Former high school basketball prodigy and NBA all-star Kenny Anderson was today named head coach of the Fisk University men’s basketball team.
Xavier University of Louisiana recently announced a $1 million gift from the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Foundation to support the upkeep of the school’s chapel and merit and need-based scholarships for students from New Orleans.
The announcement preceded a $500,000 gift announced by West Virginia State University from the John L. Dickinson Family in support of the school’s soon-to-launch undergraduate nursing program.
They are just two gifts from families with ties to the cities and states where these HBCUs are located, but they are a positive sign of how HBCUs nationwide can find new support from diverse groups of advocates.
Restaurateur Roland Parrish has donated $3 million to Fisk University to establish an on-campus career development and conference center. School officials say the gift, one of the largest in school history, will support the construction of the Roland G. Parrish Center for Career Planning and Development.
Fisk University officials announced yesterday that the institution has surpassed more than $14 million in total fundraising over the last two years, thanks in large part to increased alumni giving.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) has removed accreditation warning statuses from Fort Valley State University and Southern University, affirming full status for both institutions.
We discuss student angst at Fisk, police controversy at Prairie View A&M and HBCU economic impact.
Current and soon-to-be students at Fisk University are weighing in on the dismissal of three admissions officers from the university this afternoon, as officials also detailed a 12-month accreditation probation status announcement from the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities’ Commission on Colleges.
Students took to social media to protest the layoffs of Stephanie Corey, Brittany Spicer and Juliet Johnson — two admissions counselors and the dean of admissions, whom some students credited with their individual recruitment to the university.
— briscoe (@ayefamitsty) June 13, 2018
Ms. Corey was there through every step of my admission process. She was the one person I knew and could depend on the moment I stepped on campus and she stayed checking on me throughout the year. How do you get rid of someone who cares about the students that deeply? #savefisk
— amari (@poeticpsyche_) June 13, 2018
We are filled with major disappointment with the decisions that have been made today. Again, this is more the reason we are losing faith in this “reconstruction” process. I feel like all of Fisk hard earned work is about to be swiped away. @FiskPres #SaveFisk #SaveFiskAdmin
— J. Denise ✨ (@MissJDenise) June 13, 2018
You ripped apart the most reliable office on campus. But the people in the business office that take collective lunch breaks at 11 when they only been working 2 hours, still have their jobs. #QTNA???? #saveFisk
— Dr. Chala ????????????????⚕️ (@Chala_Knechele) June 13, 2018
please repost using hashtag #savefisk so we can help bring our admission staff back ! If it wasn’t for them then our process would’ve been so difficult & most of our class wouldn’t have even chose this hbcu. WE ARE THE FUTURE OF FISK , WE DESERVE TO BE HEARD
— Precious Peach ✨???????? (@lifeofpeachy) June 13, 2018
University officials did not address the dismissals, but in a release discussed university-wide growth in enrollment, fundraising, and capital renovations which would position the school for full status restoration in 2019.
“Prior to accepting the presidency in 2017, issues affecting the institution resulted in the SACSCOC Board of Trustees requesting the institution submit two monitoring reports,” said Dr. Kevin D. Rome, Sr. “The decision was largely based upon data from fiscal year 2014-2015 and does not reflect the diligent and collective work done over the past years nor does it reflect the positive progress Fisk University has made in containing expenses and increasing our revenue streams.”
A few weeks ago, the University of Massachusetts System made headlines when it allowed its flagship campus in Amherst to buy a cash-strapped private liberal arts school, Mount Ida College, for $75 million and an extra $11 million to satisfy the outstanding debts which would’ve sent the college into bankruptcy without the purchase.
The deal will convert Mount Ida into an undergraduate workforce development extension of the Amherst campus, which enrolls more than 30,000 students. It drew criticism from stakeholders of its sister campus, UMass-Boston, which has struggled in recent years to sustain enrollment and to survive massive budget cuts.
The fight for UMass-Boston got even harder this week, when system officials announced that the school’s presidential search would be indefinitely postponed after the three finalists for the position, two of them African Americans, all withdrew from the search following extensive criticism from faculty.
Basically, it is a metropolitan campus waging war against a system for building up its flagship campus, while its most diverse campus languishes from a lack of resources and perceptions of disrespect.
