By Mrinal Gokhale
The Milwaukee Education Partnership (MEP) held a discussion panel at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center in early June with leaders from three historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), exploring how Milwaukee is the feeder city for many of these schools. About 60 people attended the forum in the hotel’s empire ballroom.
This forum was part two of the MEP’s three-part conference with the purpose to explore how to retain Milwaukee residents who go to HBCUs. HBCUs are defined as institutions of higher learning in the U.S. established before 1964 to serve African American communities, shortly after the Civil War ended. The speakers, Dr. Logan Hampton, president of Lane College in Jackson, Tenn., and Kara Miles Turner, PhD., associate provost for enrollment and student academic support services at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Mass.
“The point of the panel was to have a conversation with community leaders, graduates and business leaders about improving the exchange between HBCUs and MPS students,” said MEP executive director, Gerard Randall.
Randall also said that Milwaukee has a shortage of educators, IT professionals, engineers, and financial service professionals of color, and the panelists discussed how the colleges they represent are popular for similar fields.
“We chose Lane College for the panel because it has a high Milwaukee enrollment and many African-American engineers graduated from Morgan State, ranking the third highest in the country,” he explained.
Both speakers discussed statistics on the colleges they represent in terms of minority enrollment, enrollment of Wisconsin residents, and popular degree programs among African-American students.
Dr. Hampton said, “Milwaukee is the feeder city for colleges in Memphis, Jackson, Troy and Chicago. Lane is a small college with 52% males and 48% females enrolled.
Biology and chemistry are popular majors for Milwaukee based students at Lane.”
Turner said that Morgan State University has gained a reputation as an HBCU due to its social life and academic support services.
“Morgan State University is popular for engineering, psychology and business for people of color,” she explained.
“We were established in 1867 and has given hundreds of Fullbright Scholarship grants to this date, which give great opportunities to students of color.”
Once their discussions ended, audience members, who were mostly graduates, deans or chairs of HBCUs, gave their opinion on how they feel the pipeline can be addressed.
“Milwaukee employers and college professors must take initiative and reach out to students because once they leave this city, they don’t come back,” said one graduate from Benedict College, an HBCU.
Although many people agreed that employers or professors should improve their outreach to students, the very last attendee to speak up felt slightly differently.
“If our businesses are only reaching out to white institutions, we must reach out to them because it may be out of sheer ignorance they’re not recognizing us.”
At the end of the event, Randall felt that he accomplished his goal.
“I think this conversation was rich, and now we will send suggestions to deans and institutional leaders.”
He added, “At yesterday’s second part of the conference, the Office of Human Capital shared employment opportunities at MPS and throughout the city, which I feel is a step forward.”
The Milwaukee Education Partnership, formerly the Milwaukee Partnership Academy, is a PK-16 council of business, community, parent, government, university and foundation groups with the mission to enhance the quality of learning in Milwaukee Public Schools.
Visit www.milwaukeepartnershipacademy.org for more information.