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Local Politician Urges Equal Funding Of Langston University

Monroe Nichols, a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, has called for greater investment into the state’s only HBCU, Langston University, which he argued has been underfunded by $160 million from 2014-2024. Nichols, who is also the chair of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus, is calling on the state to increase the university’s funding to proportionally match Oklahoma State University, also a land grant institution. 

As Fox 25 reported, the material condition of the university is one reason Nichols is calling for the increased funding. Nichols, a Democrat, told the outlet, “We have a four-year institution here in Oklahoma that sometimes can’t have class when it rains outside in 2024. I don’t think there’s anybody who thinks that’s okay.” Nichols continued, saying that the funding discrepancy is “a real signal that we got a real problem there as it relates to how we…support students of color. We know we have not done this right. It’s time for us to begin to make it right and do it on behalf of students.”

According to documents from the university obtained by Fox 25, “Based on comparative data, from 2014-2024, the 1862 Land Grant Institution (Oklahoma State University) was matched at an average rate of 3.14:1 state to federal appropriation. During the same period, Langston University was matched at an average of 0.47:1 state to federal appropriation.”

Nichols is calling for the university to receive $17 million in fiscal year 2025, which would match the amount provided to Oklahoma State University. The university, in addition to Nichols, is requesting $3 million yearly for endowment investments, $40 million for a new agriculture-biotechnology center, and $25 million for its newly acquired Oklahoma City campus. Nichols does not expect securing the requested funding to be an easy task.

In a 2023 letter addressed to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Miguel Cardona, the U.S. Secretary of Education and Thomas J. Vilsack, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, argued that the state’s underfunding of HBCUs like Alabama A&M created a disadvantage for the university. 

“The longstanding and ongoing underinvestment in Alabama A&M University disadvantages the students, faculty, and community that the institution serves. Furthermore, it may contribute to a lack of economic activity that would ultimately benefit Alabama. It is our hope that we can work together to make this institution whole after decades of being underfunded.”

The letter continued, “Unequitable funding of the 1890 institution in your state has caused a severe financial gap, in the last 30 years alone, an additional $527,280,064 would have been available for the university. These funds could have supported infrastructure and student services and would have better positioned the university to compete for research grants. Alabama A&M University has been able to make remarkable strides and would be much stronger and better positioned to serve its students, your state, and the nation if made whole with respect to this funding gap.”

A Langston University spokesperson released the following statement to Fox 25: “Langston University is encouraged by the significant efforts on the part of the legislature toward meeting the mandated match funding research and cooperative extension, further closing the gap of the reported more than $400 million discrepancy in funding since 1987.”

The spokesperson continued, “Langston University continues to communicate routinely with Oklahoma legislators regarding the variety of funding needs including support of academic programs, capital and infrastructure needs, and workforce initiatives. Langston University will continue to engage in discussions with state and federal leadership concerning the needs of the institution as a whole. We remain optimistic these discussions will continue in a positive manner to ensure that we carry out our land-grant mission to provide resources across Oklahoma.”

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