Frustrated by the university's reputation in Houston, Texas Southern University president John Rudley is aggressively courting students from out of state. "A lot of local kids, had such a negative opinion of Texas Southern," said Rudley. "I couldn't get them to come here."
California and Louisiana have proven especially fertile recruiting territory. But Rudley has also pursued students from his hometown of Benton Harbor, Mich., arguing that Texas' largest historically black university had something to offer students from a small town in an economically depressed state. Now there are nearly three dozen TSU students from Benton Harbor, population 11,000.
Other historically black schools also are recruiting from outside their geographic regions in an attempt to grow enrollment, said Marybeth Gasman, an associate professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania who studies the schools.
Many of the schools, including Texas Southern, have relatively low admission standards as part of a commitment to make higher education more accessible. But Rudley also has launched scholarships and special programs for honors students in order to attract better students.