Maintaining Missions, Margins, and Multiculturalism at Historically Black Colleges & Universities Will...

Maintaining Missions, Margins, and Multiculturalism at Historically Black Colleges & Universities Will Be Focus of National Leadership Institute


Alcorn, MS—(HISPANIC PR WIRE – US Newswire)–March 23, 2004–Alcorn State University, the Southern Education Foundation, the Association of American Colleges and Universities and other partners will host the inaugural National Leadership Institute on Multiculturalism at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), April 5-6, 2004. Leaders of HBCUs, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, community colleges, higher education executive officers, university executives and administrators, governors’ education policy advisors, lawyers and faculty will meet on the historic campus of Alcorn State University, the nation’s oldest black land-grant institution and part of the Mississippi higher education system. Participants will discuss the challenges and opportunities inherent in increasing racial and ethnic diversity, multiculturalism, and internationalization on campuses originally created to educate African Americans.

This meeting will happen ten months after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, the most significant affirmative action cases since Regents of the University of California v. Bakke in 1978. This meeting also follows the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent decision to uphold the $503 million settlement in Ayers v. Barbour (formerly Ayers v. Allain), a 29 year-old case accusing Mississippi of neglecting its black colleges and universities. Under the terms of the agreement, ten percent of the schools’ enrollment must be non-black before receiving negotiated endowments. Collectively, the Gratz, Grutter and Ayers cases stand to be as important as the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, since they have implications for the future of racial integration in the nation’s colleges and universities.

Dr Clinton Bristow, Jr., president of Alcorn State University explained that the convening is important not only because of the judicial fiats, but also because, “our colleges and universities must prepare students to work and live in this globally independent world.” Attorney Lynn Huntley, executive director of the Southern Education Foundation, a project partner, agrees. Said Huntley, “In order to prepare students to live in a new world of diversity wrought by globalizing economies and the revolution in technology, our nation’s colleges and universities must themselves become models of inclusion, and intergroup and international understanding and learning.”

“We at Alcorn State University and our project partners, the Southern Education Foundation, The College Board, and the Association of American Colleges and Universities believe that today, institutional diversity must constitute as much of the identity of truly great higher education institutions as academic research and social service. Institutional climate and responsiveness to diversity closely correlate with academic excellence and equity,” said Bristow. “Through institutional diversity students can benefit from the intellectual, cultural, civic, religious and personal experiences of a range of students, reflecting the richness of this heterogeneous, pluralistic society. They can learn the tolerance, coexistence and ecumenical spirit of shared values and common destinies that make America strong.”

The goals of the National Leadership Institute are: (1) to begin developing new knowledge and understanding by opinion makers, policy shapers, senior executives and other stakeholders about the unique role HBCUs play in the national effort to foster and reap the educational benefits of diversity; (2) to identify and promote policies and practices that will strategically position HBCUs as foremost free-standing, mission-based higher education institutions and as pipelines through which students attending two-year Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal colleges and other two-year institutions can complete a four-year baccalaureate degree at moderate- and low-cost institutions; and through which historically and predominately white institutions can secure a “critical mass” of multicultural, academically well prepared students for graduate and professional schools; and (3) to lay the foundation to formulate, disseminate and promote the use of “Principles and Standards of Good Practice to Maintain Multiculturalism at HBCUs.”

The National Institute will feature leading multiculturalism and diversity researchers, writers, advocates, policy makers and opinion shapers. Mark Musick, executive director of the Southern Regional Education Board and the state higher education executive officers from Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Alabama will set the tone for the deliberations in a roundtable discussion about what their states are doing to assist HBCUs to become more diverse. Governor Haley Barbour has been invited to open the conference.

“AAC&U is especially pleased to be a co-sponsor for the upcoming National Leadership Institute at Alcorn State University,” remarked AAC&U president Carol Geary Schneider. “We all recognize that higher education still has much work to do in expanding educational opportunity, teaching all students about America’s struggles for democratic inclusion and justice, and providing all students with the intercultural skills they will need in a diverse and still fractured world. Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority serving institutions have always played a pioneering role in American society. It is especially appropriate, then, for HBCU’s to take the lead in shaping new forms of intercultural learning. This important meeting promises to be a landmark event,” added Schneider.

The National Institute will be held at Alcorn University, Alcorn, Mississippi, on April 5th and 6th. Founded in 1871, Alcorn was the nation’s first state-supported institution for the higher education of African Americans. Alcorn is in Claiborne County, Mississippi, seven miles west of Lorman, seventeen miles southwest of Port Gibson, and about halfway between Vicksburg, to the north, and Natchez, to the south.

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Maintaining Missions, Margins, and Multiculturalism at Historically Black Colleges & Universities Will Be Focus of National Leadership Institute