Author Archives: hbcumoney

HBCU Money’s 2018 Top 10 HBCU Endowments


The past 365 days for HBCU endowments has seen a lot of press, mainly led by Bennett College’s #StandWithBennett campaign as the school is embattled and was raising money to retain its accreditation and keep the doors open. A constant reminder of the fragility of HBCUs and their financial uncertainty. Economic conditions in the United States have made overall growth in higher education tempered and with it HBCU endowments have been a mixed bag. While the top ten HBCU endowments have five endowments that beat the median increase in endowment market value, only two endowments beat the national average. In comparison the top ten PWI endowments had eight endowments beat the national median average and seven of the ten exceeding the national average.

Over the past 12 months, the top ten HBCU endowments have increased their market value by $134.5 million or an increase of 7.4 percent over last year. There is plenty of argument that HBCUs should not be compared to the largest PWI endowments in behavior and instead to schools that are comparable in their size and scope. This is certainly a valid argument, but at a time when there are more PWIs with $1 billion plus endowments than there are HBCUs, it maybe hard to continue to lean on such an argument. The reason being is that higher education in general is experiencing and going to continue to consolidation and contraction with education alternatives entering the market. Smaller colleges and HBCUs are going to have to be over capitalized and nimble in order to shift to changing market demands and conditions. At the moment, over 90 percent of HBCUs do not have even $100 million endowments leaving them highly vulnerable as we have seen with the closure of a number of HBCUs in recent years and more than just Bennett in current crisis.

This year we included more than just the top ten, but all HBCUs who reported to NACUBO, which is the reporting endowment organization we use to keep our reporting date uniformed.

All values are in millions ($000)

1. Howard University – $688,562 (6.5%)

2. Spelman College – $389,207 (6.3%)

3.  Hampton University – $285,345 (2.2%)

4.  Meharry Medical College – $159,908 (4.1%)

5.  Morehouse College – $145,139 (2.6%)

6.  North Carolina A&T State University  – $63,827 (14.9%)

7.  University of the Virgin Islands – $61,491 (10.7%)

8.  Tennessee State University – $58,697 (5.1%)

9.  Texas Southern University – $58,158 (7.4%)

10.  Virginia State University – $54,479 (6.6%)

OTHERS REPORTING:

Take a look at how an endowment works. Not only scholarships to reduce the student debt burden but research, recruiting talented faculty & students, faculty salaries, and a host of other things can be paid for through a strong endowment. It ultimately is the lifeblood of a college or university to ensure its success generation after generation.

*Note: The change in market value does NOT represent the rate of return for the institution’s investments. Rather, the change in the market value of an endowment from FY2016 to FY2017 reflects the net impact of: 1) withdrawals to fund institutional operations and capital expenses; 2) the payment of endowment management and investment fees; 3) additions from donor gifts and other contributions; and 4) investment gains or losses.

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HBCU Money™ Turns 7 Years Old


By William A. Foster, IV

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Seven years strong with so much more to do. The past two years have been a test of mettle for HBCU Money and HBCU journalism as a whole. As journalism and media as a whole are becoming an even more complicated business with much of larger media being purchased by a small class of people who can afford to pour resources into it without needing it to make any money, yet leveraging the benefits of shaping public opinion it leaves an industry in flux. This dynamic leaves many smaller imprints with less external resources in a precarious position. Making enough money to keep the doors open, grow, and still able to put some Ramen noodles on the table for our families.

HBCU media ownership has, is, and will continue to be a labor of love certainly, but if we want it to scale to the level of influence we need in our community we need to have real conversations about just how and what needs to happen for that scale to take place. The importance of HBCU owned media can not afford to have all chiefs and no warriors.

At HBCU Money, I am excited for some of the things ahead that have been in the works for quite a few years on the drawing board finally getting off the board. Unfortunately, some of it maybe the leap of faith more than the resources available. Seven years into this though, faith is certainly something never to take for granted. I thank everyone who has restored it when it has been shaken and filled up the bucket when it was running low. There are too many to name, but you are appreciated. It is my hope that HBCU Money can continue to be worthy of your support and faith.

