Student enrollment at the nation's 105 historically black colleges and universities has become increasingly diverse, while the institutions continue to face challenges in graduation rates, fund-raising, and other areas, according to a report by a professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.
The report includes elite institutions such as Morehouse and Spelman Colleges and Howard University, and local universities including Cheyney and Lincoln. It was prepared by higher education professor Marybeth Gasman, who studies historically black universities, and her research team.
"I've seen a number of people issuing statements about HBCUs and having absolutely no data," Gasman said. "So I thought, why don't we actually look at that data?"
In 1950, blacks made up nearly 100 percent of the schools' enrollment, the report said. Today, 61 percent of students identify themselves as black, and they account for 11 percent of black enrollment in higher education institutions around the country. The proportion of Hispanic students has grown over the last 30 years, and they account for 2 percent of enrollment at HBCUs. More than 4,300 students are Asian, a 60 percent increase from 2001 though still only 1 percent of the enrollment.
Multiracial students account for 18 percent, whites for 10 percent, and international students and "race unknown" for 7 percent each.
The average six-year graduation rate for such schools is about 30 percent, compared with the national rate of 55.5 percent, and 37.5 percent for African American students overall.
Gasman noted that many of the students at historically black universities are low-income, first-generation college students and that the schools tend to enroll students with lower SAT scores.
"Students with these characteristics are less likely to graduate no matter where they attend college," the report said.
The report comes as the university prepares to start a Center for Minority Serving Institutions in January, Gasman said. For more information on the report see: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/campus_inq