16 states, including Maryland, underfunded historically Black land-grant universities, Biden

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Maryland’s only historically Black land-grant university has missed out on $321 million in funding over the past three decades, the Biden administration has said in a letter to Gov. Wes Moore.

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore and similar institutions across 15 other states have missed out on a collective $12.6 billion over the past 30 years, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack said in letters Monday to the governors of each state. The letters said the largest disparity was in Tennessee, where Tennessee State University has been underfunded by $2.1 billion.

“Unacceptable funding inequities have forced many of our nation’s distinguished historically Black colleges and universities to operate with inadequate resources and delay critical investments in everything from campus infrastructure to research and development to student support services,” Cardona said in a statement Monday.

Letters were also sent to governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

The nation’s land-grant universities were founded in the 19th century on federal land to further agricultural instruction and research. Federal law requires states to provide an equitable distribution of state funding for all land-grant universities, but that hasn’t happened with many historically Black ones, a new analysis found.

The federal agencies used data from the National Center for Education Statistics and found the funding disparity in 16 of 18 states that house Black land grants. Delaware and Ohio provided equitable funding, the analysis found.

The letter to Moore said UMES “has not been able to advance in ways that are on par with University of Maryland, College Park,” which became the state’s first land-grant institution in 1862, “in large part due to unbalanced funding.” The institution in Princess Anne in Somerset County became a land-grant university only after a law passed in 1890 made the funds contingent on designating a separate college for Black students, or proving race was not an admissions factor at College Park.

The $321 million over the past three decades “could have supported infrastructure and student services and would have better positioned the university to compete for research grants,” the letter said, also noting it “is encouraging to learn that in recent years … your state budget has taken steps to address this historic underinvestment.”

In a Tuesday statement, Moore’s administration said the governor “has been a strong advocate for Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and since he took office funding has grown over 20% for these institutions.”

The statement noted the Democratic governor, who took office this January, directed a total of $422 million in his first budget to assist the state’s four HBCUs and “also committed to following through” on $555 million in investments to the institutions as part of a settlement reached in 2021.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Read More: 16 states, including Maryland, underfunded historically Black land-grant universities, Biden

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