 

Love & Entrepreneurship: Relationship Therapist Misha Granado On How Spouses & Relationships Impact Entrepreneurs


If you have ever been in a relationship with someone who is an entrepreneur, then you know it can have its fair share of ups and downs. Although most relationships do, there is something unique about those ups and downs when it comes to being with an entrepreneur. We were able to catch up with Misha Granado, an alumnae of Florida A&M University and Prairie View A&M University, who is herself and entrepreneur through her company Love Grows, a relationship consulting firm, to discuss what all comes with loving and living a life with an entrepreneur.

A relationship with an entrepreneur is not for everyone, what “warning” label would you put on entrepreneurs for those considering dating or getting into a relationship with one?

As an entrepreneur you are the only one who truly knows yours schedule, goals and needs for both your professional and personal life. It is imperative to be extremely clear on who you are and the characteristics and qualities that compliment and constrict both you and your goals. Reflect on your previous relationships (historical markers) to identify what does and does not work for you. Also, it is important to be honest with yourself about where you are on your journey.

If you are interested in a relationship, ask yourself, “What type of partner complements me?

  • A fellow entrepreneur? If so, what type of entrepreneur? Someone at the beginning stages (idea)? Growing? Established?
  • An entrepreneur who also has a corporate gig?
  • Someone with a demanding corporate career requiring significant time and dedication outside of the house?
  • Someone with a career with a traditional schedule (M-F) but has an active personal life who is self-sufficient?
  • Someone who is artsy and a free spirit who does not require much ‘hand-holding’ from you?
  • Someone with traditional relationship expectations?

Do you have the resources (time, energy, emotional and mental bandwidth) to co-create and co-nurture a relationship or is a social, casual dynamic more feasible? There is no universal right or wrong answer, only the only right for you. Once you are clear on who you are and your needs have honest, unapologetic conversations with potential partners.

All entrepreneurs are not the same, but what are some baseline ways you believe spouses and significant others can be supportive to their entrepreneur partner?

Significant others and spouses can be supportive to their entrepreneur partner by:

  • Holding the vision of the overall goal(s) – Being an entrepreneur is not easy and there will be many moments where the stress, loses, delays, frustration, fear, anger, despair, panic, etc obscure the vision of your entrepreneur spouse. Having the skill and ability to hold the vision for him/her at all times, but especially in these moments are key. Remind them of their why, the reason they embarked on this journey and all of the ways they will succeed.
  • Informative – Are you knowledgeable about their entrepreneurial endeavors? You do not need to be an expert in the field but showing real interest is very supportive. By having a bit of knowledge of the industry, goals, challenges coupled with knowing your spouse you become a wonderful asset because you can help with troubleshooting, be an empathetic ear, strategize and/or provide support. Of course this varies per entrepreneur. However, some entrepreneurs desire a ‘mental break’ from their work and prefer not to speak business with their spouse, which is okay as well. Knowing your s/o and what they need is another way to be informative.
  • Patient – The entrepreneur life does not follow the trajectory of other fields nor does it provide the ‘comfort and safety.’  On this journey income may vary significantly depending on project, climate, acquisition of clients, etc. Traditional hours do not exist. Sacrifices are the norm. Questioning self seems to be scheduled on the calendar daily. Therefore a s/o who is patient is a welcomed reprieve. Patience varies for each couple.

What are some common issues you see that arise between spouses and entrepreneurs in relationships? How do you believe couples can get ahead of them or best deal with them?

One of the most common issues between spouses and entrepreneurs is unspoken expectations. Each partner has expectations in their head for the other but has never articulated it to each other. As a result, needs go unmet and resentment silently builds meanwhile the partner is oblivious. It is similar to your employer setting goals for you without telling you only for you to discover you did not meet these benchmarks during your annual review. Unspoken expectations are a set up for failure. This is unfair.

The best tool for any relationship is transparency, vulnerability and honesty. For both partners to articulate to each other their expectations, needs and areas where they desire more support. If you do not feel emotionally safe to be vulnerable with your significant other, seek therapy to identify the barriers that serve as a hindrance and gain the tools and healing needed to overcome this barrier.

An entrepreneur sees the world in a very different way than most people. What are the ways spouses can impact how an entrepreneur sees the world?

