Monday, March 25, 2013

Gov. McCrory's proposals places North Carolina's HBCU's at risk

Citizens of North Carolina should pay close attention to moves being made by Governor Pat McCrory.  If implemented, access to higher education will become more complicated for those who need it the most.

Gov. McCrory, and the Republican controlled state legislature, is positioned to alter the way UNC System in a way that could dramatically impact the systems historically black colleges and universities and schools in low density areas.  The plan is being pitched as a cost saving measure, but will send a significant number of North Carolinians to receive recently reduced unemployment benefits.

Gov. McCrory’s budget recommends $138 million in cuts to the UNC system next fiscal year. The proposed cuts follow the $400 million in budget reduction the system absorbed in the budget two years ago. When factoring the cuts from the previous budget, the loss to the system is $241 million.

Gov. McCrory’s budget plans to spend $63 million over a two year period on the system’s Strategic Directions initiatives.  The plan seeks to align educational needs with the marketplace.  It’s the talk related to the plan that has many troubled about the future of the UNC system. Discussions about downsizing and merging schools have led to concerns that a few of North Carolina’s HBCU’s are at risk of being closed or merged with other schools in the system.

Most at risk is Elizabeth City State University.  The plan could result in the school being downsized to a community college or merged with another school.  Also at risk is the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  Pembroke serves a large Native American population, and closing the school would result in making it more difficult for students in the area to find a place to attend.

Pembroke may merge with Fayetteville State University.  There’s talk of merging North Carolina A&T University with the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.  The common theme is an attack on North Carolina’s HBCU’s. 

The concern follows recent appointments to the UNC Board of Governors.  The appointment of a majority of Republicans with business backgrounds has fueled concerns that the system will be managed like a business charged with the mission to downsize to maximize the bottom line interest. Also missing are members with strong ties to the systems HBCU’s. The lack of diversity on the board exposes the HBCU’s to major changes.

The plan will have grave implications to those students who seek to enroll in programs targeted for being unessential in a changing economy. Students seeking a liberal arts education may be forced to consider options outside the public education system.  Students with the resources to attend competitive private liberal arts schools will not be impacted by the change.  Those students in search of training outside the purview of the UNC master plan will be forced to make options that may not fit their area of interest.

There are serious questions regarding the motives behind proposed changes.  The state expects 3.6 percent revenue growth next year.  The system is not in dire need of radical changes at this time.  Republicans are intent on raising discussions devoid of significant reason to justify the need.  It can be assumed that this is an attack on North Carolina’s public education system, and, more specifically, an attack to undermine efforts to attract more minorities into higher education. 

This is certainly an assault on liberal arts education.  It will result in the loss of jobs and will negatively impact communities with economies dependent of a university or college.  It will shift the way we view education and force students into making decisions rooted in economics versus the desire to follow their true interest. Many will conclude there is nothing wrong with forcing students to make practical decisions.

Efforts to make NC system a glorified technical school should be fought.  The key is in providing options for those seeking to match their skills with interest.  The goal should always be to grant people a place to celebrate history, embrace culture and connect with the best we have as a state.

This is not a business.  We are not making workers.  Hopefully, we are preparing all students to think.


  1. "Hopefully, we are preparing all students to think."
    That would be the death nail to the conservative platform. They need people dumb and desperate.

  2. What a shame that Mr. Stephen Bumgardner immediately denigrates the discussion with an ad hominem attack on all conservatives by stating they need people "dumb and desparate" to advance their agenda. I'm sure that Conservatives would make the same blanket statement about Liberals. Everyone needs to feel superior to someone, I guess. Doesn't make their ideas any more valid, however.

    Carl does finish with the key statement that "Hopefully, we are preparing all students to think." I agree, but not sure that our universities are actually doing so.

    Now I want to ask the seemingly naive question, "Do HBCU's still serve a purpose?" Other than a few standout HBCU's, have they merely become a repository for the less able student, since the better minority students usually enroll at more academically strict institutions? Do minority college students actually thrive better when they are the majority of the student population? If so, why? Also, why do we seek balanced racial diversity in our pre-college public schools, if racial grouping is better at the college level?

    I don't ask the above questions to be an agent provacateur. I just don't know the answers and would like to learn. All of my personal schooling has been in integrated schools, but, except for one year, had student populations with slight white majorities. Carl's advanced education seems to have been in similar schools. If anyone reading this blog went to an HBCU, their opinion would be solicited.

    1. "Anonymous" - I take significant exception to your comment, "have they merely become a repository for less able students...?" The ASSUMPTION that Historically Black Colleges and Universities cater to mediocrity simply because they are filled with minorities is akin to racism, no matter your ethnic background. I am a proud graduate of Bennett College for Women and there is nothing mediocre about me. I am the product of a middle class Black family that takes education very seriously, my mother graduated from Princeton. I was privately educated from pre-school through high school, attending a prestigious women's prep school in NJ. I made the decision to attend an HBCU because I'd had the opposite experience of many Black students in America, I was one of the few Blacks in the schools that I had previously attended.

      HBCUs will always serve a purpose as long as there is racism and bigotry in this country. I have friends and family members that began their college experience at Ivy League schools only to transfer to HBCUs because of the trials faced due to the color of their skin.

      If you did not intend to be an agent provocateur, you should have phrased your questions in an objective manner and lacking your own obvious bias. I learned to do that at an HBCU... :). I also learned to spell the word PROVOCATEUR, but I'm mediocre? Laughable.

    2. I am a proud graduate of Elizabeth City State Univ. I graduated top of my large high school class. I was accepted into Carolina, ECSU and Columbia Univ in NYC. I attended ECSU because I wanted the HBCU experience. You can blame Bill Cosby for creating the sitcom "A Different World". I sought that and I feel ECSU gave me my "Hilman College experience" and prepared me for the future. I have gone on to receive my master's and I am currently working towards my PhD. From day one the professors were educating us that a BA/BS is only the 1st step. Many of my fellow ECSU alum are pursuing advanced degrees so I certainly don't see us as mediore.

