Opening Doors

UBalt Attains New Federal Status to Support Students

With its decades-long mission of opening doors for career-driven students from all walks of life, The University of Baltimore has attained a new level of recognition that affirms its core commitments and capabilities: the University has been designated a “Predominantly Black Institution” (PBI) by the U.S. Department of Education. This designation provides a pathway for UBalt to qualify for competitive grants in several student-facing areas that will support undergraduate programs in science, technology, health education, and related areas of teaching and learning.

In fact, the $65,000 grant to launch Space Tech Camp (page 4) this past summer was awarded through NASA’s Minority Univer-sity Research and Education Project and its Precollege Summer Institute. With its new designation, UBalt was eligible for consideration to receive the grant, and was named one of only 10 institutions nationwide to receive funding in the category of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or PBIs.

Sixty-seven colleges and universities have attained federal PBI status, and eligibility for the program is determined annually, by a number of factors. Qualifying institutions must serve at least 1,000 undergraduates; have an undergraduate enrollment that comprises at least 40 percent Black-American students and at least 50 percent low-income or first-generation students; and report a low-average expenditure per full-time undergraduate, compared with other schools that offer similar instruction.

UBalt President Kurt L. Schmoke and other higher-education leaders are now asking for long-term assurances from policymakers that the PBI designation will remain a viable pathway toward equality through education. He and his colleague, Zaldwaynaka Scott, president of Chicago State University, co-authored an opinion piece for Inside Higher Ed earlier this year calling for stronger, stabilized funding for PBI programs.

“Only by including PBIs in the national higher education equity conversation can the nation fully understand and meet the needs of Black students,” the two wrote.

Overall, Schmoke explains, the PBI listing “is a way to make sure that there is hope for the many who have doubted their place in our country’s bounty. We always want to welcome these worthy students, who agree with us that education is the key to success in life.”

As UBalt’s PBI status settles in, that hope is rising in the form of new federal support for student-facing programs.

“The University of Baltimore was founded on opportunity, and that’s the real meaning, the highest goal, of American higher education.”

According to Margarita M. Cardona, assistant provost in the University’s Office of Sponsored Research, UBalt’s PBI designation has already resulted in assistance for a number of programs. In addition to Space Tech Camp, a cyber forensic intelligence repository for cybercrime analysis—supported by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security—was established in the College of Public Affairs. The University also received a Department of Education formula grant to strengthen its ability to recruit and retain transfer students, as well as an additional allocation of pandemic recovery funds from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

Schmoke adds that UBalt’s PBI designation will enable the University to concentrate on educational outcomes for populations that have been underserved for too long. This is especially important for a campus community that is focused on tending its roots in the surrounding city of Baltimore, as they work to build a stronger local economy and improve opportunities for city residents.

He added: “The University of Baltimore was founded on opportunity, and that’s the real meaning, the highest goal, of American higher education.”

Chris Hart is the director of communications at The University of Baltimore. 


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