The relationship one has with self, determines and influences all relationships in their life. In a partnership, especially a romantic relationship due to the intimacy of the space, both parties have the ability to impact each other in a negative or positive manner and this can influence the way partners view self and the world. This is such a delicate space because of the direct access to the heart and mind. A spouse who has unmet/unspoken expectations, resentment, frustrations, etc will knowingly or unknowingly begin to engage in behavior (i.e. passive aggressive, argumentative, petty) that constricts both their partner and the relationship. This behavior increases the entrepreneur’s stress level impacting business, creativity, productivity etc. Whereas, a spouse who is happy with self, articulates their needs and wants, feels fulfilled, supported, loved will demonstrate behaviors (i.e. encouragement, support, joy, happiness, consideration, patience, kindness, etc.) that complement the relationship and their partner. The latter has the ability to change perspectives. When we feel seen, heard and validated we feel inspired, energized and creative all of which are excellent for business.

Women entrepreneurs have an even tougher road ahead of them typically. So for the men/women/partners who love them, what advice would you give specifically to the support and love that will be needed?

Whether it is the entrepreneurial, corporate, artistic or the academic route, unfortunately women are not treated equitably. This adds another layer of stress to the already taxing entrepreneur life. As the partner behind the scenes supporting a woman entrepreneur, perhaps the best way you can support her is by knowing her, implementing and executing what she needs when you know she is stressed, excited, hopeful, disappointed, etc. If you do not know what she needs during these various spaces, ask her directly (when she is not in it). For example:

  • How can I support you when you are scared?
  • What can I do when you are stressed?
  • How do you like to celebrate your wins?
  • What would make your daily routine run smoothly?
  • How can I support your business?

When she needs/wants to vent about something before she begins ask: What do you need from me in this moment? A sympathetic ear? To help strategize a solution? To serve as your hype man? Knowing which role she needs from you is important, because she does not always need you to fix it. Sometimes she just needs to vent to effectively move that stagnant energy through her. Other times she just wants you to listen and validate her feelings.

A relationship is not all about the entrepreneur and in that respect reciprocation is important. How can entrepreneurs, who are often demanding a lot of their significant other/spouse, ensure that they themselves are being good partners?

Make your significant other a priority. The business will always be there. There is always something to do. You can always fill each minute with something for the business. Place weekly dates on the calendar and be fully present. Inquire about your significant other and their life and developments. This is a no business/dumping zone, instead it is a place to renew, restore and reciprocate all of the love and support your partner has and continues to give to you. Invest in your partner as well. Show up for your partner and be fully present. If you are attending an event as his/her/their date, be engaging, light, and attentive. Implement a cut off time where you disconnect from gadgets and connect with each other.  This is also applicable if children are involved. Time is one of your most precious commodities; invest it intentionally with your loved ones.

How can relationship counseling help a spouse and entrepreneur keep a happy and loving relationship?

Therapy always begins with the individual even if you are in a partnership. This is because individuals bring everything with them into the relationship (experiences, values, culture, perspective, emotional wounds, isms, insecurities, fears, family dynamics, beliefs, etc.) and all of these influences and determines the quality of the partnership. Now add the stress of an entrepreneurial journey to the equation and there is plenty of material here for therapy *wink*.

The benefit of therapy is having an objective person who provides a safe space for both parties to explore their emotions, identify expectations, stressors, goals and tools to address each. Therapy allows each person to speak, be heard, seen and validated. Also, therapy provides strategies; tools and techniques the couple can implement to help cultivate a relationship that is nurturing for both parties. Additionally, therapy provides different perspectives which are extremely beneficial in those times where a couple cannot agree. This alternative option may be the very catalyst to re-establishing or establishing a healthy relationship baseline.

You can follow and contact Ms. Granado:

www.mishaNgranado.com

Twitter & Instagram: @lovegrows_misha

Brother To Brother: Sorry Jarrett, Athletics Can Not Save Us, But Research & Entrepreneurship Can


“And this is going to piss Will off when I say this, but go get a football coach.” – Jarrett Carter

I open this “letter” to my dear brother saying that we have known each other for many years and this debate maybe as old as our friendship. Even I will admit that at one point I too believed that if HBCUs could return to obtainment of our community’s physical talent on the football field and basketball courts that our schools would reap the financial rewards they so desperately need. Unfortunately, Michael Vick, LeBron James nor his son, or the likes of Zion Williamson is walking through our doors anytime soon. Instead, we are going to have to rely on what truly drives the economics and finances of higher education institutions and that is research, entrepreneurship, and good old fashioned Afro-Brain Power.

