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**Highlighting the Influence of Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A Collaborative Work by Levon Esters from Penn State**

In UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., a recent publication co-authored by Levon T. Esters, who serves as the vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School at Penn State, along with being a professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences, sheds light on the pivotal role of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The book delves into how HBCUs empower Black students, drive economic development, foster community, and nurture leaders and activists.

Titled “HBCU: The Power of Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” the book, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, is a collaborative effort with Marybeth Gasman, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor endowed chair in education and a distinguished professor at Rutgers University. Through a blend of extensive research and personal narratives from current students, HBCU alumni, and university leaders, the book underscores the profound impact of these institutions in mentoring generations of scholars and leaders. It highlights the culture of success and empowerment that characterizes HBCUs, showcasing how they have propelled Black students into influential roles across various fields such as medicine, literature, law, and business.

Defined by the Higher Education Act of 1965, HBCUs are institutions established before 1964 with a primary mission of educating Black Americans. These universities, accredited by nationally recognized agencies, play a crucial role in guiding students of all races. Esters, a graduate of two HBCUs, North Carolina A&T State University and Florida A&M University, has conducted extensive research on educational equity, focusing on the mentoring needs of Black graduate students and career development in STEM fields at historically Black land-grant universities.

Gasman, with expertise in the history of American higher education and minority-serving institutions, brings a wealth of knowledge to the book. Together, Esters and Gasman delve into the challenges HBCUs encounter, emphasizing the need for increased funding and government support to sustain these vital institutions. They stress the unique nurturing environment that HBCUs provide, where students of color can find a sense of belonging and support crucial for their academic success.

The book not only celebrates the accomplishments of HBCUs but also addresses the hurdles they face, including financial stability and accreditation. Esters and Gasman advocate for continued support and recognition of the invaluable contributions of HBCUs to the educational landscape. Their work aims to raise awareness about the significance of these institutions and the essential role they play in shaping future leaders and fostering diversity in higher education.

For those eager to delve deeper into the subject, an upcoming event in February will offer a platform for discussion with Esters, Gasman, and a panel of experts. The event will feature engaging conversations on establishing partnerships and strengthening connections with HBCUs, providing a unique opportunity to explore the profound impact of these institutions further. Stay tuned for more information on this enlightening discussion.