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HBCU’s, Business Model Challenges and Revenue Growth Strategy

Dr. Carlton Brown, PhD, Senior Fellow, AGBIS

Dr. Pamela Hammond, PhD, Senior Fellow, AGBIS

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) are facing many of the same challenges impacting other higher education institutions: lower net revenue per student, rising costs, evolving consumer behaviors, and shifting student demographics.  In our experiences serving in leadership roles, and now as consultants, with HBCU’s, many struggling institutions are paralyzed by a fear of change and are a trapped in their view of their own poverty. 

Importantly, because many of the issues impacting HBCU’s are similar to those impacting the higher education industry as a whole, many of the same strategies for success apply as well.  HBCU’s can benefit by evaluating and implementing better enrollment strategies and initiatives, particularly surrounding the transfer and adult learner populations.  Likewise, HBCU’s should be assessing their position within the digital, online learning delivery marketplace, as well as how their programs and majors align with technology and jobs of the future. 

Despite challenges, HBCU’s still make an outsize contribution to American society as a consequence of the innovation and creativity at their core.  Moving forward, leaders at these institutions must tap into this vein of innovation and creativity, focusing on transfer student enhancement, online programming, public-private, and community, collaborations, better retention programs, and integration of better technological support and infrastructure. 

To learn more about our work with HBCU’s please call us at 202-776-0868.  Or email