Let me first address why we have absolutely no chance in sports savings us. I do not mean we have a little chance, I mean we have no chance. None. Zero. Negative zero even. Unfortunately, HBCUs even if LeBron James had gone to one can not fight the shiny uniforms that billionaire boosters like Nike’s Phil Knight rolls out to the University of Oregon every other week or the tens of millions that Kevin Plank the founder of Under Armour has poured into the University of Maryland’s athletic facilities. The former has so much influence in the state of Oregon that when he wanted to build a headquarters dedicated just to football that apparently ran afoul with the state building process – the state changed it. Yes, the state changed it. Both of these programs mentioned until these billionaire boosters got involved were marginal programs at best and are now most would agree significantly better, but by no means powerhouses. Essentially, Knight and Plank have poured over $500 million into these programs combined to take them from the basement of Division 1 college athletics to middle of the pack and sometime contenders. Between these two men, they are worth a combined almost $40 billion. It is safe to say the interest on their wealth alone allows for eight and nine figure donations to their alma maters in perpetuity if they so choose. Ironically or not, both of these men were college athletes who became entrepreneurs and not professional athletes and whose products were essentially developed in their time on campus, but more on this later.

Secondly, the ROI on athletes going pro or schools turning a profit on athletics is just not even worth a paragraph so I will keep this short. The NFL, NBA, and NCAA continues to squeeze HBCUs out of professional sports. HBCUers in the NBA is more a historic statement than current or future one. This year’s list of HBCU alumni in the NFL and their earnings: 22 players representing 16 HBCUs and combining for almost $40 million in earnings, which is the lowest earnings figure since HBCU Money started tracking the data. For perspective, that $40 million is 0.1 percent of Knight and Plank’s combined net worth. To further drive the point home, if Knight and Plank put all of their wealth into a savings account paying 1 percent, it would earn $400 million – ten times what all HBCU players will earn in 2018. Further to the point, because these careers are so short, major donations from these players who have tasted professional glory have been few and far between. I am still waiting on Jerry Rice to make a public donation of the seven figure variety – not a pledge, Jerry – to Mississippi Valley State University. Yet, schools like Prairie View A&M University spend $60 million on a new stadium that struggles to sellout. Lest we forget the almost disaster dome Jackson State University wanted to build at $200 million. If your school does not have access to a major TV network contract, the chances of you making money is almost slim to none and networks offer those contracts because they want to sell advertisements – networks I might add that are not African American owned and represent a media that shows a consistent disdain for our institutions. How do you sell that level of advertisements? Large fan bases, pure and simple math. The University of Michigan or Alabama on any given Saturday can put 100,000 fans in the seats and probably another million plus eyeballs glued to the television screen. HBCUs (individually) do not have that kind of scale nor the means to create it. So much for a short paragraph, but the problem is deep and the solution even deeper. The solution to building sustainable institutions lies in a holistic and committed approach to research and entrepreneurship on HBCU campuses.

HBCUs (and our alumni) for whatever reason have never really committed to research. Even during the days of George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute there were rumors that his research was looked at more in passing than integral to the future of the institution. I dare imagine what Tuskegee would be like had Carver or the institution had the patent on peanut butter. The global peanut butter industry is worth an estimated $3 billion as of 2017 and demand is growing at 6 percent annually according to CAGR. An article in the New Yorker reported, “In 2012, American universities earned $2.6 billion from patent royalties, according to the Association of University Technology Managers. The tech-transfer model is entrenched in medical schools and in biotech development.” As noted in our piece about HBCUs and patents, the University of Wisconsin and Carnegie-Mellon University garnered patent settlements in their favor to the tune of $1.2 billion, an amount that is virtually half of all HBCU endowments combined and almost three times what HBCU spend on research.

