Testimony, Commentary, and Reports

Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation

The report of the Committee on Underrepresented Groups and the Expansion of the Science and Engineering Workforce Pipeline; Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy; Policy and Global Affairs; National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine was recently released. Chaired by University of Maryland Baltimore President Freeman Hrabowski, the report discusses the need for a more diverse science and engineering workforce in order for the Nation to regain global competitiveness and achieve our national research, innovation, and workforce diversity goals in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  The report has interesting public policy ramifications for HBCUs, especially the 14 that are graduating and sending roughly 30% of African Americans to graduate school in engineering and the sciences. Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation recommends that “the federal government, industry, and post-secondary institutions work collaboratively with K-12 schools and school systems to increase minority access to and demand for post-secondary STEM education and technical training.” The NAFEO Nation might suggest that the federal government invest proportionately more dollars in those institutions that are graduating proportionately more African Americans and other traditionally underrepresented students in STEM. What about the possibility of establishing and seeking federal funding for $2 endowed chairs in STEM on the campuses of the HBCUs doing the heavy lifting in graduating students in STEM. These institutions are graduating proportionately more African Americans in STEM in spite of their proportionately smaller budgets and smaller endowments.

November 1, 2010 EPI News Report, Raises Prospect of Possible Increase in Student Default Rates

Algernon Austin, who heads EPI’s Program on Race and Ethnicity discusses data that suggest that African American student default rates could soar because not onlywill students who fail to complete college struggle with paying back loans, but in today’s economy, so too will those who do finish. This, according to Austin is due in large measure to the gulf between the numbers of African American college graduates who get jobs and their White counterparts. Austin examined the unemployment rates for 16 to 24-year-olds who graduated from high school or college in 2010 and found that 31.3% percent of recent African American graduates are unemployed, an 11 percent increase since the beginning of the recession.

This report has some particularly disturbing ramifications coming as it does just as colleges are taking over the student loan programs in the direct loan framework. Some well respected economists opine that HBCUs will be faced with rising delinquency rates, in large part because of the weak labor market.

Click Here to Read Web Version of the Report.