Friday, September 28, 2007

Brenda Siler
(703) 205-3454


(Fairfax, Va.) - Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) belonging to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) dominated the top 10 schools on U.S. News and World Report's first-ever list of "America's Best Black Colleges," which will appear in the upcoming edition of the magazine. This is the first time U.S. News has compiled a special-focus ranking of black colleges. These schools have also been -- and will continue to be -- ranked within their appropriate categories in U.S. News's annual "Best Colleges" issue, published annually in August.

The list was topped by UNCF member Spelman College in Atlanta. The magazine also selected UNCF colleges for the fourth through 10th positions in the rankings. UNCF colleges and universities were also picked for the 16th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd, 26th and 34th positions in the U.S. News ratings. In all, 14 of the 36 colleges on the list are UNCF member institutions.

"The high ranking of these UNCF member colleges validates for a national audience what the statistics have long proven," said Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of UNCF whose motto, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste®," is one of the nation's best-known sayings. "UNCF's small, private colleges can compete with colleges and universities across the country in their ability to give tomorrow's leaders the education they need to succeed."

HBCUs represent just three percent of the nation's more than 4,000 colleges and universities, but 24 percent of all African American college students started college at HBCUs, according to the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and HBCUs award 24 percent of the undergraduate degrees earned by African Americans.

UNCF colleges have had to meet severe challenges to earn their high rankings, Lomax said. Two, Xavier University (ranked eighth) and Dillard University (ninth) are located in New Orleans and were forced to close temporarily by Hurricane Katrina. UNCF member Tougaloo College (20th) located outside Jackson, Miss., sustained wind damage from the hurricane. And none of them, said Lomax, have the large endowments that better financed colleges can draw on in times of trouble. Further, the rankings are an indicator that quality is not defined by finances alone. Only two of the 14 UNCF schools in the top 36 have endowments over $100 million.

The fact that U.S. News has issued these rankings of black colleges, Lomax added, is in itself a testament to what HBCUs are accomplishing. Students and parents who are researching quality information about colleges and universities will truly benefit from this landmark ranking.

While the country's HBCUs share a history and a mission, Lomax pointed out, they have always maintained their separate and unique identities, offering different academic programs, different student body sizes, and different kinds of settings. "It's time that these colleges and universities stopped being the best-kept secrets in American higher education. The 60,000 students who attend UNCF colleges know what these colleges offer, and so do the 350,000 Americans who have graduated from them," he said. "Now, thanks to U.S. News, the rest of the country will know too."

About UNCF
As the nation's oldest and most successful minority higher education assistance organization, the United Negro College Fund's mission is to provide financial support to its 39 member institutions, increase minority degree attainment by reducing financial barriers to college, and serve as a national advocate for HBCUs and minority education. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 25 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship programs, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 65,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country.