In an interview explaining his sudden retirement decision, Norfolk State University President Eddie Moore said that his personal health and the university’s need for more energy were key factors.
But he also summed up the biggest challenge for HBCUs of the 21st century:
“It is an arms race in higher ed, and we’re at the tail end of the arms race,” he said. “We really need to increase our capabilities with nonstate money to remain competitive.”
Alumni donations will not be enough because there aren’t enough alumni with enough disposable income. Corporate donations won’t be enough because it will be harder to score big money from big companies away from big predominantly white institutions with their own shrinking budgets.
The key will be HBCUs expanding or creating their own business auxiliary opportunities. How can we live beyond the bookstore, parking passes and police-issued tickets? The answer may not be as difficult as it seems.
Two years ago, former Fort Valley State University president Ivelaw Griffith talked about the school’s efforts to bring its agricultural extension programs to commercial market in the surrounding region.
Kentucky State University will next month open a gift shop in a downtown Frankfort hotel temporarily housing students as a result of an influx of first-year student enrollment this fall.
“Every time someone comes to the state for business, they will see a Kentucky State University gift shop in the Capital Plaza Hotel,” KSU President M. Christopher Brown II told board members.
Six years ago, Hampton University purchased the tallest building in Hampton’s downtown area, which has added to the school’s portfolio of commercial space generating leasing revenue, residential and conference space.
Jackson State University’s One University Place is a valuable anchor for residential and commercial expansion in and around downtown Jackson, MS.; and is a revenue booster for a university in need of cash flow.
Other schools like North Carolina Central University have established or are in the process of establishing tech and entrepreneurial space to create synergy between the academic enterprise and entrepreneurial development for external communities.
These are just a few examples of revenue building beyond tuition and fees, but it will take much more development from more historically black campuses to lessen the impact of higher education’s bursting bubble on HBCU communities nationwide.