Historically black colleges and universities perform better on core curriculum requirements than other institutions of higher education, according to a survey by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

But the president of one HBCU told The College Fix he thinks another factor is more important in student success at HBCUs: They don’t enroll “racist” students.

Dillard University’s Walter Kimbrough emphasized the campus climate over the curriculum in an interview, saying that his students don’t have to deal with the same issues as black students at non-HBCU institutions.

“I think now many black high school students are experiencing more overt racism, so they are looking for places where race is not a day to day issue to be navigated,” he wrote in an email. “At an HBCU students can just be students and not worry about the politics of race.”

When asked what other schools could do to emulate the curricular success of HBCUs, Kimbrough suggested they need to be more selective.

“I think many have worked to be more inclusive, but those schools still enroll students who don’t have the same value of diversity and inclusion,” he told The Fix. “A university may do everything right but they will still enroll racist students, faculty and staff who will make the climate uncomfortable for black students.”

Kimbrough’s remarks may understate how controversial he has been at Louisiana’s Dillard, including for his endorsement of viewpoint diversity and freedom of expression.

In a recent Forbes column on his group’s survey, ACTA President Michael Poliakoff specifically praised Kimbrough for not bowing to campus pressure to cancel a 2016 debate among Senate candidates that included David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader.

“I just believe that our brand and what we do on a day-to-day basis is bigger than that,” Kimbrough told Inside Higher Ed at the time. (Dillard hosted Duke four decades earlier, as well.)

“The lifeblood of the liberal arts is the free exchange of ideas,” Poliakoff wrote, and HBCUs have shown “remarkable resistance” to the trend of “shout-downs, disinvitations, trigger warnings, and the like.” He said Kimbrough told him that HBCUs “always had to show the most courage” to provide free speech on campus.

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