The last few years have been an upward climb for the nation’s HBCUs as falling enrollments took many to the brink of a financial chasm. This fall, however, brings good news, as several Black institutions have reported upticks in enrollment, signaling a possible reversal in fortunes, as demonstrated by a compilation of data by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.


Among the institutions reporting good news is Shaw University, a private HBCU in Raleigh, N.C. After processing 9,000 applications, the school welcomed 600 new freshmen to campus this fall, up from 402 last year and the largest class in six years, according to a press release. Shaw President Tashni-Ann Dubroy credited the record-setting enrollment to technological advances that updated and streamlined the recruitment process, including an online portal that allowed students to upload transcripts and otherwise complete their applications via the Web.

“Shaw deserves it,” said Anthony Brooks, Shaw’s chief enrollment officer. “It’s the oldest HBCU in the South, and over the years has earned a reputation for being a top producer of minority professionals. This year’s enrollment is proof we are continuing that legacy and keeping that promise for generations to come.”

Claflin University, located in Orangeburg, S.C., also has a record-breaking entering class of more than 500–the most in school history. “The Class of 2020 is not only the largest class in school history, it is the most talented, as well,” said President Henry N. Tisdale said.

Virginia State University’s class of 2020, numbering at 1,000 freshmen, is a 30 percent increase in enrollment, school officials announced.  The HBCU, located near Petersburg, also had its largest cohort of international students. “Our number of new students is quite an accomplishment in a challenging and competitive environment,” said Rodney Hall, executive director of Enrollment Services. “We can credit this to a number of new creative initiatives across the board as well as the dedication and hard work of our admissions, financial aid and other departments university-wide.”

Also sharing good news is Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens. The private HBCU reported the largest freshmen class in the past six-years. Its 498 new enrollees represent an increase of 100 from last year’s entering class. President Roslyn Artis attributes the growth to a summer orientation program.

Also in the latest roundup is Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, Mo., which recently admitted the largest incoming class in its history. This year’s enrollment of freshmen and new transfer students number at 600, a 30 percent increase from last year and a 50 percent increase over the past two years. Officials credit the increase to the school’s emphasis on out-of-state recruitment–its students from 37 states and 10 countries, including China, Brazil, India, Scotland and Nigeria; and also the doubling of its degree offerings in the last two years and its relatively small teacher-to-student ratio. “Harris-Stowe is continuing to develop and broaden our aggressive recruitment strategy and it is yielding great results,” said Loretta McDonald, director of Harris-Stowe’s Office of Admissions.


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO