News Release

How Is COVID-19 Affecting Students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities?

Southern Education Foundation and the TIAA Institute Announce Recipients of Research Grants on the Impact of COVID-19 on Historically Black Colleges and Universities

MEDIA CONTACT: Gretchen Wright, 202-421-5830,

November 15, 2021 — The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) with the TIAA Institute today announced two research teams they are funding to examine the impact of the pandemic on students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). One research team is examining the effect of the pandemic on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workforce development for Black men attending an HBCU and the other team will explore how COVID-19’s impact on employment has affected HBCU students’ ability to attend college.

The first study is being conducted by researchers at Morehouse College and Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the second is being conducted by researchers at North Carolina Central University.

“There’s no question that COVID-19 has had an impact on higher education across the board, but the impact on HBCUs and their students has been particularly deleterious,” said Raymond Pierce, President & CEO of the Southern Education Foundation. “This research will help us understand more precisely what the impact has been and help us identify ways to mitigate or reverse it through policy and practice.”

Both research teams will produce final research reports in late 2022. Those reports will be published as TIAA Institute Research Dialogues and posted on both the TIAA Institute and SEF websites. SEF will also develop policy and practice recommendations to address the issues identified in the reports and present them to legislators in general assemblies throughout the southern states.

“The TIAA Institute is committed to supporting research like this to help deepen understanding of and overcome barriers to educational opportunity,” said David Richardson, Head of the TIAA Institute. “We are paying close attention to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on HBCUs and the higher education sector more broadly with an eye towards what institutions can do to mitigate negative implications and take advantage of lessons learned.”

The Morehouse College/Hobart and William Smith Colleges research team includes Sinead Younge, a professor of psychology and director of the Institute of Social Justice Inquiry and Praxis in the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership at Morehouse College, Wallace Sharif, a professor of Biology at Morehouse, and Keoka Grayson, a professor of economics at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The North Carolina Central University research team includes Michelle May, an assistant professor in the School of Education and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Research and Sarah Carrigan, Associate Provost for Institutional Research and Analysis and Chief Data Officer at North Carolina Central University.


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Originally founded in 1867 to educate Black children and children from low-income families in the South, the Southern Education Foundation also has a long history of developing leaders in education and was a pivotal source of research and data to support legislation and litigation aimed at fighting inequity in education during the civil rights era. The organization today conducts leadership development, research, and advocacy to improve educational opportunities for low-income students and students of color and achieve educational equity in the Southern U.S. It is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Find out more at


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