Over the last 20 years, Dr. A. James Hicks has helped more than 600,000 minority scientists to earn bachelors and advanced degrees in STEM fields. We talk with him about his STEM background and how the federal government has helped to diversify STEM professions.
Archives for August 2017
Officials at North Carolina A&T State University announced yesterday a fall enrollment total of 11,877 students, the largest student body in the flagship HBCU’s history and the latest benchmark in the school’s vision of reaching more than 13,000 students by 2020.
According to a release, this year’s first-year student cohort added a record 2,300 students entering with an average 3.5 GPA. More than 820 transfer students and 1,500 master’s and doctoral level students comprise the new Aggie student body standard, which positioned the land-grant university as the largest historically black college in the nation in 2014.
“The growth we’re experiencing this fall illustrates how much students, parents and families want to be part of the North Carolina A&T experience,” said Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. “We deliver an education that not only prepares our students for rewarding careers in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, we deeply value each and every individual who entrusts us with that responsibility. Our students know that their success matters here.”
Officials attribute the growth to the university’s competitive degree offerings in engineering, nursing, and biology. The news accompanies a new study which finds A&T as one of the nation’s top universities for faculty diversity in business disciplines, and weeks after announcing its record-breaking 2016-17 academic year in sponsored research funding.
Delaware State University made history last year as the first historically black university to welcome a class of undocumented students through the national DREAMERS scholarship program. This year, the university has announced its second cohort of 47 students to begin their college careers in Dover.
The program awards high-achieving students up to $80,000 towards the completion of an undergraduate degree, if they are from states which prohibit undocumented students from enrolling or claiming in-state residency. Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi are the HBCU states included on this ‘locked-out’ list.
The scholarship recipients are undocumented immigrants who as children came with their parents to the United States and attended public schools. Last year’s inaugural cohort maintained a cumulative 3.7 GPA, a goal that this year’s group hopes to emulate.
Dilan Lozano, a Mexico native who came from Georgia, said his family’s struggles give him a lot of motivation.
“It’s hard for my family to get good jobs,” said Mr. Lozano, who is majoring in Management in the concentration of Marketing. “My brother is a welder, so I would like to start a business with him. I also want to get into real estate.”
The University of Virginia’s Miller Center has released audio tapes of former US President Lyndon B. Johnson discussing Lincoln University alumnus and acclaimed civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall as a potential candidate for appointment to the US Supreme Court in 1967.
The release honors Marshall’s confirmation to the court on this date 50 years ago.
— Miller Center (@Miller_Center) August 30, 2017
With just over 1,400 new and returning students committed on campus this fall, Elizabeth City State University can claim its first year-to-year enrollment increase in the last seven years and its largest freshman class in the last five year.
Officials attributed the increase to partnerships with regional community colleges and extensive work in recruiting transfer student processing.
“While I must make it absolutely clear to everyone involved that one uptick in fall enrollment can’t be interpreted as a trend, we will take a moment to celebrate this accomplishment because it is the first time in seven years that ECSU has seen an overall increase in enrollment,” said ECSU Chancellor Thomas Conway.
The increase coincides with ECSU’s new exclusively online Interdisciplinary Degree Program, which offers students, and particularly active duty military members, a chance to complete coursework remotely and to be enrolled full-time.
“We are a learning organization. We learn from our failures and our successes. This year has been no exception,” said Chancellor Conway. “We have identified a lot of things we can do better and we will be making adjustments in order to improve. We still have a lot of work to do.”
The increase posts a year before the school is scheduled to offer in-state students $500 per semester, as a part of the state’s higher education access plan, and two weeks after the debut of its new university logo and motto.
Lataisia Jones recently became the first African American woman to earn a PhD in biomedical sciences from Florida State University’s College of Medicine, setting a new standard for the school’s diversity efforts and boosting the narrative on HBCU excellence in training STEM professionals.
A Suffolk, Va. native who earned her baccalaureate and master’s degrees at Virginia State University, talked with WTKR in Hampton Roads about her accomplishment.
“It’s 2017 and still an African American being a first has created such honor and motivation and inspiration. I’m talking to people in Tennessee, or California, or other countries and they’re asking me for tips about biomedical programs, putting up with long hours in the lab and asking what kept me interested and driven. I think it’s wonderful.”
Dr. Lataisia C. Jones has become the first African-American student to graduate from Florida State University with a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences. She bravely follows in the footsteps of those women who have come before her, while creating her own path in the field of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
The University System of Georgia generated nearly $17 billion dollars of economic impact for Georgia last year, accounting for more than three percent of new jobs created, and giving the economy $1.52 cents for every dollar spent on higher education.
The state’s three public historically black colleges, Albany State University, Fort Valley State University and Savannah State University, accounted for more than $632 million of that impact, just over six percent of the total output from 28 research, comprehensive and lower-tier institutions.
In the last several years, Georgia has been a national leader in the aggressive consolidation of its schools, with seven total mergers since 2011 and two future mashups on deck. Two of its HBCUs have been directly impacted by the culture of consolidation – Albany State, which merged with Darton State College to create a “new” Albany State University, and Savannah State, the largest of the three black colleges which will soon exist in the shadows of a consolidated Armstrong State University and Georgia Southern University.
It is a little too early to tell what will happen with this new culture of spending efficiency and decreased emphasis on institutional missions. Albany State saw a 12 percent enrollment drop before consolidating with Darton State’s 24 percent decrease in 2016, and Savannah State is just a few miles away from Armstrong State, which outpaced SSU in economic impact by more than $60 million and is about to get bigger by way of its GSU merger.
