The Digest Five – Most Underrated HBCUs

Historically black colleges across the country are reaching new plateaus in research, community building and social impact. But sadly, the collective HBCU community tends to assign prominence to those institutions with large numbers of famous alumni, large-scale homecomings and traditionally powerful sports programs.

To shout out a few of the progressive underdogs, here’s five HBCUs that should be on your radar, and the the radar of HBCU Nation.

5. Paul Quinn College - It’s hard to make an underrated list when named the inaugural ‘HBCU of the Year,’ but PQC continues to build its national profile outside of the usual HBCU spotlight. Recently, the Qunnite Nation made headlines for its efforts to keep a civic trash dump from being relocated near its campus, and leveraged that movement with efforts to bring a grocery store to the Paul Quinn campus community, currently six miles away from the nearest food retailer.

4. University of the District of Columbia - In the shadow of the ‘Mecca,’ UDC has been among the fastest growing HBCUs in the last ten years. Aggressive efforts from President Allen Sessoms have led to the revitalization of its law program, establishment of a community college feeder institution, and programmatic improvements across its undergraduate offerings. And this is not to mention a total effort to renovation and expand campus facilities.

3. Miles College - The Golden Bears are authoring a story of revitalization for the city of Fairfield, Al. A steel mill town decimated by economic decline, Miles is the city’s largest employer and could be its most successful economic developer. Under the leadership of President George French, the institution has purchased land for campus expansion and the renovation of homes to attract middle class families and business owners to the region.

2. Fort Valley State University - Fort Valley State is emerging as a go-to institution for agricultural research and innovation. In a little over a year, the institution has received millions of dollars to train minority biotech professionals, enhance opportunities for local farmers and agricultural business owners, and has led efforts to research solutions for food sustainability and supply.

1. Claflin University - Claflin is a leader in S.T.E.M. research and production, leading national efforts in biofuel research, transportation solutions, nuclear waste disposal, and alternative energy solutions. Additionally, CU has remained competitive in SIAC athletics and has become a much relied upon resource for community political and economic development through its forums and lectures.

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  • Paul Quinn Clg. SGA

    Paul Quinn College- ‘2011 HBCU of the YEAR’. Read it and weep.

    PROUD Quinnite C/o 2012

  • Rhonu

    I agree with Miles College being on this list. I’m proud of Miles College and think that President French is doing a fantastic job taking up where Dr. Sloan left off when he passed away. The school is growing and becoming a big impact in Fairfield and Birmingham.

    Golden Bears ’81

  • Anonymous

    Paul Quinn is so underrated that it has less than 150 students. Do some research and learn the facts. The President of Paul Quinn is a great at avoiding the facts. As an alumnus of Paul Quinn it hurts me to see the direction the school has taken. If we just focus on student enrollment numbers, the facts are five years ago Paul Quinn was close to one thousand kids now we are closer to one hundred. A summer enrichment program was held a month ago for incoming freshman and only ELEVEN kids participated.  ELEVEN incoming freshman, less than one hundred and fifty students finished last semester and you name them on your underachievers list.  All I ask is for the journalist to dig a little deeper, go past just taking the President’s word for things!
    T Brown
    Paul Quinn 92

  • Sam Sneed

    I’d beg to differ on Allen Sessions impact on the UDC Law School though, it was already a well established program and has been on firm footing for at least the past 5 years.

  • Jasmine

    PROUD Fort Valley State University student! Congrats to President River and the entire Wildcat family at large!

  • Rck Da Bellz – BeSquared Group

    I completely agree with this list, except that I wish Philander Smith was on the list. A lot of people do not realize the great work that is being done over there. However, as a resident of DC… I am proud of the growth of UDC and looking forward to the future.