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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Raleigh downtown developers seek HBCU merger, says trustee

Raleigh downtown developers seek HBCU merger, says trustee

A leader at one Raleigh HBCU says that if the powers that be have their way, its two HBCUs would become one.  

Brian Boulware, currently the Chairman of Saint Augustine’s University’s Board of Trustees, released a four-page letter that states that the powers that be in North Carolina’s capital are looking to force a merger between his school and neighboring HBCU Shaw University. According to his letter, the driving force is an effort to seize the downtown land that Shaw University has sat on since its inception back in 1865.

Boulware cited a dinner meeting involving himself, Saint Augustine’s University Interim President Marcus Burgess and “executives of another local higher education institution” along with the owner of a local television station, the former editor of the local newspaper. Both the television owner, editor and a developer were unnamed in his letter, dated June 17.

“Let’s get to the bottom of this,” the television station owner said, according to the document. “Raleigh doesn’t need two black universities. We need the two of them to merge. I don’t care what you call it. However, we need them both on SAU’s property because we need downtown land to expand the development footprint.”

Saint Augustine's University, HBCUSaint Augustine's University, HBCU

According to Boulware, the local developer continued to push the idea, stating that the Raleigh business community felt the same way.

“You have no leverage in the situation. You need to consider this an option.”

Boulware says the other institutions’ president didn’t say much other than she was “going to reserve judgement.” It went on to state that a member of the other university’s board had floated the idea to his predecesor at Saint Aug, but it was not taken seriously.

The letter states that intense dialogue followed along with the rejection of the proposal. Boulware’s letter states that following the dinner “a targeted campaign against SAU ensued.”

Saint Augustine’s University has been in the news frequently over the last fiscal year regarding issues with its finances and accreditation. But Shaw University has fared better, but it does sit on valuable downtown real estate at a time when the city leadership is pushing to reshape the area. 

Earlier this year the Downtown Raleigh Alliance (DRA) brought a plan to revitalize the growing city’s downtown to city leaders. Shaw sits on around 30 acres of downtown real estate. But not for long, if you believe Boulware’s account. 

Raleigh downtown developers seek HBCU merger, says trustee

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