Bottom- Line Goals
Fundraising, Accreditation and Quality are key concerns for black Business schools.
By Linda Meggett Brown
Business schools at historically Black institutions are producing a record number of productive, successful professionals capable of competing with their counterparts from majority schools. But to continue producing quality businessmen and women, these schools must seek support from corporate businesses and private funding that will allow them to become even more competitive.
And that has become a bottom-line issue.
The mission at majority schools is the same. The only difference is the heritage of historically Black institutions, says Dr. Quiester Craig, dean of the School of Business and Economics at North Carolina A&T University.
Schools are at different levels but everything is measured the same, Craig says. Black schools can no longer justify their existence just on heritage. The faculty now has greater expectations. Merit relates to the quality of students and placement.
Fund raising is important to both private and public schools as external support has taken on new importance with state budgets dwindling — leaving little for scholarships. It is essential to be competitive with scholarship offers to attract top students. “That requires friends who support what you do,” Craig says.
A handful of HBCUs have received endowments and recognized the donors by bestowing their names on the business schools. Texas Southern, Virginia Union and Morgan State universities have named business schools after donors.
But not a single HBCU received more than $2 million, compared to the majority schools that seem to get a minimum of $10 million, says Dr. Edward Davis, dean of the School of Business Administration at Clark Atlanta University.
“We’re searching for someone, and we have set $10 million as our goal. One or $2 million is not enough to empower or improve anything,” Davis says. Schools need computers, technology and programs to give students the highest quality education possible.
Robert L. Johnson, founder, chairman and CEO of Black Entertainment Television (BET), has been one of Clark Atlanta’s targets. “We have a list that we’ve been cultivating,” Davis says.
Athletes and entertainers are also potential donors who could be targeted.
“We would have no problem with Oprah Winfrey endowing the school,” says Davis.
It really shouldn’t matter if the donor is African American or White, according to Davis. Although Morgan State University in Baltimore named the business school after alumnus Earl G. Graves, publisher of Black Enterprise magazine, the business schools at Texas Southern and Virginia Union universities are named after White donors.
“I could see us being Ted Turner School of Business. I can see a Bill Gates. Those people are doing things that support what we’re doing,” Davis says. “Someone has to buy into the vision and the institution must be comfortable with who the individuals are.”
Davis says it could take 10 years or longer for HBCU business schools to attract the kind of endowments that these institutions really need. The business schools at such institutions as Georgia Tech and Emory University have received gifts of $20 million. HBCUs don’t get those kinds of dollars with the exception of Bill and Camille Cosby’s donation of $20 million to Spelman College in Atlanta in the early 1990s.
It’s difficult to get people to part with $10 million, especially in the current economy, Davis says. “There are not enough Blacks with $10 million, and it has to be a reputable person who buys into the mission of our program.”
Clark Atlanta’s campaign to find a donor has been under way for about three years and they’ve been unsuccessful. New York’s Columbia University is looking but they’re asking for $60 million. That institution has been searching for six or seven years unsuccessfully. Craig of North Carolina A&T agrees that ideal endowments could range from $5 million to $20 million.
“There is no magic figure here,” Craig says. He agrees with Davis that investors are a premium, but many schools haven’t developed that type of following.
Meanwhile, in an effort to improve quality and marketability, an increasing number of predominantly Black business schools are seeking accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International.
Having accreditation would provide tremendous support and leverage for HBCUs in attracting donors for endowments.
Accreditation used to be talked about by everyone. However, some Black business school officials say that majority business schools’ attitude toward accreditation has changed over the years.
“When Black folks get in, White folks don’t put as much importance on things,” Davis says. “Although majority schools don’t put as much emphasis on accreditation, they continue to work to maintain it because they don’t want to lose it.
“Schools that become accredited generally improve because they work hard to get the rating,” he adds.
Accreditation is a five-year candidacy process that allows the applicant school sufficient time to ensure its program has quality standards. Among other things, quality is judged on faculty, faculty production, library resources and programs.
“Eight years ago we (AACSB International) established standards that encouraged schools to move toward program quality,” says Craig, the first African American to serve as president of the accrediting agency.
In 1968, Texas Southern University was the first historically Black business school to achieve accreditation. Only a handful, including Howard University and North Carolina A&T, followed during the next decade. There was a large gap until 1991. Now there are about 14 accredited programs. One of the latest HBCU business schools to receive accreditation is South Carolina State University.
“These are great institutions with wonderful programs. The problem is that so many people still have doubts about the viability of these schools,” Craig says.
In addition to the 14 accredited schools, there are nine others that are in the candidacy process.
The mission to deliver quality education is linked to accreditation, says Milton Blood, AACSB managing director of accreditation services. HBCUs often had clear missions. “We see a number of schools working to improve the quality of education. It’s a systematic approach, and it’s something that schools work on for years,” Blood says. After five years, there is nothing that mandates that schools have a review. It is strictly voluntary.
The process helps focus the faculty and administration, and the school receives annual review and feedback. The advantage to accreditation lies in the process itself. It allows schools to receive comparison and external reviews to see how the institutions stack up, Blood says. It sends a strong signal to potential students and faculty that emphasis is placed on quality — high quality.
“In general people want to give money to successful organizations,” Blood says. “Nobody wants to waste their money on a school that’s not going to do well.”
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com