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NEA Leader to HBCU Faculty: 'We must raise our voices and fight for resources needed for minority student institutions to survive and thrive'

RALEIGH, NC - October 17, 2014 -

At the annual two-day conference of HBCU faculty themed Scholar Teaching, Constructive Learning and Measurable Outcomes, nearly 150 faculty from over 50 HBCU campuses across the country came together to discuss the role of faculty in student success and achievement.

Historically Black colleges and universities produce 16 percent of the nation’s Black college graduates and 30 percent of U.S. scientists and engineers with Ph.Ds. As lawmakers call for more college graduates for the jobs of the future, it’s clear that HBCUs will be key to providing equity in higher education in the 21st century.

Despite this, more and more HBCUs have been forced to close their doors due to financial issues. The 2011 changes to federal Parent PLUS loan eligibility was a significant blow: The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) estimates that HBCUs lost $155 million in PLUS funds (a 35 percent reduction) in 2012-2013 alone. NEA has advocated for restoration of eligibility to those families.

NEA Executive Committee member Kevin Gilbert addressed attendees at the 21st Annual HBCU Faculty Development Network Conference as featured luncheon speaker. He emphasized the importance of working together to fight for HBCUs, which are threatened every year by further budget cuts.

“HBCU faculty across the country fight daily for the resources they need to cultivate the next generation of Black leaders,” said Gilbert. “They are fighting for the very survival of HBCUs, and only through working together and mobilizing can we save these historic institutions, which are responsible for the success of millions of low-income and minority students.”

Gilbert underscored NEA’s commitment to equity and access for all to a high quality K-12 and secondary education. “NEA stands behind HBCU faculty and students to increase opportunities for students of color and improve the working the conditions of faculty, which are the learning conditions of students.”

According to a recent Gallup Poll, Black college graduates are more likely to graduate with college debt. The fear of that debt may keep millions of minority students from achieving their dreams of higher education. “We must also work together to raise awareness of the albatross of student debt,” said Gilbert. “And we must fight to provide resources to borrowers who have been overburdened by student debt. Together through NEA’s Degrees Not Debt campaign, we can rally for real change in Congress that will make college more affordable for students and sustain historically black colleges and universities.”

Please read more about Kevin Gilbert here and contact Sara Robertson at with interview requests.

The Network’s annual conference promotes effective teaching and student learning strategies through a variety of collaborative activities that focus on faculty enhancement. These collaborative activities are designed to make a connection between teaching, research and service. The conference also facilitates collaboration among faculty and administrators to share individual achievements and make meaningful connections in meeting students’ academic and professional needs.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Sara Robertson
Phone 202-230-8978