The Grass Is Not Greener at PWIs: A Medical Diagnosis


Walter M. Kimbrough

Recently, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) released a report entitled “Altering the Course: Black Males in Medicine.” Despite the report’s somewhat controversial findings, the association had the courage to share that, since 1978, the number of Black men applying to and enrolling in medical school has declined. While the decrease has been small—1,410 applied in 1978 compared to 1,337 in 2014—it is remarkable that fewer Black men are applying for medical school than almost forty years ago. The same trend held true for Black men enrolling in medical school: 542 enrolled in 1978, decreasing to 515 in 2014.

Most people probably aren’t alarmed by this statistic. But for me, all kinds of warning signals went off. During this time there has been a huge increase in the number of Black college students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 1980, there were 1.1 million undergraduate Black college students, but by 2013, there were over 2.9 million—almost three times as many. Given the great growth in Black enrollment in higher education at large, the fact that medical school enrollment for Black men has actually declined seems that much more alarming.

Perhaps the trend could be due to a more general lack of medical school enrollment, I thought. However, AAMC data shows that the total number of applications to medical school from 1982 to 2013 has grown by 35%, and the number of medical school matriculants during that same time increased by 21%. Again, during a time of great Black undergraduate enrollment growth (164%) and significant medical school enrollment growth (21%), Black male enrollment in medical school actually decreased by 5%.

How can we account for this discrepancy? I thought about it and came up with this theory: The course was altered when Blacks en masse began abandoning historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

In 1980, 191,000 Black students attended HBCUs—17% of all Black undergraduates that year. By 2013 the number of Black HBCU students had grown to 209,000, but this figure accounted for only about 7% of Black undergraduates overall. This means HBCUs are educating a smaller percentage of the nation’s Black students than in the past. Could this be why fewer Black students are pursuing medical school? Do HBCUs prepare their Black students to face the adversity of medical school better than their non-HBCU counterparts?

This theory contradicts conventional Black wisdom: Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) have been historically considered to provide superior educational experiences, including better professors, newer facilities, larger endowments for providing scholarship support, etc. In short, Black communities since the late 1960s have believed that the grass is greener and the ice is colder at PWIs.

If it were true that Black students are getting a better education at PWIs—institutions that can use greater financial resources to attract the top Black students to meet their diversity goals—there would be more Black students enrolled in medical school due to better preparation. Almost forty years of Black students receiving this “better education” would translate into better MCAT scores, which would increase the number of Black students in medical school.

And yet, for Black men in medical school, the opposite has occurred.

This is not simply a one-profession anomaly. A 2009 study by a Columbia University law professor found that between 1993 and 2008, law school spots increased by 3,000, yet the total number of Black law students actually decreased. With more Black students attending “better” institutions in PWIs, we would expect to see an increase in their medical and law school enrollments—and yet the opposite is true.

I am a graduate of three PWIs, and I have always said that for some Black students they can be a great fit. The problem is that they are not a great fit for all of the Black students that attend them, which today is more than 9 out of 10 Black college students. A large number of Black students are getting lost in the greener grass and colder ice of PWIs. The decrease in medical and law school matriculation of Black students are two indicators that prove increased access to PWIs does not guarantee better educational outcomes for Black students.

In February, a new book by Lawrence Ross will be released called Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America’s Campuses. I had a chance to preview it recently and it helps explain this situation. Although Black students in greater numbers find themselves on “better” campuses, they have no answer to the suffocating racism that not only eliminates any perceived benefit from being there but may actually harm their educational outcomes. Look no further than this new study about Black men in medical school, as well as similar data for law schools, as proof.

By abandoning HBCUs, Black students and families have indeed altered the course, but at least in medicine (and law), this new course has been detrimental. With recent studies about decreases in Black family incomes and wealth over the past 40 years, maybe it is time to give HBCUs a new look. While students should always choose the college that is the best fit for them, these indicators suggest that leaving HBCUs for so-called greener grass has actually led many down a path of frustration and failure.

Walter M. Kimbrough is President of Dillard University and an Advisory Board member of Penn’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions.

Title IX Compliance at Women’s MSIs: Sharing Best Practices

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Shawna Patterson

Title IX compliance has become the catch phrase of the year in higher education, as institutions scramble to make certain their procedures and services align with legislation focused on eradicating violence against women. Upholding this legislation is particularly salient for Minority Serving Institutions, as the ramifications involved in noncompliance can include lawsuits, fines, and discontinued access to federal dollars.

For those who don’t know, Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination in programs or functions funded by the federal government. Though signed into law in 1972, the inability of some 100 college and universities to uphold Title IX legislation has spurred consternation at a fever pitch. As it relates to sexual assault, harassment, and relationship violence, women of color are less likely to report incidents because they are often confronted with victim-blaming and disbelief among majority populations. On the heels of these allegations, colleges and universities throughout the U.S. are shoring up their infrastructures, policies, and procedures in order to ensure they are accommodating Title IX requirements to the letter.

However, making considerations for sex-based discrimination is nothing new to women’s colleges. In fact, as two of the only MSIs serving all-women’s populations, Spelman College and Bennett College for Women have demonstrated what it means to create environments that are sensitive to the needs of rape, assault, and harassment survivors. These institutions are unique, as they were specifically founded to serve women of color; their support services are tailored to meet the needs of a diverse group of women students.

Below are some of their best practices that other institutions might replicate to strengthen their own Title IX compliance and better support women on their campuses.

