UAPB celebrates HBCU Week

Dozens of students gathered on the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Student Union lawn Tuesday to enjoy lunch and live jazz as part of celebration marking National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week.

Many said they appreciate the school’s rich cultural, family-like environment.

Curtis L. Corbin III, a mass communications major from Pine Bluff, said being on the campus is a wonderful experience.

“HBCUs emphasis the real importance of education,” he said.

A descendant of J.C. Corbin, the first president of Branch Normal College, (now UAPB) Corbin said such schools also hold a lot of history and pride.

Founded in 1873, UAPB is the only four-year public HBCU in Arkansas and the state’s oldest HBCU. The university observed National HBCU Week with an assembly Tuesday which featured a reading of the HBCU Week proclamation written by President Barack Obama and a panel discussion on the topic, “Remaining Relevant for the Next Generation.” The day’s activities concluded with a Pride Rally at the Student Union with a portion of the M4 Marching Band and UAPB cheerleaders.

“I love it at this HBCU,” said Alexis Cole, Miss Junior UAPB. “It’s like a family. If I need help, I can always reach out to someone.”

And that is a great feeling said Cole, a business marketing major from Memphis.

Deondre Goodwin sat outside listening to music provided by the UAPB Jazz Combo. The sophomore physical education major from Pine Bluff said he likes the university’s cultural atmosphere.

“I can truly say I love my school,” he said. “I love the environment. I just feel like I’m at home when I’m at school.”

The nation’s 105 HBCUs represent 3 percent of all institutions of higher learning, yet they graduate nearly one-quarter of black students who earn undergraduate degrees. Forty percent of HBCU students pursue four-year degrees in science, technology, engineering and math areas and three-quarters of all black Ph.D. students did their undergraduate studies at an HBCU.

President Barack Obama has set a goal for America to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. To reach this goal and to ensure equality of access and opportunity in education for all Americans, his administration is dedicating resources to enable black students to improve their educational achievement and prepare for college and a career.

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans is working to identify best practices to improve student achievement in school and college and to develop a national network that will share and implement these practices. The initiative will complement the existing White House initiative that strengthens the nation’s HBCUs by working with federal agencies and partners nationwide to provide all black students with a more effective continuum of education programs.