Why is Steve Harvey Partnering with Strayer University and not an HBCU?

The short answers, in order, are simple.
They asked him to do it, and then they paid him for it.

Contrary to what many alumni and students in the HBCU community believe, thinking big is not a challenge for HBCUs. It’s cultivating the resources to put big thinking into strategic action. Steve Harvey is working with Strayer University because it has the resources to make the ask and put a respectable offer on the table to have a national spokesperson with direct reach and influence over aspiring Black students.

HBCUs don’t have the resources, so they don’t make the ask. And if they did make the ask, many HBCUs would not have the infrastructure to adequately field, process and follow-up on the rush of applications they would receive as a result of the increased attention.

And before we accuse Harvey or any other Black celebrities of neglecting HBCUs by not donating their image, voice or star power to the cause, we should reflect on just how consistently Harvey and others represent for HBCUs free of charge. Much of the Black, nationally syndicated morning airspace is commandeered by authentic HBCU advocates. Steve Harvey, Rickey Smiley, Tom Joyner – all have given free airspace, free jokes, and free support for Black colleges on many occasions over many years.

It would be a safe bet that no school called and asked for the promotion. Harvey and others do it because they recognize ways to promote the HBCU brand without compromising their own. They are hard-wired to support HBCUs because they are Black men in America.

Truthfully, HBCUs need Steve Harvey to promote them about as much as Harvard needs Barack Obama to do a commercial. It’s not about what can be done to build awareness on a macro scale, but what can be done to intrigue a grassroots affinity many Black students and Black families already have for HBCUs. The history and legacy of HBCUs is hard-wired into the DNA of Black America; it is latent, and only needs to be charged with regional efforts to spur interest and confidence in what HBCUs have always done, and what they continue to do.

There are Steve Harveys all over America at the ready to support HBCUs in their communities- local newscasters, radio DJs and hosts, party promoters, chapter presidents of fraternities and sororities, preachers, entrepreneurs, and professional athletes who will do about anything within reach and reason to promote HBCUs. All HBCUs have to do is ask, and be prepared to do what it takes to build a relationship without the ‘holier than thou, Black Ivory Tower’ presentation typically associated with our schools when it comes to celebrity outreach.

If a newscaster asks you for $5,000 to host your gala – do it. Their very presence will bring you $20,000 in free media on their local affiliate. If a DJ needs $2,500 to do your homecoming party, consider it a 80 percent discount on the rates it would cost to advertise the same event on Radio One affiliates for two months.

And if the HBCU Digest asks you for advertising – you better do it: because no one else is telling your story nationally.

Strayer University can’t stay in business if it doesn’t enroll at least 40-50,000 students. HBCUs would do just fine enrolling 5-15,000 students, depending on the campus in question. It’s good business for Strayer to get Steve Harvey; and its better for HBCUs to avoid worrying about their recruitment strategy and to build our own.


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9 comments
  1. Great article! It shocked me when I saw the commercial for the first time. But, I turned to my wife and spoke your article almost word-for-word. (Reading the article, I wondered how you knew what I said.) 🙂 Your point about infrastructure to handle applications, and “getting regional” are particularly important strategies. We are “getting departmental” and working to tell the story at the department/professional level as well. HBCUDigest Ad coming soon.

  2. Yes he should be partnering with an HBCU there is no reason why he should not be. I understand marketing advertising blah blah, our HBCU need celebrities endorsing our institutions and he should be.

    1. If they do not have the monterey resource to pay for the promotion than they cannot do it. Nothing is free in life. Besides, he has promoted HBCUs and Black America continuously. It is easier said then applied. Advertisement on average cost about $433,000.That is a lot. It takes a lot of money to produce a commercial.

      1. Strayer University is far from any reputable college, and will only serve to degrade opportunity within the black community. This is not selling out because he endorsed a University that isn’t black, he is selling out because he is endorsing a private for profit university that preys on unsuspecting black people as a means to steal their money, for which they do not have.

        1. This is also false. Before you commit to spending money with any business, it is important to do your own research. If the school is not a good fit for you, you shouldn’t attend.

  3. Yea, black community has to use a black celeb to get people to go to college. What’s next, Jay-Z pushing Obamacare? Blacks, sorry but you guys ruin most things you touch, including this country.

  4. Strayer University is a for profit online university and a scam against anybody who decides to take up their coursework. The purpose of colleges such as this one is to take your money regardless to if you receive an adequate education or not. I don’t think Steve Harvey has any obligation to endorse a black university over most any other, however his endorsement is meant to target black people as a means of taking their money, so by his endorsement he is really degrading the chances of those who seek a solid education among the black community. His time and energy would be far better served in the interest of his own community if he would endorse Morehouse, where his son currently attends. Not just Steve Harvey but I believe many other blacks in positions of power should consider donating their time and influence to such a cause, to educate those who are black as a means of providing a more equal opportunity.

  5. Alex, the information you are giving is false. I graduated from Strayer University and was selected for a recent graduates program with the federal government. The requirement was a completed Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. You do the math. Strayer University is a regionally accredited institution like most traditional universities. We have the same accreditation as Howard, Georgetown, Syracuse, and Seton Hall (to name a few). The school of business is accredited through the Accreditation Council on Business Schools and programs. This is the same business school accreditation as Purdue, Troy and yes, a HBCU school, AlabamaState.

    Strayer provided an opportunity for me that HBCU schools at the time did not offer – an online program that I could do from the comfort of my own home. I have a full time job and a family. It would be impossible to take 18 hours a semester and still be there for my family and pay the bills. Strayer University has partnered with Steve Harvey to raise awareness of the opportunity the university offers. It’s
    a completely different market than an HBCU. This is a university where you can attend no matter where you live. You can attend from Alaska, New York, Florida or wherever without having to leave home. I was 27 when I started at Strayer not 18. I needed a school that I could fit into my
    life and Strayer was it. It took me an average of only 3 hours a week to complete my weekly assignments for two classes and most weeks were only a couple of discussion questions. I could finish those in about an hour and a half.

    The average age of a Strayer student is about 35 years old, in a HBCU, its 19 and 20. Most 19 and 20 year old look up to Drake more than Steve Harvey anyway. And besides,
    HBCUs do not need that this level of advertising. The experience at an HBCU is enough advertisement. I attended Tennessee State University for 3 semesters and had the best time of my life. Too bad I wasn’t disciplined enough to do
    well academically. I was focused more on the band than I was my classes. I went there because I knew the college experience would be priceless and I didn’t
    need a celebrity to convince me.

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