About  |  Schedule  |  Committee Members

This summit, in partnership with MERLOT and Tennessee State University, has been designed for educators at HBCUs to engage in key strategies and outcomes that create access to online education in support of student success. Focusing on the quality characteristics of online learning as well as digital strategies prioritized by HBCUs in their work in online education, this multipart summit uses actionable design practices and collaborative work to create a community of practice supporting work well beyond the conference.

Join us for two distinct events as part of the HBCU Summit, as well as special networking opportunities for educators from HBCUs across the nation.

Summit Speakers


  • President Leslie Pollard, Oakwood University
  • Dr. Robbie Melton, Tennessee State University
  • Dr. Prudence Pollard, Oakwood University
  • Dr. Carl Pettis, Alabama State University
  • Ms. Cheri Wilson, Oakwood University


  • Dr. D’Nita Andrews Graham, Norfolk State University
  • Dr. Kim Cliett Long, Adult Learners NOW
  • Dr. Gerry Hanley, California State University – Long Beach and MERLOT
  • Ms. Angela Gunder, Online Learning Consortium

Friday, March 12

Part One: Affordable Learning Solutions for HBCUs – Sharing Practices, Tools, and Resources

The 5th Annual Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) for HBCUs workshop will feature HBCU faculty, staff, and administrators sharing their practices for supporting faculty changing to no-cost and low-cost digital course materials, including OER, and saving students thousands of dollars. The workshop will include demonstrations and practice using MERLOT and SkillsCommons to support adopting no-cost course materials as well guidelines for planning your own AL$ program for your own campus.

Outline of Activities


  • Dr. Robbie Melton, Tennessee State University


  • Dr. Gerry Hanley, California State University – Long Beach and MERLOT

Morning Session: Friday, March 12 from 9:00AM – 12:00PM CT

  • What is Affordable Learning Solutions and what difference can it make at your campus?
  • Institutional showcases of AL$ programs
  • Lessons learned and recommended requirements
  • Participants discussing and identifying opportunities for developing their AL$ plans

Afternoon Session: Friday, March 12 from 1:00PM – 4:00PM CT

  • More institutional showcases
  • Measuring the impact of your program: Dollars saved
  • Building your institutional capacities for AL$
  • More lessons learned and recommended requirements
  • Participants draft their AL$ plans for their campus

This pre-conference workshop is free for registered conference attendees interested in Affordable Learning Solutions for HBCUs. Access will be granted through the conference platform on Friday, March 12, 2021 fifteen minutes prior to the session start time. 

Tuesday, March 16

Part Two: Stronger Together – Findings from the HBCU Action Network

On May 14-15, 2020, leaders and change agents from the HBCU community gathered online for the HBCU Action Network Town Hall event to discuss collaborating with shared purpose amidst the challenges exacerbated by COVID-19. Sponsored by the United States Distance Learning Association, the Online Learning Consortium, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and Tennessee State University, this event provided direction and focus to the actions of educators of all roles and levels at HBCUs. As part of the event, the salient themes from the discussions were surfaced and shared as a white paper that will be released at this event. On Tuesday, March 16, join us for three fireside chats examining key focus areas within the white paper led by prominent voices from the HBCU Community.

All sessions listed in Central Time Zone.



Part 1: MARCH 16, 9:00AM – 9:45AM US CT

HBCU Approaches and Opportunities for Student Support

Student support, particularly in the current environment of COVID-19 and social unrest, encompasses a broad swath of challenges and considerations at HBCUs. In this session, we will discuss the challenges and opportunities for student support, ranging from students’ physical and financial ability to attend, equitable access to technology,  their mental and physical health, and the provision of the rich cultural and experiential opportunities at an HBCU.


  • Dr. Prudence Pollard, Vice President for Quality, Research, and Faculty Development, Oakwood University


  • Dr. Kim Cliett Long, Adult Learners NOW

Part 2: MARCH 16, 10:15AM – 11:00AM US CT

Funding Models for HBCUs During and Beyond the Pandemic

HBCUs make up approximately 3 percent of public and private higher education institutions in the United States, and graduate 17 percent of Black undergraduate students, particularly in STEM fields (ACE, 2019). However, they remain underfunded compared to primarily white institutions. Panelists and participants in this session will discuss three primary sources of funding: legislative funding, partnerships, and fundraising. 


  • Dr. Carl Pettis, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Alabama State University
  • Ms. Cheri Wilson, Associate Director of Development, Oakwood University


  • Dr. Kim Cliett Long, Adult Learners NOW

Part 3: MARCH 16, 11:30AM – 12:15PM US CT

Looking at the Operations Landscape Across HBCU Institutions

Providing academic, technical/access/device, and social support for students, as well as course design and delivery and technical/access/device support for faculty emerge as universal challenges. Participants in this session will discuss operations, including infrastructure, logistics and implementation, and student and faculty support as key areas impacted by the pandemic.


  • President Leslie Pollard, President, Oakwood University


  • Dr. Kim Cliett Long, Adult Learners NOW



Registration for this event is included in your conference registration. All sessions will be available for on-demand viewing for one (1) year post-conference.


More Information

Please contact Angela Gunder at angela.gunder@onlinelearning-c.org with any questions.

Planning Committee

Special thanks to the members of the planning committee for their efforts organizing this event:

Robbie Melton
Robbie Melton, Graduate Dean, P.I. HBCU C2 Everyone Can Code, Tennessee State University
D'Nita Andrews Graham
D’Nita Andrews Graham, Assistant Professor, Norfolk State University
Kim Cliett Long
Kim Cliett Long, President, Adult Learners NOW
Angela Gunder
Angela Gunder, Chief Knowledge Officer, Online Learning Consortium
Gerry Hanley
Gerry Hanley, Executive Director, MERLOT & SkillsCommons; Director, CUDA lab at Cal State University, Long Beach

Sponsored by

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