Armstrong State University and Savannah State University contributed more than $400 million to the local economy during the fiscal year 2016 and provided nearly 5,000 jobs, according to recent study conducted by the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.
It is not the prettiest of pictures for HBCU culture in Albany and Savannah, but at least we know that today, both institutions are safe from closure. But what about Fort Valley State? The university is highly regarded for its regional and national imprints in agricultural research and extension, helping to build capacity for black farmers, and quietly earning millions in funded research for food preservation, crop protection, and reducing food allergies.
Wildcat athletics is a major driver for Middle Georgia’s tourism prospects, and the university provides nearly all the area’s African American cultural curation and exposure. But FVSU is among Georgia’s hardest hit colleges in enrollment, budget cuts and now, economic impact. Seven schools recorded lower economic impact than FVSU, and with nearby (also consolidated) Middle Georgia State University offering more than $100 million more in economic impact than FVSU, what is the future of the campus?
We’ve seen the impact of proximate consolidation on SSU, which last year dropped to NCAA Division II citing cost concerns.
Not every consolidation to wipe out an HBCU has to be a literal merger or institutional absorption. Sometimes states can sit one large, predominantly white institution miles away from a small historically black school and let budget cuts and human nature take care of the rest. It appears that the USG traded one HBCU to all but eliminate two others – a bigger Albany State for a decimated Savannah State and Fort Valley State.
For a state where HBCU graduates and supporters worked so hard to stop blatant attacks on their schools, it is sad that their work is being undone by more covert approaches from higher education officials, with almost no opposition to the destruction.
Coppin State University earlier this month announced a new initiative to give graduates of a nearby community college admission pathways and free tuition at the four-year HBCU. To most, the program appears an obviously overdue partnership which can benefit Baltimore City’s marginalized communities in great ways.
But to those of us high-level cynics of the University System of Maryland and its record mistreatment of HBCUs, the partnership is a point of real concern for a state actively doing all it can to avoid a potential $2 billion judgment for historic, federal discrimination against these schools.
Coppin and Baltimore City Community College have enjoyed for years partnerships to help students transition from technical to professional education. The free tuition plan comes just two years after Coppin launched a STEM development and sharing partnership with the University of Baltimore, a predominantly white former commuter school which has transformed into a four-year undergraduate and professional training powerhouse.
A federal judge said that UB was a major element of the successful discrimination suit against the State of Maryland’s “shameful history” of undermining HBCU expansion through program duplication.
These three schools – Coppin, UB and BCCC – have long been privately rumored and publicly discussed as candidates for merger – likely into the University of Baltimore. With long and well-known struggles with enrollment, retention, and finding academic niches of success beyond nursing and criminal justice, Coppin is turning the corner – in part because of support for a president Maria Thompson, several new buildings built across the campus in the 12 years since the lawsuit was filed, and the promise of partnerships like these.
With the growth, it may be hard to see the state avoiding the mess of turning three schools into University of Baltimore-branded properties, especially in this racial and social climate. But it is easy to see the foundation being laid for it, and to understand that schools don’t have to share a name to fulfill a function.
BCCC is in local headlines for its struggles and the head of the team responsible for navigating the school’s turnaround? UB President Kurt Schmoke. Students from Coppin and UB share resources and faculty, with more partnerships on deck.
It is reasonable to assume that the three schools could eventually function as a feeder system for under-resourced minority students in Baltimore City, with UB as the greatest degree-granting partner and Coppin maintaining but a few niche areas. Coppin will persist, largely through the identity it can forge through its athletics and outreach efforts to some of Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods.
But it will never get a chance to be a city or state leader in any specific professional area supporting the local economy, it may never expand beyond 5,000 – 6,500 students which can attract thousands of out-of-state students, and it may never become the anchor institution West Baltimore desperately needs. It will always be the transitional gateway to a larger, better-resourced UB with more degree programs at undergraduate and graduate levels, and more workforce pipelines in the city.
It’s a plan which yields none of the messiness associated with a full merger or consolidation, but all the impact of one institution slowly dying, while another uses it to attract more minority student and faculty talent.
A member of the HBCU All-Star Ambassadors program is joining the national call for the White House to postpone its annual conference for historically black institutions, citing dysfunction and unmet promises on HBCU in the West Wing.
Omarosa Manigault: Postpone the 2017 White House HBCU Week Conference!
Tiffany Brockington, a Howard University alumna and 2016-17 All-Star, tweeted recently about the concerns surrounding the conference, namely, the hiring of an executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, and a lack of communication between the ambassadors and White House officials overseeing HBCU engagement.
Postponing the 2017 White House HBCU Week Conference is a prudent gesture.
We need an Executive Director who will have a chance to understand the current state of the White House Initiative on HBCUs.
We also can’t risk our Presidents or Stakeholders pulling out of the Conference, in any capacity, see @UNCF ‘s letter.
The conference has been a lightning rod in recent weeks, drawing concern from advocacy and legislative HBCU leaders in public letters, and private commitments from many HBCU presidents who say that they are unlikely to attend given the leadership status of the WHI, and perceptions about President Donald Trump and his recent actions on subjects with racial overtones.
So how did we get to this point? Trump’s motives are easy to understand. For one thing, Arpaio, with his racism and authoritarianism, really is his kind of guy. For another, the pardon is a signal to those who might be tempted to make deals with the special investigator as the Russia probe closes in on the White House: Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.
The conference is scheduled to be held Sept. 17-19 in Arlington, Va. As of this publishing, the petition has collected 78 signatures.
Florida A&M University took an early lead and never looked back against Texas Southern University, rolling to a 29-7 victory in the school’s inaugural Jake Gaither Classic – the official kickoff of 2017 the college football season.
HBCUGameday.com recapped the action.