Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Recent HBCU Accreditation Wins and Losses

Nowadays the final bankruptcy of U.S. colleges and universities is usually proceeded by loss of accreditation because students cannot obtain federal grants and loans if they attend colleges and universities that are not accredited by federally recognized accreditation bodies. Accordingly, the location of the vast majority of HBCUs in the nation's southern states makes the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges the ultimate arbiter of the survival of the HBCU community.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

A Proposed Agenda for the WHI-HBCUs in 2013-2017 ... Part 1

The complex agenda for the White House Initiative for HBCUs (WHI-HBCUs) during President Obama's first term (2009-1013) can be found HERE. Its mantra was "Advancing Creative Interventions and Disruptive Innovations."

Making the Most of the Next Four Years

Late last night a friend sent me a link to a story in the Palm Beach Post that began with the following headline:
Former Florida GOP leaders say voter suppression was reason they pushed new election law

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Graduation Rates of Black Students at High STEM Colleges and Universities -- Part 2

Originally posted in November 2012 ... Latest revision: Friday 8/8/14 @ 1:07 pm

The revised version of this note has been moved to ==> HERE

The DLL apologizes for this inconvenience.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Graduation Rates of Black Students at High STEM Colleges and Universities -- Part 1

Originally published in October 2012 ... Last revision: Thursday 8/8/14 @ 11:58 am

The revised version of this note has been relocated to ==> HERE

The DLL apologizes for this inconvenience

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

But What About the Other 91 Percent???

The following quote from a page on the Website of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) contains a succinct version of the most widely cited justification for the continued existence of HBCUs:
"While the 105 HBCUs represent just three percent of the nation’s institutions of higher learning, they graduate nearly 20 percent of African Americans who earn undergraduate degrees. In addition, the institutions graduate more than 50 percent of African American professionals and public school teachers.

Friday, October 05, 2012

FAQs About HBCUs

The FAQs page has moved to ==> HERE

The DLL apologizes for this inconvenience.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

HBCUs and Disruptive Technologies

The White House Initiative on HBCUs (WHI-HBCUs) hosted the "HBCU Week Conference 2012" that began on Tuesday morning, September 25, 2012, and ended at midday on Wednesday, September 26, 2012. During the Tuesday evening dinner, the WHI-HBCUs posed the following question to attendees:
"What innovation (action or solution) on your HBCU campus will make the biggest difference in stronger advancement or fundraising results"
The best responses would be shared with all attendees during the "town meeting" that was held on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Notes on the HBCU Week Conference 2012

This note is the follow-up to my previous "End of an Era." In that note I voiced my concerns that the HBCU community was leaving an old era and entering a new one that threaten the continued existence of each and all unless they made profoundly transformative changes. I mentioned my decision to  attend my first HBCU Week Conference in many years with the intention of listening to the comments of other attendees in order to get some sense of how much my concerns were or were not shared by other members of our community. The conference started yesterday and ended today. The resuts? Good news and bad news.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

End of an Era

The 2012 National HBCU Week Conference, hosted by the White House Initiative on HBCUs (WHI-HBCUs), will be held this coming Tuesday and Wednesday, September 25th and 26th. It's been a long time since I attended one of these annual events, but I couldn't miss this one. I'm not going because I want to hear the carefully prepared remarks of the dozens of speakers at the podiums, but because I want to listen to the concerns spontaneously expressed by the hundreds of attendees, unfiltered by the media.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Most Important HBCUs ... to Google

How important is your HBCU? Of course your HBCU is very important to you ... but how important is it to anyone else? To prospective students? To government agencies looking for potential contractors? To foundations seeking worthy recipients for donations?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Response to an Unpublished Comment

