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EXCHANGE PROGRAMS BETWEEN HBCUs AND PWIs:
An Emphasis on Partnership, but Some Problems Remain
Angelo John Lewis
During the 1960s, according to Tougaloo College lore, President John F. Kennedy called for the nation's predominately white colleges to cooperate in bolstering the status of historically black colleges and universities. The president's words prompted a faculty and student exchange program between Brown University and Tougaloo which continues to this day. That relationship, says Tougaloo Vice President for Academic Affairs Bettye Parker Smith, is the oldest of its kind in the country. Since that time, the existence of exchange programs or "partnerships" between predominately white and predominately black colleges and universities has become the rule, rather than the exception. At the same time, the relationships themselves have changed, evolving from top-down paternalistic ones to an emphasis on collaborative "partnerships" and a clearer recognition that these affiliations benefit both types of institutions.
"When you take away all the fluff and the rhetoric, partnerships are really about extending opportunities for a given institution. What's implied in the term 'partnership' is that each institution is bettering its own situation," says Spelman President Johnnetta B. Cole.
Like most HBCUs, Spelman is engaged in several types of partnerships. Its longest lasting is a faculty exchange program with the University of Wisconsin, which primarily involves exchanges of science teachers. An additional side-effect of the relationship has come in the form of technical assistance; University of Wisconsin faculty and administrators recently provided Spelman with technical assistance in Spelman's effort to construct a $5 million science facility.
The Atlanta-based woman's college also is one of ten HBCUs that participate in the New York University-based Faculty Resource Network, which sponsors programs that range from faculty seminars and scholars-in-residences to projects that encourage students to attend graduate school.
Among Spelman's other exchange programs is an across-the-board relationship with Princeton University, which has involved back-and-forth visits of faculty in the sciences and Afro-American studies. That partnership has been facilitated by the presence of Vice Provost Ruth Simmons at Princeton. Prior to returning to Princeton, where she served as associate dean of the faculty, Simmons was Spelman's provost. According to Cole, Simmons is the "prime connector who knows the needs of both institutions intimately."
Tougaloo's relationship with Brown is an especially intimate one. Each has an exchange program coordinator program on its campus. Presidents and deans of both institutions have regularly visited each other's campus. "The program," says Tougaloo's Smith, "has worked very well at getting our students into graduate school and giving them a more varied experience."
Last year, she adds, some eleven Brown students visited Tougaloo while about five Brown students visited Tougaloo's Tougaloo, Mississippi campus. Tougaloo also has an early identification program with Brown, whereby one or two students each year spend the end of their junior year at Brown and have automatic admission into Brown's medical school. Ongoing faculty exchange programs are also part of the relationship.
Like Spelman, Tougaloo is also a member of the Faculty Resource Network. "What participation in the network has meant to me as a Vice President is an opportunity to provide my faculty opportunities for professional development that we cannot afford to give them ourselves. They also come back stronger professors, which means that students learn better," Smith says.
Tougaloo also has honorific student exchange programs with New York University and matriculation programs with the medical schools of Florida A&M...