Teaching History at Minority-Serving Institutions: Strategies and Opportunities

AHA Session 88
Friday, January 6, 2017: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Mile High Ballroom 4A (Colorado Convention Center, Ballroom Level)
Arwin D. Smallwood, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University
Lisa Beth Hill, Elizabeth City State University
Michael J. Mulvey, St. Thomas University
Kennetta Hammond Perry, East Carolina University
Charles V. Reed, Elizabeth City State University
Arwin D. Smallwood, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Session Abstract

In October 2015, the History program at Albany State University, a historically black
college in Georgia, was deactivated “so the university could shift funds to other
programs.”1 According to data collected from the National Center for Education Statistics
(NCES), the History major has experienced a now-eight-year decline in the number of
degrees awarded nationally. This at the same time that many universities face enrollment
crises and demands from legislatures and other stakeholders to “right size,” to adopt
business-inspired funding models, and to promote “job-ready” degree programs
(narrowly defined). Public minority-serving institutions (MSIs), historically underfunded
and low on most states’ lists of priorities, have experienced some of the worst effects of
these trends. Tressie Cottom, a sociologist at Virginia Commonwealth University, has
argued that degrees such History are on their way to becoming the preserve of elite
institutions and a luxury major available only to well-to-do students.2 For those of us who
cherish the missions and accomplishments of MSIs, and, in particular, History at those
institutions, this direction of things is more than unacceptable.

This panel proposes to bring together historians from a diverse array of MSIs (HBCUs,
HSIs, and historically American Indian universities), at various stages of their careers
(pre-tenure, full professors, chairs, and administrators). All participants are products of or
employed by institutions in the University of North Carolina system, as a means of
focusing strategies and partnerships that emerge from the session (the idea being to
develop and apply them more broadly in the future). The session will serve as a strategy
session for supporting, developing, and marketing thriving programs, communicating and
engaging with stakeholders, and developing collaborations and partnerships across MSIs.
We hope that this begins not only a conversation among the participants but some semipermanent
forum or collaboration for engaging in these ever important issues.

1 https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2015/10/27/albany-state-u-plans-deactivation-15-
2 https://tressiemc.com/2013/11/26/the-h-is-sometimes-silent-historically-black-colleges-missionconflict-

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