Having served as an HBCU public relations director, I like seeing news stories that enhance HBCUs’ positions in the college marketplace. In 2013 I ranked the top HBCU stories of the year. Looking at some of the great HBCU news stories that HBCU Lifestyle ran in 2014, I thought it would be great to do so again. There were quite a few news stories that could have a positive impact on HBCUs, so this year’s ranking was tough.
The criteria used to rank this year’s top stories include:
- News stories carried on HBCULifestyle.com,
- Positioning among all colleges and universities in their regions,
- A message that could attract local, regional and/or national mainstream news outlets, and/or
- Academic significance.
Here are the Top 10 HBCU News Stories of 2014:
There has been a wealth of discussion among HBCU leaders, alumni and advocates about increasing HBCU students’ exposure to the world through exchange programs. A great diversity news piece, several institutions hit a home run when they signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Education Association for International Exchange. The agreement will award 1,000 scholarships for HBCU students to study in China.
In a time when Black America is very concerned about how mainstream media outlets are reporting incidents concerning African Americans and other people of color, Florida A&M has made a move that has been discussed for years. The university’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communication has entered into an 11-year contract to serve as the home of the Black Television News Channel, a 24-hour multi-platform news network. Behind the agreement is former U. S. Congressman and BTNC founder, J. C. Watts.
Alumni giving is one of the criteria used to measure institutional effectiveness among colleges and universities. Claflin University continues to make a statement about their effectiveness, posting an alumni giving percentage increase from 43 percent in 2013 to 52.2 percent in 2014. That places them among the top colleges and universities in America in alumni giving. According to U. S. News and World Report, the top 10 colleges and universities in the country average an alumni giving percentage ranging from 51.8 to 63.7.
Prairie View has established a strong tradition of producing black architecture graduates and once again received recognition for their efforts from Diverse Issues in Higher Education. The publication ranked Prairie View first on their top 100 list based on statistics from the U. S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.
For the second year, HBCUStory, Inc. hosted the HBCUStory Symposium to create discourse via academic presentations and publications about the value of HBCUs. Dr. Crystal deGregory, the organizer and executive director of HBCUStory, visited the HBCU Lifestyle Podcast to discuss the importance of the symposium. While this may not attractive to a mainstream news outlet, it is a compelling story for higher education publications and news outlets.
In their “Ranking the Go-To Law Schools”, the National Law Journal placed the Howard University School of Law among the top 50. Based on the publication’s survey of the 250 largest law firms by headcount, Howard earned the distinction of the being the only HBCU on the list.
In the world of law schools, students’ passing their respective state bars is the thing. Florida A&M’s College of Law achieved a 73.6 percent passage rate on the July 2014 Florida Bar Exam, putting them on top in Florida two years in a row. The state average is 71.8 percent.
3. North Carolina A&T ranks among best U.S. News and World Report online graduate programs in technology
I love A&T’s P.R. swagger and this story adds to it. Yes, I am fully aware of how controversial U.S. News and World Report’s higher education rankings are; but people looking for institutions to attend still pay attention to their rankings. Ranking in the top 15 among graduate technology programs, this strengthens the university’s ability to attract the growing population of online students throughout the world.
One of the measures of an institution’s effectiveness is how students in programs perform on licensing exams connected to their majors. You can’t do much better than achieving a 100 percent passage rate. The Florida A&M University Institute of Public Health has gone into academic beast mode with every single one of their students passing the Certified Education Health Specialist credentialing exam, one of the nation’s most respected health education competency exams, since 2009.
Return on investment (ROI) has become a major buzz term among policy makers in measuring the effectiveness of colleges and universities. With their alumni earning an average starting salary of $49,000 in their respective fields, Tuskegee was ranked the fifth best Alabama institution in ROI by Payscale.com. A ranking like that gives any college or university major fire power to attract mainstream news outlets, quality students and potential donors.