Black student on laptop

In this month’s roundup, the White House announces this year’s HBCU scholars, an initiative that seeks to create more LGBTQ-friendly campuses, and HBCUs look to expand to reach more students. 

July 12, 2023- August 8, 2023

Being Starved While Nourishing the Nation

A new report from the Century Foundation found that historically Black land-grant institutions have been underfunded and receive drastically fewer funds than white land-grant universities. 

In the report titled “Nourishing the Nation While Starving: The Underfunding of Black Land-Grant Colleges and Universities,” Senior Fellow Denise A. Smith described how 19 land-grant HBCUs have greatly contributed to the fields of science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics without receiving the necessary funding. 

“Unlike their white land-grant counterparts established in the Morrill Act of 1862 (1862 institutions), Black land-grant universities (1890 institutions) have been overlooked, dealt decades of discrimination, and starved for resources—even after designation as federal land-grant universities in the Second Morrill Act of 1890,” wrote Smith in her report. 

The federal 2023 Farm Bill is set to expire on Sept. 30, which provides an opportunity for Congress to stop the deprivation of millions of dollars in matching funds. 

“HBCUs have always provided an excellent education but have never been given the support they need to live out their mission to the fullest extent,” said Smith. 

The Largest Cohort of Scholars

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities named their 2023 HBCU Scholars in recognition of students’ academic accomplishments, leadership and civic engagement. More than 100 undergraduate, graduate and professional students from 70 HBCUs nationwide were recognized as HBCU scholars. This year’s cohort is the largest cohort since its inception in 2014. 

“Our 2023 HBCU Scholars are talented students who embody the culture of excellence and inclusion championed by our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “I’m thrilled to see the HBCU Scholars program continue to expand its reach and provide such exciting professional development, networking, and educational opportunities to some of our nation’s brightest and most promising young leaders.” 

The HBCU Scholars will act as ambassadors to the White House, the U.S. Department of Education and their respective HBCU. They will be invited to attend the annual HBCU Week National Annual Conference from Sept. 24-28 in Crystal City, Virginia. The theme for this year’s conference is “Raising the Bar: Forging Excellence Through Innovation and Leadership.” 

Cultivating More Inclusive Campuses

The Human Rights Campaign has partnered with HBCUs to launch LGBT Inclusion Initiatives that aim to make LGBTQ+ students feel safe and enrich their experience while attending HBCUs. 

The initiative involves the PrEP Ambassador Program which includes 11 students who are ambassadors for their institution to educate on PrEP and ensure that the medication is available to students, thereby eliminating the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. 

"I see so much progress on other campuses, that invokes change in my organization.... And I think a lot of times, LGBTQ students are not included in these conversations. So, to be working with my peers who are making a difference and being able to witness it in real-time is an amazing opportunity," said Erica McPheeters, PrEP ambassador for Kentucky State University. 

Leslie Hall, director of the HBCU Program from the Human Rights Campaign, admits that HBCUs have been slower to include LGBTQ-friendly policies. However, progress is being made through initiatives such as these that address the needs of LGBTQ+ students and reduce the stigma around HIV. Hall, himself, is an alum of both Howard and Bowie State University and knows what it’s like to attend an HBCU as an openly gay man. 

"My daily work revolves around creating a safe, healthy, and inclusive college environment for LGBTQ+ HBCU students, ensuring they have access to the resources and support they need," said Hall.

Bringing HBCU Sports to Millions

Urban Edge Network (UEN) and Impact Network have partnered together to bring HBCU sports to millions of homes. The partnership between these two Black-owned media outlets allows HBCU+ to be broadcast via cable and satellite providers in 70% of households nationwide. Starting in September, 36 HBCU sports programs will be broadcasted on the Impact Network, including pre, post and full-game broadcasts. 

"We are both proud and excited to have this partnership and expand our reach by adding 75 million homes,” said UEN Co-Founder Hardy Pelt. In addition to sports, Impact Network plans to broadcast programming that highlights HBCU campus life in an entertaining and educational way. Impact Network Executive Vice President Royal Jackson spoke on the potential that this has for HBCUs. "As a multi-generational platform, it's an honor for Impact Network to be able to serve the African-American and HBCU communities on multiple levels, from HBCU alumni to students and future recruits," he said.

A New HBCU Opens its Doors

Aug. 1 marked the official opening of Philander Smith University in Little Rock, making it the second HBCU in the state of Arkansas. Interim President Dr. Cynthia A. Bond Hopson called the transition from a college to a university a testament to the institution’s unwavering commitment to growth and academic excellence. “Through this transition, the institution reaffirms its commitment to academic excellence, social justice advocacy, and shaping future leaders who will make a lasting impact on local and global communities,” said Dr. Bond Hopson. 

Philander Smith University already has a rich history, being one of the first institutions to educate newly-freed Black Americans when the institution opened in 1877. 

HBCUs are also looking to expand through satellite campuses, or a campus that is physically distanced from the original campus. One city that is looking to have their own HBCU is San Francisco, with mayor London Breed expressing interest in bringing a college campus to the downtown area. “If we’re trying to revitalize that part of San Francisco, students make sense. And having that campus be one for an HBCU, it would mean Black students are our city’s future,” said Tiffany Carter, a member of the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee

Members of the committee expressed the economic and social benefits that an HBCU would have on the city. Author Tasion Kwamilele, a native of the Bay area, expressed the power of attending an HBCU. “There’s undeniable power in going to a college knowing where as a Black person, that space was specifically made for you,” she said. 

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.


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