Spelman College

Spelman College has created a comprehensive webpage dedicated to defining Title IX legislation, in addition to outlining University policies and resources. Individuals within the campus community are able to file a report online, and there is a page that outlines clear steps that both survivors and their friends could follow in addressing sexual assault and harassment. At Spelman, survivors of sexual assault and harassment have access to a 24-hour confidential assault hotline established by the University as well as a 24-hour confidential line run by Gradys Hospital Rape Crisis Center. Students are also encouraged to go to the Women’s Health Clinic in Student Health Services (or Piedmont Hospital), the Dean of Chapel, Counseling & Disability Services, Public Safety, and/or file a report with the Title IX Coordinator. Spelman has also forged coalitions with several community organizations, including the Day League, Piedmont Rape Crisis Center, Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault, Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), and Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS).

Spelman has developed a host of initiatives centered on the prevention of violence against women. Programs include Fight Back Self Defense, Bystander Intervention Workshops, movies with small group discussions, and the Sexual Assault Response Team, which involves key University officials charged with developing protocols and standard operating procedures surrounding issues of sexual assault and relationship violence. Spelman also requires first-year students to complete online training modules prior to the start of classes. Specifically, Helping Advocates for Violence Ending Now (HAVEN) is an online educational tool that assists students in identifying and defining different forms of abuse and sexual violence such as harassment, stalking, and physical/verbal assault. Additionally, Spelman has formed a coalition with local agencies in the Atlanta metropolitan area to support the Sex Trafficking and Prevention Series, an intervention program geared towards combatting sex trafficking, bringing awareness to the broader community, and providing survivors with a safe space.

Bennett College for Women

Bennett presents students with a comprehensive listing of policies and procedures, which affords instructions to victims and allies on how to navigate survival. University referrals include the Counseling Center, Public Safety, Student Health Center, the Office of Human Resources, and the Title IX Coordinator, but also extend to North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Cone Health, and Family Services of The Piedmont, Incorporated. Additionally, Bennett provides survivors with residential, academic, and transportation accommodations to ensure they feel supported and safe.

In an effort to promote awareness and prevention, students, faculty, and staff have access to a series of educational initiatives at Bennett College. For instance, first-year students undergo training during student orientation where they learn to define harm and consent. Students also acquire information on risk reduction as well as safe and productive ways to respond to these incidents. Other programs include Bystander Training, Housing and Residence Life Workshops, the Safe Spring Break Pledge Drive, the Alcohol, Drug, and Sexual Assault Prevention Annual Fair, and a segment during New Employee Orientation.

While these services may be available on other campuses, they stand apart because both colleges reflect the social identities of women of color. Replicating the communities that exist at Spelman and Bennett may prove challenging because they are devoted to supporting the academic, social, and professional needs of minority women. Still, observing how their campus cultures supplement Title IX support services could provide other colleges and universities with a schema on how best to support students of color who are survivors of assault and harassment.

Dr. Shawna Patterson has over 10 years of experience in higher education as a practitioner.  She currently serves as the House Dean of Fisher Hassenfeld College House at the University of Pennsylvania.

When Being a Visiting Scholar Doesn’t Feel Like You’re Visiting: 10 Things I Learned on My Sabbatical


Levon T. Esters

This past semester I had the opportunity to spend my sabbatical leave from Purdue University at the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI). Having never had a sabbatical, I had no idea what was in store for me, especially considering I was going to be working with world-renowned higher education scholar, Dr. Marybeth Gasman. Soon after I arrived, Marybeth and I sat down and reviewed my sabbatical goals and came up with strategies that would help me achieve them so that I could fully maximize my time at the Center. During our initial and subsequent conversations, Marybeth shared several things about the workplace culture at the Center and what contributes most to her staff being productive. As I reflect on my time at the Center, I’ve realized that my official title was that of “visiting scholar” but at no point during my time at the Center did I feel like I was a visitor. Though I could spend a great deal of time sharing numerous examples of what I learned and how each of the Center staff impacted me, I think it would be best if I shared the ten most important things I learned from my sabbatical experience.

  1. Bring Your Whole Self to Work

One of the first things I learned was the importance of bringing your “whole self” to work each and every day. This meant that each person could be who they are and feel comfortable knowing that the personal narratives and diversity they bring to the table would be respected. This was especially important considering the racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity of the Center staff. A more subtle yet equally important aspect of the workplace culture was that we referred to each other by first names. At no point did Center staff or students refer to me as “Dr.” or “Professor.” This subtle expectation was very empowering, especially for students, and contributed to a more equitable organizational culture. Another key element that I appreciated was the “work hard, play hard” mentality of the Center staff. Being able to work with individuals who valued what it meant to put forth their best effort toward the completion of a project but also work equally hard at enjoying themselves after a long day or week was refreshing and contributed to a pleasant workplace environment.

  1. Enhanced Skills as a Researcher

My sabbatical experience enabled me to become a better researcher. In particular, I was able to further develop my skills as a researcher by co-authoring journal manuscripts and book chapters; leading and contributing to the development of Center research briefs; participating in seminars and workshops on statistical software programs such as Stata; and developing qualitative research skills (e.g., interviewing, coding).

  1. Enhanced Skills in Teaching and Learning

I was able to enhance my skills as a teacher by observing Marybeth teach her History in Higher Education course. Recognized as one of Penn’s most outstanding teachers, Marybeth engages students using a variety of instructional approaches that are student-centered and being able to observe her was a unique learning experience. However, what I gained most from my observations was the manner in which Marybeth challenged students, both in terms of causing them to think more deeply about issues impacting higher education as well as the personal biases students held related to issues of power and privilege.

  1. Directing a Center

My sabbatical experience provided the opportunity to gain insight into how to direct a research center. I was able to learn first-hand that serving as a director does not require one to be a micromanager; rather, an effective directorship requires collaboration and empowering others. Marybeth was excellent at hiring exceptional and highly competent staff and then letting them do their jobs. This enabled her to be even more productive because less of her time was spent managing. I also observed how Marybeth cultivated a culture that was highly supportive, where people held each other accountable and the culture of “we” was the dominant and guiding organizational philosophy.

