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"HBCUs Are Just As Important Today As They Were 100 Years Ago"

"HBCUs Are Just As Important Today As They Were 100 Years Ago"
Posted By: on August 08, 2008

SU chief says university facing ‘challenging times’

On the job for less than three weeks, new Southern University Chancellor Kofi Lomotey is wasting little time making forays into the local community.

Lomotey discussed the state of education for black Americans and the future of Southern on Thursday with the Baton Rouge Black Chamber of Commerce at the McKinley High School Alumni Center.

Lomotey, who previously taught at LSU in the 1990s, said it is great to be back in Baton Rouge and reconnect with the region.

But he said there is little time to waste in improving Southern and helping fight the “severe crisis” of educating young black students.

“These are challenging times for us,” Lomotey said.

Rectifying problems can only occur through working with the community, businesses and the state, he said.



Some people question the need for historically black colleges and universities in these integrated times, Lomotey said, but “HBCU’s are as important today as they were 100 years ago.”

Most black doctors come from historically black schools as do half of all black engineers, he said. Lomotey touted Southern’s nursing and engineering programs. But he said the school must do more to ensure all of its academic programs are of the utmost quality.

“These institutions (HBCUs) are attractive to (black people) in part because they see successful people who look like them,” Lomotey said.

Black people believe in their ability to thrive in that environment where they are nurtured and feel at home, he said.

One major problem is that historically black schools are “chronically under-funded” when compared to their peers, he said.

“The disenfranchisement of blacks is persistent, pervasive and disproportionate,” Lomotey said, speaking of a nationwide problem.

Black people are too often marginalized in larger public schools, he said, and end up dropping out more. Students who graduate from high school lack the reading, writing and speaking skills they did just 25 years ago, Lomotey said.
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