The HBCUs are taking immediate steps making plans to rise to President Obama’s challenge: for the United States to have the highest percentage of college graduates by the time 2020 arrives. Approximately 100 presidents from historically black institutions of higher education will be meeting in Atlanta to converse on how they can do their part to fulfill Obama’s vision.
The Associated Press reports that “John Wilson, executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, says the country will need to produce about 8 million more graduates — 2 million of whom need to be African-American, and 200,000 from historically black colleges” in order for Obama’s goal to come into fruition. The problem is that many current and prospective black college students are dependent upon financial aid such as the Pell Grant which is being eyeballed by Congress as prime meat for cutting.
Mary Evan Sias, president of Kentucky State University, says, “You shouldn’t have to divide and say access or success. At a time when we need to be graduating more students, we can’t afford to drop the amount of money that we’re giving those students.” Whereas this appears to be a reasonable observation, Clark Atlanta University President Carlton Brown foresees Obama’s goal still being attainable. He states that “we have to understand that there has to be some investment in pre-college education and a whole new standard of outcomes. It’s possible, but we need the political will.”