UAPB is Tired of Being a ‘Best Kept Secret’

A few months ago, the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff received the biggest donation in school history from Simmons Bank — a $2.5 million gift in support of upgrades to its athletics programs and facilities. No one could have guessed that the announcement would be just the beginning, and perhaps a footnote, in a summer of success for the Golden Lions community.

UAPB set a new standard in HBCU athletic philanthropy in cultivating the relationship with Simmons and securing a multi-million gift from the corporate partner. But in the weeks since the announcement, the school has quietly rolled out a number of headlines showcasing students earning research grants and competitive internships across the country in competitive fields.

Two graduates students earned $11,000 in funding from the National Board for Certified Counselors and Affiliates’ Minority Fellowship Program in addiction counseling. Global security conglomerate Northrop Grumman was recently profiled for its hiring of recent UAPB graduate Tikel Davis, and internship offers to several current UAPB students — around the same time that 10 UAPB students were announced as summer and fall internship recipients at General Motors.

In May, Physics graduate Bria Collier was accepted into the competitive Fisk University – Vanderbilt University ‘Masters to Ph.D.’ bridge program, and Mercedes Winfrey secured admission to the University of Central Florida’s optics and photonics graduate program.

A lot of HBCUs profile student and alumni successes, but these specific internships and graduate enrollment announcements are key for UAPB, a land-grant school with its academic and funding strength in agriculture, but which is clearly offering sound training in its social, natural and medical sciences programs.

And this training is being noticed by international companies and competitive domestic graduate schools.

Every HBCU has strength in one or some academic areas, and corporations are becoming more adept and discovering the secret powerhouses in HBCU communities. If you want a black engineer, most folks know to find one at North Carolina A&T, Morgan State, Prairie View A&M or Alabama A&M.

If you’re looking for a future physician or health sciences professional, go to Jackson State, Spelman or Howard. If you need great nurses or social workers, find them at Winston-Salem State, Fayetteville State, Clark Atlanta or Southern.

But these HBCUs and many others have areas of academic prowess which fly under the radar. This ‘best kept secret’ culture around some of our best programs puts the schools at a disadvantage in recruiting diverse students and attracting the corporate partnerships and public funding which can help the campuses at large to grow.

Alabama State University has a strong STEM profile, but also has among the best theatre arts programs among all HBCUs. Hampton University and Tougaloo University, also known for STEM preeminence, have historically powered regional impact in teacher training and education administration.

As online education grows and Ivy League and large state institutions offer more money to black students, HBCUs will face more pressure to show students career and wealth pathways.  This means that deans, department chairpersons, and alumni have to be more strategic in recruiting, sharing news and successes, and attracting corporate partners to specific programs and not just schools at large.

Well-kept secrets in higher education are often the worst-funded programs providing support to the greatest community needs. Hats off to UAPB for breaking its own mold to expose the wide range of career opportunities available within its gates, for companies and schools eager to come in and to find new talent.


  1. Xavier University of New Orleans is known for sending more Blacks to medical school than any school in the U. S. I was surprised that it was not mentioned above.

  2. UAPB is only the best kept secret in the non HBCU communities. HBCU alum have know about UAPB (used to be Arkansas AM&N) for a long time. The simple fact that is used to be an AM & N school before the state of Arkansas took it offer tells you that in the STEM fields UAPB was set up to train STEM graduates. Good for UAPB in securing the largest corporate donation in history and hopefully it will transfer to increase academic footprint in the HBCU community.

  3. In my opinion there are few that come.out of UAPB with the education they deserve. They are hiring people to work there who went there, my friends educations are suffering, you can’t get anything to make it through an office without a month or two of hassling people to do their job and professors have been shown to exhibit racial tendencies toward non-black students. More is expected of the superiors at this university and it is definitely behind others. I’m happy I’m going to get a degree out of my time but feel I was cheated. Maybe this money will actually be shown in the athletics progrom unlike the crappy ball fields they build with the enormous donation from Tori Hunter. What a disappointment. Oh and a decade of losing teams but not firing coaching staff….get it together UAPB. You could be too tier but too many simple minds are working for you. I’ll always consider UAPB the slum college unless some people come to this century. We are well behind the times.

  4. HBCU’s are under rated period. Every school has its challenges I encountered my fair share of obstacles while there but I’m so thrilled with the preparation it instilled for life. Proud Alum

  5. The ten interns are with General Electric (GE) Not General Motors; thanks to the hardwork of one of OUR UAPB Graduates.

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