  1. Becoming a Better Mentor to Graduate Students

As one who is firmly committed to mentoring graduate students, I was able to glean from my observations of Marybeth how to become an even better graduate mentor. In particular, I learned that challenging students is a necessity and will serve them well as they prepare for the workforce. Marybeth was masterful at holding students accountable, coaching them for higher-level experiences, building their confidence and intellectual capacity, understanding their growth potential, and providing opportunities for professional growth and development.

  1. Mentoring Undergraduate Students

Though my prior experience mentoring undergraduate students has been positive and contributed to my growth as a faculty member, I was still able to gain insights into how I could be an even more effective mentor to this population of students. For example, I was able to learn the art and craft of using mentoring practices that were developmentally appropriate for use with undergraduate students. More importantly, I learned much from my interactions with students who were from culturally diverse backgrounds that prior to my sabbatical, I had not had the chance to mentor such as those from the Latino/a, Hmong and Filipino community. Taken together, these interactions provide me with culturally rich mentor experiences that will serve me well as a faculty member.

  1. Use of Social Media

The ability to use social media effectively is no longer an option and must be embraced across all levels of the higher education landscape. Prior to my sabbatical, I used social media infrequently and strictly for personal use. However, working at the Center has enabled me to better understand the need, importance, and effectiveness of social media and how it can be used to communicate my research, highlight the work and accomplishments of my graduate students, and disseminate the outcomes and products of my grant projects. Through the collective guidance of the Center staff, I am more confident in my use of social media and better understand how it can help contribute to the development of my professional identify.

  1. Effective and Efficient Use of Time Management

Working collaboratively on projects is commonplace at the Center and occurred at a much higher rate than what I was used to at my home institution. However, the collaborative nature that was present at the Center allowed me to learn from individuals who increased their productivity through effective and efficient time management practices. Working on projects made up of different groups of individuals has contributed greatly to enhancing my capacity for managing multiple tasks while at the same time increasing my productivity.

  1. Grant Proposal and Concept Paper Development

My sabbatical experience also afforded the opportunity to learn from Center staff on how to develop large multi-million dollar grant proposals. Many of the grant proposals I developed during my career were federally funded grant proposals. Conversely, many of the proposals that supported Center projects were from foundations and often required that a concept paper be developed. Because foundation grants are often by invitation only, the conceptualization process of the proposal idea was in many ways different than what I was accustomed to for my work. Thus, being able to attend ‘brainstorming’ sessions with Center leadership team was not only a tremendous learning experience but also inspired me to re-think some of my previously held beliefs on how I could fund my research and programmatic efforts.

  1. Increased Knowledge and Understanding of Issues Affecting of Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs)

One of the primary goals of my sabbatical experience was to increase my knowledge and understanding of MSIs. Without question, this goal has been realized and I will continue to study, work, and advocate on behalf of these institutions. Most importantly, through the mentorship provided by Marybeth and her staff, I have been able increase my knowledge related to issues of educational access and equity, social justice and activism, and women and students of color.

For the better part of six months I engaged with individuals who were thoughtful, passionate, and committed to uplifting MSIs. Moreover, I made it a priority to learn from everyone—staff, faculty, graduate and undergraduate students. Understandably, most individuals would feel dejected for having to leave behind colleagues who are both wonderful and inspiring. However, because I was never made to feel like a visitor, my time at the Center will forever be remembered as a second academic home.


I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to Marybeth Gasman for helping provide me with an exceptional sabbatical experience. A special thank you also goes to the amazing Center staff and students who contributed to my growth and development as a scholar, colleague and friend —Paola ‘Lola’ Esmieu, Andres Castro Samayoa, Alice Ginsberg, William ‘Casey’ Boland, Chris Jimenez, Temitope ‘Tope’ Ligali, Melanie Wolf, Jennifer Yang, Briana O’Neal, Marietess Masult, DeShaun Bennet, Sephanie Mayo, Amanda Washington and Carolyn Karolczyk.

Levon T. Esters is an associate professor of youth development at Purdue University and a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions. Levon’s research focuses on the STEM career development of underrepresented minorities (URMs), mentoring of females and URM graduate students in STEM, and the role of historically Black land-grant institutions in fostering the STEM success of females and URMs.

Guarantee Games Seem To Be Lacking In Holiday Spirit


Karen Gross

I get the concept of guarantee games for HBCUs and some other DI and DII colleges and universities that are financially constrained. The economic woes of some colleges are a situation likely to persist. I also get that wealthier colleges and universities want to play football teams in their non-conference schedule where they are virtually guaranteed a win. I also appreciate that guarantee games are not limited to football and extend other sports like basketball. But, because football ups the stakes in terms of dollars, disparate competition levels and potential devastating injuries, I think games in that sport deserve more attention.

There are notable benefits to these games for both sides. For HBCUs and others, playing high profile teams with television exposure has benefits: there is improved name recognition of the participating institution; there is the excitement of playing against the best and challenging players to see steep competition; there is the “honor” of being in the “big time.” There is also an opportunity for the students to travel to new places, meet new people and have new experiences. There is also the chance to reconnect with high school player friends from one’s own or neighboring schools.

The fiscal upsides are real also. For many cash poor colleges and universities, payment for playing can support a goodly portion of the annual athletic budget. Note the dollars do not just support the team that is playing; it supports all athletics. Yes, as Professor Oliver McGee at Howard University (and a former ACE Fellow) points out, cash is king for HBCUs. Lopsided scores are expected, like final scores are 61 to 0 or something similar. To be sure, miracles can and do happen. While perhaps embarrassing for some players, the benefits of high profile playing (and the $) and the “fun” of it apparently outweigh the rout.

