The expertise and connections of African-American corporate executives can help chart a sustainable future for historically black colleges and universities. Historically black colleges and universities are amongst the largest African-American-controlled businesses in America. Many date to the 19th century. They have educated generations and built the black middle class. They are major employers in communities across the country. They also face challenges as they operate in an increasingly competitive educational marketplace.
These challenges can be addressed through a meaningful partnership with African-American corporate executives. These executives have increased corporate profits, managed turnarounds, introduced new products, increased employment, expanded operations, managed globalization, developed new technologies, and introduced social media to market and sell their products. Their expertise and management skills – when combined with that of academic leaders and trustees – can creatively and strategically address higher-education challenges in areas such as recruitment, retention and graduation; finances; marketing; and fundraising including alumni giving, corporate, foundation, state and federal support.
African-American executives can serve as executive coaches and mentors to presidents and chancellors, shadowing these leaders and working with them to provide strategies, perspective and potential solutions gained from their experience. They can volunteer as trustees providing HBCUs with the same level of professionalism they would bring to a corporate board. They can serve as interim-presidents acting as change agents who help address unresolved challenges. They can serve on a leadership team to provide management expertise and connections that can transform institutions. Such a team can surround and support the president and trustees helping to resolve challenges and take advantage of unleveraged opportunities. Corporate executives can provide funding and resources needed to stabilize our HBCUs. They can build endowments. They can ensure the continued competitiveness of HBCUs through capital investments in facilities, equipment and technology. Mutually beneficial strategic collaborations can support corporations who place a premium on attracting and retaining a diverse talent.
When the White House or a governor needs talent they turn to the private sector, calling upon the patriotism of executives, asking them to take a leave of absence to serve. Today we need African-American executives to heed the call. HBCUs provide a special brand of higher education. They play a critical role in educating African-American, Hispanic and first-generation students who seek an education that will allow them to participate in the global economy and build a future for themselves and their families. Increased “business know-how” and financial investment can help local HBCUs such as The LeMoyne-Owen College, Rust College and Lane College continue to play a key role in addressing educational disparities. Volunteer now!
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success.” They position nonprofits for fundraising success. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com.