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HBCU's Are Still Relevant

HBCU
Posted By: Reggie Culpepper on October 01, 2010

Writing an opinion published in the September 28, 2010 issue of the Wall Street Journal, Jason L. Riley titled his commentary “Black Colleges Need a New Mission: Once an essential response to racism, they are now academically inferior.” To counter Mr. Riley's commentary, ReelUrbanNews.com spoke exclusively with the leaders of three Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Dr. David L. Beckley, President of Rust College, Dr. Ernest McNealey, President of Stillman College, and Eloise Alexis, Vice President of Spelman College.

"To see young people come in and to know their background, seeing the hesitation that they bring to the table, then to see them walk across the stage in three to four or even sometimes six years and go out and make a name for themselves and in turn make a name for Rust College, we are pleased to say that we have been producing leaders throughout the spectrum of higher education and the world of work both internationally and in this country."

Dr. David L. Beckley, President, Rust College

"What we do at Spelman is really educate women who will go forward and problem solve in this world. It’s not just about titles and jobs, although whether its Rosalyn Brewer, who is head of Wal-Mart or Kim Davis who is over J. P.



Morgan - Chase Foundation, they are in these large positions, but yet they’re also tackling the problems of the world. Providing women with an excellent academic education regardless of their means is an exciting thing, and if being ranked the number one HBCU allows us to continue to educate in greater quantity, then by all means we want to remain there."

Eloise A. Alexis, Vice President for College Relations, Spelman College

“Being president of an HBCU is both an honor and a significant challenge. We are charged on a regular basis to turn water into wine and then there are some occasions when we have to make the water as well. The joy is that we graduate people and start them in a direction where they make a tremendous difference to the American economy, to the American democracy, and the greater good throughout the world. The challenge at large is the lack of information and appreciation for what these institutions are about, not only in our community, but in general.”

Dr. Ernest McNealey, President, Stillman College

West Coast based, ReelUrbanNews.com is an original video content driven website designed to provide its viewers with the absolute best in original programming. Its founder, Michael Reel, is a 1992 graduate of Rust College. To see the complete interviews go to ReelUrbanNews.com.
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Steven jones
Amherst Col class of 1990
Criticizing HBCUs performance, vis à vis Historically White Institutions (HWIs), is constructive only if their output is to be constant or a static business model. This is not the plan.

All blogs to date, challenging HBCU’s relevance have omitted or ingnored:

The New Narrative for HBCUs
The President’s 2020 Degree Attainment Goal

The two are interrelated. If the nation is to close the troubling degree gap, a shortage of 22 million degrees if we stay on the current production trend-line by 2025, we need better performing institutions, not fewer. The fact is that there are 1.2 million dropouts according to organizations like The Education Trust. 90 percent are African American and Latino students who need to enter institutions with faculty and administrators that have a keen insight into their world as first-generation, low-income college students of color. The mentoring edge Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) like HBCU have is a valuable attribute. What other institutions are better equipped at absorbing hundreds of thousand of underserved students of color in the pipeline? The challenge before us requires an “all-hands-on-deck” approach.

HBCUs have done and will continue to do the heavy-lifting in providing higher education to this segment of our population, albeit with a new business model. We all know that academic attainment has a functional relationship with income. For America to increase its competitiveness and income in our flatter world, we must maximize the capacity of the infrastructure available and recognize that institutional diversity is a useful thing.

Perhaps it would be more direct for Messrs. Riley and Vedder to challenge President Obama’s 2020 initiative and the supportive New Narrative for HBCUs first, rather than its instruments. HBCUs’ performance and role will not be as it was in the last four decades. They are evolving into a crucial source of investment in innovation (N.B. www.iercef.org, the Study Abroad/Global Engagement Consortium) and outreach. HBCUs are dynamic. Yet, when has it ever been easy to critique Presidential initiatives or dynamic models?

Steven W. Jones
President/CEO
IERC Education Foundation

Monday, October 18th 2010 at 3:28PM
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