This article covers a proposal by Morehouse College president Walter Massey that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) should attempt to raise funds for their own technological development by embracing their rights under the 1980 Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act (better known as the Bayh/Dole Act). This law allows the US federal government to engage in exclusive contracts with universities and non-profit businesses, for the purposes of developing and commercializing inventions created under the auspices of federally funded research. Universities may then gain a financial return on their discoveries by filing a claim of ownership. Massey desires that more of these contracts be granted to HBCUs, in the hopes that they can become independent, self-funding entities. He points to the example of Stanford University, and how the research developed there was instrumental to the creation of the Silicon Valley industry. Both US business and Stanford profited, and continue to profit, from that particular partnership. Massey admits that there are flaws in his plan -- primarily that the amount of time and initial financial investment required to see a return is out of the reach for many HBCUs. The administration at other HBCUs, and in particular, by Eric Sheppard, of Hampton University, have proposed a shared "pool" of technological resources, with Bayh/Dole-related profits split between the entities involved. This requires a smaller initial investment, and allows more research to be done over a shorter amount of time.
This is relevant to my paper in that it demonstrates two proposals for making HBCUs technologically competative, and, more importantly, self-reliant in terms of development and technology funding over a long-term period. While the plan itself requires federal (or privately granted) funding to begin, it moves beyond a system where these schools are reliant on outside sources of financial support to grow and evolve their technological needs.