Impact of Adams v. Richardson on white student enrollment at public historically black colleges and universities, 1976-1984

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The primary purpose of this study was to investigate (1) the degree of compliance by PHBCU in meeting the white student enrollment standards in the Adams States that took place between 1976-1984; (2) the implementation of Adams v Richardson between 1976-1984 based on the enrollment of white students at PHBCU; and (3) the implementation of Adams v Richardson as determined by mandated State plans between 1976-1984.

Data were generated from two principal sources. They were:

  1. State plans for complying with the Adams decision.

  2. Refined HEGIS enrollment data by race and level of instruction.

Results can be summarized as follows: (1) The PHBCUs varied widely in their reports of compliance. They implemented a variety of strategies to recruit white students. The form and pattern used varied considerably from one campus to another. (2) Nonetheless, the percent of overall white enrollment in the 25 PHBCUs increased from 6,729 or 7.3% of total PHBCU enrollment in 1976 to 8,119 or 9.6% of total enrollment in 1984, an increase in those years of about 20% (Table 23). (3) At the same time, white student enrollment in all classes of principally black institutions in the ten Adams states increased from 13,108 students in 1976 to 18,547 in 1984, an increase of 42% during this period (Table 15). (4) Similarly, white student enrollment increased by about 41% in all classes of principally black institutions nationwide during this same period (Table 5). (5) Accordingly, whatever benefits from the Adams decision that may have accrued to the PHBCU seem to have been accelerated in other classes of black institutions. (6) The evidence from this study does not support the conclusion that the Adams decision materially improved or enhanced the planning process in the PHBCUs. It may well have done so, but the evidence is not forthcoming from this study to support any firm conclusion in that regard. (7) What seems clear, however, is that the Adams decision drew positive attention to a need for institutional and statewide planning in all classes of black institutions, particularly in the Adams states, and to the need for systematic development of information, and for conscientious monitoring and assessment of results. It would appear that all classes of black institutions, not solely the PHBCU targeted by the Adams decision, were attentive to the message conveyed by the decision.