Yesterday a reader submitted a provocative comment on the "Best of Blogs" page. The following note is an edited version of an email that I sent to the reader in response. I've omitted any references to the names and statistics mentioned in the reader's comment that could identify specific persons associated with a specific HBCU for reasons noted in my opening paragraphs. As it happens, Gmail returned my response as "undeliverable" ... Given that I copied and pasted the reader's email address into my response, the reader must have mistyped his or her email address when submitting the comment ... or deliberately entered a false address in order to preserve his or her anonymity from me. No matter. The comment merited a serious response.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Telling HBCU Success Stories ... Condensed Version

On June 4th, I posted a long note on this blog, HBCU Websites -- Some Best Practices, that made the following assertion:
"As the manager of the Digital Learning Lab (DLL), I have visited each of the 105 HBCU Websites every week since 2003 in search of announcements about their academic achievements or upcoming academic events, i.e., announcements and events related to their teaching & learning, their research, and their community service. I then post links to these announcements on the DLL's "Gateway to HBCUs" Web portal and also add them to the DLL's searchable database."
In other words, the Gateway to HBCUs is a gateway to a growing collection of HBCU success stories.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Best HBCUs for Online Degrees in 2012

Note: The 2013 update for this post is in process
A. Context
The Babson Survey Group recently reported that a majority of the faculty polled in a national survey regarded online education with "more fear than excitement" -- a sentiment based on their assessment that online programs for non-traditional students were not as good as face-to-face programs for traditional students. (See “Conflicted: Faculty and Online Education, 2012”)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Institutional Reform vs. the Student/Parent Entrepreneur

Institutional reform, by definition takes years to implement at any level. So when you go to the principal in October to point out some serious deficiencies in your child's second grade math class, he or she may respond by telling you all of the wonderful improvements they are about make in second grade math, reforms that will start next year, but be fully implemented the year after ... and you quietly note that by that time your son or daughter will be starting fourth grade. What to do? What to do?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A MOOC MOOC and a MOOC for Launching Online Programs at HBCUs

The MOOC MOOC, organized by the good folk at Hybrid Pedagogy, began last Sunday, August 12th, and ended today, August 18th. It was billed as a MOOC about MOOCs. In other words, it was  an introduction to MOOCs in the format of a MOOC, i.e., a massive open online course. But for me as a student/participant, it turned out to be an intense, chaotic, catalytic learning experience that greatly accelerated my thinking about how to facilitate the launch of a comprehensive set of online and blended degree & certificate programs at my own HBCU, an initiative that began in January 2011.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Video Introductions to cMOOCs for HBCUs ... modified 4/27/13

Like many other members of the HBCU community, I have read many articles and reports in the higher education media over the course of the last year about MOOCs. All of these readings were written by well informed reporters but, from what I have learned in my first four days as a student/participant in the MOOC MOOC, most of these reports were way off base.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Short Memoir About a Writing Class Without a Teacher

Last update: 8/15/2012
Note: This essay was written as my response to an assignment in the "MOOC MOOC" -- a MOOC about MOOCs.  We were asked to address "participant pedagogy" --  methods that empower students to do most/all of the teaching.

Having worked as an engineer from 1963 until 1967, I resumed my graduate studies in the fall of that year, switching from math to urban planning, my reaction as a Black American to the riots/rebellions that had flared up in central cities all over the country that summer.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


A. Background
The hype about MOOCs ("Massive Open Online Courses") in the media ever since 160,000 students enrolled in Stanford University's Artificial Intelligence course in the fall 2011 semester encouraged some MOOC pioneers, whose involvement predates Stanford's by a few years,  to launch the MOOC MOOC. This is a short, intensive MOOC about MOOCs that is designed to enable participants to discover what MOOCs are and can be from the inside and/or refine their previous conceptions. The MOOC MOOC started on Sunday, August 12th and will run until Saturday, August 18th.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

