Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Anthony G. Picciano

Committee Members

David Bloomfield

Debbie Sonu

Subject Categories

Civil Rights and Discrimination | Education | Higher Education | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


Historically Black Colleges and Universities, academic program duplication, race, higher education, policy


In 2013, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court of Maryland ruled in The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education et al. v. Maryland Higher Education Commission et al., that through the practice of offering duplicative academic programs at Maryland’s Historically Black Institutions (HBIs) and their Traditionally White Institutions (TWIs), Maryland has practices in place that perpetuate a segregated higher education system, a violation of the United States Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This dissertation examines the effect of duplicative academic programs on racial enrollment in Maryland’s Historically Black Institutions. The study draws on Critical Race Theory to analyze the historical context in which these institutions exist and offers a contemporary assessment of HBIs. Moreover, this study centers faculty and staff in a discussion about their understanding of the function, purpose and changing role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Data was collected using surveys, interviews with 11 participants, and reports on enrollment by race at Maryland’s four HBIs over a twenty-year period, from 1995 to 2015. Data collection also included a review of select duplicated academic programs and academic programs offered only at Maryland’s HBIs, or offered at HBIs that were not in proximity to TWIs. The

data reveal that offering the same academic programs at Historically Black Institutions and Traditionally White Institutions influences enrollment and results in a shift in race demographics. Analysis also shows that some academic programs at the HBIs had an increased number of White students. Moreover, by and large, research participants indicate that HBIs serve a greater social purpose, particularly as schools that offer education to those who otherwise would not have access to quality higher education.

This study contributes to the literature on equitable investments in HBCUs, by expanding upon existing research and including perspectives of those on the front lines in assessing HBCUs in a contemporary context. In a broader sense, this research illustrates the complexities of race and its influence on higher education policy and practice.