio.

  1. South Carolina

The highest rated southern state in our study, South Carolina rated in the top ten for its high enrollment-weighted graduation rate and the high percentage of high school graduates who attend an in-state school. The University of South Carolina in Columbia is easily the largest school in the state, with an undergraduate enrollment of about 24,000. While the Gamecocks can be proud of their 73% graduation rate, their Palmetto Bowl rivals in Clemson have them bested, with a grad rate of 83%.

  1. Rhode Island

There are two public four-year institutions in Rhode Island: the University of Rhode Island (URI) and Rhode Island College. URI is the larger of the two, and the state’s flagship institution. Established on May 19, 1892, it has an undergraduate enrollment of about 13,500, and offers bachelor’s degrees in 79 different areas of study.  Both URI and Rhode Island College rate well for their student-to-faculty ratios, with an enrollment-weighted average between the two of just 15.9 students for every faculty member, ninth highest of any state in the country. For students, that means more direct access to faculty, and in turn a better educational experience.

Data & Methodology

To assess the quality and accessibility of state school systems, we looked at data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and PayScale College ROI Report. Specifically, we looked at the following five metrics:

  1. Percent of state high school graduates attending an in-state public university or college (full weight). For this metric, we included attendance to a community college.
  2. Student-to-faculty ratio of all public, four-year universities and colleges, weighted by total enrollment (full weight).
  3. Net price for students receiving financial aid of all public, four-year universities and colleges, weighted by total enrollment (full weight).
  4. Graduation rate of all public, four-year universities and colleges, weighted by total enrollment (double weight).
  5. 20-year return on investment for major four-year universities and colleges, weighted by total enrollment (full weight).

Try our free 401(k) calculator.

For each of those five metrics, we ranked all fifty states and applied a score from 0-100 based on that ranking. A state ranked first would receive a 100, while a state ranked last would receive a zero. After applying the weights listed above, we calculated an average score for each state. Grades were assigned on a curve, based on the percentile of each school’s raw score.

Duke Creates Program for First-Generation Students

Duke University on Thursday announced a new program for first-generation students or those from disadvantaged high schools, designed to help these students succeed at the university. The program will provide mentors, extra financial support and a summer “bridge” program to help students get ready for the academic demands of Duke. The university stressed that the participants will meet Duke’s normal, highly competitive admissions standards.

“This is not remedial,” said a statement from Stephen Nowicki, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education. “But students who come, for example, from a less-resourced high school may not have taken Advanced Placement classes, while most of their Duke classmates have, so some start the race a few steps behind.”

New Panel to Examine Future of Undergraduate Education

A new commission promises to assess the future of undergraduate education based on research and data, rather than the anecdotes and hyperbole that undergird many analyses of higher education these days. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences plans to create a Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education, funded with $2.2 million from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. A news release said the panel will examine “how well today’s students are served by the existing system” and identify how higher education can “build on [its] historic strengths and respond effectively to the demographic, technological, financial and other developments that lie ahead.” The panel is led by Michael S. McPherson, president of the Spencer Foundation, and Roger W. Ferguson Jr., president and CEO of TIAA-CREF. Its other members are:

  • Joseph E. Aoun, president, Northeastern University
  • Deborah Loewenberg Ball, dean, University of Michigan School of Education
  • Sandy Baum, senior fellow, the Urban Institute
  • Rebecca M. Blank, chancellor, University of Wisconsin at Madison
  • John Seely Brown, former director, Xerox PARC research
  • Carl A. Cohn, clinical professor of education, Claremont Graduate University
  • Mitch E. Daniels Jr., president, Purdue University
  • John J. DeGioia, president, Georgetown University
  • Jonathan F. Fanton, president, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Robert Hormats, vice chairman, Kissinger Associates
  • Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Jennifer L. Jennings, professor of sociology, New York University
  • Jeremy Johnson, co-founder and CEO, Andela
  • Daphne Koller, president and co-founder, Coursera Inc.
  • Sherry Lansing, founder and CEO, Sherry Lansing Foundation
  • Nicholas Lemann, professor and former dean, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
  • Michael Locke, former CEO, Rasmussen Inc.
  • Gail O. Mellow, president, LaGuardia Community College
  • Diana Natalicio, president, University of Texas at El Paso
  • Hilary Pennington, vice president, Ford Foundation
  • Beverly Daniel Tatum, former president, Spelman College
  • Shirley M. Tilghman, former president, Princeton University
  • Roy Vagelos, former president, CEO, and chairman, Merck
  • Michelle Weise, executive director, Sandbox ColLABorative, Southern New Hampshire University

String of Shootings at Black Colleges

Miles College. North Carolina A&T State University. North Carolina Central University. Tennessee State University. Texas Southern University. Winston-Salem State University.

All are historically black colleges or universities, and shootings have occurred on or near all of the campuses in the last month. All but the incident at North Carolina Central and one of two shootings at or near Tennessee State had at least one fatality. Texas Southern and Miles also saw multiple shootings this year.

The Winston-Salem incident is most recent. One 19-year-old student died and another still unidentified student was wounded in a shooting that occurred Sunday after 1 a.m. on the North Carolina campus. Police revealed Monday they had made an arrest, but remained tight-lipped about further details.

Not all of these incidents involved students, however, and not all were fatal. In mid-October, for example, gunshots broke out at an off-campus house party near Tennessee State University, in Nashville. Three people were wounded, all of them current or recent college students (though not all at Tennessee State), and no one died. Another shooting, near North Carolina A&T, took place off campus and involved no students at all, though it happened at a party “related” to homecoming, the police told WFMY.

Mostly, however, these shootings involved at least one student and took place on or very near campus.

“From my research, it seems like these shootings are between people who know each other and involve a combination of students and those in the neighborhoods surrounding these HBCUs,” Marybeth Gasman, director of University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions, wrote in an email to Inside Higher Ed.

“It’s important to keep in mind that these types of shootings happen on many campuses across the country,” she said. “Most campuses are not safe enough. They are open; many are near or in unsafe neighborhoods, regardless of their HBCU status.”

Some HBCUs may have some particular vulnerabilities. For example, Gasman said, “HBCUs are typically very family oriented and often people don’t question visitors on campus — instead they are welcomed. They might need to be more vigilant in this way.”

Curtis Johnson, director of campus safety at Arkansas Baptist College and president of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Law Enforcement Executives and Administrators, said historically black institutions face two other critical disadvantages: resources and location.

“Most HBCUs around the country are located in predominantly urban areas that have unusually high levels of crime,” he said. But even more significant than that are the institutions’ resource and staffing levels. “Those are the two things that impact this the most.”

The restructuring in 2011 of the federal Parent PLUS loan program squeezed HBCUs that were already hurting for money, Johnson said, to the point where “it’s a wonder that some of them are still standing.” And campus police departments took the hit. “You’ve got to make cuts somehow,” he said, and campus police and security centers don’t generate revenue.

Of historically black colleges that have seen this type of violence recently, only one was able to send representatives to Johnson’s organization’s annual training conference this year, and less than half of all HBCUs attended.

Training, emergency preparedness and robust staffing numbers are all critical for campus security, Johnson said, and all are difficult to achieve without adequate funding. But, he said, Arkansas Baptist College, where Johnson works, has an advantage. It’s in Arkansas and it’s private, which means it can opt out of campus-carry laws that allow people to bring concealed firearms onto college campuses.

A provision in Arkansas’s campus-carry law allows any educational institution, including public universities, to opt out, and Arkansas Baptist, a private college, would be exempt in any state. “There’s no place for guns on campus,” Johnson said. Rather, campuses should operate like saloons in old western movies, he said, where everyone is required to turn in their revolvers before getting in.

Generally, HBCUs face the same security challenges many other colleges face, and the solutions are much the same, Gasman said. “They need to reach out to community leaders, community centers, churches, etc., to begin conversations around gun violence, gun safety and better community relations. These types of conversations had to take place at Yale, Penn, Chicago and a variety of other institutions as well,” she said. “HBCUs have a long history of having good relationships with the surrounding community, but continual maintenance of these relationships is needed.”

Tennessee State, which saw two student-involved shootings in October, drew sharp criticism from a local politician for, among other things, failing to build exactly those community relationships.

Jerry Maynard, a former councilman in Nashville, charged that the college had declined to build a partnership with the city government that would have allowed campus police officers to patrol around the local community, according to The Tennessean.

Maynard himself also drew criticism after dubbing the college “thug state university” in a radio interview as he called for a culture change at Tennessee State. He walked that statement back, but maintained that the college needed to “clean house” in light of the late-October shooting, apparently over a dice game on campus, that left one person dead and two students wounded.

“A picture is being painted that there is a crime-ridden community [at Tennessee State] and students feel unsafe. That’s just not true,” said Kelli Sharpe, a university spokeswoman. “These are random acts of violence …. If you had police on every inch of campus, this would still happen.”

Still, the college is working to improve security on campus. A 10-point “safety enhancement plan” instituted shortly after the shootings includes new initiatives, like increased campus patrols, and several pre-existing ones such as a campus safety app and tip hotline. The college will also strictly enforce a pre-existing policy requiring all students to wear their IDs at all times, Sharpe said. She also pushed back against the idea that the college lacks a relationship with the nearby community.

“We have a great relationship with the community,” Sharpe said — a relationship that does, in fact, include a partnership with the Metro Nashville Police Department.

And, Sharpe made a point of emphasizing, violence like this “is a challenge that not just HBCUs but campuses across the country face.”

Donations by Clyburns, Scana Corp. to SCSU total $170,000

South Carolina State University was presented with donations totaling $170,000 from Congressman James E. Clyburn, his wife, Emily, and Scana Corp. on Friday.

The Clyburns provided $70,000 to set up the Emily England Clyburn Honors Scholarship program that will provide seven $10,000 scholarships for students in the university’s Honors College over the next three years.

Interim S.C. State President Dr. W. Franklin Evans called the Clyburns “two of the university’s most distinguished alums,” who are admired as public servants in South Carolina and across the nation.

“The Emily England Clyburn Honors Scholarship program assures that the Clyburns’ legacy, as champions of education and as unwavering supporters of S.C. State, will forever leave an indelible mark at the university,” Evans said.

Clyburn said he began visiting the S.C. State campus as a child when his father was pastor of the Church of God on Treadwell Avenue. Both he and his wife entered S.C. State in 1957 and graduated in 1961.

“I have an emotional attachment to this institution,” the congressman said. “The experiences I had on this campus were very wholesome.”

Clyburn said he began receiving honorariums in 1971 and has put “every dime of honorariums that I got from anybody” into the university since then.

As of two weeks ago, the James E. And Emily E. Clyburn Fund had reached a total of $1.2 million, he said. That total includes the honorariums and privately-raised funds, he said.

Clyburn said he and his wife agreed to use all the unrestricted money in the fund, a total of $70,000, to establish the scholarship program.

“It is my goal for this to be the beginning of the honors scholarship program here,” he said.

Following the Clyburns’ presentation, Scana Senior Vice President Kenneth Jackson presented the university with a check for $100,000.

The funds from the energy company will support the university’s marketing and communications recruitment and retention initiatives for the upcoming academic year.

Jackson said S.C. State University has “always been on my radar.” After high school, he applied for and was accepted at S.C. State. However, he ended up at the University of South Carolina after receiving a full U.S. Navy Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarship.

“South Carolina State has always been in my heart,” Jackson said. “After the events that have taken place here, we’ve got to do something to help out.”

While Scana has partnered with S.C. State for many years, Jackson noted that the university’s nuclear program has been instrumental in some of Scana’s projects.

“Scana is a longstanding partner with S.C. State University,” Evans said. “The $100,000 gift from the company will certainly assist the university in expanding our brand and telling the incredible story of how S.C. State University is transforming lives and inspiring greatness.”


GREENSBORO, NC — Phyllis Worthy Dawkins, a seasoned academician at Cheyney University, has been appointed the new provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Bennett College.  She is scheduled to begin her tenure at Bennett on December 1.

“We are very pleased with this appointment,” said Bennett College President Rosalind Fuse-Hall.  “She has an extensive history working as provost and has served before in that capacity in North Carolina.  I am very happy to have someone with her experience and background join our team.”

Under Dawkins’ leadership at Cheyney as vice president for academic affairs, she revised institutional academic policies and practices, overhauled financial aid and admissions, and signed new/updated articulation agreements with University of the Sciences of Philadelphia, LaSalle University and the Community College of Philadelphia.   She also reinvigorated the International Program, established the Ad Hoc Advisory Committees on Retention and Admission Criteria, and promoted a culture of assessment, continuous improvement and data based decision making.

Prior to her arrival at Cheyney University, Dr. Dawkins served as provost, senior vice president for Academic Affairs, professor, the associate provost, vice president for Academic Affairs, and director for the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Academic Technology at Dillard University. Prior to that, Dr. Dawkins worked at Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) for 28 years serving as the chief academic/administrative officer/dean of the College of Professional Studies, former interim vice president for Academic Affairs, and chair and professor of Physical Education.

Dawkins assumed critical responsibilities at all three institutions for successful reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities, Commission on Colleges ((JCSU and Dillard) and by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Universities (Cheyney). She also served as the Accreditation Liaison Officer at all three institutions and has made numerous presentations at SACSCOC Annual Conferences on topics such as Faculty Development, Learning Communities and Institutional Effectiveness.

Having worked extensively with faculty development throughout her career, Dr. Dawkins developed national and international perspectives on the contributory roles of faculty and universities in the expanding global society.  Her leadership positions include past president of the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network (a network of faculty developers), former president and co-founding member of the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Faculty Development Network, board member of the Higher Education Teaching and Learning (HETL) Association and the Association for General and Liberal Studies (AGLS), and Resource Faculty for the Washington Center’s National Summer Institute on Learning Communities.  She served on advisory boards including AAC&U’s Preparing Critical Faculty for the Future (PCFF) project in the sciences, the Brown-Columbia Universities Inter-Ivy League Pilot Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), and the International Council for Educational Developers (ICED), 2011-2012 in Belgium.

Dr. Dawkins received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, M.A. from The University of Michigan, and B.S from Johnson C. Smith University.

She is married to Bobby G. Dawkins, Ph.D., who recently retired as a Senior Polymer and Fiber Associate in Research and Development from PBI Performance Products, Inc. They have two adult daughters: Malia Dawkins, M.A., who is an Actress, a Writer/Producer and an Account Manager for the NCompass International, and Demi Dawkins, M.D., who is in a Neurosurgery Residency at the University of Wisconsin.

Fannie M McClenney

Fannie M. McClenney

November 29, 1937 – October 27, 2015

Fannie Rose Midder McClenney was born in South Hill, Virginia on

November 29, 1937.

She departed this life on October 27, 2015 at Community Memorial

Hospital in South Hill. She was the daughter of the late Mrs. Lucille P.

Midder. Growing up, Mrs. McClenney was surrounded by a family of

eleven sisters and brothers.

She was a graduate of South Hills East End High School and of St. Pauls

College in Lawrenceville.

Mrs. McClenney was married to the late Dr. Earl H. McClenney, Sr. for

thirty-five years.

Together they celebrated a family of five children; four sons, Earl, Clifton

(Jean), Neil (Aleta), and Clay, and one daughter, Gail. She was

predeceased by a beloved daughter-in-law, Frances. The McClenney

legacy continues with nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Mrs. McClenney is survived by one sister Celia Ann (Lincoln), two

brothers, Richard (Shirley) and Douglas (Doreen), and a host of nieces and


Mrs. McClenney possessed a deep sense of civic responsibility working

tirelessly to serve her community in numerous ways. She was a longtime

member of St. Paul’s Memorial Chapel, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.,

the local JFM, and the ArtBank of Southside Virginia. In addition, Mrs.

McClenney worked with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

For more than two decades, Mrs. McClenney served as a member of the

Brunswick County School Board and held the position of chair for several

years. Furthering that conviction for the larger Commonwealth, she also

held the office of president of the Virginia School Boards Association,

serving as past chair for several years.

The family wishes to thank all who faithfully supported and cared for Mrs.

McClenney, particularly over the last two years. Memorial contributions

can be made to the American Cancer Societys Relay for Life.

Born: November 29, 1937

Death: October 27, 2015



We all know that the job market is a struggle. The journey to find the right and best employment opportunity begins with the right resume. Nowadays employers take business schools seriously more than ever and candidates with a relevant qualification from an institution of good standing have an extremely valuable advantage. If you are on the lookout for the school that is best for you, put yourself in the shoes of your future employers before finalizing any college or degree program. What is it that will impress them and how will your choice sell you as an individual?

Business research guide has made this job easier for you by evaluating various small college  business departments to find the best small HBCU business schools that are innovative in terms of degrees they offer and their instructional approaches. Following is the rating and ranking methodology they have used followed by the top 8 most innovative schools of 2015:

Rank University Location
11 Tuskegee University, Andrew F. Brimmer College of Business and Information Science Tuskegee, AL
12 West Virginia State University, Department of Business Administration West Virginia
24 Albany State University, College of Business Georgia
31 Paine College, Department of Business Augusta, GA
43 Coppin State University, College of Business Baltimore, MD
44 Elizabeth City State University, Department of Business and Economics Elizabeth City, NC
48 Johnson C. Smith University, Department of Business Administration Charlotte, NC
50 Dillard University, College of Business New Orleans, LA

Rating and Ranking Methodology

The Business research guide ranking rests on three pillars: Progressive Majors and/or Course Offerings, Global Business Emphasis and Wow factor (each unique feature or program). For each aspect further divided into categories 2 or 1 points were awarded. The following schools have been rated as result of their size ((i.e. under 5000 undergraduate students) and applying the rating methodology discussed.

The complete listing of the top 50 most innovate small college business departments can be found


  • 0

October News

Closures to Triple

Closure rates of small colleges and universities will triple in the coming years, and mergers will double.

Those are the predictions of a Moody’s Investor Service report released Friday that highlights a persistent inability among small colleges to increase revenue, which could lead as many as 15 institutions a year to shut their doors for good by 2017.

The 10-year average for college closures is five annually. So far this year two colleges have closed, and in 2014 six closed. Moody’s cautions that even as closures are predicted to rise, the number will remain less than 1 percent of some 2,300 existing nonprofit colleges. Meanwhile, the number of mergers is predicted to double, reaching four to six a year, up from the 10-year average of two to three a year.

The main struggle for many small colleges — which are defined by Moody’s as private colleges with operating revenue below $100 million and public colleges below $200 million — is declining enrollment.

Small colleges are often tuition dependent, meaning they face financial struggle when enrollment declines or even remains flat. Revenue softness leads to “a reduced ability to invest in academic programs, student life and facilities,” which in turn negatively affects colleges’ ability to meet the desires of prospective students, Moody’s notes. And softer demand means that struggling colleges either lose students to other institutions or aren’t able to charge enough tuition to fully cover expenses. A recent report from the National Association of College and University Business Officers found that private colleges offered freshmen an average discount rate of 48 percent last year — an all-time high.

The result is more and more students enrolling in larger colleges, further contributing to the plight of small institutions.

And a growing number of small colleges are experiencing revenue struggles, Moody’s found. The percentage of small colleges with a sustained three-year growth rate of less than 2 percent increased fivefold, to 50 percent, from 2006 to 2014.

Kent Chabotar, former president of Guilford College and an expert on higher education finance, says many colleges face what he calls “an iron triangle of doom” that makes survival difficult for the underresourced.

“There are fewer students out there. Of those students, fewer are attending colleges and universities. And it’s costing us more to get them in terms of financial aid,” he offered.

Moody’s predicts that struggling public institutions are more likely to merge into a larger system than close, in part because of the political difficulty of closing a publicly funded institution. Meanwhile, private colleges are more susceptible to closure.

Mergers, after all, can be difficult to achieve. For example, the financially struggling Montserrat College of Art attempted to merge with the public Salem State University this summer, but after months of negotiations a merger was deemed too complicated and costly for Salem State.

“It can be hard to make that happen,” said Dennis M. Gephardt, a senior credit analyst at Moody’s. “Even institutional priorities and sensitivities can stand in the way of even semi-obvious mergers. It’s not always straightforward.”

And for that reason, Moody’s expects closures to outpace mergers in the coming years. Yet Chabotar highlights how colleges are historically reluctant to close, and predicts that many struggling institutions will look toward mergers before they consider closing their doors.

“There’s going to be more mergers and alliances than they’re projecting. Schools will do anything to survive. The last thing a school wants to do is shut down. Just look at Sweet Briar,” Chabotar said, referring to how Sweet Briar College earlier this year abandoned plans to shut down after a surge of support from alumnae.

It’s this reluctance, combined with the agility of smaller colleges, that leads Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, to believe that Moody’s predictions are “grossly overstated.”

“There have been predictions of doom and gloom in the past, but it simply hasn’t happened,” he said, recalling how some predicted growing closure rates in the 1990s when tuition discount rates began rising steeply. Yet the number of closures didn’t increase substantially, he said.

“These small, private institutions have this unbelievable ability to be imaginative,” he continued. “Their ability to be proactive is much better than [that of] larger, more cumbersome institutions.”

Gephardt said Moody’s did factor institutions’ tenacity into its analysis. Without that consideration, he said, the number of predicted closures would have been even higher.

– Body Heat Cell Phone Charging by a Fayetteville State University Inventor

TO:                  Students, Faculty and Staff

FROM:             The Research Office and the Office of Sponsored Research and Programs

SUBJECT:         Science News –  Body Heat Cell Phone Charging by a Fayetteville State University Inventor

Dr. Daryush Ila, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, Tech Transfer Officer & RSO<> x 2417

Dr. Leslie Evelyn, Director of Sponsored Research and  Programs,<> x 1644

Shenetta Dudley, Pre-Award Administrator<> x1570

Carolyn Harris, Post Award Administrator<> x 2612

Dwane Hodges, Budget Officer<> x 1645
Dr. Carla Raineri Padilla, Compliance & Export Control Officer,<> x 1569

Body heat cell phone charging by a Fayetteville State University Inventor: “Thin film thermoelectric revolution”.
FSU professor looks to change the way the world looks at charging cellphones


Albany State University looking at deactivating 15 under-performing degrees.

ALBANY — Albany State University issued a statement Monday evening addressing a plan to “deactivate 15 low-performing undergraduate degree programs,” due to declining enrollment numbers.

#ASU offcials said the intent of the statement was intended to “provide the facts, dispel the myths and clarify some key points about Albany State University’s plan to “deactivate” low-performing degree programs.

#ASU Provost Abiodun Ojemakinde said deactivation of programs will allow the university to have a long-term plan to address institutional enrollment declines in the past four years and subsequent budget deficits.

#“This is about ASU becoming stronger,” Ojemakinde said. “Instead of spreading ourselves too thin, we will be able to better serve our students. This is not about diminishing the status of the university. All of our programs are steeped in excellence; this is about better allocation of resources and ensuring maintenance of quality programs.”

#Ojemakinde said 15 ASU programs have been identified as low-performing undergraduate programs, those that have not met the goal of an average of at least 10 graduates or a total of 30 graduates over a three-year period, and four graduate programs that have not met the goal of an average of at least five graduates or a total of 15 graduates over a three-year period.

#The statement addressed several frequently asked questions, with answers provided by Ojemakinde:

#— Is ASU cutting programs, and when?

#“ASU does plan to deactivate, not eliminate, programs as early as spring 2016 and no later than fall 2016.”

#— What does deactivate mean in this case?

#“Deactivate means that programs are temporarily suspended from admitting new students for up to two years. It does not mean that the programs are eliminated or terminated. Deactivated programs remain authorized programs at the institution and they could be reinstated within two years of deactivation.”

#— Which programs will be affected?

#“B.A. in English, B.A. in Speech and Theatre, B.A. in Art, B.A. in Music, B.A. in History, B.A.S. in Technology Management, Bachelor of Music Education, and B.S. in Science Education. Graduate: Master of Education (MED) in English; and MED in Science. There is a possibility that some programs slated for deactivation will be combined or repurposed.”

#— Why are the programs being deactivated?

#“Enrollment declines, four years in a row, and budget shortfalls have caused the university to make harder and more strategic choices about its academic program offerings and how best to serve its students in the long run.”

#— Is the deactivation mandated by the Board of Regents?

#“No, not at all. Annually, the Georgia Board of Regents provides data to all university system institutions for information and data-driven, strategic decisions. For the past several years, the Board has been reviewing the academic programs at all institutions and their degree production. This is a consistent effort to look at how degree programs are performing, and address the needs and interests of students.”

#— How will this decision affect students who are currently enrolled in these programs?

#“Students who are currently enrolled will be able to continue their matriculation toward academic degrees in their chosen fields. No new admissions will be allowed for the deactivated, low-performing programs; those programs will be suspended for up to two years as solutions are explored for ways to increase enrollment or reshape the program to attract student enrollment.”

#— Since programs such as English, art, speech and music are being deactivated, does this mean a student cannot take English, art or music classes at ASU?

#“No. Students will still be able to take English, art, speech and music courses that count toward their required core courses for graduation. This program change means that students will not be able to major and pursue a degree in English, art, speech or music, if the program has been deactivated.

#— What implications are there for the approved fine arts building?

#“During the first two years of their matriculation at Albany State University, as part of their general liberal arts education, all undergraduate students will take classes in the fine arts building. Deactivation does not preclude the offering of courses in the deactivated programs to meet the requirements for general education of all Albany State students. The funds for the new building have already been approved. The groundbreaking is scheduled for spring 2016 and the building is scheduled for completion in fall 2017.”

#— What about the students who are already in program-related activities, e.g. – the ASU Marching Band?

#“Student performers who are already participating will continue to participate in the band, chorus and other such organizations. Student performers matriculate in many different academic majors at the university, such as business, psychology, sociology, education, biology, etc. Marching Band is not an academic major and deactivation of low-producing programs has nothing to do with performing in such extracurricular activities as band or chorus. All students interested in participating in band or chorus will continue to have the opportunity to do so. This action only affects low-performing academic programs.”

West Virginia State University and Blue Ridge CTC Sign Transfer …

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – West Virginia State University (WVSU) and Blue Ridge Community and Technical College met today, Wednesday, October 28, 2015, to sign a new articulation agreement for students seeking a degree in Criminal Justice.

As part of the transfer agreement signed with West Virginia State University, Blue Ridge students completing the Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice can transfer seamlessly into a baccalaureate degree in Criminal Justice with West Virginia State University. These types of transfer agreements assist students in investing in an affordable education by completing two years with a Community College before transferring to a four-year institution. This new agreement allows for a partnership between two cost effective educational options for students pursuing degrees in the state of West Virginia.

“We are excited to help enable Blue Ridge CTC students to find their passion and achieve their dreams of a better life through education,” said Dr. Brian O. Hemphill, WVSU President. “Our Criminal Justice program has a long history of opening doors and creating opportunities for graduates. We look forward to welcoming these students into the State family.”

Blue Ridge CTC and WVSU are continuing to work on additional transfer agreements, which include programs in Business and Business Administration. These articulation agreements ensure students have accurate information regarding required courses and the time needed to complete additional degree programs.

“We are excited to sign this agreement with West Virginia State University,” said Dr. Peter Checkovich, Founding President of Blue Ridge CTC. “Blue Ridge CTC continually identifies partnerships, such as this agreement, that establishes an ease of transfer for our students.”

Blue Ridge Community and Technical College offers more than 50 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as workforce development training.  Blue Ridge Community and Technical College is conveniently located on Route 45 West past the Commons Center, at 13650 Apple Harvest Drive. For more information on Blue Ridge Community and Technical College, please call (304) 260-4380 or visit our website at

Follow West Virginia State University on Facebook and Twitter @WVStateU.


West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.


– WVSU –

Student shot on NCCU campus, gunman search underway

Student shot on NCCU campus, gunman search underway |

A student was injured late Sunday night on the edge of North Carolina Central University’s campus following a shooting.

Just after 11 p.m., NCCU tweeted that there was an active shooter on campus, but in a statement Monday morning, school officials said that it “was NOT an active shooter situation.”

Student shot on NCCU campus, gunman search underway |

Durham police were called to the scene to assist campus police near the school’s football stadium, off of Lawson Street, near Alston Avenue.

NCCU put the campus on lockdown – urging all students to seek shelter and lock their doors as long as it was safe to do so.

University officials said a 19-year-old sophomore was treated for non-life threatening injuries and released from the hospital earlier Monday morning.

According to NCCU, the incident stemmed from an argument and appeared to be isolated and not random.

Just before midnight, the school said the situation was “all clear” and the campus lockdown was lifted.

Further details surrounding the incident, including information about the alleged shooter, have not been released.

Anyone with information regarding the incident should contact the NCCU Police Department at (919) 530-6106.

The incident comes as the university kicked off its week-long Homecoming celebration Sunday.


Another Black Girl Assaulted by White Cop: Do We Matter, Yet?

She must have been so afraid.

Sitting in her desk at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina, feigning calm, warily watching the white man in uniform approach, the black girl with the brown skin must have been terrified.

It could have easily been Eric Casebolt or Daniel Holtzclaw or Timothy Loehmann or Daniel Panteleo; but this particular monster’s name is Ben Fields.

You’ve seen the video. Fields, 34, senior deputy with the Richland County Sheriff’s Office, a school resource officer, defensive line football coach and assaulter of black girls, was allegedly called to the student’s classroom after she refused to leave on the teacher’s command. According to classmate Niya Kenney, 18, the girl wasn’t participating, while others say that she was chewing gum or “verbally disruptive.”

Other students said that she was “new” and just as quiet as she had been since she arrived, not bothering anyone.

Five Approaches to Increasing HBCU Sustainability

A recent Moody’s Investor Services report predicts that the closure rates of small colleges and universities will triple in the coming years—and mergers will double. Moody’s defines small colleges and universities as private colleges with operating revenue below $100 million and public colleges below $200 million. This means as many as 15 institutions a year will permanently shut their doors by 2017. What are the implications of these challenges for HBCUs?

Most HBCUs were founded in the early to mid-20th century, before the advent of technology, community colleges, and online education. They often mimicked traditional elite universities in their structure. Except for some modest changes, most HBCUs haven’t transformed themselves significantly, even though our new learners bear little resemblance to those who predominated more than a century ago.

Yet it is apparent that higher education is entering a brave new world. The contours of the past will not be sustainable in the future. This new landscape includes a declining population of traditional students; increased competition and debt levels; and decreasing state support. The keys to surviving and thriving in the face of these challenges are maintaining enrollment stability and fiscal solvency.

Although colleges and universities often wave the banner for change, few actually embrace change at a level commensurate with that is required to enhance their responsiveness and competitiveness. Enrollment stability and financial solvency are more likely if these 5 approaches are seriously considered.

Create Centers of Excellence

In order to save and strengthen HBCUs, we need to reconsider the way we do business. Excellence in today’s world requires specialization. Instead of trying to be all things to all people, is it possible for institutions with a record of excellence in certain fields to extend those opportunities to other learners? Creating centers of excellence in such vital areas as STEM, health disparities, and the preparation of teachers is one approach that should be examined. The whole is often greater than the sum of its parts.

Reduce administrative costs

How many vice presidents, deans, and department chairs does an institution really need? There is nothing sacred about structure. Structure exists to facilitate goal achievement. We need to move away from traditional thinking and open our minds to shared administrative operations and services. Does each institution truly need its own assessment office, faculty development office, and architectural services?

Consider outsourcing

In order for institutions to compete for students and to offer a vibrant system of support, they have often created units and services that cannot offer a full range of services in a competitive and responsive manner. To provide the comprehensive range of health and counseling services students need, is it possible to work collaboratively with local hospitals and counseling organizations? There are lessons to be learned from the outsourcing of food services and bookstores, for example, which could be extended to custodial services, housing, publication services, wellness and fitness, and technology support.

Create a consortium to deliver online education

The University of Phoenix awarded more bachelor’s degrees to minority students than any other university in the country, according to a recent report from Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. With the explosion of online education, for-profit institutions, and massive open online courses (MOOCs), technology has opened new horizons for the delivery of education, which will only intensify. This will further establish an environment that will make it more difficult for many HBCUs and other minority serving institutions (MSIs) to survive.

Is it possible to create a platform that will allow multiple institutions to offer online courses and degrees without having each create its own office of online education? For example, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan and other leading universities have collaborated in offering MOOCs, both partnering with entrepreneurs and companies, and also as nonprofit ventures. Online education is here to stay. Therefore, HBCUs and MSIs should consider collaborative methods for delivering online education and hybrid approaches for contemporary learners.

Consider the “M-word”

We need to consider mergers, at both the program and institutional level. In instances where there are multiple HBCUs within close proximity, are there prospects for program collaboration that could be more responsive to the community and region? Where two institutions each offer a criminal justice program, are there opportunities for program consolidation? Rather than everyone trying to offer every program, why not share faculty and labs if conditions for this are favorable? In considering these options, the institutions involved can retain their brand, while at the same time recognizing that program specialization is a key to excellence.

Institutional mergers are also needed in this challenging landscape of higher education. We want to hold on to institutions we once knew, even if they are no longer sustainable. In instances where colleges have gone out of business, how extensively were mergers considered? Let us look beyond the mantra of HBCU mergers, to mergers with colleges and universities generally. Most important, as we examine a set of institutions, we should be asking ourselves what is needed in the marketplace.

As colleges and universities prepare for this uncertain future, one thing is clear: we cannot keep doing what we’ve always done and yet expect different outcomes. What worked in the past is unlikely to work in the future. It is time for all of us to take stock of where we are and how best to respond to the challenges offered by new generations of learners, as well as new approaches to instruction. We need a vibrant discussion around innovative, alternative approaches that will allow us to remain competitive and responsive in this new landscape of higher education.

Those who have the privilege of serving as presidents of HBCUs must become more proactive in responding to the needs of current and future learners. The future of higher education for HBCUs will be determined more by their contemporary responsiveness rather than by their historic relevance.

Department of Education Awards More Than $3 million to 13 Minority Institutions for STEM Education

The U.S. Department of Education is awarding more than $3 million in new awards to 13 colleges and universities that serve large minority populations to strengthen education programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through theMinority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP).

“Strengthening these institutions that serve large minority populations in STEM is vital to building a strong economy and competitive workforce, while helping ensure that all students have the opportunity to be successful in college, careers and life,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “These grants will help ensure that students, particularly our underrepresented and minority students, are well-prepared for the 21st century global marketplace and on the path to a successful future in a STEM field.”

MSEIP grants are three-year awards that support a variety of activities, including: the development of pre-college enrichment activities in science; tutoring and enhancement of research skills in science education for students; faculty training to develop specific science research or education skills; curriculum development in STEM fields; renovation of STEM labs/classrooms; and any other activities designed to address specific barriers to the entry of minorities into STEM disciplines.

MSEIP supports the Administration’s overall goal of improving STEM education as a route to improving America’s global scientific and technological competitiveness. According to a U.S. Department of Commerce report, a college graduate in a STEM field earns 26 percent more than a college graduate in other fields, and by 2018, jobs in the STEM fields are projected to grow twice as fast as those in other fields.

Following is the list of awardees with first-year award amounts:

Alabama A&M University 

Alabama State University

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

San Mateo County Community College District – Canada College

District of Columbia
Howard University

Morehouse College

Rust College

North Carolina
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

North Carolina Central University

New York
City University of New York – Borough of Manhattan Community College 

City University of New York – New York City College of Technology

Puerto Rico
Inter American University of Puerto Rico – Arecibo Campus

University of Texas at San Antonio

Dillard Alumnus Donates $1 Million for Endowed Scholarship

Jimmie Edwards, a 1970 graduate of Dillard University recently donated $1 million to his alma mater to establish an endowed scholarship for deserving students. This is one of the largest single contributions ever given by an alumnus and it establishes the largest endowed scholarship in Dillard’s history.

“I received a full scholarship in 1966 and without that I would not have been able to go to college,” Edwards said. “I felt like I owed Dillard a repayment for their investment because it gave me an opportunity to have a different life,” he added.

“Mr. Edwards’ enthusiasm for making this gift is amazing,” said Marc Barnes, vice president for Institutional Advancement. “We are inspired, not only by his tremendous generosity, but also by his incredible desire to pay forward the assistance that he received as a student at Dillard,” Barnes noted. “Edwards is truly a great example of the Dillard Difference.”

The eldest of five, Edwards recalled that his family was extremely poor and there was no way he would have been able to go to school without a full scholarship. Edwards says he always wanted to make a substantial gift to Dillard and when he saw a story about an alumnus who had given a million dollars to an HBCU he was inspired to do the same. “I’m just giving back and repaying Dillard for their investment,” he said.

Edwards pointed out that Dillard is an institution where many of its students are on financial aid and that the investment being made in them should be repaid once they have an opportunity to give back. With that said, he is challenging alumni to give and collectively match what he has given.

After graduating from Dillard with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, Edwards worked as a research chemist in Akron, Ohio. While working full time as a chemist he also attended Kent State University where he obtained his MBA in 1974. He later joined the sales and marketing team at Amoco in Atlanta. He remained with the company through a succession of corporate changes, as Amoco became BP, then INESO, a $54 billion international petrochemical company. He retired in 2008 after nearly 40 years in the industry.

Edwards is currently employed during the summer season as a customer service agent with Delta airlines in Charlotte, N.C.

If you are interested in supporting students at the University, please visit the Dillard University’s Donationpage.

NAFEO, the Membership Association of ALL 106 HBCUs and 50 PBIs Wants to Award One HBCU $20,000 While Engaging HBCU Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni & Friends in AARP AIDE


FAMU Board has moved to terminate President Elmira Mangum

The Florida A&M University Board of Trustees is discussing whether to fire President Elmira Mangum in an emergency meeting this morning.

Board Vice Chairman Kelvin Lawson said he was troubled by auditor reviews that unveiled improper payments for renovations to the president’s home on campus and a bonus for Provost Marcella David paid using public funds, a violation of state law. Mangum, in a letter to trustees last night, contents that the home renovations were begun before here tenure began and that the issue with the bonus has been corrected.

A majority of trustees would have to agree today in order for Mangum, who started the job April 2014, to be terminated. The meeting is being held via conference call.

Tobacco Free HBCU Grant Program 2016


I hope that this email finds you well. Please see our press release of the 33 HBCUs that have already joined the initiative here.

Truth Initiative is truly excited to invite your institution to participation in the first-of-its-kind effort to engage Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) throughout the U.S. to address the important public health issue of tobacco. The Tobacco Free HBCU Campus Initiative is a multi-organizational collaborative project that will support HBCUs in developing and implementing a 100% comprehensive tobacco-free campus policy, led by Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin. The initiative aims to bring together invited HBCUs and provide them with funding, technical assistance and support as schools go tobacco-free.

8 days until the deadline! click here to apply  Deadline: October 31, 2015 by 11:59 PM EDT

I have attached a sample application to the email to assist you. We are currently seeking institutions to apply for the spring 2016 cohort, January 15 – August 31, 2016 grant period.

Participating institutions will receive customize technical assistance support, and a $2500 grant from the American Legacy Foundation.

The following resources will be provided:

  • $2500 grants
  • Program and communications toolkits
  • Training events
  • Gear
  • Webinars
  • In-person site visits and consultative assistance
  • Sample and model policies

Institutions are required to do the following:

  • Create a diverse campus taskforce to address tobacco issues
  • Conduct a campus assessment (with guidance from our external evaluator)

If all requirements are fulfilled the institution can apply for continuation funds of $5000 for Sept 1, 2016 to August 31st 2017.

Attached to this email you will find the Grant Guidelines, How to Apply, Frequently Asked Questions, Budget templates and timelines.

Contact Denise Smith at 202-454-5555 or for further assistance. If contact is via phone, indicate that you are calling about the Tobacco Free HBCU Initiative and specify the nature of your call.


Denise Smith

It’s official: We are Truth Initiative! Please note my new email address and update your contact records. 

Denise Smith, MPH
HBCU Manager, CAYE

office  202-454-5552
1724 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036

GREENSBORO, NC — The Bennett College Department of Journalism and Media Studies is hosting an afternoon of activities Wednesday, October 28, 2015, to highlight the visit of Kevin Powell, who will have “A Conversation About Education, Hip-Hop, Violence, and a Man’s Life” at 6 p.m. in the Bennett College Global Learning Center Auditorium.

The event is open to the general public as Powell makes Bennett College the first stop on his book tour for the newly released The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood.

“Powell’s long experience as an essayist, activist, cultural and media voice, and outspoken advocate for women’s rights makes him an ideal person to speak to issues of importance to our students,” said Tamara Jeffries, assistant professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Bennett College. “Our goal is to host a dialog that crosses disciplines and includes other leadership groups.”

Powell will discuss themes in his book, the writing process, and his current political and activist work.

While the evening event is intended to highlight Powell’s new book, prior to his lecture, Bennett College will host a panel on “Documenting Black Lives: Choices and Challenges in Covering Black Experiences” from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Global Learning Center Auditorium.

“They will discuss the process of doing research, gaining access, navigating ethical dilemmas, making creative choices, and constructing honest, respectful narratives in documenting the experiences of people of color,” said Jeffries.

Among the invited panelists are:


  • Steven Channing, Ph.D., co-founder of The Southern Documentary Fund & president of Videodialog, Inc. Channing is a historian, author, and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker. His documentaries include February One: The Story of the Greensboro Four.
  • Rebecca Cerese of Shelter in the Storm Productions.  Cerese, an award-winning filmmaker, is the co-producer of February One: The Story of the Greensboro Four and Durham: A Self-Portrait.  She is currently developing a full-length documentary called Origin of the Dream that explores the intersections between Langston Hughes and Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • John X. Miller, managing editor of the Winston-Salem Journal. Miller is the first African-American managing editor at the Journal.  He has been a journalist at papers in Roanoke, Charlotte, Myrtle Beach, Hickory, and at USA Today. He was the public editor for the Detroit Free Press.


  • Gisele Jones-Jones, Ph.D., director of the Women’s Leadership Institute & associate

professor of Humanities at Laurel University.  Jones-Jones is the author of Through Zora’s Eyes: Modern Insight Into a Timeless Vision, about Zora Neale Hurston’s work as a writer and anthropologist.

  • Sherri Williams, Ph.D., Anna Julia Cooper Center postdoctoral fellow.  Williams studies social media, social television, and how people of color use and are represented on social media and mass media.


According to Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, “The Education of Kevin Powell is a raw, deeply painful accounting of a life born of poverty, racism, abandonment, abuse, and complicated love. It is a memoir as much about a mother as it is about her son, a memoir born out of stunning writing and surprising vulnerability. A memoir of rage and insight, heartbreak and hunger. Powerful, brave, and unforgettable.”

Powell’s writings have appeared in Esquire, Ebony, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, and Vibe Magazine, where he worked for many years as a senior writer. He’s also written for, and Cornell University recently acquired The Kevin Powell Collection, documenting nearly 30 years of his work to date.

He was a Democratic candidate for Congress in Brooklyn in 2008 and 2010. As an activist, he is the president and co-founder of BK Nation, a progressive organization focused on such issues as education, civic engagement, leadership, health, social media, culture, and business.

Powell routinely appears on television, radio, and the Internet, and in print, discussing major issues of our time. He travels nationally and globally as a public speaker at colleges, corporations, and institutions including Microsoft, Stanford University, the U.S. Department of Justice, and American University in Nigeria. He has had residencies at Central State University, Virginia State University, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. He toured Japan on behalf of the U.S. State Department and was named the International Ambassador for the Dylan Thomas Centennial in America for 2014.

Kevin’s work includes local, national, and international initiatives to end violence against women and girls and he has done extensive philanthropic and relief work, including his annual holiday party and clothing drive for the homeless every December since 9/11.

Authorities: 1 Killed, 3 Wounded in Tennessee State Shooting

One man was killed and three women were wounded in an on-campus shooting stemming from a fight over a dice game on the campus of Tennessee State University, police said Friday.

The 19-year-old who died in the Thursday night shooting was not enrolled at the school, police spokesman Don Aaron said. It wasn’t known whether the shooter, who fled the scene, was a student.

The shooting occurred in a courtyard around 10:50 p.m. Witnesses said an argument over the dice game boiled over into a fistfight when “suddenly shots were fired,” Aaron said.

Three female students whom Aaron described as “innocent passers-by” were struck during the shooting. One was grazed and didn’t require medical attention, while two others were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with injuries. One had been released by Friday morning, while the other was in stable condition and was expected to make a full recovery, Aaron said.

“This was an isolated shooting incident in a courtyard,” Aaron said. “There were never, we believe, any other students in danger in dormitories or elsewhere on campus.”

Several students used their phones to record the fight. Police have obtained some video, but encouraged other students who scattered when the shooting began to come forward with further recordings and information.

“The person who fired those shots put innocent persons in extreme danger in this isolated incident,” Aaron said. “We’re hoping that TSU students that have this video, have this knowledge, understand that this person put them in danger tonight, and will report what they know.”

Police did not yet have a description of the suspect, and could not say whether an exchange of gunfire occurred until the evidence is analyzed.

Police expected to complete their crime scene investigation Friday morning and allow the campus to return to normal operations. They planned to release the identity of the man who died later in the day.

The incident comes just over a week after three people were wounded by gunfire at an off-campus party across the street from the college.

Will Howard University’s Television Station Be Auctioned Off To The FCC?\

Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick is considering auctioning WHUT-TV, the university’s public television station and for 35 years the only black-owned public television station in the United States, to the Federal Communication Commission for anywhere between an estimated $100 million to possibly $500 million, according to a university-wide memorandum released Friday.

The channel’s broadcast spectrum, containing both Channel 32 and its currently unused digital channel, Channel 32-2, would be submitted to an “incentive auction” that the FCC would have in March. The federal agency wants to sell the spectrum gained at the FCC auction to wireless companies that, according to the memo obtained by The Root on Sunday, “need more spectrum to accommodate the increased use of wireless services.”

If Howard applies by the filing deadline, Dec. 18, and the FCC accepts, the move could net Howard,which has seen significant cutbacks in staff in recent years, hundreds of millions of dollars in needed funds. But it would also deprive Washington, D.C., a large and historic black community that has become increasingly gentrified in the last decade, of an important black-owned platform for documentary and local public affairs programming targeted to blacks as well as a significant opportunity for the university’s students in its School of Communications to learn television production.

Under the rules of the FCC national auction, Howard could ask for as much as between $184 million to $461 million from the FCC for WHUT’s spectrum, but Frederick, explaining that the FCC action is a “reverse auction” that will depend on how many channels across the nation participate, postulated that the university would probably get less than the lowest amount.

WHUT’s fate will be decided in early December by the university’s Board of Trustees, said Gracia Hillman, the university’s Vice President of External Affairs, in a telephone interview with The RootSunday night. She confirmed the memo’s existence.

Hillman emphasized that Howard was just looking at its options within a process controlled by the FCC, not the university. “We are reviewing all the information available …We have not made a decision yet.”

In his two-page memo to the university community, dated Oct. 16, Frederick called WHUT’s spectrum “valuable.”

“Through the auction, there is the potential for the University to realize significant income as a result to the sale of its spectrum,” he added.

Frederick cautioned: “The upcoming Incentive Auction of television station spectrum will be a unique marketplace. It is unlikely to occur again.”

Howard’s president explained the university has four options: sell, refuse to sell, change WHUT-TV from the higher UHF spectrum to the lower VHF spectrum, or “partner or share broadcasting with another broadcaster.”

Hillman confirmed that the two more complicated options outlined by the memo—moving the channel to a lower spectrum, something that the FCC would have to decide for WHUT if it gets all the spectrum it wants, and sharing airtime with another channel—are indeed on the table, if Howard moves forward.

In the memo, Frederick explained he understood what was at stake on both sides of the issue.


“Howard University must consider the significant financial opportunity presented with the Spectrum Auction. At the same time, we will consider the value that WHUT adds to the experiential learning opportunities for students and faculty of our School of Communications and College of Engineering, and the program and public service opportunities we provide to WHUT through our loyal viewers.”

Along with Howard’s commercial R&B formatted radio station WHUR-FM, WHUT (founded in 1980 as WHMM) has been the star in Howard University’s crowded crown and one of the more significant institutions in D.C.’s black community. Documentaries produced by the station have been nominated or won Emmy Awards, and its public affairs programming, such as “Vocal Point” and “The Rock Newman Show,” discuss current issues relevant to black people. WHUT shows Howard’s spring graduation annually live, and regularly displays the achievements of students and faculty. It screens independent documentary films by black filmmakers and, during Black History Month, finds and airs several documentaries on black history. It airs “Democracy Now!,” the award-winning leftist human-rights newsmagazine, every weekday evening in lieu of a newscast. It also aired “D.C. Breakdown,” a black newsmagazine produced by Soul of the South, a black-owned regional television network, untillayoffs forced the program to cease production.

Frederick’s announcement comes in the wake of increased broadcast consolidation nationallyand a slow decline of Washington, D.C.’s black media.

While circulation and advertising at black newspapers steadily drop, two weeks ago, on Oct. 5, veteran print journalist George Curry resigned from the NNPA News Service, a black newspaper wire service based in Washington, D.C., after his pay was cut in half. The NNPA, a trade organization for black newspapers, had the only black print wire service for several decades, but in recent years has been rivaled by print outlets Trice Edney News Wire and, in recent months, upstart the Urban News Service, led by black conservative television commentator Niger Innis. And the city’s black population still mourns when, in 1997, the University of the District of Columbia, an institution dedicated to the city’s working-class students, sold WDCU, a jazz station that had weekday black public affairs programming, to C-SPAN for $13 million when UDC faced a budget crisis. C-SPAN created C-SPAN Radio with the purchased frequency.

Meanwhile, black-oriented commercial television has struggled to provide non-entertainment content. In 2000, Black Entertainment Television, founded by former telecommunication employee Robert L. Johnson and a cable channel that for much of its 35 years attempted Black news and public affairs programming but couldn’t financially sustain it, was sold to Viacom for an estimated $3 billion. BET was recently criticized for not covering the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. Its rival, black-owned TV One, has a weekday morning talk show, “News One Now with Roland Martin,” while Bounce TV, a black-owned digital sub-channel like Soul of the South, has yet to produce news and public affairs programming.



Students at North Carolina Central University say they’re learning a valuable lesson in perseverance now that their Chancellor has revealed she’s battling cancer.

“She seems like a strong lady to be going through all that and continue to work here,” said NCCU student Brittanny Tanner.

The University says Chancellor Debra Saunders-White publicly disclosed she was diagnosed with kidney cancer at an event honoring single mothers hosted by men’s basketball coach Levelle Moton.

Saunders-White declined to speak to ABC11 on camera about her prognosis and treatment. A spokesperson says policy forbids the university from publicly commenting on an employee’s health. They emphasized that Saunders-White is still at the helm, focusing on students.

“The Chancellor loves NCCU. She loves the students,” said Associate Vice Chancellor Ayana Hernandez. “She has a contagious passion for students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Since day one, she has been very engaged in all aspects of the university, and continues to do so.”

Saunders-White revealed she learned of her diagnosis in May. In May, she was also facing allegations of racial discrimination after current and former employees filed lawsuits and EEOC complaints.

Students are rallying behind Saunders-White, offering prayers on social media.

“I hope the best for her,” said NCCU student Jazmine Dixon. “I hope that she pulls through and continues to pull through and continue to remain here at job at Central.”

Recovering From Disaster: W. Franklin Evans, South Carolina State University, and a Vision for the Future

South Carolina State University has experienced considerable turmoil in recent months – leadership struggles, financial mismanagement, threats of accreditation loss, and a difficult relationship with the state of South Carolina, but more recently, the longstanding institution has had an increase in enrollment. Curious about this uptick in enrollment and the institution’s weathering of a storm, I interviewed its interim president W. Franklin Evans. Evans came to South Carolina State from Virginia Union University, where he served as the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Virginia Union is also a historically Black institution.

The interview below provides insight into Evan’s recovery process for South Carolina State University:

Marybeth: A lot of people would not have taken on the role of president at South Carolina State University. Are you a brave person? How do you deal with the fact that there is so much against you and the institution right now?

President Evans: We’re going through a period of transition. I am not someone who backs down from challenges. I wasn’t afraid but I will be perfectly honest with you it wasn’t my doing, I really believe that this was a part of God’s plan. I just happened to be the person who was commissioned to do this work. Also, my knowledge of the accreditation process gave people a sense of comfort.

Marybeth: I have read about the increased enrollment that South Carolina State University had this year. Most people would think that you would have a big drop in enrollment. I am just wondering how did you get an increase?

President Evans: We were very deliberate – and “we” means my staff, faculty, alumni, even students – in trying to get the message out that we are open for not just business but for success. We put together strategies, a whole public relations campaign, and our enrollment management folks got out there. We had a notecard campaign. We actually sat down and we sent note cards, personalized note cards to potential students as well as returning students. Our other concern was that those students who were here – we did not want them to leave amidst all of the drama that the media was putting out there. And so we, as I said were working extremely hard, calling people on the phone, going out to visit with alumni chapters, soliciting their support in helping us to recruit students. No one was working in isolation and we did not push this off on enrollment management, our Admissions folks and recruiters we all played a major role in working hard including myself.

Marybeth: That makes sense I was just wondering just how that happened because it’s actually the opposite of what has typically has happened when HBCUs that find themselves in trouble.

President Evans: You’re right. We used social media to promote the institutions. I amazed that I have seen myself on Facebook and other social media outlets. But our Public Relations and Media Department and University Relations – they worked hard at putting our successful stories out there. Little vignettes and snippets of me saying stuff, doing things and others as well and so this has been an all and all-out effort to get the word out.

Marybeth: I’d love to know a little bit about the way that you look at leadership. I have been studying HBCU leadership for two decades and I have seen a lot of different types of leaders and I am just wondering how you approach leading the institution. On a daily basis how are you leading the institution?

President Evans: I am a servant leader. I don’t think that one size fits all; my style is much more eclectic in that I value collaboration and participatory types of engagement with folks. The other thing is I am focused on progressive thinking; some people give me credit for things that I don’t necessarily see myself as but I’m strategic in what I do. I know that I can’t do things by myself and so I try to surround myself with competent people and as I said earlier I don’t see one size fits all, people are different and they bring their own set of skills to the table. My job as the leader is to identify those skills that are important and try to capture those things that are really relevant, meaningful and needed at the time. And so you will see my cabinet composed of individuals who are different and I don’t want them to be “yes men” and “yes women.” We have ongoing dialogues and sometimes debates as to “What is important?” We stay on purpose and everything that we do is guided and directed for results and outcomes. You know Claflin is right next door to us and so it doesn’t take anything away from me to give President Henry Tisdale a call and others to rely on the expertise that they already have.

