Opinions Still Split on Police Academies at HBCUs

Last month, Lincoln University of Missouri’s interim president Dr. John Moseley, stood on stage in front of the nine members of the first graduating class of Lincoln’s law enforcement training academy—the first police academy to exist on the grounds of an historically Black college or university (HCBU).

Mosley touched on the importance of the occasion.

“The diversity of this class is greater than what you will find in most police departments,” he said. “Approximately 67% of the nation’s officers are white, while 12% are Black. Women make up about 15% of police forces nationwide.”

These first nine were a diverse class —seven Black and two white.

Typically, when students matriculate into a police academy, they do so by signing a contract to serve within one specific department. But these students are free agents and can go and join a department anywhere in America. Some also graduated with their bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice from Lincoln. It’s exactly what Chief Gary Hill wanted when he decided to open the academy at Lincoln in January of this year.

“I just really wanted to increase minorities in law enforcement,” he said.

A merger of these two seemingly disparate institutions— policing and HBCUs— has raised the ire of some Black activists and academics, particularly in the wake of the string of killings of unarmed Black men and women and calls to defund the police.

According to statistics gathered by Mapping Police Violence, police kill roughly 1,000 people annually. Latinx individuals are killed at almost double the rate of white Americans, and Blacks are three times as likely as whites to be killed by police. In 2020 alone, Blacks made up 28% of those killed by police. This is disproportionate to their share of the U.S. population, at about 13%. Black and Latinx people are also more likely to be incarcerated, with Blacks at 5 times the rate of whites.

Dr. Charles H. F. Davis III

Dr. Charles H. F. Davis III

Dr. Charlies H.F. Davis III, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Michigan and an expert on campus protests, worried that because Black and brown officers are statistically less likely to use force, they are being recruited as a “band aid” to a much bigger problem.

“To what extent are Black folks expected to clean up the mess of a largely white institution?” Davis asked. “Black and brown people are expected to solve the problems while their white colleagues sit back.”

Davis does not separate present police practices from the origins of policing and the system of mass incarceration.

“Thinking about this in the context of the 13th amendment, slavery permutated into mass incarceration and the criminal justice system, which is of course the only conviction by which one can be enslaved.”

Abolition, he said, “teaches us that we must do away with and destroy the things that make this nation so harmful to Black people and put our labor into a world in which we can all be free.”

Dr. Bryant T. Marks, founder of the National Training Institute on Race and Equity (NTIRE) and an associate professor of psychology at Morehouse College, sees things a bit differently.

“For an HBCU to take on that role of not only encouraging young people to become police officers but provide a concrete, in-house path for them to do so, they are putting their money where their mouth is,” said Marks.

Through NTIRE, Marks has spent the last five years training police departments about implicit bias, travelling everywhere from Los Angeles to Seattle to Phoenix. The work isn’t easy, he said, and he  sometimes has encountered resistance to his lessons. But by the end of his trainings, Marks said that even those with the most reluctance to participate, usually come around.

Growing up in Queens, Marks recalls that as a youngster, he and his friends were illegally picked up by plain clothes police officers in unmarked cars, questioned, and put into a line-up.

“We didn’t know they couldn’t do it,” he said. Now, he said, entering police stations to offer training is “surreal.”

“The stars aligned. There was tension in my childhood, now I’m trying to be a force for good, trying to help them,” Marks said.

Dr. Bryant T. Marks

Dr. Bryant T. Marks

Being a force for good, especially within their communities, is very important to many Black and Latinx youth, said Marks.

“For them, I think they’re looking at the balance of social justice, [asking] can I make a difference, versus, am I going to get caught up in an institution that I feel is inherently flawed on a fundamental, cultural level?”

Marks has seen police departments that are capable of change. He noted, for example, that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), once maligned for cases like the beating of Rodney King in 1992, is now majority minority.

“A lot of them grew up in the city of LA. They said, ‘I remember how I was treated growing up, and I want to do something different,’” said Marks.

