Pandemic ushers in 'new normal' for historically underfunded HBCUs

Pandemic ushers in 'new normal' for historically underfunded HBCUs

When South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, issued an order in early March to close all public schools to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Roslyn Clark Artis jumped into action. Artis, the president of Benedict College — a private, historically Black liberal arts school in Columbia — knew she had to evacuate roughly 2,000 students from campus, which she described as a “herculean effort.” “I put out a bat signal, a call for help, and sent a letter to my board of trustees and within 24 hours they raised $54,000 and we set up a travel agency in my office,” Artis told NBC News in a phone interview. The school ended up buying more than 100 plane, bus and train tickets to get the students with greatest need home, started a 24-hour shuttle service from the campus to local airports, bought luggage for students, paid baggage fees and provided a small meal stipend for students who had long layovers and needed to eat in the airport. That was just the beginning. Now, Artis is preparing for the fall with her bat signal still on. Many historically Black colleges and universities like Benedict were founded and subsidized by states, the federal government, philanthropists or churches, among others, to specifically educate Black Americans who were, throughout history, barred from attending majority-white schools. Many HBCUs have always had to do more with less, experts say. In recent years, a number of schools have been forced to the brink of closure or put their accreditation at risk ...
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