MOOCs -- Demand and Supply

A. Demand
Scenarios about the possible uses of free, non-credit, massive open online courses, i.e., MOOCs, produced by some of the world's most elite colleges and universities have recently been repeated so often in higher education news media, websites, and blogs that they have begun to have the familiar ring of old news accounts of things that have actually happened instead of plausible hypotheticals. Indeed, I myself have posted my own versions of these fanciful tales in the last couple of months on this blog. So just for the record, let's go one more round as to the roles that our current conventional wisdom expects free elite MOOCs to play before considering what now seems to me to be the more likely alternative non-elite sources of these revolutionary tools ... tools that won't be free ... and won't be as open

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Saturday, August 04, 2012

MOOCs and Other Online Courses Don't Have to Be as Good as Face-to-Face Courses

OK, I'm kidding. But now that I have your undivided attention, let me take this opportunity to turn the tables on all of the shrill critics of online education who are still out there, and you know who you are -- those of you who nodded in sage agreement when you read about the Babson Group's survey "Conflicted, Faculty and Online Education 2012," that found that most of the faculty respondents expressed "more fear than excitement" about online education.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Elite MOOCs -- Short Term and Long

The sudden eruptions of free MOOCs (massive open online courses) from the nation's most elite universities during the academic year just ended were coupled with the melodramatic fairy tale at the University of Virginia wherein a popular headmistress was summarily dismissed from Hogwarts by a gaggle of evil wizards because she hadn't mooked fast enough. But she was quickly reinstated; whereupon she promptly waved her wand, murmured "enhance the brand" and they all mooked happily ever after ... :-)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Executive Summary of the DLL's "HBCU Online & Blended Degree Programs -- 2012"

Note: The 2013 update for this note is in process.

In July 2012 the Digital Learning Lab (DLL) produced its fifth report since 2005 that summarizes the distance learning programs offered by HBCUs for non-traditional students. This July 2012 edition covers online and blended degree programs. ... Note: link to full report at bottom of this summary

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Supply and Demand -- Online Programs in The Great Recession

It’s generally expected that economic downturns drive unemployed workers to enroll in degree and certificate programs that will, hopefully, enable them to acquire new skills which they will use to obtain new jobs; and that employees who still have jobs will enroll in degree and certificate programs in order to acquire new skills that will enable them to keep the jobs they already have.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

MOOCs in Brief

The biggest news in distance learning in recent years, both in immediate, eye-popping headlines and in potential long-term impact, was the series of announcements by the nation’s leading universities of their intention to offer free MOOCs – massive open online courses. (Note: Pronounced "mooks" ... For discussions of the original, more extensive concept of a MOOC, click here for Wikipedia and click here for a video.)

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Seven HBCU Strategies for Survival and Success

Impending Collapse
Like other members of the HBCU community, I have been concerned for many years about the long-term survival of HBCUs. My obsession with this question has been expressed in four notes on this blog titled, "Why Are HBCUs Still Needed?" (Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV) and related notes ("From HBCUs to BCUs", "HBCUs as a National Laboratory", etc).  But in recent months my thinking has returned to its engineering roots. Being needed is not sufficient to ensure the survival of any institutions under any circumstances. So my question has become, "What should HBCUs do to survive the impending flood of IT innovations in higher education that will overwhelm so many non-HBCUs?"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Earnings Lost by Opting Out of STEM -- updated 6/27

Yesterday (25 June 2012), the online editions of Inside Higher Education and the The Chronicle of Higher Education posted articles that called their readers' attention to a recently published research report, "The Earnings Benefits of Majoring in STEM Fields Among High Achieving Minority Students" by Tatiana Melguizo and Gregory C. Wolniak (Research in Higher Education, Volume 53, Number 4, 2012).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What Corporate Management Can Teach Academia???