Could we ask who should be making these decisions? Coaches, ADs, Presidents or players?

Despite the identified “positives,” the payment to these smaller, less successful teams leaves me troubled on several fronts. And I know that my position is unpopular. ADs spend time searching for these games and negotiating the best deals. But, before judging my conclusions, at least consider my arguments first.

First, I am bothered by pre-season planning that is designed to produce only wins. I understand why this happens – for rankings, records, practice, playoffs and bowl games options. But, there is something to be said for non-conference games that are the opposite of “gimmes” – out of conference games that challenge and test a team’s meddle. In a culture of winning and given how the sports’ post-season selections are made, winning (even when bought) has benefits. In fact, some institutions refuse to play certain out-of–conference teams pre-season, lest they lose and suffer the accompanying consequences, including humiliation. This even happens in Division III.

Second, I am worried about injuries, and they have happened. Look at the situation now facing Devon Gales from Southern University who was paralyzed in a game against the University of Georgia (an institution that has stepped up to help defray the player’s medical costs and honor him). If the information is correct, Southern received $650,000 for playing that game. Howard University apparently had a half a dozen players injured in their first two games of 2015. Not good by any measure, although injuries are a part of football and it has been argued that the “damage” to players in no worse than usual for the less competitive team. For the record, similar injury issues are diminished in basketball for instance.

Third, I understand playing to win but some of the scores are so ridiculous, you wonder why more of the games were not shortened. I understand that the dominant team brings in its third and fourth string players onto the field; perhaps that is their only chance to play on national TV all season too. That’s a plus. I appreciate the humiliation of “gimme points” as in allowing a field goal or touchdown; it feels like charity. But, good sportspersonship would suggest not putting the pedal to the metal against a totally under-matched opponent. Seems like the phrase others use makes sense: pay to slay.

Fourth, it is my sense that there is something morally offensive in all this although it is hard to capture in words. It feels like sending lambs to the slaughter or feeding meat to captive lions. It gives me the sense that black lives matter less, or at least some student lives. However, many minority players are participating on both teams so my argument does not hold too much water. Putting a stop to these games raises the issue of libertarian paternalism/maternalism. Why should we protect students if they and their institutions have no desire to stop the guarantee games?

Fifth and finally, motivated by the holiday season, we are in the spirit of giving. But, in a strange way, the “gift” of pay-to-play dollars to HBCUs and other institution seems less like a gift and more like a taking. It is a taking of physical well-being, a taking of dignity on some level (whether or not acknowledged) and a taking advantage of those institutions/players less well-heeled and less skilled in exchange for a win — as in winner takes all in America.

Guarantee dollars are, for me, the gift that keeps on taking. It reminds me of someone forced by a Raja to take an exotic white elephant as a gift. The problem with the gift: the costs of keeping and feeding the elephant. Fiscally struggling colleges must take the gift, but they pay for it in other ways. And, yes, I appreciate that guarantee games are not the only issue or challenge facing HBCUs and other colleges/universities.

Ask yourself this: if you had a kid who was playing football for one of the dollar receiving schools, would you be happy with your son playing in a guarantee game? Would you be cheering on the sideline and feeling proud as opposed to exploited? Would this be the message you want your son to receive about how people are treated by bigger, wealthier, often white institutions?

If you can answer “yes,” far be it for me to change the outcome. But I wonder how many parents and guardians would seriously think “yes” is the best and only answer. There must be other options – options where giving is truly giving.

The saddest part for me is that this is one situation where I can see the problem but don’t have a suitable alternative to what we are now doing. There must be some quality answers out there. In the spirit of giving, would you share those?

This post originally appeared on College AD.

Karen Gross serves as Senior Counsel at Widmeyer Communications and is the Former President of Southern Vermont College. Karen also serves as an affiliate of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions.

Soccer and the Spirit of the Quinnite Nation


Michael J. Sorrell

Athletics at small colleges are important for a variety of reasons. At their core, and when taken in their proper context, collegiate sports can be a source of school pride and enhanced campus experiences. However, as the competition for students has become more intense, one of the most popular arguments for intercollegiate athletics is that they can be used to augment campus diversity and recruitment efforts. The thinking goes that by adding certain sports, a school can bolster enrollment by attracting both athletics-minded students and ethnic minorities to campus more easily than through any other initiatives.

On the surface, there is nothing wrong with such a rationale or motivation. Nevertheless, if not properly planned and executed a school can find itself betraying its mission and values simply for the sake of meeting enrollment targets. There is a fine line between noble and well-intentioned compromises and those that would negatively infect one’s institutional culture.

I raise this issue because of what is occurring on the campus of Paul Quinn College. Our enrollment has jumped 55% in the last year and 200% since the spring of 2010. Additionally, the College has its largest Hispanic enrollment in history with 19% of the school’s student body qualifying under this designation. Such growth has coincided with the addition of men and women’s soccer teams and renewed interest in basketball and track. A jaded soul might look at these numbers and declare that we made some type of Faustian bargain in order to grow our campus. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

At Paul Quinn, our athletics programs are an extension of student activities and in complete alignment with our institutional culture. We discontinued football, the Athletic Director is our Dean of Students, every varsity athlete is required to play two sports, and no one receives full athletic scholarships. Instead of adding sports to grow the enrollment, we have done the exact opposite. Sports were added when the College could afford them or when our students requested them.

We have adopted Babson College’s mantra of “entrepreneurial thought and entrepreneurial action.” This extends to how we approach student life, including athletics. Our students are told from the first day of new student orientation that if they would like to pursue an idea or activity, they should submit a proposal to either the Dean of Students or myself. The proposal typically includes their rationale for the activity and an initial attempt at a budget. Each submission is evaluated on its quality and soundness. If the idea is consistent with our culture, the activity is approved and a staff member is assigned to coach the student through the implementation process.