HBCUs combined have research expenditures of approximately $520.1 million as of 2017 according to the National Science Foundation data, an amount that is 0.7 percent of the $75.3 billion colleges and universities totaled in R&D expenditures. A number that has been declining every year for the past four years and off dramatically from 2014 when expenditures were a combined $547.1 million at HBCUs, a decline of almost 5 percent over the period while the top ten R&D colleges/universities have seen their expenditures rise by almost 20 percent in the same period. There are now 46 individual colleges and universities whose research and expenditures exceed $520 million per year, 12 of them exceeding $1 billion annually, and then there is John Hopkins University that lords over everyone with its $2.5 billion annually in research expenditures. But what does all this investment in research mean to sustainability? For one, it means these schools are institutions that are integral to the intellectual advancement of the nation in every aspect of industry, government, and military. A charge that HBCUs could take on in a very similar fashion for African America and the African Diaspora at large if it wanted to really be aggressive. However, it also takes on the commercialization of research, which ultimately leads to answering the question you my dear brother asked – Can HBCUs Create Billionaires?

In an oldie but goodie article that I published at HBCU Money many years ago called “The University of Power & Wealth”, I asked the question, “What do Google, Time Warner, FedEx, Microsoft, Facebook, and Dell have in common? They were all founded on college campuses. Google founded at Stanford, Time Warner & FedEx at Yale, Microsoft and Facebook at Harvard, and Dell at the University of Texas.” The value of all those firms as of this publication are a combined almost $2.2 trillion. Yes, that is trillion with a T. In addition, the founders of all these companies, except for the now defunct Time Warner which was sold for $85 billion to AT&T, have a combined net worth over $320 billion as of this publication. Some would argue that even the world’s move valuable company, Apple, is the result of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak’s proximity to Silicon Valley, basically a development creation that sprung out of Stanford’s research. Stanford and MIT maybe the nation’s most entrepreneurial colleges and it is no secret that their endowments reflect their innovation.

MIT is a monster or model all in and of itself. The school located in the heart of Boston, MA. has a student population of a little over 11,000 students. It is ranked 14th in the country with $950 million in R&D expenditures and that research combined with entrepreneurial DNA and cultivation shows up in a major way. “A new report estimates that, as of 2014, MIT alumni have launched 30,200 active companies, employing roughly 4.6 million people, and generating roughly $1.9 trillion in annual revenues.” If HBCU entrepreneurs employed 4.6 million African Americans it would be equivalent to employing almost 1 in 4 African Americans that are employed and the $1.9 trillion in revenue would be 50 percent greater than all of African America’s current buying power. MIT is so committed to its entrepreneurial culture in fact that it has even created an accelerator called The Engine to fund these ventures. “Just months after its launch, MIT’s new startup accelerator The Engine yesterday closed its first investment fund for over $150 million, which will support startups developing breakthrough scientific and technological innovations with potential for societal impact.” Can anyone imagine what would come of the ingenuity that our students possess if we had access to startup capital at even a fraction of that amount? Unfortunately, some in leadership want to spend more time bickering about why Michael Bloomberg, John Hopkins alumni and founder of Bloomberg L.P. and net worth of $45 billion, should have given the $1.8 billion he recently donated and some of the $3 billion overall he has donated to John Hopkins to schools who need it more than actually making the investments they can make into their own students, alumni, faculty, and staff so that they can create the next Bloomberg.

Let me also be clear in that last point that this onus is not all, not even remotely the responsibility of administrations who may come and go ultimately, but on alumni. Our alumni and their deference to administrations is part of the problem. Most HBCUs and the communities and towns they are in are underdeveloped and therefore there is millions of dollars that flow from our HBCUs every year from students and the like that could be circulated back. If alumni would invest in the dirt and build infrastructure so that small businesses, entrepreneurship, and capital was available intimately to their own HBCU, it would go a long way in creating communities, businesses, jobs, internships, opportunity, and more.

In closing my dear brother, I say this to you. It is indeed Afro-Brain and intellect that is our key not only to survival but success. Yes, sports pull at our heart strings, but it is not putting anything into our purse strings. Bowie State University obtaining their first patent is amazing, but it needs to go from breaking news to common news. HBCUs can be at the forefront of the new space race, the cure for Alzheimer’s, solving the water crisis in Flint, or the latest best selling apps for smartphones and the like if we truly believe that we can and invest in it like we mean it.

