An excerpt from Diverse OpEd written by James Runcie, CEO and Co-Founder of Partnership for Education Advancement (May 4, 2023)
HBCUs are attracting students at record numbers and experiencing an uptick in philanthropic support, both of which are chipping away at decades of underfunding. It’s a promising trend—one that we have a responsibility to ensure isn’t just a blip. Even with these successes, the long-term viability of many HBCUs remains precarious if we don’t take advantage of this moment to create lasting, systemic changes to advance the ways HBCUs operate and provide more Black Americans with access to the distinct educational opportunities these historic campuses offer.
While higher education has traditionally shied away from comparisons to the corporate world, recent trends—including the demographic cliff and the Great Resignation—have illuminated the need for colleges and universities to consider new ways of doing business. Increasingly, there are signs that much of the technology prolific in the business sector could be leveraged to improve efficiencies in higher education. Consider robotic process automations (RPAs), customer relationship management tools (CRMs), and artificial intelligence like chatbots. These tools are automating manual tasks, freeing up employees for more valuable human interactions, providing customers with personalized experiences, and collecting and analyzing data for more strategic decision-making. Even though some of this same technology is already helping to advance better-resourced institutions, many HBCUs have not been able to keep up with investments in technological infrastructure due not only to budgetary constraints, but also to staffing limitations. In fact, one of the greatest roadblocks to effective technology implementations is the availability of talent to shepherd the process, which spans procurement, deployment, integration, training, operations, and maintenance. Unfortunately, HBCUs have not been immune to the hiring and retention challenges impacting higher education recently. Continue reading >>