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NAFEO President Baskerville Responded to Questions Posed By Liann Herder, Staff Reporter, Diverse Issues in Higher Education

(1) What were you hearing from HBCUs between the first McKenzie Scott Investment in HBCUs and her next investment; and ( 2) What precipitated the ushering in of the new wave of giving?

Expressions of jubilation, exhilaration, new hope, and profound gratitude for what for most every grantee was an historic gift that came in the midst of tremendous storms: the worst public health crisis to grip the nation and the world unveiling for some and affirming for others the tremendous disparities in health access, health care, and the need for many more diverse health providers, in America and worldwide; an employment, wage, income, economic and wealth gap crisis that threatened the foundation of so many families and communities; and a crisis in American democracy. The timing of the gifts could not be better; and

The above-referenced crises, the growing anti-democracy movement that included a return to the post-Reconstruction level of assaults on the right to vote, and the heightened injustices visited upon those of least advantage, and disproportionately Black and Brown people by government actors, gave rise to the Black Lives Matter Movement. BLM in no small measure, created the atmosphere for people to hear the messages of NAFEO, its stakeholders, and its sister associations, that moved stories about the centrality of HBCUs to American progress from the Style Sections of newspapers to the front page, education pages, political pages, business/economic pages. The coverage amplified the messages we have been documenting with data that bear out the fact that America cannot have an excellent, diverse workforce, service corps, teacher corps, diplomatic corps or a strong, peaceful, and just nation without thriving HBCUs.

BLM created the attention in the streets that we needed in the executive, legislative, judicial, business, labor, and philanthropic suites to show America how to evidence its understanding that Black Lives Matter.

The McKenzie Scott investments in HBCUs, came on the heels of the $34 million investment by Morehouse Alumni Robert Smith, the annual investments by your entrepreneur Nicholas Perkins, a Fayetteville state University and Howard Business School alumni, of millions of dollars in alma mater, in other HBCUs and in his businesses that are primarily staffed by HBCU alumni, and in the wake of the stated commitment from the Biden Administration to invest $45 billion in HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in the American Infrastructure Act for research enhancement (which has sadly been negotiated down to $2 billion as of this writing). Her gifts are reflective of a growing national understanding of the central role HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs play and must continue to play in resolving many of the challenges that threaten the general welfare and prosperity of our country, e.g., the pandemic, health disparities, and the health crisis; the economic crisis, the crisis of conscience, and myriad crises that gave rise to a domestic insurgency.

(III) What do HBCUs need to do to make themselves stand out so that other investors looking for the best return on their investments will choose to invest in them. It has been documented time and again that only those persons and institutions that have a compelling online presence will be funded. Our institutions and all others must have an updated, compelling online presence. They must clearly define their mission, vision, values, unique niches, priorities and returns on investments online and in every opportunity they have to engage formally or informally with others.

Four diverse HBCUs come immediately to mind that do an especially good job of positioning themselves to stand out, and that do a tremendous job of preparing students to lead in growth and high need disciplines and importantly, preparing their students to use their gifts and newly minted skills or education, to improve the lives of others, especially those who have least among us and to promote justice, be courageous, loving, just and impactful beings. These are just four of so many of our other HBCUs that should be recipients of substantial investments from philanthropists, because of their unique niches in the industry, and their return on investments:

Benedict College, a private historically Black, liberal arts college in Columbia, South Carolina, founded in 1870 by northern Baptists. It is today a comprehensive liberal arts college. The Benedict College tagline is, “The HBCU the put the BC in HBCU.” The “BC” is synonymous with their identity as a Black College. In the wake of Covid-19, “BC” took on a new and equally powerful meaning – BC means “Benedict Cares.” Today, the BC Board has modified the BC curriculum to reflect of the “BC-Culture of Care” reflected in the increased melding of its academic responsibilities and its parens patriae role, for its students who are disproportionately students with inadequate access to financial resources, inadequate access to technology, students who report homelessness or multi-generational, overly crowded housing, and food insecurity. Benedict is experiencing tremendous returns on investments in the BC students. Said Benedict College President Rosalyn Artis, “our students are overwhelmingly low wealth, first generation students of color – they are among the most challenging, most expensive and most WORTHWHILE students to invest in.
“Benedict has continued to find ways over the past 4 years to meet these students where they are:
• Lowered tuition 26%
• Moved from expensive textbooks to open-source learning materials (saved students on average of $1200 per semester)
• Implemented a comprehensive Summer Bridge Program
“While these changes were expensive, they were necessary. We have seen significant growth and positive changes. I am attaching a report prepared by Rockefeller Philanthropy that validates our positive progress.”

