Magazine article Ebony

Excellence against the Odds

Magazine article Ebony

Excellence against the Odds

Article excerpt

America's Historically Black Colleges And Universities

HISTORICALLY Black colleges and universities are the precious and generally undervalued gems of higher learning: bright educational jewels that continue--despite limited resources and political encroachment---to sparkle and enrich the lives of tens of thousands of talented Black students for whom the Black college experience has been a path to personal and professional success.

"These fine institutions continue to have a unique and important role in the education of young African-American men and women and the shaping of the leadership and humanitarian skills that they use to make valuable contributions in a highly competitive, global marketplace as well as in community service," says Virgis W. Colbert, chairman of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund. "HBCUs [historically Black colleges and universities] serve a unique role in cultivating minds as well as offering students an abundance of role models, mentors and leadership opportunities."

Those role models and leadership opportunities contribute tremendously to the success of historically Black institutions in producing Black college graduates. While making up a mere 15 percent of all the colleges in America, Black institutions still produce 30 percent of all the Black bachelor's degree-holders in America, and are the source of nearly 50 percent of all the Blacks who go on to graduate school.

"When you look at the record of what these schools have done, are doing and are projected to do in the future, their value just jumps out at you," says Dr. Henry Ponder, the outgoing CEO and president of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education and a former president of Fisk University.

A look at even a partial roster of the brilliant alumni of Black colleges and universities who have transformed the country, if not the world, also shows what tremendous jewels these institutions are. …

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