2020 Ten Top Smaller HBCUs That Are Rising

Founded on or before 1964, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were established after the Civil War when southern states still practiced segregation in schools. The following HBCUs have provided places for freed slaves to earn a quality education.

For more than 140 years, HBCUs have nurtured, provided, and served academic excellence to low-income, first-generation, and academically underprepared students. HBCUs continue to thrive in its mission to turning students into educated testimonies.

According to UNCF’s ‘Six Reasons HBCUs Are More Important Than Ever,’ the nation 102 HBCUs make up just 3 percent of America’s colleges and universities, yet the institutions produce almost 20 percent of all African-American graduates and 25 percent of African-American graduates in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – which are the critical industries of the future. Also, HBCUs tuition rates are on average almost 20 percent less than at comparable institutions.

Smaller institutions are evaluated for being the most affordable for students with an enrollment of less than 2,000 and tuition totaling less than $15,000 per year. These institutions are also student-centered which seeks to fulfill the academic needs and performances of every student enrolled and fostered academic preparation while providing high-quality educational opportunities for diverse populations.

This list provides you the top ten small private and public historically black institutions that are rising in providing educations with smaller class sizes, dedicated faculty, and spiritual values to its surrounding community.

10. J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College – Located in Huntsville, Alabama

J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College is the first and only institution of its kind in Alabama. In 1961, Governor George Wallace founded a group of state, two-year technical institutions. To support the technical/vocational career education needs of African Americans. Huntsville State Vocational Technical School was one of these schools.

In 1966, the school changed its name of J.F. Drake State Technical Trade School in honor of the late Joseph Fanning Drake, long-time President of Alabama A&M University. The Alabama State Board of Education granted Drake State Technical College status in 1973 and adjusted its name to J.F. Drake Technical College, allowing the school to offer the Associate in Applied Technology Degree (AAT).

The final step in establishing the schools identity came in July 2013 when the college officially became J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College.

Dr. Patricia Sims was named the fourth president of Drake State in December 2018. Under her leadership, Drake State as transition to becoming the premier training destination for businesses in greater Huntsville. Dr. Sims and Dr. Hugine, President of AAMU signed a MOU on June 17, 2019, that will enable students awarded delayed admission to AAMU to begin their academic tenures at Drake State and earn credential as they prepare to transfer to AAMU. In January 2020, Dr. Sims was named by the HBCU Campaign Fund amongs ‘The Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2020.”

For more information, visit www.drakestate.edu.

9. Tougaloo College – Located in Jackson, Mississippi

Tougaloo College is a private, coeducational, historically black, four-year liberal arts church related institution. In 1869, the American Missionary Association of New York purchased five hundred acres of land from John Boddie, owner of the Boddie plantation to establish a school for the training of young people “irrespective of religious tenets and conducted on the most liberal principles for the benefit of our citizens in general.” The Mississippi State Legislature granted the institution a charter under the name of Tougaloo University. Course of college credit were first offered in 1897, and in 1901, the first bachelor of arts degree was awarded to Traverse S. Crawford in 1916, the name of the institution was changed to Tougaloo College.

Over the years, the College has ranked among the top 25 U.S. institutions whose graduates earn their Ph.Ds in the science and engineering disciplines and among the top historically black colleges and universities in the graduation of females with undergraduate degrees in the physical sciences. The College has historically produced over 40% of the African American physicians and dentists, practicing in the state of Mississippi, more than one-third of the state’s African American attorneys and educators including teachers, principals, school superintendents, college/university faculty and administrators. The College offers 29 degree programs in the areas of education, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

In March 2019, Dr. Carmen J. Waters was named as the 14th President of the College succeeding Dr. Beverly Wade Hogan, who served as President since May 2002. Dr. Hogan was the first woman President to lead Tougaloo.

For more information, visit www.tougaloo.edu.

8. Clinton College – Located in Rock Hill, South Carolina

Established by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church during the Reconstruction era to help eradicate illiteracy among freedman slaves. Clinton College is a historically black, private college and the oldest institution of higher learning in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The College has operated continuously for 120 years. In 1894, Presiding Elder Nero A. Crockett and Rev. W.M. Robinson founded Clinton Institute and named it after Bishop Caleb Isom Clinton, the Palmetto Conference Presiding Bishop at the time.

