Partnerships for Innovation
Each year, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) sponsors summer research appointments for faculty of HBCUs and other MEIs. The objective is to increase the number of collaborations and to foster long-term relationships between ORNL research staff and HBCU/MEI faculty members.
ORAU recently hosted a colloquium, titled “Engaging STEM HBCU/MI Students in Entrepreneurship,” featuring Sam Altman and Michael Seibel of Y Combinator. Rated by Forbes as the top tech incubator in the United States, Y Combinator has funded more than 700 startups, and three of those startups are now valued at more than $1 billion. The colloquium was co-chaired by ORAU’s Dr. Desmond Stubbs and Dr. Curtis Charles of Fayetteville State University and was attended by 13 councilors of the ORAU HBCU-MEI Council. During the meeting, the two Y Combinator executives gained an understanding of ORAU’s role in STEM education; learned about entrepreneurial programs created by the member universities; shared advice about inspiring entrepreneurship on campus; and discussed immersion experiences that may be possible for HBCU-MEI students at Y Combinator’s “alumni” companies.
What America’s historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving education institutions may lack in material resources for scientific research, they more than make up for in talent, ingenuity and expertise.
ORAU recognizes these capabilities and places a high priority on building relationships between these schools and some of the larger laboratories and research universities in America.
Among the full complement of ORAU member institutions are 28 universities that comprise the Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Minority Education Institutions (HBCU/MEI) Council.
Members of the HBCU/MEI Council are all engaged in leading-edge science and technology and are recognized as competitive and strategic business partners.
The ORAU HBCU/MEI Council is led by a Steering Committee representing three of the Council member institutions:
Below is a list of the schools that are members of ORAU’s HBCU/MEI Council, including the faculty member that serves as each university’s ORAU councilor. You may also view a map to see the geographic locations of each of these institutions.
Curtis B. Charles, Ph.D.
Fayetteville State University HBCU/MEI Council Steering Committee Chair
“My vision is to introduce a new theory of action I’m calling Inclusive Competitiveness as part of the HBCU/MEI Council’s guiding principles. What this looks like in practice will be a renewed focus on broadening participation in our existing networks, and thereby, developing channels that connect HBCU/MEI Council students and faculty to the portfolio of research
opportunities under the ORAU umbrella. Our focus will be to reposition our HBCU/MEI institutions as ‘engines of innovation’ that develop solutions to “wicked” regional, national and global challenges.”
Andres G. Gil, Ph.D.
Florida International University
HBCU/MEI Council Steering Committee Co-Chair
“As co-chair of the Steering Committee, my goals for the HBCU/MEI Council are to foster greater strategic communication and collaboration across all MEIs in order to increase opportunities for faculty and students in key areas such as STEM research and education, high performance computing, and technology transfer and commercialization.”
Michael A. Stubblefield, Ph.D.
Southern University and A&M College
HBCU/MEI Steering Committee Council Co-Chair
“As a Steering Committee Co-Chair, I believe that a strategic effort of the HBCU/MEI should be to create an active linkage between academics and research, relative to undergraduate and graduate student preparation, faculty engagement, and institutional, governmental, and private partnerships. In further strengthening the HBCU/MEI and ORAU partnership, some opportunities can be further emphasized, including:
I am committed to the ORAU and HBCU/MEI partnership and its potential to positively impact the lives of our students and faculty—promoting a climate of scholarly inquiry that values scholarship in all its forms, including the generation, integration and dissemination of knowledge, creative activity, and scholarly reflection.”