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HBCU Education

Spelman, Howard are top HBCUs in ‘U.S. News’ rankings

Despite Howard’s financial troubles, it’s No. 89 among national universities; Spelman is No. 51 among national liberal arts colleges

Spelman College and Howard University are the two most prominent historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the latest U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 lists of Best Colleges and Universities.

Spelman and Howard are ranked one and two on the list of best historically black colleges and universities for 2019. Spelman secured the No. 51 spot on the national liberal arts colleges list and Howard jumped 21 spots on the best national universities list, moving up to No. 89 in the nation.

Spelman president Mary Schmidt Campbell took great pride in the rankings and hopes new initiatives and curriculum changes will produce further progress.

“The entire Spelman community is proud of U.S. News & World Report’s recognition of our ability to provide Spelman students with the skills and experiences they need to be successful in this 21st century environment. The recognition of our innovativeness comes at a time when we are developing an innovation curriculum,” she said.

Campbell credits her talented students and staff with developing certain initiatives and a new innovation center on campus. “To date, more than 200 faculty and student projects have been developed in our Innovation Lab, which will be the core of Spelman’s new academic building, the Center for Innovation and the Arts, that is currently under development.”

Howard’s ranking as the only HBCU in the top 100 for best national universities comes during a time of scrutiny around the university’s financial situation. After recently being added to the federal government’s Heightened Cash Monitoring List, the director of Howard’s Walter H. Annenberg Honors Program, Audrey Byrd, thinks that with everything going on, the rankings put Howard in a more positive light.

“I think our moving up to spot 89 shows how much progress we’ve made as a university. However, the lack of media attention that we received from our ranking status as opposed to our position on the HCM-2 list shows how we have to work twice as hard to be acknowledged for our hard work,” said senior Zariyah Hodge, a human development major.

Howard’s president, Wayne A.I. Frederick, said, “Reaching No. 89 on the U.S. News and World Report rankings is a phenomenal achievement and it’s also a very strong endorsement of the way our university has been heading in terms of focusing on student outcomes and making sure that students have the opportunity to succeed during their matriculation to ultimately graduate. The improved ranking can be attributed to the programs we’ve developed to enhance student retention rates and graduation rates.”

Frederick noted that since he became president in fall 2014, the percentage of freshmen taking enough credits to become sophomores went from 60 percent to 85.5 percent and the four-year graduation rate has gone from about 38 percent to 52 percent. “We achieved this by offering students a rebate if they graduate on time or early,” said Frederick. “We also increased the number of credits students can take in one semester from 18 to 21. They can take up to 42 credits per year.”

Tiffany Hoyd is a senior media journalism and film communications major from Murrieta, California. She serves as Howard's football manager and color commentator, and enjoys playing spades and listening to R&B.