Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., and South Carolina State University President James E. Clark.
Florida A&M University (FAMU) President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., will be joined by presidents from Howard University, Spelman College and South Carolina State University (SCSU) for the University’s annual Black History Month Town Hall.
The 90-minute virtual event, themed “The Rise and Relevance of HBCUs,” will also feature Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., and South Carolina State University President James E. Clark. It will be streamed live 7 p.m. Thursday, February 11, on Zoom and the FAMU Facebook page.
The recent inauguration of Howard alumna Kamala Harris as U.S. vice president and the nomination of FAMU alumna Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee helped put HBCUs in the spotlight. The virtual town hall will provide a forum to discuss the fascinating moment in which HBCUs find themselves, Robinson said.
“This is an intriguing time for HBCUs,” Robinson said. “The role of HBCUs in the ongoing pandemic and social justice initiatives highlights the need and relevance of our institutions today, while the successes and contributions of our alumni remind us of why HBCUs are so vital to the future of this nation and the world.”
President Frederick said Howard and other HBCUs make a significant difference compared to their size.
“HBCUs make up 3 percent of the U.S. colleges and universities yet graduate 25 percent of African Americans who earn bachelor’s degrees. At Howard University, we are the top producer of undergraduates who later earn a Ph.D. in natural sciences. We are the top producer of African American students entering medical schools in the U.S. Thus, HBCUs still have a critical mandate to help produce the next generation of change- makers and to continue diversifying so many fields,” Frederick said. “We cultivate the kind of servant leaders needed to make sure our country works for the betterment of all people and for refining a vision of America that aligns with our nation’s founding principles of equality and justice.”
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Since its founding, Spelman College has been a leader in preparing Black women to become global leaders, President Campbell said.
“As one of the country’s top 10 innovative liberal arts colleges, we produce more black women who obtain Ph.D.’s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and send more Black women to study abroad than any other institution in the country. With a number four ranking in social mobility, Spelman, like other HBCUs, provides a stellar educational experience that lifts whole families and communities, which is critical to the nation’s economic engine,” Campbell said. “Alumnae leaders like Nobel Peace Prize nominee Stacey Abrams and incoming Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Rosalind Brewer have a global impact that moves markets and advances civic engagement and social justice. HBCUs have always been and will continue to be a necessity for American excellence.”
South Carolina State University President Clark said SCSU, which has the only four-year nuclear engineering degree program at an HBCU, produces leaders in STEM, including research, focused on cancer disparities among African Americans.
SCSU also produced leaders in law, civil rights, and politics, including Democratic whip, Congressman James E. Clyburn. Worth noting, SCSU continues to graduate “a lion’s share of much-needed educators” in the Palmetto state and is second only to West Point in the number of African American generals produced, Clark said.
“Responding to racial and social injustice is at the core of who we are. This is based in part on a heightened awareness brought on by the “Orangeburg Massacre” that occurred 53 years ago this week on our campus when three young African American men were shot and killed while running away from police,” Clark added. “Our sensitivities further lead us to provide the access and affordability that so many of our first-generation college attendees so desperately need. And from the unique opportunity we provide today comes many of the leaders of tomorrow.”