VUU President Hakim j. Lucas

by James A. Bacon

Although the appeal of Virginia’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) has been limited mainly to African-Americans, Richmond-based Virginia Union University, founded in 1865 to educate former slaves, is making a major push to recruit Hispanic students.

VUU President Hakim J. Lucas wants the student body to be 25% Hispanic within three years, reports the Richmond Free Press. If it is successful, it would become the first HBCU in the country to earn a federal designation as an “Hispanic-serving institution.” It would be the second such institution in Virginia, following Marymount University in Arlington.

HBCUs face an existential threat from other colleges and universities which are intensifying efforts to recruit minority students, often offering financial aid that less affluent HBCUs are hard-pressed to compete with. But Lucas thinks Virginia Union can make inroads with Hispanics because of their commonality with African-Americans as oppressed minorities. Reports the Free Press:

Dr. Lucas said that increasing the Hispanic presence on campus is in keeping with VUU’s mission to create educational opportunities for those who are left behind and builds on VUU’s rich legacy of involvement in social justice and civil rights.

… Both African-Americans and Latinos “have so much in common in the things we deal with in terms of racism, injustice and unequal opportunities” and in the shared aspirations for advancement.

This will be interesting. Lucas is building VUU’s future on the assumption that all “persons of color” (with the possible exception of Asians) face rampant discrimination and structural racism in the United States today and, thereby, have a commonality of interest. The notion is uncontroversial in academia — but is it widely shared in the Hispanic community?

The influx of Hispanics to Virginia is a recent phenomenon. Hispanics were never subjected to slavery in the U.S., and they had no presence in the Old Dominion during the era of racial segregation. While Hispanics have faced some  prejudice, mainly due to controversies over illegal immigration, they encountered none of the institutional racism that blacks did, and they have been fairly upwardly mobile. That upward mobility has been obscured by the continued in-migration of poor, ill-educated Hispanics from Central America and Mexico, whose presence has depressed the metrics for average education and income.

In the thirteen years between the 2005/o6 school year and the 2018/19 school year, the number of Hispanic students taking the English SOL exams and equivalents surged from about 39,000 to about 112,000, according to Virginia Department of Education data. The newcomers were predominantly poor. Those classified as disadvantaged increased by three-and-a-half times, those classified as non-disadvantaged only two times. In other words, the reason that Hispanics in Virginia are disproportionately poor is due to the massive in-migration (some of it illegal) by ill-educated peasants possessing manual skills — not racism, discrimination and oppression.

Hispanics understand this, even if highly educated academics do not. Hispanics may or may not share the obsession with race that animates the leaders in academe. They are not a monolith. Those whose families fled communism and socialism in Cuba and Venezuela skew Republican. Migrants from Mexico and Central America may vote Blue because Democrats have proven more sympathetic to the cause of illegal immigrants. But an argument can be made that most Hispanics want to assimilate into mainstream society, and that as they do, they are more likely to vote Republican — indeed 32% voted for President Trump in 2020. Republican-voting Hispanics are not likely to share Lucas’ supposition that they share a history of oppression and victimhood with African Americans.

Meanwhile, there’s the reality that every other higher-ed institution wants to increase the enrollment of “people of color,” including Hispanics. The competition for academically qualified Hispanics will be as intense as it is for blacks. And Lucas himself acknowledges that an influx of Hispanics into the VUU campus might create a “culture shock” for African-American students. Frankly, it is an unknown whether Hispanics will feel more comfortable in a black-dominated campus than a white-dominated campus.

I hope Lucas is successful in his endeavor. VUU is an important institution in Virginia and Richmond’s black community. I would love to see VUU find a formula for reinventing itself. I just wonder if his “social justice” blinders aren’t creating unrealistic expectations.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


17 responses to “VUU Gambles on Recruiting Hispanic Students”

  1. DJRippert Avatar

    I’m not sure why this is such a gamble. College enrollment in the US peaked in 2011 and has dropped since. While the drop has not been dramatic it’s noteworthy given that the US population is growing. So, VUU figures it needs more students. They probably do. VUU figures that they probably can’t significantly increase the number of black students they attract so they are entering what would be called an “adjacent market” in business strategy by seeking hispanics.

