Dr. C. Reynold Verrett, president of Xavier University of Louisiana (left), Clarence A. Johnson a member of the Senior Executive Service for the Department of Defense, Dr. W. Franklin Evans, president of Voorhees College, and Dr. Michael Stubblefield, vice chancellor of Southern University discussed ways to create new revenue streams during a roundtable session at the 2017 NSPAA Technical Workshop in New Orleans. (Watch the video)

HBCUs Should Be Pursuing More Contracts



“Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer, IP Office Set-Up Patents, Commercialization and Marketing”
Presenter: Jacob Choi., Assistant Regional Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office

“Leveraging Technology Transfer to Enhance University Research and Economic Development”
Presenter: Nicole Baute Honoree, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Economic Development & Strategic Initiatives RTTP, LSU Health New Orleans


Historically Black Colleges and Universities are at a crossroads. Some are dealing with declining enrollment; others are facing declining graduation and retention rates. In some instances these challenges are impacted by such factors as decreases in funding at the state and federal levels.

During 22nd Annual Technical Assistance Workshop Series sponsored by the National Sponsored Programs Administrators Alliance, HBCU leaders were asked to address the most important steps that sponsored programs and research can take to reach higher levels of financial security for their institutions.

“Eight out of ten of our HBCUs, no matter which ten you select are struggling. That’s problematic,” said Dr. W. Franklin Evans, president of Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina.

“We have to do things very differently. If we continue to do things as we have done them for the past 100 years, how can we be ready to face the challenges facing us right now?”

Evans added, “We can’t sit passively and expect change to happen by osmosis.”

Southern University has been successful in creating new revenue streams. It started with the school’s Center for Energy and Environmental Studies. Structured with the capability of invoicing and billing, the center pursued contract opportunities related to engineering.  According to Vice Chancellor Michael Stubblefield, the university’s proficiency in executing contracts led to expanding the initiative to other areas of the campus.


“We actually had a project with the Army Corps of Engineers that was archeological in nature. That means we engaged professors from our history department,” Stubblefield said, explaining that the next step was creating the Southern University System Research Corporation, which allows the institution to facilitate joint ventures with other entities.

“One of the things that we did at Southern was go through the process of being a protégée in a mentor-protégé program. Southern is a protégé in the U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Lab program,” Stubblefield said.

A senior government official on the panel emphasized the value of university staff and faculty developing the capability to perform contracts.

“It is easy to say that we don’t have the knowledge,” said Clarence Johnson, a member of the Senior Executive Service who is responsible for the development and execution of diversity management in the Department of Defense. “But the question is how do we get it?”


According to Johnson, it is important for institutions that don’t have staff in place to learn from those who do. Since the Department of Defense launched its Pentagon to the People program in 2014, several HBCUs have been successful in securing contracts to provide services to the government.


Contracts expert Latonia Jones explains how the Knowledge Sharing Center prepares HBCUs to compete for government contracts.
(watch the video)

Following the roundtable discussion, government contracting specialist Latonia Jones presented information on a new portal that brings HBCUs together to prepare for contract-based projects. The Knowledge

“We need to participate in more federal government contract opportunities,” Jones said, adding that many times when she contacts an HBCU about an open contract the person answering the phone doesn’t know how to direct the call.

“They send me to the office of sponsored programs. They send me to the VP of finance.  But we never get an answer.”

Consequently, HBCUs miss the chance to participate.

That’s why Alabama A&M University created the AAMU-RISE Foundation. RISE is the acronym for Research, Innovation, Science, and Engineering. Jones has teamed with the AAMU-RISE Foundation to assist HBCUs in obtaining research and development contracts from the federal government.

“When you create a 501c3 corporation that focuses on contracts, then you get the right person every time,” Jones said.

According to Jones, although grants to universities are declining, contract opportunities from the Department of Defense increased by 7 percent in 2016.

“It’s a no-brainer that we should be moving into doing more contracts,” Jones said.


More Presentations

“Small Business and Turbo Venture Centers: Utilizing Universities to Help Build Business” Presenter: Michael Hawkins, Program Manager, Steel Point Solutions, LLC

 “Development of Centers of Excellence”
Presenter: Shaik Jeelani,Ph.D., Vice President for Research Tuskegee University

“Developing Successful Contract Proposals”  Presenter: Dannie James, President JE Group, LLC

“Developing a Foundation for Proficient Research and Development Government Contract Execution”
Presenter: Latonia Jones, President and CEO of Phenomenal Media Productions, Contracts Administration and Management Expert, Alabama A&M Research, Innovation, Science and Engineering (AAMU-RISE) Foundation

“Managing Financial Assistance Awards”
Rosetta Rodwell Bisiriyu, Team Leader, Office of Headquarters Procurement Services, Department of Energy

“Managing Contracts with Department of Energy”
Presenter: Marie Sepe, PhD, Procuring Contracting Officer and Team Lead Division A-2, Office of Headquarters Procurement, Department of Energy

“Building Infrastructure For Government Contracts”
Presenters: John Pierre, Esq., Chancellor and Susan Nelson, Esq., Interim Director for External Affairs, Southern University Law Center

Expanding your R&D Portfolio Beyond Grants
Presenter: Daryush Ila, Ph.D., Associate Vice Chancellor for Research & Technology Transfer, Fayetteville State University

Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity (Contracting Basics)
Presenter: Daniel R. Farmer, President – Technology Management Training Group, Inc.