Marybeth: Good. Tell me about calling President Tisdale

President Evans: I did that even prior to the becoming President. I had already established relationships with Dr. Tisdale, even the President of our two-year college – Dr. Tobin – that is here in the city as well as some of the peer institutions that are surrounding Orangeburg.

Marybeth: What kind of advice have you received from the president of Claflin?

President Evans: He has given a lot of advice. One of the things that I am trying to do better is take care of myself. He told me that this is a job, a very stressful, but if I am not at the level that I need to be where I am taking care of myself, I won’t do anyone any good – the institution or myself. And the other thing that he says is, “Don’t feel the need to have all of the answers.” You can call on other people, put your pride aside, and seek out the counsel of others. Now he did share with me that you couldn’t share everything with everybody. You have to be mindful of that. It really is lonely at the top. The one thing that he did say that I thought was very comforting is “you were prepared for this all along.” And so everything that you have experienced, that you have gone through over the years really it is all coming together to make you who you are and that you have what is needed to be successful and to do what needs to be done. I thought that was just wonderful.

Marybeth: Are there other people across the country that you have called on for support or advice and has anybody, does anybody stand out as giving you some really good advice?

President Evans: There are some other people who have been very, very helpful as well. Dr. Charlie Nelms is one example. Dr. Hugh Genny down at Alabama A&M he too is a former President of South Carolina State. Harold Martin at North Carolina A&T University has been extremely helpful and he is a fraternity brother and so he has another vested interest in me.

Marybeth: How are you managing your relationship with the state, which has at many times been hostile toward the institution? I am wondering how you are working on that, how are you repairing that relationship, how are you managing that, and what is the institution doing in that area?

President Evans: I have had to do quite a bit but I will tell you that we have been moving in a positive direction. Since coming on board I think that I have worked very hard to mend some relationships and certainly build upon others. The Governor has been extremely supportive. Right off the bat, I have spent a lot of time in Columbia meeting with the Senators as well as our House of Representatives. Jim Clyburn, in Congress, is a graduate of South Carolina State University and he has been very helpful and supportive. Tim Scott, the African American Senator from South Carolina, was our commencement speaker in May and he offered the same kind of support and encouragement. The relationship within the state has certainly improved. I think that I have stressed how relevant South Carolina State University is, certainly we have not gotten the attention and support that a lot of people feel that we should have gotten in the past. But I see it is shifting and it is changing and the Legislature sees the value that we not only have brought to the state but that we continue to bring and so the support will increase and certainly be much better.

Marybeth: There are many people in South Carolina that don’t think that South Carolina State should remain open and have said discouraging, sometimes racist and derogatory things about the institution based on its performance or perceived performance. What do you do about them? How do you change the image of South Carolina State as it is right now, what do you do?

President Evans: Knowledge really is powerful. There are people who are certainly ignorant of what South Carolina State has done. Most recently in U.S. News and World Report, South Carolina State ranks as one of the best colleges. We’re one of three institutions here in South Carolina that ranked in the top ten in the state. Of course, we are ranked highly among HBCUs. The Washington Monthly has ranked us highly as well. I know social mobility is one of the items that we excel on. A lot of times the media only focusses on the negative things and often times misquotes and misrepresents the institution and that is what people take away from it. I actually sat in the office of one of the legislators and he was spatting off some information that was just wrong. I let him know that we have a Nuclear Engineering Program that is fully accredited and that our students are securing jobs even before they graduate. We have produced more African American females in Nuclear Engineering than any other institution. I told him that our Speech Pathology Program is one where we have a waiting list. We are trying – despite the negativity that continues to go forth from the media – to put out positive messages – the truth about South Carolina State University.

Marybeth: I know some of the strengths of South Carolina State because I research areas where your institution over performs or disproportionately prepares people in various majors. However, most of the things that you’ve talked about I have not seen publicly. How can you get more of that information out? Whenever I ask alumni what is South Carolina State really good at they can’t tell me anything and so they’ll say, “I don’t know.” They just don’t have an answer. So if I were to ask you that what is South Carolina State really good at? If you were going to talk to a group of students about going to college and you wanted to tell them specifically what your institution is good at what would it be?

President Evans: Okay, before I answer that let me tell you I don’t disagree with you about alumni we have been working this summer to certainly make sure our alumni that they are equipped with the right messages. In fact we have designed something called the Bark Box because we are the Bulldogs. But the Bark Box is a recruiting tool for alumni that they will take back to their Chapters. It emphasizes and highlights those things that South Carolina State does and the things that we do well and so that’s the message that they need to share with potential students and the community. And in that box, we have a lot of recruitment materials, we have the little armbands that students can wear, pencils, we have postcards with the top ten reasons why you should attend South Carolina State University. We have information about websites, we have postcards, and we have all of the things to equip alumni so that they can be excellent ambassadors for the Institution.

Marybeth: Great.

President Evans: You were asking if I came upon a student what is the message that I would tell them about what is it that we do here? Our Industrial Engineering Program is excellent. And we’re not talking about engineering technology we’re talking about pure engineering and so we are a top producer of minority engineers particularly nuclear. I mentioned Speech Pathology because that is a phenomenal program – we’re one of two programs in the state. We have always been a teacher education institution throughout the state of South Carolina. We have educated, not only teachers but also superintendents and counselors throughout the state and the region. We’ve got people in Georgia, North Carolina and even Florida who have been in our programs. I have to highlight our Military Science Program because we are the West Point of the South in that we have produced large numbers of African American officers in the US Army; roughly 19 Generals that have come out of South Carolina State University.

Marybeth: Could you tell me a little bit about what your plan is to increase enrollment even more the following year?

President Evans: Well we do have a plan and we have identified some priorities for this year and of course one of the priorities was to certainly meet our enrollment goal and exceed it and that is what did. You are well aware that we base our budget on a number that we thought was much more reasonable in light of all of the media play that we have gotten. We wanted to make sure that we did everything in our power to make our enrollment goal and we did and as I said we exceeded it.

The other big thing of course is that we’ve got to make sure that we satisfy all of the standards with SACS (our accreditor) and remove our probation. This continues to be a major priority for us. We have no options with that and so everything that we do regarding funding, regarding the budget, regarding our finances, we do it in light of the fact that SACS accreditation is a must. We can’t have any slip ups with our budget and with our finances. We have to show our accrediting body as well as the public that we are good managers of our finances and that we have systems in place to ensure that. We’ve got to generate additional funds. Alumni have been extremely supportive now and in fact, our alumni giving is up by some 54% over the past year.

Marybeth: How did you do that?

President Evans: We are trying to instill in our alumni a sense of confidence that we know what we’re doing. Certainly motivating, encouraging them to get out there behind us and to be much more proactive than reactive is essential. You’ve been around the HBCU circuit for a while and you know that the status for many of our HBCUs is that we wait until things happen and then we react. It’s a new day, it’s a new day. We can’t expect others to do for us what we won’t do for ourselves. I have been giving this message to our alumni every day. They’ve caught on. They are getting up and doing some things. We had a conference this summer and the alumni Chapters were challenged to each come with up with $25,000. Several of them did, others came close but we raised a lot of money this summer and they’re continuing to give to scholarships. So they are really coming out of the woodwork and moving up to show the Legislatures that South Carolina State alumni mean business.

Marybeth: Are there any other things that you would want me to know?

President Evans: Well, one of the things that I am kind of proud of with the new students coming in – we’re not a Morehouse, we’re not a Spelman – but we are still trying to instill similar values in our students. We want our students to know that by coming to South Carolina State they made a wonderful decision and so we’re going to nurture and support them and make them into graduates and one of the focuses is our core value. I’ve named it O-SPICE. The “S” stands for service. The “P” is something a little different it stands for philanthropy. Most schools don’t focus on philanthropy and instilling that value in students is important. We want you to understand the importance of giving back. So even as freshmen we’re expecting that students are going to be giving at the very least – a dollar. If we can get a dollar, two dollars, five dollars from each student to start the next year off we’re instilling the importance of philanthropy. The “I” of course is for integrity. “C” for collaboration – no man is an island and we’re teaching the students the value of working together. And last but not least is the “E” which is for excellence. Everything that we do is geared towards excellence. Being the best that we can, producing the best products that we can. When those students walk across the stage and we hand them that degree it means something and we’re expecting them to go out and represent in a big way. And so pretty good isn’t enough we have to be excellent in everything that we do and so that’s our focus – O-SPICE.

Marybeth: Thank you for sharing your vision and your approach to overcoming the challenges at South Carolina State.

The future of historically black colleges

Daryl Michael Scott is a professor of history at Howard University.

Ron Stodghill’s exploration of the status of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) comes at a moment when our entire university system is imperiled. Since the rise of globalism, policymakers have insisted that the nation’s continued greatness depends on being the brains, rather than the brawn, of the world economy. Despite this, the federal government, reeling from war debt and the Great Recession, has joined states in limiting its investment in higher education. Increasingly, the justification for funding has shifted from the need for an educated citizenry to workforce development. We are witnessing the decline of the American research university and an existential threat to all but a handful of HBCUs.

A journalist and a professor at Johnson C. Smith University, an HBCU in Charlotte, Stodghill is committed to the future of HBCUs but calls on them to get their houses in order before it’s too late. While acknowledging that state policies and those of the Obama administration, especially changes in the Plus Loan Program, have created an economic hardship on HBCUs, Stodghill sides with reformers who, in general, believe in less dependence on government money, increased standards for admissions, merging and consolidating colleges, more accountability for administrators and boards of trustees, and constructing majors tailored to the marketplace. Unlike some of his interviewees, however, Stodghill believes in the standard justification for HBCUs: providing a more nurturing environment for students.

Unfortunately, Stodghill bases his case on historical myths. He holds the view that majority-white schools “poach” the best black students. (Who owns them?) He seems unaware that those deemed the best students often attended majority-white colleges even during the segregation era. Phi Beta Kappa keys from the Ivies and small Northern colleges were treated much like Olympic medals, while many HBCUs were considered a continuation of high school — which, given their inadequate funding, they often were. Without doubt, desegregation, along with new federal programs, brought better funding and transformed most HBCUs into viable colleges.

Stodghill also promotes the myth that once upon a time, dynamic, committed faculty members and administrators led HBCUs and pursued the path to progress. In this golden age, Howard’s Mordecai Johnson , Morehouse’s Benjamin Mays and Fisk’s committed faculty functioned with integrity and challenged backwardness. This leaves us with a false impression. Those reformers told of a different, more pervasive reality. According to progressive educators, the state HBCUs were run by sycophants who served the white supremacist governors loyally and ensured that black students would not get out of line. In religious schools funded by the American Missionary Association, the paternalism was often stultifying. Most black educational leaders, like our modern-day reformers, preached a gospel of make do with less. Back then, however, the black intelligentsia outright condemned that gospel as part of what Carter G. Woodson referred to as “the mis-education of the Negro.”

‘Where Everybody Looks Like Me: At the Crossroads of America’s Black Colleges and Culture’ by Ron Stodghill (Amistad)

While Stodghill’s book has the feel of investigative journalism, the author’s greatest shortcoming is that he is often a captive to his sources, especially in his treatment of the financial crisis at Howard University, where I teach. Most major universities sold their hospitals decades ago to avoid financial devastation, but Howard hasn’t. In 2006, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams unilaterally rejected Howard President H. Patrick Swygert’s partnership proposal to build a second hospital and spin them both off under a separate corporate entity, which would have ended the university’s responsibility. Since 2013, the financial burden of the hospital has been a matter of public discussion as a result of a leaked memo written by Renee Higginbotham-Brooks, then a long-standing trustee. Based on an interview with her, Stodghill provides a salacious but largely irrelevant account of the dispute she had with then-Board of Trustees Chairman A. Barry Rand and never explores the larger question of whether the board has a viable plan to save the hospital without doing perhaps irreparable damage to the other colleges in the university. Given that the book focuses on the shortcomings of boards, we would have expected more investigation of the HBCU that is the best funded by far and considered the capstone of them all.

Stodghill does not ask what motivates trustees and what limits their ability to make the truly hard decisions. Even more than presidents, they sign on to do good and to virtually never do harm, or even risk it. This can paralyze or even prevent them from seeing, let alone making, the toughest decisions. No one joins to close programs that have been at the heart of a school’s mission, to do away with the things that gave meaning and purpose to their own lives. Who wants to close history and philosophy departments — fields at the heart of promoting democracy — in favor of criminal justice and medical records-keeping? What trustee wants to close or merge a university out of existence? And sometimes these issues are all too personal to be seen clearly. Higginbotham-Brooks credits Howard’s hospital and medical school with saving her life when she had breast cancer. It is easier to pass the problem along and hope for an intervention from without before death comes from within.

For the most part, Stodghill ignores any principled opposition to change. At Howard, Dillard and other HBCUs, the liberal arts tradition is in jeopardy. Ironically, Stodghill invokes the recent history in which protesters demand that HBCUs embrace the changes being mandated by our national obsession with science, technology, engineering and math, the STEM fields. As in the age of industrial education and Booker T. Washington, college is increasingly seen as a place for workforce development rather than intellectual growth and citizenship training. These Bookerites of STEM seem unaware that the fight to save and advance the humanities and social sciences at American universities stands in the age-old tradition of Thomas Jefferson, W.E.B. Du BoisCarter G. Woodson and John Dewey. A nation reduced to a workforce will lack self-knowledge and will have trouble remaining a democracy. This old African American debate is the new American educational crisis.

‘Revolution in Higher Education’

Richard DeMillo is a scholar of the evolution of higher education and a proponent of change. The Charlotte B. and Roger C. Warren Chair of Computing and director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at the Georgia Institute of Technology, DeMillo explored this evolution in a 2011 book,Abelard to Apple: The Fate of American Colleges and Universities (MIT Press). Now, he’s back with a new book, also from MIT, Revolution in Higher Education: How a Small Band of Innovators Will Make College Accessible and Affordable. (Inside Higher Ed blogger Joshua Kim discusses the bookhere.)

DeMillo responded via email to questions about the book.

Q: As you look at the landscape of American higher education, what percentage of colleges do you believe will be unable financially or educationally to continue the status quo in the years ahead? Are any sectors particularly vulnerable?

A: It’s a big number. There are somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 universities in the U.S. In the middle are the universities that are not brand-name institutions, they don’t have specialized missions, they don’t have a long history of dedicated alumni to support them. All of those universities are going to have to change their mission dramatically or find themselves in severe financial trouble.

Some people, like Clayton Christensen, put that number as high as 50 percent. I think that’s a little high, but even if it’s 25 percent or 20 percent, you’re talking about a massive change in the business of educating students.

Middle-tier, public universities and small private colleges that subsist primarily on tuition are in deep, deep trouble. You can see this in declining applications and declining enrollments. Students, when given a choice, will choose what they think is quality. Price is a factor but is not really the critical factor. They want to make sure that the degree they have is stamped with a name that’s going to be valuable in 100 years.

Q: Massive open online courses were all the rage a few years ago, but many academics today say that much of the discussion was hype. What do you see as the long-lasting impact of MOOCs?

A: I sometimes think that I live on two planets. I live on one planet where people say MOOCs were hyped two years ago and now the whole idea is a failure. I live on another planet where enrollments in programs like Georgia Tech’s online master’s in computer science program are going through the roof. Many of our peer institutions who work with Coursera, for example, are seeing an increase in demand for MOOCs.

My take on this is that hype is often a good thing. Particularly when you’re thinking about new technologies. Hype fuels investment, for example. The initial excitement that you have over a technology — what some people would call hype — really fuels creativity. Expectations can be inflated, for sure, but investment that doesn’t have compelling value to underpin it eventually dries up. In the meantime, ecosystems spring up. At that point successful technologies begin a slower and more deliberate build-out. I personally don’t think that MOOCs have peaked yet. I see them entering new fields. I just returned from an American Medical Association conference on accelerating change in medical education where there was much interest in how to use MOOCs to streamline costly and cumbersome approaches.

What I do see is the slower building of the ecosystems that will provide permanent value. We, for example, look for ways to invest in MOOCs that support other critical pedagogical innovations on campus. As a matter of fact — institution by institution — leadership that was very wary of the technology two years ago is now testing the waters. I was recently at a meeting with a forward-looking president of a technical college, for example, who believes that by making the curriculum more nimble, MOOCs will transform her campus within five years.

Q: Many of the revolutionaries in higher education are in for-profit companies — and some academics view them with suspicion. Should they?

A: Not really. There’s an easy narrative that says for-profit is bad and not-for-profit is good. Actually, the world doesn’t conform to that so easily. It really depends on what the nature of the company is, what the mission is, what the leadership wants to do with their products.

We have many examples of not-for-profit companies that have been unspeakably horrible and we have many examples of for-profit companies that have done good and done well at the same time. In fact, the whole social entrepreneurship movement is premised on this. In the case of educational technology, the cost of investment and innovation is so high that not-for-profits are at a huge disadvantage. That why there are so few that have made a big difference in our industry. You’ll find out that with few exceptions the not-for-profit companies that tried to enter the education market really didn’t serve the marketplace very well.

Q: You note examples of leaders of historically black colleges and universities embracing the kind of change you discuss. Can you describe your vision for how black colleges and other universities can benefit from the shifts you discuss?

A: I talk a lot in the new book about HBCUs and other universities with specialized missions. I think that what has happened in the last generation is that too many of these institutions have run away from their missions. Jim Renick, the provost of Jackson State University, says, “All too many leaders at universities view their mission as a straitjacket.” I was impressed to see a leader embracing his institution’s mission as a launching pad. Historically, for example, HBCUs have been a source for leaders in the community. In his foreword to my book, Andrew Young talks about Fort Hare University and its role in educating black leaders in southern Africa. This is a discussion that goes well beyond HBCUs. I spoke recently to the trustees of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul — my own undergraduate institution — and heard about their plans to double down on a mission to serve the common good. How would society be different if every institution was this explicit about its social contract? I devote an entire chapter of my book to this idea. Embracing that kind of mission again is going to be a big plus for not only HBCUs but for all sorts of institutions.

Q: How will the faculty role change as more colleges embrace the revolutionaries you profile?

A: You can see already a changing profile among successful faculty. This is most noticeable in research universities where only a generation ago it was very difficult to get a conversation going about undergraduate education or pedagogy. Now, you’re seeing senior faculty members with sterling research credentials and prestigious careers coming back to the classroom and saying, “How can we do this better? Can we make this more focused on data rather than gut feelings, for example? Is there a better way to use technology?” So, one of the things that will happen is that what it means to be a successful professor will change. It’s going to be increasingly difficult to divorce the successful research professor from the successful classroom educator.

The other thing that is likely to happen is that there are going to be fewer of us. Since many faculty members see this as an inevitable outcome of the revolution I believe we’re in the middle of, there is a lot of uncertainty and angst about the direction the profession is taking. One of the things driving costs in higher education is that we haven’t seen productivity increases that really matter. You’ll find, just like we’ve seen in the [computer science] program here at Georgia Tech, increasingly large numbers of students and not corresponding increases in the number of faculty. You can do that by actually increasing quality and how to effectively deliver quality. It does create more opportunity for what some call “super professors.” These are faculty members who are skilled at leading larger academic teams.

Q: Many critics of higher education say that traditional means of quality control (such as accreditation) squelch creative and new approaches. Many others argue that these new models need close oversight. How do you view the oversight/regulation issue?

A: I’m one of those people who is not a big fan of accreditation as it is currently conceived. It’s increasingly costly and intrusive, and by any measure has failed to improve the state of affairs in higher education. I’ve spent enough time as a professor and enough time as a dean to know that it’s very hard to make a direct connection between what the regulators think is quality and something that shows up as quality on a student’s diploma. It’s never been satisfactorily explained, for example, how the regulators will assess quality. In fact, there are economists who think that one of the forces driving cost increases in higher education is throwing around a word like “quality” to justify spending without any means of judging whether or not those investments were worthwhile.

I would much rather see a system in which accreditors return to their traditional role, which was assuring a minimal level of quality. There’s a lot of what we do in college that won’t come to fruition immediately. No one has ever really explained how a test we give today can determine whether or not this skill a student is learning today is going to peak ten years from now. I’d much rather see us focus on those problems.

‘Pick on Somebody Your Own Size’

When Southern University’s football team played against the University of Georgia last month, few people — if anyone — expected the matchup to be a thrilling contest. “I’m not going to be politically correct,” Southern’s band directornoted at the time. “It’s not going to be much of a game.”

Near the end of the third quarter, Devon Gales, a wide receiver at Southern, collided with a Georgia player who outsized him by 6 inches and 40 pounds. Gales’s head struck the kicker’s shoulder and he fell to the field, motionless. He suffered several fractures in his neck, broke a vertebra andremains hospitalized, unable to move anything below his waist.

Southern scored just 6 points against Georgia and lost the game by 42.

The serious injury to Gales is a relatively rare occurrence, but it put an exclamation point on a larger issue. Despite the physical and emotional beatings that can come with such pairings, small and less wealthy colleges continue to play universities with big-time football programs because of the financial payouts and exposure that typically come with the thrashing. For cash-strapped historically black colleges and universities, that can be even more true.

“From a financial standpoint, they’re definitely worth it for HBCUs,” Mark Nagel, professor of sports and entertainment management at the University of South Carolina, said. “It’s a large paycheck and the players usually like the opportunity to play on television or in front of 80,000 people. At the same time, it is an automatic loss and there’s always risk of injury when another team’s players are so much stronger and faster. It does raise the question, ‘Is this what we’re really trying to foster when we talk about sportsmanship and college sports?’”

Every season, institutions with big-time football programs shell out millions of dollars to smaller teams to fine-tune their performance before they enter conference play and to help improve their chances of being bowl eligible by padding their record with a few easy wins. Georgia paid $650,000 for the guaranteed win against Southern, as well as for a performance by its renowned marching band.

For HBCUs, whose budgets are dwarfed by those of institutions like Georgia, the money can be a welcome trade-off. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Southern spends about $9 million per year on its athletics programs. Georgia spends nearly $100 million.

Where teams at some historically black colleges were once able to compete with smaller programs like those in the Sun Belt Conference, Nagel said, even those institutions have begun paying HBCUs to provide an easy early-season win. Last month, Howard University started its season with a 49-0 loss to Appalachian State University.

The next weekend, Howard fell to Boston College, 76-0. Howard’s and Boston College’s coaches agreed to shorten the game’s last two quarters by five minutes each. Officials at Howard declined to be interviewed for this article.

Combined, HBCU teams gave up nearly 500 points in the first week of the football season and scored fewer than 100. Morgan State University lost 63-7 to the Air Force Academy. Alcorn State University lost 69-6 to Georgia Institute of Technology. Grambling State University lost to the University of California at Berkeley, 73-14.

When playing fellow HBCU teams or other programs with similar financial and enrollment numbers, the results of the matchups are more even: Southern won 50-31 against Jackson State University. Grambling State beat Prairie View A&M University, 70 to 54. Howard lost to Norfolk State University, 15-12.

“In the U.S., we share a lot of cultural traditions and one of those is to ‘pick on somebody your own size,’” said Charles Clotfelter, a public policy and economics professor at Duke University who studies college athletics. “To some extent some of these matchups do seem to go against that. They verge on unfair fights and therefore they could be unseemly no matter what else is at stake. It’s not that anybody is cheating, but there’s an unsportsmanlike aspect to all of it.”

Some institutions and conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s wealthiest and most competitive level, do avoid playing smaller programs like those at historically black colleges and universities. The University of Notre Dame, for example, has never played a team in Division I’s less-competitive Football Championship Subdivision, and the Big Ten Conference discourages its members from playing FCS teams.

“It’s like a junior college team playing against a high school team or a high school team playing against a JV team,” Jim Delany, the Big Ten’s commissioner, said in 2013. “We’re just trying to create a better package that was more interesting to the fan, more interesting to television, more interesting to the players that you can recruit to.”

That mentality could become more common, Nagel said, as the strength of a season’s schedule is a factor in the newly created college football playoff. Postseason play used to be determined by using a combination of polls and computer formulas, but playing so-called cupcake opponents is now seen as a negative by the tournament’s selection committee.

Eddie Comeaux, an associate professor of higher education at the University of California at Riverside, said such a move could be detrimental to HBCUs, which, even with the blowouts and occasional injury, view the games as a valuable marketing tool. When Grambling State lost to Berkeley last month, its marching band won a battle of the bands competition during halftime. The game was also accompanied by several events around the area promoting Grambling State.

Nationally televised games between two HBCU teams are increasingly rare, with some teams not being televised on a major channel at all unless they are playing a larger program. Grambling’s football team will only appear on television one additional time this season, when it plays Southern in November.

“For many of these colleges, one game is not going to disrupt school pride or damage a player’s psyche,” Comeaux, a Berkeley graduate whose mother went to Grambling State, said. “They know they’re probably not going to win, but it’s exposure and a chance to increase visibility for a smaller school. They’re also getting a strong financial package. It can be an opportunity for many of these teams that don’t generate revenue to actually generate revenue for their program, and possibly attract some students at the same time.”


Arne Duncan, a member of President Obama’s inner circle and the second-longest-serving education secretary ever,announced Friday that he will resign in December. He will be replaced by John King Jr., who has been acting as Duncan’s deputy secretary since January and is former commissioner of education in New York.

Many observers had assumed that Duncan would be among those to turn out the lights on the administration in early 2017, given his close personal relationship to the president; they are basketball-playing buddies as well as close colleagues. And indeed, President Obama said in a news conference announcing Duncan’s departure Friday that he had “pushed Arne to stay.”

But while Duncan’s announcement that he would not stay out the full two-term Obama presidency, as Education Secretary Richard W. Riley did with President Clinton from 1992-2001, seemed to take many people by surprise. Former aides to the secretary said they had suspected he would be leaving when they learned that his wife and children had moved back to Chicago at the start of this academic year. Duncan is widely known as a serious family man who built his schedule in part around time with his children and being home for family dinners.

Like every education secretary, much of the focus of Duncan’s tenure has been on elementary and secondary education, and it is primarily that work for which he will probably be remembered (positively and negatively) by most Americans. Duncan’s vocal support for the controversial Common Core standards effort made him a target of teachers’ unions and states’ rights advocates alike.

Yet like his immediate predecessor in the George W. Bush administration, Margaret Spellings — but even more so — Duncan has overseen an Education Department that has taken an activist role in higher education policy making: overhauling the student loan programs, aggressively cracking down on for-profit colleges and campus sexual assault, and turning up the accountability pressures on (and the regulation of) colleges.

He operated much more like a CEO — encouraging underlings to pursue their goals (which critics said sometimes led the department astray) — than as a micromanager enveloped in the intricacies of policy making.

Under Duncan, the tension continued and arguably intensified between the Education Department’s dueling roles as a promoter of educational innovation and a guardian of federal funds and educational quality. Pursuing both of those often conflicting goals meant that he sometimes alienated supporters (like consumer groups at the higher ed level and teachers’ unions in K-12) who much of the time stood by his side.

A Steep Learning Curve

As has been true of previous education secretaries, Duncan came into his job with limited experience with and knowledge about higher education. He had headed the Chicago Public Schools, where he was praised as a fierce advocate for low-income students but clashed with teachers over his support for charter schools and testing, among other things.

Duncan and Obama came into office after the 2008 election at a time when Spellings and Bush had alienated many leaders in higher education with plentiful rhetoric about higher education’s failings and an aggressive push to hold colleges more accountable for measuring the learning outcomes of their students. Many people on campuses were hopeful that the incoming Democratic administration would provide more financial support for students and ease up on the accountability push.

They largely got the former, but were sorely disappointed on the latter, as the administration both made higher education an investment priority and pushed hard on holding colleges accountable.

In the administration’s first year, President Obama and Duncan made higher education a priority in the stimulus funding they backed to keep the economy’s gears turning during the recession, pouring tens of billions of dollars into scientific research and helping states offset potential cuts to colleges and schools.

The administration also pushed through a generally popular plan (except with lenders) to eliminate the Federal Family Education Loan Program and instead make the federal government the sole originator of federal student loansthrough the Education Department’s Direct Loan Program. The architect of that plan was Robert Shireman, who advised President Obama during the transition and was formally appointed as the senior political member of Duncan’s team a few months into the administration’s term.

Shireman and some longtime career employees at the department, including David Bergeron and Daniel Madzelan, got wide berth from Duncan to help craft higher education policy, and out of the gate they attacked some longstanding issues that had troubled financial aid experts and consumer groups for years. The restructuring of the student loan programs largely ended years of fighting over that issue and freed up huge sums of money that the new administration poured into restoring some of the buying power of the Pell Grant program for needy students, which had stagnated and lost ground over the previous decade. The doubling of spending on Pell Grants is clearly one of the hallmarks of Obama’s and Duncan’s tenure.

The other major thrust of the early part of the Obama/Duncan tenure was ratcheting up regulation of for-profit higher education, which over the previous decade (thanks in large part to a loosening of oversight by the Bush administration) had seen its share of postsecondary enrollments and Pell Grant funds soar along with the industry’s profits and students’ debt levels. Little about Duncan’s history would have prompted predictions that he would immediately target for-profit higher education as education secretary — public school advocates viewed his tenure in Chicago as championing corporatization and charter schools.

But one of the strengths of Duncan’s “very inclusive” style of leadership, says Ben Miller, who worked in the Education Department from 2011 to 2013 and is now an analyst at the Center for American Progress, is that he encouraged individual offices and aides to step forward, “creating room for people who have ideas.” (He and others note that Duncan always retained “veto power over major and midlevel policy decisions,” as Education Reform Now’s Michael Dannenberg, another former department aide, put it, and took ultimate responsibility for those decisions.)

Duncan largely unleashed Shireman and others to utilize an opening in federal higher education law to create the “gainful employment” standard that required for-profit colleges and vocational programs at community colleges to prove they were preparing graduates for the workplace. (The same latitude can be seen in the administration’s forceful emphasis on ferreting out sexual assault on college campuses, which grew from a fresh reading by the agency’s Office for Civil Rights of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars sex discrimination by educational institutions.)

Aiming High, Falling Short

The Education Department’s aggressive pursuit of for-profit colleges was clearly another of the Obama administration’s defining education initiatives — and it reflects both the strengths and weaknesses of Duncan’s tenure there, many analysts say.

The department’s initial pass at creating new gainful employment rules was struck down by a federal court, which ruled that while the department had the authority to regulate in that way, it had not done its homework in crafting the measure it used. (The administration has also faced legal challenges on other “program integrity” rules related to the credit hour and state authorization of postsecondary programs.)

In that and other ways, the administration won points for aggressiveness and creativity but fell short in its ability to implement its proposals. While relatively few people have objected philosophically to the shift to 100 percent direct lending, and the lending itself has gone pretty smoothly, Duncan’s department has taken its lumps from financial aid officers and consumer advocates who say it has failed to provide sufficient support to borrowers. The government is ill-equipped to be a trillion-dollar lender, some critics say.

Perhaps the administration’s biggest higher education misstep was its proposal to produce a system to rate colleges based on their performance on a variety of outcome measures, which the Education Department largely abandoned last summer after concluding — months after most other observers had — that doing so was folly.

The ratings debacle cannot be laid at Duncan’s feet — by all accounts it was a White House-driven initiative pushed first and foremost from the Oval Office itself. But for many in higher education, it was a rare example of the administration acknowledging that it had gone too far in its efforts to regulate higher education.

“Secretary Duncan, like all his predecessors, was mostly focused on elementary and secondary education, but unlike most of his predecessors, he significantly expanded the federal role in higher education,” said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education. Unlike Spellings, who put intense pressure on colleges on student learning outcomes, Duncan’s Education Department engaged in an “across-the-board sweep, increasing federal oversight in multiple dimensions,” Hartle said.

Hartle conceded a point made by many of those who have cheered increased federal regulation — that the administration has ratcheted up its oversight in exchange for the increased funding it has poured into its push to send more people to college.

“What I think will be the lasting conceptual legacy of Arne Duncan’s tenure is an extension of the higher education policy paradigm from just basically supporting college access and affordability, to also including college completion and retention,” said Dannenberg, the former Education Department (and U.S. Senate) aide. “In pursuit of that, the Obama administration has paid attention to areas that have not hitherto been regulated, and appropriately so.”

If Duncan has largely followed the lead of the higher education experts in his department (like Shireman and Martha Kanter and Ted Mitchell, who have served as his under secretaries of education), he showed an increasing understanding of and passion about some of those issues as his tenure progressed, says Zakiya Smith, another former department aide who now works at the Lumina Foundation.

“Particularly as higher ed issues became more and more prominent in the administration, he has shown more personal interest and engagement,” said Smith.

When the department took its second bite at the apple after a court invalidated the first iteration of gainful employment, she noted, Duncan became a much more visible and vocal champion of the new rules.

And a July speech by Duncan, which was heavy on warnings about college accountability, was probably the most expansive and detailed higher ed policy address of his six years in the job.

Inside Higher Ed‘s headline for that article was “Obama’s Higher Ed Home Stretch,” but in retrospect, it was also very clearly Duncan’s.


U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, one of the last remaining members of President Barack Obama’s original Cabinet, will step down in December, a White House official said on Friday.

Obama has picked John B. King Jr., who currently acts as Duncan’s deputy, to replace him, the White House said.

Here’s some of what we know about King, a native of Brooklyn:

  • In 2009, he wrote an impassioned essay for the Huffington Post about the value of a public school education. After his mother passed away when he was 8 and then his father when he was 12, he says teachers “quite literally saved my life.”
  • According to a 2011 New York Timesarticle, King was expelled from the prestigious Phillips Academyin Andover, Massachusetts, “where he rebelled against the strict curfews and cut class.” He moved in with family in New Jersey and got into Harvard after he “poured his heart out explaining his circumstances” in an essay. After graduating, he got a Master’s at Columbia and then taught social studies for three years before co-founding a charter school.
  • Before he joined the Department of Education in January 2015, King was the commissioner of education for the state of New York—becoming the first African-American and Puerto Rican person to assume the role. When he took the job, he was one of the youngest state education leaders in the US. During his tenure, he was a staunch advocate of Common Core teaching standards.
  • He currently lives in Takoma Park, Maryland. His two daughters, Amina and Mireya, go to public schools.
  • According to his Twitter bio, he’s also a “sometimes softball coach.”

Read more of the original article via –


AP sources: Education Secretary Arne Duncan stepping down

WASHINGTON (AP) — Education Secretary Arne Duncan, one of the longest-serving members of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, will step down in December, officials said Friday.

In a letter to his staff obtained by The Associated Press, Duncan said he’s returning to Chicago to live with his family. He said he isn’t sure what he will do next, but that he hopes his future will “continue to involve the work of expanding opportunity for children.”

President Barack Obama has tapped John King Jr., a senior official at the Education Department, to run the department for the remainder of his administration. Obama doesn’t intend to nominate King or to nominate another education secretary during the rest of his presidency, but will instead ask King to serve in an acting capacity, said a White House official, who wasn’t authorized to comment by name and requested anonymity.

That approach will spare Obama a confirmation fight over a nominee in the Senate.

Duncan is one of just a few remaining members of Obama’s original cabinet. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Office of Management and Budget director Shaun Donovan have also served in the Cabinet since the first term. Donovan, however, first served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Duncan came to Washington from Chicago, where he ran Chicago’s public school system. As part of the Chicago cohort that followed Obama to Washington, Duncan is one of few Cabinet members who has a personal relationship with the president. A basketball player at Harvard University who played professionally in Australia, Duncan was once a regular in Obama’s weekend basketball games.

As secretary, Duncan prioritized K-12 education and made his first signature initiative the Race to the Top program, in which states competed for federal grants. The program became a flashpoint in the fight over federal involvement in education. Critics argued it encouraged states to adopt the Common Core, a controversial set of curriculum guidelines that become symbolic of federal overreach.

Duncan showed little patience for criticism of the program and the standards. In 2014, he cast critics as “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary.” Duncan later said he regretted the “clumsy phrasing.”


The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) has appointed Oracle Executive Steven Wolfe Pereira to its Board of Directors, announced Jim Clifton, TMCF Board Chairman and President of Gallup.  Mr. Wolfe Pereira’s board appointment continues to prove TMCF’s ability to attract top Silicon Valley companies and executives to invest in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as they grow their diversity pipeline.

Based in San Francisco, CA, Mr. Wolfe Pereira is VP Brand Strategy & Marketing Solutions at the Oracle Data Cloud (ODC) where he leads the group’s efforts to help CMOs, marketing leaders and agency partners realize the value and power of data to discover consumer insights, activate media, and measure results.  He joined Oracle through the acquisition of Datalogix in January 2015, where he served as Chief Marketing Officer.

“TMCF has quickly reached a critical stage in our history,” said Clifton. “Steven’s background and talent will allow us to fully leverage more opportunities to further our mission and work.”

Prior to Oracle, Mr. Wolfe Pereira was Executive Vice President at Starcom MediaVest Group and held leadership roles at Univision Communications and Akamai Technologies, serving in a variety of business development, corporate strategy, finance and marketing roles.

“It is a privilege and an honor to be joining the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Board,” said Wolfe Pereira. “Since its inception, TMCF has been instrumental in connecting high-performing students with great employment opportunities.  As we are increasingly living in a multicultural nation, the mission of TMCF is more important than ever.  I look forward to honoring its legacy and serving the students and families of this incredibly impactful, purpose-driven organization.”

A Fulbright Scholar, Mr. Wolfe Pereira is a graduate of Tufts University and completed the Greater Boston Executive MBA Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.  In addition to serving on the Board of TMCF, Mr. Wolfe Pereira also serves on the board of the Ad Council, the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) and Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO).

“Steven’s expertise in advertising, media, marketing and technology will be a huge asset to TMCF as we stay on course to increasing our visibility and awareness,” said TMCF President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.  “As we continue cultivating leaders of tomorrow, especially in the tech fields, Steven will bring forth a mastery of skills and leadership that will further grow our strategic direction.”


Fort Vally State University to feature Hollywood documentary filmmaker at next lecture series

October 1, 2015 – Fort Valley State University will feature an award-winning Hollywood filmmaker, author and director who will speak about the inequities in the American public school system and standardized testing during an upcoming lecture series.

Curtis Chin, who produced the documentary “Tested” will be the next keynote speaker at the upcoming John W. Davison Lecture Series at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20 in the C.W. Pettigrew Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Chin has written for shows on several major networks including ABC, the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, NBC and Fox. Chin’s work has won awards from several organizations that include the National Endowment from the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the San Diego Asian American Film Foundation.  He has appeared on MSNBC, CNN and NPR. He was also featured in Newsweek, and is currently a visiting scholar at New York University.

The director’s first documentary, “Vincent Who?” was screened at 400 colleges in four countries and captured awards from the National Association for Multicultural Education and the Asian American Justice Center.

Chin’s current documentary, “Tested” is a movie that examines the gaps in opportunities for different races in America, which remain extreme. According to Chin, this is particularly evident in the nation’s top public schools. In New York City, African Americans and Hispanics make up 70 percent of the city’s school-aged population, however they represent less than five percent of the city’s elite public high schools. Asian Americans, however, make up as much as 73 percent.

The documentary follows a dozen eighth grade students from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds as the fight for a seat at one of these elite schools. Their only way into the school is a standardized test. The movie includes interviews with education experts such as Pedro Noguera and Diane Ravitch. It also explores the high-quality publication, affirmative action and “model-minority” myth.

In addition to his film work, Chin also serves as a community activist. He co-founded the Asian-American Writers Workshop and Asian Pacific Americans for Progress.

The day preceding the lecture series, Chin will speak to students and faculty within FVSU’s College of Arts and Science.

For details, contact Dr. Edward Hill, dean of FVSU’s College of Education.


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September News

Scholars Want HBCU Jazz Programs to Remain on Center Stage

It’s documented that, as early as 1919, Tuskegee University, then known as Tuskegee Institute, o­ffered jazz instruction from the renowned educator and bandleader Leonard L. Bowden. By the early 1930s, Black college jazz bands toured widely to raise funds for and promote their respective schools. Schools, including Alabama State University, Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Kentucky State University and Florida A&M University, fielded bands that contributed to the popularity of the swing era jazz as dance music.

A number of noted musicians who led their own bands and gained recognition as instrumentalists began careers in Black college bands. Legendary among those associated with the early Black college jazz tradition, Erskine Hawkins played trumpet in the famed ’Bama State Collegians of State Teachers College (Alabama State University) and led the group when he and his bandmates took up residency in New York City in 1934 to perform as a professional ensemble.

Eventually, the group relinquished the ’Bama State Collegians name and toured as Erskine Hawkins and His Orchestra. The band is largely remembered for recording the classic “Tuxedo Junction” composition, which Hawkins helped compose.

By the 1940s, the popularity and acceptance of jazz in American culture paved the way for music educators to establish jazz studies degree programs largely in music departments at predominantly White colleges and universities. Since then, despite some resistance from classical music faculty, more than 200 jazz studies degree programs have taken root at U.S. colleges and universities. In the 21st century, colleges and universities represent a critical part of the cultural infrastructure that now cultivates and sustains jazz as a viable art form.

Although fewer than 10 such programs exist at historically Black institutions, jazz performance groups, including small combos, vocal groups and big bands, continue to have an important presence. Two historically Black schools, Howard University and North Carolina Central University (NCCU), o­ffer a master’s program in jazz studies in addition to an undergraduate program. HBCUs also annually organize a number of regional jazz festivals that showcase high school, college, and professional bands and artists, such as the Alcorn State University Jazz Festival.

Jazz educators insist that HBCUs have remained relevant to jazz in American higher education and that their music departments have the potential to host new jazz degree programs. They worry, however, that HBCUs are not doing enough to honor the tradition of innovation that once saw jazz propelled from Black college campuses to the mainstream of World War II-era American pop culture.

“Jazz education really started with HBCUs,” says Dr. Larry Ridley, a bassist and veteran music educator who helped establish the jazz studies program at Rutgers University in the early 1970s.

“­The jazz bands were utilized to help raise funds to keep the institutions open. … So they were very significant during that particular time” in jazz history, says Ridley, who co-founded the African American Jazz Caucus that was heavily active in the 2000s as an organization supporting jazz education.

Over the past three decades, HBCU jazz studies in “a few places have grown. But I think the majority of them are treading water and trying to survive,” says Dr. Ira Wiggins, director of jazz studies at NCCU.

“A lot of HBCUs have jazz ensembles but not degree programs where they have the improvisation courses, composition and arranging, the history and the pedagogy — all the things that go along with the complete degree offering. … That’s what is really needed,” he said.

Such degree programs afford a broad range of students, including traditional music education majors and even non-music majors, the opportunity to learn jazz performance and pedagogy in depth, says Dr. Russell Thomas, director of jazz studies at Jackson State University.

Studies taking flight

For years, Wiggins was the only full-time faculty member in the jazz studies program at the Durham, North Carolina-based NCCU. Between joining NCCU in 1986 and the early 2000s, Wiggins had faculty responsibility for managing four ensembles, including a big band, two small group combos and a vocal jazz group, in addition to teaching jazz studies classes.

With limited help from part-time adjunct faculty, Wiggins regularly led NCCU jazz groups to garner top awards at events, such as the Villanova Jazz Festival in Philadelphia and the Count Basie Jazz Festival at Hampton University during the 1990s. In other highlights, the NCCU jazz ensemble performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and at Euro-Disney in Paris. In addition, the Clinton White House hosted both the NCCU jazz combo and vocal jazz ensemble, in which the groups entertained guests during a reception.

With increased support from the NCCU administration beginning in the early 2000s, the jazz studies program hired full-time professors who helped lighten the load that Wiggins had carried for so long. ­The new hires brought specialized expertise in vocal and instrumental instruction that strengthened NCCU jazz studies and paved the way for the program to offer master’s degrees in jazz performance and jazz composition and arranging.

“We are fully staffed now. … That’s been the major thing that’s allowed us to get to the point where we could have the master’s program. … Since 2003, we had been talking about the master’s program and we finally got it on board in 2008,” Wiggins says.

Elite performance opportunities and accolades that had distinguished the NCCU jazz program in the 1990s expanded in the 2000s and they have continued into the current decade. ­The program has grown to include four combos, two big bands, a vocal group of 16 students and a guitar ensemble, which currently provide opportunities for 30 undergraduate and 20 graduate jazz studies majors. In addition, noted jazz greats, such as Branford Marsalis, have had high-profile artistic residencies in the NCCU music department and have helped the NCCU jazz groups produce performance CDs.

This past spring, an outpouring of public support emerged when it was incorrectly reported by North Carolina news media that the UNC system had eliminated the NCCU jazz program along with low-enrollment academic programs around the state. Wiggins and NCCU officials labored mightily to set the record straight and assure supporters the renowned program would continue forward.

“We were flooded with calls and emails from people around the country and as far away as Germany, including current students, alumni, incoming students and their parents,” he says.

Wiggins credits NCCU chancellors James Ammons, Charlie Nelms and Debra Saunders-White for recognizing the full potential of the university’s jazz program and bringing to it support for additional full-time faculty and other resources. Serving as NCCU chancellor from 2001 to 2007, Ammons, who is related to jazz legends Albert and Gene Ammons, deserves high praise for having understood the value jazz education brought to NCCU, Wiggins says.

It proved advantageous that “Ammons was the [chancellor] and he was kin to Gene Ammons, the great tenor [saxophone] player. He had an affection for jazz and he supported us a lot,” Wiggins notes.

Robert Trowers recalls that Wiggins had developed a compelling teaching environment for the professional musicians he recruited to expand the NCCU jazz program. A trombonist with the Count Basie Orchestra during the 1980s and ’90s, Trowers says the jazz ensembles under Wiggins stood out in the band camps the Count Basie band members had conducted at Hampton University.

“What we noticed about his groups more than any other was that they really had the kind of feel that we felt that jazz groups should have. … They were noticeably more swinging and had more of the feel that we as members of the Basie band felt was important,” Trowers says.

Eventually relocating from New York City to Durham in 2004, Trowers says the NCCU jazz program was grounded in the fundamentals derived from the swing era. Being at an HBCU “was the community where the music first came from,” he says.

It took jazz vocalist Lenora Helm Hammonds a few years of part-time teaching and being an artist-in-residence at NCCU to recognize that formulating vocal jazz performance pedagogy had become a calling and that she should become a full-time faculty member to devote herself to pedagogy. Like many other professional musicians who join academic music departments, Hammonds pursued graduate school while continuing to teach.

Hammonds, like Trowers, relocated to North Carolina from New York City, where she had been based as a professional vocalist and composer following her undergraduate years at the Berklee College of Music during the 1980s.

“All the time I started spending at NCCU it just opened my eyes; it was life-changing because I was able to see how little attention vocal jazz is given in jazz programs” at other schools, says Hammonds, who is an assistant professor. In addition, there are too few published books and teaching documents to help vocal jazz instructors with their students, she adds.

Hammonds, who has been teaching full time since 2007, qualified to join the tenure track in the NCCU music department in 2013 and is set to begin work on a dissertation in her Boston University music doctoral program this summer. She notes that she will be eligible for tenure in 2020, or 17 years after first working at NCCU.

“I always look at the end result, and if the end result is going to be something that’s awesome where there will be vocal jazz pedagogical tools and books, and the people who come after me that teach vocal jazz won’t have the hard time I had, then it’s worth it,” she says.

Cultivating jazz

HBCU music educators are mindful that the push for jazz education can come into conflict with pressures generated by marching bands and the traditional, or classical, music program, all of which are vying for faculty hires, scholarships, courses, and other resources determined and allocated by music departments.

Thomas says it’s often necessary for university presidents to make jazz education a high priority such that jazz studies courses and degree programs can be established at an institution.

“Jazz education needs good leadership. You have to have a strong president who would like to have [jazz studies programs] in place,” he says.

Mondre Moffett, director of the jazz ensemble at North Carolina A&T State University, would like to see HBCU administrations, including the one presiding at the Greensboro-based school, get directly involved with making jazz education a high priority for their institutions.

“Jazz is America’s classical music. But many of our educators don’t see the full value that it has,” he says.

Moffett, who has proposed a jazz studies program at N.C. A&T, says the improvement the school’s jazz ensemble has made over the past decade presents opportunity for both music and non-music majors. But it’s disappointing that the university has not taken the steps to establish jazz studies as a degree program, he says.

Before joining the Tennessee State University music department faculty as a percussion area leader and assistant professor of music in 2007, Dr. Sean Daniels was director of the marching band and developed and led the jazz bands at Benedict College, a historically Black institution in Columbia, South Carolina. Daniels, who chaired the Fine Arts Department, which included the Music Program, notes that the Benedict College president had made it a priority for the school to revive its dormant marching band tradition as well as establish a jazz ensemble.

“In the process, I built a jazz combo program [and] a big band; we taught improvisation, taught history of jazz, taught arranging [and] taught composition,” Daniels says.

“I didn’t have all the resources, but we exposed [Benedict students] to everything we could. … Because I was chair I could push that agenda and I thought it was important,” he adds.

At Tennessee State, where there are more than 100 music majors, Daniels says jazz courses and bands are on solid footing in a music department that does not currently offer a jazz studies major.

“We have Mr. James Sexton, who directs the Jazz Collegians. And the Collegians have been around quite some time. … The Jazz Collegians [band] is a flagship,” Daniels says of the Tennessee State big band group that dates back to the 1940s.

The university-sponsored jazz festival has also signaled the commitment of academic programs along with their administrations to demonstrate leadership on bringing jazz to public audiences.

The Alcorn State University Jazz Festival is one of a few HBCU jazz festivals. Originally organized by Thomas when he was a young professor at Alcorn State in the early 1980s, the festival has brought jazz masters, such as Clark Terry, Max Roach, Freddie Hubbard, Donald Byrd and Ramsey Lewis, to perform before Mississippi audiences.

Marking its 35th year in April, the one-day festival has also been a showcase for college and high school bands from around the country. This year’s festival, which featured 17 groups, fell on April 18 and was held in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

“The festival is not just an important component of Alcorn’s jazz program, but a very important component of jazz in this whole region,” Miller says.

“It’s one of the biggest things that the university does” in terms of public outreach and community service, he adds.

CHEYNEY, Pa. – One of the oldest historically black colleges in the United States is fighting to survive.

Cheyney University, a small, rural public institution in Pennsylvania, faces challenges on nearly every front. The institution’s students have been leaving in droves, and enrollment is down by about half since 2008. With its state funding slashed by 20 percent during that time, the university has a deficit of nearly $19 million.

The university has mismanaged many of its administrative functions, which are deeply disorganized — a widely held view, including by supporters of the institution. During one recent admissions cycle, scores of forgotten and unreviewed applications were lost and then rediscovered too late, sources say.

A recent review found that Cheyney, which has no financial reserves and no endowment, may have to repay as much as $30 million in federal aid funds because it didn’t properly administer or track them.

Many of its facilities are outdated and in disrepair. It hasn’t had a permanent president in more than a year, and no search is underway for one. Its six-year graduation rate is 26 percent, low even among historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) like Cheyney, which serve many disadvantaged students and historically have rates below 55 percent, the average national rate reported by the National Student Clearinghouse.

“There are lots and lots of factors at play that make it really messy,” says Marybeth Gasman, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Minority-Serving Institutions, of Cheyney. “It really does look like a shadow of itself.”

Cheyney holds a unique place among HBCUs. Founded in 1837 — a quarter century before Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation — as a school for teacher education, it’s the oldest existing postsecondary institution for black students, though not the first historically black degree-granting institution.

It has been owned by the state since 1922 and was a founding member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), which was created in 1983. Its alumni include Julian Abele, architect of the Philadelphia Free Library and the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Rebecca J. Cole, one of the first black female physicians in the U.S.; Ed Bradley, the late 60 Minutes correspondent; and civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.

But Cheyney’s legacy is at risk. As the university struggles to right itself, Cheyney faculty and HBCU policy experts alike wonder: Can the university rebound enough to once again cover its own expenses and better serve Pennsylvania’s minority students? How much is PASSHE, one of the state systems with the lowest levels of per-student funding in the nation, willing to help Cheyney survive? What does a revitalized Cheyney look like?

And, more broadly, how do Cheyney’s problems mirror those of other struggling HBCUs?

The state system is in the early stages of working with the university to develop a plan to increase enrollment through such strategies as the creation of new programs and marketing, and to cut costs by restructuring administrative units and possibly partnering with a nearby university. Yet Cheyney’s enrollment and revenue have been declining for years, and until now little has been done to turn the tide at the institution.

“There is widespread concern about where we are headed and how we’re going to progress through this period,” said Norma George, who chairs the university’s English, Languages and Communication Arts Department. “There’s a tremendous amount of will to see the university weather this term and come out on the brighter side.”

Images From the Cheyney Campus from dougled

Enrollment Decline

Cheyney’s enrollment dropped from about 1,470 full-time students in 2008 to just over 1,000 last year. This fall it is expected to dip another 300-some students, coming in just under 700.

Many HBCUs across the country are facing enrollment challenges, which in part stem from the growing number of options available to black students as more and more predominantly white colleges focus on recruiting black students. Enrollment at Lincoln University, the only other HBCU in Pennsylvania, was 1,820 students last fall — roughly a one-fourth drop in seven years.

Officials at Cheyney attribute enrollment declines to reduced state funding, increased tuition and a slow-moving economy that has had a particularly harsh effect on low-income families. The vast majority of Cheyney’s students are low income and first generation. For example, three-fourths of Cheyney’s undergraduates receive Pell Grants.

Meanwhile, West Chester University sits six miles from Cheyney’s campus. One of the most successful universities in the PASSHE system, West Chester had an enrollment of 16,090 in 2014, including 1,650 black students. The university outperforms Cheyney on several measures: its second-year retention rate among black students is 83.5 percent and its graduation rate for black students is 53.2 percent, according to West Chester’s 2014 fact book. Yet it’s also a much more selective university: West Chester admits 53 percent of applicants whereas Cheyney has an open-admissions policy.

There are concerns that the university’s challenges — issues like subpar facilities and falling behind in creating attractive academic programs — are dissuading students from attending Cheyney. Undergraduate tuition is about the same throughout the PASSHE system. Cheyney’s resident tuition is $9,340 a year and West Chester’s resident tuition is $9,460. And if a student gets into a better-performing university, for many the choice is a simple one.

“The bottom line is that it’s about the value proposition,” says Ivan Turnipseed, who is chair of Cheyney’s Hospitality and Recreation Management Department and has served in the leadership of its Faculty Senate and faculty union. “The reason Cheyney doesn’t get the amount of students that we could handle is because it costs the same as West Chester and all the other schools, and the value proposition isn’t the same.”

Turnipseed added: “The overall experience leaves a lot of people wanting.”

