Students Speak On The Administrative Issues Plaguing Tennessee HBCUs
"It's just so many hoops to go through to get my advisor," one Fisk University junior bemoaned.
August 08, 2022 at 9:34 pm
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) is on a mission to help the state’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) succeed, but will the organization’s “strategic plan” be enough?
Late last month, the THEC’s HBCU Success Advisory Board unveiled a 3-year plan that’s focused on improving the “administrative capacity” of Tennessee’s 7 HBCUs: American Baptist College, Fisk University, Knoxville College, Lane College, LeMoyne-Owen College, Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University.
“The capacity is very different at HBCUs, especially in Tennessee,” Brittany Mosby, the state’s director of HBCU Success, said during a THEC meeting back in July, WPLN reports.
“Six of out seven [Tennessee] HBCUs are private institutions, smaller staff and multiple staff members wearing multiple hats,” she continued, addressing how the state’s HBCUs are in need of more administrative support.
Seemingly co-signing Mosby’s observation regarding “multiple staff members wearing multiple hats” at Tennessee HBCUs, Katelynn Fencl — a junior at Fisk University — shared her experiences as well.
“I’m a junior with more credits than I need as a junior, and I’m still undeclared,” Fencl revealed, WPLN reports. “Not because I don’t know my major, but because it’s just so many hoops to go through to get my advisor.”
Fencl went on to tell the outlet it’s common for Fisk professors to take on administrative roles to help their students out.
“I think HBCU issues are pretty well known. I think they’re just ignored in a way,” Fencl said.
To address these issues, which have reportedly caused low graduation rates at some of the institutions in question, Fencl says Tennessee needs to provide more funding for its HBCUs so that more faculty and staff can be hired.
However, with Tennessee having a history of underfunding institutions like Tennessee State University (TSU), it’s unclear whether the state’s 3-year plan will be enough, as it’s more centered on “[promoting] HBCUs to students, families, the community, and policymakers” and “[encouraging] partnerships with HBCU programs and initiatives.”
This subject comes about 6 months after Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced a plan to provide TSU with $250M in funding, as Blavity previously reported.
While this is definitely good news for the institution, the initiative comes on the heels of the Office of Legislative Budget Analysis finding that the state could owe TSU “between $151 million to $544 million in land-grant funding,” according to The Tennessean.
What do you think about the situation?