Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been concerned about the formal business education of African American students since the Atlanta Exposition in 1895 (Joseph Pierce, Negro Business and Business Education, 1947). Since that time, these schools have trained students who have become entrepreneurs, organizational leaders, and employees in enterprises that address economic development needs throughout the world, especially within the African American community. Since HBCUs graduate a disproportionately large number of African American students, the needs for management education in HBCUs continues. The Roundtable has a strategic plan that serve as a framework for developing strategic alliances among HBCUs and other universities, with foundations, government agencies, and corporations in support of excellence and productivity in management education.
Mission: The purpose of this organization is to provide a forum for deans of HBCU business schools to address opportunities and challenges associated with enhancing business programs and initiatives. The organization also seeks to strengthen and develop strategic partnerships and alliances with corporations, government, and national organizations to provide the essential tools and resources for student success.
Vision: To become the premier forum for exchanging information and ideas related to maximizing the value of management education at HBCUs.
Planning Context: There are many dynamic factors that impact the future of business schools and units at HBCUs and the effectiveness of their deans and directors. There are several major factors that drive the strategic vision of the Roundtable including Deans’ Development, “The Achievement Gap,” “The Future of HBCUs,” Outcomes Accountability, Technology, and Globalization. The Roundtable is committed to moving its membership forward by educating and exposing it to the best practices in business education. A context for each of the aforementioned major relevant factors is provided below.
The future of business schools at HBCUs rests with the quality of their deans. That fact necessitates the continuous development and support of the skills and relationships of individuals serving in those positions. The Roundtable remains committed to developing a wide variety of skills among its members as well as fostering opportunities for collaborations that will strengthen all. The Roundtable provides an opportunity for new deans to receive mentoring from more seasoned deans who have successfully dealt with issues in institutions similar to theirs. This enables the new deans to become part of a network of professionals with a shared passion for the improvement of and greater access to business education for a historically underserved population. The Summits are particularly helpful in encouraging the sharing of best practices that can improve the quality and outcome for students and participating institutions.
“The Achievement Gap”
Unfortunately, there is a persistent gap in the achievement of Black students versus White students in our society. Blacks attend college at a lower rate than Whites and are graduating from college at a lower rate as well. It is the role of the HBCU to attempt to close that gap and to ensure that Black students are not marginalized in our economy. HBCUs are particularly good at creating a nurturing environment that allow so called “diamonds in the rough” (many of whom are first-generation college students) to become polished, both academically and professionally, and graduate into jobs and careers. The Roundtable supports the effort to close the achievement gap in business education between Blacks and other groups by identifying, informing, and securing resources that encourage minority student retention and graduation rates. Persistence can be influenced by us.
“The Future of HBCUs”
A half-century ago, approximately seventy-five percent of all African American students attending college in the United States were enrolled in HBCUs. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the HBCU share of that market has dwindled to only twelve percent of total African-American college attendees. Consequently, many have questioned the value of the continued existence of HBCUs. They believe that, following the dismantling of the infrastructure of segregation and racism over the past fifty years, the United States offers equal opportunity for higher education to all, regardless of race. HBCUs, however, continue to play a significant role in higher education in this country, according to the U.S. Department of Education. HBCUs represent a mere three percent of the enrollment in all colleges and universities in the country, yet they award more than thirty percent of all baccalaureate degrees, forty percent of all STEM degrees, and sixty percent of all engineering degrees earned by African Americans. Most impressive is the fact that they produce approximately half of all African-American teachers, forty percent of all African-American healthcare professionals, and twenty-four percent of all African-American PhDs (Provasnik, S., and Shafer, L.L. (2004). Historically Black Colleges and Universities, 1976 to 2001 (NCES 2004–062).U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office; United Negro College Fund, Annual Report 2007).
We now live in a knowledge-based economy, which requires a highly skilled workforce. It is, therefore, the responsibility of all institutions of higher learning, especially business schools at HBCUs, to show accountability for their results. State and federal agencies, accrediting bodies, students and their parents expect proof of the value of the degrees that are being bestowed. In an era when every academic institution is being urged to “do more with less”, the Roundtable provides an invaluable opportunity for experts and accountability champions to share resource maximization practices with a group of educators from institutions where “doing more with less” has always been a way of life. The Summit encourages opportunities for exchanging and/or sharing of resources that allow participating institutions to collectively gain access to materials and human skills that lower their costs and improve their outcomes.
TECHNOLOGY BEST PRACTICES
The twenty-first century is ubiquitously defined by technology. Students of HBCUs must be able to navigate the spheres of technology development, adaptation, innovation, and utilization in order to be competitive. We have a responsibility to provide the necessary training in technology fields. The Roundtable is conceived as a forum where the leaders of HBCU business education units can assemble in one setting and receive education and training on current and emerging technologies, the adoption of which could improve the teaching and research for faculty. This will, ultimately, result in successful careers for HBCU graduates. The Roundtable also aims to encourage technology vendors and innovators to make presentations to its members on the latest labor saving and cost effective devices that could allow education to be provided to the targeted population at reasonable prices.
GLOBALIZATION BEST PRACTICES
Today, the skills, knowledge, and demeanor of the successful college graduate determine the ability to compete successfully on the global level. What is done at the undergraduate level establishes the framework for a life of continuous learning and professional development. It used to be that the main concern of HBCUs was to assure that their students could compete against graduates of majority institutions in the United States. Now HBCU graduates must compete against graduates in countries such as China and India, where the emphasis on learning is pervasive and the motivation to succeed is palpable. The Roundtable provides an opportunity for HBCU heads of business schools/colleges/ departments, many of whom are not American-born, to learn from each other. The Roundtable also aims to become a focal point for concerted global sharing of entrepreneurial education and support, especially for areas of the world where HBCU-affiliation can be perceived as an advantage.
The ability of deans of business schools or units at HBCUs to effectively manage in today’s environment hinges upon knowing, understanding, and applying best practices in the areas of “The Achievement Gap,” Outcomes Accountability, Technology, and Globalization. The continued development of HBCU business deans on these and other relevant environmental factors will enable them to positively impact “The Future of HBCUs.” As a result, the HBCU Business Deans Roundtable is committed to contributing to the necessary, ongoing, and systematic development of its membership.