Historically Black Colleges and Universities | St. Louis Public Radio

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Dwaun Warmack is installed as president of Harris-Stowe State University in April 2015.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

When Harris-Stowe State University President Dwaun Warmack graduated from high school, he had a 1.7 grade-point average and did not think he was college material. Today, Warmack, 42, is one of the youngest presidents of a four-year college in the country.

His journey with Harris-Stowe began in 2014, but come July 31, he will leave the historically black university for Claflin University in South Carolina.

Harris-Stowe State University students Aaron Betite, Erica Wise and University President Dwaun Warmack discussed the role of HBCUs in the spectrum of higher education with Alicia Lee.
Alicia Lee | St. Louis Public Radio

Historically Black College and Universities, known by the acronym HBCUs, have long been a place for black Americans to receive an education, particularly when other schools would not accept them. The institutions were considered was a safe haven for many.

HBCUs were established after the American Civil War by African-Americans with support from religious missionary organizations in the northern region of the United States. They were initially created as a place for freed slaves who wanted to receive an education.

Harris-Stowe State University is celebrating its 160th anniversary in 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

According to the most recently available federal records, Harris-Stowe State University’s six-year graduation rate was three to six times lower than Missouri’s other public colleges in 2014.

But university officials say the graduation rate only counts a fraction of the historically black college’s graduates, and cite increased enrollment and a large graduating class as evidence of the school’s success.

Dwaun Warmack is installed as president of Harris-Stowe State University in April 2015.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Dwuan Warmack says his focus as president of Harris-Stowe State University is hard to forget, because it’s young men just like him.

At Friday’s formal installation in the position that he took over last July, Warmack noted that he didn’t have the best grades or the highest test scores in high school. “All the indicators said I wasn’t college material,” he told a crowd of friends, family and colleagues at the festivities, which included tributes, a bit of history and a video explaining to his young daughter why he wears a bow tie.