VOICES: The importance of State of Ohio support to its two HBCUs

Dr. Jack Thomas is the President of Central State University.
Dr. Jack Thomas is the President of Central State University.

The state of Ohio has two historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the street from each other; Central State University and Wilberforce University. Of the two, Central State University (CSU) is Ohio’s only public HBCU. CSU provides a diverse talent pipeline for the State of Ohio. Although students come from within and outside the state, homegrown talented students have shown a preference to stay in state to matriculate and focus on starting their lives by providing service that benefits the growth of their home state.

Central State University is also Ohio’s only 1890 Land Grant institution - this designation allows CSU to focus on agricultural education and research for its students and faculty. The value proposition for the State of Ohio to make significant investments in HBCUs like CSU is that such an investment would enable the university to give back not only through employment and labor, but also research and development that helps the state grow and be more sustainable.

ExploreHBCUs helped me become a powerful, outspoken, and hardworking Black woman

The future of HBCUs is limitless. Looking at individuals who have graduated from an HBCU, you see nurtured high-performing individuals who may not have had all the resources needed to be successful but who understands how to navigate through challenges. Specifically, Central State University is one that is very resilient. When you think about the tornado of April 1974 that blew away 80% of the campus, and the other challenges faced from a financial and limited resources standpoint, CSU has stood strong for 135 years and produced citizens who have gone on to change the world.

CSU has also contributed via research compliments of major transformational initiatives like water resources management and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields. Central State University is the only HBCU that offers a Water Resources Management bachelor’s degree program, and one of four to offer the program in the country. CSU is also experiencing phenomenal growth in its online program - now having over 4,000 students on its virtual CSU Global Platform.

CSU anticipates continued growth. Upcoming plans include the addition of the College of Health Sciences and the recently launched inaugural Honors College. CSU is also taking advantage of diversity in recruiting by attracting high-achieving students while continuing to serve traditional students and taking full advantage of what a diverse student body brings to the institutions of Honors College, Liberal Arts, and STEM Research.

ExploreWilberforce University is an Ohio treasure

The university has experienced tremendous growth in research dollars. CSU broke records with $27 million dollars raised in the past year and anticipates bolstering the research and sponsored programs to be able to increase federal funding through grants and sponsored programs. We have seen a 250% increase in fundraising efforts from individual and corporate donations and are planning a $30 million capital campaign. These resources as well as continued funding from the state of Ohio will position Central State University to continue to thrive and transform lives and communities in Ohio and beyond.

Dr. Jack Thomas is the President of Central State University.