In 2010, the College received a three-year Department of Energy Grant for $1.9 million to rest environmental development. Two bachelors programs were implemented in Fall 2013, approved by the Transnational Association for Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS). The programs are a bachelor in science in business administration and a bachelor of arts in religion. The College was awarded grant funds that were used to develop courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The College endowment has increased from $89,000 in 2003 to $566,000 in 2013.

In view of the four-year programs, the College’s named was changed Clinton Junior College to Clinton College. In keeping with its 120-year tradition, the College offers an academic environment that not only promotes intellectual growth, but also fosters positive moral, ethical and spiritual values. The College celebrated 125 years of higher education in 2019.

For more information, visit www.clintoncollege.edu.

7. Miles College – Located in Birmingham, Alabama

Miles College, founded in 1898, is a premier liberal arts institution in Birmingham, Alabama. The noble founders of the institution saw educated leadership as the paramount need in the black community. The College is the only four-year institution in historic Birmingham designated as a member of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Miles College is a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) higher learning institution.

The College offers 28 bachelor degree programs in six academic divisions to an enrollment of approximately 1,700 students. Under the leadership of former President George T. French, Jr., Miles College purchased a new 41-acres campus adjacent to the existing campus in 2006.

In January 2020, Charles Barkley, former NBA Hall of Fame athlete and philanthropist donated the single largest gift of $1 million to the College. It is the first time in the College’s 122 year history to receive the historic gift. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston followed with a $50,000 gift to the football program within the same month.

Miles College is one of 39 UNCF-member institutions. For more information, visit www.miles.edu.

6. Morris-Brown College – Located in Atlanta, Georgia

Morris-Brown College founded in 1881 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church is a private, coeducational, liberal arts college engaged in teaching and public service with special focus in leadership, management, entrepreneurship and technology. On October 15, 1885, just 20 years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, 107 students and nine teachers walked into a crude wooden structure at the corner of Boulevard and Houston Streets in Atlanta, Georgia, marking the opening of the first educational institution in Georg

In May 1885, the State of Georgia granted a charter to Morris-Brown College. Under the leadership of Interim President, Dr. Kevin E. James, the College recently settled a $4 million debt with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The National Park Service also awarded the College a $500,000 grant toward the renovation of Fountain Hall. The College aims towards restoring and regaining its accreditation. There are currently 35 students taking classes on campus and online.

For more information, visit www.morrisbrown.edu.

5. Stillman College – Located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Stillman College was authorized by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States in 1875, held its first classes in 1876 and was chartered as a legal corporation by the State of Alabama in 1895. At that time, the name was changed from Tuscaloosa Institute to Stillman Institute. In 1948, the name was officially changed to Stillman College. The following year, the College expanded to a four-year and graduated its first baccalaureate class in 1951.

As a small liberal arts institution, Stillman College is committed to fostering academic excellence and providing high quality educational opportunities for diverse populations with disparate levels of academic preparations. Primarily a teaching institution, Stillman has a proud and evolving tradition of preparing students for leadership and service in society. The College is one of the leaders in wireless computing, and has received the National Innovation in Technology Award by Apple Computers, and continues to be on the cusp of technology innovations in higher education.

In 2017, Dr. Cynthia Warrick was appointed as Interim President of Stillman College. Later in April, she was named the permanent President facing ongoing financial challenges in the Colleges history. In March, Dr. Warrick is credited for raising $2 million to help cover debt service and operating expenses during the summer and help boost recruiting efforts to draw new students.

In January 2020, the HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF) named Dr. Warrick amongst the ‘The Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2020,’ citing her focus on connecting students and the college to opportunities that advance academic excellence, degree completion, admissions into graduate and professional schools and fruitful careers.

For more information, visit www.stillman.edu.

4. Edward Waters College – Located in Jacksonville, Florida

Edward Waters College (EWC) is, distinctively, Florida’s oldest independent institution of higher learning as well as the state’s first institution established for the education of African-Americans.

EWC began as an institution founded by blacks, for blacks. In 1865, following the Civil War, the Reverend Charles H. Pearce, a presiding elder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, was sent to Florida by Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne. The school, established in 1866, was to eventually evolved into Edward Waters College. Construction of the first building began in October 1872 on ten acres of land in Live Oak. In 1892 the school’s name was changed to Edward Waters College in honor of the third Bishop of the AME Church.

