August 17, 2023
Three years after the initial Black Lives Matter protests and with the COVID-19 pandemic emergency now lifted, enrollment at HBCUs continues to rise.
In 2020, as the nation contended with the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests across the country, many historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) saw an uptick in interest and applications. These institutions were seen as centers of learning that valued people of color and embraced their talents, goals, and ambitions.
As HBCUs prepare to welcome students for fall semester, some are struggling to overcome enrollment losses and deficits due to the pandemic, but many are thriving. The lessening of health protocols for in-person classes and a return to co-curricular programming and vibrant campus life bring a bustling scene to admissions and enrollment offices.
Early pandemic years
“Absolutely, we saw an increase in interest and applications,” said Angela Nixon Boyd, assistant vice president for enrollment management and dean of admission at Hampton University in Virginia. “With it being the pandemic, the challenge was enrollment because a lot of students were taking time off or…they had to take classes virtually and online, so there was a dip [in enrollment] during the pandemic, but the interest was there.”
Florida A&M University (FAMU) has seen a surge in applications since 2021, according to Dr. William E. Hudson, vice president for student affairs. “We have managed that through strategic enrollment because there is capacity,” Hudson said. “You can only accept the number of students you can accommodate for residence life, classroom space and things of that nature.”