“It’s an uneven playing field, because predominately white institutions are able to offer more than the underfunded HBCUs,” she said.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded 10 historically black colleges and universities in the state more than $29 million last week.
Young said the money was “desperately needed.”
Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have led a Senate resolution for HBCU week for the past three years.
“I am so proud that North Carolina is home to 10 outstanding HBCUs that are providing excellent academic instruction to our future leaders,” Hagan said in a recent statement.
Elizabeth City State University Chancellor Willie Gilchrist said in an email that HBCUs in North Carolina provide major benefits to local communities.
“We prepare students in various disciplines to return to their communities and assist in raising the level of education in those communities,” Gilchrist said.
But Jay Schalin, director of state policy analysis at the conservative-leaning John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, said he was skeptical of public HBCUs.
“With public HBCUs, I really wonder whether it is appropriate for governments to favor a race like that,” he said.
He said he doesn’t see an issue with private HBCUs, but those that are suffering financially should consider combining with other HBCUs.
“It makes perfect sense for Shaw (University) and St. Augustine’s (University) in Raleigh to sort of join forces and give themselves a stronger student population and a stronger economic base,” Schalin said.
But Shaw University spokeswoman Odessa Hines said admissions rates are increasing, and Shaw is fiscally sound.
“I think (Shaw and St. Augustine’s) are equally viable universities that stand alone on their own,” Hines said.
Hines said that though HBCUs might face a number of challenges, they will continue to expand.
“There are challenges that still exist for HBCUs, but I think we’ll always be able to stand firm to our principles and be able to, for example, educate that first-generation college student,” she said.
Staff writer Lucinda Shen contributed reporting.
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