NAFEO Report Highlights HBCU Role in Graduating Black Students, Attracting Diversity

Washington, D.C.

A report released by the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) Tuesday credited historically Black colleges and universities with a disproportionately large share of Black educational gains over the past two decades.

Coinciding with the 2008 National HBCU Week Conference in Washington, the NAFEO report, “The State of Blacks in Higher Education,” revealed that HBCUs “awarded nearly 50 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded to Blacks in the natural and physical sciences, a little more than 25 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in engineering, and nearly 25 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded to Blacks.”

“This is an outstanding achievement given that HBCUs are only 3.3 percent of all the institutions,” the report notes.

“It will be an annual report that we will put out each year. What I think the data show is that although Black colleges tend to be woefully and disproportionately underrepresented in terms of public dollars … with the dollars that are invested in HBCUs, we’re having significantly greater output,” says Dr. Lezlie Baskerville, NAFEO president.

Baskerville adds the report points out that HBCU “engineering programs were making progress; that directly aligns with the fact that we got federal dollars earmarked for HBCU science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.”

“Even though we’re no way near where we need to be, our progress is directly related to dollars. The message to Congress, policymakers and foundations is that we are the best bang for their buck,” Baskerville notes.

The report, which will be available online within the next month, was authored by economist Dr. William A. Darity, Jr. of Duke University, Dr. Rhonda V. Sharpe of the University of Vermont, and Dr. Omari H. Swinton of Howard University. NAFEO says printed copies will be available in October.

In addition to the progress by HBCUs in educating Blacks at the undergraduate, masters’ and Ph.D. levels, the report emphasized that HBCUs have grown highly competitive at attracting non-White and non-citizen students over the past two decades.

“This is a good thing. HBCUs have demonstrated that they are competitive at attracting non-Whites and foreign students, especially at the graduate level,” Sharpe told a group of Washington policymakers, higher education officials and reporters at a Tuesday luncheon.

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