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.