Many HBCUs have criminal justice programs. Dillard University, an HBCU in New Orleans, is one of them. Dillard also operates a Center for Racial Justice and the chief of the New Orleans police sits on its board of advisors.

Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard, said that success of an academy at an HBCU depends on the institution, its location, and its relationships with local police.

“I think there’s a role that can be played by all of higher education in terms of working with law enforcement,” he said. “But how people actualize that can be different.”

Philander Smith College in Arkansas, has chosen to offer a preparatory course called Law Enforcement Education Advancement Program (LEEAP). LEEAP partnered with the Little Rock Police Department to recruit women and minorities from a pool of previously unsuccessful applicants to the Little Rock Department’s academy. LEEAP offers courses in math, English, and ethics, preparing its student to pass their policing exam at no cost.

Marks said that HBCUs opening police academies can unlock a door of opportunity to students of color. “I think our young people need to be educated around policing and the opportunities. There’s many different things you can do in a police department. You can be a community liaison,” he said.

“But we don’t want to mislead people,” he said. “A lot of these police departments have issues, deep, institutional, cultural issues that involve bias. HBCU campuses can be helpful in that regard, by not advocating a push for policing; just presenting it as an opportunity.”

Liann Herder can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Read more: https://diverseeducation.com/article/221155/

Department of Education Helps Improve School Ventilation Systems to Prevent COVID-19

The Department of Education unveiled a resource that outlines how American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds can be used to strengthen indoor air quality at schools, colleges, and universities. Improving ventilation systems at educational institutions can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Miguel A. Cardona

“Protecting our schools and communities from the spread of COVID-19 is the first step in bringing more students back to in-person learning and reemerging from this crisis even stronger than we were before,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona. “With the American Rescue Plan, schools and districts now have access to unprecedented resources that will enable them to ensure proper ventilation and maintain healthy learning and working environments. At the Department, we are committed to helping communities identify how to use these resources quickly and effectively as they prepare to welcome all students back to in-person learning this fall.”

The resource details how to invest ARP funds and previous relief funding to inspect, test, maintain, repair, replace, and/or upgrade projects in school facilities. Such projects can include air purification and filtering to ensure healthy classrooms and campuses as the nation prepares to go back to school.

Read more: https://diverseeducation.com/article/221176/

After Land Dispute, Music Festival to Purchase Former Marlboro College Campus

The Marlboro Music Festival — a “world-renowned” festival and retreat for advanced classical musicians held during the summer in Marlboro, Vermont — plans to purchase the former Marlboro College campus, where the festival has been held for the past 70 years, reports The Vermont Digger.

The ownership of the 500-acre location, known as Potash Hill, has been in dispute since 2019 when Marlboro College said it would merge with Boston’s Emerson College. After the announcement, the nonprofit Democracy Builders Fund purchased the campus pledging to create a low-cost college for underrepresented students.

But, according to The Digger, the project quickly evaporated following several scandals: the project never received approval to confer degrees and the project’s founder, Seth Andrew, was accused of stealing from a charter school network. Meanwhile, Canadian businessman Adrian Stein had plans to create a tech hub on the campus and claimed ownership to the property after Andrew brokered a sale-leaseback agreement with his company.

Not knowing who to pay rent to, Marlboro Music Festival went to court where a judge settled the matter.

“We are delighted to announce this historic agreement enabling us to protect Potash Hill and our use of the campus,” Christopher Serkin, Marlboro Music’s President and Board Chair, said in a joint statement with Democracy Builders and Stein. The festival is exploring ways to use the campus year round.

Read more: https://diverseeducation.com/article/221164/

Webinar Puts Spotlight on Graduate Programs Aimed at Supporting Students Through Academic Pipeline

Imposter syndrome.

Unwelcoming environments.

Feelings of not belonging.

