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The Daily Tar Heel

System Schools Wrestle for Funds

Five universities that form part of the UNC system -- yet are different from the rest.

They have been part of the UNC system for 30 years, yet have struggled to attract funding while schools like UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University have thrived.

They are Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, N.C. Agricultural & Technical University, N.C. Central University and Winston-Salem State University.

Although there is no official designation, these five schools have continuing patterns of attendance that designate them as historically black colleges and universities.

This spring marks the 30th birthday of the UNC system, which was restructured under the Higher Education Reorganization Act of 1971 to bring the five HBCUs into the UNC-system along with five other institutions.

Since the restructuring, HBCUs in the UNC system have not been on even playing fields with predominantly white schools. But officials say that in recent years, the schools' needs have been more adequately met.

A November 2000 Board of Governors report acknowledged that students might continue to prefer attending schools where their racial groups are the majority and concluded that this was an explanation for the "perpetuating institutional enrollment patterns that are either predominantly black or predominantly white."

HBCUs are characteristically smaller institutions with low-income students and often lack alumni funding and other significant resources that historically white schools have.

These challenges have, in the past, inhibited HBCUs from admitting the quality of students that schools with better resources can attract.

"Fayetteville and other HBCUs obviously serve more students who have a greater need for enrichment services once they arrive on campus because they are not always the best and brightest high school graduates," Fayetteville State Chancellor Willis McLeod said.

But McLeod said UNC-system President Molly Broad, the Board of Governors and the N.C. General Assembly have worked to acknowledge the differences between the two types of schools and remedy the problems by supplying HBCUs with the resources needed for improvement.

Increased funding, building improvements, program support and the recent bond initiative have enabled HBCUs to better compete with historically white schools in the system.

But fair funding for the HBCUs did not come quickly during their first decade in the UNC system, as their needs were overlooked in favor of the predominantly white institutions.

Former UNC-system President Bill Friday oversaw three major initiatives in 1971 as part of the restructuring act that brought HBCUs into the system.

First, an architecture firm was commissioned to evaluate the schools' facilities, and $40 million was appropriated to correct structural problems.

Second, the curricula for the schools, except N.C. A&T, was redesigned to make them Arts and Sciences colleges.

Finally, a proposal prohibited building other law schools in the UNC system, and N.C. Central's operational budget was expanded to create one of the top law schools in the system --

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