The result is that some students don’t stick around long. Fully 45 percent leave Cheyney after their first year.

Cheyney faculty members Norma George and Ivan Turnipseed on campus last month.

Cheyney’s interim president, Frank Pogue, says that increasing enrollment for Cheyney is “priority No. 1.” And the state has outlined goals for Cheyney to enroll 800 students by next fall.

The shrinking number of students has contributed to a growing deficit at the university, where annual operating losses rose from $213,000 in 2011 to $5.9 million in 2014. This summer, for the fourth consecutive year, Cheyney issued notices to faculty that they could be laid off at the end of the academic year.

Deferred maintenance for Cheyney’s 634,000 square feet of infrastructure is estimated at nearly $26 million. Four of Cheyney’s buildings are in such poor condition they’re now closed and are slated to be demolished, along with another academic building. And many of the open buildings are in various states of disrepair: broken floor tiles, scuffed and rusted hallways and doorways, and broken air-conditioning are not uncommon. (See slideshow, below, for a look at some of the university’s deteriorating facilities.)

Did Budgets Reflect Bias?

Many people interviewed for this article, from faculty members to Council of Trustees Chairman Robert W. Bogle to scholars who study HBCUs, placed much of the blame for Cheyney’s challenges with the state of Pennsylvania.

They pointed to historic underfunding and unequal treatment of Cheyney. They described how, decades ago, contractors would use subpar materials when constructing new buildings. They noted that, in 1969, Pennsylvania’s government was found by the federal government to be among 10 state governments operating an openly discriminatory higher education system, and how, in 1999, the PASSHE system signed an agreement with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights that aimed to provide more funding and new programs for Cheyney in an effort to compensate for decades of discrimination. Yet that agreement was never fully executed.

A new coalition of alumni and advocates, dubbed Heeding Cheyney’s Call, has sued PASSHE and seeks “parity through equity,” or support that would make up for historic underfunding due to past discriminatory practices. Michael Coard, a member of that group, says Cheyney is treated like the “stepchild” of the PASSHE system. Bogle says that “at no time” has the university been treated as an “equal partner” in the system.

“The bottom line really has to do with whether or not the institution has been properly supported,” says James T. Minor, deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs at the U.S. Department of Education and a scholar of HBCUs. “If the answer is no, then all of the issues and the questions and the management challenges have to be understood through the primary problem or the first problem: insufficient funding over a number of years has a compounding effect.”

PASSHE’s neglect, critics say, isn’t limited to funding. Kenneth Mash, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), PASSHE’s faculty union, says that for years system officials were being told of mismanagement and didn’t intervene.

“If you give money over but you don’t make sure that money is being spent properly, if you don’t provide the proper oversight, if you continually hear stories about things that are going on and you take no corrective action, and you only step in when things are absolutely at their worst — then there is a real issue about oversight,” he says. “One has to wonder about the fiduciary responsibilities of those involved.”

PASSHE’s chancellor, Frank Brogan, declined to grant an interview for this article but did offer a brief written statement, and the chair of the Board of Regents for the system did not respond to requests for an interview. Despite repeated requests, the system did not make an administrator available for an interview.

Cheyney receives the most per-student funding of any state-owned institution in Pennsylvania by a wide margin: per-student state funding at Cheyney was $14,000 last year, triple the state average of $4,500. Yet the per-student figure can be misleading, as Cheyney has experienced a steep decline in students in spite of efforts to increase enrollment. In addition, the system’s formula gives Cheyney extra money because it is a historically black college.

Taken as a whole, Cheyney’s state allocation is the smallest in the PASSHE system, which isn’t surprising, because Cheyney has, by far, the lowest enrollment of any PASSHE institution. Cheyney’s base appropriation has dropped significantly in recent years: in 2008 the university received $15.7 million from the state, compared to $12.5 million last fall, a one-fifth reduction over seven years. That drop largely follows enrollment declines and cuts in overall state support — the PASSHE system has not received a funding increase in four years and had its funding cut by 18 percent in 2010.

Cheyney has received more capital funding — state funds separate from annual appropriations that are earmarked for campus construction projects — than its peer universities in recent years, receiving $97 million since 2008, compared to the $43.5 million average for all system universities during that time. Those funds provided the bulk of support for Cheyney’s two newest buildings: a $50 million student dorm and a $23 million science center, which were the first residence hall and academic building to be built on campus in more than 30 years.

Because many of its students are low income and first generation — a population that is expensive to educate — the level of state funding Cheyney receives is crucial, said Michelle Cooper, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

“Funding is so important to these institutions because they are serving the students with the greatest need,” she says of HBCUs.

In June PASSHE gave Cheyney a third, $6.5 million line of credit, bringing the total amount Cheyney owes the system to $13 million. A December 2014 state auditwarned that Cheyney is becoming increasingly dependent on the system to stay afloat.

University leaders acknowledge that Cheyney’s ongoing reliance on loans from the system isn’t sustainable. “The state is not going to continue to lend you that money because they have limitations themselves and, in the absence of a comprehensive plan, I doubt that they would continue to support you,” says Bogle.

“The writing’s on the wall,” he continued. “Resources are not inexhaustible. They’re going to give out.”

The system is working with Cheyney administrators to determine a long-term plan for the institution. System staff have filled in to help with poor-performing areas of the university, such as fiscal management and student financial aid functions. And the system has hired, and footed the bill for, a consultant to overhaul Cheyney’s financial aid offices.

Questionable Leadership Practice

Several people interviewed for this article — including Cheyney’s interim president — said the university’s admissions and financial services offices have been mismanaged for years. Some students receive personal recommendations from faculty members, yet don’t hear back from Cheyney’s admissions or financial aid office.

Mash calls the stories stemming from such mismanagement “legendary.” Gasman, the HBCU scholar, says the university has had “some really questionable leadership practices” in recent history.

Inefficiencies in the admissions office often pile on to the large systemic issues Cheyney is fighting against as it tries to maintain enrollment, like demographic shifts in the Northeast and the declining competitiveness of HBCUs. After a recent admissions cycle, for example, a trove of misplaced applications was discovered, apparently set aside and then forgotten about. The result was hundreds of students who applied to Cheyney but never heard back from the admissions office.

“It’s a huge issue. We have low enrollment enough, but to hear over and over again that people never heard from anybody,” says Turnipseed, “how would that be possible when we need people so desperately? That just seems crazy.”

Meanwhile, the financial aid office has been working to fix years of mismanagement. A PASSHE review that concluded in August found Cheyney made numerous mistakes when awarding and tracking federal grants and loans between 2011 and 2013. Nearly $30 million in aid — distributed as Pell Grants, federal work study, direct student loans and other awards — is in question and may have to be repaid.

The consultant now operating Cheyney’s financial aid office reviewed 3,900 of 4,400 student records during the three-year period, and found that 85 percent had at least one error. Of the 4,400 records, nearly half — 47 percent — were determined to be ineligible for aid, meaning they lacked elements like high school transcripts or proof of a student’s academic standing or progress. In many cases, the students likely would have qualified had they completed their applications and provided necessary documentation.

The problems stem from a number of lapses, ranging from not confirming whether students actually enrolled to failing to integrating software used to track and award aid. The report noted problems with “enrollment management functions, the university’s policies and procedures, communications, academic progress, student accounts, student records, financial records and student information management systems,” PASSHE’s chancellor wrote in a memo to regents.

The U.S. Department of Education is reviewing PASSHE’s report and will determine what sanctions and repayments to place on Cheyney. If the university owes the department money, it will have to come from the state, as Cheyney doesn’t have the funds itself.

“While progress is being made, the bitter truth is that students’ federal student aid was mismanaged. Their Cheyney student accounts are wrong,” stated a summary of the review. “With lifetime limitations on the eligibility for these federal funds, it is the students (and those that are borrowers) that are harmed.”

In an April report, Moody’s, the credit rating agency, anticipated that remediation of aid that Cheyney improperly awarded will be a liability for PASSHE, along with declining enrollment and significant financial challenges. For many who watch Cheyney, mismanagement of federal aid is a careless mistake: Cheyney had similar problems awarding and tracking aid from 1999 to 2007, and PASSHE worked with the university from 2008 to 2010 in an attempt to get its procedures in line.

“It has rippling effects,” Gasman says. “When you have that kind of lack of organization and lack of integrity in those areas, students remember that, and what happens is they don’t want to give back as alumni.”

What’s Being Done?

As Cheyney has struggled with enrollment declines, it’s been slow to adopt a number of strategies that have worked for other struggling HBCUs. Cheyney, for example, has gone years without creating new, high-demand academic programs — a strategy many HBCUs use to make their campuses attractive to students. The university is considering new programs like sports management and criminal justice, along with six others, for approval this year.

Yet prior to the current review, there has been little program development at Cheyney. The last new program developed was a graphic arts major in 2009. Coard, with Heeding Cheyney’s Call, is a staunch advocate of Cheyney and places blame for much of its problems with the state system. But he admits that program creation is an area where administrators have dropped the ball.

“That’s indefensible. There’s no way I can get around that,” he says. “These administrators did not do the right thing.”

Meanwhile a search is underway now for a director of marketing — a position that hasn’t previously existed at Cheyney. Turnipseed says the lack of marketing at Cheyney has contributed to enrollment problems. Prospective students, he says, aren’t being told about the university’s successful programs.

As Cheyney’s revenues have declined, the university has tried to cut expenses. A December 2014 state audit revealed that during the 2013-14 academic year, for example, Cheyney reported reducing its workforce by 23 percent and its nonpersonnel expenses by 22 percent. Low-demand programs, like fashion merchandising, have been axed. The university has overhauled its admissions, financial aid and student services offices with new staff in an effort to operate more efficiently.

Cheyney has eliminated dozens of positions, mainly through attrition. In 2014 Cheyney had 100 full-time faculty and instructors, compared to 138 a decade ago, according to figures provided by APSCUF, the state faculty union.

“If you discover that you are in debt, that your income is less than your expenses, you have to make adjustments,” Pogue says.

“We’ve had layoffs here. We have positions that we have not filled,” he continued. “We have reduced our workforce. We have eliminated several academic programs. We have reduced spending by reducing the number of activities and things that our faculty and staff can do.”

And the university is considering a number of strategies to improve student retention and to increase enrollment. This fall, for example, the Faculty Senate agreed to nix a foreign language course requirement for graduation, feeling the requirement was holding too many students back.

Cheyney is considering stepping up its student recruitment in Philadelphia. The university is also in talks to collaborate with West Chester. Unlike Cheyney, West Chester has the largest student body in the system and not enough space for all its students. At this point the nature of a partnership isn’t clear, but would likely involve sharing academic resources, like libraries, and facilities, as well as collaborating on joint academic programs. Though many say a partnership could help Cheyney have access to more resources, there are also concerns that West Chester could overshadow Cheyney.

“The whole notion of a collaboration wasn’t and still isn’t something that we prefer, but we realize it’s essential,” said Coard, who added that some alumni and faculty are worried about West Chester taking control of some of Cheyney’s land and academic departments. There’s concern that “Cheyney would become West Chester-like, and we’re not having that,” he said.

Leadership in Question

Since Cheyney’s last president, Michelle Howard-Vital, abruptly left the institution in July 2014 after serving for seven years, the university has had two temporary leaders, including Pogue, the current interim president. Pogue is an experienced administrator, having served as president or interim president of three universities before coming to Cheyney.

Yet despite going more than a year without a permanent leader, there is no search underway for a new president. Before Howard-Vital, a different interim president led Cheyney for more than three years.

George, the English chair, says the university needs a “visionary” leader who is committed to Cheyney for the long haul. She faults the state system for neglecting to search for a permanent leader and for not firing the last president when things at Cheyney continued to deteriorate.

“There are strong candidates out there who want to make their mark, who want to say, ‘Let me see what I can do with this dying beast,’” said George, who has served as a leader for the Faculty Senate and faculty union.

“You do not have to let it die by feeding it bad food and saying, ‘It’s sick already, why are we going to waste good money on it?’ You get somebody who is proven, and who wants to prove themselves. You get them at the helm,” she continued.

Gasman agreed that Cheyney needs strong leadership, something it’s lacked in recent history.

“They’ve had presidents that have been sometimes timid with the state and with the board,” she says. “They’ve had presidents who have not necessarily had the support of alumni, and have had contentious relationships with staff and faculty.”

Meanwhile, Bogle has been a member of Cheyney’s Council of Trustees since 1985, and chairman for at least two decades, and has seen six presidents come and go. Bogle is president of The Philadelphia Tribune, Pennsylvania’s largest newspaper aimed at black readers.

A consistent presence during Cheyney’s difficulties and internal mismanagement, Bogle emphasized that the role of the council is a limited one, and that ultimate control over funding and appointments lies with the PASSHE Board of Regents, which governs the 14-university system.

“The Council of Trustees has extremely limited influence on the day-to-day and ultimately the end result of what occurs at the university,” he says. For example, the council cannot conduct a presidential search until it is directed by the state system to do so. “The state system has to agree to a search. We cannot arbitrarily, capriciously decide we’re going to have a search.”

Yet while the systemwide Board of Regents has ultimate say over funding, programs and presidential appointments, PASSHE’s rules make it clear that the council has responsibility to advise the president and review his or her decisions, ranging from facilities to academic policies.

Cheyney’s Future

About 9 percent, or 10,400, of the 95,700 students enrolled in PASSHE’s 14 universities in 2014 were black. In addition to the PASSHE system, Pennsylvania has four state-related universities. The two largest, Temple University and Pennsylvania State University, enroll 4,500 (12 percent of the student body) and 4,700 (5.5 percent) black students, respectively, according to their most recent fact books.

Given Cheyney’s mounting challenges, some question whether the university will survive — or whether it should be allowed to fail.

Neal McCluskey, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the conservative think tank the Cato Institute, says factors like enrollment are a measure of whether or not there is still a demand for a Cheyney education — or one at any college.

“The best way to decide what is the place of Cheyney is that individuals would chose schools, and if there weren’t enough that valued the history of a place like Cheyney then it should go out of business,” he said. “People vote. People express their feelings about Cheyney with their feet.”

Among scholars of HBCUs and people affiliated with Cheyney, this is an unpopular option.

​“There is a place for Cheyney, if Cheyney can get itself back on its feet,” Gasman said, adding that with the recent spate of high-profile shootings of unarmed black men, some black students are seeking out HBCUs so they can be in a minority-majority setting.

“I really see black students across the country hurting,” she continued. “HBCUs have a special [role] they can play by easing that pain.”

Others note that many of the students enrolled at Cheyney wouldn’t otherwise attend college if the institution didn’t exist.

“Cheyney’s mission is an important mission to this day. To deny that is to deny there are African-American students in the commonwealth that are being underserved,” said Mash, the union leader. Yet Mash says for Cheyney to fully serve that mission, it has to be improved. “We’re talking about a university where the students don’t get the same treatment as they do at other universities. The faculty don’t get the same treatment and respect as they do at our 13 other universities. That’s a problem that’s existed for decades and continues to this day.”

Pogue noted that when Cheyney was first created, 90 percent of blacks in the U.S. were slaves. Its history as a pioneer for black education, he says, may be its saving grace.

“For any institution that is moving in a direction that we are moving, whether we want to or not, the future may certainly be at risk,” Pogue said.

“I have worked in other settings where the challenges have been viewed often as insurmountable. The difference of what we have at Cheyney is that this is the oldest HBCU and it simply must be preserved,” he said, adding, “We have to demonstrate that we have the capacity to turn things around.”


Fall 2015 Enrollment Increases at GSU

GRAMBLING, LOUISIANA (Sept. 14, 2015) Grambling State University posted an increase in enrollment for entering freshmen, transfer students and total enrollment for the Fall 2015 semester. Freshman enrollment is up 57% over last year with 638 first-year students attending classes, while transfer student enrollment was up by 36% with 311 students enrolled. Combined graduate and undergraduate enrollment stands at 4,553.

“We are pleased to announce that our preliminary numbers are ahead of last year’s numbers,” Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness & Enrollment Management Damon Wade said. “GSU’s enrollment increase provides a baseline for future growth and is especially significant in light of the changes in Board of Regents policy regarding out-of-state tuition and ACT test requirements. We expect significant gains in freshman and transfer student enrollment for Fall 2016.  Our new freshman and transfer student enrollment increases also demonstrates that Grambling is strong, and that students believe that this is the perfect environment for their academic and social growth.”

President Willie Larkin thanked GSU’s dedicated recruiters, Admissions officers and alumni for the hard work that has led to this increase in enrollment.

“I am beyond excited to learn that our enrollment numbers are trending upward in 2015,” Larkin said. “This is a clear indication that our message around Grambling’s ‘Value Proposition’ is finally beginning to resonate with everyone.  I can’t thank our recruiters, Admissions officers and alumni around the country enough for their steadfast assistance in steering students to the university.  Now that we see it can be done, I am urging everyone to continue to support the direction we’re going and help Grambling reach its ultimate goal of 8,000 students.  I am confident that we can make this happen with tenacity, hard work and intentionality. Again, we are thrilled beyond expression at this great news.”


About Grambling State University

Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university founded in 1901. The University has been accredited by 13 accrediting associations and holds accreditations in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. The 590-acre campus offers 47 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Grambling State University is a member of the University of Louisiana System.

Minority- Servicing and Under Resourced Schools Division News

Mildred Higgins just celebrated her 96th

She was born to a coal miner in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.

Mildred’s father was Italian and her Mom was mixed with black heritage.  Her mother taught

Mildred’s father English and he was then able to become a U.S. citizen.

Mrs. Higgins began her career at the American Red Cross. While working at the Red Cross, she lived in Calcutta and Delphi, India for four years. Mildred and the Red Cross director, Rodney Higgins, who was 24, had received a Ph.D. in political science at 21 years of age, became fast friends on their 60-day journey by boat from India, back to the states. They were the only two black people on the ship, with the exception of some soldiers. After docking in New York, Mildred brought Rodney home with her for the weekend and he was fascinated with her family.

In 1946, Rodney Higgins asked Mildred to move to Louisiana after he had been offered a faculty position at Southern University. The two were married that year. Southern University at Baton Rouge’s Rodney G. Higgins Hall is now one of the largest buildings on campus, was named in his honor.

Mildred had a stellar 65 year career; 40 years as Financial Aid Director at Southern University-Louisiana, and then another 25 years at Xavier University, in Louisiana, where she retired for the second time just two years ago.  Happy Birthday Mrs. Higgins!

Leonard L. Haynes III Ohio State University Diversity Champion Award

for the Office of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education, was elected into the Education and Human Ecology Hall of Fame at Ohio State University. He is the first-ever recipient ofeonard L. Haynes III, senior director of institutional services

the Alumni Association’s Diversity Champion award. This award recognizes an Ohio State alumnus who has dedicated sustained leadership, their time, and their talent to the university. Dr. Haynes will accept this award at the 57th annual Alumni Awards Ceremony in Columbus, Ohio on September 18th, 2015.

Dr. Haynes III has had a long and distinguished career. In 2007, he was named executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Other posts include Acting President of Grambling State University, Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education, Director of Academic Programs at the United States Information Agency, Senior Assistant to the President of American University, and Executive Vice President of the Southern University System. Dr. Haynes has been a member of the faculties of Southern University, Howard University, and George Washington University.

A native of Boston, he earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Southern University, a master’s degree in American history from Carnegie-Mellon University, and a doctorate in higher education administration from Ohio State University.


23 four-year schools with low costs that lead to high incomes

One of the biggest concerns about college that students and families have is the costs of attending—and the possible opportunities it could create for their careers. Check out 23 four-year institutions of higher education that have demonstrated both high earnings, as well as low costs for their lowest-income students.

Institution Median Earnings of Students 10 Years After Entering the School Average Net Price for Low-Income Students
Amherst College $56,800 $3,739
Bowdoin College $54,800 $6,731
Brown University $59,700 $6,104
Columbia University in the City of New York $72,900 $5,497
Dartmouth College $67,100 $7,648
Duke University $76,700 $6,280
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus $74,000 $7,875
Hamilton College $57,300 $7,245
Harvard University $87,200 $3,386
Haverford College $55,600 $5,648
Massachusetts Institute of Technology $91,600 $6,733
Massachusetts Maritime Academy $79,500 $7,519
Princeton University $75,100 $5,720
Rice University $59,900 $7,960
Stanford University $80,900 $3,895
Trinity College $56,100 $7,874
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor $57,900 $7,156
University of Pennsylvania $78,200 $6,614
University of Virginia-Main Campus $58,600 $7,007
Vanderbilt University $60,900 $7,147
Washington and Lee University $77,600 $7,663
Williams College $58,100 $8,202
Yale University $66,000 $7,637

This list includes schools in the top 10 percent of predominantly four-year-degree-granting schools for 1) median positive earnings 10 years after beginning at the school and 2) low net price for students receiving federal grants or loans with a family income of $0-$48,000. Net price refers to the net price for in-state students in public institutions. Percentiles were calculated excluding cell sizes less than 30, schools with zero undergraduate degree-seeking students, schools not currently operating, and schools in territories.

By state, two-year colleges where students earn high salaries after graduation

Many two-year community colleges can offer students valuable opportunities to excel in their careers. Depending on the programs that the school offers and excels in, the career ambitions of its students, and the skills that students gain while in school, two-year degrees can provide a great value to students. Here are 45 two-year public colleges across the U.S. at which earnings exceed those of the typical two-year college.

Institution Name State Median Earnings of Students 10 Years After Entering the School
Prince William Sound Community College AK $42,000
Marion Military Institute AL $48,500
NorthWest Arkansas Community College AR $32,300
Scottsdale Community College AZ $35,700
Los Angeles County College of Nursing and Allied Health CA $85,800
Colorado Northwestern Community College CO $38,300
Capital Community College CT $35,000
Delaware Technical Community College-Stanton/Wilmington DE $33,500
Santa Fe College FL $33,500
Georgia Highlands College GA $34,100
Kapiolani Community College HI $33,300
Northwest Iowa Community College IA $38,400
College of DuPage IL $35,000
Vincennes University IN $32,200
Manhattan Area Technical College KS $36,400
Louisiana State University-Eunice LA $31,500
Quincy College MA $38,400
Prince George’s Community College MD $40,900
Southern Maine Community College ME $37,300
Schoolcraft College MI $31,000
Inver Hills Community College MN $38,400
Linn State Technical College MO $36,400
Highlands College of Montana Tech MT $39,800
Carolinas College of Health Sciences NC $47,300
North Dakota State College of Science ND $41,400
Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture NE $43,800
NHTI-Concord’s Community College NH $37,700
County College of Morris NJ $40,200
New Mexico Military Institute NM $39,100
Truckee Meadows Community College NV $32,500
Fashion Institute of Technology NY $44,100
Ohio State University-Marion Campus OH $42,600
Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City OK $34,400
Clackamas Community College OR $33,800
University of Pittsburgh-Titusville PA $48,200
University of South Carolina-Sumter SC $32,800
Mitchell Technical Institute SD $38,000
Lamar Institute of Technology TX $48,200
Salt Lake Community College UT $36,200
Northern Virginia Community College VA $41,700
Vermont Technical College VT $44,200
Bellevue College WA $41,300
University of Wisconsin Colleges WI $33,000
Potomac State College of West Virginia University WV $43,900
Casper College WY $32,900

This list includes only predominantly two-year-degree-granting public schools with higher median positive earnings 10 years after beginning at the school than the median earnings for all predominantly two-year-degree-granting schools. Only the predominantly two-year-degree-granting public school with the highest median positive earnings in each state is shown in the list.


Under the Hood: Building a New College Scorecard with Students

My niece is a smart kid.  I’m biased, but I swear she is.  And just as I started working on the College Scorecard project as the U.S. Digital Service’s new Chief Digital Service Officer at the Department of Education, I got a call from her – she was trying to decide where to go to school. As we were building this tool, wading through this data, and working with all the top college choice tools already in the market, I was also helping her navigate her college choice process. Where should she go? What was the best value? What is value when it comes to schools? This may be the single most important investment of her life, and even she was struggling to find clear, reliable data on critical questions.

Today, the Department of Education is proud to announce new steps to help students, parents and advisers make better college choices, including:

  1. A newCollege Scorecard redesigned with direct input from students, families, and their advisers to provide the clearest, most accessible, and reliable national data on college cost, graduation, debt, and post-college earnings. This new College Scorecard can empower Americans to rate colleges based on what matters most to them; to highlight colleges that are serving students of all backgrounds well; and to focus on making a quality, affordable education within reach.
  2. New,comprehensive and updated data on higher education institutions. For the first time, the public can access the most reliable and comprehensive data on students’ outcomes at specific colleges, including former students’ earnings, graduates’ student debt, and borrowers’ repayment rates. These data are also available for various sub-groups, like first generation and Pell students. Because these data will be published through an open application programming interface (API), researchers, policymakers, and members of the public can customize their own analysis of college performance more quickly and easily.
  3. Customized tools for students, with 11 organizations already using these data to launch new tools. Today,ScholarMatch, StartClass and College Abacus, three college search resources, are using this new, unique data that help students search for, compare, and develop a list of colleges based on the outcomes data that the Department is making available to the public for the first time. PayScale, which offers consumers a large salary database, will use the new data to analyze various colleges’ return-on-investment for different student groups while InsideTrack, which is a team of coaches and consultants working to improve student outcomes, will use the data to develop and implement effective student-centered initiatives.ProPublica, a non-profit investigative journalism newsroom, has built a tool with the open data to help consumers make more informed decisions.

This work was truly collaborative team effort, with teams from the Departments of Education and of the Treasury, White House Domestic Policy Council, Council of Economic Advisors, and Office of Management and Budget, the General Services Administration’s 18F and the U.S. Digital Service.

Here’s how we did it:

Build with, not for, users.

We knew what we needed to do – make people’s lives better by providing them the tools and information to make more informed choices and get the best bang for buck college choice. And we thought – exactly how do people make choices when deciding on college?

So we went out and asked them..

Following our practice of focusing on user needs, the College Scorecard team first spent time engaging directly with users at every single step in the project. Some of our favorite conversations were when we talked to high school students in Washington, D.C.’s Anacostia neighborhood and their excellent guidance counselor who told us how he “hacks” the process to make sure every one of his students gets an acceptance letter from a college, and feels that rush of possibility.

We met with 4-H kids from across the country who were frustrated by inaccurate data on the college search tools they use to find the best agricultural programs today. We listened to a mom from Maryland explain that she shopped for schools based on the lowest annual actual cost to become a medical technician – her dream. We even called a young woman who works as a college advisor in the Bronx, who had written a letter to the President with her ideas of how to make higher education data and tools work even better for her students. We also visited the newsrooms of data journalists to understand how they used higher education open data to report on how well schools were serving students.

We build on the hard work of the Department of Education; previously, they met with thousands of stakeholders from the higher education community to learn about their concerns and ideas and hopes for how we could help students and families make a more informed decision.

Be agile.

Based on this research, we made the cheapest, fastest prototype of the College Scorecard possible, based on what we heard. We knew it needed to be mobile-first, simple, and easy to customize. That prototype ended up being a homemade, cardboard iPhone with slips of paper with wireframes of what the tool could look like. It probably cost less than a cup of coffee to produce.

We also went to work with the federal government’s data from over 7,000 schools, going back 18 years, putting it into an open API (Application Programming Interface) that fuels the College Scorecard website. We wanted to make the data as usable by software developers and data scientists. The API allows anyone to create tools and insights that will help prospective college students make these important decisions.

We worked with a group of software developers and data scientists to be beta users of the data – to make sure it worked well and was clear. In addition to the groups I mentioned above, whose work is live today, we’re also excited to see the tools and enhancements that NicheCollege GreenlightNoodleTractus Insight (HelloCollege) andI’m First! are working on – and are looking forward to what many others will be able to do with the data that’s now open and available.

What’s in the data?

With nearly 2,000 data points for over 7,000 schools going back 18 years, there’s a lot of information in the College Scorecard dataset. The dataset includes information from the Department of the Treasury on student loan repayment rates, and the IRS on post-college income. When we can combine new data from Departments of Education and of the Treasury with data that colleges already report on graduation rates, cost, and other descriptions about their school, the College Scorecard allows the public to distinguish colleges based on the outcomes of their students.

Some of the information students, their parents or guardians, and advisors will be able to see includes:

  • Employment outcomes: The College Scorecard contains the first-ever comprehensive and reliable data on post-college earnings for students who attended all types of undergraduate institutions, based upon tax records. While increased earnings are only one of many reasons to go to college, many students consider their future career prospects when making an investment in their education. Specifically, the new Scorecard includes: (1) the proportion of former students earning over $25,000, which is the average earnings of high school graduates, six years after enrolling and (2) the median earnings of students 10 years after they enroll in college.
  • Student-level outcomes data: The College Scorecard publishes data from the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), which ED has used to manage and track grants and loans since the 1990s. The data can be used to produce a variety of new institutional performance metrics including (1) median cumulative loan debt, (2) repayment rate, and (3) completion and transfer rates, all by various student sub-groups.

The demographic data includes things you might expect, like ethnicity or gender, as well as how many students are the first in their family to attend college, students’ family income, and the rates at which students are taking out student loans or grants. We should point out that the Department of Education ensured the data protects the privacy of all students by aggregating up to the institution level and only reporting information for schools with enough students. Rest assured that no one can distinguish any individuals from the data. With these data, we can better understand how well schools do for students.

And this is just the beginning. By giving developers access to an API, even more customized tools will be created, providing students more options than ever before to find the right school for them.

What this means for the marketplace

As the President said in his weekly address,

“The status quo serves some colleges and the companies that rank them just fine. But it doesn’t serve our students well – and that doesn’t serve any of us well. There are colleges dedicated to helping students of all backgrounds learn without saddling them with debt. We should hold everybody to that standard. Our economic future depends on it.” – President Barack Obama, Weekly Address, September 12, 2015

When consumers have more access to information, it means they can make better financial decisions for themselves and their families. This is a huge win for students, families, and the marketplace — open data like this ensures that both colleges and students are operating in a more fair, competitive, and transparent environment.

A college degree is the best investment students can make in their future, and the public now has more data than ever to make one of the most important decisions students face in their lifetimes.

Lisa Gelobter is the Chief U.S. Digital Service Officer at the U.S. Department of Education

Historically Black Colleges and Universities Ranking

These historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were compared only with one another for these rankings. In order to be on the list, a school must be currently designated by the U.S. Department of Education as an HBCU. To qualify for the U.S. News rankings, an HBCU also must be an undergraduate baccalaureate-granting institution that enrolls primarily first-year, first-time students and must be a school that is part of the 2016 Best Colleges rankings.

See the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Ranking Methodology »

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Tuition and fees:

$26,388 (2015-16)






Spelman College

Atlanta, GA

Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a private institution. Spelman College follows a semester-based academic calendar and its admissions are considered selective.

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Tuition and fees:

$23,970 (2015-16)






Howard University

Washington, DC

Howard University is a historically black college located in Washington, D.C. Despite its urban setting, students are permitted to bring cars to campus – though freshmen may not apply for on-campus parking.

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Tuition and fees:

$23,100 (2015-16)






Hampton University

Hampton, VA

Hampton University, a private, historically black institution in Virginia, has graduated people such as Alberta Williams King, mother of Martin Luther King Jr., and Booker T. Washington, influential African-American educator.

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Tuition and fees:

$26,090 (2014-15)




Morehouse College

Atlanta, GA

A private institution, Morehouse College was founded in 1867.

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Tuition and fees:

$21,535 (2015-16)






Tuskegee University

Tuskegee, AL

Tuskegee University has a total undergraduate enrollment of 2,588, with a gender distribution of 42.6 percent male students and 57.4 percent female students. 41 percent of students live off campus.

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Tuition and fees:

$22,349 (2015-16)






Xavier University of Louisiana

New Orleans, LA

Founded in 1915, Xavier University of Louisiana is a private institution. Xavier University of Louisiana follows a semester-based academic calendar and its admissions are considered selective.

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Tuition and fees:

$20,858 (2014-15)






Fisk University

Nashville, TN

Fisk University is a private institution that was founded in 1866. The school has 71.1 percent of its classes with fewer than 20 students, and the student-faculty ratio at Fisk University is 13:1.

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Tuition and fees:

$15,650 (2015-16)






Claflin University

Orangeburg, SC

Claflin University was established in 1869 as a private institution. Claflin University follows a semester-based academic calendar and its admissions are considered least selective.

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In-state tuition and fees:

$5,872 (2015-16)

Out-of-state tuition and fees:

$18,632 (2015-16)






North Carolina A&T State University

Greensboro, NC

North Carolina A&T State University is a historically black school in Greensboro. The Aggies sports teams compete in the NCAA Division I Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
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In-state tuition and fees:

$5,784 (2015-16)

Out-of-state tuition and fees:

$17,726 (2015-16)






Florida A&M University

Tallahassee, FL

Located in Tallahassee, Florida A&M University is a historically black institution that offers a range of degrees to students of all races. The university, more commonly known as FAMU, offers more than 100 student organizations and several fraternities and sororities to join.

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GREENSBORO, NC — Shemiah Curry, a senior majoring in elementary education and sociology, has had internships college students only dream about.  Last year she was an intern for the MSNBC Melissa Harris-Perry Show, working directly with Harris-Perry as a studio assistant.

In the winter of last year, she served as a White House Intern with the Office of Scheduling and Advance, organizing presidential mail, reviewing presidential commencement speaking requests and providing tours of the White House.

She said all of her college experiences, including her internships, have given her a greater appreciation for the role she has assumed this fall as the 2015-2016 president of Bennett College Student Government Association.

“I am so excited to begin this journey as the SGA President,” said Curry.  “My personal goal for the academic year is to cultivate leaders. I believe each of us has the power to use our leadership skills to make this campus an even better place.”

A native of Chicago, Curry is passionate about civic engagement and education for disenfranchised segments of society.   Her internship at the White House inspired her to be a change-agent and pursue a Ph.D. in education and sociology with a focus on gentrification, racial inequalities, and school choice.

While at Bennett College, Curry has also taken advantage of opportunities to become a global citizen.   In 2013, she attended a Global Seminar in Salzburg, Austria where she had the opportunity to engage in thoughtful dialogue centered on cross-cultural assimilation, racism and gender inequality



As a student at Bennett College, she has had multiple research experiences. She participated in the UNCF Andrew Mellon Mays Summer Institute in Atlanta in 2014 and the Southern Sociological Society Conference in New Orleans earlier this year where she presented her research on “It’s Race! It’s Economic Status! It’s Gender Inequality? Perceptions about the Identification and Responses to Gender Inequality in Academic and Co-Curricular Arenas Experienced by African-American College Women.” This year she also served as a research assistant to Dr. Micere Keels at the University of Chicago, becoming proficient in statistical analysis software.

“My platform is all about empowering my sisters,” said Curry.  “I want to make sure that they take advantage of all of the opportunities available to them as college students.  I have certainly have had my share of experiences.”

Curry is a 2014 Andrew D. Mellon Mays Fellow and was selected as a member of the 2015 Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society.


HBCU Relevancy? A Glance at U.S. Demographics Provides Answer

Not a week goes by where those of us in the HBCU community are confronted with the question of the continued relevancy of HBCUs. We’ve heard them all: Do we still need HBCUs in a post-racial America? Isn’t it reverse discrimination to have race-based colleges like HBCUs? Does the education provided at HBCUs compare in quality and rigor to the non-HBCUs?

All too o­ften we find ourselves “defending” our existence and relevancy with some version of the following two-step: first, we highlight our most famous alums: Justice Thurgood Marshall (Lincoln University and Howard University Law School); civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (Morehouse); HARPO CEO and media proprietor Oprah Winfrey (Tennessee State University); and Black Enterprise publisher Earl G. Graves (Morgan State University).

Then, we roll out the stats that describe how many African-Americans are HBCU graduates: 22 percent of bachelor’s degree holders; 40 percent of members of Congress; 12.5 percent of CEOs; 40 percent of engineers; 50 percent of professors at non-HBCUs; 50 percent of lawyers; and 80 percent of judges. Without a doubt, the data are clear: HBCUs are iconic institutions that will forever be historically significant and relevant. Different questions are being asked now, though: Are HBCUs currently necessary?

Are they relevant today?

The truth of the matter is that a very compelling case can be made that HBCUs are actually more relevant and necessary today.

As America “browns and grays,” HBCUs are uniquely positioned to educate an America where people of color will need to fill the corporate boardrooms, government offices, judicial chambers, K-12 classrooms and hospital operating rooms. Our past success educating people of color—many of whom entered college with academic deficiencies resulting from poor secondary school preparation—is a strong indication of our ability to deliver positive outcomes; the question is how we will transform ourselves to deliver career-ready and globally prepared talent in a 21st century postsecondary environment that is being up-ended and disrupted at every turn.

I met with a senior U.S. government executive not long ago who put it best: “I looked at me and my other [White] colleagues during a meeting the other day and said: ‘There are not enough of our children to replace us. We must find a way to develop minority students if America is to remain the world leader.’”

He came to my office in an effort to determine how the federal government could utilize the HBCU pipeline to solve a real dilemma—one resulting from the undeniable fact that racial and ethnic minorities now surpass Whites as the largest number of American children under 5 years old.

This wasn’t a discussion about turning to HBCUs because it was the right and moral thing to do. There was no mention of correcting the lingering impact of slavery and the failure to make reparations. No, the discussion was one about necessity. America is realizing HBCU survival is a matter of national security; if we can’t find American talent, we will have to import it—and that comes with all sorts of complexities, expenses and potentially negative consequences.

The strongest argument for HBCU relevancy today, therefore, lies in the fact that the HBCU community is home to more than 350,000 future workers and leaders. As opposed to begging for donations to help our historically underfunded institutions survive, let’s make the case for investments to make them thrive. We must speak in terms of return on investment (ROI) when we respond to the question of HBCU relevancy today. For example, if an employer invests just $20,000 per year in a student attending a publicly supported TMCF-member school, we will deliver a talented, confident, and productive human resource—a simple value proposition that we know resonates.

Earlier this year, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund pitched this idea to a company we all know well, Apple. We asked Apple executives to invest in HBCU faculty and students in return for access to a robust and highly talented pipeline of future engineers and entrepreneurs. In a March 10, 2015, Fortune magazine story, Apple announced it liked this “thoughtful” approach and would commit tens of millions of dollars to build this pipeline. Today, our HBCU community has an opportunity to prove to the world that we are not just historically significant; we are currently relevant. HBCUs have a unique opportunity to change the conversation about why they need to exist and are a really smart “investment” for America.

Johnny C. Taylor Jr. is president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), a nonprofit advocacy organization named for the U.S. Supreme Court’s first African-American justice. Founded in 1987, TMCF supports and represents nearly 300,000 students attending its 47 member schools that include publicly supported historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), medical schools and law schools. For more information on TMCF programs, visit

Photo Caption:  Bennett College SGA President for 2015-2016 is pictured with members of the Bennett student body leadership team:  Bottom Row (L to R) Alexandra Huggins – Detroit, MI (SGA Parlimentarian);  Ka’la Hill – Largo, Maryland (SGA Junior Class President);   Kee’Aera Hood – Indian Trail, NC (Miss Bennett College); and Shemiah Curry – Chicago, IL  (SGA President).  Second from bottom row ( L to R):  Brea Fields – Kinston, NC (Senior Class Treasurer);  and Olivia Rubin – Flint, MI (SGA Executive Secretary).  Third from the bottom row (L to R): Adera Toye – Washington, DC (SGA Special Events Coordinator);  Aaleah Lancaster – Bryans Road, Maryland (SGA Financial Secretary); Jasmine Everett – Durham, NC (SGA Senior Class President); Keirra Sedgwick – Bowie, Maryland (SGA Publicist) . Top row (L to R): Kadrien Wilson – Greensboro, NC (SGA Vice President) and Niquia Harris -Willingboro, NJ (Miss Sophomore).

Setting the Record Straight Regarding Student Enrollment at HBCUs

popular press and social media is the declining student enrollment among Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). However, for many HBCUs, not only has the 2015 academic year brought an increase in the number of student applications, but some of the largest freshmen classes in years. Increases in both student applications and enrollment numbers is a positive step in the right direction to help create a counter narrative that speaks to the value and contribution of HBCUs in educating students, especially within the current racial context in the United States.

It appears that the hard work and effort HBCUs are putting toward enrollment management initiatives, specifically student recruitment, is not being celebrated in the manner it deserves. For example, Edward Waters College saw an increase in applications and enrollment this fall, which puts them on pace for their highest enrollment in years. Similarly, Harris-Stowe State University experienced a growth in applications and enrollment as well. Near record freshmen class enrollments took place this fall at Claflin University,Morehouse CollegeSouth Carolina State UniversityPaul Quinn College and Miles College. In fact, Paul Quinn College enrolled more new students than its entire student body from the previous year.

Cynics might think the increase in enrollment at HBCUs is a fluke. However, perhaps it is the result of targeted marketing, promotion of institutional strengths, and some hard work. For example, for some HBCUs such as South Carolina State University, an increase in Black men helped boost their enrollment numbers. Although it may be difficult to substantiate, there’s reason to believe that the increased focus on the success of Black, men through national initiatives such as My Brother’s Keeper has contributed to student enrollment growth at HBCUs. In the case of Harris-Stowe State University, their ability to expand the number of undergraduate degree programs and majors as well as offering graduate degree programs has helped to garner the interest of new students.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement may also have had an impact on the increased enrollment this year. As HBCUs have a long history of civil rights activism and have been the home to many aspects of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, students interested in activism may be attracted to these institutions, which are devoid of White racism.

Clearly, many HBCUs are making progress with regard to increasing their student enrollment numbers. However, given the importance in how increases in student enrollments can play a major role in helping recruit future students and faculty, we present five recommendations that HBCUs should consider to help increase student growth on their campuses.

1. Expand Undergraduate Academic Program Offerings and Majors

HBCUs should focus their undergraduate academic program offerings and majors, preferably on academic programs and majors that are tied to fast growth job sectors of the 21st century or that are tied to the needs of the local and regional economy.

2. Partner with Local and Regional Business & Industry Organizations

HBCUs would benefit from developing partnerships with local and regional business & industry that will allow the institutions to provide students with relevant and real-world industry experiences. Another advantage of forging these partnerships is that HBCUs can contribute to local workforce development initiatives.

3. Develop Graduate Programs in New and Emerging STEM Disciplines

HBCUs should develop graduate programs connected to new and emerging STEM disciplines. There may also be growth opportunities for graduate program related to the health, agricultural and life sciences.

4. Enhance the Focus on Student Recruitment and Retention

HBCUs should continue to enhance their focus on student recruitment and retention. In particular, efforts should focus on innovative marketing strategies, strategic recruitment and more access to academic success and student support services.

5. Develop Recruitment Initiatives for Black Men

HBCUs should develop targeted recruitment initiatives for Black men. With the ever-growing focus on enhancing the personal growth and development of Black men, HBCUs are in an ideal position to foster the environment needed for Black men to succeed academically and graduate from college.

The increases in student applications and admissions being witnessed at HBCUs across the country are not mere aberrations. However, more effort needs to be done to set the record straight and counteract the false narrative that is often communicated in mainstream media. For many HBCUs, much progress has been made in addressing issues of student enrollment.

About the Authors

Levon T. Esters is an associate professor of youth development at Purdue University and a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions. Levon’s research focuses on the STEM career development of underrepresented minorities (URMs), mentoring of females and URM graduate students in STEM, and the role of historically Black land-grant institutions in fostering the STEM success of females and URMs.

Marybeth Gasman is a professor of higher education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She also serves as the Director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. Marybeth is an expert on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Black leadership, fundraising and philanthropy in communities of color and Minority Serving Institutions. She is the author of 21 books in these subject areas and over 300 articles.


JACKSON, MS — Dorothy C. Browne, a graduate of Bennett College, has joined Jackson State University as its inaugural dean of Mississippi’s first School of Public Health.

Since 2012, Browne has served as an adjunct professor of maternal and child welfare at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health while also working with colleagues from UNC-CH and Duke University (Consortium for Social Equity) conducting workshops, teaching courses in health disparities and planning the National Health Equity Research Webcast (formerly the Annual Summer Public Health Research Institute and Videoconference on Minority Health).

“We look forward to having someone of Dr. Browne’s caliber lead this very important academic enterprise supporting one of JSU’s roles in the state’s and region’s emerging healthcare corridors,” said Carolyn W. Meyers, president of Jackson State University.

“Her career track shows a long and passionate commitment to public health and to improving health disparities. It is my pleasure to welcome her to Jackson State and to Mississippi.”

Browne said the vision for the new school drew her to Jackson State.

“I became very excited about this opportunity when I learned that this new School of Public Health at Jackson State had the support of the governor and that Dr. Meyers’ vision for the program was not myopic, but expansive and collaborative in nature,” she said. “I have already received several congratulatory comments from colleagues in the public health field from across the country, and many have already started conversations offering their support in various ways.”

In 2009, Browne became the Special Assistant to the Chancellor and the Director of the Public Health Institute at North Carolina A&T State University. From 2001 to 2009, Browne was the senior scientist for Morgan State University’s NIH-funded Prevention Sciences Research Center (which subsequently housed the Drug Abuse Research Program, the Summer Research Training Program for Undergraduate Students, the Health Services Research Training Program, and the

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Dorothy C. Browne

Faculty Fellows Research Program in Drug Abuse Prevention). In addition, Browne was co-director of the Morgan-Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions – a collaborative venture with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

While at Morgan State University, Browne was also a full professor in the Public Health Program, where she was associate dean of research and co-chair of the Committee for the Accreditation of a School of Public Health. Browne has more than 35 years of experience as a faculty member, a public health researcher and an administrator.

She received her B.A. from Bennett College in sociology, M.S.W. degree from the University of Pittsburgh and the M.P.H. and Dr.PH from Harvard University. Browne began her public health career at the School of Public Health at UNC-CH, where she gained tenure and was promoted.

She is the mother of twins – Brian, who is a senior chief in the U.S. Navy (Virginia Beach), and Felicia, who completes her Ph.D. in August 2015 and will continue her HIV/AIDS research in South Africa.


Bennett College’s Aaleah Lancaster Among 83 Students from 70 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Named 2015 HBCU All-Stars

GREENSBORO, NC — The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCUs) has selected Aaleah Lancaster of Bennett College as a member of the first class of the 2015 HBCU All-Stars.

“I feel honored to be a part of this amazing cohort,” said Lancaster, who is a junior dual degree math and mechanical engineering major.

WHIHBCU recognized 83 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students for their accomplishments in academics, leadership, and civic engagement.

Lancaster, who is from Bryans Road, Maryland, is engaged in various activities on Bennett’s campus and serves as the financial secretary for the Student Government Association.   She is a Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Scholar and founding member and treasurer of the Bennett College STEM Club.  She also served as Miss Bennett College UNCF for 2015-16.  She has accumulated 92 hours of community service in a span of two years.

The All-Stars were selected from more than 450 students who submitted applications that included a transcript, resume, essay, and recommendation. Over the course of the year, the HBCU All-Stars will serve as ambassadors of the WHIHBCUs by providing outreach and communication with their fellow students about the value of education and the role of the Initiative as a networking resource.  Through social media and their relationships with community based organizations, the All-Stars will share promising and proven practices that support opportunities for all young people to achieve their educational and career potential.

“The Obama Administration is committed to promoting excellence, innovation and sustainability across our nation’s HBCUs. This year’s class of All-Stars has distinguished itself as exemplars of the talent that HBCUs cultivate and noble ambassadors of their respective institutions.” said Ivory A. Toldson, WHIHBCUs’ acting executive director. “We are confident these impressive students will help the White House Initiative on HBCUs meaningfully engage with students, showcase their talent and advance our agenda to advance academic excellence at HBCUs.”

In addition, the All-Stars will also participate in this year’s White House HBCU Week Conference in September as well as various national events, web chats with Toldson and other Initiatives with staff and professionals from a range of disciplines.  The All-Stars will have exceptional opportunities to engage with other HBCU scholars and to showcase their individual and collective talent across the HBCU community.

Ms. Lancaster is the daughter of Shermon Lancaster and Michelle Shands.

For more information regarding the 2015 HBCU All-Star Student program and application contact: and follow @WHI_HBCUs on Twitter.


GREENSBORO, NC — Bennett College climbed 10 spots this year in U.S. News and World Report annual ranking of the nation’s top historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

This year’s list, which was released on Wednesday, placed Bennett College at No. 15, up from No. 25 last year, making it the second best HBCU in North Carolina.

Bennett College President Rosalind Fuse-Hall attributes the dramatic change in the ranking to better reporting of data regarding alumnae giving and to the hard work of faculty and staff.  Last year, alumnae giving data for Bennett College was not included and Bennett was tied with Bowie (MD) State University at 25.

“This year’s ranking reflects the strong support that we receive from our alumnae,” said Fuse-Hall.  “Nearly 21 percent of our 5,000 alumnae give nearly $1 million annually.  That’s significant when the average alumni-giving rate nationwide is at 9 percent.”

North Carolina A&T State University, which ranked No. 9 on the HBCU list, was the only HBCU of the 10 in North Carolina that had a better ranking than Bennett College.

The U.S. News rankings measure the quality of the undergraduate education at historically black colleges and universities.  The 80 qualifying HBCUs were only compared with one another for this ranking.  According to U.S. News and World Report, the indicators used to capture academic quality fell into six categories: assessment by administrators at peer institutions (25%), retention of students (27.5%), faculty resources (20%), student selectivity (12.5%), financial resources (10%) and alumni giving (5%).



The U.S. News and World Report college rankings: A public vs. private dilemma

There was a time in the 1980s when the University of California at Berkeley was deemed a top-five national university on the most prominent annual ranking in higher education, up there with Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Yale. No longer.

Nowadays one of the most prestigious public institutions in the world, with seven Nobel laureates on its faculty, can barely crack the top 20 in U.S. News and World Report’s list of best national universities. For the third straight year, according to rankings released Wednesday, UC-Berkeley is No. 20 on that list. It sits just behind Rice, Notre Dame and 17 other private universities that are rearranged very slightly, if at all, from year to year.

[See the 2015 U.S. News top 25 national universities.]

“UC-Berkeley does very well on just about every ranking, except for U.S. News,” university Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks said in an e-mail to The Washington Post. “We compete for undergraduates very successfully (against all of the top 20 schools) and offer great programs for them, but the metrics for the U.S. News ranking seem ill suited to reflect our excellence, or for that matter any of the great flagship publics.”

Does this bother him? “My lips are sealed,” Dirks said.

Princeton, Harvard and Yale rank first, second and third, respectively, for the third straight year. Johns Hopkins University landed in the Top 10 for the first time in 16 years, tied for 10th with the California Institute of Technology.

[See the 2015 U.S. News ranking trends.]

After Berkeley, the top-ranked public universities are UCLA (23rd overall), the University of Virginia (26th) and the University of Michigan (29th). This elite quartet has been frozen in the 20-to-29 range for several years.

U.S. News does list what it calls the “top public universities.” But it doesn’t have a list of “top private universities.” The magazine reasons that consumers want to compare the two sectors.

“U.S. News & World Report believes that public and private schools should be ranked together in the overall rankings since they generally compete for the same undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, sports conferences, research grants and international partners,” said Robert Morse, chief data strategist for the magazine.

Perennially controversial, the ranking formula is based on school reputation surveys; student selectivity; faculty resources; alumni giving; graduation and retention rates; and total spending per student on education. Public universities, relying heavily on state funding, often have tighter budgets, far larger enrollment and a broader mandate for accessibility than private institutions. Those factors constrain them under the U.S. News system.

One public school that has risen — but a special case — is the federally funded U.S. Naval Academy. It cracked the top 10 for the first time on the U.S. News list of national liberal arts colleges, moving from 13th to a tie for 9th with private Davidson and Claremont McKenna colleges. The liberal arts list encompasses about 250 schools that focus on undergraduate education. It is routinely headed by Williams, Amherst and Swarthmore colleges, in that order.

Vice Admiral Walter E. “Ted” Carter Jr., the superintendent at Annapolis, said he was “pleased” that the rankings “continue to confirm the Naval Academy’s reputation for providing an excellent undergraduate education.”

Among the largest gainers on the national university list were Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, up 36 places to 153rd; the University of Illinois at Chicago (up 20, to 129th); and Immaculata University (up 20, to 161st). Tulane rose 13 places, to 41st.

The University of Maryland at College Park rose five places, to 57th, tied with the University of Connecticut.

In the District of Columbia, Howard rose 10 places to 135th. Georgetown remained 21st. Catholic fell seven places, to 123rd. George Washington edged down three spots to 57th. American fell one notch, to 72nd. All are private.

Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, said it’s possible to compare public and private “when you have measures that are fair to both sectors.” Kelchen oversees the Washington Monthly rankings, which weigh what schools contribute through public service, research and social mobility.

UC-Berkeley ranks fourth on that list, ahead of No. 5 Stanford. Princeton is 26th.
The top 25 national universities ranked by U.S. News, and their annual change in position.
1. Princeton University — unchanged
2. Harvard University — unchanged
3. Yale University — unchanged
4. Columbia University — unchanged
4. Stanford University — unchanged
4. University of Chicago — unchanged
7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology — unchanged
8. Duke University — unchanged
9. University of Pennsylvania – down 1
10. California Institute of Technology — unchanged
10. Johns Hopkins University – up 2
12. Dartmouth College – down 1
12. Northwestern University – up 1
14. Brown University – up 2
15. Washington University in St. Louis – down 1
15. Cornell University — unchanged
15. Vanderbilt University – up 1
18. University of Notre Dame – down 2
18. Rice University – up 1
20. University of California-Berkeley — unchanged
21. Emory University — unchanged
21. Georgetown University — unchanged
23. University of California-Los Angeles — unchanged
23. Carnegie Mellon University – up 2
23. University of Southern California – up 2

Shaw University mourns death of student who was struck, killed by car

A Shaw University student and former cheerleader was struck and killed by a vehicle early Sunday on New Hope Church Road in Raleigh, police said.

The road was shut down from near Atlantic Avenue to Green Road following the accident.

Raleigh police said Keyona Charlissa Verdell, 22, got out of a vehicle just before being struck by another car at about 6:15 a.m. Emergency personnel were taking her to WakeMed when she died on the way.

According to police, Verdell had been riding in a vehicle that was driven by Terrence Archibald, 29, and occupied by Verdell’s best friend, Akiya Jones . Police said that Verdell made a voluntary decision to leave the vehicle and walk, despite attempts by Archibald and the other passenger to persuade her to reenter the vehicle. According to Archibald, the friends were not arguing but Verdell was upset and wanted to get out of the car.

