By Deborah Bailey,
AFRO Contributing Editor,
Maryland’s first HBCU, Bowie State University (BSU), is celebrating the conclusion of its fundraising campaign of $50 million dollars. The feat comes almost two years ahead of its scheduled end date, originally set for 2025. The largest campaign in the history of BSU has resulted in an increase in the school’s endowment from $7 million to $50 million.
“We are appreciative of all the individuals and organizations who have invested in our historic institution,” said Aminta H. Breaux, PhD., the University’s first woman president. “Now we’re able to provide more of our students with scholarships.”
A record 6,275 students enrolled at BSU in the fall of 2022. BSU was one of two University of Maryland system campuses with increased enrollment during the pandemic.
“We now bring in students from 40 states and 46 countries internationally,” Breaux beamed.
Large donations from Adobe, Baltimore Gas and Electric (BG&E), The Blackstone Charitable Foundation, the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation, The Maguire Foundation, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, Truist Bank and many others have supported the BSU Campaign for Excellence, which began in December of 2021.
“We’ve awarded 500 students support from the partners who have stepped up to provide funding during our campaign,” said Brent Swinton, director of institutional advancement at BSU.
“Our additional funding has allowed more students to graduate with less debt,” Swinton added.
According to the College Board, more than 81 percent of Bowie State University students receive financial aid.
The University announced it will extend its fundraising campaign, “to work closely with our friends and affiliated organizations to generate awareness of the world-class opportunities offered at BSU.”
Current campaign funds are also being used for upgrades to the Leonidas S. James Athletic Complex scheduled for completion in September, expansion of academic and student affairs programming and continued expansion of the University’s hallmark entrepreneurship focus.
“Infrastructure remains a concern for our university and many HBCUs. The University has a $75 million deferred maintenance goal to meet,” Breaux said.
The campus is also gearing up for new students who may look toward Bowie in the light of recent Supreme Court rulings eliminating race-based affirmative action admissions policies at leading predominantly white institutions (PWIs).
“In this next phase as we look at the changing landscape of higher education, we may perhaps see an influx of more students coming to Bowie State University as an HBCU seeking that nurturing environment,” Breaux added.
The growth of endowment funding at Black colleges is essential to establish a sense of permanence at Bowie State and other HBCUs.
“Increasing the endowments of HBCUs is not really just about the money, it is about investing in the stability and security of these institutions,” said Denise A. Smith, author of a study by the Century Foundation on endowment funding at HBCUs.
Historic inequities have hampered the ability of HBCUs to establish endowment funding at the rate of their PWIs peers, according to the study.
Since the COVID-19 Pandemic and the death of George Floyd in 2020, investments in HBCUs have expanded. Gifts from the philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, given to scores of HBCUs across the nation, including her $25 million to Bowie State in December 2021 have been referenced as “historic.”
Scott gave multi-million dollar gifts to three of the four Maryland HBCUs including Morgan State (MSU) and University of Eastern Shore (UMES), opening the door for new funders to engage these institutions.
Yet HBCU endowments are miniscule compared to those at leading PWIs. Harvard University reported an endowment of $49.44 billion making them the university with the world’s largest endowment. While the top 10 HBCU endowments have a combined total of 2.5 billion, 69 individual PWI’s with $2 billion dollar enrollments, according to previous AFRO reporting by Sean Yoes.