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The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and the Center for Minority Serving Institutions Announce the publication of "America’s Public HBCUs: A Four State Comparison of Institutional Capacity and State Funding Priorities"

Contact: Kat Stein, Exec. Director of Communications / (215) 898-9642

The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and the Center for Minority Serving Institutions Announce the publication of America’s Public HBCUs: A Four State Comparison of Institutional Capacity and State Funding Priorities

This report unveils the historical and current racial disparities in state funding allocations to HBCUs and offers strategies to obtain more equitable state allocations.

Philadelphia, PA, April 22, 2014 – Despite educating traditionally underserved students—including large swaths of Black students, a disproportionate number of first generation students, and a rapidly increasing number of Latino students—Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are under siege in many southern states. State policy makers are moving toward funding mechanisms that disproportionately disadvantage HBCUs, and many policy makers and pundits have called for the elimination of these schools altogether.

In a report released today, America’s Public HBCUs: A Four State Comparison of Institutional Capacity and State Funding Priorities, William Casey Boland and Marybeth Gasman present a case study of these institutions in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina, and call for thoughtful reform in state funding and policy to better support their missions. The report, which builds on a pre-recession study by James T. Minor, has been issued from Center for Minority Serving Institutions at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.

The report considers several critical areas at public HBCUs:

  • Diversity: African Americans continue to make up the majority at all HBCUs, but these institutions are becoming more diverse. Latino enrollment more than doubled in every state in the study, while White enrollment has declined; enrollment numbers for a combined category that includes Asian Americans and American Indians varies by state, with sharp increases in Mississippi and North Carolina and declines in Alabama and Louisiana.
  • State funding: Although some HBCUs, especially in North Carolina, have seen a boost in state allocations, on average HBCUs continue to be funded at lower levels than PWIs. This is particularly troubling given that HBCUs serve predominantly low-income students, whose families have fewer resources to pay for education.
    • Louisiana severely cut funding to all public 4-year institutions, but HBCUs were hit the hardest. For example, in 2012 Grambling State University and Southern University at New Orleans, both HBCUs, received 36% and 35% less funding, respectively, than they did in 2007. The only PWI in Louisiana that experienced a decrease as substantial is the University of New Orleans, which saw a drop of 32%.
    • Legal decisions concerning racial discrimination in Mississippi and Alabama had a beneficial effect on state funding of HBCUs in these states.
    • North Carolina HBCUs benefitted from increased state appropriations, especially North Carolina A&T State University (20%) and North Carolina Central University (28%).
  • Advanced degree programs: With the current higher education barometer heavily favoring efficiency, many policymakers and higher education leaders are proposing to eliminate what they view as unnecessary duplicate programs. Such proposals tend to disproportionately affect HBCUs—for example, the governors of Louisiana and North Carolina recently attempted to close programs at HBCUs or merge them with PWIs.

America’s Public HBCUs also compares the degree attainment of the states’ HBCUs with the total number of degrees conferred to African Americans statewide in 2011. HBCUs continue to play a crucial role in successfully graduating underrepresented students, and they continue to evolve with changing populations and needs. Moving forward, Boland and Gasman offer recommendations and action plans for state governments and HBCUs for increasing state support to strengthen these historical educational institutions. A theme throughout the recommendations is for state policy makers to temper calls for efficiency—including performance-based funding initiatives and program duplication assessments—so that they don’t come at the expense of students served by HBCUs.

For the complete report go to:

Dr. Gasman is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her research has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Time, and Newsweek, and on CNN and National Public Radio.

Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools. A small percentage of education programs in the U.S. offer doctoral degrees, a tiny fraction are located at flagship research universities, and no other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge building as the University of Pennsylvania. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals and unique partnerships with local educators, not to mention the first-ever business plan competition launched exclusively in education. For further information about Penn GSE, please visit

The Center for Minority Serving Institutions brings together researchers and practitioners from across the spectrum of Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to harness the collective strengths of the these institutions and to solve the challenges they face. An integral part of American higher education, MSIs include Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Tribal Colleges and Universities; Hispanic Serving Institutions; and Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. Among the Center’s goals are to elevate the educational contributions of MSIs, ensuring their participation in national conversations; to increase rigorous scholarship on MSIs; and to bolster the efforts of MSIs to close educational achievement gaps and assessment performance of disadvantaged communities. The Center for Minority Serving Institutions is located at the University of Pennsylvania under the direction of Professor Marybeth Gasman. #CenterforMSIs




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