As Verdell attempted to cross New Hope Church Road, she was struck by a Toyota sedan that was driven by Dimas Martinez-Ismal, 32. Martinez-Ismal was cited for operating a vehicle without a license.

“We love Keyona and we know she’s in a better place,” said Jones in a statement.

Investigators said Verdell had just left Luc Lounge with friends before the accident. Witnesses who live in the area said she was partially clothed.

Following the incident, Archibald and the female passenger came to the scene and, during a brief altercation, Archibald pushed Martinez-Ismal, causing her cell phone to break. Archibald has been cited for simple assault and damage to property.

Shaw University President Tashni Dubroy mourned Verdell’s loss in a social media post, saying a memorial service will be held this week on campus.

Verdell, of Winston-Salem, was a third-year student majoring in business administration and management.

“Keyona was a woman with a bright future and beloved by so many here on campus,” Dubroy posted. “We send our deepest condolences to Keyona’s family and will continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers during this time of grief.”

Verdell’s cheerleading coach, Tia Long, said that the team is hurting and are having a hard time coping with the death of Verdell.

Long said that she received the news when members of the team called her early Sunday morning.

She said that Verdell was a captain of the cheer team last year and had taken a break from the activity this semester but planned to return for basketball season. Verdell would often come by to help Long with choreography and Long said the last time she saw Verdell was Friday, when she stopped by a practice session. She said Verdell’s last words to her were that she planned to attend Shaw’s football game Saturday and would see her there.

“She’s a really great person, wonderful personality, very creative. She brought a lot of energy to our program,” Long said. “She led the team. Even times when I wasn’t right there, she made sure everything was done.”

Long says the cheer team plans to dedicate this season to Verdell.

“They want to dedicate this season to her, so they’re going to come hard this season and they’re going to do well,” Long said.

This is the second time in three weeks that Shaw University is mourning the loss of a student.

Shaw student Bryant Williams, 26, died last month in a motorcycle accident. He was a third-year student and a member of the band. More than 100 people attended a vigil in his honor, including his five-year-old daughter.

Started from the Bottom: JSU Freshman Overcomes Hardship, Becomes Gates Scholar

Tears flowed from Adrienna Williams after learning she was selected as a Gates scholar and more recently while explaining that her then-single mother once worried whether she did enough as a parent for her children in their poverty-stricken Yazoo community.

Williams, a Jackson State University freshman biology major with ambitions of becoming a physician, candidly discussed economic hardships, including growing up in Section 8 housing. Despite some tough times, she graduated No. 2 this spring from Yazoo City High School to become among 1,000 Gates Millennium Scholars out of more than 57,000 students nationwide who applied this year.

The program of the United Negro College Fund is financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Given the odds of earning the scholarship, she was stunned, yet humbled, upon receiving the coveted honor.

‘I’m just one little person’

“I went to a small high school in a small town.  I’m just one little person in a competitive school. We all wanted to be No. 1. I thought others were better because I stutter sometimes. Despite that, my mentors encouraged me to apply. The process was very involved. I had to write eight essays on a designated topic. But, not only that, I also had a job.”

With all that was swirling around her, Williams still wanted to continue her education. “But how am I going to pay for school?” she asked herself.

Even with her prayers and those of her pastor, she said her faith wavered.

“My mom was a single parent without a college education. I’m the oldest of three children (she has a brother and sister). I knew what I wanted to do in life but didn’t know how I was going to accomplish it without money. I didn’t have the proper resources to prepare for my journey. I knew that I wanted to be in the healthcare industry to care for people.”

Supportive mentors, friends

Looking back, she credits God for supportive mentors and friends who urged her to apply for the scholarship and for giving her the confidence to share her obstacles with others.

“The day I received the honor I was in my college algebra class. My mom said I had received a package.” She asked her mom not to open it but to tell her whether the package was small or large, figuring a bigger size would be good news. After confirming the weight, she later opened the package, which expressed congratulations. “My mom started crying, and she called everybody; people in my classes were so happy for me. I started crying, too.”

In fact, she said her testimony and community service landed her the distinction of being named a Gates Millennium Scholar, which recognizes Williams as a “leader for America’s future.”

As a recipient, she’s eligible for renewable funds to attend any U.S. accredited college or university. As well, individuals who pursue graduate studies in computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science may be eligible for fellowship funding through the master’s and doctoral levels.

For someone with many options, she serendipitously chose JSU after an “impressive tour” from JSU Welcome Center guide Serita Griffith-Washington. “She made a difference,” Williams said.

Fell in love with JSU

“I was going to Ole Miss, but decided against that. I took a tour of Baylor (she didn’t get accepted), but then chose Southern Mississippi. After pondering, I did a random tour of Jackson State. I fell in love with the school, thanks to the tour guide. After seeing the beauty of the campus, I wanted to put my money back into an HBCU. Some relatives wanted me to go elsewhere, but now they’re OK with my decision.

“Furthermore, I didn’t even think about a doctorate degree beforehand, but this scholarship will provide for that. I’m going to medical school. I’m just so thankful now for not having to deal with the burden of college finances.”

Ultimately, Williams says she wants her life experiences to inspire others.

“My family and I did not have much when I was growing up. Still, I would not change anything. My mom’s struggles have drawn us closer. She probably thought she could have done more for us, but she was there. That’s all that matters. Certainly, growing up poor made me appreciate life more. … You’ve got to be thankful for what you have. If something is meant for you, it will happen.”

Her sage message to her peers is one that normally comes from some much older.

“If you think, believe and achieve, you can do it. I’m doing just that,” a tearful Williams said.

Local educator will be S.C. State Convocation keynote speaker

Students new to the South Carolina State University family will experience for the first time one of the university’s many traditional ceremonies when they attend fall Convocation. The annual event will officially welcome more than 700 freshmen and transfer students.

Convocation will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10, in Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium.

Heyward Jean, principal at Mellichamp Elementary in Orangeburg will deliver the message as keynote speaker.

Jean’s passion for education began at Claflin University, where he was a member of the inaugural class of the nationally acclaimed Call Me MISTER program, and now plays an active role in the program through mentoring and recruitment, along with seminars and keynote presentations for the program’s various leadership conferences. In 2001, Jean was seen on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” with other Call Me MISTER scholars during the show’s ‘Use Your Life Award’ segment.

As a pre-service teacher and educator, Jean has been featured in JET magazine, Black Issues in Higher Education, USA Today, Black College Today, Education Week, The Wall Street Journal and The Times and Democrat, in which he was named one of the top 10 citizens who made a difference in Orangeburg.

Jean is listed in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers,” and he is a recipient of Marshall Elementary School’s 2008-2009 Teacher of The Year, is an Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five 2008-2009 Teacher of the Year finalist and recepient of the NAACP Presidential Citation for Education Advocacy.

He is a 2004 magna cum laude graduate of Claflin University with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education and 2011 graduate of Cambridge College,where he earned a master’s degree in school administration. Most recently Jean was honored with Claflin University’s first Young Alumnus Visionary Award featured in the university’s Hall of Fame.

He serves as men’s ministry president and assistant pastor of The Feast of the Lord. As a songwriter, Jean tells of his story growing up without his biological father in the song, “Still, My Father,” which is featured on award-winning gospel projects.

He is married to Starlette Jean, and they have two sons and one infant daughter.

Black Greek Success: Starting the Academic Year Right

Congratulations! Your fraternity or sorority chapter has gotten the academic year off to a fast and furious start. You helped fellow students on move-in day, you showed up and showed out for “Meet the Greeks” and that first party of the year was OFF…THA…HOOK! Now, it’s time to get down to the real business. That business is making sure your chapter puts its best collective foot forward to rep your letters the way they were meant to be repped on campus.

How do you get really get things started the right way? Concentrate on these areas:


Leadership is more than a notion; it is an expectation in Black Greek life. The reason everyone in your chapter has letters (theoretically) is a group of people had faith that all of you would wear those letters with dignity and pride. After all, your chapter exists because the national organization felt it could find people with the leadership abilities your organization requires.

It’s okay to proclaim that the chapter will “run the yard” but need a plan to do it. Is your executive board on the same page to ensure efficient chapter operation? If your members hold leadership positions in other campus organizations, what are their plans to leave those organizations better than they found them? Remember that great leaders are concerned with results, not popularity.


What is your plan to build your membership? Do you know which students you want to attract and how you will get their attention, or are you stuck on attracting “cool kids” on the yard? What about chapter members who seem to be falling off? How will you get them back on the same page as everyone else?

Social Engagement

Just so you don’t think I’m a stick in the mud, I do believe in social engagement. Heck, I’m not going to act like parties aren’t effective promotional tools for Black Greek chapters. And it is true that college students need to blow off steam, especially the ones who are serious about academics. The trick is to make sure social events are done in a responsible way. Meet with campus police to get a list of need-to-know items for your engagements. Also, have a meeting of the minds to make sure chapter members represent the fraternity or sorority responsibly at social events.


The first order of business is to make sure your chapter is prepared to execute nationally mandated programs. As for other service projects, plan them with a sense of purpose. Be ready to plan service-oriented event and projects to address concerns and issues on campus. Make your service efforts about more than collecting hours. Show your peers that you are thoughtful servants. Finally, create goals and aggressive promotional plans for your fundraisers.

Academic Performance

Remember, you’re at the beginning of the academic year. That means academics count. In fact, you’re in school to have a great academic experiences. Academics are important. Now is the time for chapter members to hold each other accountable for doing what you came to college to do–learn. Everyone should share their class schedules and push each other. After all, quality students pay the most attention to the fraternity and sorority chapters with the highest GPAs.

By the way, did I mention that it’s an academic year?

Internationally known artist coming to Claflin

Jonathan Green has achieved international renown as an artist. But he is also a historian who uses his immense artistic talents to tell the compelling story about African-Americans and South Carolina’s rice culture.

In 2012, Green founded the Lowcountry Rice Culture Project, which builds partnerships to explore, reveal and reclaim the shared cultural inheritance of the Lowcountry rice industry.

The project emphasizes examining the consequences of history and the meaning of heritage as a launching point for broad discussions of race, class, art, trade, history and economics.

“Rice is really the building block of the American civilization and culture going as far back as the 1600s,” Green said.

“The rice culture is about the contributions of African-Americans in building this country. It’s a shame we don’t hear more about it even at HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges/Universities) which benefited from the economic prosperity of plantation owners who helped to build those institutions.,” he said.

Green’s collection of lithographs and silk screen prints are currently on display at Claflin University in an exhibit that will run until Oct. 2 in the Arthur Rose Museum.

The museum is open Monday–Friday from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

Green will visit Claflin on Sept. 24 for a series of lectures with high school and college art students.

“Jonathan Green has an insightful, global perspective of art, history and culture,” said Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, president of Claflin University.

“He is a highly-respected, transformative and visionary leader through his art and his humanitarian contributions,” Tisdale said.

Born in Gardens Corner, S.C., Green graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1982.

Green’s work reflects an intrinsic sense of history and place.

“My interest in the rice culture intersected with my desire to be an artist,” Green said. “I learned to draw and paint when I was very young. My art reflects my interest in subjects that I know.

“I have studied history, politics, agriculture, and economics. None of what we have accomplished as a civilization would be here today without rice, which made this region the Silicon Valley of its day.”

Green travels extensively and his collections have been featured in exhibits throughout North America, Europe, Central and South America, Caribbean, Africa and Japan. His mastery of color and skillful use of the human figure in rural and urban environments allows him to preserve and share with the viewer a deep sense of community, and how the life challenges of work, love and belonging are met.

“My themes are universal,” Green said. “Everyone can relate to family relationships, doing the laundry, dancing, church themes, funeral themes or walking on the marshes and the beautiful landscapes in South Carolina. Most people can relate to my paintings. I’ve been painting for more than 40 years and I have enough subject matter to last me 10 lifetimes.”

Green has received numerous honors and awards for art, social, civic, academic and cultural contributions. They include The Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award; Key of Life Award — NAACP Image Award; Century of Achievement in Art Award (The Museum of Americas); Order of the Palmetto; and The History Makers Award in Fine Arts, The History Makers National Archives (Chicago, Illinois).

When not painting, he uses his networking skills to serve on the International African American Museum and Gilliard Auditorium boards in Charleston and many cultural and civic advisory committees throughout the South.

As an African-American artist, Green is sensitive to the difficulties many of his colleagues face while trying to achieve his level of success.

“It’s very difficult if the support is not there, especially from the African-American community,” Green said. “HBCUs, churches and other organizations that are influential in the African-American community should invest in art that depicts images that reflect our experiences and our communities.”

For more information on the Jonathan Green exhibit at Claflin University, contact the Arthur Rose Museum 803-535-5324 or visit

Fed-up students take to social media to protest Howard University

Students at Howard University took to Twitter Wednesday in a campaign to draw attention to complaints about student services and facilities at the institution. Under the hashtag#TakeBackHU, students wrote about long lines and poor service in the financial aid office, a lack of air conditioning in many buildings, poor wireless service and much more. Among the comments “how do the professors expect us to come up with 300-400 for textbooks in 2 days and we cant even get financial aid…” and “Too many times will one office send you to a completely different department just to be sent back to the original one.” Many comments mix the students’ frustrations with expressions of pride in the university and its role as a historically black university. Many alumni wrote that they made similar complaints years ago.

Wayne A.I. Frederick, the president, himself took to Twitter Wednesday evening, writing: “My team & I are working diligently towards a comprehensive communication & resolve for your concerns. Your voices are heard and appreciated.

Louis Stokes: Reflections of the Life of a Transformational Leader

In the span of four days last month our nation lost two of its most venerable leaders in the struggle for a socially just society for all of its citizens ― first Julian Bond and then Louis Stokes.

These two courageous and committed national leaders led in the struggle for human and civil rights in different ways. Julian Bond led largely through the framework of civil disobedience and political advocacy, while Louis Stokes led principally from the vantage point of legislative and legal action.

Reflections upon their deaths should remind us that, once again, transformational change requires all types of leaders and that true leaders lead from whatever perch they have. Sometimes that perch is outfront, sometimes it’s on the sidelines, sometimes it’s in the background and sometimes it’s in the halls of negotiation and decision-making. But, wherever it is, it is leadership and it is critical to the ultimate success of a cause.

While Bond’s death was captured ― as it should have been ― as front-page news in most American newspapers, there were far fewer front-page stories on Stokes’ death. What is even more disappointing, however, is that many people, including many African-Americans, have a vague recollection, if any recollection at all, of the role that Louis Stokes played in the quest for civil rights and the quest for human dignity in our country. Many others can only recall some of the key biographical highlights of his life, e.g., “He was the first Black U.S. Congressman from Ohio” or “He was one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus.” Still others confuse him with his late brother, Carl Stokes, who was the first Black mayor of Cleveland and one of the first Black mayors of a large city in the 20th century.

But there is far more to remember about Louis Stokes! He was a transformational leader who led from where he sat, which happened to be in the U.S. Congress, principally as member, and later as a subcommittee chair, of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, the committee that has oversight for all federal spending bills. It was through his work on this committee that he was able to advocate for and get legislation passed that led to the creation of the Office of Minority Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that has resulted in a mega-leap in funding and research on illnesses that have a disproportional impact on African-Americans and other marginalized groups, e.g., cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and AIDS.

On a plaque prominently placed in a building at the NIH that houses the Louis Stokes Laboratories, the wording reads, in part, “ … His unswerving support of the National Institutes of Health is defined by judicious advocacy and a determination that through research NIH can help eliminate health disparities in health among the country’s minority, underserved and disadvantaged communities.”

Moreover, Rep. Stokes’ work on the House Appropriations Committee led to significant funding for the largest pipeline for broadening participation of students from underrepresented groups in the STEM fields at the National Science Foundation, the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program. He also was a staunch advocate for the funding of federal TRIO programs, leading to increased support for such programs as Upward Bound and the McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program that prepares first-generation, low-income and minority students for doctoral students in the STEM fields. During his membership and leadership on the committee, TRIO’s funding grew from $70.3 million in FY 1976 to $562.2 in FY 1998, when he retired from Congress.

Quite notably, Louis Stokes was a major figure in securing congressional approval of $20 million to fund the building of the state-of-the-art Law Library and the Health Sciences Library (now named in his honor) at Howard University, the nation’s largest producer of African-American physicians and dentists, and a major producer of African-American Ph.D. biomedical scientists.

Louis Stokes was not especially known for carrying a picket sign or engaging in street demonstrations — although both have been important and critical tools in the fight for civil rights. Yet he, like Julian Bond, advocated for human rights and equal opportunities for African-Americans and, indeed, for all Americans.

There is a big lesson for all of us as we reflect upon the deaths of these two giants for social justice — lead from wherever you sit. In fact, sometimes the most powerful leader is the silent leader or the leader behind the scenes or even the leader with no leadership title. Even with a title, we are reminded of Nelson Mandela’s famous quote: “Lead from the back and let others believe they are in front!”

Orlando Taylor is vice president for strategic initiatives and research at Fielding Graduate University. He was a longtime professor and senior administrator at Howard University and is known throughout the country as an advocate for higher education engagement in the quest for social justice and inclusion.

Dr. James A. Hefner, 21-Year HBCU President and Champion of Students and Black Higher Ed, Passes at 76

Dr. Hefner served as a university president for 21 years, first at Jackson State University from 1984 to 1991 and later at Tennessee State University from 1991 to 2005. Prior to his years as president, Dr. Hefner served as provost of Tuskegee University from 1982 to 1984 and as the Charles E. Merrill professor of Economics and chair of the Department of Business and Economics at Morehouse College from 1974 to 1981. He also taught and served as a research associate at Harvard University, Princeton University, Clark College, Florida A&M University, Benedict College and Prairie View A&M University.

After retiring as president of Tennessee State University in 2005, Dr. Hefner was a non-resident fellow at Harvard University in the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research; visiting Distinguished Professor of Economics and Presidential Leadership at Texas Southern University; and most recently as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Clark Atlanta University, where he worked diligently as he fought cancer up until the very end.

When recently asked how he wanted to be remembered, Dr. Hefner said, “As an educator who cared about black higher education and the welfare of students.”

He earned his undergraduate degree from North Carolina A&T University, his master’s degree in economics from Atlanta University, and his doctorate in economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“My father lived a life of service to historically black colleges and universities and the students who attend them,” said David Hefner, Ed.D., the youngest son of Dr. Hefner and a 1993 graduate of Morehouse College.

“He was an intellectual disciple of W.E.B. DuBois — a Fisk University graduate — in that he believed in the liberation that academic excellence promised to those who lived a life of service to the African American community, to truth and to humanity. So his legacy is a living one because there is still much work to do. And my father serves as an example of what service to HBCUs looks like, and we celebrate his life and legacy.”

Dr. Hefner occupied the Thomas and Patricia Frisk Chair of excellence in entrepreneurship, a $2.3 million endowed chair at Tennessee State University. He also established two other endowed chairs of excellence at Tennessee State, where he built eight new buildings and renovated nearly every building on the institution’s main and downtown campuses. During his 14-year tenure there, he increased the endowment from $500,000 to more than $25 million (through fundraising and settling a Federal Consent Decree). He positioned Tennessee State University as a premier institution of higher learning.  During his presidency, Tennessee State University was listed in U.S. News & World Report’s “Guide to America’s Best Colleges” for 11 consecutive years (1994-2005).

An advocate and proponent of African American intellectual achievement throughout his career, Dr. Hefner established two of the nation’s top honor societies, Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi, at Tennessee State University and Clark Atlanta University. Today, Clark Atlanta University is the only private, historically black university to host a chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, America’s most prestigious honor society for all academic disciplines.

Dr. Hefner wrote extensively in the areas of employment practice and labor-force participation rates of minorities. He was co-editor of the book Public Policy for the Black Community: Strategies and Perspectives, and had served as a research associate at Princeton and Harvard universities. At the time of his death, he had taken leave from Clark Atlanta to complete his memoirs and chronicle his vast experience in higher education.

He is survived by his wife, Edwina Hefner of Thomson, Ga., and three sons: Christopher, Jonathan and David; three daughters-in-law and his beloved grandchildren.

The memorial service for Dr. Hefner is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2, at the Poag Auditorium on the campus of Tennessee State University. The funeral service is scheduled to begin 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, at Christ Church Cathedral, 900 Broadway Avenue in Nashville, Tenn.

Dr. Hefner asked that two scholarships be established in his name at Morehouse College and Tennessee State University for outstanding students. In lieu of flowers, please contact those institutions to support the James A. Hefner Scholarship Awards.


Hey Everyone it has been a while seen my last update, but I wanted to catch you all up. I had my Transplant Appointment with John Hopkins on August 7, 2015, it went well. John Hopkins to a deposit of 24 units of blood to determine my tissue and etc. I was weak, but it was necessary. I found out my blood type last year when I needed three units of blood that saved my life on October 3, 2014. My blood type is “AB” the best blood type because I can receive kidneys from all of the other blood types. In addition, to get cleared to be put on the Transplant List you must be cleared by: GYN (Pap Smear and Mammogram), Cardiologist, and Dentist etc. I have completed all accept I am working to be cleared by my dentist as we speak, so by September 8, 2015 I will be cleared of by the dentist. I have returned to work as well after the fourth of July holiday and that has helped to keep my mind off of the journey that will take place hopefully soon.

I thank you all for the continuous prayers you have all sent up for me and my family. I will tell you every-time I asked or needed an appointment that they said would be months away the phone rang and it was within that week or even better!!! The phone never stopped ringing from John Hopkins and the insurance company too. The insurance company wanted to know if I could afford my medicine and if I needed a nurse to assist me at home. I have even decided to participate in John Hopkins study for my disease IGA Nephropathy to help others. Realtime John Hopkins is estimating the transplant could take up to four years, but I know my miracle is going to come much sooner than that, I am praying for a Christmas kidneys or even sooner!!! John Hopkins talk about the other blood types taking up to eight years. I will also register with Georgetown Hospital since they are with a different registry. Oh I almost forgot I have dropped 27 pounds thanks part to my strict diet and I am still maintaining my 15% kidney function. Keep the Prayers4Bernie coming !!! Love you all.

Claflin offering M.Ed. in curriculum/instruction to districts online

Claflin University is taking the lead to ensure local public school administrators and teachers are prepared for the challenges of educating students for the 21st century. Through its newly created Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction program, Claflin is offering academic and research opportunities to help teachers become more effective in the classroom. All of the M.Ed. courses are offered exclusively online.

“We are reaching out to area public school districts and creating partnerships we believe will enhance the quality of education for young people in our communities,” said Dr. Valerie E. Harrison, dean of Claflin’s School of Education, following the announcement of partnerships with Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five, Richland County School District One and Richland County School District Two.

“We are very excited about our M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction program and its benefits for the school districts and Claflin University. We view Orangeburg and other surrounding cities as laboratories for our faculty and students where they can accumulate teaching and learning experiences outside of traditional academic environments,” said Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, Claflin president.

“I applaud the collaboration between the Center for Professional and Continuing Studies and the School of Education for their efforts. I believe an innovative and rigorous curriculum has been developed that will challenge students to explore and implement new methodologies in teaching. As graduates from this program, they will make an indelible mark on the region’s workforce in public education.”

SUNO receives $2.4 million federal education grant

Southern University at New Orleans has received a five-year, $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for its Student Support Services TRIO program. The program offers academic advising, help with course selection, instruction in the College Survival Skills Course, tutoring, academic workshops and other forms of assistance.

The grant is part of the Education Department’s Student Support Services initiative. It is designed to boost retention and graduation rates among low-income and first-generation college students.

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August News

The Passing of NCCU’s Mr. Roger Roy Gregory

Dear NCCU Community:

It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you of the passing of Mr. Roger Roy Gregory, former director of Alumni Relations and active NCCU alumnus, on Tuesday, September 1, 2015.

Alumnus Gregory had a deep love for NCCU and was the epitome of an Eagle with true Eagle Pride. He came to North Carolina Central University in 1967 as a freshman from Camden County, North Carolina, and immediately began working with alumni through a work-study project. Alumnus Gregory graduated from NCCU in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration.

Alumnus Gregory was employed as the director of NCCU’s Office of Alumni Relations from 1999-2004 and also worked as special assistant to the chancellor in subsequent years. He served as the chief liaison between NCCU and alumni and was affiliated with the NCCU Alumni Association for more than 33 years. For 26 of those years, he served on the executive committee of the NCCU Alumni Association, and was the national president from 1976 to1981, and again from 1994 to 1998. Alumnus Gregory had also been president of NCCU’s New York, New Jersey and Durham alumni chapters.

The biographical sketch of Alumnus Gregory, as prepared by Dr. Floyd Ferebee, retired NCCU Professor of English, is included below. A full obituary is forthcoming.

A celebration of life is being planned for Alumnus Gregory. Details will be circulated once they are finalized. Here is a link to a great article and magazine cover story about one of NCCU’s greatest “Friendraisers,” Alumnus Gregory:

Please keep Alumnus Gregory’s family, friends and all the members of the Eagle community that he touched throughout his life, in your thoughts and prayers.

In Truth and Service,

Dr. Debra Saunders-White

Mr. Roger Roy Gregory was born on Sunday, February 27, 1949, in Camden, N.C. He died on September 1, 2015, in Durham, N.C. He was the eldest of three children. Roger received his early education in Camden County, North Carolina, graduating from Marian Anderson High School in 1967. He received the Bachelor of Science degree from North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in 1971. He also continued his studies at the University of Cincinnati, Rutgers University, and numerous other professional development institutes and societies. After graduating from NCCU, he lived in the New York and New Jersey area working in human resources for more than 20 years. He returned to Durham in 1989 to continue his work in the human resources arena as director of Human Resources at North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. In 1989, he was appointed director of Alumni Affairs at NCCU.

Roger became active with the NCCU Alumni Association immediately after his 1971 graduation.  In 1972, he was elected president of the New York City Chapter, and he became the youngest national president of the NCCU Alumni Association in 1976. He served in that capacity for five years and was again elected to the position for another four-year term in 1994. He was a member of the Association’s executive committee for more than 20 years. He also served as president of the Central New Jersey and the Durham alumni chapters. A life member of the Association, he was named Alumnus of the Year in 1982 and 1992, and he was the 2012 Honoree for the Annual Awards Dinner of the NCCU Alumni Association.

Roger was a member of the board of directors for the Durham Arts Council, Durham Workforce Development Board, the NCCU Foundation, the National Urban Affairs Council and Downtown Durham Inc. He served on the Durham Chamber of Commerce Human Relations and Top Priority Education committees. In addition, he was the founding chairman of the African American Leadership Initiative of Greater Durham and Wake County.

Roger was a life member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., an organization he loved immensely. He served his fraternity in a number of capacities including as president of Beta Theta Lambda Chapter in Durham, program director for the Association of North Carolina Alphamen (ANCA), director for the Central Area of the ANCA, and as a committee member of numerous state and regional committees. He also served as chair of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity National and Southern Region Life membership programs. He was advisor to undergraduate chapters at NCCU, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a result of his dedication to Alpha Phi Alpha, Roger received several fraternity awards including Beta Theta Lambda’s Brother of the Year, ANCA’s Alumni Brother of the Year, the Southern Region Brother of the Year, ANCA’s Charles Green Award, and Beta Theta Lambda’s A. M. (Gus) Witherspoon Leadership Award, to name a few.


FVSU to host national artistic conference next month

Painters, illustrators, visual and conceptual artists will gather on Fort Valley State University’s campus for an upcoming national conference. The university will host the National Alliance of Artists from HBCU’s on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 8 and 9. The group will meet inside the Students Amenities Building on Thursday, Oct. 8 and FVSU’s Fine Arts Gallery and Studio Center located in the downtown  city of Fort Valley, Ga. on Friday, Oct. 9.

The mission of the NAAHBCU is to bring art and art education to its member institutions. The organization is committed to sustaining artistic programs on college campuses for future generations of students. The group also provides professional opportunities for artists, art historians, curators, collectors and art enthusiasts.

The theme for this year’s conference is “Afrofuturism Rising: Black Art across the Spectrum.”

According to Ricky N. Calloway, an FVSU professor of art, this is the first time that the conference will be held on the university’s campus. He said the conference will help to increase awareness about the campus’ Visual and Performing Arts Program. During the conference, NAAHBCU members will also discuss the meaning of Afrofuturism, censorship in art, what it takes to be successful in fine art and graphic design and ways to elevate the importance of the arts within African-American culture.

“I have been associated with the National Alliance of Artists from HBCU’s for approximately nine years,” Calloway said. “It’s the type of art organization I have always wanted to join. We have enlightened the minds of many people about historical and contemporary events pertaining to people of the African diaspora through art exhibitions, lectures, and art appreciation books, visual art books dedicated to musicians, art catalogs, and collaborative murals across America.”

An opening reception for professional artists will take place at the Tubman African-American Museum on Oct. 8th from 6-8 p.m. An opening reception for national student exhibitions will take place at FVSU Fine Arts and Studio Center located in the downtown city of Fort Valley, Ga. on Oct. 9th from 2-4 p.m. The group’s executive meeting will take place Wednesday, Oct. 7th from 7-8 p.m. at the Marriott Coliseum Hotel in Macon, Ga.

“For many years our conferences were hosted by other universities and museums. I have witnessed the joy that visitors and art patriots received from learning about the emotional horrors and triumphs that we have experienced as a whole, the African diaspora,” Calloway said. “We have received positive publicity for many years nationally. Therefore, this 15th annual conference will bring positive publicity for FVSU. It will show that FVSU family is a supporter of the arts. Because of our creative blessed skills, art can enlighten and free the mind of hundreds of years of negative and false information. There’s no civilization, nor future, without visual arts.”

Tickets to the two-day conference are free to the public. Membership dues and registration will take place Thursday morning, Oct. 8 from 8-9 a.m.

For details, contact Calloway at (478) 825-6918, or e-mail



Fort Valley State University

Marketing and Communications

(478) 825-6319,


2015-2016 Behavioral Health Capacity Expansion Sub Award Request for App…

I am pleased to announce that Morehouse School of Medicine has received a Notice of Award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to continue as the Historically Black Colleges and Universities-Center for Excellence (HBCU-CFE) in Behavioral Health. We look forward to working with all Historically Black Colleges and Universities to promote student behavioral health and student retention.

The HBCU-CFE will again support a Behavioral Health Capacity Expansion Sub-Award program. The purpose of this program is to promote opportunities for HBCU institutions to foster behavioral health careers through internships; to expand knowledge of culturally appropriate, evidence-based and emerging best practices; to expand screening and referral services for students at risk for behavioral health disorders; and to support educational activities around behavioral health and prevention strategies.

All HBCUs are eligible to apply for the Behavioral Health Capacity Expansion Sub Award.  Enclosed is the Request for Application (RFA). The RFA is also posted on our website ( We have also enclosed additional information about the HBCU-CFE.

The sub-award submission deadline is September 24, 2015, thank you.

Gail A. Mattox, MD, DFAACAP, DFAPA

Chairperson  & Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Project Director, HBCU-Center for Excellence in Behavioral Health



Growing Pains, Institutional Change, and Leadership at FAMU

Symbols are an important piece of American society. Symbols can inspire and they can also remind of us of a time passed. People take their symbols seriously, sometimes religiously. One only needs to look at the current climate around the removal of the confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol building to understand this to be true. Symbols mean things. Symbols communicate values, tradition, community, shared mindsets, and institutional identity. In the same vein, symbolic change represents similar sentiments. In most cases, symbolic change happens before actual structural and cultural change occur. Symbolic change is used to communicate a shift in values, thoughts, and processes. It often points to what an organization aspires to or how they desire to perceived. Symbolic change doesn’t necessarily indicate that a society or an organization actually wants to change. When an organization makes an act of symbolic change that is mere theater, an act that was not ever intended to be followed with true structural and cultural change, but finds that real change is indeed happening it can find itself in shock, turmoil, and sometimes distress. Some would say we are witnessing this occur at Florida A & M University (FAMU).

A few years ago FAMU found itself at the center of various news stories concerning the death of Robert Champion and the culture of hazing and cover up now associated with the institution. This unfortunate story led to public conversations about FAMU’s governance, leadership, and its tendency towards insularity and possibly overly loyal to traditions, even if those traditions proved detrimental to its existence. Pressures of multiple scandals and concerns of the board led to the resignation of then President James Ammons, and a new president had to be selected. All eyes were on FAMU. Who would they pick next? Would they be the FAMU that only trusted its own or would they challenge tradition? Enter President Elmira Mangum.

President Elmira Mangum was a presidential pick with a background unlike what we had commonly seen at FAMU. She had no direct connection with FAMU, having not attended, taught, or worked there prior. Though an HBCU graduate, she came from an upper level administrative position at a private, ivy league, PWI. President Mangum would also be the 127- year old institution’s first permanent female president. President Mangum represented a new day in various ways at FAMU. She looked like change. The decision to select her as president looked like change, and therefore the general public and FAMU stakeholders were to believe that FAMU would be turning a corner, taking the best of who they are with them and leaving the worst behind. Or so we thought. One can tell if an organization has embraced the process of true structural and cultural change as opposed to just symbolic change when a challenge to an unspoken value, informal process, or informal protocol occurs. It appears Mangum’s hire choices and leadership style was interpreted as affronts to the aforementioned by certain stakeholders, board members, and especially the board chair. Public dissent from the board chair begs the question if Mangum’s hiring was to act as simply symbolic change, not real change. If so, it seems President Mangum has not gotten the memo.

The problem with symbolic change is that it merely sparks or inspires progress, but it does not ensure progress. Not to mention, when the symbolic actor engages their role as an actual change agent, engaging in real structural and cultural change, there is bound to be conflict with those in positions of influence and power that never intended for real change to occur. Unfortunately for FAMU we have seen this play out over the last year in numerous ways including fiery debates over hires and dismissals, challenging President Mangum’s competency to lead, a desire from some board members for a micromanagement of the president, and a seemingly public battle between the board chair and president—one of the most important relationships to ensure high functioning institutional leadership. I would also be remiss if I neglected to mention the sexist ways President Mangum’s character has been assassinated and her leadership questioned. This includes allusions of sexual relationships with hires, claims from FAMU stakeholders that a school with a woman president will never have a successful football program, and pushes to bring in former presidents to help her lead as if she accumulated all of her prior leadership experience by happenstance and suddenly became incompetent to lead once gracing FAMU’s halls and corridors. We know these attacks on her lack of effective leadership are not true by merely looking at what President Mangum has accomplished in her short tenure at FAMU. These accomplishments include but are not limited to:

  • Receiving $110,000 for First Generation students from the Florida Board of Governors
  • FAMU Named as one of America’s Top Colleges for 2015
  • FAMU Receives $1.3M NIH Grant To Support Innovative Cancer Treatment Research
  • State legislature providing a total of $7.6 million for student affairs building and completion of Pharmacy Phase II building
  • Awarded $6 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Agency

I don’t suggest that all has been perfect under the Mangum administration. No transition is. I don’t suggest that every decision made by Mangum should go without question.  Good governance allows for multiple voices and viewpoints to be heard. I also don’t suggest that Mangum has amassed all of these achievements as an island. She has undoubtedly had some team players, on the board and across the campus, to support her along the way. However, the embattlement with the board of trustees and with the board chair in particular, that President Mangum has had to and continues to endure is not only uncalled for, it is unhealthy for the institution. And really, shouldn’t that be the focus of what everyone is doing here—sustaining a healthy and effective institution? As we continue to watch this case play out, it is my hope that the board and President Mangum will be able to find a resolution that does not include micromanagement of the president nor an irreparable chasm created between the board and president.

Institutional stakeholders (students, alumni, faculty & staff, funders, etc.) at FAMU, and all institutions, must become more aware of and adamant about who sits on the institution’s board of trustees. Not only should constituents be concerned with what financial and capital means these board members bring to the table but also what value systems they carry through the doors. It is ultimately these value systems that color how trustees engage their work and the decisions that they make. HBCUs hold tradition in high esteem. Tradition is important as it creates a lasting bond between generations and speaks to the heart and identity of an organization. Tradition is the constant current that holds steady as organizations grow in an ever changing world. However, when one cannot distinguish between tradition and poor practice one’s role in the decision-making process may need to be questioned. When we began to care about doing things the way we have always done them more than whether that process will aid in reaching goals and being effective, the time for reevaluation has arrived. We have to ask, if our leaders desire progress and success or are they more concerned with position and power? Do our board members really desire leaders who are innovative and daring or do they want puppets that look the part but have no real say? Do we as stakeholders desire symbols of change but no real change at all?

As the current and next generation of FAMU students, donors, and other community stakeholders view what appears to be an unwarranted attack on a president who is working hard to do the job she was hired to do, what will be communicated? Will they see an institution that they can invest in? Will they see an institution that survived the worst of times and with the hiring of President Mangum was ready to continue to grow the great, rich legacy of FAMU and put down the parts of themselves that hindered true progress and success? Or will they see a reluctance to move forward because of persons who never expected to have to share power or have to embrace cultural and organizational change? What interpretation stakeholders make will bode important for the institution’s future. No one wants to be associated with what seems to be instability—not donors, parents, or students. President Mangum isn’t just a symbol—she is a leader. She is the president. She serves at the pleasure of the board, but the board should be her chief partners in “Building a Brand that Matters in the 21st Century and Beyond”, not her chief enemy. FAMU deserves more than symbols. FAMU deserves a board that is willing to work alongside and respect the president as an invested partner and not expect her to simply be a silent puppet. FAMU is indeed experiencing growing pains, but hopefully it will grow together not fall apart.

Dillard Receives $1.5 Million Federal Education Grant

Dillard Receives $1.5 Million Federal Education Grant

(NEW ORLEANS, LA) – Dillard University has received a five-year grant totaling $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education to provide tutoring, counseling and other support services to ensure students earn a college degree. The grant was competitively awarded through the Department of Education’s Student Support Services initiative, which is designed to increase retention and graduation rates among students from low-income backgrounds and would be first-generation college graduates. According to Dr. Kevin Bastian, assistant vice president for support services and the grant’s principal investigator, Dillard’s program is designed to provide comprehensive support services.  “Some students, while they have the drive to do well academically, are faced with a number of challenges, academically and socially.  These challenges often impede or even derail their path to a college degree,” said Bastian.

Dillard will implement the grant alongside other university-run support projects within its Division of Student Success, including Keys to Success, which provides academic support for student-parents.  Dillard also currently operates two additional federal education K-12 grants.  “The Student Support Services grant initiative allows us to provide a continuum support for students,” Bastian added.

“Department of Education Data show that students from lower-income families are nearly twice as likely to not complete a college degree in six years,” said Dr. Toya Barnes-Teamer, vice president for student success. “We have made a conscience effort over the past few years to engage our students to make sure we provide the comprehensive resources students require to graduate and succeed,” said Barnes-Teamer. As a first generation college student, Barnes-Teamer said that the support provided to her through a TRIO Program helped to prepare her for the career she’s in today.  She also explained that the grant goals are aligned with the University’s Student Integration Model for Success that addresses increased retention and graduation rates. Student Support Services include academic advising, tutoring, study skills training, financial aid counseling, assistance with enrollment into graduate or professional school and help exploring career options.

The grant, which is set to begin in September, will provide academic and other resources for up to 200 students each year over a five-year period. For additional information contact Dillard’s Division of Student Success at 504-816-4714.

HCC receives $1.6 million grant from the US Department of Education

HCC receives $1.6 million grant from the US Department of Education

WELDON, N.C. – Halifax Community College (HCC) recently received a $1,647,110 grant from the US Department of Education. The letter dated July 20, 2015, from the US Department of Education noted approval of fiscal year (FY) 2015 Student Support Services (SSS) program grant application.

The $1,647,110 Trio Student Support Services program grant will serve 250 first-generation, low-income and disabled students and assist them in retention and completion from HCC. The grant is for the performance period of Sept. 1, 2015 – Aug. 31, 2020.  Sherida Gholston is the project director.  Pictured below is Dr. Ervin Griffin, Sr., president and Sherida Gholston, project director.


Halifax Community College’s Mission

Halifax Community College strives to meet the diverse needs of our community by providing high-quality, accessible and affordable education and services for a rapidly changing and globally competitive marketplace.


Media Contact: Dr. Dianne Rhoades, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Halifax Community College and Executive Director of the Halifax Community College Foundation Inc.,, 252-536-7239.

Travel to Cuba October 10-17, 2015

Travel to Cuba October 10-17, 2015 The group will leave Miami, Florida on October 10, 2015 flying to Havana and will return to Miami on October, 17, 2015How would you like to ride old American cars, dance the Salsa, eat delicious Cuban food at family owned restaurants, take a tour of Old Havana, listen to Afro-Cuban Jazz, visit the Museum of the Slave Trade and learn how slaves were brought from Africa to the Caribbean, learn how Cuban cigars are made and talk with Afro-Cuban educators, artists and shop owners.New Perspective Travel and Cuban Heritage Experiences are sponsoring a 6 night, 7 day trip to the cities of  Havana, Matanzas, Cienfuegos and Trinidad Cuba. 
The price of the trip from Miami is $2,795 per person-double occupancy, $2,995 per person-single occupancy.Price includes: Round trip airfare Miami/Havana/Miami, Six nights hotel accommodations at the Melia Cohiba hotel,Daily breakfast buffet, six lunches, two dinners,Transportation in private motor coaches ,Bilingual tour guide,Airport/hotel group transfers,Cuban visa fees and health insurance,

Gratuities for guide, driver and speakers.


The price does not include domestic airfare to/from Miami (round trip airfare from your home to Miami), airport transport fees and Cuban airport departure tax of 25.00 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC).


Minimum of 15 travelers required. So, tell your friends.


A $500 deposit is required to reserve a space. The $500 deposit is due at sign-up.  Balance is due on or before September 15, 2015.

For more information and to make payment and travel arrangements contact:  or call 919-413-3761.




We hope you can join us on October 10!



HBCU Presidents to Critics: We Are Still Very Relevant

Glenda Baskin Glover say non-minority institutions should take a lesson from HBCUs on how they are coping in the face of limited resources. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

In spite of fewer resources compared to the nation’s other majority institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities graduate impressive number of majors in education and in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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Responding to critics who question the relevancy of HBCUs and whether they can embrace the culture of diversity they have demanded of others, a panel of HBCU presidents meeting at Tennessee State University on March 24th, said HBCUs continue to play a key role in the nation’s higher education landscape and have become more diverse in student population, faculty and staff.

“Those raising questions about the relevancy of HBCUs have no case to back their claim,” said President Glenda Baskin Glover, of TSU, in an opening statement, adding that the question should be about how HBCUs have survived with limited resources and yet produce outstanding graduates.

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“How can HBCU’s become a model for other institutions by operating with limited resources and yet we have survived with a high level of performance by putting out more than 5 percent of all graduates in the nation annually? That should be the question,” Dr. Glover asserted.

Attending a three-day “Diversity and Inclusion Summit on HBCU’s,” Dr. Glover, Dr. William B. Bynum, of Mississippi Valley State University; and Dr. Kevin D. Rome, of Lincoln University Missouri, answered questions about HBCU mission, good governance, customer service, and a culture of openness that embraces all without regard to race, sexual preference or heritage.

The summit brought together participants from institutions and organizations across the country includingClark Atlanta UniversityIndiana UniversityXavier UniversityAlabama A&M UniversityVanderbilt UniversityFisk University, and Florida A&M University.

Dr. Ben Reese, longtime educator and president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, served as moderator of the Presidents’ Panel, a key component of the summit organized by the TSU Office of Diversity and International Affairs.

On the issue of limited resources with high return, Bynum and Rome agreed with Glover that instead of questioning HBCU’s relevancy, critics should be asking how non-minority institutions could learn from HBCUs.

“Not only are our institutions diverse, HBCUs are relevant to those students who are there,” said Dr. Rome, at whose Lincoln University blacks are now in the minority at 40 percent, a shift seen in the last six years. “HBCUs give opportunities to those who would not have had those same opportunities at other institutions. Their graduates are making great difference as doctors, engineers and educators.”

“Are we still true to the HBCU mission,” Reese asked.

“We should be true to our mission, focus on what we are about, and continue to do what we do well,” said Dr. Bynum, warning that HBCUs should not try to take on the mantle of being everything to everyone. “This is not a one-size fits all business. Role models and mentorships are the backbone of what we are about.”

On the broader issues of diversity and inclusion, especially dealing with lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender, the presidents said their institutions have exercised complete openness on “individual” free expression, and have instituted policies that put no barriers to individual practices.

“It is an asset that we can do things that embrace everyone,” Dr. Rome said. “If we are in the business of teaching, then we must be ready to embrace and allow people to speak out and not be faced with questioning who they are.”

HBCU presidents Bynum and Glover agreed that universities should be a place where people can be who they are.

Drawing from his background as a sociologist, Bynum said he was dismissive of the long-held belief by “religious conservatives” that being gay is a lifestyle choice.

“For those in the black community who say being gay is a choice, science has proven them wrong,” said the MVSU president. “And the comparison of gay rights to civil rights has great merit because it all comes down to a mater of individual right.”

Dr. Glover, the longtime educator and trained lawyer, sees the issue as a matter of constitutional right.

“I am a strong supporter of the Constitution that tells one to be what they want,” Dr. Glover said. “We can’t close the doors on some and say we are diverse. Allowing people to be what they are is what diversity is.”

Among other issues, the HBCU presidents said resources, especially funding, was one of the main problems facing HBCUs. For instance, in Tennessee, it is not how many students you recruit but how many you graduate that determine funding level, Dr. Glover told her colleagues.

“So why we try to go the traditional recruitment route, we have to recruit in a certain way to carry out the mandate of the state, and remember to recruit students who can help us get funding,” Glover said.

On the question of how HBCUs can be a model for other institutions, the TSU president repeated her assertion that non-minority institutions should learn how HBCUs have remained successful in the face of limited resources.

Break-out sessions discussed topics including “The New HBCU: Does Diversity and Inclusion Impact the Relevance of HBCUs?”; “Beyond the Choir: Developing a Culture of Inclusion and Excellence”; “Repositioning HBCUs for the Future”; “Student Leadership Apprentices: Whose Mentor are You”; “Renovating Academy: Challenges Associated with a Diverse Faculty”; and “Exploring the Chemical Dynamics of an HBCU to the Global marketplace: A Possible Plausible STEM Transition.”

At a reception for summit participants in the Holiday Inn Express Downtown Nashville, Dr. Dennis Raiim, CEO of the Center for Black Student Achievement, wowed the gathering with words of inspiration.

He was followed by Freedom Rider and Civil Rights Activist Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton, who spoke about his role in organizing the first lunch counter sit-ins in Nashville in the early 1960s.

Later, President Glover, along with summit Chair, Dr. Jewell Winn, presented awards and gifts to sponsors and supporters including AT&T, NADOHE, HCA, AGB, APLU and the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Source: TSU News Service

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at

Wilberforce Faculty File 14 Complaints Against School

Four tenured faculty members at Wilberforce University have filed 14 complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, charging the school’s administration unlawfully placed them on sabbatical.

The complaints, which were filed Aug. 19, accuse the school of unilaterally violating its labor contract, unfairly disciplining the instructors and changing the terms and conditions of employment. All four are officers of the school’s faculty union.

Sources say that the professors involved include Richard Deering, union president and a longtime critic of several administrations. Deering referred questions to the union’s lawyer, Ted Copetas, who also declined to comment.

Sources say that the four professors were told they’d remain on leave until they met three requirements: obtaining 18 hours of coursework in the fields they teach, publishing at least one article in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal and delivering a scholarly paper at an academic conference.

The sabbaticals mean one-third of the school’s 12 tenured faculty have been placed on leave.

University officials also could not be reached for comment. But in an Aug. 3 press release, President Algeania Freeman announced a new “sabbatical program” for faculty. The release said that the program would help the school maintain its accreditation, which is in jeopardy.

According to the press release, the program will ensure faculty fulfill academic criteria set by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the agency that accredits colleges and universities in Ohio and other Midwestern and Southwestern states. The HLC requires faculty have at least 18 hours of academic courses in the discipline they’re teaching.

The release also says that the sabbatical enable faculty to satisfy several stipulations of the union contract that demand continuing scholarly activity and contributing to their academic disciplines through scholarly research.

The filings hint at continuing conflict at an institution known for a contentious relationship between faculty and administration. Members of the Wilberforce University Faculty Association joined students protesting former President Patricia Hardaway, who was Freeman’s immediate predecessor. The group said Hardaway was allowing the school to deteriorate financially and academically. Hardaway resigned in December 2013.

In 2012, the union also filed a complaint with the Ohio State Attorney General about the university’s Board of Trustees and its governance of the school. The allegations included the board overcompensated former President Floyd Flake, who earned more than $300,000 annually in salary and benefits. That complaint was dismissed.

Freeman was appointed president last year, after a search that saw several top candidates withdraw from consideration. She has a reputation for restoring fiscal stability while alienating faculty, staff and students. During her tenure as president of Martin University in Indianapolis from 2008 to 2010, seven members of the school’s 16-member Board of Trustees resigned, and students protested after she fired a popular instructor.

ASU Student Named National HBCU All-Star

Lamar Butler is among 75 of the nation’s top HBCU students who have been named to the first class of HBCU All-Stars, a program sponsored by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
ASU’s Lamar Butler is again in the national spotlight, as he has been selected by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCU) to join a distinguished group of college students in the Initiative’s first class of HBCU All-Stars.

The All-Stars is composed of 75 undergraduate, graduate and professional students who are recognized for their accomplishments in academics, leadership and civic engagement. The All-Star class was selected from among 450 students enrolled at 62 HBCUs.

“To be selected as an HBCU All-Star is a blessing and an honor,” Butler said. “I will be representing not only myself, but also Alabama State University on a national level. I believe this is amazing positive publicity for our University, and it will show students that coming to an HBCU is not a crutch, but rather it is a catalyst to success.”

This is not the first time Butler, a junior chemistry major, has been recognized on a national scale. Last year, he was selected as a Tom Joyner Foundation Hercules Scholar, receiving a $1,500 scholarship in recognition of his leadership skills, community service and academic achievement. Earlier this year, Butler was among an elite group of American college students who participated in a 54-mile trek along the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March.

Over the course of the year, the HBCU All-Stars will serve as ambassadors for the WHIHBCU, providing outreach and communication with fellow students about the value of education and about the role of the WHIHBCU as a networking resource.

Butler aid ASU prepared him for this honor by teaching him to be a servant leader and by instilling the importance of academic success and forging solid relationships.

“It’s about not being above those that you lead, but rather you are down in the trenches doing the dirty work right beside them. It means that sometimes you will have to get out and do the hard things so that someone else will benefit,” Butler said.

The group of All-Stars also will participate in this year’s White House HBCU Week Conference in September, as well as various national events and web chats with WHIHBCU staff and professionals from a range of disciplines.

Zillah Fluker, ASU’s vice president for Institutional Advancement, was chosen by the WHIHBCU to mentor three of the All-Stars including Butler.

“It truly is an honor to be able to help and guide these young people as a mentor,” said Fluker. “This is a wonderful opportunity for each of them not only to demonstrate the tremendous talent and potential that can be found within the nation’s HBCUs, but also to highlight the important role that HBCUs continue to play in developing the next generation of leaders.”

“The Obama Administration is committed to promoting excellence, innovation and sustainability across our nation’s HBCUs. This year’s class of All-Stars has distinguished itself as exemplars of the talent that HBCUs cultivate and noble ambassadors of their respective institutions,” said Ivory A. Toldson, WHIHBCUs’ acting executive director. “We are confident these impressive students will help the White House Initiative on HBCUs meaningfully engage with students, showcase their talent and advance our agenda to advance academic excellence at HBCUs.”



Bobby Rush to perform at Jarvis Christian College’s Jarvis Fest

Hawkins, TX – Veteran blues man Bobby Rush will perform at Jarvis Christian College’s Jarvis Fest 2015 on Oct. 3.

“An Evening of Blues and Soul Benefiting UNCF” and featuring the singer/guitarist, will begin at 9 p.m. at the E.W. Rand Center on the college campus.

Bobby Rush’s latest albums include 2014’s Grammy-nominated funk-infused “Decisions” and 2013’s Grammy-nominated and Blues Music Award-winning album “Down in Louisiana.” The latter’s 11 songs revel in the grit, grind and soul that’s been the blues innovator’s trademark since the 1960s.

After more than 60 years of recording and touring, Rush still performs more than 200 shows a year and headlines major festivals and concerts for more than 20,000 people a night. His songs include “Camel Walk,” “I Ain’t Studdin’ You” and “Booga Bear.”

Admission is $65 in advance; $75 at the door.

Saturday’s activities also will include Casino Night beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 for Casino Night only. Tickets are available online at or at Jarvis Christian College.

Jarvis Fest is an annual event aimed at raising money for Jarvis’ Annual United Negro College Fund Campaign. This year’s goal is $90,000.

Report: Cheyney U Mismanaged $30M in Federal Aid

Nearly $30 million in federal financial aid awarded to Cheyney University — a public, historically black institution in Pennsylvania — is in question after an internal review found at least one error in 85 percent of its records for federal grants between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2014. The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education last year hired the independent firm Financial Aid Services (FAS) to reconcile Cheyney’s federal financial aid programs after it determined Cheyney hadn’t performed the required reconciliation internally for those three years.

The U.S. Department of Education is reviewing the FAS report and will decide whether Cheyney will have to repay some or all of the funds it didn’t administer properly. In the meantime, FAS is administering Cheyney’s federal financial aid programs.

The report is damaging for Cheyney, an institution that’s struggling with steep enrollment declines and a budget deficit that grows larger each year. “This report brings to light the deficiencies of many enrollment management functions, the university’s policies and procedures, communications, academic progress, student accounts, student records, financial records, and student information management systems resulting in overall findings of noncompliance with federal regulations for the administration and delivery of federal student aid totaling $29.6 million over three years,” an executive summary of the report said.

SC State reaches $312,500 settlement with ex-president Elzey

South Carolina State University trustees say they have reached a settlement in a lawsuit over the firing of former university president Thomas Elzey.

Board members said Wednesday they agreed to pay Elzey $312,500 and pay his attorneys in his wrongful firing suit $20,000.

The statement says that trustees acknowledge Elzey took over a university in poor financial shape and struggling to keep its accreditation. Elzey was fired in March after less than two years with the university. The South Carolina Legislature would later fire the trustees.

The statement says Elzey was paid what he was owed under his contract

Trustees say Elzey still supports S.C. State and wishes he had been given more time to fix the school’s financial problems.

The university is more than $30 million in debt.

Deal eases move from NC community college to private school

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – It’s getting a little easier for North Carolina students to move from a community college to a four-year school.