    Either the hispanics come to VUU or they don’t. Where’s the gamble? What is VUU not going to do while they are recruiting hispanics? What are they giving up?

    I guess they could have focused on poor white students instead of hispanics. Or, they could try to attract more black students knowing that the competition is stiff.

    This seems like a sensible idea to me.,students%20enrolled%20in%20private%20colleges.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      They could scoop up all the Asians that are being discriminated against, no? That’s IT! Send letters to NoVa Asians and invite the ones who were not allowed to enroll in TJ and Loudoun to come to VJJ. Genius!

    2. You make a valid point. I expect that VUU will have to spend some money on marketing and outreach to Hispanics. I guess calling that outreach a “gamble” depends on how much VUU spends. If they’re going to reach 25% Hispanic enrollment within three years, it will have to be a fairly substantial sum.

  2. DJRippert Avatar

    I find it fascinating that some people of the liberal persuasion try to argue that asians are not a race. Every list of races I’ve ever seen has a category for asians. I’ve never seen a category for hispanics.

    Have you ever been to Spain? Are the Spanish hispanic? Seems logical. Have you ever seen the King of Spain? Straight brown hair, blue eyes, fair skin. He’s whiter than I am.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Actually – diversity in both Asian and Hispanic but where in Virginia would they be welcomed more/better than liberal NoVA?

    2. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Hey! Don’t forget melanesian, polynesian, aborigines, mayan, etc. Obviously, the races (3) that we were taught as kids based on 4 of the 7 continents and 1000s of islands were grossly inadequate.

      Don’t forget your 2% Neanderthal… your people.

  3. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    This is a good school with a storied history of successful alumni. Wish them the best in this endeavor.

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        Glad you shared that with me. I had not heard of the Bray School. The Methodists would have approved and encouraged this type of school.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Meh, figured you would appreciate it more than anyone here, right down to the shoddy construction lasting 260 years.

          Consider it a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    Is there a feeling that there are college-qualified Hispanics walking about not being served or is this a fight for the pool that is already out there?

    re: ”
    Lucas is building VUU’s future on the assumption that all “persons of color” (with the possible exception of Asians) face rampant discrimination and structural racism in the United States today and, thereby, have a commonality of interest. ”

    Don’t look now but Asians ARE experiencing ractist attacks. AND from the same type folks that go after blacks and Hispanics.

    1. tmtfairfax Avatar

      But Asians are also being discriminated based on race for many educational opportunities in education from Governor’s Schools to prestigious universities. I suspect that my daughter, who is Korean and born in Korea, may have not gained entrance to the Virginia state universities to which she applied due to her race and, maybe, due to the fact she was adopted by white parents. Since she graduated from NCSU, the point is moot. But I still resent the woke racists in Virginia and elsewhere.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        I thought this interesting:

        Population of Asians by Country of Origin (in thousands), Virginia, 2017

        What metric would you use to decide that “enough” Asians had been accepted?

        1. tmtfairfax Avatar

          GPAs, standardized test scores and significant personal achievements.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            How would we ever know that’s what was done (or not) without seeing all the applicants and all the acceptances?

            Is that something that should be required for all higher ed to provide?

  5. Howard Bergman Avatar
    Howard Bergman

    If the Republican Party were not the home to a significant number of Real Racists, it would be the natural party for Hispanic voters who tend to be more socially conservative, entrepreneurial, religious and family-oriented than the Democratic leadership. Actually, the same is true for many Black voters.

    Sadly, the traditional Republican Party has made the Devil’s bargain with people who believe that the White (Christian) Race is superior and has little desire to work with minorities.

    1. CJBova Avatar

      Want to show us where that fits into the RPV Plan? “Article I, Section A. Qualifications 1. All legal and qualified voters under the laws of the Commonwealth, regardless of race, religion, national origin or sex, who are in accord with the principles of the Republican Party…” The Republican Party has its problems, and IMO, suffers from a lack of strong leadership, but the “Devil’s Bargain” is an attack used by the other party, not a truth.

Leave a Reply