The University will partner with several historically Black colleges and universities across the country in a new college partnership program set to launch in the second half of 2024, according to a project plan from the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity reviewed by The Herald.
Titled the Brown-HBCU Initiative, the project will serve as a “capacity-building, experiential and information-sharing initiative” that leverages the University’s institutional “knowledge base … to assist, support, collaborate and partner with a select group of HBCUs,” according to the project plan.
The plan lists six core programmatic areas for the initiative: faculty and administrative exchange, student exchange, collaborative research, cultural immersion, informational exchange, and “Think Tank: Building Communities of Practice, Dialogue and Goodwill.”
The initiative will build on Brown’s nearly 60-year partnership with Tougaloo College, according to Sylvia Carey-Butler, vice president for institutional equity and diversity.
The Brown-Tougaloo Partnership, which began in 1964, offers students and staff at both institutions the opportunity to engage in “academic and cultural exchanges,” according to the partnership website.
“We believe this is a model for higher education if (universities) want to have a truly equal partnership and collaboration with institutions that are significantly different,” Carey-Butler said in an interview with The Herald.
Now, the developing partnership program is set to extend those opportunities to eight additional schools.
As “issues of access and disparity, especially for historically underrepresented groups, (have) assumed heightened attention” in light of the recent Supreme Court decision limiting race-conscious admissions, engaging in a program that supports HBCUs is an “effective strategy for assuring a strong higher education sector,” the project plan reads.
The initiative “acknowledges the legacy of HBCUs in educating generations of African American and other students of color and their persistence against formidable challenges,” Elfred Anthony Pinkard, Brown’s inaugural HBCU presidential fellow, wrote in an email to The Herald. The initiative is part of a broader effort by the University to “reaffirm its commitment to diversity and equity,” he added.
While the HBCUs partnering with Brown have not yet been named publicly, partnership discussions with school presidents began in November 2022, according to Pinkard.
“The purpose of the meeting was to hear directly from these HBCU leaders about their needs, expectations, potential programmatic foci and the pragmatic role that Brown might assume in supporting a successful implementation,” Pinkard wrote.
Following this discussion, OIED met with University stakeholders to discuss their insight into the program, ultimately settling on the initiative’s six core areas of focus.
“We know what (the initiative) is going to accomplish,” Carey-Butler said. “It is going to be transformative. It's going to be impactful. And it's going to be about capacity building."
Samantha Chambers is a senior staff writer and has previously worked at The Herald as a copy editor. She is a second-year student from Tampa, Florida and is planning on concentrating in sociology.