BE Smart HBCU Summit: A Pipeline to Leadership

At BLACK ENTERPRISE’s BE Smart HBCU Summit, held on the campus of Morgan State University, education stakeholders from corporations, the government, and philanthropy, as well as students convened to explore how historically black colleges can excel at graduating students into rewarding careers, without graduates taking on too much debt.

Here are a few highlights.


Harvesting Talent for Corporate America


Panelists Skip Spriggs, senior executive vice president and chief human resources officer, TIAA; Calvin G. Butler Jr., CEO, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.; and Renault Ross, chief cybersecurity strategist, Symantic Corp. spoke on the summit’s ‘Harvesting Talent for Corporate America’s Future’ panel, with Janice Bryant Howroyd, chairman & CEO, Act-1 Group, as the moderator.

“Employment is no longer a local issue, Spriggs told the audience, explaining that today’s graduates are competing with professionals from all over the world. Spriggs adjured students to be vigilant when applying for a job online. If you don’t follow every step exactly, your application is rejected.

A Morgan State University instructor asked about a problem her students encountered; not being able to pass tests administered by employers. “If your students are disproportionately scoring lower, Spriggs told her, “contact the organization and find out why.”

Butler said that such tests are a “filter, but could include bias, even if unintentionally. It’s possible to improve passing rates by working with the organization to develop a type of study guide, he suggested.


Millennial Minds


Angelica Willis, a senior at North Carolina A&T State University, spoke on the panel ‘Millennial Minds Matter,’ with Matthew Reeds, a Morgan student regent, and Alize Beal, co-founder of HBCU Puissance Scholarship Committee, Inc. The panel was moderated by Luke Lawal, founder and CEO of HBCU Buzz, a partner of BLACK ENTERPRISE.

“Don’t stay within the HBCU bubble, Willis urged fellow students. Willis has enjoyed internships at Apple, Google, and Bank of America, and is also a University Innovation Fellow at Stanford University. She credits her school for opening up these opportunities to her, and says that having a strategy of earning good grades your first year brings you to the attention of professors and others, who will recommend you for such opportunities.

(Image: From left to right – Alize Beal, Angelica Willis, BE’s Selena Hill, and Luke Lawal)


Presidentially Speaking


A panel of HBCU presidents looked squarely at their challenges running these storied institutions. Joining David Wilson, Ed.D., president of Morgan State University, on the panel was Roslyn Artis, J.D., Ed.D., president of Florida Memorial University and Ronald L. Carter, Ph.D., president of Johnson C. Smith University. The President Emerita of Spelman College, Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., moderated the panel.

Tatum asked if the larger political climate was increasing interest in HBCUs. Artis answered that 11 HBCUs saw record enrollments last fall.

Wilson spoke of Morgan’s collaborations with the University of Maryland, and that partnerships were in the works with some Ivy League institutions. Collaborations are one way to circumvent the resource restraints HBCUs often operate under.

Tatum spoke of the scholarship counselor she’d embedded in the freshman experience class, stating, “Spelman is good at connecting students with other people’s money.

The BE Smart HBCU Summit examined opportunity from every angle: institutional collaborations, scholarships, excelling in school, working with test administrators, and these all add up to greater opportunity for HBCU students.


Image: (From left to right ) Dr. Beverly Tatum, Dr. David Wilson, Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., Ronald Carter, and Dr. Roslyn Artis (Photo coutrsey of Morgan State University)