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The Future of Black Colleges in America

 


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It is 2020. Technology reigns supreme. Adam West stands as a great American hero. West is young, mobile, and intuitive. His scientific mind has unlimited potential. Many wonder how such an intellectual could come from a heritage academy, a descendant of historically black colleges. West understands the reason. It came from his roots.

The Situation

We came from everywhere. We arrived in Washington State. It was culture shock for many. There was a 1% black population. Our recruiters celebrated us. Yet, some people feared us. We were young, energetic, and confident. However, urban legends persisted. We weren't smart enough or good enough to be there. Some black elitists, who hailed from white institutions, appeared to despise us. In spite of it all, we succeeded in this situation. As a Southern University graduate, I had learned adaptability skills. In fact, we were given an unspoken mandate to be the very best in our fields. As a graduate of different academic institutions, I feel destined to examine the future of black colleges. Let's closely analyze this matter.

A Historical Perspective

Currently, there are only 105 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). According to one study, HBCUs make up just 3 percent of the nation's academic institutions, yet 24 percent of all US black students start at one. The principal mission is to educate black students. According to United Negro College Fund, over half of all black professions are HBCU graduates. Nine of the top ten colleges that graduate black PhDs are HBCUs. Tennessee State University (TSU) is the number #1 institution for producing black baccalaureates in agricultural related fields. National rankings praise HBCUs like Spellman College. HBCU graduates include Oprah Winfrey (TSU), Martin Luther King Jr. (Morehouse), Alex Haley (Alcorn State), Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley), P. Diddy (Howard), and Thurgood Marshall (Lincoln) to name a few. Initiated by America's segregated practices, some HBCUs have been riddled with mismanagement, declining enrollments, deterioting facilities, inadequate funding, lack of alumni support, and a lack of clear vision.

The Real Matter

Demographic shifts are transforming our society from an assimilationist to a multicultural society. According to the US Census projection, whites will make up barely 50 percent of the future population. If students attend schools without any diversity, will they be at a future disadvantage? Surprisingly, HBCUs’ populations are becoming more diverse. Nationally, white enrollment at HBCUs has climbed about 30 percent in the past several decades. Bluefield State, a HBCU, is predominately white (91%) now. The reason students are selecting HBCUs is simple. Students now realize HBCUs are less expensive, have smaller classrooms, and provide a good education.

As companies exist in hypercompetition, can we afford to leave anyone behind? Knoxville needs future workers. Vision-minded HBCUs can be a catalyst. Researchers Jorge Jeria and Gener Roth claim that black students attending HBCUs are more likely to complete a degree than those attending predominately white institutions. As an adjunct Knoxville College (KC) professor, I teach multicultural students from such areas as South America, Japan, and Africa. There are highly capable faculty and staff. Despite many pressing issues, KC provides personal and relevant learning. In fact, small colleges may represent a model for future academic institutions. Today's students want an intimate and engaging environment, not a sterile one. If HBCUs want to survive, they must have a global vision with key alliances. For example, Vanderbilt University and TSU have a strategic relationship. There are other similar arrangements. Darwinism will continue to exist. HBCUs that manage to adapt will survive. However, those that fail will exist in Black History trivia. Clearly, globalization will awake us all from our social complacency. I pray that it isn't too late.

Daryl D. Green has published over 100 articles in the field of decision-making (personal and organizational), leadership, and organizational behavior. Mr. Green is also the author of four books, including More than a Conqueror: Achieving Personal Fulfillment in Government Service. Do you want to improve your life? Do you want to make better decisions? If you answer “yes, " then go to the ‘master decision-making’ website at http://www.darylgreen.org

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