Shaw Univ. & St. Augustine’s Univ. (Raleigh’s HBCUs)

A potentially sleeping driver of more economic activity for downtown could come from Shaw and St. Aug’s. I secretly cheer for them and want to see them thrive rather than close. I wish this was a topic I was closer to but wanted to start a topic here to see if anyone out there had any insight into these colleges, their state, and predictions about their future.


I have thought for years that to stay viable, they need to combine together. I would love to see more students at the Shaw campus downtown and the property that is currently occupied by St. Augustine’s redeveloped, right not it is rather sad IMO.

I don’t have any personal knowledge, just my 2 cents after hearing all the financial troubles of these schools over the years I have lived in Raleigh.

It’s good to see St. Aug taken off of probation; now they need to figure out how to grow. At their current size, finances are always going to be their struggle. Maybe a partnership with industry to grow programs and prominence of the university? Even a We-Work type partnership to infuse a start-up or incubator culture might help the university move forward. Whatever happens, it needs to grow because the economics just can’t work at their current tiny scale.


Shaw university is a mixed back. Some older buildings are among the nicest old structures we have in Raleigh IMO eg Estey Hall - But the complex between Blount and Person reminds me of Eastern Europe after the iron curtain came down. Sell the land and locate that outside of the city core

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They need to diversify their student population, period. The reasons for the HBCUs creation are no longer here (meaning denial of access to ‘white’ colleges) plus when you look at the fact that NC Central, A&T, Fayetteville St. and Elizabeth City State U are all considered HBCUs BUT they receive State funding makes it even more difficult or Shaw or St.Aug to survive with their current business model of being 99% one demographic. African Americans are no longer denied access to the NC States, UNCs, Harvards, etc of the world. The economics no longer work. The degrees they produce are…eh. I personally know that Shaw also struggles constantly. Have friends who were professors there and they could barely make payroll, oftentimes telling the faculty they would have to ‘wait’ to deposit their paychecks. What viable university does this? Shaw has somewhat gained better financial footing but the long-term prospects for both of these schools is not very good. The fact that St. Aug. gained what is probably nothing more than a temporary reprieve (unless they change their business model), they’ve just kicked the can down the road and a huge tract of potentially prime real estate will just sit for years to come in less than ideal condition…IMO.


100% agree. All but the richest small colleges are struggling.

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Setting aside all of the financial aspects of the HBCUs, people don’t attend just because they are denied access to other colleges but because they often feel unwelcome or uncomfortable at such institutions. As for diversifying their student population I believe anyone is able to attend.


I totally agree, @JosABanks often times AA students do feel unwelcomed or looked over at non HBCUs. Imagine paying tuition to UNC and they don’t even have the power to remove Silent Sam and never did remove it when they did have the power (before the 2015 law). HBCUs serve a very special purpose for a community of folks and maybe this is where some will shine and fly and discover themselves and their place in the bigger world. Like you said, any population can attend, which I would welcome. I’m sure no one who meets the academic requirements would be turned away. I root for both of these institutions also and hope they find their footing in this environment. I am a little biased as I am building a house 2 blocks from St. Aug and I teach in higher education parttime at NCCU and full time at a non HBCU.


Shaw and St. Aug still have something to contribute to Raleigh. Both physically and fiscally may benefit from visioning and master planning. Resources are certainly limited but I don’t think either school should close. The land and locations alone could be an impetus for creative collaborations for funding and educational programming that is not addressed at the larger PWIs.

It’s weird to have places in downtown Raleigh where people are shunned because of their race. Are Chinese students welcomed at Shaw? How’s it going to be for a Hispanic person there. Whites? And so on. But everyone’s welcomed at the non HBCU schools. Diversity for everyone else, but not for the HBCUs?

It would be great to see a campus like Shaw leverage its location better. If they could do a Centennial Campus style setup to collaborate with the nearby downtown operations… like Redhat, just a stones throw away. Or Pendo. Now tech is not Shaw’s strength, but they do have a strong Law program. If they could work a ‘Center of Excellence’ with the numerous law firms downtown somehow.

Shaw’s music program is notable, and could anchor some festivals perhaps? My wife and I did a volunteer stint (phone duty) at 88.9 for one of their Jazz shows. Fun! I think they could get some traction as being a organizing a music festival in downtown…


Shaw University does not have a Law school…are you thinking of NCCU???

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I’ve often thought that Shaw could optimize their location better by developing a strong arts component for visual and performing arts and offering a masters level arts education. It could take advantage of the downtown location for its resources and it would be great for downtown to have a large group of art students living there. African American art in all forms is very popular right now but it would be nice for them to be open to a diverse student population.


As we’ve covered in this thread, Shaw University has such a cool location. Nestled right on the edge of the downtown business core.

In this pic, you can see the ‘shaw U’ spelled out in the lawn in front of one of the two white towers on their campus. Pretty unremarkable soviet style dorms.

I was noticing on a Nashville thread how Vanderbilt is tearing down the 4 dorm towers there and replacing with these timeless brick/granite classical structures (pics below), anchored with a stunning 20 story tower with an intricate dome.

Of course Vandy is rich, and Shaw struggles to keep the lights on and make payroll. If only they could take on their own campus upgrade and boost the Raleigh skyline in that area.


I am no expert on this stuff, but it has certainly struck me that as the population of NC grows, many of the smaller colleges do have an opportunity to increase their stature. I think each school needs to have a niche. Partnerships with outside businesses and organizations seem like a good idea.


That reminds me of this article, which documented the (beautiful) traditional architecture still practiced by Ivy League schools in the northeast.

Vanderbilt is definitely more financially able to do that kind of thing than Shaw, but someday those dorms will have to be replaced. I hope that Shaw will have the resources and the growth they need at that time to make an architectural statement.


3 posts were split to a new topic: NCSU Developments

Interesting subscriber article in TBJ regarding Shaw and St. Augustine’s. It discusses how the two schools are traditionally rivals but are working together by sharing resources to reduce costs.

As has been noted, they are land rich but cash poor. I would really like to see the schools succeed, especially Shaw with its amazing location and rich history. Estey Hall at Shaw was the first building constructed for higher education of black women in the entire US. SNCC was organized on campus and played a big role in the Freedom Rides. These are major events in US history and I think Raleigh could do more to promote them.


They aren’t allowed to deny and they don’t deny other races from attending.

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This is a simple fact which is also my opinion. Some HBCUs are underfunded by state governments and are losing money due to the fact that not many people want to go to them because of stereotypes and etc. Racial integration at PWIs has caused this, as well as, the change in the societal view on HBCUs and their presence. Many people, especially non-African Americans and even African Americans tend to believe that HBCUs are less than or unaccredited compared to PWIs, which, is not true.


Anyone is able to attend.

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