Dr. Rihana S. Mason

These are the realities so many underrepresented students face while navigating the academic pipeline. Thus, diversifying the professoriate involves providing financial support, mentorship and creating spaces for honest conversations.

“Having those open dialogues to be able to express with others who look like me, who have gone before me and who successfully navigated [the pipeline] was greatly beneficial,” said Dr. Rihana S. Mason, a research scientist at the Urban Child Study Center at Georgia State University.

Initiatives offering these types of support were identified in the book titled, Academic Pipeline Programs: Diversifying Pathways from the Bachelors to the Professoriate.

To discuss best practices of the selected pipeline programs, authors Dr. Curtis D. Byrd and Mason collaborated with SAGE Publishing to commence a three-part webinar series last month.

The first event featured representatives from the precollegiate programs of Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) and the College Advising Corps. Thursday’s session, “Transitioning from Bachelors to the Professoriate: College and Graduate Pipeline Programs,” highlighted two graduate programs: Leadership Alliance and Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB)-Doctoral Scholars Program.

“We are really looking at how we target better outcomes for undergraduate and graduate students as our landscape and our demographic change in colleges and universities,” said Byrd, a special advisor to the provost at GSU.

The Leadership Alliance was first founded by Brown University in 1992, with the mindset that it is “imperative for young people to have role models,” said Dr. Taiese Bingham-Hickman, the program’s associate director.

Several workshops were instituted to expose undergraduate students to research careers. As part of the First Year Research program, for example, first-year students from minority-serving institutions conduct research over the course of the summer. Their research is then presented at the Leadership Alliance National Symposium. According to Bingham-Hickman, 84% of participants continue to engage in research experiences after the program. Doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers and junior faculty use the opportunity for mentoring and professional development centered around grant writing and research funding.

“We have committed to leveraging our resources and expertise to increase the readiness and competitiveness of scholars from diverse backgrounds as they train for careers in research,” said Bingham-Hickman.

With the onset of COVID-19, the Leadership Alliance also implemented virtual programming.

Last year, 250 students participated in an online summer research experience. Additionally, a professional development series allows students to hear from doctoral scholars about their personal research journeys first-hand.

Dr. Curtis Byrd

Currently, students of color make up one-third of the population at U.S. colleges and universities. Yet, only 5% of faculty are Black, 3% are Hispanic and 1% are Native American, according to SREB.

With a goal of increasing those rates, the SREB Doctoral Scholars Program provides financial assistance, research funding and professional development. Since its establishment in 1993, the program has helped over 1,800 scholars.

“It is hard to win the game when you don’t know the rules of the game,” said Dr. Ansley Abraham, director of the SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program. “It is amazing how many of us go through that educational process, but really don’t know and understand how institutions work.”

To ensure students receive the necessary skillsets to be successful in the academy, the program—alongside other partners such as the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration— support the Institute on Teaching and Mentorship.

During the last in-person event in 2019, more than 1,200 underrepresented minority students convened and participated in over 40 sessions, which focused on the transition into the academy.

“I always say that there are enough reasons to lose students out of these programs,” said Abraham. “But it is not acceptable to lose students out of these programs for all the wrong reasons. There are right reasons to lose students, but we can’t afford to get underrepresented minority students to this level to lose them for the wrong reasons.”

The panelists noted that beyond pipeline programs, administrators at college and universities play a critical role in the recruitment and retainment of faculty of color.

Abraham said institutions must first acknowledge the experiences of underrepresented minorities on their campuses.

“These students are, if you will, registering their concerns,” he added. “But too often, it’s falling on deaf ears and universities don’t hear it. Therefore, they don’t react to it. “If you acknowledge it, then at least there is hope.”

The third part of the series is scheduled for September 16—with featured guests including Univ. of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC) President Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski and Dr. Jamal Watson, a veteran journalist and editor and faculty member at Trinity Washington University.

Sarah Wood can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Read more: https://diverseeducation.com/article/221093/

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