A Century of Success: Historically Black Colleges and Universities, America's National Treasure-Annual Report / the African American Education Data Book, Volume I: Higher and Adult Education

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A Century of Success: Historically Black Colleges and Universities, America's National Treasure-Annual Report, by the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, 1996. 120 pp.

The African American Education Data Book, Volume 1: Higher and Adult Education, by Michael T. Nettles and Laura W. Perna. Fairfax, VA: Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute, 1997. 504 pp. $25.00, cloth.

A Century of Success marks the first publication of the annual report of The President's Board of Advisors (PBA) on HBCUS. Created by President Clinton's Executive Order 12876, the primary duties of the PBA are to advise the President and to issue "an annual report to the President on participation by historically Black colleges and universities in federally sponsored programs." The PBA is also responsible for reporting to the President on ways to increase "the private sector role in strengthening historically Black colleges and universities with particular emphasis on enhancing institutional infrastructure and facilitating planning, development, and the use of technologies to ensure [their] longterm viability and enhancement." It is important to note that President Clinton was not the first President to sign an Executive Order on HBCUs nor was he the first to establish a PBA with reporting responsibilities. President Carter issued the first Executive Order for HBCUs and subsequent orders were issued by Presidents Reagan and Bush. The first President's Board of Advisors was created by President Bush; its unpublished annual reports were used by the current Board as a reference in preparing A Century of Success.

Author William Blakey was employed by the PBA as its primary consultant in preparing the Report. In it, he makes a clear case for the continued strengthening of Black colleges and why federal support to HBCUs should be expanded. Blakey's background as an advocate for Black colleges and his prior work in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government make him well-qualified to author the Report.

The Report is organized by thematic emphasis (i.e., "Why Black Colleges" and "Fostering Student Success") and uses this format to guide the discussion leading to the Report's 18 concluding recommendations. Although this approach is helpful, the reader would have found an organization by chapter more useful. The Report also includes an appendix containing a complete listing of 104 HBCU institutions. The most important part of the Report is the section detailing the status of federal compliance with Executive Order 12876. Compliance status is based on fiscal year 1995 data, but it is given without the benefit of context or analysis of prior performance over time. The Report also failed to discuss the impact of specific policy mandates (e.g., response to the end of the Cold War) that govern agency priorities and the relationship of these mandates to HBCU participation in the federal granting and contracting process. In addition, it would have been helpful to include some discussion of the practice of Congressional earmarking of federal funds to institutions of higher education and whether HBCUs were benefitting from this form of largesse.

The Clinton PBA points out in its Report that there has been a 21% increase in federal support for HBCUS, up from $1.03 billion in 1992 to $1.25 billion in 1995. A review of the data provided, however, notes most of the heralded increase came in the form of federal student aid to HBCU students and not in the federal grant and contracting areas. For example it is widely known that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology receives more federal grants and contracts on a yearly basis than all of the HBCUs combined. By pointing out the historic neglect of the HBCU community by programs of the federal government, the recommendations of A Century of Success represent both a challenge and an opportunity for the President. …