The next question posed was, of course, how they each planned to keep up the momentum they’d created. Dr. Turner remarked that they want to keep the focus on the great work that HBCUs have always done—that people have only just started realizing they’re doing—within the spaces where black lives have always mattered.
They could both agree that COVID-19 forced higher ed into the realm of heightened accessibility via the digital approach, thus bolstering progress that would otherwise have come in a decade.
Morgan State will continue to utilize virtual recruitment strategies henceforth. Alongside their migration to test-optional admissions criteria, this adaptation has been integral to increasing accessibility. Likewise, Tennessee State embraced and will uphold these same initiatives.
Where there’s success, there were surely obstacles. Dr. Turner noted that perception is key. While they know that they do a great job of educating their student body at Morgan State, there are guidance counselors and parents who undervalue and misconstrue their institution.
The spotlight is important, she said, and so is taking advantage of this gravity to inform the people lacking an understanding of HBCUs.
Have you wondered what diversity means to HBCUs? In a myth-busting moment, Dr. Scott emphasized that black students are not a monolith and HBCUs don’t only want to educate black students, nor do they.
Dr. Turner added that Morgan State’s non-African American enrollment currently sits around 10%. Despite the decline in international students, they even have broad ethnic diversity amongst their black students.
“We have always been open to everyone, even when other institutions were not open to us,” said Dr. Turner. “Historically Black” will always be a part of the culture, she explained, but they have to diversify if they want to grow in a country that is fast becoming a racial majority-minority.