The higher education landscape is far from homogenous and is fraught with problems, many of which are chronicled virtually daily in the media. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the first of which was founded in 1837, are struggling to survive despite their government supported, and some would say noble, history. They are having enrollment challenges; they have comparatively low graduation rates; they are fiscally fragile, many with tiny endowments; they have governance dilemmas. But, many believe these institutions (or most of them) should be saved because they are our best hope for providing low income, diverse students a quality educational opportunity and a pathway designed to narrow the serious, ever-growing achievement gap among rich and poor students. The uncertain future of HBCUs has implications for educators, politicians, policy makers and those concerned with race in America.
Students will be researching selected HBCUs (both their past and their present, including through use of the new College Scorecard); they will learn about the current state of these institutions through readings and interviews with HBCU students, graduates, administrators and professors (past and present). Students will then prepare actual, implementable “action plans” that proffer strategies for preserving and improving at least some of these institutions. These plans will be circulated to relevant audiences.