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NC A&T reorganizes, but consolidation raises concerns about HBCU identity

The plans were approved Thursday by the North Carolina Committee on Education Planning, Policies and Programs.

Derick Smith, a political science adjunct instructor at A&T and member of Faculty Forward, said the restructuring worsens a trend of shifting focus towards STEM majors.

“The funding seems to stream to the School of Engineering, and now we’ve got a restructuring scheme which further compartmentalizes the humanities and the arts to the detriment of a liberal arts education,” he said.

N.C. A&T also recently increased joint programs with UNC-Greensboro.

In April 2015, N.C. A&T joined with UNC-G and two local schools to create a campus for a joint nursing program, following the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering in 2011 and the Joint Master of Social Work Program in 1997.

Vashti Hinton, a junior at N.C. A&T, said she has concerns about the mergers, saying they dilute the HBCU’s ability to serve black students.

“Going to an HBCU, you’re able to see people who look just like you and see people who are doing things with their lives who are able to inspire you and help you,” she said.

Joy Cook, spokesperson for N.C. A&T, said she would provide a statement, but did not by print time after several phone calls and emails.

Joseph Graves Jr., professor and associate dean for research in the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, said neither university had the resources to build the school on its own.

“It seems to me ludicrous to have two universities in the same city that aren’t cooperating in their academic programs,” Graves said. “It’s not 1930, segregation in the U.S. is over.”

Still, Michael Roberto, a history professor and member of Faculty Forward, said he has to use the library at UNC-G because N.C. A&T has far fewer resources.

“How long can you have separate and unequal?” he said. “You drive over to A&T, the buildings here, the growth of this campus in no way matches the growth of that campus.”

Graves said maintaining N.C. A&T’s current identity isn’t completely problem-free.

“Part of it is the thought that particularly European American and Asian Americans who are qualified to enter our program don’t apply because they see this as being an HBCU,” Graves said. “So long as we think that way, I think we’re doing a disservice.”

But Roberto said these mergers can be based on principles of corporate education.

“It’s basically how can we cut, how can we cut, how can we save, how can we lower our expenditures,” he said. “You can’t operate a university or a college on the basis of a business model.”

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