Center Us: The HBCU Center Book Club


The HBCU Center Book Club is organized around publications that provide insight and perspective of interest to The HBCU Center community.

An interactive dialogue facilitated through our community forum and other outlets (e.g., The HBCU Center podcast) permits meaningful discourse that has the potential to impact our practice, policy, and the higher education landscape. 


Vital and Valuable: The Relevance of HBCUs to American Life and Education

Authors: James V. Koch and Omari H. Swinton

Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are a crucial element of higher education in the United States. As of 2021, there were more than 100 HBCUs, with a total enrollment of approximately 300,000 students. Many of the most famed figures in African American history attended HBCUs, and the alumni of these institutions have a strong track record of upward mobility and professional attainment. However, the value and contributions of HBCUs are too often overlooked and underappreciated.

In Vital and Valuable, two distinguished economists provide a groundbreaking analysis of HBCUs. James V. Koch and Omari H. Swinton give a balanced assessment of the performance of HBCUs, examining metrics such as admissions and enrollment trends, graduation and retention rates, administrative expenses, spending on intercollegiate athletics, and student debt. They emphasize the distinctive features that make HBCUs what they are, considering whom they serve and how, while contextualizing these institutions within the landscape of American higher education.

Based on this analysis, Koch and Swinton offer actionable policy recommendations that can help HBCUs build on their successes and address their weaknesses. They stress that empirical data on educational outcomes is essential to effective leadership of individual institutions as well as policy decisions that affect HBCUs. Vital and Valuable is essential reading for policy makers and experts in the field of higher education as well as a broader public interested in understanding the contributions of HBCUs.

James V. Koch is Board of Visitors Professor of Economics Emeritus and president emeritus at Old Dominion University. His recent books include Runaway College Costs: How College Governing Boards Fail to Protect Their Students (2020) and The Impoverishment of the American College Student (2019).

Omari H. Swinton is chair, director of graduate studies, and professor in the Department of Economics at Howard University. He is a past president of the National Economics Association.

Columbia University Press
Reading Circle
Shelter in a Time of Storm: How Black Colleges Fostered Generations of Leadership and Activism

Author: Jelani M. Favors

"Favors chronicles the development and significance of HBCUs through stories from institutions such as Cheyney State University, Tougaloo College, Bennett College, Alabama State University, Jackson State University, Southern University, and North Carolina A&T. He demonstrates how HBCUs became a refuge during the oppression of the Jim Crow era and illustrates the central role their campus communities played during the civil rights and Black Power movements."

Reading Circle
Jim Crow's Pink Slip: The Untold Story of Black Principal and Teacher Leadership

Authors: Leslie T. Fenwick, Ph.D.

"Jim Crow's Pink Slip: The untold story of Black principal and teacher leadership illuminates the nexus between the systematic removal of Black educators from public schools post the Brown vs. BOE (1954) decision and the lingering vestiges of academic inequity that impacted the entire U.S. educational enterprise."

Reading Circle
The State Must Provide: Why America's Colleges Have Always Been Unequal―and How to Set Them Right

Author: Author: Adam Harris

"Harris' The State Must Provide: Why America's colleges have always been unequal - and how to set them right exposes the intimate and generational impact of racist laws and policy on the post-secondary educational aspirations of African Americans, the inequitable allocation of state higher education funding practices, and the endowment gap that continues to privilege some institutions and disadvantage others."

Reading Circle
The Campus Color Line: College Presidents and the Struggle for Black Freedom

Author: Eddie R. Cole 

"Cole's award-winning book, The Campus Color Line: College presidents and the struggle for Black freedom, examines the role of College presidents as they sometimes navigated and sometimes challenged rigid and racist societal barriers erected to prevent African - American ascension. "

Reading Circle
What Works at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): Nine Strategies for Increasing Retention and Graduation Rates will have broad appeal within the field of education and beyond.

Author: Tiffany Beth Mfume

What Works at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): Nine Strategies for Increasing Retention and Graduation Rates will have broad appeal within the field of education and beyond. While the primary audience for this book is the faculty, staff, administrators, students, alumni, and campus community of the current 105 HBCUs in the United States, this book is written to appeal to all professionals in the field of higher education, guidance counselors and administrators in P-12 education, sociologists and social scientists, and scholars who study change management, outcomes assessment, and success in any organized structure or system.