It is as a result of this process that Paul Quinn came to have a varsity soccer program. Four years ago, we received a proposal from a student named Gio Macias. Gio had been a high school soccer star and wanted to continue competing at the collegiate level. Following the directive that all our students have been told, Gio submitted a proposal outlining his vision for a soccer team. In addition to being a soccer lover and entrepreneurial, Gio was also an undocumented citizen who was going to struggle to meet his financial obligations to the College as the years progressed. Instead of allowing this to occur or feigning the inability to do anything about it, we took a different path. We approved the proposal, gave Gio an institutional scholarship to serve as the inaugural head coach, and began our path to build nationally competitive men and women’s soccer programs.

Gio graduated last spring and we have hired a new coach, Jesus Vazquez. Coach Vazquez has built upon the foundation that Gio laid. For the first time in school history, Paul Quinn is fielding full rosters for both teams. While we are thrilled with the on-field progress that the teams are making, we are even happier about the way our soccer players have immersed themselves in all things Quinnite Nation and become integral parts of the Paul Quinn community.

The students at Paul Quinn College will continue to be pushed to think and act entrepreneurially and to develop their own activities. By remaining committed to this formula, the institution is assured that it will not become driven by goals that are inconsistent with the best interests of its students and culture. Such a methodology also ensures that we will always leave room for the Gio Macias’s of the world. And at the end of the day, we think that is not such a bad thing.

Michael J. Sorrell is the 34th President of Paul Quinn College.



Giovanni Macias, first from left and Juan Solis, second from right

How it all Started

It was in the spring of 2012 that the heartbeat of Paul Quinn College soccer first gained its pulse. That semester, a few of my friends and I decided that we would take President Sorrell up on the offer to support student-created initiatives. Each of us was passionate about the game of soccer and had an interest in playing at the college level.

We began by signing up for a five-on-five indoor league as the “PQC Tigers.” We trained ourselves and would often invite other students and Paul Quinn staff to come see us play every Friday night. As the season progressed people were getting more interested in PQC soccer and we would draw crowds of 15 to 20 people during our games (sometimes including President Sorrell and his family). Although we did not win much that season, we achieved something greater then winning a title: we started a revolution. A student-led organization was striving to become an official sport recognized by the College.

Fall 2012 was a big jump for PQC soccer; it grew from just 6 players to 15. That semester we signed up for an actual 11 vs. 11 league. We also fundraised for our uniforms, registration, and transportation. Through resilience, commitment, and hard work, a foundation for PQC soccer was established. The support showed by staff, faculty, family, and friends made me feel happy and grateful.

The College announced, via a press conference, that soccer would be an official club sport in Fall 2013. Over the summer of 2013, I was named the head coach. From there I worked hard to build the program and for it to have a positive impact on the College.

Two years have passed since that time and PQC soccer continues to grow stronger each day. I am just happy to now see student-athletes coming to Paul Quinn to play a sport that we all love. To me, that will always be my biggest reward.

Giovanni Macias is a Team Leader in the Management Training Program at Target and a graduate from Paul Quinn College.


PQC Soccer: My Return

My name is Juan Solis and my journey as a Paul Quinn Tiger began as my senior year in high school was coming to an end. Giovanni Macias approached me to offer the possibility of prolonging my soccer career at Paul Quinn College.

Gio explained to me in detail the vision, plans, and goals he had in mind to establish a strong soccer program that would mark a new era for Paul Quinn. I was intrigued by his will and grit to begin something that would change the lives of not only himself but also everybody in the entire Quinnite Nation.

Gio and I quickly began my registration so that I could be a part of the Summer Bridge program PQC offers. Our college president, Dr. Michael J. Sorrell, helped make this possible. That summer was when we began recruiting and making preparations for the upcoming fall season.

The season came along in the fall and we did not have a full soccer roster, but we worked with what we had. We never backed down from a challenge and even though times were tough we managed to fight through it and finish the season. The season did not go as we had planned and many players decided to not continue. In addition, I was offered to play for another school.

I was all set to go on and play in Ohio; however, Gio reached out to me once again and put in me in contact with the new coaches Jesus Vazquez and Michael Delgado. They informed me of the changes being made in the program and I liked what they were doing and where they were headed. I was updated while I was away and I quickly made arrangements to come back to Paul Quinn and finish what we started. My biggest desire is to contribute in any and all ways that I possibly can to the program that opened the doors for me and granted me a chance when no one else would.

Juan Solis is a student at Paul Quinn College.

Should HBCUs Shrink Enrollments?


Gregory D. Price

Notwithstanding their ongoing effectiveness and relevance in an era in which the descendants of American Negro Slaves have many postsecondary educational options, the newly released and publically available College Scorecard data by the US Department of Education enables some interesting research, policy, and existential questions regarding our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).[1] If one views graduating from an HBCU as an investment that increases the likelihood that one earns more than one would as just a high school graduate, then, in the parlance of economists, graduating from an HBCU can be narrowly viewed as a “Labor Market Treatment.”

Consider in this context a student who attends and/or graduates from an HBCU, receives some form of federally subsidized student aid, and is 6 to 10 years out from attending/graduating. Such is the criteria for capturing earnings in the Scorecard data, and for a given college/university, the earnings of students are estimated and can be compared against the typical earnings of a high school graduate, which the Scorecard cites as $25,000/year. It is this comparison that provides insight into the “Labor Market Treatment” of those attending/graduating from an HBCU. The scorecard provides a percentage estimate of how much of an HBCU’s attendees/graduates earn more than those of a typical high school graduate.

