University of Virginia, Black Colleges Plan Student Exchange

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RICHMOND, VA.

The University of Virginia and five in-state historically Black colleges and universities are finalizing an exchange program for summer research projects.

Officials with the HBCUs say the exchange will expand their academic resources, while U.Va. administrators hope it will boost their Black graduate student numbers and improve diversity at a campus with a long history of racial tension.

Exchanges could begin this summer, though officials are still working out details like cost and whether students will receive credits, says Dr. Gertrude Fraser, vice provost for faculty advancement at U.Va.

"Getting undergraduates to do research is what gets them excited and thinking about going to graduate school," she says, adding that as professors retire, the demand for a diverse pool of advanced degree-holding instructors will increase.

The program also will promote collaborations between U.Va. faculty and faculty at HBCUs by creating a computer database of opportunities for joint research, she says.

U.Va. officials are in talks with Hampton University; Virginia Union University in Richmond; Norfolk State University; Virginia State University in Petersburg; and St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville.

Fraser says a 12-person board is deciding things like which disciplines would be ideal for exchanges at each school.

"Hampton, for example, has world class astronomy and physics and also marine sciences," she says. …