My friend Dr. Marcheta Evans, the president of Bloomfield College, recently authored an important op-ed highlighting the valuable work being done by Bloomfield and America’s other Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). PBIs are colleges or universities that meet a number of criteria, including that they:
· Serve at least 1000 degree-seeking undergraduate students;
· Have at least 40% Black undergraduate students; and
· Have at least 50% low-income or first-generation undergraduate students.
Dr. Evans points out that "When Americans think of higher education institutions that serve a large percentage of Black Americans, they usually think of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which are institutions founded before 1964 to educate Black Americans …. The more than 100 PBIs in the United States are different, and we’re perhaps not as well understood.”
She worries that “the limited information about PBIs will keep them underfunded and underappreciated.”
Dr. Evans is right to raise the alarm. We need to continue to support our HBCUs, but if our country is to achieve racial equity, we also need to advocate for our PBIs and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). That will be especially important in states such as New Jersey, which has two PBIs—Bloomfield College and Essex County College—but no HBCUs.