Relative to HBCU attendees/graduates, one can think of high school graduates as some sort of college investment “counterfactual,” or the labor market earnings HBCU attendees/graduates might have achieved had they not expended the resources to attend/graduate from an HBCU. Thus for a given HBCU, the fraction of its attendees/graduates that fare worse in the labor market relative to high school graduates provides an estimate of how many of them would have been “better off” to take the counterfactual route and not attended/graduated from that HBCU. It is in this context that Scorecard data can inform whether or not HBCUs enroll/graduate too many students and should consider “shrinking” their enrollments.

As an example, I shall appeal to the Scorecard data to consider if student enrollments are possibly too high at three HBCUs: Spelman College, which is consistently the highest ranked HBCU, as well as Morehouse College and Langston University—two HBCUs I am currently affiliated with. Querying the Scorecard data online for each HBCU, one finds that for Spelman, Morehouse, and Langston, the percentages of attendees/graduates that earn more than a typical high school graduate are approximately 65%, 58%, and 43% respectively. One stark implication here is that if one views attendance/graduation from an HBCU as a narrow “Labor Market Treatment,” then in the case of Spelman, Morehouse and Langston, the investment is not worth it for approximately 35%, 42%, and 57% of attendees/graduates, respectively. Using the example of this crude case study, if each of these HBCUs were solely interested in optimizing the labor market outcomes of its attendees/graduates, Spelman, Morehouse and Langston should shrink their enrollments accordingly.

Of course, the case for attending/graduating from an HBCU is not necessarily, and ought not be, solely based on how much attendees/graduates earn in the labor market. To invoke the labor market earnings of HBCU attendees/graduates as the only meaningful evaluation metric is to reduce HBCUs to mere vocational training institutes, which runs counter to the aims and prerogatives Enlightenment, which situated colleges/universities as places where the intellect would be cultivated independent of, maybe even in spite of, practical consequences so as sustain human progress that depended solely upon reason. This ideal of course clashes with the empirical reality that the real cost of attending/graduating from a college/university has exceeded the rate of inflation over the past 30 years, rendering a major in say Anthropology a tough sell for many, as it has no obvious labor market payoff relative to say a major in Accounting. Indeed, one motivation for the construction of the Scorecard data was to provide data to engage in accountability exercises for colleges/universities—what value do they add for students?

In an educational policy environment where tangible evidence of post-graduate effectiveness is dominant and taken uncritically seriously, the HBCU Labor Market Treatment estimates from Scorecard data reported here suggest that at least some HBCUs may have to consider shrinking their enrollments so as to maximize their effectiveness. Of course, doing so would pose existential challenges because the optimal size for some HBCUs according to this metric could be too small to warrant keeping the doors open at all. To paraphrase Jean Paul Sartre, “Every society selects its dead.” If HBCUs are only relevant as a “Labor Market Treatment,” the task of selecting which HBCUs should cease operating is a dreadful one and requires, in my view, a serious consideration of what their central aims/purposes are and ought to be, beyond the tangible and coarse cost-benefit analytics of vocational labor market outcomes.

Of course, one must recognize the “ceteris paribus” nature of the Scorecard data, and be committed to testing HBCU treatment effects more seriously, and I have already contributed to this literature. Nonetheless, the 43% issue is potentially troubling and suggests there are too many students enrolled who do not tangibly benefit from graduating from HBCUs like Langston, Morehouse and Spelman.  For how many HBCUs is this true? If so, is shrinking enrolments at HBCUs a sensible strategy to maximize the returns for those students who would benefit most?

This same argument holds for more selective universities. If one looks at the labor market returns for Yale University graduates, less than 100% earn more than the typical high school graduate. This suggests that institutions like Yale also have “too many students.” To see this, go the link below:

[1] The data are available at

Gregory D. Price, Ph.D is Professor of Economics and Interim Dean of the School of Business at Langston University and an affiliate of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. 



A New World: What My HBCU Offered That My PWI Didn’t


Patrisha E. Aregano

As an American Indian woman from a small, federally recognized Indian tribe in upstate New York, I had big dreams of going to a great university. I was accepted into a well-known predominantly White institution (PWI) in central New York, where I earned my undergraduate degree. Later, I earned my master’s degree from Norfolk State University, which is one of the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The choice was simple; anybody who knows me knows I have a love and proclivity for culture. After all, experiencing different cultures helps educate a person, not only academically but socially as well.

And only now, as I settle comfortably into my new job as coordinator for Norfolk State University’s living-learning communities, do I feel that I can adequately describe my feelings toward both my PWI and HBCU experiences. There is a striking difference, and I am dismayed to report that I had been conditioned to think that my experiences at my PWI were acceptable and somehow inspiring. Yet had I not gone to Norfolk State University, I may never have learned what it truly means to uplift a student.

Coming from the north, I was unfamiliar with southern hospitality, and as I began my first semester at Norfolk State University, the kindness on the campus overcame me. I felt so much compassion from fellow students. Students began inviting me to study with them, and we would typically meet in residence halls or the library and bring food to share while we challenged each other’s ideas while still creating cohesion as a community. The professors were great and they always wanted their students to succeed, but to be a part of a group of peers who equally wanted to see me succeed was unlike anything I had previously encountered.

Conversely, my PWI was tensely competitive to the degree that I kept every one of my grades private. I often felt targeted, especially when it came to Q&A sessions after presentations. In my opinion, PWIs seem to promote the mainstream American ideology of individualism, whereas HBCUs tend to foster collectivism, but I didn’t realize this until I attended Norfolk State University.

