This week, four presidents of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across Florida met as they showcased their institutions and insisted their schools will continue to play a role in the Sunshine State. 

At the first Florida HBCU Impact Summit in Tallahassee this week, the presidents of Florida A&M University (FAMU), Bethune-Cookman University (BCU), Edward Waters College (EWC) and Florida Memorial University (FMU) talked about the challenges and opportunities that HBCUs are facing in the state. They noted they make up four percent of colleges in the state while offering 18 percent of Bachelor of Science degrees earned by African Americans on Florida and $833 million to the state’s economy. 

FAMU President Larry Robinson said America was falling behind on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) due to a lack of diversity–and HBCUs could help with that. 

“There’s a tremendous amount of talent inside the classrooms of these four institutions and others like them across the country,” Robinson said. 

“The next moon shot is the realization that we need to take advantage of the talent that is resident in these universities we call HBCUs,” Robinson added. “It’s the next big thing and we really need to embrace that.”

FMU President Jaffus Hardrick said that his school was going to aim for an increasingly larger profile in the years to come, pointing to FMU’s marching band and football team as ways to garner more attention. 

“We are bringing that level of creativity back to make sure we are making a big difference,” Hardrick said. “We will no longer be a secret. Everyone is going to know what we are doing. We are significant. We are relevant, and we are here to stay.”

BCU President E. LaBrent Chrite was named to his post back in April and started his new assignment a month ago. He offered his first take on his responsibilities. ADVERTISING