Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Senator joins bill to save NC's

Senator joins bill to save NC's Historically Black Colleges and Universities

By Dedrick Russell


A North Carolina senator from Mecklenburg County has signed on to a new bill that hopes to generate money to keep Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) alive in the state.

"Many of these Universities, they have been our mainstay," Senator Joyce Waddell said. "They have educated African Americans who are in prominent places, doing great things throughout these United States. So we must be proactive when it comes to this."

North Carolina has ten HBCUs.

Waddell says three of them have been discussed as possible for shutting down: Elizabeth City State University, Winston Salem State University, and Fayetteville State University. The schools reportedly do not have enough money to keep them open and dwindling enrollment numbers.

If approved, Senate Bill 706 would create an endowment that would go to the universities to help increase enrollment, retention, and graduation rates.

The money would come from a special registration plates for cars. It would be called the HBCU Innovation special registration plates. They would cost $20 each.

WEB EXTRA: Click here to read the bill

At least 300 applications must be received first before the program can be developed.

"You have to start somewhere," Waddell said. "And anything is better than zero."

Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) is an HBCU located in Charlotte.

Students say they have seen tuition increase at the university and enrollment decrease. Some students told WBTV they have friends who have dropped out or forced to transfer.

"They just couldn't afford it," JCSU Senior Kelechi Chieke said. "They needed to go back home to handle some family financial problems until they can get back on their feet."

Chieke is pleased lawmakers are trying to do something to help HBCUs.

"State politicians should interfere, because it's an issue," Chieke said. "We are the future. We need to enroll in school more."

JCSU has reinvented itself to stay relevant and survive. It is now focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics subjects instead of tradition majors like Education - to keep up with the 21st century.

"We have to make them strong," Waddell said. "And we have to have funds for them to operate, and we have to speak up and keep this in the forefront."

Senate Bill 706 was introduced to the Senate two weeks ago and passed the first reading last Monday. It is currently in the Committee On Rules and Operations of the Senate. No word when it will come out of committee and onto the floor.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Recent firings sound alarms for black college basketball coaches

By Shannon Ryan
Chicago Tribune

When Tracy Dildy was growing up, watching men like Nolan Richardson roam the sideline at Arkansas and John Thompson win an NCAA tournament championship at Georgetown inspired his career choice.

Now the former DePaul assistant and current Chicago State head coach wonders about the future of his profession.

"Is the African-American coach becoming extinct?" he asked. "I'm wondering is anyone paying attention?"

It's a valid question considering how the college basketball postseason began.

The names of fired coaches came in a flurry as they do every season. But this season, almost half were black.

Eleven of 25 coaches who left their positions are African-American, eliminating many positions from an already small fraternity. Two of the coaches were from Chicago teams: DePaul's Oliver Purnell, who resigned, and UIC's Howard Moore, who was fired.

Their departures highlight what some describe as a disturbing trend.

Who are some of the top black assistant coaches in the Big Ten?
Who are some of the top black assistant coaches in the Big Ten?
An annual report from Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport noted that head coaching opportunities for people of color "declined significantly" in 2013-14. Just 22 percent of men's Division I basketball coaches were African-American, down from 23 percent the year prior.

The all-time high for black head coaches came in 2005-06 when 25.2 percent were African-American. The lowest rates came in 2011-12 when only 18.6 percentwere African-American.

The inequity is striking given that 58 percent of college basketball players are African-American and nearly every bench includes at least one black assistant.

"We can talk about rules and one-and-dones, but this is the elephant in the room," said Richard Lapchick, the institute's director. "We're silent on issues of race and gender."

Of the eight African-American coaches who have been replaced, seven have been with white coaches. Of the 25 openings in college basketball, two black coaches have been hired, Dave Leitao at DePaul and Shaka Smart reportedly at Texas.

"It's particularly striking this year," said Jim Haney, the National Association of Basketball Coaches executive director. "We'll be watching very closely over the next month or so."

The numbers are even more dire for African-Americans coaching women's teams. That number dropped from 20.6 percent in 2012-13 to just 14.3 percent the following year.

These issues are quite obviously on display during college basketball's marquee event. In the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 last week, there were no black coaches in the men's field.

DePaul's hiring of Dave Leitao comes as a surprise — even to Leitao
DePaul's hiring of Dave Leitao comes as a surprise — even to Leitao
"I don't think any one particular race or any group has cornered the market on basketball knowledge," former Notre Dame assistant and ex-Toledo head coach Gene Cross said. "You can't just throw out a blanket statement and say (black coaches) are hired and fired because of race. It goes a lot deeper than that. But it is a factor and it should be part of the conversation."

"It's hard to say, 'Oh, it just worked out that way,'" Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier said. "Our business is built on outcome. You have to get those things right. But I am alarmed by the numbers. It looks nefarious."

The reasons are as complex as any issue in our nation that involve race relations.

Many coaches point to the increased influence of big-money donors and the common use of search firms to identify candidates rather than old-fashioned networking by athletic directors.

"It's like picking apples from the same tree," said one former coach who asked not to be identified

Merritt Norvell was one of a handful of black athletic directors when he worked at Michigan State before becoming an executive vice president at the search firm DHR International. He said his firm is committed to presenting the most diversified pool of coaching candidates.

"There is some truth that the search firms can influence the selection," he said. "But for the most part, we present what the institution is looking for. But we should also present a diversified group. There's enough qualified candidates to do that."

Frazier said university presidents and athletic directors need to "work harder."

"It takes majority males to be part of the solution too," said Frazier, who's conducting doctoral research on racial and gender barriers in sports administration. "How do we start working together? A donor or someone with a private agenda may give you (a recommendation) with all but two of your checks on your (must-have) list. It's hard work to look down and say you need to get all of those checks (including diverse candidates), but we should do it."

 Dave Leitao on returning to DePaul
New DePaul coach Dave Leitao on returning to the school where he coached 10 years prior.
Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips said he worked to make the hiring process as inclusive as possible when he hired Chris Collins, who is white, two seasons ago.

He directed Parker Executive Search to present a diverse pool of candidates. He said four of nine coaches interviewed for the opening were African-American and he included African-American administrators in the selection process. Phillips also reached out to the Black Coaches Association and Minority Opportunities Athletic Association.

"In the end it really is about being fair and being inclusive in the process," Phillips said.

When it comes to moving out of the assistant chair, several coaches told the Tribune they face the same issues.

As Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie said at last year's Final Four, "We don't want to look at ourselves as African-American coaches, we want to look at ourselves as a coach. Hopefully our coaching ability (isn't judged by) the color of our skin."

But too often, many said, they're pegged as recruiters instead of coaches who can run a program.

"This is something we've been trying to fight," Cross said, noting more coaches are being given associate labels to fight this stigma. "The African-American coach or the minority coach is the one who would be out on the road more and it takes you away from practice and being involved in coaching."

Breaking into top-level jobs apparently is also more difficult.

Of Power Five conference jobs, only 20 percent (13 of 65 coaches) were held this season by African-Americans, and two of those have been fired. The Big Ten has the fewest with only one African-American coach (Eddie Jordan at Rutgers), and it includes four programs — Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska and Purdue — that have never hired a black head basketball coach.

Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas and the president's office declined interviews citing scheduling conflicts.

Lapchick suggests college athletics implement what he calls the "Eddie Robinson Rule," akin to the NFL's Rooney Rule to increase minority hiring through a more diverse interview process.

Black coaches also have banded together again after the once-powerful Black Coaches Association faded away.

Norvell is helping organize the newly formed National Association for Coaching Equity and Development, which includes a who's who of successful African-American coaches, including Tubby Smith, Shaka Smart, Johnny Dawkins and Paul Hewitt.

"The coaches have said, 'We've lost our voice,'" Norvell said. "We want to change that."

Next season, it's likely that fewer African-American coaches will be head coaches.

"It's got to be discouraging," said Dildy, a coach for more than two decades. "You're not seeing a lot of people who look like you in those positions. It kills your dream. If we ignore it, people are going to start looking to do other things. It's looking like a can't-win situation."


Monday, March 30, 2015

HBCU vs. PWI (Predominantly White Institutions)

HBCU vs. PWI debate misses the real point of higher education

When Olivia Sedwick made the financially-conscious choice to attend a historically black college over Baylor, Marquette, Xavier and Purdue, her decision surprised some she knew.

Olivia Sedwick speaks at the Chancellor's Champagne Brunch at 
Olivia Sedwick speaks at the Chancellor’s Champagne Brunch at Winston-Salem University.
But when Sedwick crept into her first class at Winston-Salem State University to find a black male professor helicoptering over students and spitting wisdom as fast as rapper DMX, she knew she had made the right decision.

“I fell in love with the school,” she says. “We talked about things that I had never had the chance to before coming from a predominantly white high school.”

For Olivia, attending a historically black college meant that she was finally able to explore her identity as a black woman and the sense of double consciousness that comes with it.

The experience has been life-changing.

So, when Black Twitter erupted into a caustic debate about predominantly white institutions (PWI) — schools of higher learning in which whites account for at least 50% enrollment — and historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) — post-secondary schools that were established and accredited before 1964 and whose principal mission was and is the education of African-Americans — Sedwick was unnerved.

She says the perceived academic inferiority of HBCUs in comparison to PWIs bothered her most.

Devin Sangster, a senior at Tennessee State University, agrees.

“I feel that my hard work and dedication to my academics is discredited by the assumption that my education is inferior to those that attend a PWI. It bothers me that this debate happens within our own community at all, because we fail to see the bigger picture,” Sangster says.