In HBCUs We Trust,

William A. Foster, IV

A Patent Created Is A Million Earned: HBCUs Are Not Keeping Pace In The Intellectual Property Arms Race Among American Colleges


“Necessity…the mother of invention.” – Plato

How did David beat Goliath, then go on to become a “Goliath” himself? With a rock, pebble, or stone depending on who is telling the story. However, it is truly what that piece of Earth hurling towards his enemy from his cache represented that is often most lost in the story. After all, most stories in the Bible are parables and in this case, while David gets all of the glory, it was truly the slingshot that was the star. The slingshot represented an idea, ingenuity, and research all at the same time. It was a representation of how even the smallest solutions can tackle the biggest problems and for David, the riches represent what is awarded to those who dare go after them.

What is a patent? According to the definition provided by the World Intellectual Property Organization, “A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application.”

From 1969 to 2012, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office granted 75,353 to America’s colleges and universities. However, during that same period HBCUs were granted an apathetic 101 patents, an amount less than one percent (0.13% to be exact) is a telling story of just one of the factors that hold back HBCUs financial sustainability. In the past twenty years alone since the turn of the 21st century, patents to colleges and universities have increased from 1,307 to 5,898, an almost five fold increase. In the same time period, the value of the revenue from those patents has also seen a meteoric rise to the tune of a 1,700 percent increase in value from $130 million annually to a staggering $2.2 billion annually. This does not even factor in the societal relevance that these institutions beget as a result. Can you imagine the financial and social impact that comes with being the college who invented the seat belt (Cornell University) or an even more well known invention, Gatorade (University of Florida)? The latter has earned the University of Florida over $1 billion in royalties alone. Even more to the point of colleges and universities profiting handsomely from intellectual property, according to an article in IP Watchdog in 2017, “a judge ordered Apple to pay the University of Wisconsin $506 million for infringing one of its tech patents. Last year, Carnegie-Mellon University won $750 million in a patent infringement lawsuit against Marvell Technology Group.” Those two settlements alone are worth fifty percent of all HBCU endowments combined. Needless to say, this is an arena that HBCUs need to make inroads into if survival and sustainability are long-term goals for our institutions.

PATENTS BY HBCU (1969-2012)

  1. Howard University – 18
  2. Morehouse School of Medicine – 17
  3. Florida A&M University – 16
  4. North Carolina A&T State University – 12
  5. Hampton University – 10
  6. Spelman College – 6
  7. Jackson State University – 4
  8. North Carolina Central University – 4
  9. Meharry Medical College – 3
  10. Tuskegee University – 2
  11. Alabama A&M University – 1
  12. Alabama A&M University Institute – 1
  13. Alcorn State University – 1
  14. Charles R. Drew University of Medicine – 1
  15. Claflin University – 1
  16. Delaware State University Foundation – 1
  17. Fort Valley State College – 1
  18. Shaw University – 1
  19. Virginia State University – 1
  20. Bowie State University – 1*

For all of the creativity that our culture has and exist on our campuses from faculty to students and more, there is little if any at times from administrations and alumni when it comes to finding creative solutions to our financial issues. Since desegregation took root in our institutions and began to gut them, a financial crisis has been brewing and its presence shows up every time we see another HBCU close its doors and even more starkly today in the amount of student loan debt HBCU graduates finish with as a result of poor endowments. HBCUs have taken on a what has seemingly become a check to check mentality in dealing with its financial viability. Instead of investments in R&D and entrepreneurship (Can HBCUs Produce Billionaires?), which is where the nation’s wealth has truly been generated for colleges and their alumni, we have seen far too many HBCUs and their alumni seemingly double down on being dependent on tuition revenue, make poor investments in athletics with no real return possible, focusing their students on getting jobs not creating them, and at times a feeling of lip service in relation to developing stronger pre-alumni and alumni programs that would strengthen giving.