There was a point early on at my HBCU where I had the “this group cares about me” epiphany while working on a group paper together. There were four of us, each had a computer, and we read our 25-page paper line-by-line in Google Drive, checking grammar and transition statements. It took us four hours, and it was a devotion to unity I had never previously experienced in a small group. I had been influenced prior to my HBCU to think that a group paper was made up of parts from individuals, pasted together in an organized fashion, and after the paper was handed in for a grade there was talk of who dropped the ball. At my HBCU, I realized this competitive and individualist practice could be replaced by one of cooperation and support.

Even so, HBCUs do not shy away from controversial issues. In class, we covered racial topics with in-depth frankness, and I had a voice and was able to convey real concerns without feeling ostracized. Our classrooms felt comfortable and open to discussions about a variety of ethnic disparities. I mention this because the supportive environment at my HBCU wasn’t because we avoided difficult topics. In fact, it was just the opposite. On the other hand, my PWI never touched on similar topics and there was always this movement to “save the non-Whites,” as if non-Whites were dysfunctional.

My experiences lead me to make two suggestions. First, HBCUs should place a stronger emphasis on recruiting American Indians to be part of their communities. Many cultural congruencies exist between Black and American Indian traditions. For example, both cultures involve extended family when raising children, and HBCUs promote a community-based family feel. Second, American Indians have shared experiences that historically marginalized populations are familiar with in a dominant society. Therefore, I recommend that fellow American Indians seriously consider attending an HBCU to learn about the similarities that exist between our histories and worldviews.

Patrisha E. Aregano is the coordinator for the Office of Learning Communities at Norfolk State University and she is pursuing an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree with a concentration in International Higher Education Leadership from Old Dominion University.

Addressing Achievement Gaps in the Context of Developing Global Competencies

In The World is Flat (2006), Tom Friedman discusses the need for Americans to not only acquire the tools and experiences that will promote their roles as citizens and employability as adapters, synthesizers and collaborators, but also to take responsibility for their own lives, careers and economic security. This implicit call for developing human capital recognizes the importance of reversing the low levels of human capital the United States has experienced since 1975, which Friedman suggests is further compounded by the existence of gaps at many levels, including: a numbers gap, a knowledge gap (education gaps both between high- and low-performing students and within these student populations), an ambition gap, a funding gap and an infrastructure gap. Growing debates regarding these gaps reflects several concerns, including the idea that the United States will be increasingly unable to effectively compete in the global marketplace if these gaps are not systematically addressed.

A new book recently completed with colleagues (Promoting Global Competence and Social Justice in Teacher Education: Successes and challenges within local and international contexts) addresses the knowledge gap, particularly from the perspective of re-conceptualizing the purpose of education to include the attainment of global perspectives and competencies that can contribute to reducing educational gaps both at the high and low end of the achievement distribution. This perspective can inform how MSIs and other higher education institutions operationalize their role in closing the knowledge gap, particularly since

few practicing teachers in the US are prepared to handle the demands of educating students for our changing global context and many do not possess a nuanced, global perspective with regard to their subject areas or pedagogical strategies. The lack of a global outlook limits teachers from accessing available tools with which they can encourage their students to consider multiple perspectives, think critically or cultivate respect and tolerance for diverse peoples and cultures. To address this concern, my colleagues and I discuss here are three types of internationalization experiences that teacher candidates and practicing teachers can integrate in their repertoires:

  1. Opportunities for study abroad, which advocates the development, implementation and evaluation of international experiences
  2. The use of technology-based experiences that facilitate international experiences between practicing teachers and teacher candidates in different parts of the world
  3. The promotion of glocal experiences (i.e., the study of diverse communities in the villages, towns and cities in which students live)

To be sure, these efforts will complement those already underway, including the Lieutenant Governor’s Association support for the creation of a national policy on international education; the Council of Chief State School Officers’ advocacy for preparing students for a global society in which they will both reside and shape; the National Association of State Boards’ recent report urging institutions that prepare and train teachers to expose their candidates to global perspectives; and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills advocacy for global awareness as one of several competencies students should acquire. These organizations are joined by the National Research Council, the Committee for Economic Development, and the Asia Society, who advocate for and support the development of curriculum and instruction in world languages (particularly those that are less common) and sustained interventions that enable the cultivation of global competencies. Towards this end, it is imperative that US schools of education and by extension, teacher educators charged with the training and development of teacher candidates, also cultivate these competencies.

Growing consensus regarding the importance and utility of these strategies for promoting global competencies suggests the need for relevant frameworks, that actively consider what global competence means within a particular institutional context and employing this knowledge to situate curriculum, instruction and assessments within existing and new disciplines (potentially around global studies). It is through these and other efforts, through which minority serving and other institutions, regardless of whether they are public or private teaching or research institutions, can meet the challenges of developing global competencies and reducing pervasive achievement gaps among our students.

Parts of this article are excerpted with permission from Promoting Global Competence and Social Justice in Teacher Education: Successes and challenges within local and international contexts. Lexington Books: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Dr. Beatrice Bridglall is Director, Office of Special Projects, Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, New Jersey.

Freshmen Retention Rates at HBCUs Indicate Success of First-Generation College Students


Charmaine E. Troy

On December 31, 2014, an article by Liz Riggs titled “First-Generation College-Goers: Unprepared and Behind” appeared in The Atlantic. The article painted a bleak picture of incoming first-generation students admitted to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as being academically unprepared for the rigors of higher education. The article also criticized HBCUs as being ill-equipped to prepare first-generation students to face the challenges and obstacles that come with becoming acclimated to campus culture, which eventually leads to poor graduation rates. However, these critiques regarding graduation rates fail to accurately convey the whole picture and it is important to highlight the resilient freshmen retention rates of some HBCUs and HBCUs overall.