The presidents of the state community college system and North Carolina’s private universities association are to sign an agreement Thursday making it easier for students to transfer credits they’ve earned.

21 of North Carolina’s 36 independent institutions have agreed to adopt the new standards. More could do so in the future. Most of the state’s independent schools are small, ranging from Brevard College in the mountains to Chowan University DownEast.

Read the agreement: NC community college transfer details

About 2,000 community college students transfer to one of the independent higher education institutions each year.

A similar alignment of courses and curricula has been in effect for 18 months between the state’s community colleges and University of North Carolina campuses.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Claflin Welcomes Largest Freshman Class in University History

The Claflin University Freshman College inducted the Class of 2019 – one of the largest in University history – during the 2015 Confirmation Ceremony earlier this month. The ceremony culminated a week-long orientation for new students.

“In the Class of 2019 you have cyber security scholars, Darla Moore scholars, honors college scholars, (Rudolph) Canzater scholars – I can go on and on about the scholars we have in this class, one of Claflin’s largest classes in more than a decade,” said Dr. Leroy Durant, vice president for student development and services.

The Freshman College is a comprehensive yearlong program designed to help entering freshmen build character, confidence, pride, memories and pathways to success. Students experience special seminars with small classes focusing on the needs of freshmen students and featuring close interaction with orientation leaders, faculty members and peer mentors.

Orientation week is full of activities to help the incoming class gain the tools and skills needed to succeed in their chosen fields of study and get acclimated to college life. During the Confirmation Ceremony, students are formally inducted into The Freshman College.

This year’s speaker was Dr. Isaiah McGee, chair of the Department of Music, associate professor of music and director of the Claflin University Concert Choir. McGee told the class to create their own opportunities and become visionary leaders.

“Go to class tomorrow, study hard, commit to excellence and get all the education you can,” McGee said. “It is not by haphazard that you are here. God doesn’t make mistakes.”

In an emotional and inspiring speech, McGee urged students to have desire, dedication and determination as they embark on their Claflin career.

“You must have a desire to want to learn all that you can, a dedication to seeking the knowledge that eludes us through the vast number of books and research, and the determination to finish the race no matter how hard it may be. You must never be a slave to circumstances, but the creator of your own destiny,” he said.

McGee told students to be change agents and to not be afraid of failure.

“Failure is the way you learn to do things right,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down. All that matters is how many times you keep getting up.  Aim high; set your goals among the stars for if you fall, Class of 2019, fall on your back. If you can see up, you can reach up; if you can reach up, you can get up and keep striving for that goal of being the next visionary leaders. A Claflin education will produce visionary leaders.”

In addition to attending seminars and mentoring, students in The Freshman College participate in community service and service learning and freshman assemblies.

“We are here today not to confirm that you have finished your freshman week, but to confirm you made the right choice by choosing Claflin University,” McGee said. 

Discounting Grows Again

Private colleges and universities continue to raise their tuition discount rates, even as many institutions struggle with decreasing enrollment and declining revenue despite the practice.

report from the National Association of College and University Business Officers released today reveals that tuition discount rates are at an all-time high and many institutions are using the strategy to a point that, according a top analyst at NACUBO, is “not sustainable.”

Private institutions commonly discount their tuition — using institutional aid (often derived from tuition revenue) to offer students a discount from the sticker price — in an effort to entice students to enroll.

On average, private colleges’ discount rate — institutional grant dollars as a percentage of gross tuition and fee revenue — reached 48 percent for freshmen in 2014, up from 46.4 percent the year before, according to the 2014 Tuition Discounting Study, which surveyed 411 private colleges and universities (public institutions were not included in the survey because their funding formulas and pricing structure are different than those at private institutions).

Put another way, institutions awarded about 48 cents in institutional grants to freshmen for every dollar collected for first-year tuition and fees.

The average freshman in 2014 received an institutional grant that covered 54.3 percent of his or her college’s sticker price, up from 53.1 percent last year.

Much of the aid is going to needy students. NACUBO found thatm in 2013, about three-fourths of institutional aid was awarded to students with financial need.

Colleges feel pressure to increase the tuition discount because student demands are changing. Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, students have a heightened awareness of the price of college and are looking for as much aid as they can get.

“While the economy has improved, many families are still struggling. In a lot of communities you’re still seeing, if not job losses, jobs that don’t pay nearly as much as they did,” said Ken Redd, director of research and policy analysis at NACUBO. “There’s an increased inability [for needy students to go to college] and an unwillingness to pay even if you did have the money.”

He continued: “The level of price sensitivity … is very real.”

And colleges are trying to figure out how best to respond to that sensitivity, along with other challenges like demographic shifts in many U.S. regions that will negatively affect enrollment.

Yet increasing one’s tuition discount rate year after year isn’t the answer, Redd said.

Eighty-nine percent of first-time, full-time freshmen received some level of tuition discount, up from 88 percent the year before. That rate drops to 77 percent when all undergraduates are considered. Undergraduates as a whole received grants that cover, on average, 48.9 percent of tuition and fees.

Despite the prevalence and growing size of tuition discounts, nearly half of the institutions surveyed by NACUBO reported declining enrollment from 2013 and 2014. Sixty three percent of business officers at institutions experiencing enrollment struggles attribute cite price sensitivity as a contributor.

And the steep discounts are cutting into revenue: gross tuition price increases largely have been offset by increased grant aid to students. The vast majority of grant aid is funded from tuition and fee revenue. NACUBO found that, on average, just 10.8 percent of institutional grants were funded by endowments.

Net revenue of surveyed institutions is expected to grow just 0.4 percent per student next year, the report states. This is not a new trend. After adjusting for inflation, tuition revenue has been flat for the last 13 years.

“The real decline in net tuition revenue suggests to us that tuition discounting, at the levels they are currently at, is just not sustainable,” Redd said.

Redd added that some colleges — realizing that overdiscounting tuition may fail to improve, or even hurt, their financial health — are trying to leverage other strategies to recruit students, like freezing tuition, expanding marketing efforts or increasing selectivity. Many are looking for recurring savings to try to make up for slowing revenue gains.

Yet Redd says change takes time, especially given existing market challenges. Tuition discounting levels will likely continue to grow in the near future.

“The financial need is still going to be very high, and the competition among schools for students is still going to be very high, so it wouldn’t surprise me, at least for the next couple of years, if we would see this trend continue,” he said.

Though the majority of institutions raised their discount rate, some held the line: 31 percent reduced or maintained their tuition discount rate from 2013 to 2014. Yet that number is lower than the previous year, when 34.6 percent lowered or held steady their discount rates.

Looking Classy

Peek into most college classrooms and it’s not uncommon to find students dressed in shorts, T-shirts or sweatpants. But when the academic year begins today at Dillard University, faculty are expecting to see far more professional attire, as male students are encouraged to don suits and ties for the first day of class.

The initiative is an effort by the university and its upperclassmen to make sure other male students at the historically black institution are accustomed to wearing a suit and tying a tie by the time they graduate. That’s a style of dress that officials said many students are unacquainted with when they first come to campus.

“The thing that is most encouraging about this entire endeavor is that it is 100 percent student generated,” Demetrius Johnson, dean of student affairs, said. “It’s not a program that the university said we needed to do. It’s the upperclassmen saying, ‘I need to make sure first-year students understand something I didn’t three years ago: the importance of knowing how to tie a simple knot in a tie.’” (There isn’t an equivalent program for women.)

The annual effort has been taking place at Dillard since 2012, and was the idea of the university’s “senior gentleman” at the time, a student named Jerome Bailey. Also known as Mr. Dillard, the senior gentleman is the university’s equivalent of a class president, a position shared with a female student known as Miss Dillard. Bailey, who now works as a member of the university’s admissions staff, began encouraging all male students to wear suits on the first day of class in an attempt to “to elevate the standard for the appearance and image of Dillard men.”

The effort that year was delayed a week by Hurricane Isaac, but when classes resumed, a large number of male students did arrive on the New Orleans campus wearing full suits or other kinds of business attire.

In a video promoting the effort at the time, Bailey acknowledged that it was likely that not all male students owned a suit, and so he asked them to borrow one or to wear polo shirts and khakis instead. Since then, the university has assembled a large shared “closet” filled with donated professional attire for students to use. The clothes are mostly donated by faculty members, university officials and upperclassmen.

Johnson, who estimates that he has donated five suits and about 50 ties and belts in the last year to the closet, said while the initiative is focused on encouraging students to wear suits on the first day of class, the effort is really a year-round project at the university.

“As a historically black university, we have a number of first-generation, low-income students,” Johnson said. “And we want make sure that everybody is prepared for the world after graduation, and one of the ways we do that is to make sure that every man knows how to tie a tie. It may seem outside of the bounds of what you do in a college environment, but serving a population of students where there may or not may be a father in the home or one who works in an a industry requiring a suit, we want to make sure our students know how to represent an institution and themselves upon graduation.”

The university also organizes a program called Ties That Bind, in which male students are taught by faculty and staff how to tie several types of tie knots. Some fraternities on campus require their members to wear suits every Tuesday and encourage other students to do the same.

Johnson said about 40 percent of men now wear suits and ties on the first day of class, thanks to the continued efforts of students and the support of the university. The current senior gentleman, Dakari Morton, is now in charge of organizing the event, and faculty and staff members help promote the initiative on university social media accounts.

“On the first day now, there are suits everywhere on campus,” Johnson said. “And it’s a fantastic look.”

NCCU News: NCCU Receives $1.1 Million Federal Education Grant

North Carolina Central University has received a five-year grant totaling $1.1 million from the U.S. Department of Education to provide counseling, tutoring and other support to help students earn their college degrees.

The funds are part of the federal TRIO Student Services Support Program designed to increase retention and graduation rates among students with disabilities and those who are first-generation college graduates from low-income families.

“We are very pleased that NCCU has been awarded this grant, which will be used to provide a foundation of support for students needing additional academic assistance to earn a degree,” said Ontario Wooden, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Innovative, Engaged and Global Education in the Division of Academic Affairs. “There are numerous hurdles facing our students as they work toward graduation, from obtaining financial aid to making satisfactory academic progress toward their degree. This grant will enable targeted students to successfully navigate the transition to college and complete their undergraduate degree.”

Wooden is principal investigator and project director for the grant. Co-principal investigators are Monica T. Leach, Ed.D., David Hood, Ed.D. and Jennifer Schum, Ph.D.  

“Student success is North Carolina Central University’s No. 1 priority,” said Chancellor Debra Saunders-White. “This grant will provide game-changing momentum for our student-success initiatives.”

The project will support academic advising, tutoring, study skills training, financial aid counseling, assistance with enrollment into graduate or professional school and help exploring career options.   

The grant covers services to 140 students each year for five years. To be eligible for the program students must have a confirmed disability or be a first-generation college student from a low-income family. A portion of the disabled students also must be from low-income households, which is defined by federal guidelines.

The Department of Education’s objectives for NCCU call for at least 77 percent of students enrolled in the program to successfully matriculate from one year to the next, that 75 percent remain in good academic standing, and 45 percent graduate within six years. The TRIO program was founded as part of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. This is the first TRIO grant awarded to NCCU.

83 Students from 70 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Named 2015 HBCU All-Stars AUGUST 20, 2015

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCUs) today announced its 2015 HBCU All-Stars, recognizing 83 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students for their accomplishments in academics, leadership, and civic engagement.

The All-Stars were selected from more than 450 students who submitted applications that included a transcript, resume, essay, and recommendation. Over the course of the year, the HBCU All-Stars will serve as ambassadors of the WHIHBCUs by providing outreach and communication with their fellow students about the value of education and the role of the Initiative as a networking resource.  Through social media and their relationships with community based organizations, the All-Stars will share promising and proven practices that support opportunities for all young people to achieve their educational and career potential.

“The Obama Administration is committed to promoting excellence, innovation and sustainability across our nation’s HBCUs. This year’s class of All-Stars has distinguished itself as exemplars of the talent that HBCUs cultivate and noble ambassadors of their respective institutions.” said Ivory A. Toldson, WHIHBCUs’ acting executive director. “We are confident these impressive students will help the White House Initiative on HBCUs meaningfully engage with students, showcase their talent and advance our agenda to advance academic excellence at HBCUs.”

In addition, the All-Stars will also participate in this year’s White House HBCU Week Conference in September as well as various national events, web chats with Toldson and other Initiative staff and professionals from a range of disciplines. The All-Stars will have exceptional opportunities to engage with other HBCU scholars and to showcase their individual and collective talent across the HBCU community.

For more information regarding the 2015 HBCU All-Star Student program and application contact: and follow @WHI_HBCUs on Twitter.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Attached is a list of the 2015 HBCU All-Stars, alphabetical by their hometown state, and including the city they are from, the school they attend and the school’s location.

2015 HBCU All Stars

Greensboro – Jamie Binns, Talladega College, Talladega, AL
Huntsville – Ajiah Graham, J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College, Huntsville, AL
Huntsville – Kedgeree McKenzie, Oakwood University, Huntsville, AL
Tuscaloosa – Avery Brown, Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, AL

Pine Bluff – Sidney Smith, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, AR

Palmdale – Jynae Jones, Miles College, Fairfield, AL

Denver- Cynthia Hall, St. Philips College, San Antonio, TX

Beachrhell Jacques – University of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.

Miami Gardens – AcNeal Williams, Florida Memorial University, Miami Gardens, FL
Miami – Marquise McGriff, Florida Memorial University, Miami Gardens, FL
Orlando, Landon Wright, Bethune-Cookman University, Daytona Beach, FL
Tallahassee, Gilda Brown, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL

Atlanta – Jennifer Smith, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL
Atlanta – Lauren Wiggins, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN
Atlanta – Rebecca Dorsey, Albany State University, Albany, GA
Atlanta – Chaz Gibson, Howard University, Washington, D.C.
Atlanta – Angelica Willis, North Carolina A&T University, Greensboro, NC
Atlanta – Alayna Robinson, Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA
Augusta – Patrick Outler, Morris College, Sumter, SC
Barnesville – Austin Ogletree, North Carolina A&T University, Greensboro, NC
Covington – Timothy Tukes, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA
Fayetteville – Lindsey Foster, Howard University, Washington, D.C.
Macon – Vi’Dual Futch, Benedict College, Columbia, SC
McDonough – Zoe McDowell, Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA
Warner Robbins – Shelton Bowens, Savannah State University, Savannah, GA

Fishers – Kasey Hornbuckle, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL

Radcliff – Ralph Williams, Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY

Baton Rouge – Sally Ross, Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, LA
Gonzales – Sheirvan Ursin, Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins, TX
Grambling – Temitayo Michael Akinjogunla, Grambling State University, Grambling, LA
New Orleans – Marina Banks, Dillard University, New Orleans, LA

Bryans Road – Aaleah Lancaster, Bennet College, Greensboro, NC
Capitol Heights – Kayla Fontaine, Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA
Cheltenham – Leah Williams, Delaware State University, Dover, DE
Fort Washington – Ravenn Mathis, Bowie State University, Bowie, MD
Fort Washington – Antonia Hill, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA
Laurel – Salematou Traore, University Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD
Parkville- Marcel Jagne-Shaw, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Owings Mills – Miles Jenkins, Hampton University, Hampton, VA
Waldorf – Danielle Hawkins, Hampton University, Hampton, VA
Woodbine – Mya Harvard, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA

Berrien Springs – Rian Cho, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN

Corinth – English Fields, Rust College, Holly Springs, MS
Edwards – Erica Harris, Hinds Community CollegeUtica Campus, Utica, MS
Greenville – Spencer Davis, Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS
Jackson – Nina Hill, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS
Natchez – Jonathan Weir, Alcorn State University, Alcorn, MS

Richfeild – Bryann Guyton, Shaw University, Raleigh, NC

Las Vegas – Maliq Kendricks, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL

Camden – Christoff Lindsey, Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, TX

Far Rockaway – Nathalie Nelson, Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, GA
Cambria Heights- Gionelly Mills, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Lincoln University, PA

Charlotte – Elliot Jackson, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, NC
Charlotte – Raven Weathers, Livingstone College, Salisbury, NC
Charlotte – Mona Zahir, Winston Salem State University, Winston, Salem, NC
Durham – Tamina Kienka, North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC
Kinston – Kyle Brown, Winston Salem State University, Winston, Salem, NC
Winston – Salem, Tyler Duncan, Vorhees College, Denmark, SC

Cincinnati – Sierra Blackwell, Fisk University, Nashville, TN
Columbus – Christina Hathcer, Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, OH

Pittsburgh – Kevin Lee, Paul Quinn College, Dallas, TX
York – Kristin Shipley, North Carolina A&T University, Greensboro, NC

Hemingway – Kimesha Cooper, Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC
Orangeburg – Kareem Heslop, Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC
Orangeburg – Samuel Cole, South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, SC
Society Hill – Lamar Butler, Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL

Jackson – Tremaine Sails, Dunbar, American Baptist College, Nashville, TN
Memphis – Taevin Lewis, HarrisStowe State University, St. Louis, MO
Memphis – Keenan Lowery, Lane College, Jackson, TN
Memphis – Tamara Bates, Philander Smith College, Little Rock, AR

Arlington – Mira Bakine, Langston University, Langston, OK
Dallas – Nateisha Choice, Wiley College, Marshall, TX
Fort Worth – Britt Spears, Prairie View A&M University, Fort Worth, TX
Houston – Quentin Monroe, Central State University, Wilberforce, OH
Houston – Francis Vazquez, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX

Racine- Jeanni Simpson- Howard University, Washington, DC

Disputanta – Tatyana Calhoun, University of the District of Colombia, Washington, D.C.
Hampton – McKinley Strother, Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, NC
Richmond – Leah Reid, Virginia Union University, Richmond, VA
Virginia Beach – Jasmine Dunbar, Norfolk State University, Norfolk, VA

St. Thomas – Tonecia Rogers, University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, USVI

Enugu – Jude Okanya, Paine College, Augusta, GA

Johannesburg – Andronica Klaas, Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, NC


Delta Sigma Theta Awards NCCU $200k for Scientific Research

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) has been granted the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Distinguished Professor Endowed Chair Award. The $200,000 award will support university efforts in integrated biosciences that focus on uterine fibroid tumor research.

The award was presented at Delta Sigma Theta’s 52ndNational Convention in Houston, Texas, on July 25, 2015. Dr. Harriet F. Davis, vice chancellor for institutional advancement, accepted the award on NCCU’s behalf during the sorority’s public meeting. Delta Sigma Theta awards the grant biennially to a historically black college or university (HBCU) that provides support for a professor of distinction to be in residence to teach or conduct research.

The grant will allow Dr. Darlene K. Taylor, NCCU associate chemistry professor, to partner with the Campion Fund of the Phyllis and Mark Leppert Foundation for Fertility Research. The group will conduct uterine fibroid research and host a public conference titled “Uterine Fibroids: What Every Woman Needs to Know.”


The conference will take place at NCCU Mary M. Townes Science Building on Oct. 10, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Paula Gwynn Grant, director of communications and advocacy for the Arch Diocese of Atlanta, will provide the keynote address.

“There is little attention and resources dedicated to uterine fibroid therapy; as a female scientist I seek to change this paradigm,” Taylor said.

Uterine fibroids affect 80 percent of women, bringing complications that can be devastating and detrimental to quality of life.   Taylor’s goal for the award is to support uterine fibroid research and minimally invasive testing of localized therapies.

The Distinguished Professor Endowed Chair Award was established in 1977 at the sorority’s 34th National Convention as a perpetual trust fund to continue the group’s longstanding commitment to educational excellence through quality instruction at HBCUs. The award was established to support and sustain these historical institutions, provide assistance to expand educational opportunities, and to give long overdue recognition to distinguished black instructors and professors.

 About North Carolina Central University

North Carolina Central University prepares students to succeed in the global marketplace. Flagship programs include the sciences, technology, nursing, education, law, business and the arts. Founded in 1910 as a liberal arts college for African-Americans, NCCU remains committed to diversity in higher education.Our alumni excel in a wide variety of academic and professional fields.

Kappa Alpha Psi Chapter Donates $29k to Dillard University

The men of Kappa Alpha Psi gathered in the city of New Orleans to conduct business and to give back to the community last week. The national organization donated computer labs to several schools in New Orleans including St. Augustine. The convention also severed as a gathering for the men who crossed Kappa Alpha Psi while at Dillard Universityto return to New Orleans.

This past Saturday over 80 men of the Beta Gamma Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi came back to their roots on the campus of Dillard University and had a great time remembering their college days. The men of Beta Gamma held a reception as well as a chapter luncheon and donated over $29,000 to the university for scholarships. Graduate brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi from Dillard University donated to the scholarship as well. Dr. Kimbrough was present to accept the gift and express words to the group for their achievement.

Job Well Done to the men of the Beta Gamma Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Norfolk State University President Eddie N. Moore, Jr.: “There are very high expectations.”

NORFOLK, Va (WVEC) — The new school year is starting at Norfolk State University in just a few days.

With it’s accreditation in limbo, NSU has just one month to submit a full report to the agency that will determine it’s future.

“We will, if you’ll allow me to say this, do everything we can to get our candle out from under the bushel basket it’s been covered with,” Interim Vice President Eddie Moore said.

He spoke at the State of the School Address on Monday.

“The single largest challenge we’ll face is the accreditation and the outcome from that. There are very high expectations,” Moore said.

The school’s accreditation was placed on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in December 2014.

They have less than one month to turn in a full report to the organization before the commission comes to visit in October to decide the University’s fate.

“I would suspect they’re probably going to look for all the audits, because 5 audits in 20 months is amazing,” Moore said.

Moore said he’s optimistic about the future of NSU, but needs everyone’s cooperation.

“We’re hoping that our faculty will cooperate, which does mean a sacrifice from the liberal arts faculty,” Moore said.

Along with faculty cooperation, growing enrollment is also a major project for the administration.

Official enrollment numbers will be released on Thursday for the Fall 2015 semester- something experts were concerned about given the school’s probation status.

Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton has been working closely with NSU- and she’s on board with the progress.
“It was something that was a long time coming and we’re just night and day different than we were two years ago,” Holton said.

College Students in 36 States to Benefit from Extra $23.4 Million in Student Support Services Grants Focused on Success in Higher Education

The U.S. Department of Education today announced an additional $23.4 million in Student Support Services grants to more than 100 institutions in 36 states, aimed at helping college students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds succeed in higher education.

Today’s announcement comes less than a month after the Department announced the initial round of Student Support Services awardstotaling $270 million for 968 institutions in all 50 states.

“We were fortunate to be able to provide additional assistance to colleges and universities to help give students the extra push they may need to graduate from college,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These grants provide critical help and encouragement along students’ college journey, enabling them to reach their personal goals and contribute to the economic vitality of our nation.” Typical projects include providing students with academic tutoring, assistance in course selection, information about financial aid and economic literacy, and support and resources, as well as helping students transfer from two- to four-year colleges or from undergraduate to graduate or professional studies.

Projects may also offer: individualized counseling and career guidance, exposure to cultural events, mentoring, and housing assistance during school breaks for those who are homeless or in foster care. This is one of seven Federal TRIO Programs, which provide outreach and student services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, low income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities, foster care youth or homeless children and youth—to help them progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.

Following is a list of the grant recipients.

State City Recipient Amount
AL Hamilton Bevill State Community College/Hamilton-STEM $220,000
AR Hope University of Arkansas Community College at Hope-Texarkana $281,511
AZ Mesa Mesa Community College $220,000
AZ Tempe Arizona State University $218,592
AZ Tucson Pima County Community College/Desert Vista Campus-STEM $220,000
AZ Tucson University of Arizona-STEM $220,000
CA Azusa Azusa Pacific University $220,000
CA Carson California State University/Dominguez Hills-Veterans $215,991
CA Eureka Redwoods Community College District/Eureka $220,000
CA Fairfield Solano Community College/Fairfield-STEM $220,000
CA Fresno California State University/Fresno-Disabled $220,000
CA Gilroy Gavilan Joint Community College District $247,583
CA Hayward Chabot-Las Positas Community College District-Chabot College-STEM $220,000
CA Irvine University of California/Irvine $220,000
CA Long Beach California State University/Long Beach-Disabled $220,000
CA Long Beach Long Beach Community College District-Disabled $231,103
CA Orange Rancho Santiago Community College District—Santiago Canyon $220,000
CA Palm Desert College of the Desert-Veterans $220,000
CA Sacramento American River College-Veterans $220,000
CA Santa Rosa Sonoma County Junior College-STEM $219,999
CA Taft West Kern Community College District $220,000
CT Manchester Community Technical College Manchester $219,999
FL Gainesville University of Florida/Gainesville $219,999
FL Lake City Florida Gateway College $220,000
FL Pensacola Pensacola State College-Veterans $220,000
FL Pensacola University of West Florida $292,193
FL Tallahassee Florida State University/Tallahassee $220,000
FL Tallahassee Florida State University/Tallahassee-STEM $220,000
GA Atlanta Atlanta Metropolitan College-STEM $220,000
GA Savannah Armstrong Atlantic State University $219,999
GA Statesboro Georgia Southern University $220,000
GU Mangilao Guam Community College $292,340
ID Lewiston Lewis-Clark State College $325,654
IL Rockford Rock Valley College $220,000
IL Springfield Lincoln Land Community College $220,000
IN Vincennes Vincennes University-Disabled $218,623
KS Fort Scott Fort Scott Community College $219,118
KS Kansas City Kansas City Kansas Community College $220,000
KY Frankfort Kentucky State University $220,000
KY Owensboro Owensboro Community and Technical College $220,000
MA Gardner Mount Wachusett Community College-Disabled $220,000
ME Bangor Eastern Maine Community College $220,000
ME Waterville Thomas College $218,000
MI Harrison Mid Michigan Community College $219,021
MI Ypsilanti Eastern Michigan University $220,000
MI Ypsilanti Eastern Michigan University-Veterans $146,640
MN Brooklyn Park Hennepin Technical College-ESL $220,000
MN Brooklyn Park North Hennepin Community College-STEM $220,000
MO Kansas City Avila University $220,000
MS Wesson Copiah-Lincoln Community College/Natchez $284,753
NC Durham North Carolina Central University $220,000
NC Raleigh North Carolina State University-STEM $220,000
NC Washington Beaufort County Community College $339,027
ND Fort Yates Sitting Bull College $220,000
NE Norfolk Northeast Community College $220,000
NM Las Cruces New Mexico State University-STEM $220,000
NV Henderson Nevada State College $220,000
NY Johnstown Fulton Montgomery Community College-Disabled $220,000
NY Middletown Orange County Community College $220,000
NY New York Pace University $219,965
NY Rockville Centre Molloy College $234,745
NY Suffern SUNY/Rockland Community College $220,000
OH Oxford Miami University $220,000
OK Ada East Central University-Veterans $220,000
OK Edmond University of Central Oklahoma-ESL $220,000
OR Corvallis Oregon State University-STEM $220,000
OR Eugene Lane Community College-STEM $220,000
OR Grants Pass Rogue Community College District $220,000
OR La Grande Eastern Oregon University $220,000
PA Philadelphia Community College of Philadelphia $257,087
PA Philadelphia University of Pennsylvania $277,857
PA Pittsburgh Community College of Allegheny County $213,733
PA University Park Pennsylvania State University/Wilkes Barre Campus $281,510
PR San Juan Colegio Universitario de San Juan $323,776
PR San Juan Inter American University of Puerto Rico/Baranquitas $220,000
SC Central Southern Wesleyan University $220,000
SC Conway Horry-Georgetown Technical College $220,000
SC Denmark Voorhees College $246,050
SC Greenwood Piedmont Technical College-Veterans $109,980
SC Rock Hill York Technical College-STEM $220,000
TN Dyersburg Dyersburg State Community College $220,000
TN Dyersburg Dyersburg State Community College-STEM $220,000
TN Knoxville University of Tennessee/Knoxville $336,092
TX Corpus Christi Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi-STEM $220,000
TX Denison Grayson County Junior College $220,000
TX Houston Houston Baptist University $220,000
TX Houston Texas Southern University $220,000
TX San Antonio San Antonio College-Veterans $219,984
TX San Antonio St. Mary’s University Texas $219,999
TX Texarkana Texas A&M University/Texarkana $220,000
TX Wharton Wharton County Junior College $219,269
UT Logan Utah State University/Eastern-Price $220,000
VA Franklin Paul D. Camp Community College $266,684
VA Norfolk Tidewater Community College/Portsmouth Campus $220,000
VA Richmond Virginia Union University $220,000
WA Everett Everett Community College $220,000
WA Everett Everett Community College-STEM $220,000
WA Pullman Washington State University-TeacherPrep $220,000
WA Wenatchee Wenatchee Valley College $219,999
WI Milwaukee Marquette University-Disabled $158,449
WI Oshkosh University of Wisconsin/Oshkosh-STEM $220,000
WV Glenville Glenville State College $231,079
WV Shepherdstown Shepherd University $220,000
Totals $23,406,403


VSU, Student Accomplishments

I am pleased to share with you the following student accomplishments for summer 2015 in the Reginald F. Lewis College of Business at Virginia State University.  (This list does not include summer 15 internship announcements as previously reported in the spring.)

This is a bit of a cheerleading report and not intended to suggest that we are absent work to be done.  Still, we are proud for what our young professionals are accomplishing.

Thank you for your invaluable contributions in making this happen for our students!!!


(1) Kianna Rodrigues (Marketing major) and Marvel Taylor (Management major) have each been awarded a $7,500 Altria scholarship.

(2) Marshawn Shelton (Management major) has earned a full-time positon for after graduation in May with AT&T.  Marshawn interned for AT&T this summer in Atlanta and did very well.  Marshawn will manage forty employees upon assuming the full-time position.

(3) Deonesha Williams (MISY major) participated in the RichTech networking session in Richmond’s Scott Addition.  Deonesha networked with over 50 IT professionals.

(4) Mykala Daniel (Marketing major) earned a paid summer internship at WestRock, formerly MWV and RockTenn prior to the merger.

(5) Treyshon Harris (MISY major) earned a paid summer internship as a Data Entry Operator at Southern States.

(6) Atiya Leach (Marketing major and 14 grad) and LaTasha Richardson (Management major and May grad) participated in the Madison + Main Media Mixer in Richmond with 50 industry professionals.

(7) Deric Gassaway (Marketing major) earned a summer internship as a Public Relations Associate at the Friendship Public Charter Schools in D.C.

(8) James Barber (Management major) participated in a Workforce Investment Board (WIB) luncheon hosted for industry in Colonial Heights.

(9) Adrian Serry (Accounting/Finance major) earned a paid summer internship at Springleaf Financial Services in Petersburg.  Adrian was responsible for business development for all of southside Virginia.

(10) Kera Bridges (MISY major and May grad) and Eldon Burton (Management major and 11 grad) participated in the Big Brothers Big Sisters breakfast with 150 persons in Richmond.

(11) Kineka Berry (Marketing major) earned a summer internship at Boutique Digital Agency in Richmond.

(12) James Barber (Management major) represented the College of Business at the Richmond Raiders football game at the M. H. West & Co. executive suite at the Coliseum.

(13) Alanda Petes (Management major) earned a paid summer internship with Middleburg Bank.

(14) Alisha Williamson (Management major) earned a paid summer internship at Enterprise Rent-a-Car in the Manager in Training program.

(15) Asia Denwiddie (Accounting major and May grad) interviewed for an accounting position at the Virginia Department of Taxation and for an accounting position with Aijalon.

(16) Shanikka Richardson (Marketing major and May grad) earned a full-time position to stand up a marketing department at ChemTreat in Richmond.  Shanikka had multiple offers so she had to weigh her offers before deciding on ChemTreat.

(17) James Barber (Management major) and Shannon Thrower (Accounting/Finance major) attended the candidates forum hosted in-part by the College of Business and had an opportunity to interface with the State Senate and House of Delegates candidates along with the sponsoring organizations, i.e. Danielle Fitz-Hugh (Petersburg Chamber of Commerce) and Joe Croce (Southside Virginia Association of Realtors).

(18) Melanie Fowler (Management major and May grad) earned a Personal Banker position at Well Fargo, the Crater Road location.

(19) Caleb Rook (Marketing major and May grad) earned a position as a loan originator with Live Well Financial in Richmond.

(20) Jade Mims (Management major and May grad) earned a position at Dominion Credit Union in Richmond.

(21) Chrisana Cuffee (Marketing major) was offered a summer internship at the Hampton Coliseum.

(22) Stacey Davis (Management major and May grad), Melanie Fowler (Management major and May grad) and Alanda Petes (Management major) were featured in the new I AM PETERSBURG commercial coming soon to TV at:

(23) Perlecya Dozier (Marketing major and 14 grad) earned a position as an Image Importer at Kantar Media in Norfolk.

(24) Zekia McCarvin (Accounting major and 14 grad) earned a job as an A/P Specialist at IMC, Inc. in Woodbridge.

(25) Aaron Torres (Accounting major and 12 grad) earned a position as a Recruiter for Accounting Principals in Northern Virginia.

(26) Hameed Salmond (Accounting major and 14 grad) earned a position as a Staff Accountant at Kearney and Company in Alexandria.

(27) Chantel Brown (Marketing major and 14 grad) earned a position as a Manager-in-Training at Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

(28) James Barber (Management major) participated in the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) networking social at the Wingate in Short Pump.  James reconnected with Mary Lynne Staib (Owner of VACO Technology) who hosted James for Project Shadow two years ago.

(29) Lisa Abbott (Management/HR major), James Barber (Management major), and Shannon Thrower (Accounting major) attended the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce’s Entrepreneurship Competition held at the Carpenter Center in Richmond.  Fourteen start-ups participated and was attended by 350 persons.  The students networked with dozens of companies.

(30) Edmarie Rodriguez (MISY major and exchange student and 12 grad) was promoted at work and is now Associate Project Manager at BioTelemetry Research in D.C.

(31) Shannon Thrower (Accounting major) participated in Project Shadow in Richmond at REDC Community Capital with Randy Shelton, CEO.

(32) Val Simpson (Management major and 13 grad) earned a contract job at Ralph Lauren in Greensboro.  Val was previously working for Senator Kay Hagan prior to Hagan’s electoral loss in November.

(33) Philandra Jordan (MISY major) earned an internship for the summer in IT for Homeland Technical Support in Woodbridge.

(34) Kayla Peck (Accounting major and 14 grad) graduated from George Mason University with her Master’s Degree in Accounting.

(35) Terrance Hobson (MISY major and May grad) participated in a networking session in Richmond with 25 entrepreneurs.  Said session was hosted by our friend Dale Fickett, Executive Director of RVAWorks.

(36) (260) Kianna Rodrigues (Marketing major) earned an internship for the summer doing marketing for White Label in New York City.

(37) Kort Murdock (MISY major) participated in the RichTech networking event at CenterStage in Richmond with seventy professionals.

(38) Wesley Wright (Accounting major) earned a summer position as a Student Auditor for the United States Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General.

(39) Shaniece Pugh (Management major) earned a paid internship in the Management-in-Training program at Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

(40) Stedman Hinds (Accounting major) earned a position as an Auditor at Hillsborough County.

(41) Taylor Ashley-Bean (Accounting major and May grad) earned a position in accounting at Deloitte back home in Bermuda.

(42) Joseph Burnett (Accounting major) earned a full-time position in accounting for after graduation with Allmond & Company in D.C.

(43) Justin Murchison (MISY major and May grad) earned a job as an IT Apprentice at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

(44) Brittany Stukes (Management/HR major) earned a summer position in management and sales/events with Dauntless Events.

(45) Shanikka Richardson (Marketing major) earned a contract marketing position with the Crater Procurement Assistance Center.

(46) Twenty-five students interviewed for positions with our friends Chris Jones (Regional Leader) and Meg Kelly (Recruiter) from Tek Systems.

(47) Corey Peoples (MISY major and May grad) was hired as a Security IT Solutions Associate at General Electric (GE).  Corey first participated in Project Shadow with GE and visited again with the team when we hosted GE on campus.

(48) Monet Graves (Accounting/Finance major) earned a paid summer internship at State Farm.  As you may recall, we nominated Monet for a prominent insurance industry scholarship; a scholarship that she won!  Now, the scholarship has materialized in an internship!

(49) Olivia Jackson (MISY major and May grad) earned a paid Post-Grad internship in IT for the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

(50) Carl Capel (Accounting major) earned a full-time position as an Accounts Receivable Clerk at the Richmond Marriott downtown on Broad Street.

(51) Eliza Dizon (MISY major) and Deonesha Williams (MISY major) have been awarded free national memberships to the Black Data Processing Association compliments of a generous sponsorship by the Voice of Your Customer.

(52) Chelsey Green (Management major) and Akhenaton Blye (Management major) participated in a networking event guests of Marilyn West and M. H. West & Co. in the executive suite at the Richmond Coliseum for the Raiders’ arena football game.

(53) Tarasha Pierce (Management major and May grad) represented the College of Business guest of Greg Campbell and Smarter Interiors at the Richmond Flying Squirrels’ game at the Diamond.

(54) Matt Williams (Accounting major and 13 grad) has earned a position as a Junior Accountant at TFC Consulting in Rockville, Maryland.

(55) Ce’Erra Patton (Management major) was awarded the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in the fall.  Ce’Erra will study at Mahidol University International College in Bangkok, Thailand.  Ce’Erra is currently interning at Dominion.  Please consider watching Ce’Erra’s video; CLICK HERE:

(56) The following MISY students passed their SAP Certification; Kera Bridges, Tiara Green, Eli Johnson, Kort Murdock, Corey Peoples, Shante Raines, and Diamond Sykes.

(57) Aaron Blosser (Management major and 13 grad) earned a position as a Career Services Coordinator at the Media Tech Institute in Houston.

(58) Tarasha Pierce (Management major and May grad), Allison Selby (Management major and May grad), and Equasha Smith (Management/HR major and 14 grad) interviewed for a HR position at the HUF Center.

(59) Tarasha Pierce (Management major and May grad) participated in Project Shadow with Dale Fickett (Executive Director of RVAWorks) in Richmond.

(60) James Barber (Management major) and Elijah Miller (Marketing major) participated in the Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC) business competition workshops and conference for a week in Atlanta.

(61) Jasmine Mason (MISY major) earned a paid summer internship at Nationwide Insurance.  Jasmine worked out of Columbus, Ohio.  Jasmine now constitutes our fourth Nationwide Intern in as many years.

(62) Stacey Davis (Management major and May grad) earned a position in Sales and Customer Relations at All State in Tidewater.  Stacey was interning for State Farm here while in school and has elected to stay in the insurance industry.

(63) Alana Dawson (Marketing major and 14 grad) earned a position as a Client Associate working with Private Wealth Financial Advisors for Wells Fargo in Charlotte.

(64) Abraham Bangura (Marketing major and 14 grad) has been hired by Enterprise Rent-a-Car for the Manager-in-Training program.  Abraham now joins Cornelius Barnes, Chantel Brown, Imani Bullen, Colisha Davis, Chad Flucas, Kamesha Gibbs, Tiana Grayson, Tiffany Gullins, and Alisha Williamson at Enterprise!

(65) Shantell Johnson (Management major and 13 grad) has earned a position as a Production Specialist at Mondelez International in Richmond.

(66) A’Rion Hyman (Management major) earned a paid summer postion at General Dynamics in Chester.

(67) Justin Carr (Accounting major and 14 grad) earned a position as an Inventory Accounting Associate at GPM Investments LLC with the Fas Mart stores in Richmond.

(68) Cindy Tologo (Accounting major and 13 grad) will attend William and Mary in the fall to earn her Master’s in Accounting.

(69) Azzeza Mussa (Accounting major) married her sweetheart and earned a position as a sales agent at Aflac.

(70) James Barber (Management major) facilitated an opportunity for nine Ettrick Elementary students to participate in our Richmond Area Program for Minorities in Engineering.  The elementary students joined our middle and high school students and were mentored by professionals from Northrop Grumman, W.M. Jordan, U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, and Owens & Minor.

(71) Terenn Stafford (Management major and 12 grad) returned to campus to participate in our Richmond Area Program for Minorities in Engineering.  Specifically, Terenn mentored our middle school students on behalf her employer, Northrop Grumman.  Additionally, Terenn coordinated all of the volunteers (mentors) for NGC.

(72) Brittney Young (Management major and 12 grad) has earned a position as the HR Coordinator at Ketchum in New York City.

(73) Asia Denwiddie (Accounting major and May grad) earned an accounting position at the Virginia Department for Health.  Asia now has a decision to make because she was recently awarded an accounting job at Dinwiddie Water Authority.

(74) Mary Scott (Accounting major and 11 grad) earned a promotion as an Auditor at the Auditor at Public Accounts and has earned an adjunct accounting teaching position at Virginia Commonwealth University.

(75) Ta’Keisha Martin (Accounting major and 12 grad) earned a promotion as a Financial Analyst at AbbVie.

(76) Tiara Green (MISY major and May grad) earned a position as an IT Analyst at Virginia Premier Health in Richmond.

(77) Eli Johnson (MISY major and May grad) earned a position as an IT Analyst at Virginia Premier Health in Richmond.

(78) Keyona Davis (Accounting major) earned a paid summer internship at the Defense Supply Center in Richmond.  Keyona is working in contracting.

(79) Juwariyah Abdus-Salaam (Management major and 12 grad) earned a teaching position at a university in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  Juwariyah will be teaching English.  She is currently teaching English in Konya, Turkey.

(80) Linsey Burch (Marketing major and 12 grad) earned a position as a TDM Engagement Specialist at Wells + Associates in D.C.

(81) James Barber (Management major) and Marnelle Fanfan (Management major and December grad) represented us in the M. H. West & Co., Inc. executive box at the Coliseum for the Richmond Raiders game.

(82) DeLydia Lawrence (Accounting major) has earned a position as the Manager at Destination Theater in Prince George.

(83) Terrance Hobson (MISY major and May grad) earned a post-grad internship as a General Manager-in-Training at Sam’s Club.

(84) Our students’ commitment to excellence earned an investment of $3,000 from our friends at Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

(85) James Barber (Management major) and Eliza Dizon (MISY major) hosted sixty middle school students from Richmond for fun hands-on experiential learning role-play exercises.  For us, it constituted another recruiting opportunity.

(86) Eliza Dizon (MISY major) represented us at the Petersburg Rotary meeting luncheon and addressed a group of 30 business and community leaders at the Petersburg Country Club.

(87) Kera Bridges (MISY major and May grad) earned a position as Customer Care Support Technician at Fannie Mae for the Xerox contract.

(88) Thirty students were awarded $1,000 each in new or additional scholarship money for the fall semester subsequent their application and award.

(89) Jhadee Gordon (Accounting major) earned a paid summer internship at the University of Maryland.  Jhadee is a Tutor Counselor teaching high school students.

(90) Ryan Villogram (Marketing major and 14 grad) was hired by New York Life as an agent in Maryland.

(91) Marnelle Fanfan (Management major and 14 grad) was hired full-time as the City of Petersburg’s Tourism/Events/Film Operations Manager.  Marnelle first interned in this capacity and thereafter as a contract worker.

(92) James Barber (Management major) represented the University and College as a volunteer at Ettrick Elementary distributing meals for the Foodbank.

(93) Briana Taylor (Marketing major) earned a paid summer internship at Inbound Central in Richmond with responsibilities pertinent to social media.

(94) Stedman Hinds (Accounting major) has earned a position as an Accounting Specialist at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Tampa office.

(95) Mame Dior Beye (Management major and May grad) has been hired as a HR Coordinator at Managements Systems International in Arlington.  Additionally and more importantly, Mame was awarded her U.S. citizenship!!!!!

(96) Sylvia McHerron (Management/HR major) has earned a full-time position for after graduation in December as a Logistics Manager at Walmart.  Sylvia has interned for WalMart Logistics in South Carolina this summer.  It should be noted that Sylvia and her husband also bought a house!

(97) Kianna Rodrigues (Marketing major) participated in Project Shadow with Kym Grinnage (General Manager) and Judy Gibson (HR Director) at NBC12 in Richmond.

(98) Brandin Harvell (Marketing major) participated in Project Shadow with Renee Chapline (Executive Director) and Lauren Bowman (Project Manager) at Virginia’s Gateway Region.

(99) Kianna Rodrigues (Marketing major) participated in the Industrial Turnaround Corporation (ITAC) Dream It Do IT camp for high school students.  Kianna delivered a presentation regarding what constitutes branding and coached the students.  For us, it constituted another recruiting opportunity.  Thirty high school students from the region participated.

(100) Stacey Davis (Management major and May grad) earned a position as an Accounts Payable associate at DB SCHENKER.

(101) Kevin Kidd (Agribusiness major and May grad) earned a position as a Farm Manager for Murphy Brown in Waverly.

(102) Nia Thompson Branch (Management major and 11 grad) has co-founded a company in Hampton, i.e. Level U Fitness, LLC.  Nia continues to work as a Program Cost Control Analyst for Newport News Shipbuilding.

(103) Cecilia Bayoh (Management major and 13 grad) earned a promotion at Victoria’s Secret and is now a Merchandising Supervisor.

(104) Jamarl Asbery (Marketing major and 13 grad) earned a full-time paid internship in Logistics Management at Fort Lee for the U.S. Army.

(105) Eliza Dizon (MISY major) was awarded a $2,500 Johnson & Johnson Scholarship.  We nominated Eliza for the scholarship in her capacity as a member of our Black Data Processing Association and Eliza is one of only four students in the entire country to be awarded the scholarship!

(106) Aaron Kinney (Marketing major and 13 grad) earned a position as an Administrative Assistant to the Director at the Academic Support Center at Notre Dame College in Cleveland.

(107) Tiana Robertson (MISY major and May grad) earned a position as an Inbound Sales Associate for Wells Fargo in Charlotte.

(108) Deonesha Williams (MISY major) earned a paid internship at General Electric (GE) in their cyber security operations.  Deonesha has now been offered a coop for the fall semester.

Jonathan M. Young
Director of Corporate Relations

Virginia State University

Reginald F. Lewis College of Business
P.O. Box 9398
Virginia State University, VA 23806
804-524-5987 (o)
804-928-9881 (cell)

Did you know?


We are the 2011 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Innovative Use of Technology in Higher Education.

We are the 2012 RichTech Technology Innovation Deployment Awardee for being Digital at the Core.

Of over 100 HBCUs nationwide, our business programs took top honor in 2012.

Your company can host a student for a 1 day “Project Shadow” visit; over 600 students have participated.

More than 250 companies have facilitated innovative small-group role play for students regarding “real-world” skills including sales, cold-calls, conflict resolution, customer is always right, elevator speech, etc.

After 6 semesters, students have accrued savings exceeding $1,121,000 because of new digital-delivered & customized text books at the same time increasing retention.

Our aim is to refine “soft skills”, augment career awareness, and develop “real world” skills not often learned in a traditional classroom!

Presidential Hopefuls’Higher Ed Plans May Close HBCU’s

Hillary Clinton today became the latest democratic presidential hopeful to call forincreased higher education access through loan or tuition-free governmental funding. From CNN:

According to outlines of the plan previewed to CNN, the basis of Clinton’s college promises include vowing that students will be able to attend in-state public colleges or universities “without ever having to take out a loan for tuition.”

Clinton will do this, according to the campaign, by incentives to states that agree to provide “no-loan tuition at four-year public colleges and universities.” States that agree, under the Clinton plan, will win grants from the federal government.

Everyone should want debt-free education, but no one – especially African-Americans and those living in HBCU communities – should want the plans forwarded by this slate of candidates to be the higher education solution.

Free tuition to any community college and reduced tuition to public institutions, will expedite the extinction of several HBCUs. Without federal and state investment in public historically black campuses which lack unique programs, modernized facilities and marketing resources, students of all races will flock to larger, more developed predominantly white colleges.

That’s not opinion – that is fact proven by several lawsuits against state governments for neglecting publicly-owned black colleges. In essence, the Obama administration and his successor could essentially do in 12-16 years what most Republican governors and right-wing legislative bodies could not do in more than 150 years – kill off black colleges.

Between Obama’s $300 million war on black colleges through federal funding cuts and changes to Pell Grant and PLUS Loan eligibility standards, and the calls for free education from Democratic presidential front-runners Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, there will be no messy discussion of merger or closure for HBCUs. They will just close under their own lack of support from political systems, and rapid decline in appeal to alumni and high school students alike.

So when Grambling, Southern, Elizabeth City State, Virginia State or some other campuses announce that they will cease operations or merge with another school, many black folks will criticize the lack of giving, or the incompetence of administration of these schools. But those charges will only be a small accessory in the crime against HBCUs, where political forces helped to make HBCUs an inferior choice in an higher education landscape where cost and brand mean everything to corporations and billions of families around the world.

What these candidates could do, and for which HBCU leaders should individual and collectively lobby, is a funding system where students who attended HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions can attended at a reduced rate or for free, if they meet certain academic and need based standards.

They could call for military to amend higher education tuition programs through ROTC or post-service to increase opportunities for future and current members of the armed forces to earn degrees at HBCUs.

What government can do is offer large tax reductions to corporations which build in economically depressed areas, and which donate to HBCUs to support endowment expansion, programmatic development and better social positioning.

And what HBCU students and alumni, as voters, must do is call for our candidates on both sides of the aisle to specifically address what they can and will do for HBCUs – the institutions which are best equipped to battle short-term and systemic poverty, political disenfranchisement, and social justice issues – all targets for any man or woman who wants to be president of the United States in 2016 and beyond.

Five Things Families of First-Generation College Students Need to Know

Over the next few weeks more than three million first-year students will show up to well-manicured campuses all across the nation to begin their first semester as college students. It is a special time filled with excitement and random worries about the unknown for students and the families sending them off. Many of these students will be the first in their family to attend college. The success of these students is critically important to achieving President Obama’s goal of America having the highest proportion of citizens in the world with a post-secondary degree or credential. Numerically, this goal is impossible without significantly improving the percentage of low-income and first-generation students who not only enroll in college, but also persist long enough to earn a degree.

Many college students rely on family support. Parents who attended college often enjoy greater financial resources to support their students and they pass along important social and cultural capital about being a successful college student. The likelihood that their children have been exposed to college campuses prior to arriving is much greater. In a recent conversation with a college president, she expressed dismay at the fact that too many parents of first-generation students still send their children off to college “site unseen” as a matter of circumstance. College access and success programs have mainly focused on supporting first-generation students but families must also focus on how to appropriately support their students. Family support (apart from money) is as critical as any campus-based intervention designed to retain and sustain students. The following are five things families of first-generation students should consider before and after lugging that last footlocker into a dormitory and kissing goodbye:

  1. Remind them that they belong
    Many first-generation students and students from low-income families struggle with imposter syndrome–the inability to internalize their success, or seeing themselves as undeserving of the opportunity given their background. A critically important sense of belonging can also be threatened on college campuses where students find it difficult to relate socially or culturally. Many first-generation students will falsely question whether they belong on a college campus. Go out of your way to remind your student that they are good enough, remind them that they deserve to be in college as much as anyone else, remind them that making adjustments to college is normal and that they will grow more comfortable over time. Your job is to convince them, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are worthy of being a college student and that the world awaits their genius.
  2. Eliminate unnecessary distractions
    The academic and social transitioning to college represent unique challenges for all students. It is important for families to help students focus on what matters most. Equally important is eliminating, or at least minimizing, unnecessary distractions. Some families for example, as an incentive or reward, will consider sending their student off to college with a car before determining whether they actually need one. Parking, maintenance, repairs, or being constantly hit-up for transportation favors of every variety can present a significant distraction, especially in the first year of college. In other instances families can inadvertently burden students with what is happening back home. Staying connected is good; unnecessary worry about circumstances they cannot fix is not. Learning to become a good college student is difficult enough without unnecessary distractions.
  3. Plan beyond the first-year
    If we agree that one main goal of going to college is to actually graduate, then the celebratory sendoff must be tempered by longer-term planning. One common mistake is underestimating the actual cost of attendance, expenses beyond tuition and fees. Another common mistake is failing to do “completion planning.” This requires families to be thoughtful about what is required for their student to remain in college long enough to actually graduate. Far too many brilliant young people, who have learned to be good college students, do not return the second year because of short-sighted planning.
  4. No lonely breaks
    For many first-generation and low-income students who will leave home for college, the holiday and seasonal breaks throughout the academic year can be tough to manage. The expense of traveling home can be prohibitive. Yet, the idea of not being around loved-ones during the holidays can be emotionally heavy–especially for students away from home for the first time. Sending a care package with familiar favorites and an encouraging note can go a long way. Thinking about relatives or family friends closer in proximity as a destination during the breaks is also a good option. Students should not be solely responsible for figuring out what to do during academic breaks. Instead of scrambling, they should be able to comfortably and confidently look forward to a short recess like everyone else.
  5. Make sure they are connected
    For 30 years researchers have theorized that students who are socially and academically integrated into institutions are more likely to persist. Getting involved in campus-based activities outside the classroom is important for success. Help students identify support services on campus before they actually need them. The health center and counseling services, tutoring resources, computer support services, club sport programs, relevant student organizations or campus-based service opportunities are all important for getting students connected and supported. Asking questions about what they are doing outside the classroom is just as important as prying about grades.

THE WORLD NEEDS YOU’ Claflin welcomes more than 400 to Class of 2019

“My experience so far at Claflin has been very good – I love Claflin so much,” said incoming freshman Malik Washington of Charleston.

“It’s been very informative and I’ve learned a lot. I’m looking forward to the next four years,” he said.

Washington was one of 427 freshmen Claflin University welcomed to campus this weekend during the beginning of New Student Orientation.

The Class of 2019 features a diverse group of students, representing every region of the United States and seven countries. This year’s freshmen class includes high-school valedictorians and salutatorians, 28 Rudolph Canzatar/James E. Clyburn scholars and high-achieving students from across the nation.

“We salute the Class of 2019, more than 400 strong,” said President Henry N. Tisdale during the Sunday’s Freshman Parting Ceremony.

“We’re excited about this very talented class. This is the next generation of visionary, global and ethical leaders,” he said. “We thank you for choosing Claflin University and now you are a part of a very special university and part of the Claflin family.”

Students came from counties across South Carolina, with Richland County sending the most students. The class includes students from 20 other states, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria and Trinidad.

Freshman and St. Louis, Missouri, native Preston Bruce plans to major in bioinformatics as a Presidential Scholar. The St. Louis High School student was courting Brown University and the University of Southern California, but a chance encounter with Claflin Director of Admissions Michael Zeigler changed his mind.

“I am majoring in bioinformatics. It is an emerging field that combines the study of computer science and biology. It can be used to track the development of diseases such as cancer and various genetic disorders,” Bruce said.