Last update: Friday 6/3/2015
I originally posted this note back in June 2012 in response to an outrageous overreach by the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia when it fired Uva's president, Dr. Teresa A. Sullivan. President Sullivan responded with a statement that contained the following quote:
"Corporate-style, top-down leadership does not work in a
great university.  Sustained change with buy-in does work."
An article in the Chronicle (6/15/12) suggested that President Sullivan's unexplained dismissal reflected the influence of a powerful alumnus, a venture capitalist, who proposed that UVa needed leadership that embodied "strategic dynamism" -- whatever that is. Another article in the Chronicle (7/17/12) implied judgement by the Board that Dr. Sullivan hadn't implemented MOOCs fast enough. The eventual good news, of course, was that the Board subsequently rescinded its decision by reinstating Dr. Sullivan president of UVa.

Monday, June 04, 2012

HBCU Websites -- Some Best Practices

Part I -- It's a Web World
A consensus has recently emerged within the HBCU community that lack of public awareness of the recent achievements of HBCUs makes them vulnerable to judgments that they have nothing more to contribute to U.S. society, that HBCUs have a distinguished legacy, but a dubious future. HBCUs need to tell their stories more effectively so that the general public can better understand why they are still needed. I agree with this consensus.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Howard-Online @ Gig.U

"The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project, or Gig.U, is a broad-based group of over 30 leading research universities from across the United States. Drawing on America’s rich history of community-led innovation in research and entrepreneurship, Gig.U seeks to accelerate the deployment of ultra high-speed networks to leading U.S. universities and their surrounding communities. Improvements to these networks drive economic growth and stimulate a new generation of innovations addressing critical needs, such as health care and education." (This description is from Gig.U's home page)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Commencement Address 2012

Today, May 12, 2012, was Commencement Day at Howard University, my long-time employer ... and at A&T, Winston-Salem, Tuskegee, Virginia Union, and Claflin to name a few other HBCUs. So I got to thinking, "What would I say to the happy young graduates if I were asked to give the commencement address at one of these institutions? "

Monday, May 07, 2012


Last updated: Friday 12/13/13
A. The edX Partnership
Academia's good news last week was the announcement by Harvard University and M.I.T. that they were forming a partnership called edX that will offer online courses. Each partner will invest $30 million in this venture. (Click here for a video of their press conference.)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Why Are HBCUs Still Needed? -- Part IV

Keepers of the Dream
This is my fourth attempt to address this question, and each version has been more pessimistic than the last as to the likelihood that the non-HBCUs in the integrated mainstream of U.S. higher education will close the persistent academic achievement gaps -- in retention rates, graduation rates, GPAs, participation in STEM fields, etc -- between their black and non-black students. (For example, see The Education Trust's May 2012 report "Replenishing Opportunity in America") The persistence of these gaps becomes ever more ominous as the percentage of black students enrolled in non-HBCUs rises to 90 percent and beyond.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Howard-Apps-Dev Group -- A Progress Report, April 2012

A. Howard University's High-Tech Incubator for Students
In early March 2012 a few colleagues at Howard University joined me in starting a high-tech incubator for Howard's students, who are mostly black. Our initiative's full name is the Howard University Applications Developers' Group, or Howard-Apps-Dev for short. We are currently focused on encouraging black students to become founder/entrepreneurs in the market for mobile apps, i.e., consumer applications for smart phones and tablets.

This note presents a progress report on our first eight weeks of operation. It's posted on the public HBCU-Levers blog so that it can be used by other HBCUs, MSIs, and colleges & universities having substantial black enrollments in their efforts to establish similar incubators on their own campuses. Additional progress reports will be posted on this blog from time to time, perhaps quarterly.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Moses, Joshua, and Instagram

In one the first speeches he made after he declared his candidacy for the U.S. Presidency in March 2007, then Senator Barack Obama -- addressing a congregation in Selma, Alabama -- summoned the post-Civil Rights generation to take up the challenges still facing black America with the same courage as the Civil Rights giants who had gone before them.

Monday, April 02, 2012

High Tech Incubators for (Black) Students

The "black" in the title of this note may prove to be irrelevant to its content, but is central to its purpose. On the one hand, academia's steady production of non-black, high-tech superstars provides ample evidence that American colleges and universities somehow manage to stimulate non-black students to become successful high-tech entrepreneurs:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Response to a Very Important Comment ... with a P.S.