    3. I am probably considered some sort of outlier in this situation but I am one of the students who attends ECSU. I am neither mediocre or a "minority."

      I graduated high school with honors AND in the top 20 students of my class. I got ~1730 on my SAT and got 3s and 4s acfoss the board in AP courses. I am no idiot, and I wasn't forced to go to any school.

      I attend ECSU because I chose to. I did my research, I looked into other schools, and everywhere I looked the cost of living and tution made me cringe. Of course I could have struggled to work extra hours and fought for scholarships but what good is putting myself into debt and stressing myself out when I could receive a education comparable to one I would receive elsewhere for a third of the cost.

      I have had amazing experiences here. Made amazing friends and had many excellent teachers. None of them are mediocre. None of them are stupid or deserved to be lumped together in the "minority."

      As long as you have "big" schools charging way too much for entirely too little you will always need schools that offer value and "bang for the buck."

    4. I recently read an article about GRE applicants and found out that while there are over 4000 predominantly white colleges and universities, there are only 103 HBCU's. Of the 30,000 African American applicants, 10,000 of them graduated from HBCU's. ASTONISHING! 20,000/4000 PWCU VERSUS 10,000/103 HBCU'S. HBCU's are the winners, hands down.

  3. Imagine a world where you are never given an opportunity. Never given an opportunity to learn. Never given an opportunity to grow and develop. Never given an opportunity to flourish as a student or better yet, a human. That's how many African American students finishing high school feel. They have the drive and motivation, the willingness to succeed; however, their gpa says they aren't quite "smart enough" or ready for a 4-year university. Of course, there are community colleges they can attend and perhaps transfer after a couple of years. Then again, based on your response, schools that are a "repository for the less able student" may be obsolete. I challenge that notion. I challenge those who deem HBCU's, as well as community-based colleges, unnecessary. There is a plethora of students who wish to obtain further education beyond that of a highschool diploma, but will never be accepted at your "mainstream" PWI (primarily white institution). That's where HBCU's come into play. They give said individuals a fair chance to obtain an 4-year college degree and further equip them with the tools necessary to succeed in society.

    I agree that there are a few HBCU's that are mainstream, ones that everyone always hear about. However, there are many more that produce high-quality individuals who go on to do great things in the world.

    This idea to put an end to HBCU's is nothing more than an effort to further put a separation between the wealthy minority and the working middle-class majority-those who can't otherwise financially afford to attend larger institutions of higher learning. As for people such as myself who went to a HBCU and am now one month away from completing my Master of Science degree, I can say that had I not been given the opportunity to flourish as an African American man, I'm not sure what I'd be doing with my life.

    What people must understand is that we have been taught "equality" our entire lives. Sadly true equality still does not exist on all levels. This has been proven numerous times. I recall a show on dateline or 20/20 where a more qualified black man submitted his resume as well as a less qualified caucasian man. Both were interviewed; however only the caucasian was contacted for follow-up interviews. Why is that? HBCU give their students the opportunity to prepare for situations such as this. The programs are more enriching for the student population which educates them on how to push through adversities such as this and how to overcome them.

    So, to answer your question, YES HBCU's are necessary. They are not reserved for the lowly skilled student but for those of us who deserve a fair chance. Those of us who want to flourish.

  4. Why not merge Western Carolina with Appalachian State University?

    1. Makes sense.. No point in having two universities in such a sparsely populated part of the state.

  5. Using this logic, the UNC School of the Arts should be the first on the chopping block.

  6. OMG...Not again! First when I was in school there was talk of taking away ECSU ma,e to become UNC-Elizabeth City, then taking away funding that would impact the HBCU's and UNC-Pembroke in the UNC system. I pull for my HBCU and all HBCUs. The UNC system should rethink and reanayle what they are doing and oepn their eyes to the rich culture of HBCUs and support what they are doing.

    PROUD Elizabeth City State University Alumn

  7. North Carolina A & T is the HBCU Harvard of the South. Leave it alone! Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) should be merged with UNC-Greensboro for the sake of providing oversight over the antics of WSSU administration.

  8. I am a proud Aggie but it makes sense that they would want to merge UNCG and NC A&T. No where else in the state or in the country as a matter of fact are there to state supported schools that close to each other. Save FAMU, and FSU. Do I want them to? Nooo!!! The only thing that negates the argument for merging is NC A&Ts success at preparing African Americans for careers in the natural sciences agriculture and engineering. Its prepared more African American students for successful careers in those fields than any other school and thats not just speculation. A merge with UNCG has a big chance of putting an end to that. Will this argument hold up in Raleigh? Hell no the only way to stop this from happening is through NC A&Ts notoriously active alumni base. The best thing to do is make a huge NC A&T alumni association contribution to McCrorys reelection fund and I promise you want hear anything else about this business.

    @Anonymous Plenty of schools have "outlived there purpose". That does not mean you close them they should evolve with time as it progresses. The argument that they should be closed due to their lower standards for admissions I find to be an elitist argument. This country is built on the idle that through hardwork you should be able to pull yourself to a higher level in life. One of the most sought ways to do this is through higher education. People with less resources in there youth are proven to make lower grades. So if someone came from a poorer background didnt get amazing grades and couldnt get into UNC Chapel Hill or NC State they should just give up right? Wrong schools like NC A&T are perfect for the niche of people looking for upward mobility. Lower admission standards Lower cost and a quality education that will get you places. You show up your prove yourself worthy and you go places thats how North Carolina A&T works. No silver spoons here.