“I have always had an interest in science and genetics. Claflin is one of the few schools with a dedicated bioinformatics major. I have been on campus for about five weeks. It has been exciting, but I will miss my parents. I am really enjoying the weather and the events and activities we’ve been involved with,” he said.

New Student Orientation Week began with the freshmen arriving at residence halls with anxious parents by their side.

During the Parting Ceremony on Sunday, Tisdale assured the parents that their children would soon grow into confident young men and women of vision.

Tisdale encouraged members of the class to be conscientious of their social and moral responsibilities and to develop a global outlook, leadership qualities and a spiritual life.

“As you enter Claflin, I want to give you some things to begin thinking about,” Tisdale said. “Consider the Claflin Consciousness and what it means to be participating in the Claflin community.

“We want you to keep some special things in mind as you take this journey toward visionary leadership at Claflin: remember to keep God first; remember to be mindful of our values, the Claflin Guiding Principles; remember you, too, can lead. The world needs you; be mindful of the Claflin Confidence; be mindful of the choices you make … and we expect you to graduate in four years.”

The students’ path began by walking through the Arch of Confidence, a Claflin tradition to welcome students to the institution.

The freshmen will participate in a week-long orientation facilitated by the university’s Freshman College. This year’s theme is “Exploring Pathways of Purpose” and includes a variety of workshops and social activities to help get the students acclimated to the rigors of college life.

A special highlight will be the Freshmen Retreat held at White Oak Conference Center in Winnsboro on Aug. 13-14. The annual retreat serves to teach incoming freshmen leadership skills and prepare them for the transformational challenges they will face as Claflin students.

The Freshman Confirmation Ceremony on Aug. 16 will conclude the first week of activities for the Class of 2019. At the ceremony, each member of the class will pledge to uphold the hallmarks of the Freshman College, which are building character, confidence, pride, memories and pathways to success.

Clinton’s Big Plan for Higher Ed

Hillary Clinton will today unveil a massive plan to make higher education more affordable, student loan debt less burdensome and states accountable for supporting their public colleges. The plan — which would cost $350 billion over 10 years — is one that campaign officials say will be central to her candidacy for the presidency.

The plan touches on many other aspects of higher education policy beyond tuition and state support, promising lower interest rates on student loans, tougher rules for for-profit higher education, new grants for private colleges that have small endowments and serve large numbers of low-income and minority students, and a major expansion of AmeriCorps, through which those who perform national service may receive funds for college or repay student loans.

The plan, if adopted, would create many more opportunities for Americans to earn a four-year degree at a public college without spending or borrowing as much as they do now. And the plan would create — for many students — options that are debt-free or effectively free. But the plan stays away — intentionally, according to campaign officials — from broad promises about making higher education free or debt-free for everyone.

With the plan, Clinton puts out an alternative on college affordability to those of Senator Bernie Sanders and her other rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. The campaign’s fact sheet states: “Lifting incomes for working Americans is the defining economic challenge of our time. And to raise wages, there is no better investment we can make than in education.”

The plan, called the New College Compact, would:

  • Provide grants to states, which would be given to four-year public colleges that pledge to create no-loan tuition plans for students and community colleges that charge no tuition. The grants (based in part on requirements outlined below) should bring down tuition for in-state students across the board at these colleges. In theory, some public institutions might opt to participate and others in the state might not.
  • States would be required to “halt disinvestment” and provide more money to public higher education, so that the infusion of federal funds would add to total support for higher education and not allow states to spend less.
  • Stipulate that the debt-free options do not use Pell Grant funds, meaning that Pell-eligible students would be able to use those grants for living expenses and minimize their need to borrow.
  • Link the size of federal grants to states to the proportion of low- and middle-income students enrolled in the state’s public colleges. The plan would use existing federal programs to provide support based on graduating large proportions of these students.
  • Set family contributions for college expenses at “reasonable” rates and base financial need calculations on an expectation that students work 10 hours a week.
  • In cases where a state declined to participate, create a path for public colleges to do so directly with the U.S. Education Department.
  • Cut the interest rate on federal student loans “significantly” to eliminate any profit that the government makes on these loans.
  • Allow everyone with current student debt to refinance at today’s relatively low interest rates.
  • Create a new program to help “modest endowment” private colleges keep tuition low and promote better graduation rates. The program will be designed for minority-serving institutions and others that serve a high proportion of Pell-eligible students.
  • Expand the AmeriCorps public service program (a favorite of President Bill Clinton) from 75,000 to 250,000 students annually.

Accountability and Accreditation

The Clinton plan would also embrace new accountability measures, some of which may be controversial with colleges. For example, a fact sheet on the plan states that “our colleges and universities should be up-front about graduation rates, likely earnings and likely debt, and how those metrics compare with other schools. Clinton’s plan will make sure that students can shop around, rather than roll the dice.”

President Obama made similar arguments on behalf of his ratings plan, on which he has since pulled back, and faced significant pushback from many higher education leaders who feared such statistics and comparisons would be oversimplified.

The plan would also require colleges to have “skin in the game,” such that colleges are penalized when too many students fail to graduate and are left with debts. The campaign said that Clinton would “embrace bipartisan efforts,” such as the bill introduced last week by Senators Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, a Democrat, and Orrin Hatch of Utah, a Republican, to require colleges to share the default risks and measure loan underperformance in new ways.

As for accreditation, Clinton both called for reforms and affirmed the importance of accreditation. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, recently outlined a higher education platform in which he called for ending the accreditation “cartel,” and creating a system that “welcomes low-cost, innovative providers.”

Clinton advocated changes, but also suggested that accreditors are wise to hold new programs and new modes of delivery to rigorous standards. And she implied that online learning — or at least some of it — has quality issues.

The Clinton plan will “ensure that accreditation does not stifle innovation and keep out promising new entrants — but set standards high for existing and new entrants,” the campaign document said. “Title IV funds [federal financial aid] will be a lever to ensure accreditors are open to low-cost, technology-enabled programs. But we will rigorously evaluate outcomes to make sure these programs work. We must restore integrity to online learning and will not tolerate programs that fall short.”

Tough Line on For-Profits

The Clinton campaign’s fact sheet also indicates that she will take a tough line on for-profit higher education. In the plan, Hillary Clinton endorsed several measures that for-profit colleges are already opposing — and perhaps Clinton will reassure some for-profit critics who have wondered about her views in light of President Bill Clinton’s lucrative relationship, since ended, with Laureate Education.

The outline of the Clinton higher ed agenda said that Clinton will “strengthen and defend” the gainful employment regulations that the Obama administration has pushed in a fairly intense legal and political fight (which isn’t over) to deny participation in aid programs to some for-profit institutions based on the ability of graduates to find good jobs.

Further, Clinton is pledging to “crack down on lawbreaking by for-profits” by expanding support for the efforts of numerous government agencies to “enforce laws against deceptive marketing, fraud and other illegal practices.”

She also repeated a vow to take action to help veterans recruited by for-profit colleges. Clinton said that she would “close the 90-10 loophole” that she said colleges use to “prey on veterans.” The rule prevents for-profits from receiving more than 90 percent of their revenue from federal sources. But under current regulations, veterans’ and military service members’ educational benefits do not count toward that 90 percent limit, and Clinton is joining a number of Democratic members of Congress who want those funds to count, potentially resulting in some for-profits losing eligibility for aid programs.

Paying for the Plan

In providing some detail on the financing of the plan, Clinton campaign materials said that about half of the $350 billion cost would come in direct grants to states and colleges. And one-third would come from debt relief by lowering interest rates on student loans.

The source of funds: “closing tax loopholes and expenditures for the most fortunate.” (Such sources of funds tend to have a hard time winning approval in Congress, at least as currently composed.)

The campaign’s fact sheet makes a case for these actions by saying that “we need to make ambitious investments so that cost is no longer a barrier to college education, and the burden of debt does not hold back everyday Americans.”

Clinton would significantly outspend Sanders, who has called for $18 billion a year in state grants to allow them to slash public college tuition.

Help for All Kinds of Students

A campaign adviser on education who spoke on condition of anonymity said in an interview Sunday that the plan would help all kinds of students. Everyone would have free tuition at a community college. And four-year public colleges would become more affordable. While some students might still have to borrow for nontuition expenses at public institutions, that borrowing would be minimal compared to what students are taking out in loans today. Further, the program should create “some debt-free options” for those students who want to avoid all debt.

For those at private colleges, there will be immediate assistance in the form of lower interest rates on student loans, she said.

While many students would end up with a debt-free education and a very low-cost higher education, the campaign wants to avoid calling the plan “debt-free” or “free” higher education, she said. “Sometimes ‘debt-free’ is thrown around in the Washington chattering classes” and people don’t realize that such plans aren’t as free or debt-free as described, the Clinton adviser said.

The plan is also based on the idea of all players — federal and state governments, families, students, colleges — doing their parts, she said. But the expectations are reasonable. For example, she noted that research has found that working 10 hours a week has a positive impact on completion rates (while working many more hours a week has the opposite effect).

By stressing the obligations of all parties, as opposed to a “free” message, the aide said an important message was being sent. “One of the things that is important and gets lost is that college is still a really good investment,” she said. “We think everyone should commit to it.”

Sandy Baum, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and an expert on college costs, has been advising the Clinton campaign and describes herself as “highly supportive” of the campaign, but not on the Clinton staff. (She was authorized to speak on the record, unlike the aide quoted above.)

Baum praised the proposals being made today. “I think it’s very important that she is stepping up and addressing what everyone knows is a very real problem, that too many students are struggling with student debt, and too many students are not succeeding with college,” she said.

In the past, Baum has been critical of some “free” college plans for not focusing enough on the resources needed both by students and colleges. She noted that the Clinton plan avoids these problems, by assuring increased funds to public colleges to make up for lost tuition revenue. She also noted the recognition of the Clinton plan — in provisions like requiring that Pell funds not be relied on to create a debt-free option — that many students’ nontuition obligations are a key factor in their ability to enroll or their need to borrow.

“Any campaign plan is going to have details that need to be worked out,” she said. But this one, right from the start “is designed with attention to the resource issue. It involves assurances about the money that the state is putting into higher education, so that the state can’t just replace its funds with federal funds.” And this matters, Baum said, to assure quality and affordability, not just the latter. It is better for some students to borrow modestly (for nontuition expenses at four-year institutions) than for everyone to be promised such a low price that quality would suffer, Baum said.

“I am pleased that they are trying to address this problem in a meaningful way without saying everything will be free.”

Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, said that he needed to learn more about the plan, but that based on what he has heard, he was struck that it has “many complexities” that need study. But he said he “appreciated the concept” of a new federal-state partnership to provide needed resources to public colleges and universities.

He said that there has been “a real problem of some states reducing their appropriations for higher education,” and that it was important for plans to deal with “access, quality and completion,” not just any one of those factors. “It’s time for a public discussion” on these issues, McPherson said.

Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, also praised the idea of a public discussion on helping families afford higher education. “A presidential election is the time to consider broad changes to public policy, and this is a big, bold and complex proposal,” she said via email. “With the widespread public interest in helping students and their families finance a college education, it is not surprising to see this and other proposals put forward as part of the conversation around how to make college more affordable and encourage states to invest appropriately in higher education. We look forward to participating in that discussion.”

Sarah A. Flanagan, vice president for government relations and policy development at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, was critical in an interview of a series of proposals — including President Obama on free community college and Sanders on reduced-cost public higher education — that she said represented a significant shift in public policy. She said that, for generations now, federal support for students has gone to the student, who in turn decides where to take the aid. These new plans, she said, direct federal support to public institutions (even if there are some pots of funds for those at privates).

“This is an emphasis on institutions over students,” she said. And Flanagan said that many private colleges serve large numbers of low-income students and are not wealthy institutions with extravagant campuses — at a time when many public colleges and universities are recruiting wealthy students.

“We’re doing public policy based on an image that isn’t based on reality,” she said. “There are as many climbing walls at publics as privates.”

29 Ineligible Football Players Cost Morehouse College a Three-Year NCAA Probation

Morehouse College’s Atheltic Department faces a three-year probation and $5,000 fine for three major violations of NCAA bylaws occurring from 2009 to 2015.

In July, the NCAA released the public infraction decision as part of its agreement with Morehouse College. The decision details how both the athletic department and the college occurred three NCAA infractions — (1) NCAA Division II Manual Bylaw, NCAA Division II Manual Bylaw, and NCAA Division II Manual Constitution 2.8.1.

From academic years 2009-2010 to 2014-2015, the athletic department attested to playing 29 ineligible student-athletes; failing to “properly certify student-athletes’ eligibility in two areas (1) continuing eligibility (progress-toward-degree requirements); and (2) good academic standing”; and improperly signing financial aid awards. This decision involves the football, cross-country, basketball, golf and baseball programs.

The college also received an infraction for failing to properly oversee the department. The decision issued by the NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions was not appealed.

The case began when Morehouse was sent a letter from an attorney on Sunday, September 22, 2013, as noted by the decision. The letter detailed multiple alleged NCAA legislation violations. The attorney, who sent the letter, represented eight families of both current and former Morehouse College football student-athletes.

Morehouse responded to the letter by informing the plaintiff it would investigate the alleged violations. The college used two outside firms for a self-reported investigation which was later submitted to the enforcement staff on Monday, April 28, 2014.

The self-report informed the decision of the Summary Disposition Report (SDR). On May 13, 2015, the committee reviewed the infractions and accepted the violations, self-imposed penalties and corrective actions. Six days later, additional penalties were proposed for Morehouse by the committee. The penalties were not contested.

The 29 ineligible student-athletes included: two student-athletes “who were not in good academic standing with the institution;” “three who failed to designate a degree program;” and seven “who competed after being academically ineligible.” 93 percent (27 out of 29) of the violations were a result of eligibility certification violations due to insufficient credit hour fulfillment.

During this time, the college also violated NCAA Bylaw 16.8.12, which forbids institutions to provide lodging and travel expenses for ineligible student-athletes.

Prospective student-athletes fell victim to improper financial aid awarding through academic years 2009-10 to 2013-14. The director of athletics improperly signed and issued athletic related financial award letters to prospective student-athletes without following NCAA and institutional standard procedures.

In addition to conditions detailed in the decision, the three-year probation requires Morehouse to complete three standard mandatory conditions:

  1. Report the terms of the probation and penalties on the Morehouse’s athletic’s website, which also includes media packages for current student-athletes and future recruitment efforts like informing prospective student-athletes of the college’s probation.
  2. Submit annual reports showing compliance with the regulations to the Committee of Infraction.
  3. Certify that the college’s athletic policies and procedures meet NCAA requirements by the end of the probationary period.

If Morehouse breaks any of these conditions, the department is subject to further disciplinary action and potential suspension.

This probation period follows a tempestuous season for the Mighty Maroon Tigers football program. They were subject to much scrutiny after a “Dear White People” screening outbreak in a South Carolina movie theater.

In addition, Morehouse recently gutted its performing arts programs like its world-renowned Morehouse College Glee Club. Hopefully with its extra cash, Morehouse College will invest more into its academics and arts programs.

Senate Honors 1890 Land-Grant Universities

The U.S. Senate last week unanimously approved a resolution commemorating the 125th university of the Second Morrill Act that led to the creation of 19 historically black land-grant universities. The resolution celebrates that 1890 law and designates August 30 as “1890 Land-Grant Institutions Quasquicentennial Recognition Day.”

Those institutions collectively enroll more than 110,000 students, according to the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, which praised the resolution’s passage.

Back To College: Students Move Into Dorms At WSSU

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — It’s moving day for Winston-Salem State University students!

Nearly 900 first-year students moved into residence halls on campus Sunday.

Do you remember your college days? What advice or tips do you have for new college students? Share them with us on our WFMY News 2 Facebook page or find us on Twitter @WFMY.


Students who say they were depending on money for the coming school year protested a decision by Shaw University President-elect Tashni Dubroy Tuesday to shift some tuition discounts from the band and athletic programs to the choir, students who have GPAs of 3.5 or above, and the Honors College.

“The justification for these actions is quite explicable when viewed in tandem with my overarching fiscal responsibility to Shaw University and to our university’s history of rewarding students, especially those who exhibit excellence in their academic studies,” wrote Dubroy in a memo explaining the decision.

But some band members told ABC11 that they only learned of the change when they arrived for band camp this week.

“It was criminal to get these kids here under false pretenses,” said Band Director Charles Brown – who spoke with ABC11 as an individual, not as a representative of the school.

Brown said the Platinum Sound Marching Band generates a lot of money for the school, but now it’s taking a hit.

“I have lost 28 freshman and five returning students, 33 students total, who refuse to come because they can’t afford to,” said Brown.

The tuition discount for band students was $7,500. Dubroy held an impromptu meeting with the protesting students Tuesday.

“We cannot be sustainable by giving away a discount situation. It’s not a scholarship,” she said.

Dubroy said students with high GPAs get no academic support while the band gets a total of $525,000 in scholarship funds annually. The football team receives $550,000, and the men’s and women’s basketball teams split $500,000.

Dubroy said a reallocation of scholarship money was needed to address declining enrollment. While that sounds fair enough, students are angry about the timing of the announcement – so close to the start of the school year.

“After we paid for physicals, after we paid for housing, and paid for gas money to get down here, why haven’t we been notified of this situation?” asked junior Devon Dobe.
The president’s office says the financial office was supposed to notify students a month ago, but many have only – as of this week – just found out.

Dubroy said she is working with the school’s athletic director to increase fundraising to pay for more scholarships for student-athletes, but she said Band Director Brown did not agree to work on more fundraising for band members.


(NEW ORLEANS, LA) – Dillard University recently received a major grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Institute awarded the $10.5 million grant to Dillard’s Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ), which will train individuals in asbestos, lead, construction, and Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER).  The award to Dillard was one of only 10 grants awarded nationwide to institutions including UCLA, Rutgers Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences, and the United Steelworkers.

The worker training initiatives will occur at strategic sites across the Gulf Coast and throughout the country with training programs established in Houston, Detroit, Pensacola, Savannah and New Orleans. Dillard’s consortium of training sites will attract and provide training for over 500 participants. Through formal arrangements with HBCUs, community based organizations, unions and industry; Dillard’s program staff will provide environmental health and safety training for underserved populations as well as currently employed workers within environmental remediation and related fields.

In addition to training and outreach, Dillard’s DSCEJ programming also includes a research focus, which is spearheaded primarily by the Center’s project director and principal investigator, Dr. Beverly Wright. Under her leadership, the Center has produced a number of publications as well as regional and national conferences regarding environmental justice-related issues.


Dillard Awarded $10.5 Million from NIH …2

Dr. Wright and Dillard’s DSCEJ have managed a number of projects from NIH, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Labor, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the past 20 years.  The Center also led critical training and research efforts in the gulf coast region for small businesses, first responders, residents and hazardous waste industry workers following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as well as the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010.  Additionally, following Hurricane Sandy, the DSCEJ was called on to lead clean up training efforts in New York and New Jersey. “We are extremely excited to be able to continue our work exhibiting excellence and developing sound practices which have advanced the quality of our training programs over the years. We are gratified and excited about the increased support from the NIEHS to do this most important work,” said Dr. Wright.

According to Theodore Callier, assistant vice president for Sponsored Programs, Dillard faculty and researchers have consistently secured increased support from the NIH in recent years.  “Given the list of recipients, this latest NIEHS award demonstrates the level of confidence the agency continues to have in Dillard’s Center.”

Grant activities will begin later this month and continue through July of 2020.

HBCU Alignment: 5 Critical Areas that Need Adjustments

As a stalwart advocate and supporter of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), I have been thinking a lot lately about what ails this sector of the academy and what can be done to enhance its relevance, responsiveness and competitiveness. Although both critics and supporters tend to write and speak about HBCUs as a monolithic group, doing so undervalues the diversity of the sector and the need to reject the one size fits all approach to addressing the challenges that many of these institutions face.

Having spent some aspect of every day for nearly a decade focused on the well-being of HBCUs, I have found myself searching for an analogy that captures the essence of the problems they face. Alas, I think I found the perfect analogy from the days of my youth while growing up in the Arkansas delta in the 1950s and 1960s when everything from birth to death was defined by poverty and race. As a consequence of our low-wealth status, virtually nobody in my community ever bought a new car. A “new car” was, in fact, a used car that had been traded in two or three times by white owners and sold to black sharecroppers and subsistence farmers on credit and at inflated prices. Seldom was the new car paid for before it broke down and was of no use to the buyer. Yet, the seller refused to cancel the loan.

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Nearly all of these “new” used cars had one problem in common: the body was out of alignment. Now, anyone who has ever seen or driven a car that’s out of alignment knows that it appears that the front end of the car is going to hit the oncoming traffic, while the rear end is running off the road! In addition to safety considerations, the lack of alignment posed other problems for the driver, such as irregular wear on the tires, a lack of headlight symmetry and steering difficulty, among other issues.

As I observe, read and reflect on the challenges confronting HBCUs, I have concluded that these institutions face a lack of alignment in at least five critical areas.

1. A lack of alignment between the vision of the president and the values and mission of the institution.

No matter how compelling the vision of the president may be, unless it is aligned with the mission of the institution and its needs, progress is limited at best and unsustainable for sure. The vision of the president, while important, is not enough. He/she cannot be all things to all people and must focus on the areas of highest need and priority no matter what disparate constituent groups might prefer.

2. A lack of alignment between the leadership style of the president and the expectations of the board of trustees.

While many, if not most, board members express a commitment to hiring a strong, independent and self-directed president, when such a person assumes his/her duties, discord follows shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, it seems that too many trustees want presidents to provide leadership in a manner not only consistent with what they believe should be done, but how they believe it should be done.

3. A lack of alignment between the curriculum/degrees offered and the needs of the domestic and global workforce.

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Regrettably, too many institutions offer low quality vanilla-flavored degree programs based on faculty interests and expertise rather than the needs of students and prospective employers. Thus, too many students graduate with the required degree requirements, but not with the knowledge and skills required to compete successfully in the world of work. Discontinuing or modifying a degree appears to be one of the most difficult things for man
y faculty to do. If one were to examine the inventory of degree offerings at most institutions, I suspect they’d find that few changes have occurred in required courses since the degree was launched.

4. A lack of alignment between the focus of the president and the interests of the alumni.

It seems that many HBCU alumni want their alma mater to operate just as they remember it decades ago, except in loco parentis! Failure to operate in such a manner results in withholding financial contributions and the spread of negativism about the commitment and effectiveness of the president and his/her leadership team.

5. A lack of alignment between the president and the faculty, staff and students.

The vision, values and focus of the president notwithstanding, little gets accomplished and sustained without the support of those on whom the president depends for support. It is the faculty who teach and mentor students and staff who make sure their interests and needs are met at the highest levels of excellence and respect. Too often, out of necessity, if a program or service is discontinued, faculty and staff often view it as an affront to them and their needs. Yet, it is clear that institutions cannot be all things to all people and choices must be made about which programs could and should be supported.

The best way to ensure that HBCUs thrive is to make sure they are aligned along the lines suggested in this commentary. This alignment cannot be mandated nor legislated by presidents, elected officials or trustees. Rather, consensus must be pursued, nurtured and maintained by all members of the university. An important starting point is for all parties to practice the art of disagreeing without being disagreeable. Those who truly care about HBCUs must learn how to disagree without losing sight of the fact that the institution exists to serve the needs of students, not to provide paid or volunteer positions for employees or trustees – or to advance anyone’s personal agenda!

There is one thing for certain: Unaligned institutions may survive, but they will not thrive. Institutional alignment is the job of all key constituents rather than that of the president acting as a master mechanic.


Emily M. Dickens, Esq. | Assistant Vice President for Federal Relations| The University of North Carolina| 910 Raleigh Road| 919-962-4628||| @uncgafedrel      The University of North Carolina | Chartered in 1789, UNC was the first public university in the United States and the only one to graduate students in the eighteenth century.  Today, UNC is a multi-campus university composed of all 16 of North Carolina’s public institutions that grant baccalaureate degrees, as well as the NC School of Science and Mathematics, the nation’s first public residential high school for gifted students.

Top 10 Tips to Improve Your Grades in College

College is both a pleasant and difficult experience. On one side, classmates are always ready to throw another party. But on the other side, professors are giving you more and more assignments. Next, we have come out with ten ways of improving college grades while still having time for fun activities. Try them out and observe the results.

1. Attend all courses

This is the easiest thing to do – just be present at all courses you have enrolled to. Some professors require a certain number of attendances in order to let student take the exams. By being there every time, you get many advantages: professors will get to know you; you will be exposed to lectures; you will spot the smart classmates willing to help others in need; you will figure out the professor’s favorite topics, etc.

2. Be active in class

Now, just sitting there is not enough for improving your grades. Students must seize every opportunity they have to make themselves remarked. So be there physically and mentally – ask questions, launch a new idea, answer to professors’ inquires, participate in discussions, and so on.

3. Discuss with your professors

If you are in a bad academic situation, the best thing to do is to speak with professors. Ask them how you could improve grades by doing extra assignments or by helping them out with something. Professors are always happy to see that students care about their future and get actively involved. They will find a solution for your problem

4. Become better at essay writing

Submitting better papers is a guarantee for getting higher grades. So practice essay writing until you manage to reach an acceptable academic level. For this, it would be great to have some experts on your side. Just contact an assignment service online and ask for its help. But be careful, though, there are tons of scams out there. Use assignment writing services review blogs to find a trustworthy website.

5. Use fun learning methods

Learning doesn’t have to be a burden. There are ways of making it fun. For example, you could join a students’ forum and learn actively by discussing with others. Then, study groups are also great for both making friends and easily achieve new information. Use technology to spice up the learning process with flashcards, quizzes, videos, etc.

6. Study constantly

Lazing around all year and struggling to learn everything in one week is definitely not a good strategy for getting higher grades. The secret is to study a little every day, to learn progressively. Information sinks in better in this way and you will be prepared for any exam!

7. Take effective notes

While in class, don’t forget to take notes. Make them clear and easy to follow. Use schemes and abbreviations. Try to have a beautiful handwriting (or at least readable). Don’t struggle to put down every detail the professor speaks about. Just note the essential data.

8. Always be organized

Organization is the key to success in every field. Create schedules with courses, exams and deadlines for submitting papers. Also, keep track of the bibliography and write sheets for every read book. Have a balanced program containing studying hours and relaxation time, too.

9. Ask for help

It’s not a shame to ask for assignment help! Be smart and accept when things get out of control. Look for guidance in the persons around you – colleagues, professors, and even parents. If you have too many papers do be done in a short time, hire an assignment service. That’s what modern students do in order to survive college!

10. Go to summer school

This is a last, desperate solution for those who cannot fix things anymore. Summer courses will help you get on track and start fresh with all subjects. Not to tell that it is better to work one summer than to postpone graduation!

In conclusion, improving your grades is not that hard if you act now! Don’t wait till the end of the semester in order to start working on your papers. Follow the indications and improve your academic situation in simple and sometimes fun ways.

Cheyney University faces enrollment, financial problems

For Clairton High School graduate Qualyn Meade, Cheyney University is a “school for second chances.”

After an old knee injury sidelined a cheerleading scholarship offered at Kutztown University, he took a year off before enrolling at Cheyney in Delaware County, one of the nation’s more than 100 historically black colleges and universities.

“I know it’s crazy, but I cried when I first got to campus,” said Mr. Meade, now 20 and about to enter his second year at Cheyney. “I always wanted to go to an HBCU. Cheyney gives students who maybe aren’t the brightest, aren’t the strongest, a chance to thrive and succeed. Finally having that opportunity to start school and be able to do well. … It was overwhelming.”

Mr. Meade is walking in the footsteps of thousands of others who have attended Cheyney since it was founded almost 200 years ago to “instruct the descendants of the African Race in school learning,” as founder Richard Humphreys wrote in his will. One of 14 state-owned universities in the State System of Higher Education, it began offering higher education degrees in the early 1900s.

But now questions about the university’s financial and academic stability leave the institution at a critical crossroads.

The university is on its third line of credit from the State System of Higher Education — this one for $6.5 million after two similar ones — to help cover its daily operations into 2016. Its financial aid polices are under scrutiny to see whether any money needs to be returned to the U.S. Department of Education after the university failed to adequately track federal student aid over the course of three years. Its administration has had high turnover, with nine acting, interim and long-term presidents in the past 14 years.

And enrollment, which already declined from 1,586 students in 2010 to 1,022 in 2014, is expected to drop by 302 students — another 30 percent — to 700 this fall. Only 54 percent of students who began their studies in fall 2012 returned to the university for fall 2013. Some degree programs have few students; math has just one.

The university declined to comment on any definite plans to turn the school around, although state officials are talking about collaborating with West Chester University, another member of the system, located about six miles away. Robert Bogle, chairman of the Cheyney University Council of Trustees, said there has been “a lot of talk,” but he has yet to see a detailed short-term and long-term sustainability plan to outline the university’s next steps that is “agreed upon” by the State System and Cheyney representatives.

University spokeswoman Gwen Owens declined to make interim president Frank Pogue or other university administrators available for interviews.

A coalition of students, alumni and community activists — called Heeding Cheyney’s Call — is pushing for change through a civil rights lawsuit filed in November. The suit mirrors previous ones from the early 1980s and late 1990s, arguing Cheyney has not received a fair share of government resources.

Cheyney stakeholders agree that the issues the university is facing did not emerge overnight but are largely a reflection of years of fighting for equitable treatment and funding.

“People think Cheyney is about to close,” said Junious Stanton, former Cheyney University Alumni Association president. “It’s underfunding of a much higher need to where we’re forced to take minimal resources and put Band-Aids on the problem instead of really addressing and solving the problem. The situation is unsustainable.”

‘That’s what keeps you there’

In the face of such challenges, attracting and retaining more students is vital to the historic institution’s future.

The student body is made up mostly of Pennsylvania residents — one third come from Philadelphia — and is largely low-income. In 2013, more than 90 percent of the student body received financial aid and 77 percent received Pell Grants, federal need-based grants.

In July — a time when most college-bound students were flipping through dorm assignments and course booklets of their chosen schools — the university was continuing its efforts to recruit more students for the fall semester.

The university extended the general admission deadline to Wednesday, little more than two weeks before the start of the fall semester. Officials also advertised open slots for the university’s Keystone Honors Academy on its website on July 16.

The honors academy — a key recruiting tool — offers full scholarships, including tuition, room and board, fees and a laptop, for qualifying students. It also serves as a feeder program for the Bond Hill Scholarship program, which allows recipients to pursue a graduate degree at three partnership universities: Penn State University, Temple University and the University of Pittsburgh.

In response to a Right-to-Know request from the Post-Gazette, university officials said, last school year, the university received $1.5 million from the state for the honors academy and 92 honors scholarship recipients. The university declined to provide how many scholarships were still available as of July 16, when the article advertising available scholarships on Cheyney’s website was published. A Right-to-Know request for that information is pending.

The article touted the scholarship as “one of Pennsylvania’s best-kept secrets” with testimonies from former scholars, including former student body president Chris Carter, now 26, who was recruited for the honors academy as a senior at Pittsburgh Allderdice High School in 2006-07.

However, his first impression of the campus when he arrived in fall 2007 was almost enough to make him relinquish the full academic scholarship and transfer to one of three other schools — Pitt, Howard University and Duquesne University — that accepted him.

In his freshman dorm, Yarnall Hall, the ceiling leaked when it rained. The tiny rooms had no air-conditioning. Steam heat caused the floors to dampen as they warmed. The building has been demolished, and the university has since built a new dormitory and science building, but many of its facilities are in a similar state of disrepair, he said.

“In my first semester, I had a really hard time getting over the state of the facilities,” he said. “It was hard to overlook the fact that none of our buildings looked brand new. I’d toured other campuses within the State System, so I couldn’t help but wonder why do we look like this when every other school looks like that?”

By his second semester, he found himself at home.

He played trumpet in the marching band and began to connect with his classmates. His professors became mentors and friends.

“I was so used to being the only black student in my honors classes in high school that, when topics like affirmative action and police brutality came up, I felt like I had to fight to be heard,” he said. “[At Cheyney], I felt like there was a common ground with the understanding of struggles of African-Americans. When you have those connections, those positive, life-changing experiences on campus … that’s what keeps you there. That’s what makes you want to stay.”

By the time Mr. Carter graduated from Cheyney in 2011, he was first chair for jazz and concert bands, belonged to the campus chapter of the NAACP, had served as student body president and received the Bond Hill Scholarship to pursue a law degree at Pitt.

The inequities he noticed between Cheyney and the other 13 universities — all predominantly white — within the State System of Higher Education went from being a source of discouragement to a catalyst for him to seek increased funding and support.

In spring 2011, towards the end of his term as student body president and just a few months before Mr. Carter was scheduled to graduate, Mr. Corbett’s administration announced plans to eliminate all state funding for both the Keystone Honors Academy and the Bond Hill Scholarship. Mr. Carter, along with the student government administration, organized a student walkout to protest the cuts and a statewide student protest in Harrisburg. Public outcry from students, faculty, alumni and supporters helped deter the measure.

Parity through equity

The honors program was first developed in 1999 from a lawsuit initiated on behalf of Cheyney accusing the State System of underfunding Cheyney.

A settlement was reached between Cheyney and the state: The state would provide additional funding to the university to be used for renovations and updated facilities and more academic programs.

More than 15 years after the settlement, members of Heeding Cheyney’s Call contend the university still has not received equitable resources from the state system. Coalition spokesman Michael Coard said the goal is to receive “parity through equity” through dedicated, continuous resources from the state.

Mr. Stanton, a founding member of HCC, said, “We’re the stepchild of the system. They’ve essentially stood aside and watched the university go under.”

At a State System board of governors meeting in June, Ken Mash, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties and a professor at East Stroudsburg University, told the board the Cheyney faculty has been forced to work in “conditions that would be intolerable” at other the other universities.

“None of us should allow what has happened to continue to go on. We have all failed that university and its students at this point,” he said.

Alicia Brumbach, spokeswoman for the State System chancellor’s office, defended the resources committed to Cheyney in a prepared statement.

“The State System is committed to the success of Cheyney University and all 14 state-owned universities,” she said. “The record clearly shows that the State System and the Commonwealth have committed substantial resources to the university and its students.”

Mr. Stanton also cited a lack of strong leadership within the university to help “stem the hemorrhaging.” The latest interim president, Mr. Pogue, took over after the abrupt retirement of former president Michelle Howard-Vital in July 2014 after a seven-year term.

“There have been so many areas where the university either departmentally or collectively was in a state of dysfunction,” he said. “I don’t see leaders taking any significant bites out of the elephant.”

A defined role and plan

The university is in “catch-up mode” in terms of academic offerings, Mr. Bogle, the board chair, said, with outdated and under-enrolled programs that aren’t competitive. In July, the state system’s board of governors released 16 new approved degree programs at eight state-owned universities for the upcoming year. Cheyney was not among them.

“Some of the ones we have are not working,” he said. “Some of these programs cost the university money, and we can’t afford to have these programs that cost us money. If you don’t have what the students want, then they’ll go elsewhere.”

He declined to comment on which programs the university would consider cutting or adding. However, a presentation from university officials at the Cheyney University Alumni Association retreat last fall showed only one student was majoring in math and five in English, while social relations/criminal justice had 115 students. Some other popular programs include business administration/management; biology and biology/health professions; communications arts; and liberal studies.

Marybeth Gasman, director for the Penn Center of Minority Serving Institutions at the University of Pennsylvania, said an important marketing tool for HBCUs is developing key program offerings and a clear identity, then recruiting quality students in a targeted manner.

“Cheyney needs to ensure that people understand what is unique about it and what it has to offer,” she said. “They need to figure out exactly what they’re good at and focus on that.”

In the midst of expected changes, Mr. Meade said he believes the HBCU fills a vital role within the State System.

“I wanted to be able to get back to my roots, see people who have a positive outlook and are making an impression on the world as people of color,” he said. “To go to a place where you see an entire community moving forward in the world really gives me a hopeful spirit.”

Former Xavier University President Norman Francis Says HBCU’s Face Tough Decade

Former Xavier Universitiy President

Even Though Blacks Borrow More for College, Enrollment Declines

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Recognizing that a college degree is one of the surest paths to a job and economic security, Black families are taking on more student loan debt than White and Hispanic families, according to a new report by Wells Fargo.

According to the report, student loan debt increased by roughly 97 percent between the 1995-1996 school year and 2015 and Black undergraduates that started school during the 2011-2012 school year can expect to borrow $28,400 for a four-year bachelor’s degree compared to Hispanics who will borrow $27,600.

The total price of attendance for Black full-time students increased 115.4 percent during the 2011-2012 school year compared to the 1995-1996 school year and White students experience 113.6 percent jump over the same time period.

The report stated, “The average out-of-pocket net price (which is the price after aid plus student loans) increased 88.7 percent for Blacks, 80.8 percent for Asians and 74.7 percent for Whites between the 2011 and 2012 school year compared to the 1995 and 1996 school year.”

In addition, the report found that more than 60 percent of Black undergraduate students qualify “for some type of aid from the federal government” compared to 50 percent of Hispanics and 34 percent of Whites and Asians.

John Rasmussen, the president of personal lending and the head Education Financial Services at Wells Fargo said that two primary realities often frame the conversation about higher education: student loan debt and the growing costs associated with earning a degree.

“The outstanding amount of student loan debt has now exceeded $1.2 trillion,” said Rasmussen. “That is larger than credit card debt and automobile debt.”

He also noted that the cost of college over the past 20 or 25 years has increased at a pace that is significantly faster than inflation.

“Families are trying to be really practical,” said Rasmussen. “Trying to keep costs down now, staying in state more, exploring community college options, and asking tough questions like, ‘Are my kids ready to go to college?’”

Rasmussen added that students and families want federal loan programs that are easier to navigate, better information about the true costs of federal loans and what families can expect for outcomes like graduation rates, job placement rates and salary and earnings and the repayment performance of students.

Even though Blacks are taking on more student loan debt, in recent years that increased burden has delivered mixed results on enrollment rates.

A 2014 report by the Wells Fargo Securities, LLC Economics Group, that linked educational attainment to economic success, found that Black enrollment in degree-granting institutions has increased considerably since the Great Recession, but that enrollment rate “slowed down noticeably in 2011 and 2012.”

The report said, “This slowdown in Black enrollment in degree-granting institutions plus the strong increase in the enrollment of Hispanics has helped push the Hispanic rate above the Black rate for the first time since the early part of the 1970s.”

Still, economists and education advocates agree that a college education continues to be a sound investment, despite the cost

Six HBCUs Awarded NCAA Academic Support Funds

Historically Black universities are receiving a significant portion of the more than $4 million in grants recently allocated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for helping Division I schools provide academic support to student-athletes.

Last week, the NCAA announced that nine schools, including six HBCUs, are recipients of Accelerating Academic Success Program grants, which support institutions in their efforts to satisfy requirements of the Division I Academic Performance Program. The program “was developed to ensure schools provide an environment that supports education while enhancing the ability of student-athletes to earn a degree,” according to the NCAA.


Recipients of the three-year Accelerating Academic Success Program Comprehensive Grants are Alcorn State University ($900,000), California State University, Bakersfield ($870,686), Hampton University ($675,000), Florida A&M University ($675,000), Delaware State University ($449,850) and North Carolina A&T State University ($277,284.38).

“The comprehensive grants will be … used to fund increased academic support services staffing and space; technology upgrades (software and hardware); career planning; professional development; and increased availability of summer financial aid for student-athletes,” the NCAA said in a statement.

Schools can seek a maximum of $300,000 annually for three years. Grant recipient schools are required to match grant dollars each year of the program. In the first year, the school must make a 25-percent match. A 50-percent match is required in the second year and 75-percent match in the third year.

Recipients of the single-year Accelerated Academic Success Program Initiatives Grants are  California State University, Northridge ($100,000), Idaho State University ($8,333.33) and Texas Southern University ($80,608).

Institutions qualifying for the Accelerated Academic Success Program grants are non-Football Bowl Subdivision I schools in the bottom 10 percent of resources as determined by rates of institutional expenditures, athletics department funding, and Pell Grant aid.

“With the additional resources and support, the grant will allow us to demand higher outcomes for our student-athletes,” said Jason Cable, associate athletic director for compliance at Alcorn State University.

Cable told Diverse that with new funding the Alcorn State athletics department expects this academic year to provide scholarship support for 15 to 20 fifth-year students whose athletic eligibility has run out so that they can complete their degree. As they finish their schooling, those former athletes will be expected to mentor current student-athletes. In addition, the athletics department will hire two academic counselors bringing its total to five for managing roughly 300 student-athletes at the Lorman, Miss.-based school.

“Degree completion is our number-one focus. This (initiative) affords student-athletes an opportunity to graduate with their peers because we will have funds set aside for them to come back and earn their degree,” he said.

Cable noted that hiring two additional counselors will improve the athlete-to-counselor ratio from 100 to 1 to 60 to 1. “We believe that increased attention for individual student-athletes will have an immediate impact on their retention,” he said.

Earl Hilton III, director of intercollegiate athletics at North Carolina A&T State University, said its three-year grant will support the hiring of an academic counselor and a learning specialist. The new hires will increase the athletics department’s academic counseling staff from four to six at the Greensboro, N.C.-based university.

“It’s a fairly straightforward solution. … From my perspective, there’s no mystery in how (Academic Progress Rate) challenges are resolved,” he said.

“Additional academic support staff to provide coverage of your student-athletes and additional opportunities for summer school … are two steps we’ve taken in the last three to four years that have improved student-athlete retention,” Hilton explained, noting that North Carolina A&T has roughly 325 student-athletes.

In 2012, the Accelerating Academic Success Program (AASP) was created by the NCAA Executive Committee. The AASP includes an annual conference and grants and support to Division I institutions. Last week’s awards marked the third round of AASP funding by the NCAA.

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July News

Pennsylvania US Rep. Fattah indicted in racketeering case

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A longtime Philadelphia congressman who was indicted Wednesday paid off a campaign loan with charitable donations and federal grants, funneled campaign money to pay down his son’s student loan debt and disguised a lobbyist’s bribe as payment for a car he never sold, federal prosecutors said.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and four associates were charged with racketeering conspiracy. They also were charged with bribery, conspiracy to commit wire, honest services, bank and mail fraud, and money laundering, among other things.

Prosecutors say the charges covered several schemes. They allege Fattah used federal grants and donations to his educational foundation to pay back part of a wealthy campaign supporter’s $1 million loan and that he helped arrange a $15 million federal grant for a nonexistent nonprofit in lieu of a $130,000 payment to a political consultant after his failed 2007 mayoral run.

“The public does not expect their elected officials to misuse campaign funds, misappropriate government funds, accept bribes or commit bank fraud,” U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said. “These types of criminal acts betray the public trust and undermine faith in government.”

Fattah’s office had no immediate comment on the charges. It said it would issue a statement later Wednesday. The 58-year-old remains free pending a yet-unscheduled court date.

Under indictment, Fattah was stepping down from his post as the top Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees spending for Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in statement the charges “are deeply saddening.”

“Congressman Fattah has been a tireless and effective advocate for America’s hard-working families across more than 20 years of distinguished service in the House,” Pelosi said.

Despite a long-running federal investigation, Fattah maintained a busy public schedule and side-by-side with top Democrats, catching a ride to a Philadelphia event earlier this month with President Barack Obama on Air Force One.

Prosecutors said the 11th-term Democrat and his district director, Bonnie Bowser, passed mayoral and congressional campaign funds through a political consulting company to make 34 student loan payments on behalf of his son totaling $23,000.

To cover up the transactions, there was a scheme to portray an $18,000 bribe from Florida lobbyist Herbert Vederman, who sought an ambassadorship or a seat on the U.S. Trade Commission, as a car payment, Memeger said. FBI agents found the car in the garage at Fattah’s Philadelphia home 26 months after the sale, the indictment said.

Memeger said Karen Nicholas, a former member of Fattah’s congressional staff and the CEO of his Educational Advancement Alliance, obtained $50,000 in federal grants for a higher education conference that never took place. Fattah was supposed to be the keynote speaker.

Instead, Memeger said, Nicholas used the money to pay a political consultant, an attorney and several checks to herself from the charity’s operating account.

Bowser, Vederman, Nicholas and Philadelphia businessman Robert Brand have also been charged.

We Weep For African Lions. But What About Black Lives? Because, you know, #AllLivesMatter, right?

After American dentist Walter Palmer was identified as Cecil the lion’s shooter, outrage — and demand for him to be held accountable — came quickly.

In less than 24 hours, Palmer’s past felony record was exposed, he was bombarded with criticism on social media, and his dental practice was abruptly shuttered for an undetermined length of time. Palmer has since gone into hiding as the Zimbabwean government says it would like to speak to him. And some people are speculating that he could be extradited to face trial over there.

Social media response from white Americans has never been this intense for #BlackLivesMatter.

Laments for Cecil were, sadly, much more heart-rending than the outcries for black lives lost. Uproar over the famous lion’s death almost instantly reached the late-night talk show circuit. On Tuesday, Jimmy Kimmel choked back tears as he discussed the killing of endangered animals on his show. Singer Ariana Grande was equally hurt over the loss.

It seems like Americans, in general, found it easier to condemn a man who killed a lion than to criticize police officers who abuse their power. It took more than six months to simply bring charges against the Cleveland officer who killed Tamir Rice, an unarmed, 12-year-old child who was shot to death while playing at a park. It took over a year for an off-duty Chicago cop to be charged for Rekia Boyd’s death.

Remember how, in the first few weeks after Mike Brown was killed, more funds were raised for Darren Wilson than for the dead teen’s family. Now a White House petition calling for Palmer to be extradited has already racked up over 95,000 signatures.

Listen to the language used to describe Cecil — the black-maned lion was beloved, majestic and a treasure. It’s sad that the death of a lion is bringing more tears than that of many a human being simply because those people weren’t white.

As Greg Gutfeld, a host of Fox News talk show “The Five,” put it, this is “easy outrage.” No one has to grapple with difficult but necessary questions about how America treats its black citizens. No one is asking what Cecil could have done differently, how he could have avoided this outcome or which of his minor missteps justified a violent death.

“Sure, wildlife are photogenic and apolitical. Cecil the lion never made a video for #BlackLivesMatter and half of the people in the U.S. aren’t trying to convince themselves that somehow Cecil deserved his fate,” wrote David Ferguson for Raw Story. “And while African lions may be endangered, isn’t it time we admit that here in the U.S., black lives are endangered, too?”



Two local schools are ranked in the 2015 Top 25 Best Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to College Choice, an online publication. Three other schools in North Carolina made the list as well.

North Carolina Central University made the top ten, coming in at number 9, while Fayetteville State University came in at 25.

The list was determined by surveying actual college freshman on the factors that were most important to them. They include academic reputation, financial aid offerings, overall cost, and success of their graduates in the job market.

NCCU was praised for its distinction of being the first public, liberal arts school in the nation for African Americans. It also received acclaim for producing more African American librarians than anywhere else.

The school was also noted for its research in biomedical, informational, computational, behavioral, and social and health fields.

It was commended on its spirit of service and community engagement by requiring students to complete 120 hours of service before graduating.

Fayetteville State University was praised for its exemplary educational practices. In addition, their graduate program produces the highest number of math graduates in the county.

Students also have the opportunity for smaller classes and a more intimate learning environment with a 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Three other North Carolina schools made the list: North Carolina A&T State University, Elizabeth City State University, and Winston-Salem State University.

Zeta Phi Beta Signs Major Agreement to Promote STEM and Outdoor Recreation

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sign Historic Agreement[/caption]Leading African American sorority Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today signed a historic memorandum of understanding in Washington, D.C., to work cooperatively to engage urban youth in outdoor recreation, biological sciences and healthful activity in nature.

The five-year agreement follows last year’s signing of a similar MOU between the Service and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., the brother organization of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.

Steve Guertin, deputy director of the Service, and Mary Breaux Wright, international president of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, attended the signing ceremony during Zeta Leadership Training, which brought more than 900 sorority leaders to Washington.

“Our country’s future depends on the knowledge and well-being of youth in our nation’s cities,” Guertin said. “We are thrilled to join with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority to boost opportunities for young people to explore the natural world, learn about science and science careers, and reap the benefits of outdoor recreation. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, with its long commitment to health and community well-being, is a wonderful partner, and we look forward to forging many new connections.”

Wright shared Guertin’s enthusiasm. “Since our inception in 1920, Zeta has maintained a rich legacy of bettering the lives of women, children and the communities in which we live,” she said. “Partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helps Zeta expose our youth to more possibilities for leading healthful lives and promising futures.”

The partnership unites Zeta members and the Service in engaging youth in recreation on national wildlife refuges and helping them understand how such activity promotes healthful living, which aligns with the “Zetas Have Heart” health initiative. The partnership also aims to boost opportunities for young people to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, and give Zetas a greater voice on conservation issues. In addition, the pact is meant to encourage African American students and professionals to consider Service careers.

About Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was founded in 1920 by five co-ed students at Howard University who envisioned a sorority that would promote the highest standard of scholastic achievement and Finer Womanhood. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. has a diverse membership of more than 120,000 college-educated women with more than 800 chapters in North America, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, Africa, and Middle East. For more information, please visit

About The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit, or connect with us through any of these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube.

Tuskegee Receives $7.1M Grant to Improve Veterinary Program

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a grant of $7,181,671 to the Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine within the College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health. The grant will enable the veterinary program to expand its ability to recruit, train and retain African-Americans and other under-represented minority veterinary medical students and faculty as well as continue to educate culturally competent veterinarians and public health professionals.

The funding period will cover 2015-2018. The multimillion-dollar grant is through HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce’s Centers of Excellence (COE) program. The funds will benefit the Centers of Excellence in Minority Veterinary Medical and Public Health Education at Tuskegee.

It will also assist with improving the veterinary school’s educational infrastructures including enhanced e-learning environments (information/communication technologies), more counselors, peer and faculty tutors, strengthening the mentoring program (consisting of peer and veterinary/alumni mentors), researchers and educators.

“The grant award of over $2.3 million yearly for the next three-year period would not have been made possible without a team approach which was directed by Dr. Cheryl Davis, COE coordinator for the college. The COE proposal and progress report required diligent, dedicated, and cooperative efforts from our faculty and staff who realized the necessity in advancing our mission/goals and the national health priorities as expressed in Healthy People 2020 which focuses on major improvements for public health,” said Dr. Ruby Perry, dean of the college.

“Under the progressive leadership of our president, Dr. Brian Johnson, the future of the university and the School of Veterinary Medicine are on an upward trajectory and being awarded the COE grant is very significant as we realize the challenges in the current economy.”

The COE grant provides a great opportunity for the college to expand its educational pipeline to channel more African-Americans and other underrepresented minorities interested in health careers.

S.C. State on right track after ‘outrageous’ spending, Evans says

South Carolina State University Interim President Dr. W. Franklin Evans admits the university didn’t pay attention to the bottom line for years.

But trustees are focused on finances and the university is focused on students, he said.

“We’re doing everything in our power to get a hold on some things,” Evans said.

Evans spoke about S.C. State’s financial crisis during his State of the University address at the 26th National Alumni Association Convention Friday morning. It was held at the university.

False rumors about the university closing down had a devastating effect, Evans said.

The university once had 5,000 students enrolled. Last fall, S.C. State enrolled 3,330 students.

As of Thursday, the university has 2,513 students enrolled for the upcoming year.

Evans said he wants to make sure students receive the best quality education humanly possible when they enroll at the university.

S.C. State has faced accreditation issues. Last year, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the university on probation and gave it nine standards to address.

Over the year, the university addressed some of the standards, but not all. Its probation will continue for another 12 months.

Evans said the university has met five of the nine standards. The five remaining standards focus on financial issues.

“Financial issues have been problematic for some years. They have been passed down from year to year to year. I know for a fact, at least since 2011, vendors have not been getting paid,” Evans said.

As enrollment rates declined, the university did not make the necessary adjustments to its budget to accommodate such a decline.

“Fewer students ought to mean fewer employees doing the job, but that hasn’t been the case,” Evans said.

S.C. State was even being charged for electricity and cable to buildings that were no longer in service.

Evans said even after the university talked about right-sizing the institution, it was still $19 million over budget.

“Our spending has just been outrageous,” Evans explained.

In June 2016, SACS will determine if S.C. State’s accreditation is revoked or reaffirmed.

“We are working this year to put things back on track and move it down the track successfully,” Evans said.

Bradham and Manning halls will be torn down this year. Evans said the buildings are unsafe and eyesores.

S.C. State received a new Board of Trustees in May. Evans said the board has a “business-like mentality” and the administration has been working closely with the board to move the university forward.

The board declared financial exigency, allowing the university to remove some faculty members more easily.

Evans explained that some faculty members had extremely small teaching loads, teaching only 20 students total an entire semester.

“There were some faculty members that lost their jobs, but if we are going to maintain the programs that we have, we can’t continue to fund everything,” Evans said.

Evans said it was necessary for the university to make some cuts and changes. The university has been negotiating its contracts, which will save millions of dollars.

“We’re paying vendors. We finally received the money that the Blue Ribbon Panel had promised to provide us,” Evans said.

Evans said 90 percent of the university’s debt is owed to five major vendors. The other 10 percent is owed to many local private businesses and companies.

Now that the university has a balanced budget, it is anticipating an additional $4 million payment from the Blue Ribbon Panel set up by the General Assembly.

Evans is hoping to receive those funds by September. The funds will be used to pay off vendors.

In the past, the university has also given several scholarships to students that it couldn’t afford, resulting in millions of dollars in debt, he said.

The average cost for an in-state student to attend S.C. State is about $21,000 per year. The cost for out-of-state students is about $31,000.

“When you give 10 scholarships to an out-of-state student, that costs $310,000. That’s just for ten. It has just gotten out of hand,” Evans said.

Evans said he is grateful for all of the things the alumni chapters are doing to support the university.

However, the alumni giving rate for 2015 has been low. As of June 30, 2014, the giving rate of alumni was 3.84 percent. This year, the rate is 5.2 percent. The national trend is about 10-11 percent.

“Some of you (alumni) have made some noise and done some things, but collectively, you’ve been a silent body,” Evans said. “People see the alumni only coming and making noise on specific issues that sometimes don’t really matter to the people making decisions.”

Evans closed by stating that he needs alumni to become ambassadors for the university, urging them to have at least one child from their church coming to South Carolina State.

“I need you to know that we really are open for success,” Evans said.


ORISE and Fayetteville State University establish mentor-protégé agreement

Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and Fayetteville State University (FSU) recently signed an agreement under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Mentor-Protégé Program supporting a two-year mentoring relationship.

