Hope and History in the Hills of Ohio

Article excerpt

When senior writer Ronald Roach traveled to Ohio to visit the 150-year-old historically Black Wilberforce University, he wondered what he would encounter to connect him to the pre-Civil War history of the institution. Though few landmarks provided visual dues to Wilberforce's long history, he says he was struck by the palpable family spirit conveyed by the students, faculty and administrators at the oldest, fully private Black higher education institution in the United States. But while Wilberforce is the oldest, it wasn't the first. Lincoln University and Cheyney University of Pennsylvania both opened before Wilberforce, but neither is currently considered a fully private university.

Having previously met Wilberforce's president, the Rev. Dr. Floyd Flake, when he was a U.S. congressman representing a Queens, N.Y., district, Ronald saw him recently not as an ex-politician nostalgic about his Capitol Hill days, but as the maverick economic and educational leader he's been virtually his entire career. In "An HBCU Transformed," Ronald reports that Flake's administration has restored financial health to the small southwestern Ohio school, which enrolled some 800 residential undergraduates this past academic year. Four years ago, Flake and his staff found Wilberforce to be $5 million in debt while operating on an $18 million annual budget. With prudent fiscal management, staff cuts and aggressive fund raising, Wilberforce celebrates its 150th year with a clean bill of health and is poised for future growth.

Speaking of finances, Diverse correspondent Peter Galuszka examines how some colleges are looking to cash in on the high risk, high reward world of hedge funds in "Risky Business." These funds remain shrouded in mystery, in part because they operate largely outside of federal securities laws, and because they generally only accept financially sophisticated investors--setting them apart from mutual funds. …