Most critiques of graduation rates at HBCU are based on the statistic that only 11% of low-income students who are the first in their family to attend college will obtain their college degree within six years. While this argument may be valid based on sound data, it is also important to acknowledge that between fall 2008 and fall 2011, the U.S. News & World Report reported that four HBCUs had freshmen retention rates above 80%. Moreover, between fall 2009 and fall 2012, 12 HBCUs reported that more than 70% of students return after their first year. Among the 12 schools with the highest retention rate for first-year students, the average was 77%.

Many HBCUs are known for enrolling a high number of first-generation students who need academic remediation. However, HBCUs have a legacy of providing increased access to underserved students and often implement innovative strategies to support student success among first-generation students. Reported innovative strategies include success coaching, early alert programming, summer bridge programming for at risk students, pre-entry remedial programming, academic advisement tutorial services, first year experience programming, peer mentoring, peer tutoring, pre-orientation workshops, academic programming within residential halls, and the utilization of technology. HBCUs continue to provide remedial courses to students in addition to providing a supportive climate for first-generation students to grow.

While reported challenges faced by HBCUs include systematic and sustained campus initiatives to increase graduation rates, first-generation students often also face financial challenges and failure to socially integrate into campus culture. Rendon, Jalomo, and Nora (2004)’s concept of dual socialization recognizes the institution’s commitment to helping its students socially integrate within campus culture. When students fail to experience academic or social involvement at their institution, they are more likely to drop out. The high freshmen retention rates of HBCUs demonstrate the institution’s ability to effectively help their first-generation students integrate into their respective campus cultures. It also speaks to the institution’s ability to share the responsibility of helping students to socially integrate within their institution.

HBCUs continue to play an important role in reducing some of the barriers that hinder academic progress. The outcome of implementing effective retention programming for first-generation students will provide HBCU leaders with better insight on the academic challenges that first-generation students face and help them to implement best practices to improve freshmen retention outcomes.

Charmaine E. Troy is a doctoral candidate in Higher Education at Morgan State University.

Pragmatic Language Skills: African-American College Students


Vanessa Raynor

Decreased enrollment and retention of students has been a significant issue for most historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Once a student enters the school, the university must find ways to keep them interested. Several students report they leave because of lack of support from university professors and advisors. If the university advisor is the initial point of connection to the student’s education, it is imperative that communicative exchanges are concise, relatable, and entertaining.

I have personally believed that most students are not taught to adequately communicate in varied social situations. They become comfortable in their own communicative group and are unable to approach people in different social groups. They are not willing to make themselves uncomfortable for fear of others’ negative responses. Pragmatic language is an aspect of communication that impacts a person’s ability to appropriately use language socially across varied situations).

Pragmatic language refers to varied linguistic skills including the initiation and termination of conversations; topic introduction, maintenance, and change; code switching; appropriate turn-taking skills; courteousness; and comprehension and demonstration of nonverbal aspects of language such as appropriate tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions). Research on pragmatic language skills of African-American children has determined that those identified and displayed delayed aspects of pragmatic language are viewed as being problematic and decrease fitting interpersonal communication skills.

There is little to no research available on the pragmatic language skills of the African-American college students attending HBCUs. The African-American college student displays particular delayed aspects of pragmatic language including the lack of topic maintenance, inadequate turn-taking during conversations, abrupt disruptions, and inappropriate tone of voice, which is viewed as inappropriate classroom decorum and impedes the learning experience for themselves as well as their peers. Without pragmatic language competence, there is difficulty integrating into peer groups, which affects their degree of self-confidence and happiness, in their environment.

Inadequate pragmatic language skills are linked to poor student engagement and success. It is difficult to manage success if students are inactively engaged academically and interpersonally. If an individual is unable to have a conversation, he or she will be incapable of establishing a relationship with peers in the community and experience difficulty initiating and maintaining those relationships, which in effect decreases student retention rates. Ineffective communication builds ineffective communicative partnerships in all social settings. If an individual does not exhibit a vast vocabulary, he or she may not converse with people of varied cultural backgrounds; demonstrate difficulty comprehending words; exhibit decreased word retrieval skills; and display problems in writing sentences that are grammatically and semantically correct with varied lengths.

Students with language impairments require supports that help them increase their conversational skills, which may include developing one’s opinion on topics, determining when to respond, and establishing a set number of comments during a dialogue. Lacking those skills decreases interpersonal success, which decreases retention rates of African-American college students. The student with decreased pragmatic language skills will experience decreased success at the university level because they will avoid social circumstances that necessitate practical communication. Those social circumstances include meetings with academic advisors and professors, group projects with peers, oral presentations, and major admittance interviews. If the student is unable to demonstrate appropriate, effective, and precise communication that conveys pertinent information to their communicative partner, their interpersonal life at the university level is limited to social isolation. A student that has not been exposed to a variety of literacy in a vocabulary rich environment will experience difficulty writing and speaking during oral presentations using a complex words, synonyms, and antonyms.

There are several factors that influence retention rates including life events experienced prior to college and academic abilities demonstrated in high school. However, a student’s pragmatic language skills affect their ability to function academically (e.g., faculty meetings, group projects, advising, campus resources), socially (e.g., service learning, informal contact with faculty), organizationally (e.g., orientation programs, financial aid, registration, service and social organizations), and environmentally (e.g., parental support, transfers, off campus jobs). Establishing a link between pragmatic language and student success is vital to student engagement, retention, and success, as it will increase African-American college students’ ability to effectively convey messages with meaning without displaying avoidance tactics when communicating in new social groups.

Vanessa Raynor has been a professor at Shaw University for 5 years and holds the position of Program Coordinator for the Communication Sciences and Disorders Program in the Department of Allied Health Professions.