I recently read an article by LaMont Jones at Diverseeducation.com entitled “Increasing Diversity on HBCU Campuses Often Leaves Blacks in Minority.” To check out the full article please click on the link HERE. To summarize, Jones points to the fact that, given “some projections of a fall-off in Black high school graduates in coming years, HBCUs would be wise to become even more intentional about competing with historically White institutions for Black students in particular and for other students in general.” This statement comes from Dr. Anthony L. Jenkins within his article.
Jones points out a few examples of HBCUs evolving from majority black to minority black in including St. Philip’s College, an HBCU in Texas established in 1898 and West Virginia State University (WVSU) founded in 1891. For St Philips College, 11% of the current student population is black with 56% identifying as Hispanic. White students account for 62.8% of WVSU student population.
As time passes this should not be seen as unusual. After all both are public universities that have never claimed to only focus on one racial group.
While the article from Jones is interesting, it is short on evidence that backs his claim that diversity among non blacks at HBCUs is on the rise. While the two examples he gives are indeed majority non-black, WVSU flipped to majority non-black well before the 2000s and St. Philip’s College did so in the 1960s.
He does point to online courses increasing diversity but again, facts are lacking. I do think that increasing diversity is a good thing though. As a graduate of Morehouse College, an HBCU based in Atlanta, GA, I can support the increase of student ethnicity as long as the college stays true to its core of developing graduates that are community focused.
In the end alot of HBCUs do need to expand outside of their current market (alot of historically white institutions do as well). I think if you stick to your mission and can do that, then it makes sense.