HBCU’s see more support over the past year, local enrollment trends up

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    SHREVEPORT, Louisiana (KTBS ) — Big moments in history shed a spotlight on historically Black colleges and universities.

One of those moments includes the election to vice president of the first Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) graduate Kamala Harris, who attended Howard University. Then there’s Stacey Abram, a graduate of Spellman, who paved the way, fighting voter suppression ahead of the 2020 election. But also state Rep. Cedric Richmond’s appointment as senior advisor and director of the Office of Public Engagement for the Biden administration.

Grambling State University President Rick Gallot offers insight on what this means.

“Having the vice president of the United States as an HBCU graduate certainly focuses our agency heads, the secretaries in the President’s cabinet, that HBCUs will have to be a part of the conversation as it relates to grants for funding and research.” said Gallot, who added this will give HBCU’s a chance to have a meaningful participation that they weren’t always afforded.

Impact of Social Injustice on HBCU’s
But HBCU’S also felt the impact from moments like the killing of George Floyd. It sent citizens questioning company investments and those elected on corporate boards. Southern University Shreveport Chancellor Rodney Ellis said things are changing.

“Sometimes the deck in our way stacked in our favor, no matter what, how hard we work, or what we do.” said Ellis. “There have been major corporations to step up, and to say, we recognize that and we’re going to help you.”

Southern University Shreveport has had local businesses reach out to partner with them. They’ve also created new relationships and expanded partnerships with companies like Apple and IBM. Grambling has also seen an increase in its partnerships.

“Businesses understand the importance of diversity in not only in their workforce, but in in their investments,” said Gallot.

Current students have noticed the positive impact recent events had on their campus at Grambling.

“More places have been opening up to involving more students at HBCUs for more opportunities and really wanting kids from HBCU’s to join their program,” said GSU junior Shelby Luellen, who transferred to Grambling for a reason. “To be around people that look like me, to be more and more involved in the culture, and just get an overall different experience.”

Nationally, HBCU enrollment has shown a downward trend. From 2010 to 2018 the National Center for Education Statistics showed total fall enrollment go from 326,614 to 291,767. But locally, enrollment has been on the rise the last two years.

“From the fall of 2019, we had 876 freshmen, in the fall of 2020, we had 12,144,” said Gallot.

“Last year, our enrollment jumped significantly, this year, it jumped slightly,” said Ellis. “I think that’s because we’ve really tried to utilize opposition, not only as HBCU, but the only HBCU Community College in the area.”

In the end, there is optimism for the future of HBCU’s.

“I just think a new appreciation for HBCUs and understanding of the impact on this on this country,” said Ellis.

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