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Cornelius News

A closer look at North Carolina’s thriving HBCUs

Feb. 22. By Joe Killian/NC Policy Watch. As Black History Month commences its final week, North Carolina’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities have endured a series of bomb threats leading to closures, disruptions and fear of hate-based terrorism that the FBI reports is at a 12-year high across America.

Photo: White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through HBCU

Nonetheless, the UNC System’s HBCUs continue to thrive, many reporting record financial gifts and impressive increases in enrollment, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the traditional on-campus learning experience.

Last week, N.C. A&T – the nation’s largest HBCU – celebrated the opening of the new Harold L. Martin Sr. Engineering Research and Innovation Complex, a state-of-the-art 130,000-square-foot facility made possible by the $2 billion Connect NC Bond passed by voters in 2016. It was the end of a long journey for the project, which broke ground in 2018. The project is a testament to the determination of its namesake, Chancellor Harold Martin, to ensure A&T gets the resources and new construction befitting its place as the institution graduating more Black engineers than any other.

“The investment being made and unveiled today is really a testament to the confidence of our governor, our legislature, our city elected officials, our alumni and business leaders who are assisting us in remarkable and untold ways as we continue to push beyond the possibilities for the future of the university, this community, this region and this state,” Martin said at the building’s opening ceremony.

Though historically underfunded and cheated out of proper allocations as land grant universities, the state’s HBCUs are also recording record-breaking donations in the last two years.

This week, a by-the-numbers look at trials and triumphs of the UNC System’s HBCUs.
(Souces: UNC System, N.C. A&T, Gallup)

5 – Number of HBCUs in the UNC System: NC A&T, NC Central University, Fayetteville State University, Winston-Salem State University and Elizabeth City State University

Enrollment numbers fall 2021, vs. 2019


13,332 – NC A&T, up 6%

7,953 – NC Central, down 1%

6,754 – Fayetteville State, up 3%

5,226 –Winston Salem State, up 2%

2,054 – Elizabeth City State,  up 2.6% and the highest enrollment at the school since 2013

$181.4 million – The record-breaking haul of donations collected by NC A&T at the end of its eight-year capital campaign, which ended in 2021

$45 million – The historic, unrestricted donation philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who was married to billionaire Jeff Bezos, made to NC A&T in 2020

40 – Percentage of HBCU graduates found to be financially thriving in a Gallup study that looked at various measures of well-being in Black college graduates. That’s higher than the 29% of Black graduates of other schools found to be similarly thriving

51 – Percentage of HBCU graduates in the same study who reported “thriving in purpose,” which Gallup defines as liking what they do each day and being motivated to achieve goals; 43% of Black graduates of other colleges and universities reported a similar situation

58 – Percentage of HBCU graduates in the same study who said they had a professor during their college career who cared about them as a person. The number of Black graduates of other schools who similarly responded was just 25%

Joe Killian, Investigative Reporter, joined N.C. Policy Watch in August of 2016. His work takes a closer look at government, politics and policy in North Carolina and their impact on the lives of everyday people. You can reach Joe at joe@ncpolicywatch.com

NC Policy Watch is a nonprofit, nonpartisan Raleigh-based journalism outlet whose reporters and commentators cover and analyze North Carolina politics and policy. It is a founding member of the States Newsroom – a national network of state capital-based news sites.