The story is important because public higher education systems across the country are concerned with saving money and building preeminence to compete for students, grants and contracts, and branding. It is critical for HBCUs because if it grows as a common practice among other systems, it could mean easier paths to the consolidation of HBCUs and predominantly white institutions, or struggling private HBCUs making deals to satisfy debts and to pay off executive stakeholders.
HBCUs with low enrollment and high debts are at risk for states’ merger considerations and deal making from private investors. And not surprisingly, many of the cities and counties where struggling HBCUs are located are among the fastest-growing areas for residential and commercial real estate.
St. Augustine’s University has cut dozens of positions, sold and leased campus properties and has seen enrollment drop by more than 500 students since 2012. It is in the second year of accreditation probation for problems with finance and institutional effectiveness. At the same time, Raleigh has emerged as a thriving market for commercial and residential real estate development. From the News & Observer:
Since 2014, an average of 1 million square feet of office has been built each year, a rate that puts the Triangle on pace to exceed 50 million square feet of space by 2020, putting it on par with the amount available in Charlotte, said Paul Hendershot, director of research for the Carolinas.
On top of that surge in office construction, more than 13,000 apartment units are expected to be built by 2020 to absorb all of the new transplants attracted to the area for jobs. Local officials often cite the fact that 63 people are moving to Wake County per day and 20 to Durham. That growth has brought a lot of change to the area and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future.
Stillman College faces an extraordinary uphill battle in securing financial stability, but Tuscaloosa’s economic development prospects are booming in large part because of growth at the nearby University of Alabama. From the Tuscaloosa News:
With UA’s student enrollment jumping from about 33,000 in 2015 to almost 40,000 in 2017, construction of student housing and apartment projects hasn’t slowed down.
Currently, the development called “My House on the 50” — a 44-units, 155-bed development with four stories of apartments and 2 stories of above-grade parking is under construction at Frank Thomas Avenue and Eighth Street.
And The Hub at Tuscaloosa, a 188-unit, 485-bedroom development that’s expected to reach almost 75 feet in height is now going up on Red Drew Avenue just off the Strip.
Flagship institutions are no longer competing with smaller niche schools or even fellow campuses within their own systems. They are buying them or buying everything around them to expand their geographic imprint, in order to compete with other states in the race to be one of the 1000 or so campuses that will likely survive the bursting of the higher education bubble.
Private schools like St. Augustine’s and Stillman, for all we know, may have already struck deals for loans or consolidation or buyouts with larger institutions, developers, or cities to annex their land and facilities upon the announcement of an accreditation revocation, or a capital loan default.
Schools like Cheyney University, Elizabeth City State University and even Fisk University are in prime real estate markets and surrounded by aggressive public systems of higher education, with players from both worlds waiting for trustees and/or legislators to say ‘yes’ to the right number to transform hundreds of years of black history into multi-million dollar investment properties.
UMass-Boston may be hundreds of miles away, but its fate is right at the doorstep of several proud HBCUs.
Fisk University Trustee Robert W. Norton and his wife Janice have donated $1 million to the school’s general scholarship fund, following a movement of increased philanthropy at the historic private HBCU.
Fisk University last week debuted its campus-based Center for Financial Advancement, a community resource which will help students and employees of the university and members of the Nashville metropolitan area with financial planning and awareness.
As part of its mission, the Center for Financial Advancement seeks to provide education in the areas of money management, credit management, and homeownership while also providing education and career preparatory opportunities to position participants for careers in the mortgage industry.
“It’s important that we seek opportunities to educate our students, staff, and members of the community about non-traditional, highly lucrative fields where minorities continue to be underrepresented,” said Kevin Rome, Sr., Ph.D., president of Fisk University. “As consumers who engage in the banking and mortgage industry, minorities should equally benefit from the wealth that is created by the industries. This partnership will hopefully lead to a model that funnels more minorities into careers that benefit our community and the American economic engine.”
The Center, developed through a partnership between the university and a coalition of banking and nonprofit partners, will offer educational opportunities on credit management and homeownership, while also offering training for careers in mortgage banking. From a release:
At a glance, the Center for Financial Advancement will provide:
- An annual series of five seminars conducted jointly by HomeFree-USA, and mortgage banking leaders.
- The curriculum will include banking and savings basics, mortgage lending, student loan debt, homeownership, credit reports, overall financial capability, and most importantly, enriching information about mortgage industry opportunities.
- Students who complete the entire series of seminars will receive a Certificate of Financial Readiness signed by the leading sponsors.