With ongoing dialogue about rising tuition costs and dwindling job opportunities for students, Hampton University nursing student Kameron Redding is using social media to appeal for support of his dream to become a doctor.
Multiple outlets in and around Atlanta are reporting that Morris Brown College has filed a $20 million dollar bankruptcy plan in federal court, outlining details that would save much of the campus’ physical plant and operations, but yielding a portion of land to its potential corporate partner, Family Dollar. From Creative Loafing: Atlanta:
The deal, which will be defended in court on August 1, would pay off Morris Brown’s creditors to the tune of $7.5 million. Another $7.5 million would be used to pay bond holders of the properties FD LLC plans to purchase – including Middleton Twin Towers dormitory; Jordan Hall; a portion of Herndon Stadium; and a parking lot located between Mitchell Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The other $5 million would go toward the school’s operating costs after bankruptcy, which is key in the school’s quest to secure new accreditation from Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.
Officials from Morris Brown have not commented publicly on details of the plan, but residents in the area are concerned that the plan will allow for unwanted commercial development in the area. Details about the bankruptcy plan come weeks after MBC trustees rejected a proposal from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reid, a $10 million offer to MBC to pay off the college’s debts, but calling for the school to relinquish many of its physical assets.
Deans at Howard University have publicly expressed disapproval of the university’s financial management, according to a recent story in the Washington Post. The university’s Council of Deans recently wrote to Board Chairman Addison Rand to express concern with dwindling research spending, staff cuts and tuition increases that they say have put the university in jeopardy on several fronts. From the Post:
“We believe this direction places the very survival of the University at risk,” the deans wrote in the June 6 letter addressed to Howard trustees.
Howard President Sidney A. Ribeau rejected the allegations, saying the university is making tough decisions to secure its future and remains in strong shape.
“There is not any kind of mismanagement administratively or financially that is damaging the university,” Ribeau said in an interview Saturday. “Unequivocally.”
The letter comes just weeks after the publishing of a letter from Howard Board Vice-Chairwoman Renee’ Higginbotham Brooks, scolding the board and warning of potential closure without removal of leadership and correction of its fiscal planning.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley earlier this month signed legislation that will increase public funding to Tuskegee University by 14 percent. The funding will be used for development of TU’s academic profile, with specific support for its agricultural and cooperative extension programs.
The increase will total more than $9 million.
Johnson C. Smith University, one of the emerging historically black colleges in the training of professionals in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries, has received more than $600,000 from the National Science Foundation for student scholarships in the STEM majors.
The scholarships will help 96 students close gaps in funding for tuition. From the release:
“We know that college affordability continues to be a challenge for underrepresented minorities in STEM,” said Dawn McNair, principal investigator for the NSF S-STEM ASPIRE Program. “Because of the financial challenges that exist, students often pursue other means of financial support. Some may work fulltime while juggling a full STEM course load. Others may stop attending for short periods in order to make enough money to pay tuition, transfer to another institution or drop out altogether.”
While Americans continue to recover from what many are calling the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, recent college graduates find themselves buried in more debt than ever experienced by any generation in history.
According to reports by the Washington Post the average student graduates with $28,000 in student loan debt. The average is slightly higher for HBCU graduates, at $30,500, and 27 percent of blacks represent that average as opposed to 16 percent of whites.
“It’s nerve-racking,” said Jeorgie Hicks, a recent graduate of Benedict College, when asked about graduating. “It’s exciting for my family but I’m nervous because I don’t know what’s next as far as a job. I owe $60,000 in student loans and the job market for education isn’t looking too good.”
Several historically black colleges and universities were recently named to a list of institutions where students pay low-costs for education and earn relatively high salaries after graduation.
The list, compiled by AffordableCollegesOnline.com, ranked 58 schools based upon data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the Integrated Postsecondary Data System (IPEDS), and the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
7. Prairie View A&M University
13. Bowie State University
27. University of Maryland Eastern Shore
37. Langston University
38. Morgan State University
43. Florida A&M University
Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos recently donated $1 million dollars to his alma mater, the University of Baltimore. The intent behind the gift – establish a program for 80 students from Maryland’s four historically black colleges and universities to prepare for the Law School Admission Test, and for a handful of students who perform exceptionally well, a chance to attend the UB School of Law for free.
With continuing conversation about Dr. Dre‘s gift to the University of Southern California and why it didn’t make its way to an HBCU, it is this kind of philanthropy that simultaneously creates and kills opportunities for HBCU growth. Locally wealthy entrepreneurs and benefactors make opportunity available for high achieving black students, but with terms and limits that, intentionally or not, do not allow for future achievers to be cultivated at the institutions best equipped to help them reach their greatest potential.
Forget about Dr. Dre. He’s from California, connected to USC through a relationship, and he gave the school $35 million dollars. More power to him.
Administrators at historically black colleges should look ahead to the next crop of potential multi-million dollar donors. They should recruit students to blow them up on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And they should specifically look to engaging rappers, the artists who have real sway over college and high school students, brand reputation with corporate partners, and personal affinity for HBCU culture.
Some may say rappers aren’t the ideal profile of an HBCU donor. Maybe they’ll say morally reprehensible lyrics and misogynistic images in videos and performances aren’t the example to show to HBCU students, and aren’t they way to attract other donors who don’t watch and won’t appear on 106 and Park.
Pick your poison – avoid rap wealth for the sake of culturally conservative values, or deny real opportunities to students who need the funding, and will convince these same schools to pay the same rappers to appear at homecoming every fall?
If it’s good enough for USC… Here’s five that should definitely be on every HBCU’s potential donor database.