Innovation, Growth and Goals at HBCUs Discussed at GBC Newsmaker

There are 101 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the United States, representing 3 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities, including public and private institutions.

During the GBC’s November 15 Newsmaker Speakers event, Maryland HBCU Hubs of Innovation and Excellence, three leaders from Maryland institutions discussed challenges and opportunities they are facing at their universities and how they are transforming and benefiting from record investments in HBCUs.

Dr. Aminta H. Breaux, President of Bowie State University, said to face the uncertainties around some career fields, the institution is “equipping students with an entrepreneurial mindset to navigate the uncertainties of the workforce, allowing them to pivot and to lead any organization or contribute to any organization…”

Breaux noted that there are many examples of students who are seeking to create a new product or business and the university wants students to be able to innovate and create.

GBC President and CEO Donald C. Fry noted that HBCUs received an additional $1.6 billion in federal pandemic assistance this past summer.

Dr. Anthony Jenkins, President of Coppin State University, said that the university used “some of those resources to drive down the cost of education and to offset some of the economic hardship that our students had suffered” during the pandemic.

When asked by Fry about a recent settlement of a lawsuit and Maryland General Assembly approval for $577 million for Maryland’s HBCUs and what impact it has had on higher education, Dr. David Wilson, President of Morgan State University, said the institution will “make sure that we are investing in unique high demand academic programs” and that university leadership wants to align “with what the workforce is asking for and then also to make those programs attractive for all students.”

Wilson said another goal is to use some of the settlement funds to move more aggressively to online classes.