Long before the United Negro College Fund popularized the slogan "a mind is a terrible thing to waste," Tuskegee Institute in Alabama held a unique place in the universe of black higher education. Now this grand old university is experiencing unusually difficult times. Founded in 1891 by Booker T. Washington, the school in recent years has fallen victim to both the vagaries of state education funding and its own substantial growth, which has stretched operating revenues to the limit.
Last week Tuskegee President Benjamin F. Payton announced a drive to raise $150 million for the school by the year 2000. Tuskegee's many alumni in the Baltimore area take great pride in their alma mater, which became world famous as the place where George Washington Carver invented 300 uses for the peanut, and which today is engaged in research for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on how to grow sweet potatoes in outer space. Their support, and that of thousands of others across the country, will help ensure the continuation of Tuskegee's great tradition into the 21st century.