Strengthening Yale’s Partnership with HBCUs

Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Yale is establishing the Alliance for Scholarship, Collaboration, Engagement, Networking, and Development (ASCEND), which will strengthen the university’s partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The initiative will support research collaborations between HBCU and Yale faculty, provide resources for HBCU faculty research, and expand pathway programs for HBCU students.
To:    All Yale Faculty
Cc:    University Cabinet, Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Deans’ Offices
Dear Faculty Colleagues,
On February 16, 2024, President Salovey and Senior Trustee Josh Bekenstein, on behalf of the university, acknowledged Yale’s historical role in and associations with slavery and apologized for the ways Yale’s early leaders participated in slavery. In recognition of this history, including the lost opportunity to establish a Black college in New Haven in 1831, they announced forward-looking commitments to address the university’s past and the effects of slavery in society today. These include expanding Yale’s relationship with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country to increase educational access and excellence in teaching and research.
Today, as part of the continuing work to address our history, we are pleased to announce a significant commitment to strengthen Yale’s partnership with HBCUs, whose missions center on the education of Black Americans. Over the next five years, Yale will commit $2 million annually, for a total of $10 million, to establish the Alliance for Scholarship, Collaboration, Engagement, Networking, and Development (ASCEND). This initiative will deepen the relationship between HBCUs and Yale through bidirectional partnerships centered on research, teaching, and access for students. In particular, ASCEND programming will support research collaborations between HBCU and Yale faculty, provide resources for HBCU faculty research projects, and expand pathway programs for HBCU students. These programs, planned with HBCU partners, commit to increasing representation and amplifying the significant contributions of HBCUs in shaping the academic landscape.
Fostering excellence in teaching and research 
The following programs, which will launch this spring, create dynamic partnerships between HBCU and Yale faculty. 
Faculty collaboration grants will provide funding to HBCU and Yale faculty who conduct research that transcends institutional boundaries, encourages interdisciplinary inquiry, and uses collective expertise to tackle global challenges. These grants encourage faculty to combine their perspectives and scholarly strengths to create novel insights and outcomes.
Spanning over a summer or semester, faculty research fellowships will offer financial support for HBCU faculty members to pursue ambitious research projects at Yale, enabling research collaborations, access to Yale’s collections, and engagement with other university resources. Fellows will be appointed to the appropriate academic department, program, institute, or center at Yale.
Teaching fellowships will support HBCU and Yale faculty who form a collaborative teaching arrangement or offer joint course experiences. These fellowships will also support exploratory projects or research inquiries that arise from partnerships between HBCU and Yale faculty.
Increasing educational access
The ASCEND initiative will also expand existing pathway programs to provide opportunities to more students from HBCUs.
Beginning in 2024, Yale will expand the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program. This program creates opportunities for undergraduates from around the country to explore and prepare for Ph.D.-level careers in research. Yale encourages applications from students attending HBCU partner institutions, as well as students who come from an economically disadvantaged background, are first-generation college students, or have faced significant obstacles in pursuit of higher education.  
Starting this fall, Yale will also increase the number of HBCU graduates who participate in post-baccalaureate programs. Offered through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, these programs give post-baccalaureate fellows the opportunity to conduct independent research under the supervision of a faculty member, meet first-year graduate students, and participate in workshops that prepare them for application to Ph.D. programs. 
To date, Yale has signed institutional agreements with five HBCUs: Claflin University, Hampton University, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T State University, and Tuskegee University. In the coming months, we expect to add to this list of partners.
The commitments we announce today build bridges between academic communities and advance representation across disciplines. We encourage you to participate in these programs and connect with colleagues at partner institutions. To learn more about the opportunities for faculty collaboration described above, please visit the ASCEND webpage. To read about all the actions and commitments stemming from the Yale and Slavery Research Project, please visit the Research Project website.
Scott Strobel
Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
Gary Désir
Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity
Paul B. Beeson Professor of Medicine