In this month’s roundup, Jackson State’s president has been put on leave, Black male educators get a boost and esports are being included within HBCU athletics departments.
February 15, 2023- March 14, 2023
No Confidence for Jackson State President
The 12th President of Jackson State University, Thomas Hudson, was put on administrative leave with pay after a vote of “no confidence” from Jackson State’s Faculty Senate. A press release from the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning states that the Board of Trustees will discuss the future leadership of Jackson State at its regular Board meeting later this month.
The committee, made up of Jackson State faculty, voted after it was determined that as President, Hudson’s leadership displayed “a continuous pattern of failing to respect shared governance, transparency, accountability, and have worked outside of professional norms that have broad implications for the campus climate, the reputation of Jackson State University, and the university’s commitment both to providing a high-quality education and to carrying out its mission of a commitment to excellence.”
Dr. Elayne Hayes-Anthony has been named as the institution’s temporary acting president. Dr. Hayes-Anthony served as the chair of Jackson State’s department of journalism and media studies. “We are grateful that Dr. Hayes-Anthony has agreed to serve as Acting President,” said Tom Duff, president of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “As alumnus and long-time administrator and faculty member at the university, she understands the campus, its students, its challenges and opportunities.”
A Grant to Uplift Future Black Male Teachers
Bowie State University received a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Education in an effort to support Black education majors. The Department of Education’s Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program awarded the grant for the first time to a new program at an HBCU.
The Bowie Black Male Educators Project aims to increase the number of Black male educators who teach a variety of subjects and work with students of all ages. According to the founding director of the project, Dr. Julius L. Davis, the need for more Black educators has never been greater.
“It’s no secret that Black male teachers are in short supply…Blacks comprise 6 percent of all teachers and Black men are less than 2 percent.” This is where the grant will play a major role in the future of Black male educators. “This grant will enable us to recruit and prepare 50 Black male educators in early childhood/special education, elementary or secondary education who can provide culturally relevant instruction and work with students and families. Through our program redesign, we’ll create a pathway for Black male teachers to become certified in ESOL to meet the changing demographics in our schools."
“Every child in America deserves and needs a teacher who looks like them,” said Curtis Valentine, deputy director of the Progressive Policy Institute’s Reinventing America’s School Project. “Fortunately, Bowie State University may very well be the answer.”
Esports Lead to Opportunities
Esports are not just about playing video games competitively — they can lead to plenty of career opportunities for students. A growing number of HBCUs are adding esports to their curriculum as a way to recruit prospective students.
"We have a lot of freshmen that come in and they will look for universities that have esports clubs," said Charity Phillips, CEO and founder of BU Gamerz. "There’s scholarship opportunities, there’s career opportunities, there’s shout-casting opportunities, commentary for playing the games."
Career opportunities related to designing and coding games are possible as a result of esports being included and promoted as part of athletics programs at HBCUs.
The HBCU Esports League has also been launched to include 40 HBCUs with a mission of “increasing minority representation within the esports and video game industries so that there are equal opportunities as new jobs and professions are being created.”
Fixing Financial Futures
Knoxville College (KC) lost its accreditation in 1997, but many believe it will regain it as soon as April 2023. If it is able to regain this status, students will be able to receive federal and state funding opportunities.
“Financial aid for students is one of the largest conduits of state dollars to the institution,” said Dr. Brittany Mosby, director of HBCU Success. “In the 2021 school year, about $10 million went to HBCUs in the state through financial aid, and the year before that it was $12 million. That’s one of the reasons why accreditation is so important.”
KC is one of many HBCUs who have had to create their own success stories with many presidents having to find solutions to systematic underfunding, including Dillard University and Cheyney University.
“We have to tell data-driven stories,” said Dr. Walter Kimbrough, former president of Dillard University. “My criticism has always been that HBCUs lean into their platitudes of ‘we’re a family environment, your professor knows you, or we turn lemons into lemonade,’ but it’s time to show that lemonade. If you did something, we gotta show it, and that will get people excited and make people want to donate and be a part of something.”
Aaron Walton, president of Cheyney University, was able to balance the budget following a difficult financial situation for the first Black institution of higher learning. President Walton credited his business background for being able to get Cheyney back on track. “That’s actually the perspective that we came to Cheyney with in terms of, how do we monetize the assets that Cheyney has and change the trajectory of where we’re going?”
Leading the Way
Prairie View A&M University was selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation to become the first HBCU to lead a national university transportation center. The National Center for Infrastructure Transformation seeks to improve the nation’s infrastructure.
“This is what can be accomplished when we combine the research expertise of one of our universities with the resources of the A&M System, and this team will achieve a great result for the state of Texas and the nation,” said John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System.
Another form of leadership comes from Fisk University, which will be the first HBCU to host an NCAA gymnastics competition. The competition takes place March 14 at Belmont University’s Curb Event Center. The Fisk University Women’s Gymnastics Team will be making history with their debut as the first HBCU to compete at this level against Greenville University.
This news roundup focuses on the trends impacting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSI). Each month, we highlight the policy, process and programmatic changes happening nationally and among these institutions and how the colleges and universities are responding to them.