According to Pew Research, 34 percent of Black Americans don’t have high-speed internet and 42 percent don’t have personal computers. This obviously makes it very difficult for students and faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to be successful as they transition to remote learning. In addition, many HBCUs are experiencing a decrease in enrollment and lack of funding, and the onset and pervasiveness of COVID-19 only serves to exacerbate these problems.
A common view at many HBCUs is “when our white counterparts catch a cold, we catch pneumonia or, worse, COVID-19.” This inequity will never deter us. We continue to be recognized for supplying leaders to the nation for nearly 200 years, from Dr. Martin Luther King to Vice President Kamala Harris. “The success of HBCUs comes about despite having relatively fewer financial resources (Startz, 2021).” How do we do this? It is called resiliency.
USDLA celebrated this resiliency as cosponsors of the HBCU Action Nation. USDLA is keenly aware of the unique challenges that are experienced by HBCUs, and stands ready to assist in strengthening their presence in online learning, and certifies institutions and educational providers who meet its 91 Quality Standards for distance learning.
“The learning communities that USDLA addresses include pre K-12, higher education, continuing education, corporate training, military and government training, home schooling and telehealth,” said Dr. Reggie Smith III, USDLA CEO and executive director. ”Supporting HBCUs and all types of learners around the world is our mission, and an honor as an HBCU graduate (Lincoln University, PA) to work with Dr. McSwain, another HBCU graduate (Lincoln University, MO), to provide equal and diverse access to all.”
Resiliency is also the cornerstone at Central State University (CSU) of Ohio. CSU recognizes career advancement is the primary motivation for nearly half of students enrolling in online courses and online degree programs. In addition, CSU has capitalized on the affordability, flexibility, and personalization that exists in the world of online degrees.
“For the modern day university, operating in a virtual space with online learning is not a futuristic,” said F. Erik Brooks, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at CSU. “It’s here. It’s now! For any 21st century, high-functioning university, a robust online and global presence is essential and should be a high priority.”
This forward thinking is exactly why CSU is experiencing phenomenal growth in online enrolment and is projecting nearly 5,000 students enrolling in the fall 2021 semester, and an additional 4,000 students during the spring 2022 semester.
“At Central State University, we say ‘Innovation is in our DNA,’” said CSU president Jack Thomas. “During these dynamic and challenging times, we had to remain creative and flexible to leverage the lessons learned, and focus on sustainability.”