In July of this year, Berkeley announced a partnership with Tuskegee University for the study of data and community, a mission that aligns with the long tradition at Tuskegee of using academic rigor to advance its social agenda. “Many times, people underestimate the power of the HBCU [Historically Black Colleges and Universities]. We do more with less. We don’t close our doors to anyone,” Vivian Carter, head of the Department of Psychology and Sociology at Tuskegee, said during a summer panel discussion at Berkeley. “It is not readily known because of the stigma that gets placed on the HBCU. We teach and we do the research.”
The first cohort of 13 Tuskegee Scholars were in residence at Berkeley for eight weeks last summer to take introductory data science courses. In the fall, the course Data 8 was cotaught online by Berkeley and Tuskegee faculty and attended by students from both universities. At the start of fall semester, student instructors from Cal visited Tuskegee to meet students with whom they would work remotely.
“I was happy to see this happen,” said Mary Blackburn, MPH ’65, Ph.D. ’74, a Tuskegee graduate who got her master’s and doctorate at Berkeley. Last summer she mentored data students, two from Tuskegee and two from Spelman College. She recalled in an interview that it was Charles Gomillion himself (see mainbar), then a professor of sociology, along with Luther Foster, president of Tuskegee, who told her she had been accepted at Berkeley in 1963.
“You need to go,” they implored her.