ORISE Director Andy Page (seated left) signed a U.S. Department of Energy Mentor-Protégé Program agreement with James Anderson, Ph.D., Chancellor of Fayetteville State University.  “As a beneficiary of the Mentor-Protégé Agreement, Fayetteville State University has the opportunity to enhance the university’s ability to successfully procure contracts, develop a mature STEM business model, compete for grants and develop white papers and communicate and market its progress,” says Dr. Anderson. “It is an honor to be the first Historically Black Colleges and Universities selected to participate in DOE’s Mentor-Protégé program.”

ORISE is a DOE institute focusing on scientific initiatives to research health risks from occupational hazards, assess environmental cleanup, respond to radiation medical emergencies, support national security and emergency preparedness, and educate the next generation of scientists. ORISE is managed by ORAU.

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Fayetteville State University (FSU), founded in 1867 as the Howard School for the education of African Americans,is the second-oldest public institution of higher education in the state of North Carolina and is a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina.  FSU has partnerships with universities, corporations, and the military. For more information, visit


SCSU reaches out to students through notes

Some 100 members of the South Carolina State University community met Tuesday to write postcards to students, welcoming them to campus for the fall semester.

“The key is trying to get students to come,” Acting President Dr. W. Franklin Evans said.

By sending out postcards, “we can reach out, touch them to let them know we do care about them and we want them here at South Carolina State University,” he said.

The university’s budget for 2015-16 is based on an enrollment of 2,650 students. As of July, 2,360 students have been accepted, university spokesperson Sonja Bennett said.

“We’re tracking to exceed that goal,” she said.

Bennett noted that quite a few current students are working on getting the funds to return to school in the fall while others are still in summer school and won’t sign up for fall classes until it’s over.

Supporters who attended Tuesday’s “Open for Success Note Card Campaign” kickoff received 30 cards and a list of students.

Taylor Harding, an honor student who graduated from the university in May, was among the group writing the cards.

She said she loved the president’s new strategy because it shows students they’re more than just a number.

“I think it shows we are a family here and we value them,” she said.

Harding said she wished someone had written her a note before she came to S.C. State because it would have made her decision easier.

It was kind of a big deal, because she was looking for a place that would be a home away from home, she said.

She made the right choice.

“I’m telling them I’m glad they’ve chosen S.C. State not just as their university, but as their new home away from home,” she said. “I’m from Philadelphia, so I know what it’s like to be away from home.”

Audrey McCrary-Quarles, a faculty member in health education, was at the kickoff.

“Teamwork – that’s what we do here,” she said.

Jasmine Middleton, a graduate student in rehabilitation counseling, also took part in the campaign.

“It’s a great cause for my university,” she said.

Since 2008, enrollment at the university has dropped steadily from around 4,800 to just below 3,000 last year.

That decrease and state funding cuts have presented major financial problems for the university, which operated under a deficit for some five years.

Hampton and Tuskegee Airmen Partner to Teach STEM to Teens

The Hampton University School of Engineering and Technology in partnership with Tuskegee Airmen Inc. (TAI) hosted their 2nd Annual TAI/HU Aviation STEM program for high school students on July 5 – 11.

The objectives of the one week program was to introduce the student participants to the historical impact of the Tuskegee Airmen experience and to the basics of how math and science are applied in aviation, to aviation careers.

“The idea behind this collaboration is to use aviation, and particularly the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, to engage young people in learning about STEM topics,” said Dr. Eric Sheppard, Dean of the School of Engineering and Technology.”For example, I will be talking about aerospace propulsion and helicopters on the morning that they visit the Fort Eustis helicopter facility.”

TAI is serving as the primary sponsor of the program, they are covering activities costs. Southwest Airlines is covering the travel costs for the students and the Virginia Department of Aviation also contributed to the program.

The 30 students from across the nation will visited local museums including the Virginia Air and Space Center, HU Museum and For Eustis during the day. And in the evening students will viewed videos on science, engineering, aviation, and Blacks in aviation, including the Tuskegee Airmen, as well as lectures from invited speakers. To close the program the students were assigned to teams for projects and make final presentation.

Evans promoted to SCSU interim president

Following several hours in closed session on Thursday, South Carolina State University board Chair Charlie Way announced that Dr. W. Franklin Evans is being promoted from acting president to interim president.

The board did not vote in open session but Way announced that “as of today, the board has declared that Dr. Evans is no longer acting president, but is now the interim president of South Carolina State University.”

Way said the board made the decision in closed session.

“The only thing that occurred in executive session was discussion, but the only action that was taken – that took place in the executive session – was that we as the board have now decided to elevate Dr. Evans from acting president to interim president of South Carolina State University,” he said.

Bill Rogers, executive director of the S.C. Press Association, said that under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act, such decisions must be made in open session.

“Obviously they made the decision behind closed doors and came out and announced it,” he said. “I’m very disappointed that we’re not off to a better start with the new leadership.”

The Times and Democrat was not able to reach Way for comment, but trustee Jeff Vinzani said the board had no intention of violating FOIA and did not vote in closed session.

Evans was put in place by the previous board, he said. All the current trustees wanted to do was recognize Evans for the “great job” he did in addressing the university’s problems with its accreditation and developing a balanced budget.

“It was just changing what we called him,” Vinzani said. “We like the term interim better than acting.”

Going forward, the board will negotiate a contract with Evans and will then vote publicly, Vinzani said.

Evans said he’s elated at the board’s vote of confidence, although it doesn’t change his responsibilities or his authority.

“Apparently, I’m doing something right or they feel that I have the abilities to keep moving us forward,” he said.

Evans was named acting president by the previous board in February, when it placed former President Thomas Elzey on administrative leave.

Under Elzey, Evans served as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs.

He was born in Augusta, Ga., where he attended the public schools in Jefferson County.

He’s a graduate of the University of Georgia and Georgia State University where he earned six degrees in areas ranging from entomology to higher education administration.

Evans is also a minister.


Prior to his appointment, Dr. George Cooper was a Senior Fellow with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, where he reviewed key federal legislative initiatives of significance to HBCUs.  He previously served four years as President of South Carolina State University.  Prior to this service, Dr. Cooper spent 17 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he provided oversight to programs important to the Historically Black

Land Grant Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions to strengthen

research, extension, academic and international programs.

He has also served in faculty and administrative roles at Alabama A&M University and Tuskegee University.  Additionally, Dr. Cooper has served on a number of boards and advisory groups, including the Orangeburg (SC) Chamber of Commerce, the National Collegiate Athletic Association Limited Resource Institution Academic Advisory Group, the Council of 1890 Presidents of Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/1890 Task Force.

He received his B.S. Degree in Animal Husbandry from Florida A&M University, his M.S. Degree in Animal Science from Tuskegee University and his PhD. in Animal Nutrition from the University of Illinois-Urbana.


CCG STEM Diversity News: Howard University Alum named CEO of BWI Marshall Airport

Governor Larry Hogan has appointed Ricky D. Smith, CEO of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. In this capacity, Smith, a 27-year government transportation official, will also serve as executive director of the Maryland Aviation Administration, overseeing BWI Marshall, Martin State Airport and public-use airports across the state.

“Ricky has the experience, leadership skills and know-how to take BWI Marshall to the next level,” said Governor Hogan. “BWI Marshall is a major job generator and economic engine for Maryland, and I’m confident that Ricky will continue to grow domestic and international travel at our world-class airport. I want to thank Paul for his many years of leadership and service to the citizens of Maryland.”

Smith returns to BWI Marshall after serving as director of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport since 2006. Smith will replace Paul Wiedefeld, who has served twice as BWI Marshall’s CEO for nine years.

Prior to leaving for Cleveland, Smith was head of operations at BWI serving as the chief operating officer. He has nearly two decades of experience at MDOT’s State Highway Administration and the Maryland Aviation Administration.

BWI Marshall is ranked 22nd for the number of passengers in the United States with more than 22 million passengers traveling through the airport every year. International passenger traffic has grown steadily in recent years at BWI Marshall. For the first four months of 2015, international passengers increased 22.5 percent over the same period last year.

Smith was appointed Director of the Department of Port Control in June 2006. Prior, he served as the COO for the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA), owner/operator of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI) and Martin State airports. During his seventeen-year tenure with the MAA, Smith had responsibility for airport operations, planning, and marketing.

His experience is rounded out by employment with the Maryland State Highway Administration and companies such as IBM, H&R Block, and the May Company.

After graduating from high school, Smith attended Virginia Union University where he pledged Omega Psi Phi. He subsequently transferred to Howard University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Smith holds degrees from Howard University and Loyola University of Maryland.

After taking a two-year business consulting position, Smith began working in the transportation industry.”

“Public service is my passion…I really love serving the public,” Smith said to Who’s Who. “The airport industry, regardless of what people think about it, is a government function that is as close as one can get to being an entrepreneur. Therefore, I am fulfilling my career goal as a public servant and as an entrepreneur…I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

Currently, Smith serves on the Board of Directors/Policy Review Board for the American Association of Airport Executives and is a member of the Airport Minority Advisory Council.

Black college foundation hits brakes on quest to start a blended-learning school

An ambitious middle school planned to better prepare black students to succeed at SUNO was abandoned this week by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, after more than two years of planning.

The TMCF Collegiate Academy at SUNO – Southern University of New Orleans – was intended to be a model school that the Fund could replicate nationally. It was to feature a blended-learning approach, and be closely tied to SUNO’s college of education. But the Fund’s leaders decided this week to surrender the charter awarded to the organization in 2013.

This is the first charter approved by the Orleans Parish School Board that has not resulted in a school, deputy superintendent Kathleen Padian said.

This story also appeared in

After two years of planning, the school still had no building and no partner to manage the back-office administration such as payroll and accounting, said Juontonio Pinckney, vice president and superintendent for K-12 Initiatives at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Initial plans to build on the SUNO Campus were waylaid by environmental issues. Then TMCF Collegiate Academy leaders pursued a location at Levy Garden, in East New Orleans. But The Eastern New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Commission opposed that site, saying the school would take up valuable commercial space and that the community was already saturated with schools, according to a resolution passed by the commission.

“The intent of these schools from a business perspective is to increase access, retention and graduation rates at our member schools. We need to create a model that aligns with that mission.”

Juontonio Pinckney, vice president and superintendent for K-12 Initiatives at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund

The idea itself was novel: TMCF Academy leaders wanted to build a school intertwined with a college campus and infused with technology, in the hope of improving learning among poor black youth and also linking them, early on, with a college education.

The TMCF Collegiate Academy would have started with 75 students each in sixth through eighth grades, and grown to a high school program from there. SUNO teacher education students would have coached the middle schoolers. Ideally, SUNO graduates would have been hired to as full-time teachers, too.

The school was intended to be the first of five to be opened nationwide by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which advocates and raises money for public colleges and universities that are historically black or Latino.

Related: Blue-collar town leads Rhode Island’s tech-assisted learning revolution

The Fund is now in talks with the University of the District of Columbia to open a school with the same blended learning model located on that campus, said Kathy C. Harris, chief of staff at the Fund.

“We are very much committed to this model,” Harris said of the blended learning approach, in which students work at varying paces according to their academic needs. “It provides flexibility for the students and their families. And the opportunity to get students exposed to college early in their high school careers increases the likelihood of them going to college and being successful in college.”

Why did the college fund turning its eye to middle schools in the first place? Put simply: existing programs, both charter and traditional, weren’t preparing graduates to succeed in HBCUs, said Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Fund.

“What we know is that, particularly for children from fragile communities, the current K-12 model has not been serving them well,” Taylor said. “We need to do something different.”

At first glance, New Orleans seemed the perfect petri dish for the experiment, because of its charter-friendly environment and the presence of a struggling historically black public university.

In 2013, SUNO’s graduation rate stood at just 11 percent. The college’s poor outcomes, which in 2011 were the lowest of any HBCU in the nation, spurred a state attempt to merge the school with University of New Orleans. The merger didn’t go through but the idea was floated again this year.

Nationwide, HBCUs have better success rates with black students than other colleges do, but the overall graduation rates are much lower than those for all colleges. In 2013, just 31 percent of HBCU students earned a degree within six years. The average for all post-secondary schools was 59 percent nationwide, according to theNational Center for Education Statistics.

Though graduation rates are low, HBCUs play a significant role in providing higher education to black students nationwide. Just 100 HBCUs gave out a whopping 16 percent of the undergraduate degrees earned by all black students nationwide in 2012, though they represent a small fraction of all colleges.

Related: How one NOLA school got more kids into college by opening its doors

Building or supporting secondary schools, Taylor said, is a wise investment for HBCUs, which are under pressure from the federal government to improve four-year graduation rates. Instead of reforming existing K-12 schools, TCMF leaders say new middle and high school models can be tailored to suit the unique needs and challenges of students who would typically attend an HBCU.

“The intent of these schools from a business perspective is to increase access, retention and graduation rates at our member schools,” Pinckney said. “We need to create a model that aligns with that mission.”

More charter schools are using blended learning to educate low-income students and help teachers deal with the range of skills in the classroom, said Michael Horn, co-founder of the nonprofit think tank Clayton Christensen Institute. The approach accommodates the sometimes chaotic, disrupted lives children in homes of poverty lead, allowing them to pick up learning after a lapse in attendance, he said.

“In this demographic in particular, a traditional school day creates problems,” Horn said. “Students need to work at their own pace.”

The blended learning model might have offered a novel laboratory for SUNO’s teacher education candidates, as well. But SUNO won’t be the testing ground for this progressive approach, after all.

“There were too many challenges to overcome,” Pinckney said. “The direction we were headed was just taking it too far from the original model.”

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news o

The First and Only Black Catholic HBCU in the Nation

There are 107 Historically Black Colleges and 251 Catholic colleges in the United States, yet there is only one that is both historically Black and Catholic. Yes, we are talking about the Xavier University of Louisiana located in the Gert Town section of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Xavier’s Mission and History

Founded in 1915 by Saint Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, Xavier is a small liberal arts college originally dedicated to the education of African Americans and Native Americans. In 1925, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was established. The first degree was awarded three years later, and the College of Pharmacy was included in 1927.

To separate the identity and expand the campus, St. Katharine bought a tract of undeveloped land on the corner of Palmetto and Pine Streets in 1929. Finally in 1933, construction of the U-shaped, gothic administration building (now a city landmark) was completed. Through the years, as needs dictated, the Xavier campus gradually added various other departments. In 1980, Xavier’s identity was further enhanced and celebrated with the creation of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies (IBCS.)

Today, the ultimate purpose of the University is to contribute to the promotion of a more just and humane society by preparing its students to assume roles of leadership and service in a global society. This preparation takes place in a diverse learning and teaching environment that incorporates all relevant educational means, including research and community service.

Xavier’s Leadership

Even though this Black Catholic HBCU is now governed by a multi-racial Board of Trustees, the Sisters play an important role on the campus today providing much-needed staffing and some financial aid. Xavier’s former president, Dr. Norman C. Francis, himself an XULA graduate (1952), is a nationally-recognized leader in higher education and is the longest tenured college president in the United States. Dr. Francis retired on June 30, 2015, after 47 years at Xavier.

Under Dr. Francis’ leadership, with the outstanding support and involvement of First Lady Blanche Francis, Xavier has significantly increased its enrollment. During the Francis era XU has been ranked as a top academic institution, expanded its campus, and strengthened its financial base. During his and Xavier’s greatest challenge, and the devastation of the flooding following Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Francis led the effort to rebuild, rapidly reopen, and continually improve the campus. Miraculously classes resumed in less than six months.

On May 14, 2015, C. Reynold Verret was named the next president of Xavier University. Verrett, a native of Haiti, has been the chief academic officer at Savannah State in Georgia since 2012. Previously, he served as Provost at Wilkes University in northern Pennsylvania and before that as Dean of the Misher College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Verret is also a scientist, who taught and led research laboratories as a member of the faculty at Tulane University and also at Clark Atlanta University, where he was also chair of the department of chemistry.

Xavier’s Rankings and Distinctions

Xavier is recognized as the top producer of African-American undergraduates continuing to complete medical school and one of the top three producers of African American Doctor of Pharmacy degree recipients. Xavier ranks first nationally in the number of African American students earning undergraduate degrees in biology and life sciences, chemistry, physics and pharmacy.

As always Xavier’s doors are open to qualified students of any race or creed irrespective of its special mission to serve the Black, Catholic community. Despite a growing influx of out-of-state students, more than one-half of the university’s students are from Louisiana.


Arne Duncan’s Legacy

It will take years to recover from the damage that Arne Duncan’s policies have inflicted on public education. He exceeded the authority of his office to promote a failed agenda, one that had no evidence behind it. The next president and the next Secretary of Education will have an enormous job to do to restore our nation’s public education system from the damage done by Race to the Top.

Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Posthas written a sympathetic article about Arne Duncan and the waning of his powers as Secretary of Education. He is a nice guy. He is a close friend of the president. He cares about individual children that he met along the way. The pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act will prohibit him and future Secretaries from interfering in state decisions about standards, curriculum and assessment. His family has already moved back to Chicago. But he will stay on the job to the very end.

When Obama was elected, many educators and parents thought that Obama would bring a new vision of the federal role in education, one that freed schools from the test-and-punish mindset of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind. But Arne Duncan and Barack Obama had a vision no different from George W. Bush and doubled down on the importance of testing, while encouraging privatization and undermining the teaching profession with a $50 million grant to Teach for America to place more novice teachers in high-needs schools. Duncan never said a bad word about charters, no matter how many scandals and frauds were revealed.

During Duncan’s tenure in office:

– He used his control of billions of dollars to promote a dual school system of privately managed charter schools operating alongside public schools;

– He has done nothing to call attention to the fraud and corruption in the charter sector or to curb charters run by non-educators for profit or to insist on charter school accountability or to require charters to enroll the neediest children;

– He pushed to require states to evaluate teachers by the test scores of their students, which has caused massive demoralization among teachers, raised the stakes attached to testing, and produced no positive results;

– He used federal funds and waivers from NCLB to push the adoption of Common Core standards and to create two testing consortia, which many states have abandoned;

– The Common Core tests are so absurdly “rigorous” that most students have failed them, even in schools that send high percentages of students to four-year colleges, the failure rates have been highest among students who are English language learners, students with disabilities, and students of color;

– He has bemoaned rising resegregation of the schools but done nothing to reduce it;

– He has been silent as state after state has attacked collective bargaining and due process for teachers;

– He has done nothing in response to the explosion of voucher programs that transfer public funds to religious schools;

– Because of his policies, enrollments in teacher education programs, even in Teach for America, have plummeted, and many experienced teachers are taking early retirement;

– He has unleashed a mad frenzy of testing in classrooms across the country, treating standardized test scores as the goal of all education, rather than as a measure;

– His tenure has been marked by the rise of an aggressive privatization movement, which seeks to eliminate public education in urban districts, where residents have the least political power;

– He loosened the regulations on the federal student privacy act, permitting massive data mining of the data banks that federal funds created;

– He looked the other way as predatory for-profit colleges preyed on veterans and minorities, plunging students deep into debt;

– Duncan has regularly accused parents and teachers of “lying” to students. For reasons that are unclear, he wants everyone to believe that our public schools are terrible, our students are lazy, not too bright, and lacking ambition. If he were a basketball coach, he would have been encouraging the team to try harder and to reach for greater accomplishment, but instead he took every opportunity to run down the team and repeat how dreadful they are. He spoke of “respect” but he never showed it.

This era has not been good for students; nearly a quarter live in poverty, and fully 51% live in low-income families. This era has not been good for teachers, who feel disrespected and demeaned by governors, legislatures, and the U.S. Department of Education. This era has not been good for parents, who see their local public schools lose resources to charter schools and see their children subjected to endless, intensive testing.

It will take years to recover from the damage that Arne Duncan’s policies have inflicted on public education. He exceeded the authority of his office to promote a failed agenda, one that had no evidence behind it. The next president and the next Secretary of Education will have an enormous job to do to restore our nation’s public education system from the damage done by Race to the Top. We need leadership that believes in the joy of learning and in equality of educational opportunity. We have not had either for 15 years.

Loretta Lynch Hosts Civil Rights Roundtable at North Carolina Central

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch hosted a civil rights roundtable meeting at North Carolina Central University School of Law to address the current issues facing citizens. The topics discussed included human trafficking, hate crimes, voting rights, school safety and community-police relations.

“It is truly an honor and pleasure to host this important conversation with our 83rd U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch,“ said Chancellor Debra Saunders-White. “Holding a conversation on civil rights here at North Carolina Central University School of Law has profound significance as NCCU has nurtured some of the greatest civil rights advocates and champions for justice.”

During the two-hour event, Lynch discussed various civil rights matters with Triangle area leaders from education, religion, law enforcement and community activists. She also acknowledged that recent events in the South have evoked painful memories of the past and emphasized her commitment to pursuing justice against hate crimes and civil rights abuses.

“While we cannot guarantee the absence of hate, we can guarantee the presence of justice. We can do that,” said Lynch. “I am committed as attorney general to making good on that guarantee.”

Participants from NCCU were: Chancellor Debra Saunders-White, Dean Phyliss Craig-Taylor and Professor Irving Joyner, North Carolina Central School of Law. For a full list, visit the U.S. Department of Justice website here.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch at NCCU School of Law Moot Court

Lynch, the first African-American woman to lead the U.S. Justice Department was sworn in on April 27, 2015. She is a Durham, N.C. native.

About North Carolina Central University

North Carolina Central University prepares students to succeed in the global marketplace. Flagship programs include science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines, nursing, education, law, business and the arts. Founded in 1910 as a liberal arts college for African-Americans, NCCU remains committed to diversity in higher education. Our alumni are among the nation’s most successful scientists, researchers, educators, attorneys, artists and entrepreneurs.  Visit


A little over a week ago, many of us watched with horror as the story in Charleston, South Carolina at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church unfurled. For some of us, it was a horror we couldn’t fathom happening in 2015. It had to be a bad dream that was set in 1950’s Jim Crow culture. For some of us, there was no shock; we had seen this before us in the past. Though we did not wake up thinking we would be greeted with such a tragedy, somewhere in the back of our minds we knew that something like this could happen. We were not shocked, but rather disappointed that the fear many Black people have in regards to their lives was validated in such a horrific moment. Many of us had the same question play back over and over again in our minds: How could someone come into a church and kill 9 people because they were Black? But for many Black people, even this was not a shock. The truth is, Black sanctuaries have been under attack for a long time.

The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church was the first independent, Black denomination founded in the United States. Richard Allen, who would later be the first elected bishop of the AME church, had the vision to found a church where people would be able to worship freely, regardless of color, after being denied the right to pray at the altar of a White United Methodist church. Allen saw the importance of Black people having spaces that were safe spaces, sanctuaries for their communities. And for centuries Black people have found sanctuary in their historical institutions, whether they be churches, HBCUs, sororities and fraternities, civic groups, and social groups, organizations, and gatherings. These sanctuaries served as places where Black people could meet, draw strength from each other, educate and be educated, commune, strategize, celebrate victories, and voice anger and rage. These institutions are places where one could be unapologetically Black and unfettered in their revel of Black culture. These spaces were not only sacred, but the Black bodies that filled them were sacred as well.

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However, as long as Black people have found safety in these sanctuaries, those who hold deep hatred and contempt for Blacks have sought to desecrate and destroy these spaces. To them these spaces were not sacred and neither were the bodies that occupied them. Whether it be a bomb ending four brilliant, beautiful, little girls lives far too early in 1963, the shooting of college students on the Jackson State University campus in 1970, the strategic political posturing to disproportionately underfund HBCUs and use corrupt policies to dismantle them, the constant questioning of the relevancy or necessity of Black spaces, affinity groups, and organizations, or walking into a Black church and taking nine Black lives in an act of domestic terrorism. It seems that those who would have Black Americans live in fear for their lives and existence believe that the best way to do so is to destroy and disrupt the places where many of them find peace, solace, and community away from the oppression and institutional racism they encounter every day. These latest actions in a long lineage of racially motivated domestic terrorist attacks point to a belief that the best way to instill fear in people of color is to not only attack them but to also attack their sanctuaries.

It is for this reason that we must fight even more vigorously for the preservation and sustentation of our Historically Black Institutions. Their mere existence are radical statements of rebellion against a system that continues to seek out ways to erase or smudge Black culture, spaces, and bodies from our consciousness. These institutions are attacked because they have and continue to be places where the best of Black culture, intellect, and collective power goes to plant, grow, and thrive. They are places where Black bodies learn that they are divine and valuable. They are the places where Black people gather to pick up the pieces, put them back together, and to fight another day.

We mourn for the lives of the Emanuel 9. We mourn the lives that were taken simply because someone felt Black people didn’t deserve the same life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness this country claims are its citizens’ inalienable rights. We mourn the loss of the lives of Black persons who, without reluctance but pure hospitality, opened their sanctuary to someone outside of their community as so many historically Black institutions do. We mourn a 5-year old girl’s loss of innocence, a little girl who was introduced to the fatal power of hatred far too early. But in the midst of our mourning let these 9 lives lost remind us how precious it is for us to protect our safe spaces, our sanctuaries.

Let us remember how important it is to value the spaces in which we gather, the spaces where we find each other, the places where Black is beautiful and beloved. Let us do what we must to ensure that our Historically Black Institutions do not become ineffective, dull, dilapidated or diluted. Let us also resolve to be even bolder in the face of ignorance and injustice and may we never forget to show the world that our institutions are national treasures and monuments to the strength, beauty, and power of a great people and culture. Even in troubled times like this, our institutions, our sanctuaries shine a light that reaches much farther than the shadow of bigotry that would try to keep them hidden. The people that find themselves there, won’t be hidden either. They will shine brightly.

More now than ever before, we need to stand up, rise up, and support, defend, and champion our Black institutions. We need to teach Black children of their importance and more than that, we need to show Black children why they are essential to Black progress. Let us all answer this question: What have we done today for Black people and Black institutions? What will we do tomorrow, and the day after? The fight, the journey, and the need will not end without all of us.

About the Authors

Felecia Commodore is a research assistant at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions. Felecia received her Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. She has a background working as an admissions counselor and academic advisor at Trinity University, Washington, D.C. and University of Maryland, College Park respectively. Felecia obtained an M.A. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Maryland, College Park, MD and a B.S. in Marketing with a minor in Sociology from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. Felecia was selected as a 2013 intern for the Southern Education Foundation.  Felecia has currently has work relating to this research published in theJournal of Multicultural Education and the Journal of Negro Education. She is also contributor, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and She is co-editor of the bookOpportunities and Challenges of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Felecia’s research focus area is leadership, governance, and administrative practices with a particular focus on HBCUs and MSIs. Felecia’s research interests also lie in how leadership is exercised, constructed, and viewed in various communities, and the relationship of Black women and leadership.

Marybeth Gasman is a professor of higher education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She also serves as the Director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. Marybeth is an expert on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Black leadership, fundraising and philanthropy in communities of color and Minority Serving Institutions. She is the author of 18 books in these subject areas and many articles.




Summer STEM program inspires students to crack the code

Charlotte, N.C./July 6, 2015–Third, fifth and eighth graders at Kennedy Charter School’s summer program are smashing the mold of traditional computer programing. Led by Charlotte’s Web directors Cory Carter and Michael McAllister, students are receiving four weeks of intensive experience creating animation, computer programing and more. The press is invited to their robotic programing debut Wednesday July 8.

Starting on June 22, they were given a solid grounding in SCRATCH, Lego Robotics and Python. In the upcoming weeks, they will put that learning to practical use. Next week, the third graders will use SCRATCH, a beginners coding program, to develop animated story boards. Fifth grade students have been using LEGO robotics to get a grounding in engineering concepts, problem solving and working in teams. They will continue to work with LEGO next week, adding motion sensors and BRAIN (EVS) to build a working robotic arm.  Through code academy, the eighth grade class has built an understanding of PYTHON programing language. Next week they will practice programing phase II, building cash registers to run their own entrepreneurial concepts.

“The big thing is getting them to understand that, for the future, they’ll need different skills to fall back on,” said intern Jahdiel Couchman. The young man, who graduated from Philip O. Berry High School in June, was head programmer for the Robotics Club his senior year and helped build an app to keep students updated about information and events at the school. He plans to study computer science at Central Piedmont Community College in fall 2015 before transferring to UNC-Charlotte.

Intern Diana Vallejo, a rising senior at Berry and president of the Robotics Club, agreed. “Showing kids the opportunities and inspiring them to do things some of them never conceived of before is a valuable thing. I’m glad to do it, because someone did it for me. Seeing them get excited and teach each other is so powerful.”

In addition to STEM curriculum, students follow a class schedule that incorporates Singapore math, phonics and history lessons, as well as sports activities and volunteering. On Thursday July 9, students will be involved in the campus clean-up competitions. The field day and awards ceremony is Thursday July 16, 2015.


Top 10 HBCUs that Produce Teachers

Teachers play an important role in the lives of students. Frequently college graduates point to the efforts of teachers that refused to give up on students who struggled to recognize their own greatness. Occasionally students from underserved communities would become de facto members of families because a teacher did not want a student to fall victim to pervasively violent communities. Within the Black community, teachers are integral to the success of students that encounter a variety of obstacles including poverty, low expectations, racism and stringent school discipline policies.Throughout Jim Crow Black teachers from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) shielded students from overt racism while encouraging them to work harder. Today, HBCUs continue the tradition of graduating skilled, nurturing and committed teachers. Despite the increasing focus on teacher certification requirements graduates of education programs are fighting to close the resource gap between Black and White students.

Ensuring HBCUs continue to produce graduates is critical to providing Black students with role models. For the first time in United States (US) history ethnic and racial minorities make up the majority of students in public schools. Unfortunately, the majority of the students also live in poverty. Essentially students who attend public schools are more likely to be poor and come from minority communities. For this reason, HBCUs have to continue to produce graduates to meet the growing need for teachers. Black students who attend public schools are disproportionately taught by teachers from different ethnic or racial backgrounds. According to the U.S. Department of Education more than 35% of students are Black or Hispanic but less than 15% of teachers are Black or Hispanic. Only 2% of the teachers in the U.S. are Black males.

Increasing the number of Black teachers is critical considering the demographic shift. Several programs including TEACH are designed to encourage minority students to choose teaching as a profession. The public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Education, Microsoft and State Farm aim to recruit one million teachers over the next ten years. The partnership was developed in response to the dire need to place more minority teachers in the classroom. While the TEACH initiative is designed to recruit minority students throughout the U.S. the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) seeks to increase the number of teachers at HBCUsUNCF in collaboration with the Annenberg Foundation created the HBCU School Linkage Program, which provided member schools with funding to recruit and train students interested in pursuing a career in education. Students’ benefit from professional development opportunities and faculty support to prepare to teach in under-resourced communities. HBCUs should continue to develop partnerships with foundations and corporations to fund scholarships to increase the overall number of Black teachers. Several HBCUs have successfully recruited Black students to teach. While the majority of HBCUs were founded as teachers colleges, according to data from the National Center for Education Statics (NCES) the following institutions represent the top producers of teachers:


Dillard University Awarded $2.2 Million in NIH and

Department of Defense Grants

Grants will provide career and research opportunities for students

(NEW ORLEANS, LA) – Dillard University recently received grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Defense. The National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the NIH recently awarded Dillard almost $1.4 million through its Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) initiative, to increase both the number of students engaged in biomedical research as undergraduates and the number of students that subsequently pursue STEM graduate degrees.  According to Dr. Ruby Broadway, the grant’s principal investigator, Dillard’s grant will focus primarily on identifying students interested in biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology and providing these students with tuition support, rigorous mentored research experiences, and other academic support to better ensure they complete undergraduate study and enroll in graduate school.

Dillard’s MARC grant will also coincide with the University’s other NIH-funded initiatives, including the Center of Excellence and their NIH endowment grant for health disparities research.  The MARC grant  began June 1st. and continue through 2020.  Dillard becomes one of about forty or so MARC grantees in the US and one of only three in Louisiana.

As a part of two multi-year projects, Dillard was also awarded an additional $744,000 from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and Army Research Lab.  According to Dillard’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, the new awards are part of a continued investment from DOD. Both grants are provided to expand Dillard’s and DOD’s research interests in advanced pulsed laser deposition (PLD) technologies. The advanced PLD laboratory and research directed by Abdalla Darwish, professor of physics, focuses primarily on the development of advanced thin film for a number of  defense and other applications.


Dillard awarded $2.2 million in NIH and Defense Grants…2

Thus far, this project has resulted in three patents pending with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  Professor Darwish’s advanced PLD –Thin-Film research was the topic of a recent lecture at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.

Dillard’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, Yolanda Page, said that all these grants have direct benefits to students. “In addition to their discovery potential, these awards provide exceptional learning experiences and provide opportunities for students to engage in top-flight research experiences,” Page said.

For additional information contact Dillard’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Officially Reaffirms Jarvis’ Accreditation

Hawkins, TX – Jarvis Christian College is pleased to announce that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) has officially reaffirmed the College’s accreditation. Jarvis completed the process and had its site visit last October 2014. The College received no recommendations requiring further reporting and no follow-up to its Compliance Certification Document. On June 13th, an official announcement was made stating that Jarvis Christian College’s accreditation was reaffirmed.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. Jarvis Christian College is accredited to award degrees by SACSCOC. The reaffirmation process occurs every ten (10) years. As part of this process, institutions prepare an extensive Compliance Certification Report documenting commitment/compliance to the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation. The institution also prepares a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) to improve a specific aspect of its educational program. Jarvis’ plan is JSTAR, Jarvis Students TAckling Reading. These documents are reviewed by representatives of peer institutions, culminating with a site visit by a visiting team.

Dr. Lester C. Newman, Jarvis Christian College’s president, said this regarding the SACSCOC Reaffirmation, “The favorable review of the College’s academic programs and administrative functions is an endorsement of the value that Jarvis is delivering to its students. In the judgement of our peers, Jarvis Christian College is fiscally sound and well positioned for quality improvement as the institution continues to meet an important mission in higher education. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the faculty, staff, Board of Trustees, alumni and consultants who assisted the College in its effort to maintain its accreditation. They are to be commended for their hard work and dedication.”

Jarvis Christian College is ranked among the

“100 Most Affordable Small Colleges in America 2015” by

Jarvis Christian College is the sole historically Black liberal arts, baccalaureate degree-granting institution affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Located in Hawkins, Texas, the mission of the college is to prepare students intellectually, socially, spiritually and personally to function effectively in a global and technological society, to pursue professional and graduate studies, or to begin satisfying and productive careers.


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June News

HBCU Lifestyle – Black College Living

The Second Annual National HBCU Pre-Law Summit & Law Expo is scheduled to take place on Friday, September 25, 2015 and Saturday, September 26, 2015 at The Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.  This groundbreaking event is the only event of its kind in the entire country focused on addressing the unique issues, concerns and challenges facing HBCU students and graduates interested in going to law school and becoming lawyers.  Students and graduates from all HBCUs across the country are invited to meet and come together in Atlanta this fall to take part in two intensive and power-packed days (with two more optional days) designed to expose them to game-changing information, resources, and connections designed to help them achieve success in a demanding educational endeavor and field in need of greater diversity.

The summit will provide inspirational keynote sessions featuring prominent and dynamic attorney speakers.  Confirmed keynote speakers include Joseph K. West, Esq., President and CEO of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association and Paulette Brown, Esq., Partner and Chief Diversity Officer at Locke Lord LLP and President of the American Bar Association.  Attorney Brown has recently made history by becoming the very first African American woman to be elected to that prestigious post.  Both keynotes are proud graduates of historically Black universities.

In addition to outstanding keynote speakers, there will also be panel discussions including an unprecedented HBCU Deans Panel featuring the deans of HBCU law schools including Katherine S. Broderick, Esq., Dean at The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law(Washington, DC), Phyliss Craig-Taylor, Esq., Dean at North Carolina Central University School of Law (Durham, North Carolina), Dannye Holley, Esq., Dean at Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University (Houston, Texas), and Danielle Holley Walker, Esq., Dean at Howard University School of Law (Washington, DC).

The event will also include special guests including John Crump, JD, Historian and Executive Director Emeritus of the National Bar Association, the largest and oldest association made up primarily of African American lawyers, Ricky Anderson, Esq., top entertainment attorney to numerous A-list celebrities including Steve Harvey, Rickey Smiley and Mary Mary, and L. Chris Stewart, Esq., trial lawyer and attorney to the family of Walter Scott, a Black man who was shot and killed by a White police officer as he fled in North Charleston, South Carolina.  There will also be a few surprise guests who will provide short remarks and words of encouragement to attendees.

Further, the event will showcase panel discussions on critical topics for aspiring lawyers including law school admission, the law student experience, and what it takes to have a successful legal career.  These panels will include knowledgeable law school administrators, law students and lawyers who will share their own experiences and directly address issues of concern to HBCU students and alumni which are commonly ignored in general law school informational events.  What is particularly special about these sessions is that all of the panelists have an understanding of and genuine interest in the success of students who attend or have attended HBCUs, most having attended HBCUs themselves.  Also planned is a special session dealing with how financial aid packages are determined, negotiating scholarship offers and managing student loan debt, which are all very timely, important and major concerns of those interested in pursuing law school today.

In addition, a law school expo will take place on both major days of the summit where students will have the opportunity to meet with law school representatives from schools across the country to find out about their law programs and get answers to their questions.

Special networking receptions are scheduled to take place where attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy food and drinks as they participate in both structured and informal networking activities designed to help them connect with other aspiring law students, current law students, and lawyers.

There will also be two bonus days open to conference registrants.  The Thursday prior to the summit will provide early attendees with the opportunity to tour all three Atlanta law schools including Emory University School of Law, Georgia State University School of Law and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.  Students will also have the opportunity to sit in on classes and to participate in a special mock law class designed just for them that they must prepare for and be prepared to participle in. The Sunday after the summit is an optional day of leisure and learning where participants will have the opportunity to register for and take part in a historic Black Atlanta history group bus tour to visit many sites of historical significance to African Americans and the American Civil Rights Movement.

Admission to the Summit and Law Expo is completely free of charge, open to the public, and seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Payments are required to purchase tickets for viewing the exhibits at The Center for Civil and Human Rights ($10) and for participating in the ATL Black History Tour ($35) – and both are optional.  All aspiring lawyers, their pre-law and career advisors, professors, parents, supporters and others interested in attending are all welcome and requested to register online prior to the event.  To register and for more information, please go to the summit’s official website at

Death of Elson Floyd a ‘profound loss’ for WMU and higher education

Elson S. Floyd, the former Western Michigan University president who died Saturday, is being remembered for his work in higher education across the United States.

Elson Floyd

“I know I speak for the entire university community when I say the death of Dr. Floyd represents a profound loss for both Western Michigan University and higher education as a whole,” said WMU President John M. Dunn in a statement.

“He went on from his very successful presidency at Western Michigan University to take other important leadership positions and carve out a national reputation,” Dunn said of WMU’s sixth president.

Floyd, 59, died Saturday, three weeks after he’d taken a leave of absence from Washington State University for treatment of colon cancer.

Floyd served as WMU president from August 1998 until January 2003. He came to Kalamazoo from North Carolina, where he worked under the chancellor of the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill, handling the business operations of the state’s flagship university.

At Western, Floyd was instrumental in establishing the university’s Business Technology and Research Park, which has “had a tremendous impact on our community’s economy and has meant hundreds of news jobs in dozens of high-tech businesses,” Dunn said.

During Floyd’s time in Michigan, WMU became one of 102 public universities to be classified as a Doctoral/Research-Extensive University by the Carnegie Foundation, while the aviation program in Battle Creek became the university’s seventh college.

“Here at WMU, we are still building on some of the accomplishments of his  presidency and the initiatives he launched,” Dunn said.

Floyd is also noted for his acumen dealing with state legislature — as he worked to win support for various university projects in Michigan and Washington.

In February 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Floyd to the Advisory Board on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and said a year earlier during a visit to WMU: “He does a fabulous job for this important institution.”

Floyd left WMU to become president of the University of Missouri in 2003, and became president of Washington State in May 2007.

In Pullman, Washington, Floyd is credited for growing student enrollment to record highs and thrusting Washington State into the nation’s top 11 percent for research funding, according to a tribute posted on Washington State University’s website.

At WSU, Floyd oversaw completion of 30 major construction projects and helped establish the university’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication and a medical school.

Floyd is being remembered as a friend and visionary.

“I learned lifelong leadership lessons from Elson,” said U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, in a statement Saturday. “He helped the community in the areas of economic development and was wonderful at Washington State University … He was a true friend.”

Floyd’s “great work at Western Michigan University propelled him into the ranks of top college presidents in the United States,” Upton added.

Meanwhile, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Floyd was “wholly devoted to serving his state and expanding opportunities” and “loved inspiring students and challenging them,” as reported in his obituary.

In Kalamazoo, Floyd’s legacy will live on, according to Dunn.

“Our deepest condolences go to his family for this loss, too early, of their loved one,” Dunn said. “We will focus in the coming days, months and years on honoring the special legacy of this university’s sixth president.”

Funeral services for Floyd are pending, according to his obituary

Deal Is Reached to Keep Sweet Briar College Open Next Year

Virginia’s attorney general announced on Saturday that an agreement had been reached to keep Sweet Briar College, which abruptly announced in March that it planned to closethis summer, open next year after all.

The announcement of the women’s college’s closure sparked an outcry on and off the campus, as well as a flurry of legal challenges, and raised questions for other small institutions. The agreement announced by the attorney general, Mark R. Herring, would provide for the dismissal of the litigation involving the college.

The parties in the legal disputes are expected to meet before a judge on Monday to seek approval of the settlement. The agreement requires Saving Sweet Briar, an alumnae group that has been challenging the college’s closure, to deliver $12 million in donations for the college’s operations in the 2015-16 academic year, and $2.5 million of that money must be delivered by July 2.

Read about the lessons of three other small colleges that rebounded after facing steep challenges: “To Resurrect a College, Supporters Need More Than Nostalgia.”

Mr. Herring’s office would also agree to release restrictions on $16 million from the college’s endowment to support Sweet Briar’s operations.

The agreement also includes an overhaul of the college’s leadership. It stipulates that at least 13 members of Sweet Briar’s Board of Directors, and its president, James F. Jones Jr., must resign after the deal is approved. Mr. Herring’s office said Phillip C. Stone, a former president of Bridgewater College, was expected to be appointed by the new board as president.

Mr. Stone was chairman of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges from 2007 to 2009, according to a biography posted on his law firm’s website.

“After seeing the extraordinary passion, courage, and strength of the Sweet Briar alumnae, I feel privileged to be asked to join their heroic efforts to save this great college,” said Mr. Stone in a statement on Sunday night. “I want to make it clear that my commitment is not merely to keep the college open for the coming school year but to help it embark on a path for its next 100 years!”

Sarah Clement, chair of Saving Sweet Briar, said in a statement that the deal was “an answer to the prayers of many and a powerful validation of the value of fighting for what you believe in.”

But many questions about the college’s future remain, including what will happen to Sweet Briar students who had already made plans to transfer: About 230 of them had worked out such arrangements with other colleges, a Sweet Briar spokeswoman told theRichmond Times-Dispatch.

Ashley L. Taylor Jr., a lawyer representing Saving Sweet Briar, told The New York Timesthat some students had pledged to stay on if the college remained open, and he said the group was “confident” that there would be enough students for the coming academic year.

Small colleges, big questions: Download a PDF featuring case studies and tips about the financial and enrollment challenges facing small institutions.

Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond’s law school, spoke to The Washington Post about the challenges Sweet Briar’s leaders are likely to face in bringing the college back from the brink:

“It’s going to take a whole lot of very hard to work to make it happen. In two months, new classes will begin. So they need to do a whole bunch of things and do them very quickly. Retain classes. Get an incoming class. That may be the most difficult thing, because it’s so late. … Just scramble, I think, in the short term. Hold the faculty who haven’t made other plans. It’s a short-term fix” and people will have to wait and see whether that can be sustained over the long term, he said.

“I think this is the best that could come out of where we were. It gives them a chance.”

Sweet Briar’s faculty members are another question mark. June 30 marks the end of many of their contracts, according to The News & Advance, and two professors told the newspaper that many of their colleagues had accepted one-year positions elsewhere in anticipation of the closure. Deborah L. Durham, an anthropology professor, said she is part of a group of faculty members that is trying to plan for a much smaller student body for the coming academic year.

Patricia A. McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University — a women’s college that bounced back from an enrollment crisis nearly three decades ago by revamping its recruitment strategy — hailed the news of Sweet Briar’s reprieve:

Dr. Norman C. Francis a Life Committed to Educating OUR Children

When you drive down the I-10 freeway in New Orleans, before you reach the Superdome, Canal Street, or the French Quarter you see beautiful buildings with the emerald green roofs.  These rooftops are a fixture in New Orleans, but more importantly they let you know you have reached Xavier University of New Orleans.  But the one thing that stands out more than the rooftops is Xavier’s long standing President Dr. Norman C. Francis.

Dr. Francis is not just the longest sitting university president in the history of Xavier University, but he’s the longest sitting president of any university in the country.

“I know some universities that don’t keep their presidents long enough,” he says. “And I know one that has kept theirs too long.”

Dr. Francis’ leadership is celebrated and legendary.

Norman Francis is completing his 47th year as the President of Xavier University of Louisiana and at the end of June, he will retire.

During his tenure, he guided Xavier through the best of times and the worst of times, all with an undeniable commitment to ensuring that every student receives a quality education and an opportunity to succeed.

“Our children need a chance, a chance to succeed, a chance to overcome the challenges of poverty that have been plaguing our communities and our people,” he said.

Two Legacies Converge (taken from New Orleans Tribune interview)

The school that would become Xavier University was started as a high school by St. Katherine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1915, just 16 years before Francis was born. St. Katherine Drexel used most of her own money—an inheritance from her father, a Philadelphia banker—to support the school. A few years later, a training program for teachers was added.  By 1925, a college of liberal arts and sciences was formed; and Xavier University came into existence. In 1927, the pharmacy school was opened. In 1929, land in the Carrollton area at Palmetto and Pine streets was purchased and construction of the school’s administration building was completed four years later.

In many ways, Xavier’s story is Francis’ story. Just 23 years after Xavier was established as a university, a young Norman Francis—a poor Black kid from Lafayette—would enroll. As he often says, he was poor; but he didn’t know it.

(courtesy photo)

“My khakis were always pressed, and I had a pea jacket daddy bought from the Navy store.”

Yet, the fact that he was there at all was a testament to both everything the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament must have envisioned when they started their school and to the value his parents placed on education. His father worked as hotel bell hop and later opened a barber shop. His mother was a homemaker. Neither finished high school; but they sacrificed to send Francis and his siblings to Catholic schools in Lafayette. And after he graduated from St. Paul High School in 1948, he got a work study scholarship to attend Xavier University. He graduated in 1952 with a B.S. degree and then it was on to Loyola University Law School. He was one of two African-American students to integrate the law school that year. The other was Ben Johnson, a fellow Xavier graduate.  After earning his juris doctorate in 1955, Francis was drafted into the Army.

“I earned my law degree on a Saturday; got married on Monday; and was drafted two weeks later.

He served in Frankfurt, Germany, where he says he spent a lot of time “counseling young 18-year-old Black males (about the value of getting an education).”

“Most of them were from the South and here they were in Frankfort, Germany.”  After his Army tour, Francis returned to New Orleans. He worked as of counsel for the Black firm of Collins, Douglas and Elie, formed by noted civil rights attorneys Robert Collins, Nils Douglas and Lolis Elie. As of counsel, Francis represented the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Later as president of Xavier University, he would house Freedom Riders in a campus dormitory.  Also after returning from the Army in 1957, he got a call from Xavier University. His alma mater was in need of a dean of men. In his mind he owed a debt to Xavier; and serving for a while as the dean of men was a fair way to pay it.

“More people graduated from Xavier without paying a dime in tuition, because (St. Katharine Drexel) paid for everything.”  He served the school in various administrative capacities for almost 11 years. After dean of men, he was director of student personnel services, assistant to the president of student affairs, and assistant to the president in charge of development. In 1967, he became the executive vice president. In April of 1968, he was promoted to president of the university. He says he turned it down twice. But when he finally said “yes”, his career track as an educator and administrator as oppose to the law, was no doubt set.

Dr. Francis says that there are great Xavier Alumni throughout the country and Los Angeles has no shortage of outstanding Alumni.  “Every October I come to Los Angeles and participate in an event at the Proud Bird.  When you come to this event there are alumni from Xavier who work in every field you can imagine.  I love attending this event because when you listen to the jazz music, taste the food and visit with the people you would you were in New Orleans.”  Most of them worked as teachers, doctors or pharmacist but they also represented almost every field or profession in the country.

Dr. Francis has not only been instrumental in building Xavier, but he was the catalyst for the re-birth of Xavier University after Hurricane Katrina devastated all of New Orleans and Xavier was in no way less impacted by its devastation.  “Katrina was a disaster! But, we have comeback. After Katrina I appointed by the governor to chair the recovery effort, I had lost my home, and Xavier was in shambles.  But there is something about adrenaline.  I called the staff together in a little town right outside of my home, I met with the staff and they asked: Mr. President when are we coming back?  I told them right there, we are coming back January 17th”  That was the day Xavier was scheduled to start the second semester and by the grace of God and a determination and vision that few had Xavier re-opened and began classes again on that day.  Dr. Francis not only gave them a target date, but he gave them inspiration.  He told them “we are going to come back, not like we were, but like we should have been.  Better than what we were.” Today, if you visit the campus it is one of the most beautiful campuses anywhere in the country and Xavier is set to compete for the best and brightest students in the country and provide them with whatever they need to succeed.

(courtesy photo)

Dr. Francis is coming to Los Angeles this Monday, June 15, 2015 to host a fundraiser for the school. The focus of the fundraiser to create an endowment for the university in the name of Dr. Norman Francis to insure that every child has the opportunity to attend the university without being denied access to a quality education because of a lack of funds.  “The endowment is named after me, but it is not about me it’s about these kids.  I have never seen the degree of young kids who are coming from young families who can’t afford the tuition we are charging. We are still under $20,000 in a city where Loyola is charging $38,000 and Tulane is at $46,000 and were giving discounts and scholarship but you can’t reduce the tuition much lower and still pay the water bill and keep the lights on.”  So just like in the recovery of Katrina Dr. Francis went to work.  He is traveling around the country meeting with some of the largest Xavier Alumni Associations in the country, motivating and inspiring them to give to give back from once they came and to help these young people.

Dr. Francis understands the challenges that face our young students today he says “Poverty is at epidemic proportions in major cities throughout this country”.  The attrition rate for students is alarming, not because they can’t academically compete but because they can’t afford to finish.  This has to be addressed.  Dr. Francis says “The attrition rate the government uses to track Black and Brown students graduation rate is a “bad math formula” and gives numbers that appear to be the worst, but he also knows that if you take a chance and invest in a student his opportunity for success rises exponentially.

Dr. Francis has an undeniable belief and vision for the future of our young Black students.  He wants young Black students who want an education to have the ability to receive it at Xavier to receive scholarships to help pay for it and he is confident that Xavier will remain the #1 school in the nation for graduating African American Students throughout the nation.

Dr. Norman Francis is a rock star in the New Orleans community.  As he walks the campus in his final days as President of the university students literally jump out of moving cars and run from all over campus just to take a picture with Dr. Francis.  “Everyone wants to take a “selfie” with me”.  The students complain that he won’t be at their graduation next year, but Dr. Francis assures them that he will be back.  He says “I think the new President will allow me to come back for the 2016 graduation ceremony”. There is no doubt about that.  Dr. Norman Francis the longest tenured college president in the nation has certainly that seat.

This article was done through a one on one interview with Dr. Norman Francis along with excerpts from a previous interview from the New Orleans Tribune (which is owned by the family of LAUSD School Board Member Dr. George McKenna also an Alumnus of Xavier University) published earlier this year.

When you drive down the I-10 freeway in New Orleans, before you reach the Superdome, Canal Street, or the French Quarter you see beautiful buildings with the emerald green roofs.  These rooftops are a fixture in New Orleans, but more importantly they let you know you have reached Xavier University of New Orleans.  But the one thing that stands out more than the rooftops is Xavier’s long standing President Dr. Norman C. Francis.

Dr. Francis is not just the longest sitting university president in the history of Xavier University, but he’s the longest sitting president of any university in the country.

“I know some universities that don’t keep their presidents long enough,” he says. “And I know one that has kept theirs too long.”

Dr. Francis’ leadership is celebrated and legendary.

Norman Francis is completing his 47th year as the President of Xavier University of Louisiana and at the end of June, he will retire.

During his tenure, he guided Xavier through the best of times and the worst of times, all with an undeniable commitment to ensuring that every student receives a quality education and an opportunity to succeed.

“Our children need a chance, a chance to succeed, a chance to overcome the challenges of poverty that have been plaguing our communities and our people,” he said.

Two Legacies Converge (taken from New Orleans Tribune interview)

The school that would become Xavier University was started as a high school by St. Katherine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1915, just 16 years before Francis was born. St. Katherine Drexel used most of her own money—an inheritance from her father, a Philadelphia banker—to support the school. A few years later, a training program for teachers was added.  By 1925, a college of liberal arts and sciences was formed; and Xavier University came into existence. In 1927, the pharmacy school was opened. In 1929, land in the Carrollton area at Palmetto and Pine streets was purchased and construction of the school’s administration building was completed four years later.

In many ways, Xavier’s story is Francis’ story. Just 23 years after Xavier was established as a university, a young Norman Francis—a poor Black kid from Lafayette—would enroll. As he often says, he was poor; but he didn’t know it.

(courtesy photo)

“My khakis were always pressed, and I had a pea jacket daddy bought from the Navy store.”

Yet, the fact that he was there at all was a testament to both everything the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament must have envisioned when they started their school and to the value his parents placed on education. His father worked as hotel bell hop and later opened a barber shop. His mother was a homemaker. Neither finished high school; but they sacrificed to send Francis and his siblings to Catholic schools in Lafayette. And after he graduated from St. Paul High School in 1948, he got a work study scholarship to attend Xavier University. He graduated in 1952 with a B.S. degree and then it was on to Loyola University Law School. He was one of two African-American students to integrate the law school that year. The other was Ben Johnson, a fellow Xavier graduate.  After earning his juris doctorate in 1955, Francis was drafted into the Army.

“I earned my law degree on a Saturday; got married on Monday; and was drafted two weeks later.

He served in Frankfurt, Germany, where he says he spent a lot of time “counseling young 18-year-old Black males (about the value of getting an education).”