It begs the question where do we go from here? How do we get administrations to ensure that intellectual property & patent development is a stronger part of its focus and how do we get alumni to give their time and money in a way that compliments and assist HBCUs in the infrastructure needed for said development? And ultimately, how do we turn our campuses into intellectual property machines? Let us examine, just a few points (but certainly not limited too) what HBCUs and their alumni could do to unleash its intellectual prowess:

First and foremost, we have to look at our research, patent development, and the like from a holistic viewpoint, meaning that anyone and any department on campus can be engaged in this process. That means everyone from the traditional route of professors and researchers to students to staff to cafeteria workers or lawn and building maintenance. Everyone must be part of this and everyone must be mentally engaged and present. A patent can come from anywhere and for us it needs too. For example, Paul Quinn a few years ago eliminated salt and pork from its campus, but what if a cafeteria worker created a way to still “salt” a product or their farm created a method by which you could raise a pig that does not adversely impact a human’s health. This would become an extremely valuable intellectual property that could be commercialized into a company that the school had an ownership stake in or licensing it out to major food companies and receiving royalties the way the University of Florida does with Gatorade to this very day.

Second, campuses need an intellectual property czar and department. Yes, create a position whose only job it is to promote, oversee, and help develop intellectual property. Their job would be to help ease the process, especially for the likes of students and staff who may not be as familiar with the process as professors, but even with professors helping ease the burden of the process would go a long way. The czar and department would be charged with identifying potential customers and creating commercial relationships where the intellectual property maybe of value. They would also assist in bringing in intellectual help if an idea is being developed but the technology or expertise to bring it to bear is not available on the campus. Perhaps, a relationship with a local software company or factory lends itself to the completion of the patent or intellectual property. Also finding opportunities where intellectual focus can financially benefit the school. An example of this would be the X Prize Foundation, where in 1996 for instance a businessman and entrepreneur offered a $10 million prize to the first privately financed team that could build and fly a three-passenger vehicle 100 kilometers into space twice within two weeks. Participating in these not only has potential financial benefits, but also raises the profile of the institution.

Thirdly, community and alumni access. Allowing the use of this broadens the probability that ideas and opportunities will come to the schools themselves and serve as a potential repository. Imagine for instance had Tuskegee been setup in such a way that when Lonnie Johnson, the Tuskegee alum who invented the Super Soaker, was able to come back to the school, use some of its resources, get assistance, etc. in exchange for a percentage of future or potential royalties. In 2013, he was awarded almost $75 million alone in royalties from Hasbro. An amount that is well over half of Tuskegee’s assumed endowment. Community access would also include summer camps to engage K-12 children in thinking as problem solvers. In other words, also developing the pipeline of intellectual property creators of tomorrow is integral.

Lastly, alumni must donate to create time for this all to be possible. How many HBCU professors can sit on campus for a semester, not teach, and simply focus on research? Very few, if any. How many students could stay on campus over the summer and experiment? Again, very few, if any. In fact, one of the primary problems that HBCU campuses have over summers is shutting down facilities in an effort to save money instead of opening them up for use to their professors, staff, students, and even the community. Those summer camps for K-12, which can lead to future HBCU students. Again, they need support and funds. Alumni must supply the funds to keep the lights on. Summertime is not a time to shutdown, but a time to have an opportunity to do the out of the box things that perhaps the semester schedules bog down. That can not happen without a targeted focus and strategic giving by alumni.

Patents, intellectual property, and the financial benefits that come with them currently are largely aligned with some of the nation’s largest endowments should come to no surprise to anyone who follows higher education finance. The top five producing patent colleges and universities between 1969-2012 (2018 endowment rank in parentheses), University of California (12) has 7,488 patents, MIT (6) has 4,017 patents, Stanford University (4) has 2,403 patents, CIT (34) has 2,365 patents, and the University of Texas (3) has 2,321 patents. In fact, these five schools have a combined endowment value of $51.5 billion as of 2018. Is there primary revenue from patents? Certainly not, but is the money insignificant? Also, certainly not. For HBCUs though, it could be life saving.

Even the way we engage this process may need to be outside of the normal box. For a lot of schools, even with alumni support, it maybe difficult to implement a program like this. However, one solution could be that the five HBCU conferences take the lead to allow for scale and best use of resources or HBCUs partner with other HBCUs and create a IP consortium and they profit-share. Stronger together. However it has to come together, it must. The financial future of HBCUs is rooted in becoming the problem solvers of today and tomorrow. It is time we focus, harness, and unleash the brilliant minds that constitute our institutions. Our bodies were used to build wealth for others for centuries, it is time to let our minds be the slingshot to our own (financial) freedom.

*Bowie State University was awarded its first patent in 2018.