On Friday morning, AEI hosted a discussion on the state of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and what challenges and opportunities await them on the road ahead. AEI’s Gerard Robinson moderated a distinguished panel of leaders and practitioners in HBCUs and higher education, including Lezli Baskerville of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, Michael Lomax of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Johnny Taylor Jr. of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and Beverly Wade Hogan of Tougaloo College.
Dr. Lomax discussed the innovative steps that UNCF is taking through its Career Pathways Initiative to improve student pathways in higher education toward faster degree completion and more seamless career transition. Ms. Baskerville emphasized the need to change the prevailing narrative surrounding HBCUs to properly reflect the demographic, academic, and entrepreneurial diversity of their student populations and institutional impact. Mr. Taylor urged that advocates and leaders must be constructively critical and clear-eyed about the hard questions facing HBCUs if they are to not only survive but also thrive in the century to come. And Dr. Hogan illustrated the ways that Tougaloo College and other HBCUs are adapting to better suit the new and emerging needs of their students and faculty while retaining a commitment to their traditions and historical legacy.
For at least 150 years, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have been an important part of America’s higher education system. And while HBCUs face the same financial and regulatory challenges as other postsecondary institutions, their role in preparing first-generation students, lower-income students, and students of color for the ever-changing demands of the workforce and graduate school warrants unique attention by lawmakers and philanthropy.
On Friday, May 26, AEI will host an expert panel to discuss the state of HBCUs today, what higher education can learn from them, and opportunities and challenges that might await them in the future.