“Most of them were from the South and here they were in Frankfort, Germany.”  After his Army tour, Francis returned to New Orleans. He worked as of counsel for the Black firm of Collins, Douglas and Elie, formed by noted civil rights attorneys Robert Collins, Nils Douglas and Lolis Elie. As of counsel, Francis represented the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Later as president of Xavier University, he would house Freedom Riders in a campus dormitory.  Also after returning from the Army in 1957, he got a call from Xavier University. His alma mater was in need of a dean of men. In his mind he owed a debt to Xavier; and serving for a while as the dean of men was a fair way to pay it.

“More people graduated from Xavier without paying a dime in tuition, because (St. Katharine Drexel) paid for everything.”  He served the school in various administrative capacities for almost 11 years. After dean of men, he was director of student personnel services, assistant to the president of student affairs, and assistant to the president in charge of development. In 1967, he became the executive vice president. In April of 1968, he was promoted to president of the university. He says he turned it down twice. But when he finally said “yes”, his career track as an educator and administrator as oppose to the law, was no doubt set.

Dr. Francis says that there are great Xavier Alumni throughout the country and Los Angeles has no shortage of outstanding Alumni.  “Every October I come to Los Angeles and participate in an event at the Proud Bird.  When you come to this event there are alumni from Xavier who work in every field you can imagine.  I love attending this event because when you listen to the jazz music, taste the food and visit with the people you would you were in New Orleans.”  Most of them worked as teachers, doctors or pharmacist but they also represented almost every field or profession in the country.

Dr. Francis has not only been instrumental in building Xavier, but he was the catalyst for the re-birth of Xavier University after Hurricane Katrina devastated all of New Orleans and Xavier was in no way less impacted by its devastation.  “Katrina was a disaster! But, we have comeback. After Katrina I appointed by the governor to chair the recovery effort, I had lost my home, and Xavier was in shambles.  But there is something about adrenaline.  I called the staff together in a little town right outside of my home, I met with the staff and they asked: Mr. President when are we coming back?  I told them right there, we are coming back January 17th”  That was the day Xavier was scheduled to start the second semester and by the grace of God and a determination and vision that few had Xavier re-opened and began classes again on that day.  Dr. Francis not only gave them a target date, but he gave them inspiration.  He told them “we are going to come back, not like we were, but like we should have been.  Better than what we were.” Today, if you visit the campus it is one of the most beautiful campuses anywhere in the country and Xavier is set to compete for the best and brightest students in the country and provide them with whatever they need to succeed.

(courtesy photo)

Dr. Francis is coming to Los Angeles this Monday, June 15, 2015 to host a fundraiser for the school. The focus of the fundraiser to create an endowment for the university in the name of Dr. Norman Francis to insure that every child has the opportunity to attend the university without being denied access to a quality education because of a lack of funds.  “The endowment is named after me, but it is not about me it’s about these kids.  I have never seen the degree of young kids who are coming from young families who can’t afford the tuition we are charging. We are still under $20,000 in a city where Loyola is charging $38,000 and Tulane is at $46,000 and were giving discounts and scholarship but you can’t reduce the tuition much lower and still pay the water bill and keep the lights on.”  So just like in the recovery of Katrina Dr. Francis went to work.  He is traveling around the country meeting with some of the largest Xavier Alumni Associations in the country, motivating and inspiring them to give to give back from once they came and to help these young people.

Dr. Francis understands the challenges that face our young students today he says “Poverty is at epidemic proportions in major cities throughout this country”.  The attrition rate for students is alarming, not because they can’t academically compete but because they can’t afford to finish.  This has to be addressed.  Dr. Francis says “The attrition rate the government uses to track Black and Brown students graduation rate is a “bad math formula” and gives numbers that appear to be the worst, but he also knows that if you take a chance and invest in a student his opportunity for success rises exponentially.

Dr. Francis has an undeniable belief and vision for the future of our young Black students.  He wants young Black students who want an education to have the ability to receive it at Xavier to receive scholarships to help pay for it and he is confident that Xavier will remain the #1 school in the nation for graduating African American Students throughout the nation.

Dr. Norman Francis is a rock star in the New Orleans community.  As he walks the campus in his final days as President of the university students literally jump out of moving cars and run from all over campus just to take a picture with Dr. Francis.  “Everyone wants to take a “selfie” with me”.  The students complain that he won’t be at their graduation next year, but Dr. Francis assures them that he will be back.  He says “I think the new President will allow me to come back for the 2016 graduation ceremony”. There is no doubt about that.  Dr. Norman Francis the longest tenured college president in the nation has certainly that seat.

This article was done through a one on one interview with Dr. Norman Francis along with excerpts from a previous interview from the New Orleans Tribune (which is owned by the family of LAUSD School Board Member Dr. George McKenna also an Alumnus of Xavier University) published earlier this year.

Alcorn State Alumna Brittany Noble-Jones Named Emerging Journalist of the Year

Television reporter Brittany Noble-Jones was named the 2015 Emerging Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) on May 14, 2015.

The award recognizes an early career journalist who, through their body of work, displays a commitment to NABJ’s goal of outstanding achievement by black journalists and a commitment to providing balanced coverage of the black community and society at large.

Noble-Jones – a general assignment reporter at KMOV-TV, a CBS affiliate in St. Louis – was one of the first journalists to cover the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Her interview with Brown’s mother shortly after his death – using the app Instagram – trended worldwide.

Noble-Jones’ use of social media to immediately tell the story, rather than wait until her newscast aired, was noteworthy. She also used social media to find potential witnesses, who she later interviewed.

“Brittany Noble-Jones is focused, driven and diligent,” NABJ President Bob Butler said. “Many within NABJ have watched as she has honed her reporting skills and developed her brand. Those in the communities she covers know that she is relentless in her pursuit of the truth. This was on full display as Brittany was one of the first reporters to highlight the tragic shooting death of Mike Brown and the subsequent unrest Brown’s death prompted.”

Noble-Jones also gained national attention when she was the only journalist to report on the case of Terry Robinson, a St. Louis man who claimed two police officers unjustly detained him and threatened to plant evidence on him. Robinson said he secretly recorded the conversation with the officers. In 2014, The Riverfront Times named her the best TV reporter in the St. Louis area.

Noble-Jones was previously a reporter and substitute anchor at WEYI-TV in Flint, Mich. She began her on-air career as a reporter at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tenn. Her first job in television, however, was behind the scenes when she worked as an associate producer at KAIT-TV in Jonesboro, Ark., while completing her graduate studies at Arkansas State University.

An “NABJ Baby” Noble-Jones participated in the NABJ Multimedia Short Courses at both Florida A&M University and North Carolina A&T State University. Later, she participated in NABJ’s Multimedia Reporting Project as a broadcast student at the association’s San Diego convention.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Alcorn State University, and a master’s degree from Arkansas State University. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and her local NABJ chapter, the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists.

Noble-Jones will be honored along with NABJ’s other award winners at NABJ’s Salute to Excellence Gala on Aug. 8 during the association’s 40th Annual Convention and Career Fair in Minneapolis.

About the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)

An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization for journalists of color in the nation, and provides career development as well as educational and other support to its members worldwide.

FAMU SGA President Makes History, Elected Chair of the Florida Student Association

Florida A&M University Student Body President Tonnette Graham has been elected as the first African-American chairwoman of the Florida Students Association (FSA). Tonnette, a graduate student, will also become the member of the Florida Board of Governors in her new position. Saturday morning, the FSA convened at the University of South Florida in Tampa to host its leadership elections for the upcoming academic year.

The Florida Student Association was formed in 1976 as a non-partisan statewide organization for students within the State University System of Florida. Within the Association, 12 student body presidents and their staffs work together to represent the interests of students from participating state universities.

For almost 40 years, the Florida Student Association has laid the foundation for each student government represented to provide unified student representation before the Florida Government. The association also holds monthly meetings in which student leaders can interact with their colleagues from member institutions.

With an 8-3 vote, newly elected Florida Student Association Chairwoman Graham is now granted a seat on the Florida Board of Governors, the governing board of all public universities in the state of Florida. She is the second FAMU student body president and the first African-American woman to be elected as Chair of the Florida Student Association.

“It feels surreal. I’m so humbled and thankful for the opportunity to be the voice for over 300,000 students within the state university system,” said Graham. ”I’m forever grateful to be able to exercise all that FAMU has invested in my leadership development within this powerful role.”

The FSA Board of Directors, comprised of the 12 student body presidents, is looking forward to all that Graham is prepared to do in her new position.

“I’m really excited to see what she’s going to do,” said Florida State University Student Body President Jean Tabares. ”Tonnette is already a strong leader, and I look forward to assisting her in her efforts while we’re both in Tallahassee.”

The FAMU Student Government Association is also enthusiastic about what the next year holds for Graham and the student body.

“It’s always refreshing to have a student leader that is innovative and a catalyst for change, but most importantly, a Rattler,” said Senior Advisor to the Graham-Bruno Administration, Michael Davis.

“Wherever she has gone, FAMU has always gone with her. Now 300,000 more students will go with her.”

Chairwoman Graham returned to Tallahassee on Sunday afternoon, having made FAMU history, the Florida Student Association History and African American History.

Xavier elects C. Reynold Verret as its next president

Xavier University‘s Board of Trustees has unanimously elected C. Reynold Verret as the university’s next president. Verret will replace longtime president Norman Francis, who has held the post for 47 years and will step down June 30.

“Dr. Verret has been the provost at two colleges, the dean of another, and he possesses an outstanding STEM background,” Michael Rue, chairman of the Xavier’s Board of Trustees, said in an interview Thursday morning (May 14). “He also has extensive experience dealing with situations that affect many colleges in the U.S., such as declining enrollment, retention and graduation rates.”

Verret has been provost and chief academic officer at Savannah State, Georgia’s first public historically black university, since 2012.

“I am deeply honored to be elected as the next president of Xavier and am excited to engage the entire Xavier community in envisioning a future that sustains the university’s distinct mission in a changing higher education environment and that responds to societal need,” Verret said in a Xavier news release.

He added, “Upon arriving in this country as a refugee from Haiti in 1963, I was supported by many who nurtured my love of learning and science and gave me the encouragement and confidence to persevere. During my tenure at Xavier, I will continue paying it forward, helping generations of young people realize their dreams, regardless of their backgrounds.”

Rue said the search for Francis’ replacement began the day after Francis announced his retirement on Sept. 4., 2012. The list of candidates started with more than 300 people, Rue said, and a search committee of faculty, alumni, staff and students helped narrow the pool.

The trustees followed the recommendation of the search committee, Rue said. While Francis had no part in the selection process, he spoke privately with Verret for several hours before the board made its final selection.

“Dr. Francis delivered a ringing endorsement,” Rue said.

Verret’s appointment marks the first time the Xavier Board of Trustees has chosen a new president. Francis was promoted to president in 1968 by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, the religious order that created the university in 1925. Francis represented the first layman, first male and first African-American head of the university.

“I am most pleased to welcome Dr. Verret to Xavier,” Francis said in the release. “I have complete confidence that the Board of Trustees made a wise decision, and I know that Dr. Verret will carry on the mission and values of this institution far into the future.”

Verret immigrated from Haiti to the U.S. as a young boy. He went on to receive an undergraduate degree with honors in biochemistry from Columbia University, and a doctorate in biochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to the release.

He later served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Howard Hughes Institute for Immunology at Yale University and the Center for Cancer Research at MIT.

In addition to his role at Savannah State, Verret served as provost at Wilkes University in Northern Pennsylvania and as dean of the Misher College of Arts and Sciences at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. But his background in the sciences makes him particularly suited to Xavier, which encourages students to pursue the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Verret has “helped develop programs to prepare STEM teachers, secure tuition support for teacher certification in STEM fields and affirm joint instructional and research programs,” the release said.

He also served as the chair of the chemistry at Clark Atlanta University, where he helped allocate close to $10 million in grant funding.

Francis celebrated his last Xavier commencement as president May 9, where the four recipients of honorary degrees, including basketball great Earvin “Magic” Johnson and former attorney general Eric Holder, lauded Francis for his achievements.

“I have known many leaders . . . I am proud to have served with President Barack Obama,” former Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu told the 564 graduates in the crowd. “But I can tell you there are few leaders, and [Francis] may be the best I’ve ever known, in his steadfast commitment to you.”

Rue said Francis will help Verret adjust to his new role over the next few months, making introductions and aiding the newly formed transition team. He added that Francis will continue to play an important role at Xavier after he retires.

“I don’t know how a man can be affiliated with an institution for 60 years of his life and not remain a part of it,” Rue said. “We need to figure out how to make that happen, and I know that’s something he wants.”

LeMoyne-Owen College Taps New President

Andrea Miller is the new president of LeMoyne-Owen College and will be the first woman to lead the Memphis institution.


Miller starts her duties Sept. 1 and succeedsJohnnie Watson as the 12th president of the 153-year-old historically black college.

The 1976 LeMoyne-Owen alumna has been chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College since 2012.

Robert Lipscomb, chairman of the college’s trustees, announced the choice Thursday, June 11, on the steps of Brownlee Hall as several dozen students, alumni and other supporters stood on the South Memphis campus’ front lawn.

Lipscomb acknowledged vigorous debate among the trustees and several rounds of voting. He said the final vote was unanimous and that he and others sought a unanimous vote for Watson’s successor.

The vote was a choice between Miller and Rhodes College vice president Russ Wigginton, the other finalist in the national search.

Watson was the first alumnus to serve as president of the college. He was named the college’s 11th president in 2008 after taking the job two years earlier on an interim basis. The school was forced to right itself financially following “no confidence” votes by the faculty aimed at school’s previous leadership.

Watson said the school’s only problem was financial, similar to problems faced by many historically black colleges and universities.

He tied the school’s development and growth during his tenure to the nearby Soulsville development in the South Memphis area.

The institution marked its 150th anniversary in 2012 and by then had doubled its size from the 2006 low of 500 students.

The school opened a new $13.5 million residence hall in 2013 with room for 336 students to live on campus.

Watson also oversaw the college’s move to business programs for students 25 and older looking to complete their degree after initially leaving higher education pursuits. LeMoyne-Owen has retained its primary role as an educator of teachers.

Police Fatally Shot More Than 300 People in 2015 So Far, Contradicting the Low Ball Numbers of Federal Reports

As news of police officers killing unarmed Black citizens have continued to make national headlines, one myth has also started to spread along with the media coverage—the amount of police killings hasn’t gotten worse, there is simply more coverage than ever before.

It suggests that the quality of policing isn’t actually getting worse and that citizens aren’t in any more danger now than they would have been years ago.

A new analysis may be poking a serious hole in that theory.

The Washington Post released a disconcerting report that found police are actually shooting and killing more citizens today than federal reports have indicated in the past and, to make matters worse, there are still very few policies in place to fully keep track of such information.

According to the Post’s analysis, police in the U.S. have already killed 385 people during the first five months of 2015, which means they are killing people at a higher rate than has ever been reported over the past decade.

The report insists that numbers equate to more than two people a day being fatally shot by police, despite federal reports that suggested the number was closer to one person a day.

It’s important to note that this number, because it’s looking at fatal shootings, wouldn’t even include the tragic deaths of citizens like Eric Garner and Freddie Gray. Both of these Black men were killed while in police custody but were killed by means other than a shooting.

But even the numbers of shootings alone are enough to spark serious concerns about policing efforts today both because it pulled back the curtain on trigger-happy cops and because a media outlet had to be the one to provide such statistics.

The Post’s report, which is believed to be a far more accurate count than numbers that were provided by federal officials in the past, nearly doubled the amount of deaths tallied by the federal government.

Since police departments aren’t actually required to report that information, there have long been frustrations about the challenges of trying to accurately measure police brutality in America today.

“We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information,” Jim Bueerman, president of the Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement, told Reuters.

The analysis even broke down the deaths based on demographics such as gender and race.

Despite the fact that Black citizens make up a significantly smaller percent of the total population, they still accounted for a rather large amount of the police fatalities.

Since January 1, 171 white men were fatally killed and 100 Black men were killed. Meanwhile, 54 Hispanic men were killed.

As for women, they were fatally shot at far lower rates and only 20 have been fatally shot so far in 2015.

Out of all those who had been fatally shot, nearly 50 were unarmed and 13 were carrying a toy rather than an actual weapon.

The vast majority, however, did turn out to be armed with a gun, knife or some other object that could have been used as a weapon. The report did not indicate if the item was actually being used to threaten the officers at the time of the shooting.

These numbers are allowing activists to do something that has been nearly impossible to do in the past—more accurately quantify police killings to help push for the need for criminal justice reform.

The fact that such information is just now becoming available, however, is something that has long frustrated FBI Director James Comey.

Back in April he told reporters that it was “ridiculous that I can’t tell you how many people were shot by the police last week, last month, last year.”

Perhaps that is the most frightening truth behind the information.

There is no guarantee this information will be accurately updated and if it is it will take hours of intensive research by reporters rather than officials at the federal level take the initiative to track the information that’s completely necessary if anyone is seriously interested in reforming the criminal justice system.

And fatal police killings aren’t the only numbers that are missing from federal databases.

“There are estimates, but with [65 million] people in the FBI criminal record database, we have no systematic knowledge of their demographics,” Bruce Western, a professor of sociology at Harvard told The Atlantic.

In other words, nobody is keeping an accurate record of the racial makeup of arrests.

And while prison statistics have kept up with the current size of the overall population of people in jail, it has failed to track more specific details such as the demographic makeup of those in solidarity confinement.

According to Western, there are “estimates” available but “no official count nationwide.”

Which means if there are any serious disparities in who is being placed in solitary confinement, an experience that has left many prisoners with permanent mental scars, it would be incredibly easy to sweep that trend under the rug and out of the public’s attention.

Unfortunately, that’s still not the end of the massive gaps in data that keep the public unaware of what really happens in America’s criminal system and inside the country’s quickly expanding collection of prisons.

“Another major gap in prison statistics is the number of non-sexual assaults behind bars,”The Atlantic’s Matt Ford reported. “Although Congress mandated the collection of sexual assault statistics with the Prison Rape Elimination Act in 2002, prisons are not required to report ordinary assaults to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.”

Yet again, some information is available but its accuracy is questionable and reach of the data is limited.

What this allows, according to University of Pennsylvania political science professor Marie Gottschalk, is the opportunity to continue perpetuating the stereotypes about prisons and the people who fill those cells.

“[If] we’re just collecting inmate-on-inmate data, or just rapes and sexual assaults between inmates, it kind of feeds into those stereotypes, and it ignores the huge amount of violence that’s actually done by staff inside of facilities,” Gottschalk told The Atlantic.

Those who have been behind bars, however, have been left with scarring stories of inhumane police brutality while in custody. Some of these stories do get out and reach the public eye, but they are still a part of a narrative that suggests such attacks are rare, which very well could be far from the truth.

If anyone hopes to do anything about it, however, the system’s flawed data collection has already made it an uphill battle.

After all, the best way to push for widespread reform is to prove, beyond any doubt, that there is a problem. Seems pretty difficult to do that when there are so many holes in the data needed to make that case.

Grambling State University Names Willie “Dynamite” Larkin as New President

GRAMBLING, La. (June 4, 2015) – The University of Louisiana System Board has unanimously named Willie “Dynamite” Larkin, chief of staff in the Office of the President at Morgan State University, as Grambling’s next president.

“I’ve got a big job ahead of me, and I really owe it to a lot of people who have paved the way,” Larkin said. “I will do my very best every day to make sure that this board’s selection of me as the president was a wise decision, and I will validate that they were right in selecting me.”

Sandra Woodley, president of the University of Louisiana System, said the board has been looking for a strong leader who will move Grambling to the next level.

“Dr. Larkin has a wealth of experiences from a lot of different universities.  I find him to be full of ideas. Dr. Larkin is also very balanced in his approach. He is very programmatic. He brings a lot to this university,” Woodley said.

Grambling’s alumni are also looking forward to working with Grambling’s next president to bring long-term stability to the institution.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Larkin to the Grambling State University family,” said Grambling State University National Alumni President Melissa Bickham. “Dr. Larkin brings a wealth of academic and transformative leadership to Grambling. He has proven himself to be an effective and entrepreneurial leader who promotes innovation, collaboration and an unwavering commitment to academic excellence and student success. We look forward to building a strong relationship with Dr. Larkin during his tenure as the ninth president of Grambling State University.”

Larkin grew up as the son of a sharecropping farmer, the oldest of eight children, whose mother encouraged him to pursue a college education, even though his father wanted him to stay and work on the farm.

Larkin received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Tuskegee University in 1973 and his master’s degree in extension education from Tuskegee University in 1974. He completed his doctoral studies in agricultural education/extension at Ohio State University in 1980.

Prior to his five years of service as chief of staff, Larkin spent four years as senior special assistant and chief of staff to the chancellor at the University of Wisconsin Colleges and UW-Extension, where he had oversight of nearly 3,000 employees and an operating budget of more than $300 million.

He also served as the faculty advisor to the Auburn University Board of Trustees and chaired a 90-member University Senate at Auburn University.  Prior to that, Larkin spent more than 20 years working as a leadership and organizational development specialist at the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Videos of the search committee meetings and interviews can be found at

A Path to Debt-Free

WASHINGTON — Seeking to put some policy heft behind the progressive vision of debt-free college that is gaining steam on the campaign trail, Senator Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday outlined a sweeping college affordability agenda to “dramatically reform” higher education.

“While not every college needs to graduate every student debt-free, every kid needs a debt-free option” at a public university, Warren said in remarks at the American Federation of Teachers.

Making college more affordable, she said, would require a boost in federal spending but also greater accountability for how colleges and states use that money — a “one-two punch” that she said should have bipartisan appeal. Warren wants a new federal program that would provide funds to states that make some public higher education options so inexpensive that borrowing would not be required, and she wants more federal funding to come with more strings attached.

“We can do it if Republicans admit that we will never have affordable college without investing more resources in education,” she said. “And if Democrats admit that we will never have affordable college without demanding real accountability in exchange for those investments.”

Warren spread around the blame for the rising college costs students currently face: some colleges’ wasteful spending on luxury amenities like climbing walls, administrative costs and extensive marketing (she reserved special criticism for for-profit institutions); state budget cuts to public higher education; and an Education Department not doing its part when it comes to consumer protection and regulating colleges.

“There are real reasons to worry about whether the Department of Education is committed to enforcing federal rules designed to help students,” Warren said, echoing the rhetoric she’s used to slam financial regulators she views as too favorable to Wall Street interests.

She criticized, for instance, the department’s “bailout” of Corinthian Colleges last year and its investigation into the loan-servicing company Naivent, which she said was “too big to fail.” She also slammed officials’ refusal turn over data and information about the performance of federal student loan programs and troubled colleges.

“The Department of Education needs to show that there’s a real cop on the beat,” Warren said. She called on department officials to “get tough.”

Warren also called for external checks on the Education Department like allowing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to review complaints relating to the federal student loans the department manages.

“We don’t trust a bank to handle its own complaints, and we shouldn’t trust the federal student loan program to do it, either,” she said.

Aside from bureaucratic improvements at the Education Department, though, Warren said the federal government’s financing system of higher education needs a fundamental overhaul. Too much federal money is flowing to colleges, she said, without any incentive for those institutions to keep prices affordable.

For-profit colleges are one culprit, Warren said, but she alluded to others, calling out amenities of residential nonprofit colleges like lazy rivers.

Warren called for greater funding of higher education from the federal government — but she said it should come with far greater accountability.

For states, Warren proposed both carrots and sticks. On the one hand, she wants the federal government to pour more money into states to prod them to create “at least one path to a debt-free college degree for all students” at public universities. At the same time, she said, states should be required to maintain a minimum level of investment in their own colleges in order to receive federal financial aid dollars.

In addition, as her own plan to refinance student loans stalls in a Republican-controlled Senate, Warren called on states to create their programs to allow existing student loan borrowers to lower the cost of their debt.

Colleges should also have to pay up when large numbers of their graduates aren’t able to repay their loans, Warren said,reiterating a call for “risk sharing” between the government and institutions.

Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the Republican who chairs the Senate education committee, similarly endorsed, in concept, risk sharing as a new accountability tool in his higher education agenda earlier this year. He’s also said that scaling back burdensome federal regulations on colleges and simplifying federal student aid are his main goals in the upcoming rewrite of the Higher Education Act.

Although there may be some alignment over holding colleges more accountable, Warren’s push for large investments in higher education is likely to face Republican opposition. She did not identify Monday how she planned to pay for the increased federal spending. Far more modest proposals — such as student loan refinancing or free community college — have not fared well in Congress.

Running Out of Time

Ten of the 16 institutions with teams facing National Collegiate Athletic Association penalties this year for poor academic performance are historically black colleges and universities.

The ratio is striking, but not surprising. HBCUs are often the hardest hit by the NCAA’s academic requirements. Last year, teams at 12 black colleges were penalized for not meeting the required academic progress rate — the NCAA’s four-year metric for measuring the academic performance of teams — and eight were banned from participating in postseason games. In 2013, 15 of the 18 teams that received postseason bans were from HBCUs.

When a new minimum APR kicks in next year, the NCAA’s standards will grow even farther out of reach for struggling HBCUs. An analysis of the most recent academic progress rates reveals that, under the new rule, more than 50 teams at 21 of the 24 historically black colleges and universities in Division I could be banned from participating in postseason games.

For the last two years, the NCAA has been phasing in the new minimum of the metric. The previous minimum for postseason play was 900. For most colleges, the standard is now 930.

HBCUs and other “limited resource” institutions have been largely exempt from that rule so far, after William Harvey, president of Hampton University, wrote a proposal in 2012 that led to the NCAA giving HBCUs more time to meet the new standard.

But time is running out. Black-college officials have just one year left to increase the APRs of their teams to 930.

There are currently two standards HBCUs must meet: a higher benchmark (925 out of 1,000) and a lower benchmark (900 out of 1,000). Teams that fall below the former in any given year are given less-severe penalties, and teams that fall below the latter for consecutive years are given stackable and more-severe penalties, such as reduction of practices and games, or even coaching suspensions.

Teams that don’t reach the 900 minimum are also banned from participating in postseason games.

In all, more than 20 teams at 10 HBCUs were penalized this year for failing to meet the current standards. About 15 teams at nine HBCUs are banned from next year’s postseason for not meeting the 900 minimum. If every team at all Division I HBCUs were expected to meet the new 930 standard, as they will be starting in 2016, the number of HBCUs facing postseason bans would more than double.

Savannah State University could face postseason bans for its football, men’s and women’s basketball, and baseball teams. Morgan State University, currently facing no postseason bans, could see bans for its football and men’s basketball teams. Prairie View A&M University, already banned in the postseason in men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, could also be banned from postseason play in football and men’s basketball.

Grambling State University — an institution once renowned for its athletics that in recent years has faced declining interest, as well as lawsuits and budget cuts — is currently in the clear with its football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams all possessing APRs above 900. None of them, however, reach the 930 minimum.

Grambling’s football team is close, however, with an APR of 927. Indeed, many HBCU teams have made improvements in recent years. At Hampton University, every major team would make the cut. At Howard University, Jackson State University and North Carolina Central University, certain teams have some of the highest APRs in their sport. Six programs in the all-HBCU Southwestern Athletic Conference have APRs in the top 10 percent of Division I.

According to the NCAA, the average single-year APR for teams at limited-resource schools is now 963, up 16 points in the past 4 years.

“The academic performance of limited-resource schools is improving faster than that of any other part of the Division I membership,” Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, said in a statement. “The goal of the academic performance program is to encourage teams to improve academically, not punish those who underperform. We will work with HBCUs and limited-resource schools to make sure their college athletes have every opportunity to succeed academically.”

Over the last few years, the NCAA has offered HBCUs financial support in reaching the new goal. Through a pilot project called the Accelerating Academic Success Program, institutions can apply for $300,000 grants. The funding goes to six different HBCUs each year.

How the money is used depends on the individual needs of an institution. An HBCU with a small number of academic advisers and tutors, for example, could use the money to hire more.

The challenge HBCUs face is not one simply of limited resources. Compared to students at wealthier, predominantly white institutions, HBCU students — athletes and otherwise — are often underprepared for the challenges of college. The average overall graduation rate at HBCUs, which tend to focus on enrolling first-generation and other nontraditional students, is about 40 percent. A 2013 study released by the NCAA found that only about 61 percent of African-American male college athletes graduate within six years. More than 80 percent of white athletes graduate in that same time span.

According to the NCAA, an APR of 930 means that about half a team is on track to graduate.

Jennifer Burroughs, a spokeswoman for the NCAA, said the association is aware of just how many HBCUs are below the new standard, but that it is still hopeful that the programs will “meet the benchmark or have a plan to do so by 2016.” The NCAA recently assembled a working group composed of officials from limited-resource institutions to generate recommendations about what can be done to help. The group’s recommendations aren’t due until January 2016.

The help is appreciated, HBCU officials said, but they said what they really need is more time to make sure what steps they’ve taken in recent years will help in the long term. At itsannual spring meeting last week, the Southwestern Athletic Conference voted to require academic support staff at member institutions to become members of the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics, a requirement that now only has one year to start showing results.

As the new NCAA rule is phased in, some teams at HBCUs are already being affected. Last week, the NCAA banned Savannah State’s women’s basketball team from playing in postseason games. The team’s most recent multiyear APR is 905. Once the new minimum is required for all sports, 10 of Savannah State’s 15 NCAA teams could face such a ban.

Under the previous rule, only the football team would have been banned from postseason play.

“When you’re in an organization, the rules are the rules, but ‘fair’ is not a word I would use to describe this,” said Sterling Steward, athletics director at Savannah State. “I think the grace period should have been extended. We are dealing with a lot of first-generation students whose transition to college sometimes is a little difficult. Our intent is to have each one of our teams reach APRs of 1,000. We want to be at 1,000. But realistically, you’re at the mercy of the students.”

Former SUNO chancellor & Southern system president Dolores Spikes dies

Dr. Dolores Spikes, former chancellor of Southern University New Orleans, who became the first woman in the country to head a university system when she was appointed president of the Southern University system, died Monday, SUNO said. She was 78.

Dr. Spikes served as chancellor of SUNO from July 1987 to November 1988, becoming the first woman to be named chancellor of a public university in Louisiana.

In 1988, she was appointed president of the Southern University System and chancellor of the Baton Rouge campus, where she was the first woman in the United States to head a university system, according to a statement from SUNO.

During the same time, Dr. Spikes was appointed to the board of Harvard University’s Institute of Educational Management in 1987. In 1994, President Bill Clinton named her to his board of advisors on historically black colleges and universities. Two years later, Dr. Spikes was named vice chair of the Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grand Universities. Later, in 1996, she became president of the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore where she served until 2001.

She was named SUS president emeritus in 1996 and Southern University in Baton Rouge created the Dolores Margaret Richard Spikes Honors College in her honor. Most recently, SUNO created the Dolores Margaret Richard Spikes Endowed Professor of Business Entrepreneurship, currently held by Dr. Frank Martin, professor and chair of Business Administration.

In 1971, she became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics from Louisiana State University after earning a B.S. degree in mathematics in 1957 from Southern University and a M.S. degree in math from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign.

Dr. Spikes served as president of the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore in Princess Anne, Md., from 1997 until 2001.

Dr. Spikes earned her B.S. degree in mathematics in 1957 from Southern. She earned a masters degree in mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and in 1971, made history by becoming the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics from LSU.

“The country, the state, the Southern University System and SUNO lost a treasure today,” SUNO Chancellor Victor Ukpolo said of Dr. Spikes. “She left an indelible legacy as a remarkable educator and leader of our time.”

Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, also mourned Dr. Spikes’ passing.

“Her brilliance was only matched by her zeal for improving the access and impact of education for a diverse array of students,” Richmond said in a statement. “Her contributions to higher education in Louis0

Black Americans killed by police twice as likely to be unarmed as white people

Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be unarmed when killed during encounters with police as white people, according to a Guardian investigationwhich found 102 of 464 people killed so far this year in incidents with law enforcement officers were not carrying weapons.

An analysis of public records, local news reports and Guardian reporting found that 32% of black people killed by police in 2015 were unarmed, as were 25% of Hispanic and Latino people, compared with 15% of white people killed.

The findings emerged from a database filled by a five-month study of police fatalities in the US, which calculated that local and state police and federal law enforcement agencies are killing people at twice the rate calculated by the US government’s official public record of police homicides. The database names five people whose names have not been publicly released.

The Guardian’s statistics include deaths after the police use of a Taser, deaths caused by police vehicles and deaths following altercations in police custody, as well as those killed when officers open fire. They reveal that 29% of those killed by police, or 135 people, were black. Sixty-seven, or 14%, were Hispanic/Latino, and 234, or 50%, were white. In total, 102 people who died during encounters with law enforcement in 2015 were unarmed.

The figures illustrate how disproportionately black Americans, who make up just 13% of the country’s total population according to census data, are killed by police. Of the 464 people counted by the Guardian, an overwhelming majority – 95% – were male, with just 5% female.

Steven Hawkins, the executive director Amnesty International USA, described the racial imbalance as “startling”. Hawkins said: “The disparity speaks to something that needs to be examined, to get to the bottom of why you’re twice as likely to be shot if you’re an unarmed black male.”

Relatives of unarmed people killed by police in high-profile incidents during the past year – including Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tony Robinson and Walter Scott – described the Guardian project as a breakthrough in the national debate over the use of deadly force by law enforcement.

“Giving this kind of data to the public is a big thing,” said Erica Garner, whose father’s killing by police in New York City last year led to international protests. “Other incidents like murders and robberies are counted, so why not police-involved killings? With better records, we can look at what is happening and what might need to change.”

The initiative was also praised by a range of policing experts and by campaigners who are urging government authorities to make the official recording of fatalities mandatory for all 18,000 police departments and law enforcement agencies operating in the US.

“It’s troubling that we have no official data from the federal government,” said Laurie Robinson, the co-chair of Barack Obama’s task force on 21st-century policing. “I think it’s very helpful, in light of that fact, to have this kind of research undertaken.”

Beginning on Monday, the Guardian is publishing The Counted, a comprehensive interactive database monitoring all police killings in the US through 16 data points including age, location, gender, ethnicity, whether the person killed was armed and which policing agency was responsible.

The Counted logs the precise location of each fatal incident, providing what is the most detailed map of police killings ever published. California, America’s most populous state, has the highest total with 74 fatalities so far this year.

However, an analysis of location data shows that Oklahoma, where 22 people have died through encounters with law enforcement, is the state with the highest rate of fatal incidents per person in 2015, at one fatality per 175,000 people over five months.

Over the weekend, Nehemiah Fischer, a 35-year-old pastor, was shot dead by an Oklahoma state trooper after getting into a fight when told to evacuate his truck in rising flood waters south of Tulsa. Police have said Fischer had a firearm but have not explained whether he was armed during the confrontation.

The database, which will combine Guardian reporting with verified crowdsourced information, has logged 464 police killings for the first five months of 2015. The US government’s record, which is run by the FBI, counted 461 “justifiable homicides” by law enforcement in all of 2013, the latest year for which official data is available.

The vast majority of deaths recorded – 408 – were caused by gunshot. Of the 27 deaths that occurred after a Taser was deployed by law enforcement, all but one involved an unarmed person.

On Sunday, Richard Davis, an unarmed black 50-year-old, died after being shocked with a Taser by police in Rochester, New York. Davis was said by authorities to have run from his truck towards officers with clenched fists after being told to put his hands up following a crash. Relatives said he was a veteran of the US marines.

The Guardian has also identified 14 officer-involved deaths following altercations in custody. The total includes Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old resident of Baltimore whose death from a broken neck sustained in a police van led to protests, rioting and the indictment of six city police officers.

Another 12 people died following collisions with law enforcement vehicles. The family of Bernard Moore, who was 62, are calling for the criminal prosecution of an officer who fatally struck Moore with his squad car in Atlanta, allegedly while speeding without emergency lights or sirens on.

By logging each law enforcement agency involved in the 464 deaths, the Guardian can also now report that the Los Angeles police department, the country’s third largest local police department, has been involved in the highest number of deaths of any local department. This year, 10 people have died in encounters with LAPD officers, of whom five were unarmed.

The Oklahoma City police department and the Los Angeles sheriff’s office were both involved in five deaths, two individuals in both of these jurisdictions being unarmed.

High-profile cases in Los Angeles, like the death of unarmed Charly “Africa” Keunang, shot dead by LAPD officers on 1 March in the city’s homeless district of Skid Row, garnered national attention.

But cases like those of Sergio Navas, an unarmed Hispanic man shot dead by LAPD officers in the same month as Keunang, after police said he stole a vehicle and was chased down, have had less media scrutiny. Navas’s family have launched an excessive force lawsuit against the LAPD and accused them of a covering up the circumstances of the 35-year-old’s death

The Guardian has also monitored whether mental health issues were identified, either by family members, friends or police following each fatal encounter. In total 26% of people killed by police exhibited some sort of mental illness, with at least 29 cases identified where the person killed was suicidal.

For example, Monique Deckard, a black woman with a long history of mental illness, was shot and killed by police officers in Anaheim, California, after she was accused of stabbing a woman at a laundromat and allegedly charging at officers. Her family had called police just hours before the attack, warning that they could not get in contact with her and that she might be trying to find a gun.

The average age of a person killed by police in 2015 was 37, but The Counted identifies a huge diversity in the ages of those killed.

The oldest, 87-year-old Louis Becker, was killed during a collision with a New York state trooper patrol car in upstate New York. Eighty-two-year-old Richard “Buddy” Weaver was killed by Oklahoma City police after he allegedly raised a machete at an officer who opened fire; neighbors later described Weaver as having schizophrenia.

The three youngest people identified were all 16 years old. A’donte Washington, a black American, was shot dead by Millbrook police officers in Alabama on 23 February during an alleged burglary after the teenager was described as pointing a weapon at arriving officers. His family have questioned the police narrative, while the city mayor described the shooting as “110% justified”.

A week earlier, on 14 February, Jason Hendrix, a white 16-year-old was shot dead in a gunfight by Baltimore County police after the teenager murdered his mother, father and sister in Corbin, Kentucky, and drove to Maryland, where he is reported to have opened fire on an officer after a car chase. Six returned fire and killed him.

A month later, on 19 March, black 16-year-old Kendre Alston was shot dead by a deputy of the Jacksonville sheriff’s office in Florida. Police claimed Alston fled from a stolen car and brandished a weapon at the pursuing official who then opened fire. Deneane Campbell, Alston’s mother, claimed in an interview two weeks later she had not been given any further details by police.

Some relatives of people killed by police said they had been unaware of the dearth of publicly available information on police-involved fatalities until their family became affected. Anthony Scott, whose brother Walter was shot dead in April by police officer Michael Slager in North Charleston, South Carolina, said the lack of public information “came as a surprise”.

“I was not informed, I was not aware, I just had an idea these situations were happening in the United States,” Scott told the Guardian. “The public need to know what is happening and be made more informed. With them being more informed they would be able to react differently, in a positive way, to make changes, to make sure some of these things don’t happen again.”

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May News

Former St. Louis Officer Breaks Down Troubling Trend That Turns ‘Good’ Cops Into ‘Bad’ Cops

These days it seems more difficult than ever to define what police officers really are.

Are they a force plagued with racism who are willingly taking the lives of Black citizens all across the nation? Are they the heroes of today who valiantly serve their communities and have now been vilified thanks to the misdeeds of a few crooked cops?

According to a Black ex-cop who spent years serving with the St. Louis Police Department, the answer is somewhere in the middle.

In an essay published by Vox, Redditt Hudson explains one theory about the entire police force that he still believes based on his own experiences in the force.

“…15 percent of officers will do the right thing no matter what is happening,” Hudson writes. “Fifteen percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70 percent could go either way depending on whom they are working with.”

It’s because, according to Hudson, the actual culture that thrives within police departments is somewhat contagious.

Whether it’s by encouraging officers to follow in the footsteps of a corrupted cop or simply pushing officers into silence as they witness discrimination and abuse, it’s a culture that can render that 70 percent of officers to easily fall into the grasps of racism regardless of their own race.

“It is not only white officers who abuse their authority,” Hudson writes. “The effect of institutional racism is such that no matter what color the officer abusing the citizen is, in the vast majority of those cases of abuse that citizen will be black or brown. That is what is allowed. And no matter what an officer has done to a black person, that officer can always cover himself in the running narrative of heroism, risk and sacrifice that is available to a uniformed police officer by virtue of simply reporting for duty.”

So while the vast majority of officers are not necessarily malicious villains, the environment created by corrupt officers and a culture of a lack of accountability could still push “good cops” to wear the mask of an evil doer on certain occasions.

It’s a part of the sheer power of corruption.

“About that 15 percent of officers who regularly abuse their power: a major problem is they exert an outsize influence on department culture and find support for their actions from ranking officers and police unions,” he continued.

He pointed to the now infamous Chicago Police commander, Jon Burge, as a prime example.

Even if you haven’t heard Burge’s name before, it’s far more likely that you have heard about thehorrendous crimes that were carried out during his time in charge.

From the 1970s to the early ’90s, Burge served as the head of an entire group of rogue cops who brutally beat innocent citizens until they provided the officers with false confessions to crimes they didn’t commit.

Many would like to believe that if any other officers knew about the band of crooked cops, they would have taken the necessary action to put an end to their reign of terror.

Hudson insists that’s a very optimistic and unlikely idea.

“How many officers ‘under the command’ of Commander Burge do you think didn’t know what was being done to these men,” he questioned. “How many do you think were uncomfortable with the knowledge? Ultimately, though, they were okay with it. And Burge got four years in prison and now receives his full taxpayer-funded pension.”

While the 15 percent of blatantly malicious cops don’t make up the majority of the force, it’s their impact on others that poses such a widespread problem in police departments across the globe.

Hudson even recounted his own experience of seeing his colleague snatch a young Black man on crutches from his home and slam him to the ground before brutally punching him in the face and groin.

By the time another officer arrived on the scene, the female officer who beat the young man told the other officers that the Black boy had assaulted her. Hudson knew that wasn’t the case and before his very eyes he witnessed the young man’s brutal arrest due to nothing more than a lie.

The unfortunate reality is that such lies are extremely common in law enforcement even though such corruption is hard for many to believe.

As Hudson pointed out, very few would have believed the story about a police officer fatally shooting an unarmed man in the back multiple times and then planting his Taser next to him to support his story of a struggle when there wasn’t one.

It’s a false story that could have easily allowed South Carolina officer Michael Slager to avoid any and all accountability while Walter Scott’s family was left burying a loved one whose life was taken entirely too soon.

But the cellphone video captured by a bystander allowed the entire nation to be reminded of the existence of dishonest police officers that have become comfortable living above the law.

“If not for that video recording that later surfaced, the report would have likely been taken by many at face value,” Hudson continued. “Instead we see that Slager shot Scott repeatedly and planted the Taser next to his body after the fact.”

For that reason, Hudson believes “every officer in the country should be wearing a body camera that remains activated throughout any interaction they have with the public while on duty.”

Redditt Hudson

In addition to police body cameras, Hudson says citizens must be made to feel comfortable filming police while on duty as long as they are not interfering with their duties.

It won’t be enough to solve the issues plaguing law enforcement but at the very least it could help hold more officers accountable for their actions.

But in the midst of such a dark realization — that the very men and women hired to protect us are easily susceptible to corruption at the hands of the theoretical 15 percent — there still remains the other 15 percent that Hudson describes.

The percentage of officers who truly want to combat police brutality, the ones who joined the force for the right reasons and the ones who truly want to dedicate themselves to finding justice for all people regardless of their race.

Many of these officers belong to the National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice, Reform and Accountability.

It’s a “new coalition of current and former law enforcement officers from around the nation” who want to “fight institutional racism in our criminal justice system and police culture,” Hudson explains.

It’s a group that serves as a glimmer of hope that perhaps one day, a system created on a systematically racist foundation, will one day evolve into true a collection of neighborhood heroes who are ready to defend and protect all citizens — including Black ones.

Who Wants to Be an HBCU President?

Would you take a job, in any industry, that requires you to run a multi-million dollar company with hundreds of underpaid employees, thousands of clients who can’t afford your product which, in the marketplace, you constantly have to defend as a worthwhile buy?

And with that job, would you also be willing to serve as the unofficial mayor of the town in which your company is stationed, because you are expected to have a stake in crime prevention, economic development, and social justice?

And by the way, you would also, in your spare time, have to serve as a political lobbyist, recruiter for new clients, and manage relationships with corporate stakeholders who typically aren’t in position to finance your company until they are near or past retirement age, those who vocally think the company is headed in the wrong direction, and the majority of which, you can’t even find to ask for their opinion.

If you wouldn’t take that job, you can imagine why people with PhDs and more sense than ego wouldn’t want it either. And somewhere in between governing boards with no fundraising desire or higher education acumen and dwindling financial resources for students, the shrinking talent pool for HBCU presidents, administrators and faculty members is becoming yet another black college crisis.

Like many students, talented black professors and executives are being recruited to predominantly white schools, government and non-profit organizations to lend their expertise and passion in far less stressful ways, in settings with far more resources. The few willing and selected to lead HBCUs soon become so disenchanted with the nature of higher education – the political backroom deals, the resistance to new strategy, the lack of resources and the reality that government is actively seeking to further reduce accessibility for students from working class and poor families, they leave and never return.

In HBCU communities, this nature which pervades white and black schools alike is always tagged as ‘black folks not being able to run a school the right way,’ simply because black schools don’t have the money or political clout to mask serious issues from becoming publicly glaring problems.

No one can serve two masters; at HBCUs, a president serves several thousand. Campus CEOs can be covertly fired by governors, state legislators and alumni, and publicly fired by faculty and students. Most presidents don’t recognize this fact until they are being pushed out of the door in disgrace and confusion, leaving the campus humiliated, and HBCU culture at large to suffer yet another presidential search with little optimism for a positive outcome.

Campuses are left typically with sobering choices in leadership outcomes. Boards choose an unqualified candidate from a barren talent pool because no one else wants the job, and retain the bad choice because it would be too embarrassing and costly to pay the outgoing president and to find a new one.

Because they don’t want to be criticized for ‘recycling’ presidents, proven and talented leaders like Mary Sias, Dianne Suber, Charlie Nelms, M. Christopher Brown II, Maurice Taylor, Keith Miller and others are hoping that a board soon comes to its senses.

And because many HBCUs continue to be allergic to youth and don’t invest in talent spotting, people like Tiffany Jones at the Southern Education Foundation, Crystal deGregory of HBCU Story Inc., William Broussard at the Southern University System, Tashni Dubroy at Shaw, Jason DeSousa at UMES, John Lee at FAMU, Adriel Hilton at Western Carolina, and Zachary Faison at Virginia Union have either not yet been recruited to, or are two years behind in their grooming to be HBCU presidents and chancellors.

Schools like Howard, West Virginia State, Coppin State, Lincoln (Mo.) Harris-Stowe State, Tuskegee, Florida Memorial, Philander Smith, Dillard, Delaware State and Paul Quinn have gotten younger, and from all indications, better by way of their selections. Other schools like Edward Waters, North Carolina A&T, Bennett and Savannah State selected more seasoned candidates, and have thrived.

There is a good president out there for every HBCU. And yes, finance, politics, and culture make it naturally difficult to be an HBCU president. But we must demand for our boards and legislators to bring in more resources and to help cultivate better search processes to find the right fit at the highest position on campus.

Because when you are offering a job nobody wants, and charging candidates to sell a product that no one can afford in a marketplace with growing options, the right salesperson is your last and most important resource.

4 Signs Your College Might Go Out of Business

Earlier this month, Sweet Briar College, a private, all-female liberal arts college near Lynchburg, Va., announced that it would shut down at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year. In a statement, the school blamed “insurmountable financial challenges” for the closure.

“[T]here are two key realities that we could not change: the declining number of students choosing to attend small, rural, private liberal arts colleges and even fewer young women willing to consider a single-sex education, and the increase in the tuition discount rate that we have to extend to enroll each new class is financially unsustainable,” said Sweet Briar president James F. Jonesin a statement.

Students, faculty, staff, and alumnae of the 114-year-old college were stunned by the news. “A piece of me is dying,” one alum tweeted.

“My daughter is heartbroken and I am absolutely disgusted with this school. She is in debt up to her knees for her first two years of school and now she can’t even finish at her school of choice,” commented Lelia Blackwell on Sweet Briar’s Facebook post announcing the closure.

Sweet Briar alumnae have already created a nonprofit organization and gathered $3 million in pledges to help save the college. These last-ditch efforts to prevent the school’s closure may be successful. But if not, the school will shut down permanently on August 25. Students will have to transfer to other schools to complete their education, and faculty and staff will have to find new jobs.

The financial situation that led Sweet Briar trustees to vote to close the school isn’t all that unique. Declining enrollments, shrinking endowments, and other financial problems are issues for many colleges across the U.S. Here are some of the warning signs that a college might be in danger of shutting its doors.

Source: Thinkstock

1. Offering too many tuition discounts

Case study: Sweet Briar College

When a college decides to close its doors, there are usually multiple underlying causes. For Sweet Briar College, one trigger was the shrinking number of young women interested in attending a small, rural school or in pursuing a single-sex college experience. But another major issue was the high number of students receiving discounted tuition.

When Standard & Poor’s revised its outlook on Sweet Briar from stable to negative in fall 2014, it cited the school’s “very high” tuition discount rate of 57% as a cause for concern, noting that it might “cause the college to rely more on already high endowment spending.” Colleges frequently offer reduced tuition in order to attract more students or to make an education accessible to people who are not able to pay the full sticker price.

Tuition discounting comes with big risks for colleges, however. “Because of high institutional discount rates and large percentages of students receiving grants that cover a substantial portion of tuition and fees, average growth in net tuition revenue per freshman has been limited in recent years” for many schools, according to a recent survey on the practice by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Less tuition revenue can put strain on a college’s finances, particularly at schools with few students and relatively small endowments, as colleges still have to pay professors, maintain facilities, and meet their other financial obligations. As with any business, if the revenue coming in is not sufficient, a college may eventually find itself in a position of no longer being able to continue operations.

Source: Thinkstock

2. Losing access to federal student aid money

Case study: Corinthian Colleges

Federal student aid is a major source of revenue for many colleges and universities, so when the government turns off the tap, it can spell disaster. At four-year public and non-profit private colleges and universities, more than 30% of first-year, full-time students received federal aid in the 2011-2012 school year. Colleges receive much of that money in the form of tuition and fees. But at private, for-profit colleges, the percent of students receiving federal aid is far higher — 76% according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which means they’re even more dependent on student loan money to stay in business.

Not just any school can receive federal student aid money. The government imposes certain institutional eligibility standards in order to ensure that money is flowing to accredited institutions that are actually educating students. If a school isn’t meeting its obligations, the federal government can make it more difficult, or even impossible, to receive federal aid money, as it recently did with for-profit Corinthian Colleges because of concerns the school was using fake job placement data in order to convince prospective students to enroll.

In June 2014, the Department of Education announced that it was increasing financial oversight of the 107-campus Corinthian Colleges chain and its subsidiary institutions, including WyoTech and Everest College, requiring the school to wait 21 days after submitting enrollment data before drawing down aid money. As a result, the Corinthian claimed it would likely “be unable to continue as a going concern.” Soon after, the company announced plans to either close or sell all its campus locations and was delisted from Nasdaq. It’s also being sued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because of its deceptive marketing practices.

Unsurprisingly, many former Corinthian students are upset about the school’s closure and feel they’ve been duped. Some are engaging in a “debt strike” and refusing to pay back the student loans they took out to attend the college. “I didn’t have debt before, and now I have to struggle to pay these loans back. I was scammed. Two years of my life are gone. I can’t get that back,” former Everest College student and debt striker Latonya Suggs told Policy.Mic.

Source: Thinkstock

3. Problems with accreditation

Case Study: Wilberforce University

Accreditation woes can spell big trouble for a college or university. The accreditation process involves a third-party review of a school’s faculty, finances, curriculum, and other qualities to make sure that a school is legitimate. “Accreditation doesn’t guarantee quality, but does provide more assurance that there is oversight regarding the instruction and their authority to issue degrees,” Susan Aldridge, a senior fellow at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities told U.S. News & World Report.

While diploma mills frequently operate without accreditation, when a legitimate college loses its accreditation, it’s often seen as a death knell for the school, particularly since students at unaccredited schools aren’t eligible for federal financial aid. Schools don’t lose accreditation overnight though. Accreditation agencies issue warnings to schools that are in danger of losing their accreditation, as the Higher Learning Commission recently did to Ohio’s Wilberforce University.

Wilberforce University, America’s oldest private historically black college, is in trouble with its accrediting agency because of its failure to address financial challenges, failure to set annual goals, and a deteriorating campus and deferred maintenance, among other issues. The Higher Learning Commission will make a final determination on Wilberforce’s accreditation status this June. If the school does lose accreditation it “would almost certainly prove fatal to the institution,” InsideHigherEd reported. At that point, it could face a fate similar to that of Morris Brown College, another historically black college, which lost its accreditation in 2002. Most students went elsewhere to earn their degrees and enrollment fell to just 35 students. The school recently sold much of its property in a bankruptcy proceeding, though it hopes to regain accreditation after it emerges from bankruptcy.

Source: Thinkstock

4. Declining enrollment

Case Study: Antioch College

Shrinking enrollment numbers is a major warning sign that a college could be at risk of closure, according to a report from the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA). “On the revenue side, small enrollments tend to be associated with lower tuition revenues and smaller amounts of private giving. On the expense side, many fixed and overhead costs are deferred through economies of scale that happen with larger enrollment institutions,” TICUA noted.

That was precisely the problem faced by Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, which shut down in 2008. Though the school had a storied history — it was founded by educational reformer Horace Mann in 1852 and was one of the first colleges in the U.S. to admit women and African-Americans — enrollment at the main undergraduate campus, which has space for 2,700 students had plunged to just a few hundred, as reported by InsideHigherEd. Low enrollment contributed to a host of other problems, including faculty and staff cuts and deferred campus maintenance, and the trustees voted to close the doors.

The Antioch story has a happy ending, though. In 2012, four years after the college closed, the Yellow Springs campus reopened, after a group of alumni banded together to purchase the campus, rights to the school’s endowment, and other institutional assets. Currently, all admitted students receive four-year, full-tuition scholarships.

Shaw University Names Dr. Tashni Dubroy President

Shaw University’s Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Joseph N. Bell announced the election of Dr. Tashni Dubroy as Shaw’s 17th

Shaw University Names Dr. Tashni Dubroy President

May 30, 2015 -Shaw University’s Board of Trustees Chairma