The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) has announced that Princeton University is partnering with five historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to enable research collaborations. During the initial phase, Princeton researchers and researchers from Howard University, Jackson State University, Prairie View A&M University, Spelman College, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore will co-lead research projects.
UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. These projects will be funded by Princeton University through its Princeton Alliance for Collaborative Research and Innovation (PACRI). The initiative’s aim is to fund multiple collaborative projects each year between Princeton and each partnering institution.
“UNCF is excited to support this groundbreaking initiative connecting Princeton University faculty and research faculty at HBCUs,” said Chad Womack, Ph.D., senior director of National STEM Programs and Initiatives, UNCF, in a statement.
“PACRI [Princeton Alliance for Collaborative Research and Innovation] will provide much-needed funding to help establish sustainable research collaborations between Princeton and HBCU faculty across a variety of HBCU campuses,” Womack continued. “We’re proud to partner with the PACRI team at Princeton to support engagement with leadership and faculty and to assist in the selection of HBCU campuses and then proposals via the RFP process,” Womack said.
“Collaboration is a powerful force for new ideas and creativity in research and scholarship,” said Princeton’s Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti.
Echoing Debenedetti’s enthusiasm, Vice Dean for Innovation Rodney Priestley, the Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith professor of chemical and biological engineering and a co-leader of the PACRI program, said, “We highly value partnerships at Princeton, whether they are with other academic institutions, industry, governments or nonprofits. We believe that these collaborations enable Princeton researchers and innovators to achieve things that we cannot achieve alone.”
Priestley explained that the new PACRI program is similar to other Princeton funding programs that foster collaborations unlikely to happen without the support. According to Priestley, these “innovation fund” programs are popular with Princeton faculty. “In some cases, researchers have been able to establish foundational work that could then attract greater funding. I am looking forward to seeing what will come out of these teams.”
Tod Hamilton, associate professor of sociology and acting director of the Office of Population Research, is co-leading PACRI with Priestley. He notes that research collaborations, particularly those that cross-disciplinary and institutional boundaries are critical to generating cutting-edge insights needed to advance the frontier of knowledge within the academy and broader society. “We all benefit from initiatives that facilitate the exchange of ideas and remove barriers to innovation,” Hamilton said.
Princeton worked with UNCF to help get the program off the ground, enlisting their assistance to identify partners in this inaugural year.
UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20% of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs.
Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, ‟A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”