Johnson C Smith

Marshall Terry / WFAE

Johnson C. Smith University has a new president. Clarence Armbrister joined the university last month. Although he’s spent several years in university administration, he didn’t exactly come up the usual academia ranks. Armbrister is a lawyer with a finance background. He’s worked as treasurer for the city of Philadelphia, as chief of staff for one of the city’s mayor, and as managing director for the city’s school. Armbrister is taking over the historically black university at a challenging time. 

JCSU

Johnson C. Smith University has received $1.8 million in grants to expand its STEM program and expose students at two schools in west Charlotte to computer science and other forms of technology.

Robert Lahser / Charlotte Observer

Every year universities compete to lure a graduation speaker that will put them in the spotlight. This year Rutgers got President Obama. Johns Hopkins got Spike Lee. And who landed Oprah? Not a big-name school, but Charlotte's own Johnson C. Smith University. She gave a much-anticipated send off to about 300 students on Sunday.

Lisa Worf / WFAE

North Carolina has one of the highest numbers of historically black colleges and universities in the country. Over the past few years many of their enrollment numbers have declined. There are multiple reasons for that. They include tighter requirements on some federal loans, higher admissions standards, and competition from schools that were long closed to African Americans. The history and future of HBCUs are the subject of Thursday's Charlotte Talks.

In this story, WFAE's Lisa Worf looks at how the state’s public and private HBCUs are trying to distinguish themselves.

Courtesy of Wingate University

College is hard for many students and families to afford. But take federal financial aid out of the picture, plus in-state rates for public colleges and paying for school becomes nearly impossible. That’s the challenge for students in North Carolina who are here illegally or have deferred status. Some private colleges in the Charlotte area are reaching out to these students.