Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUS)

By Evans, A. L.; Evans, V. et al. | Education, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview
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Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUS)

Evans, A. L., Evans, V., Evans, A. M., Education

"There is no more evil in this world than race prejudice.... It justifies and holds together more baseness, cruelty, and abdomination than any other sort of error in the world."

--H. G. Wells


Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUS) were begun, in most instances, because of racism--that evil human frailty, which says that one race of people is superior to another because of the race of the supposedly superior group. Indeed, racism was the reason black people in the Western nations were not allowed to attend the same schools as white people, the result of which called for a separate school system for them. The HBCUS were established wherever large black populations resided, such as in the Southeast, Southwest, and in the Northeast. At first, private HBCUs were established and later, in most cases, state/public schools were established to provide postsecondary education for black students, hence, the name Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The HBCUs were not designed to succeed, rather they were established to appease black people or to serve as "holding institutions" so that black students would not matriculate in historically white colleges and universities (HWCUs). Although several of the HBCUs no longer have a majority of black students, they were founded to serve (appease or hold) black students. What are they? What is their present status? Where do they go from here?


HBCUs: What are They?

What are HBCUs? Although many HBCUs were established after the Morrill Act of 1890 that provided for state-supported, land-grant HBCUs, most were established before 1890, the oldest of which include Cheyney State University in Pennsylvania in 1837, Lincoln University in Pennyslvania in 1854, Wilberforce University in Ohio in 1856, Bowie State University in Maryland in 1865, Lincoln University in Missouri in 1866, and Howard University in Washington, D. C. in 1867. Fewer than twelve of the HBCUs are located in the North.

On Table 1 is a listing of the HBCUs with their founding years according to information taken from the 1995 Directory of Higher Education, 2000 Directory of Higher Education, World Almanac 1991, World Almanac 2000, Time Almanac 2000 and the Time Almanac 2001. One of the oldest on the list is Cheyney State University founded in 1837, and one of the youngest schools is Lawson State Community College founded in 1965.

Table 2 consists of 53 of the 106 HBCUs. The institutions are listed along with their enrollment and number of faculty in 1990 and 1999 according to the World Almanac 1991 and the Time Almanac 2000. At the end of each listing, a plus or minus is used to indicate if the institution had a gain (+) or a loss (-) in enrollment during 1990 and 1999. Fourteen of the fifty-three HBCUs had a decline in enrollment during the nine-year period.

HBCUs: What is their status ?

Enrollment. While many private schools have limited their enrollment, such as Harvard, Yale, and Cornell, HBCUs, in many instances, have grown through increased enrollment. Of the two premium public HBCUs, Florida A&M University and Howard University, only FAMU had increased enrollment in 1990 and 1999. Both, however, had increased their number of curricula such as master and doctoral degrees in pharmaceutical sciences, physical therapy, engineering, and environmental sciences. In addition, they pursue National Achievement and National Merit Scholars with a vengence.

Table 2 shows that most of the 53 HBCUs have increased enrollment in the nine-year period, 1990 and 1999. Of the HBCUs with enrollment status listed, only a few (14) of them had a decline in enrollment in the two years recorded. HBCUs with the largest decline included Texas Southern, Howard, Morris Brown, Grambling, Central State, and Jackson State; whereas those with the largest increases included Florida A&M, Morgan State, Coppin State, and Bowie State.

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