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Tuskegee University Continues as a Beacon

Tuskegee University Continues as a Beacon


EDITORIAL: The Tuskegee News - August 14, 1997. Reprinted and posted by permission Paul R. Davis, Publisher.


There is a great debate across Alabama today about the strengths and weaknesses and the financial needs of Alabama's institutions of higher learning.

Our governor is terribly wrong in continuing to suggest that Alabama has adequate funding for its schools and he is further way off base by suggesting that $100 million can be cut from higher education in the new year without serious negative impact on our schools.

There are cases of needless duplication in higher education and there is some fat which can be trimmed. Even if all of that could be done with the wave of the hand, we would still not have adequate financing for our schools.

We see the damages that inadequate funding produces in the public schools of Macon County and we see its impact on Tuskegee University. Yes, Tuskegee University is a private institution, yet it receives some modest funding from the state of Alabama. It needs and deserves more.

It has played a vital role in the education of young people, especially African-Americans. It was born during a time when there was no real access to higher education for America's black youngsters.

It is sad to think of the great waste in mind power had Tuskegee University not been around down through the decades, yet some at the state level still, talk of cutting back the modest funding for Tuskegee University.

We don't think that will happen, but we must always be on guard against those who would seek to withhold funding.

Tuskegee University's vital role was again underscored recently with the announcement that it ranks second in the nation in turning out highly trained black engineers.

The University's College of Engineering, Architecture and Physical Sciences is the school's largest with more than 900 students. And those who graduate are highly sought after by the nation's major corporations. The College is fully accredited by the southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Accrediting Board of Engineering Technology.

Young people today who complete their academic work in these courses will earn more than twice, sometimes, three times, the average pay of young people who do not get a college degree. What a major impact on the quality of life for these youngsters.

During the past year, more than 300 industrial recruiters were on the campus of Tuskegee University seeking these bright, highly skilled young people for major jobs in engineers. In fact, the demand exceeded the supply. Generally that pushes wages a notch higher, too. This year, ALL of Tuskegee's chemical engineering and computer science majors had a job when they got their diploma. The jobs, the great wages, are waiting for young people who make it through the college courses.

We need to look closely at the political leadership in Alabama, at those who would deny the need for additional financial support for our colleges and universities. In a Alabama today, there are too few skilled workers to meet to meet the demand of business and industry.

We will see the Alabama Legislature go into special session next week to seek to come up with budgets to support education from the first grade through graduate school. There will be some harsh words and some bitter confrontation. There will be the unwise fight between K-12 and higher education, a struggle that should never take place. If we don't provide an adequate program of instruction for children in public schools, they won't be ready for college. If we cut the funds for higher education, our colleges may not be ready for a new generation of better educated young people. The two branches of education should never be enemies, they should always be partners.

It is so wonderful to see that the hard work being done at our university is being acknowledged and honored.

At least 17 Tuskegee University engineering graduates have been hired by Minneapolis-based 3M since 1988. Three of them were subsequently sponsored by 3M in doctoral programs and now have Ph.Ds.

In addition to its impressive ranking in awarding baccalaureate degrees to African-American engineers, Black Issues in Higher Education Magazine ranks Tuskegee University fourth in the nation in awarding baccalaureate degrees to African-Americans in a combination of engineering, technology, computer science, and mathematics; 11th in the nation in awarding baccalaureate degrees in biology to African Americans; and 17th in awarding baccalaureate degrees to African Americans in physical sciences.

The Black Issues in Higher Education tables do not include the awarding of degrees in Forestry or Veterinary Medicine, where Tuskegee University has been a consistent leader. Tuskegee University is the only historically black university to offer a doctorate in veterinary medicine and has graduated more than 80 percent of the nation's African Americans who hold degrees in veterinary medicine. More than 50 percent of the nation's African-American foresters completed their initial training at Tuskegee University.

Tuskegee University continues the traditions that has allowed it to emerge as one of the most highly regarded small comprehensive universities in the world. This nationally recognized base of higher education was founded in 1881 by Booker T. Washington and currently supports 3,200 students from 34 states and 28 countries. While competent in all fields, there is a distinct concentration of strength in the life and physical sciences, engineering, education, business, veterinary medicine, nursing and the allied health professions all lead by a faculty of world class status.

Maybe Gov. Fob James thinks we are doing too well. He thinks we have too much money for all our schools. He is, of course, way off base and totally wrong.

Tuskegee University continues to be a beacon and its influence in being felt around the world.


Subscription rate in Macon County, $22.50 per year, outside of Macon County, $27.50 per year, outside state of Alabama, $29.50 per year.

The Tuskegee News

P.O. Drawer 830060

Tuskegee, AL 36083

Telephone: 334-727-3020

Paul R. Davis, Publisher

Gayle Davis, Vice President and Treasurer

Guy Rhodes, Editor

Lizzie Dixon, Office Manager


Category: World War II | Subcategory: Tuskegee Airmen | Tags: Alabama , Washington , Tuskegee
Related Topics / Keywords / Phrases: 1881, 1988, 1997, African American, African-American, AL, Alabama, chemical, Davis, Editorial, Old, Tuskegee University, Ward, Washington,