Contact, Dr. Rosalind Artis, President, Benedict College c/o Ms. Jenny Screen, screenj@benedict.edu
(803) 705-4681 / (803) 253-5000

J.F. Drake Technical College, Huntsville, AL
Dr. Patricia Simms, President of Drake State Technical college is a champion not only for Drake State, but for the cohort of 17 HBCU community and technical colleges. Dr. Simms noted, “Many in our nation are unaware of the existence of historically Black community colleges. As President of Drake State Community and Technical College, I have been seeking opportunities to draw attention to this fact, particularly as I have witnessed community colleges being absent as reports of philanthropic gifts were reported across the nation.

“Drake State is located .15 miles from the campus of Alabama A&M University and serves as a direct pipeline for both traditional and nontraditional students to a Bachelor’s degree. We have a comprehensive MOU that allows students to seamlessly transfer and co-enroll in both institutions.

“We are uniquely positioned to provide access to education for academic transfer students who are just not ready for the large institutional setting. We are also the best fit for those students who must earn a workforce credential and go to work to pay for their education.”

Example:

“Drake State is also preparing students for the research track, in 2020, Drake State became the first and only historically Black community college to be awarded a Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) from NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center’s (MSFC) Minority University Research Education Program (MUREP) since the program’s inception in 2013. Drake State’s Engineering Technology students are conducting research to support NASA’s MMPACT Project. Our recent student interns both transferred to four -year institution and are Engineering majors. Our nursing students are uniquely prepared to assist in addressing the coronavirus pandemic and in closing the health disparities in Alabama, the region, and the world.”

Contact: Dr. Patricia Simms, President of Drake State, Patricia.Simms@drakestate.edu
(256) 551-3117

University of the District of Columbia is the only public institution of higher learning in the Nation’s Capital. “The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is the only public university in the Nation’s Capital, and thus, the Nation’s public university. It is a richly diverse, thriving university system with a community college system, a four- year university with tremendous research and service initiatives, focused on creating sustainable, urban families and communities, and with graduate and professional schools, including a world-class law school that is ranked number one in providing a rich service/experiential learning legal experience, at which many of the region’s top lawyers and judges teach and/or lead clinics. UDC has a health and wellbeing emphasis, and is playing a key role in abating the coronavirus pandemic. It is also providing leadership and support for the “Black Lives Matter Movement, and other justice movements of the day. Justice is a cornerstone of its mission, ” according to Dr. Ronald Mason, President of UDC.

Below are just a few highlights of reasons why investors seek out and invest in UDC, and other philanthropists should follow suit:

  • UDC is the only public university in and for the nation’s capital
  • The only exclusively land grant university in the nation
  • The most affordable University in the DMV
  • Highly ranked by affordableschools.net (Business #1, Engineering #7)
  • 60% of students directly from DC public schools
  • Seamless pipelines from workforce certifications, through associate degrees, to Bachelor and above
  • PhDs in Urban Leadership, Engineering/Computer Science
  • Nationally ranked (U.S. News) Law School clinical programs
  • Led by transformative Equity Imperative strategic plan.

Contact Dr. Ronald Mason, President UDC, Ronald.Mason@udc.edu
c/o ascott@udc.edu (202) 274-6016

Southern University Law Center is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Southern University Law Center Chancellor, John Pierre, suggested that as the nation’s only HBCU university system, it has a tremendous amount to offer diverse students at any phase of their educational pursuits, in a seamless manner. Said Dr. Pierre,

“The Southern University Law Center is the largest BCU ABA accredited law school with over 900 law students and is part of the Southern University System that offers 4-year undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees in Baton Rouge and Orleans in high demand programs such as Engineering, Nursing, Business Computer Science, Agriculture, Urban Forestry, Public Policy, Information Systems and other traditional STEM disciplines. The Southern University System also has a two-year community college in Shreveport that offers associate degrees and workforce-based industry certificates in allied health, nursing engineering technology, and aviation maintenance and mechanics.”

In addition to the ability of Southern University to respond to the educational needs of students and families in middle and high school, those desiring a technical education or career certification, those who desire a comprehensive research education, or graduate or professional degrees in growth and high need disciplines, they have administrators and faculty, like Chancellor Pierre, who are leaders in their disciplines, in their local communities, nationally and globally. Chancellor Pierre is a leader in the Louisiana, American, and National Bar Association, and he leads the Joint Policy, Advocacy, and Law Presidential Advisory Bear of NAFEO.

Contact Chancellor John Pierre, jpierre@sulc.edu , 225 771-2555.

About NAFEO

The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) is the nation’s only national membership association of all of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). Founded in 1969, by the presidents and chancellors of HBCUs and other equal educational opportunity institutions, NAFEO is a one of a kind membership association representing the presidents and chancellors of the public, private, independent, and land-grant, two-year, four-year, graduate and professional, HBCUs and PBIs.

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