Letters to the Editor

Julius H. Cromwell: HBCUs must rely on alumni

Regarding the Jan. 31 Work & Money article “HBCUs are key to N.C. economic future”: The article overlooked a very significant element that has affected HBCUs since the founding of the first black college Wilberforce University in 1856 – and that is alumni giving.

Historically HBCU alumni have been notoriously reluctant and unwilling to give back to their alma maters.

Marybeth Gasman and Nelson Bowman III in their book “A Guide to Fundraising at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An All Campus Approach” listed several reasons as to why HBCU alums do not give. The exception has been the elite HBCUs such as Howard, Hampton, Morehouse and Spelman.

Recently, according to Gasman and Bowman, Claflin, Bennett, Talladega, Tuskegee, Livingstone and Morgan State have seen substantial increases in alumni giving. In addition, all of these institutions continue to have a positive economic impact on their communities.

Alumni giving is key to sustainability at HBCUs and must be one of the priorities of presidents, boards and institutions. Alumni giving is truly a matter of life or death for a majority of the 107 historically black colleges and universities.

Julius H. Cromwell