The Funding Gap between Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Traditionally White Institutions Needs to Be Addressed * (Editor's Commentary)

By Toldson, Ivory A. | The Journal of Negro Education, Spring 2016 | Go to article overview

The Funding Gap between Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Traditionally White Institutions Needs to Be Addressed * (Editor's Commentary)


Toldson, Ivory A., The Journal of Negro Education


In 2014, four traditionally White institutions (TWIs) received more revenue from grants and contracts than all four-year historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) combined (See Tables 1 and 2). In total, 89 four-year HBCUs collectively received $1.2 billion for grants and contracts from the federal, state and local governments, as well as private foundations. By comparison, John Hopkins University received $1.6 billion alone.

On average, each HBCU receives $11 million from the federal government, $1.3 million from state governments, and a little more than $504,000 from local governments and private foundations, for a total average of $12.8 million for grants and contracts annually. The total annual average for all institutions of higher education is $27.7 million. In perspective, the annual revenue total for grants and contracts for the average TWI, would rank in the top-10 among HBCUs.

CREATING A CASTE SYSTEM IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Grants and contracts are essential for an institution's long-term viability; reducing tuition dependence and providing important funding for research, services, and programs. Funding disparities create a caste system in higher education, whereby students at better-funded institutions benefit from enhanced facilities, equipment, and opportunities to earn income while studying. While gaps in funding between HBCUs and TWIs can be attributed to differences in institutional capacity, it also stems from selection biases among funding agencies.

Morehouse School of Medicine ($85 million) and Meharry Medical College ($79 million) generated more revenue through grants and contracts than any other HBCUs in 2014. However, that year the average revenue generated from grants and contracts among all 47 Carnegieclassified medical colleges in the United States was $165 million.

Table 1 lists the top-10 four-year HBCUs for generating revenue through grants and contracts. All institutions listed generated more than $25 million for grants and contracts in 2014. HBCUs vary widely in the amount of funding received, with 16 HBCUs receiving less than $3 million in total revenue from grants and contracts in 2014.

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

HBCUs that are more successful at competing for grants and contracts typically have more robust offices of grants and sponsored programs, better incentives for faculty and staff who write grant proposals, a clear statement of capability, and campus leaders that actively promote their university's research and programs to potential funders. However, the best efforts of HBCUs are often thwarted by competing TWIs that reinvest millions of dollars in funding into strategies specifically aimed at acquiring additional funding.

To become more competitive, HBCUs need to invest in government affairs, research and sponsored programs, and communications. In addition, networking with program officers, joining peer-review panels, and publishing existing research and programs give HBCUs better access to funding opportunities. Technical assistance from external stakeholders, such as The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO; www. …

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