Starting in the mid-1800s, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were created for the purpose of educating Black students. Since their inception, HBCUs have transformed from institutions of higher learning with a core curriculum of teaching and ministerial education serving the Black community to progressive colleges and universities that provide bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees in specialized areas of study which serve and benefit communities of all races around the world. As advanced as HBCUs have become, they still have the stigma of being less than adequate producing underachieving students. An increase in publicity of their accomplishments would help to change public perceptions, but so far they have not received a lot of positive media attention. The question that continues to be asked and is the main question of this study is whether Historically Black Colleges and Universities are still relevant. The research design for this investigation into HBCUs is a qualitative, multi-case study using purposive sampling in the selection of 4 universities or units. HBCU alumni and associates were interviewed to discuss their views on the relevance of HBCUs and how they plan to change public perceptions. The data gathering instruments used were documents, archived records, interviews, and researcher observations, and through the examination of four unique universities, questions about their missions, demographics, academic programs, graduation rates, accreditation, and accomplishments were researched with data collection and analysis occurring simultaneously. The findings collected showed that the 4 HBCUs are still relevant because they serve a racially and economically diverse student body focusing on nurturing students and giving them the chance to excel in a comfortable learning environment with rigorous and challenging academic programs that are geared to prepare them to enter the workforce and succeed. They must be proactive and disseminate positive information to the public, including alumni, which could encourage them to support their alma maters. The 4 HBCUs still have some work to do to stay progressive and provide for their students, but the need for all HBCUs to educate is still apparent, not just for African-American students, but for all students.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; African American universities and colleges; Educational evaluation; Education, Higher -- United States; African Americans -- Education (Higher)

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

DellaNeve, James;