1st Edition

Ebony Towers in Higher Education The Evolution, Mission, and Presidency of Historically Black Colleges and Universities

    What is the purpose of black colleges? Why do black colleges continue to exist? Are black colleges necessary?Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are at the same time the least studied and the least understood institutions of higher education and the most maligned and the most endangered.This unique study examines the mission of four-year HBCUs from the perspective of the campus president, as a foundation for understanding the relevance and role of these institutions. This is the first research to focus on the role of presidents of black colleges; is based on extensive interviews with fifteen presidents; and takes into particular account the type of campus environments in which they operate.Unlike community colleges, women’s colleges, men’s colleges, and Hispanic-serving colleges, Black colleges are racially identifiable institutions. They also vary significantly in, among other characteristics: size, control (public or private), religious affiliation, gender composition, and available resources. Although united in the historic mission of educating African Americans, each black college or university has its own identity and set of educational objectives. The book examines how presidents define and implement mission in the context of their campuses, view the challenges they face, and confront the factors that promote or hinder implementation of their missions.

    Foreword—Lenoar Foster; Introduction; 1. Understanding Black Colleges; 2. Black Campus Populations; 3. Profiles of Selected Black Colleges; 4. Mission Matters at Historically Black Institutions; 5. The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same; References; Appendix A. Four-Year Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Appendix B. Predominantly Black Colleges and Universities; Appendix C. The Research Framework. A Note on Method; About the Authors; Index.


    Ronyelle Bertrand Ricard is Coordinator, University-Wide Self-Study, Howard University. She has also served as the Coordinator for Research and Professional Development at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. M. Christopher Brown II is the 18th President of Kentucky State University and Founder of the Atwood Institute on Race, Education, and the Democratic Ideal. Dr. Brown is the author/editor of 17 books and monographs. He is the author or co-author of more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, and publications related to education and society. A recipient of the Association for the Study of Higher Education’s Promising Scholar/Early Career Award, the AERA Committee on Scholars of Color Early Career Contribution Award, the Philip C. Chinn Book Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education, and the Association of Teacher Educators Distinguished Educator Award, he has lectured and/or presented research in various countries on six continents – Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America. Lenoar Foster is Professor and Associate Dean for Administration, Research, and Graduate Studies, College of Education, Washington State University.

    “Ebony Towers illuminates the responsibilities, challenges and opportunities of presidential leadership within this HBCU context, a highly mission-driven platform of presidential leadership and collaboration which is rarely known and understood by many in higher education leadership, and from which much can be learned in serving a diversified population with specific and unique needs.”

    from the Foreword by Lenoar Foster, Washington State University