Earlier this evening (3/22/12), Mr. Kalimah Priforce submitted the following comment to an earlier post on this blog, Fight or Flight (revised)

"Racism to Blame, Not Affinity Groups, for Lack of Minorities in Tech -"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Closing the Digital Divide at HBCUs

Way back in the mid 1970s, I was an energetic, ambitious young professor at an HBCU. I had a capacity for envisioning sophisticated computer applications and a talent for cutting a lot of computer code real fast. One of the hottest buzzwords in the business press back then was the notion of a "paperless office" -- a super-efficient white collar workplace wherein all documents were digital. No typewriters. No copiers. No inter-office snail mail. No file cabinets. No paper.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Closing the Digital Divide -- Another Opportunity

The Persistence of the Digital Divide
The Digital Divide appears to morph, to shift its shape from time to time; but deep down it remains the same. Unfortunately, its changing skins-of-the-day have distracted attention from its underlying structure, i.e., the stronger communal networks that sustain increasing affluence on the "white" and "yellow" sides of the Divide vs. weaker networks associated with the shrinking shares of the nation's income and wealth on its "black" and "brown" sides. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Affirmative Action Strategies -- 2

Yesterday's announcement (2/21/12) of the Supreme Court's agreement to hear a major affirmative action case brings this controversial initiative to the top of the nation's education policy agenda once again. See "Justices Take Up Race as a Factor in College Entry" (NY Times, 2/21/12), "U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Texas Affirmative Action Case" (Diverse Issues, 2/22), "Counting Justices" (Inside Higher Education, 2/22/12), and "Supreme Court Takes Up Challenge to Race-Conscious Admissions at U. of Texas", (Chronicle, 2/21/12).

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Why are HBCUs Still Needed? -- Part III

Declining Market Share
Relentless financial pressure from the continuing Great Recession ensures  continuation of the long-term decline in the percentage of black American students who attend HBCUs. Within a few years the HBCU share will drop below 10 percent. So I return, once again, to the question that I have addressed a few times before on this blog: "Why are HBCUs still needed?"

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Affirmative Action Strategies -- 1

Last update: Friday 8/8/14
Not all affirmative action programs are the same, nor should they be. Unfortunately, when affirmative action programs are discussed in the media, in policy forums, and even in scholarly publications, the significant differences among these programs are often denied and/or glossed over. As a first step, I suggest that it's useful to distinguish between programs that are based on competitive strategies vs. those based on compensatory strategies.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fight or Flight (revised)

The Greatest and Second Greatest Generations
As a black American, I am especially mindful of a group of pioneers, the successive generations of courageous black activists who pushed the frontiers of freedom in wave after wave, beginning with their emancipation. Whereas some have argued that the "Greatest Generation" of (mostly white) Americans were the brave soldiers and sailors who fought against tyrannical enemies in World War II, I have long believed that the "Greatest Generation" of black Americans were the ex-slaves who lifted themselves and their children up from mass ignorance into mass literacy in the decades following the Civil War.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Paralysis of Racism

By the end of the 20th century, "racism" had become such a "bad word", so politically incorrect that even racists took offense at being called "racist" ... Of course this didn't mean that racism had vanished; what it did mean was that our society had made substantial progress in the hundred years between the aftermath of the Civil War and the legacy of Civil Rights. In the heat of the moment it's sometimes difficult to keep things in perspective, to suppress one's feelings that nothing has changed.

Playing the Race Card

I have long suspected that Speaker Gingrich and the other Republican candidates, except Governor Romney, lacked the cash reserves or the organizational skills to go the distance. Our presidential candidates seem to need two tries to get their election operations right, as demonstrated by the failure of Speaker Gingrich and Governor Perry to gather enough signatures to get on the ballots in the important Virginia primary.