Interview with Charles Epps
QUESTION 29
SAM POLLARD:

Dean Epps, some of the students were saying there was only one negro history course in the school. Do you think more, more courses were necessary, you know, given the traditional mission of the University?

CHARLES EPPS:

Well, I, I, the student's request for more courses is an interesting one because I'm not sure that the number of courses is what's important. I think that if you realize what the--

CHARLES EPPS:

The request by the students for more Black history courses is an interesting one because I think we have to realize what the basic mission of the university is. Of course, you, it's mission is to prepare people in their chosen field. And at the same time you want to stimulate curiosities, ah, make them inquisitive and stimulate their, their, ah, their desire to seek knowledge. Now, the, there, when I was a student there there were two, at least two courses, ah, both taught by Leo Hansberry who was a, a very outstanding professor. I took one of his courses. They were electives by the way. If I understand what the students were asking for was that they wanted a greater emphasis or perhaps even more courses. Now, I believe that the, the primary mission of Howard University is to prepare people to take their roles in life. So that, for example, if you were an engineering student when you finished that four-year course, you should have the skills of an engineer that would make you competitive with a graduate from MIT or, or Drexel or any other of the foremost institutions. If you're a physician you ought to be able to compete with a doctor produced by Yale or Harvard or Stanford or Johns Hopkins. Now in order to achieve that there is a requisite course of material that you, one has to master. Now, to the extent that one has opportunities for elective courses, I think that's fine and, and, and, but there has to be a limit on that. There is no Black medicine. There is medicine. And there are only so many courses that one would need. Now, in a university setting, as you stimulate the intellectual mind and you teach people how to study then the library is there. They are able to pursue any subject to a greater depth if they wish. And I think that's the function of the universities. So, it isn't so important to provide a great number of courses but having properly stimulated the student, to learn about himself and Black people, then he should be able to go on and study to greater depth to his own satisfaction. So, I, I, that's how I reacted to that particular request on their part.