The bigger picture, he says, is the overall advancement of African-Americans.

I think people only discredit HBCUs because of how people view blackness. So, when you speak of black institutions, people kind of turn their nose up. People automatically elevate PWIs because they’re white colleges and there’s this idea that a majority-white school is quality

While HBCUs constitute just 3% of the nation’s institutions of higher learning, they graduate nearly 20% of black students who earn undergraduate degrees. And more than 50% of African American professionals and public school teachers matriculate from HBCUs.

In addition, approximately 20% of black students earn science and engineering bachelor’s degrees at HBCUs according to the National Science Foundation.

The report also highlights HBCUs as “important baccalaureate-origin institutions of future black science and engineering doctorate recipients, especially outside the social sciences.”

Still, the stigma that HBCUs are less rigorous and garner fewer post-graduate job opportunities persists. But why?

Nakia Williams, a senior at Indiana University-Bloomington, says that the recalibration of whiteness as the standard for success plays a profound role.

Nakia Williams, Ebony Holmes, Shayla Hill 
Nakia Williams, Ebony Holmes, Shayla Hill at Indiana University Bloomington.
“I think people only discredit HBCUs because of how people view blackness. So, when you speak of black institutions, people kind of turn their nose up. People automatically elevate PWIs because they’re white colleges and there’s this idea that a majority-white school is quality,” Williams says.

Williams, however, argues that institutions should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

In response to the question of why African-American students decide not to attend a HBCU, some PWI students point to name recognition — as well as the deficit of resources at such schools.

“I feel like you can pretty much go to every HBCU campus and you can say ‘UNC Chapel Hill,’ ‘Duke’ or ‘Yale’ and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about,” says Joey Blake, a senior at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“However — and I’ve definitely ran across this at UNC — talk to white students about different HBCUs and they won’t have any idea what you’re talking about. I feel like being on a PWI campus, as a black student, you kind of have that mindset ingrained to some degree. I think it does affect your perception of HBCUs from then on,” he says.

“If the endowments of all 105 HBCUs were added up, they’d still amount to less than 10% of Harvard University’s endowment, which at upward of $30 billion is the wealthiest of any college in the world.”

Beyond branding, UNC senior Matthew Taylor thinks additional hardships faced by HBCUs, including institutionalized racism, which manifests in things such as discriminatory public funding and a dearth of white benefactors, come into play.

“These systemic barriers have hindered HBCUs. General wealth is something that they just haven’t had,” Taylor says.

In an unsettling illustration of Taylor’s point, Essence published an article citing the gross imbalance in endowments between HBCUs and PWIs:

“If the endowments of all 105 HBCUs were added up, they’d still amount to less than 10% of Harvard University’s endowment, which at upward of $30 billion is the wealthiest of any college in the world.”

What HBCUs lack in economic resources, however, they often make up for in strong faculty support.

Theophilus Woodley, Dustin Pickett, David Butler at 
Theophilus Woodley, Dustin Pickett, David Butler at Winston-Salem University graduation.
Dustin Pickett, a Winston-Salem State University alumnus and first-year graduate student at Duke University, said that the administrative culture was definitely more supportive at his HBCU than his PWI.

“At Duke, there’s this presumption that, if you’re there, then you should be able to figure things out on your own. Whereas, at Winston — I mean, most people came from the same high schools as these kids, I myself came from an IB school — but I was still given that care, I was still given that special attention that I needed, there was still that family culture.”

Khyran Shank, a senior who transferred from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, agrees that it’s easier to make connections with professors on HBCU campuses.

“It’s definitely a more loving environment. At an HBCU, you get a great connection with your professors,” Shank says.

Shank and Pickett also agreed that there is a general sense of affinity between black students at HBCUs that is not necessarily as prominent on PWI campuses.

So, what made these men both go on to PWIs?

They say they wanted to be well-rounded.

Both institutions offer something different for students. In the same way that attending a PWI does not negate a students’ blackness, attending an HBCU does not negate his or her future potential.

“Whether you go to an HBCU or whether you go to a PWI, as long as you’re making it, as long as you’re going out and making an impact in your community, I don’t think it really matters,” Pickett says.

“I think we need to get to a point where we can move past the conversation of which is better and know that we’re all just trying to better ourselves.”

Jaleesa Jones is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Your typical underachiever, Jaleesa is working towards a degree in communication studies with a concentration in media studies and production as well as minors in journalism and screenwriting. She is the current President and Campus Correspondent for Her Campus UNC, a branch of HerCampus.com, the number one online community for college women. She is also an arts reporter for the Daily Tar Heel and a member of the Carolina Association of Future Magazine Editors. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to spoken word poetry, binge-watching Law & Order: SVU and debating everything from respectability politics to celebrity news. You can follow her random outbursts on Twitter @newLEESonlife.
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