“All that I am and ever hope to be I owe to my family and to Howard University, an HBCU” – James H. Mayo II
We recently talked with James Mayo, Western Regional Vice President for the United Negro College Fund about the role of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Here is some of what he had to share.
Saad & Shaw: What do you see as the important role of HBCU’s today?
James Mayo: There are three principle reasons why our HBCUs are as indispensible today as they were when they were founded more than 150 years ago. First, these institutions provide a level of affirmation and care that allows our students to learn and grow in a climate where people are genuinely concerned that they survive and thrive. Faculty and administrators come from similar economic situations, and they know the challenges that so many of our students face. Second, the cost of a college education at an HBCU is one third of that charged by majority institutions.
HBCU’s stretch funds farther than larger majority institutions. This is our history. This is what we have done since our founding. The third reason is the low faculty-to-pupil ratio that affords students the opportunity to work more one-on-one with faculty members. There is nothing more compelling, more urgent, more immediate than to afford higher education opportunities to those African American students who, but for HBCUs, would never have access to the low faculty-to-pupil ratio that results in the attention and care that they need and succeed with.
Saad & Shaw: In your experience, why do people in California support the UNCF?
James Mayo: First of all, the one thing we can all agree upon as Americans is the importance of education. People support UNCF in largest measure because of the quality of education that is provided at a very low cost. People on the west coast support UNCF because of the many testimonies provided by people who have attended our colleges. Likewise, corporations see the investment. They understand that the cost ratio is low. These institutions do more with less than most majority institutions. These schools have soul. Soul is the ability to take nothing and make something out of it. HBCUs take students from all environments and they stretch a small amount of funds to create an environment where our students can succeed.
We have always had as our mission to go forth and provide service to those who do not have. “Enter to learn. Go forth to serve.” Service is at the core of our colleges and universities. This is another reason why people support UNCF. HBCUs are as vital today as they were on the day they were first founded. Their historical mission is as important as it was when envisioned by their founders. We are working not only for our local communities, but for our nation, our world, and for all mankind…
Join UNCF supporters at the annual UNCF gala on Saturday February 27th at the Oakland Marriott. For more information call (415) 956 – 1018 or visit www.uncf.org.
And as always, have a FUNdraising good time! – Mel and Pearl Shaw