Partnering for Success

Historically black colleges and universities are increasing their competitiveness by teaming up with major corporations and government agencies

including Citibank, AT&T and General Motors, and contributed $12.7 million over four years to the school’s campaign. “The program was the first corporate partnership program that included major gift giving,” says Paschal, who has since received inquiries from other schools such as the University of South Carolina at Spartanburg, Queens College of the City University of New York and California State University at Northridge.

In particular, the efforts of Amgen, a leading biopharmaceutical company, have resulted in the new $22.5 million Amgen Center for Molecular Biology (scheduled to open in late 1999). “Amgen funded the construction and donated $1.5 million to our science program to encourage more black women to enter the field of biotechnology
,” says Paschal. “They’ve expressed long-term interest in fueling a pipeline of science graduates for future hiring.”

Harold Davis, D.V.M., Ph.D., Amgen’s director of toxicology, says the company chose to participate mainly because of Spelman’s commitment to the applied sciences–37% of the students major in math, science and engineering. “We’re interested in creating a network of future professionals,” he says. “So it made good business sense to go where the talent and enthusiasm were most evident.”
Of the graduates who responded to Spelman’s 1998 senior survey, 18% accepted positions in corporate America (16% of those companies are science-based).

Amgen considers the new center to be a springboard for cutting-edge scientific development. “It’s not enough to have great ideas if you don’t have the necessary facilities to transform them into tangible initiatives,” says Davis.

Gears are already in motion for a faculty exchange program with Amgen. Currently, the company hosts an on-campus lecture series, where company scientists share their knowledge in short-topic courses and workshops with Spelman faculty and students. In turn, professors will be able to spend six weeks working on research projects in Amgen’s state-of-the-art laboratories.

“As we increase our expertise and contacts, we can provide our students with the information they need to do well in the corporate world,” says Pamela Gunter-Smith, Ph.D., chair of Spelman’s biology department. “Spelman has become much stronger as a result of these partnerships,” says Gunter-Smith, who visited Amgen as a program advocate.

Even the federal government is seeing the value of working together with HBCUs. In 1995, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) established a five-year partnering program designed to link HBCUs and mainstream institutions with technology experts from the public and private sectors.

The $100 million Federated Laboratory program consists of three faculty/ industry-run teams, each specializing in sensor, telecommunications or display technology. Each consortium contains a corporation, a mainstream university and a black institution.

“Each HBCU receives approximately 10% of its consortium’s budget over five years,” says John Miller, ARL division chief of signal and image processing. “In addition to partnering with technology leaders in the private sector, participating HBCUs implement problem-solving strategies through focused, government-funded research,” he says.

North Carolina A&T, one of four HBCUs in the FedLab program, has greatly benefited from its participation, says John Kelly, Ph.D., professor of computer science at the College of Engineering. “We are already the

Pages: 1 2 3 4