Known as the youngest president of an HBCU in the nation, Dr. Zachary Faison, Jr., was named the 30th President and CEO of the College in 2018. Faison was recently featured in DIVERSE Issues in Higher Education article, Focus on Young HBCU President. His vision for the College aims to implement and enhance EWC through a new honor college, launch of new online degree programs in the field of social work, computer and information science and forensic science, and the development of the college’s first MBA. The College has also improved their athletics with the return of football and its reveal of new transportation buses through a partnership with Kelly Tours, Inc. valued at $100,000.

Most recently, the College hosted the groundbreaking for a new Community Football Field and Stadium, which will be the future campus home of the football team. Faison was honored to Jacksonville Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.”

For more information, visit www.ewc.edu.

3. Paul Quinn College – Located in Dallas, Texas

A private, faith-based, four-year liberal arts College that was founded in 1872 by a group of African Methodist Episcopal Church preachers in Austin, Texas as Correctional High School and Institute. In May 1881, the College was chartered by the state of Texas and changed its name to Paul Quinn College to commemorate the contributions of Bishop William Paul Quinn. The College relocated to Southwest Dallas, Texas in 1990.

Since the appointment of Michael J. Sorrell, a former member of the Board of Trustees, the College has raised academic standards and embarked on an ambitious revitalization of the campus, which has included spending over $4 million in capital improvements. The College has produced more than $2 million in budget surpluses in fiscal year 2009, 2010, and 2011; achieved unqualified audits for 2009 and 2010. Invested more than $4 million in infrastructure improvements and formed a groundbreaking partnership with Pepsico to convert and unused football stadium into a fully operational urban farm.

In 2011, the College received membership into the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) accreditation. In 2017, the College became the first HBCU to be named a “Work College” by the U.S. Department of Education. Paul Quinn is the ninth federally funded work college in the United States, the first Minority-Serving Institution (MSI) in the Work College Consortium, and the first work college in Texas.

For more information, visit www.pqc.edu.

2. Wiley College – Located in Marshall, Texas

In 1873, less than eight years after all hostilities were quieted from the Civil War, the Freedman’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church founded Wiley College near Marshall, Texas for the purpose of allowing Negro youth the opportunity to pursue higher learning in the arts, sciences, and other professions.

Named in honor of Bishop Isaac William Wiley, an outstanding minister, medical missionary and educator, Wiley College was founded during turbulent times for Blacks in American. Wiley College opened its doors just south of Marshall with two frame buildings and an overwhelming desire to succeed in a climate fraught with racism and Jim Crow laws.

As a smaller historically black institution, Wiley College continues to provide a quality and affordable education to students. In 2020, the College announced a 20% tuition reduction to address the nation’s growing need for quality, cost-effective education. The College offers 20 academic degree programs in providing educational opportunities to the citizens of Texas, the nation and the world.

In 2018, Dr. Herman Felton, Jr., was named the 17th President of Wiley College. Under his leadership, the College has achieved significant accomplishments, including spearheading a campaign with the College alumni and supporters that launched the work to renovate and modernize the Thomas W. Cole Library and partnering with the Marshall Economic Development Corporation to receive a $100,000 grant to renovate KBWC, the College’s radio station as well as training space for physical education majors. Felton also created a Student Health, Counseling, and Wellness Unit for the College that is staffed with a full-time licensed practitioner.

For more information, visit www.wileyc.edu.

  1. Bennett College – Located in Greensboro, North Carolina

In 1873, Bennett College has its beginning in the unplastered basement of the Warnersville Methodist Episcopal Church (now known as St. Matthews United Methodist Church). Seventy young men and women started elementary and secondary level studies. In 1874 the Freedmen’s Aid Society took over the school which remained under its auspices for 50 years.

Within five years of 1873, a group of emancipated slaves purchased the present site for the school. College level courses and permanent facilities were added. In 1926, The Women’s Home Missionary Society joined the Board of Education of the Church to make Bennett College in Greensboro, NC, formerly co-educational, a college for women. It is one of two historically black colleges that enroll only women.

Since 1930, Bennett has graduated more than 7,000 students, affectionately known as “Bennett Belles.” The College offers 24 academic degree programs, and has five dual degree programs.

For more information, visit www.bennett.edu.

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