Several of the country’s historically Black colleges and universities continue to struggle under Trump, whose promises for funding and healing various woes have turned up mostly empty.
This president promised to pump a half billion dollars into HBCU’s budgets with an executive order that established a White House HBCU initiative last year. This initiative was looked as a method to keep all HBCU’s doors open to millions of promising Black students. However, Alabama’s Concordia College will soon close its doors. Schools still face funding issues to no avail, with not enough transparency on how Trump is helping HBCUs.
We have to ask this question, in the words of Janet Jackson: what has Trump really done for HBCU’ lately?
It seems that Trump likes to throw bones our way, right? He announced that Johnny C. Taylor Jr., former head of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, as chairman of his HBCU Board of Advisers on Tuesday, the White House announced. But judging the presidential track record, the appointment doesn’t offer much hope or real comfort.
Some HBCU officials who met with Trump as far back as last February have said the meetings for federal support were not fruitful. Former Morehouse College President John Wilson Jr. issued a statement calling Trump’s meeting with more than 60 HBCU presidents about his executive order “troubling” last February, according to The Huffington Post.
What was also troubling was Trump having implied that federal financing for historically Black colleges and universities was unconstitutional during his signing of a government spending bill last May. Yet, he vowed to make HBCUs a top priority.
The bottom line is in, well, the bottom line: Where’s the money? Many problems at HBCU’s have been unresolved as the legacies of these schools are being compromised. Here are the worst issues:
Money to keep these institutions afloat remains a huge concern. One area that needs attention is limited capital improvement funds, Inside Higher Education reported.
Debts are also on the radar. A recent budget included a provision that cleared more than $330 million owed by four HBCUs, including Dillard University, in U.S. Education Department loans borrowed for Hurricane Katrina recovery, The New Orleans Advocate reported. Hopefully, the White House will move further on this matter.
Five HBCUs have completely closed since 1989, according to The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. This list includes Natchez Junior College, Morristown College, Mary Holmes College, Lewis College of Business and St. Paul’s College. Concordia College will soon be added to this list if something drastic isn’t done to save the school.
Recruitment efforts have been put into jeopardy at some schools, including Morris Brown College in Atlanta. Much of the campus’s buildings were abandoned and dilapidated in recent years, an unfortunate product of the school losing its accreditation following a financial scandal. Enrollment went from 2,700 students in 2003 to fewer than 20 in 2015, taught by mostly volunteer faculty, Buzzfeed reported.
“We’ve been in a battle,” Morris Brown’s school President Stanley Pritchett told NBC News last year.
Some schools are vying for more support of its academics. Four historically Black schools — Bowie State, Coppin State, Morgan State and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore — sued Maryland after the colleges claimed the state had created a segregated university system. They argued that White institutions with similar academic programs were well-funded, while their schools were not. They also said the state of Maryland should fund helping schools to “develop new and advanced academic programs.” The schools were offered a $100 million settlement, The Washington Post reported earlier this month.