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Bettering the Black College Paradigm

As president of Huston-Tillotson University, Dr. Larry L. Earvin knows that a successful capital campaign will do wonders for his small, historically Black private school in Austin, Texas. Along with other campus administrators, Earvin is positioning the 132-year-old school to undertake its first ever multi-year, capital campaign sometime within the next two years. Aimed at raising tens of millions of dollars, Earvin says the campaign will be needed to fund a planned campus expansion and at least double the university’s $7 million endowment.
This past fall, the United Negro College Fund awarded the school $200,000, the first of three annual awards to improve Huston-Tillotson’s institutional advancement operation. Earvin says the combined $600,000 in grants will help prepare the university to launch and sustain the planned campaign.
Huston-Tillotson has already upgraded its alumni tracking and fund-raising software in preparation of the campaign. Earvin estimates that the contact information of 65 percent of its living alumni is documented in school records and computer databases.
“Our goal is to have contact information for 100 percent of our alumni,” he says.
The UNCF award marks Huston-Tillotson’s inclusion in the first round of competitive grant funding made available to several UNCF member schools under the organization’s new Institute for Capacity Building. As one of the first major new programs to emerge during the presidency of Dr. Michael Lomax, ICB deepens the level of support the nation’s best-known minority higher education assistance organization provides its 39 member schools.

“The [institutional] advancement grant focuses on strengthening two elements of fund raising,” Lomax says. “One is alumni giving and the other is trustee giving, and so that they’re able to put in the infrastructure that will enable them to have robust annual campaigns.”
Arthur G. Affleck, the vice president for institutional advancement at all-female Bennett College, says ICB’s Institutional Advancement Program grant is helping the school close out the final year of its five-year, $50 million capital campaign.
“They say the last year in a capital campaign is always the hardest one. I think the ICB grant is going to make the difference for us,” he says, noting that in early April the campaign had reached $47 million in donations and pledges.
Bennett’s capital campaign is scheduled to end on June 30.
Affleck says the ICB grant has enabled the purchase of new software and computers for the college’s institutional advancement office. The new hardware, along with new training methods, should make Bennett far more efficient at maintaining contact with alumni and donors in coming months.
“We’ve been fortunate to have had our president, Dr. Johnnetta Cole,at the heart of our fund-raising efforts,”Affleck says.”But as she retires, professionalizing the fund raising operation has become critical.”
Grants for Program Areas
As of early April, 18 UNCF member schools have received either an Institutional Advancement Program or Enrollment Management Program grant designed “to increase enrollment and retain students through strong enrollment management programs.” The grant programs are designed to be competitive, with UNCF schools submitting proposals for a limited number of ICB awards for a given program area.
Officially launched in spring 2006 and headquartered in UNCF’s Atlanta office, ICB supports UNCF’s member institutions in four additional areas. They are curriculum development, recruitment and retention of faculty; maintaining solid fiscal management policies and practices; developing campus master plans to preserve historic sites and assisting campus infrastructure development; and enhancing leadership development and governance.
“The programs that we’ve outlined in ICB are programs that would benefit any college president,” says Dr. Elfred Anthony Pinkard, ICB’s executive director. “They’re all looking to strengthen their fund-raising capacity. They’re all looking to develop innovative curricula; to enhance their faculty; looking at their facilities and managing their physical and human resources; enrolling bright students and keeping them there; and attracting strong visionary leaders as trustees who understand their role.”

Since last year, UNCF has raised $18 million to fund ICB grants. In April, the Bush Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation each donated $1 million to specifically fund ICB’s Enrollment Management Program. Last March, ICB awarded $215,000 in Enrollment Management Program grants to each of four schools, including a one-time allocation of $15,000 for plan-ning.
Additional rounds of the enrollment management grants are renewable for each selected school for up to three years, making the potential total value of the grant worth $615,000.
“It is our hope that lessons learned and best practices identified in the participant institutions can be applied widely to other HBCUs,” says Dr. Anita M. Pampusch, the president of the Bush Foundation.
Lomax says part of the impetus for ICB comes from his own experience as a former president of Dillard Univer-sity, a UNCF member school in New Orleans. Guidance from an ICB-like entity is something “I would have welcomed when I was a college president,” he says. Dillard did, however, receive a grant from the Kresge Foundation to strengthen its institutional advancement operations.
“I saw what a huge and important difference that made at Dillard, to be able to plan to strengthen our development operation and
then to have a foundation invest not just working capital but also to give us the technical assistance we needed,” Lomax says. “That paradigm was one which I felt could be brought to UNCF, used in a second phase of that institutional advancement program, but also to work in other areas.”
UNCF has tapped higher education leaders from around the nation to serve on an ICB advisory committee. One of the members, Dr. Orlando L. Taylor, dean of the Howard University’s graduate school, says ICB provides a timely and much-needed resource for the private HBCUs that are UNCF members.

“The higher education environment has become highly competitive with regard to schools attracting African-Americans and other students,” Taylor says. “It’s also grown more costly with attracting quality faculty, maintaining technology and meeting campus infrastructure demands.

–Ronald Roach


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