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Guest Blog: Lezli Baskerville of NAFEO: HBCUs doing their part to graduate the next generation of STEM professionals

February 22, 2012

This is a post in the STEMconnector™ guest blog series, featuring Lezli Baskerville, Esquire, President and CEO of National Association For Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO).

“In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama called for training 100,000 new STEM teachers over ten years. This year, The President appealed to Congress to send him legislation that will create an America that is “Built to Last;” “…a country that leads the world in educating its people…[A]n America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs.” America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are poised to do their part in graduating the next generation of excellent, diverse STEM professionals and assisting in creating an America that is “Built to Last.” HBCUs are primed to move from “Good to Great” in meeting the need to broaden substantially the breadth of the STEM workforce, as well as the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of the STEM workforce of today and tomorrow. To do this, the “Built to Last” strategy must include more strategic public and private investments in institutional infrastructure and capacity at the HBCUs graduating disproportionate percentages of traditionally underrepresented students in STEM.

 

HBCUs are a great national resource in producing not only black graduates but US citizens in STEM fields. HBCUs produce disproportionate percentages of blacks with undergraduate degrees in science and engineering (S&E). In 2008, HBCUs, representing just 3.3% of US universities, awarded about 22% of all S&E bachelor degrees earned by blacks. They are the baccalaureate origins for 33% of African Americans who received PhDs in STEM areas in 2006. It is estimated that upwards of 40 percent of African Americans who pursue graduate education in STEM received their undergraduate degrees from HBCUs; and among known U.S. baccalaureate-origin institutions of black S&E doctorate recipients 1997-2006, the top 8 and 20 of the top 50 were HBCUs.

 

Both public and private four-year HBCUs have a greater share of black students majoring in engineering and science than is true nationally among black students, especially comparing HBCUs to non-minority-serving institutions. For instance, among public four-year colleges, 31.1 percent of black students at HBCUs are majors in engineering or science compared to 25.9 percent at non-minority-serving institutions. Among private, not-for-profit, four-year schools, 27.0 percent of black students at HBCUs major in engineering and science compared to 20.8 percent at non-minority-serving institutions. (Dr. William E. Spriggs, Assistant Secretary, United States Department of Labor; Former Chairman, Department of Economics, Howard University in The State of America’s Black Colleges 2008, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education [NAFEO]).

 

The College Board Trends In College Pricing reports indicate that HBCUs are graduating students at a lower cost than their historically white counterparts. The cited results and the lower cost indicate that HBCUs offer a good return on investment of US dollars to educate/train more Americans in STEM.

 

NAFEO is looking forward to serving as a Co-Chair of the US News STEM Summit and to sharing additional information about the leadership HBCUs are playing in STEM, the promising practices they have perfected for graduating students in STEM, and how these institutions must be positioned to lead in building an American that is Built to Last.” Lezli Baskerville, Esquire

 

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