So this is graduation weekend in my part of the country. That image on the left is from the Morehouse website.
And as always I reflect a bit on my undergrad and grad years. Thank God I had the chance to go and finish two universities. Thank God that there are many more students getting that chance as well.
One regret, if you can call it that, is that I would have loved going to one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the U.S. for undergrad. Or any private school for undergrad. And then the large public for grad school. Not the way I did it -- large public first, then small Catholic private for grad. Yeah. Silly. I can't change the clock now. But I often wonder, what if?
I personally think small privates or HBCUs are a wise investment of time and money. Even some of the large weekly newsmagazines have called campuses such as Spelman or Morehouse or other HBCUs a wise investment for students and parents.
Culturally, you get in touch with yourself, your history. Academically, you're in smaller classes which is always a good thing. Care-ethic wise, smaller campuses give you more attention and that ethic of care and being cared for. Connection-wise, I hear and see so many positive stories of people who've met the folks they continue to network and do business with... all due to their HBCU experience.
Last week I listened to Johnetta Cole and others talk about the strengths and challenges facing our HBCU institutions.
The scholars were very proud of the fact that HBCUs overwhelmingly graduate the students who become black doctors, lawyers, dentists, and government officials. They graduate black leaders, not just people who are leading blacks (a nice phrase I picked up from a Jesse Jackson talk a while back.) As well, proud that these institutions continue to survive in the midst of budget cuts, lower enrollments, and competition for the best and brightest with other institutions.
On the other hand, they're not bringing in the money like their larger, historically whiter campus counterparts. One statistic shared was that Harvard has an endowment (investments and cash reserves for scholarships, buildings, etc...) of around $30 billion, while the combined endowments of ALL the HBCUs is around $1.8 billion.
The enrollment numbers vary from campus to campus, but we're not sending our kids to HBCUs like we used to. And, faced with lower black student enrollments, many HBCUs are actively recruiting Latina/o and Asian American students to help fill the gap. That new recruitment strategy put some black academics and student affairs types in some serious cognitive dissonance. Other communties are starting to see the dollar and educational value of HBCUs.
Anyway, what's your take on HBCUs? You attend one? Or thinking of it? What's your take on the new recruitment strategies some HBCUs are utilizing? All that... Have a good weekend!
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