The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will now be housed in the White House instead of the Department of Education (ED), following an executive order on HBCUs signed by President Donald Trump on Tuesday.
The order came at the end of a two-day convening of HBCU leaders on Capitol Hill, which was dubbed the “HBCU Fly-In.” Ninety HBCU presidents were in attendance, meeting with the president, senior White House staff, and congressional leaders. The Fly-In was an opportunity for HBCU presidents to discuss the future of their institutions and sector with the president and members of Congress.
Several organizations that advocate for HBCUs worked with the White House to craft the order, and while they were successful in getting the initiative moved to the White House, they did not receive the increase in federal funds for HBCUs that was also requested.
Johnny C. Taylor, president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), one of the organizations that worked on the order, told Diverse: Issues in Higher Education that HBCUs were requesting a $25 billion one-time investment to help jumpstart infrastructure development on all 101 accredited HBCU campuses in the U.S. Other funding priorities include the restoration of the year-round Pell Grant, funding to help restore historic buildings on HBCU campuses, and funding to invest in technology infrastructure on campuses.
House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) praised the executive order in a statement, saying that it is “encouraging” that the White House is supporting HBCUs. However, reports of a decrease in federal support for domestic programs, including HBCUs and other federal education programs, are “alarming,” Scott said, adding that “institutions of higher education – and especially HBCUs – need more robust investment, not less.”
“These institutions merit robust investment and their students deserve a strong federal commitment to grant aid, such as Pell Grants, and wrap around services designed to get them in and through college. Student support programs such as TRIO, GEAR UP, and Federal Work-Study are critical to student success,” Scott said in his statement. “As the budget process evolves, I encourage the Administration to reinforce its support for this new Executive Order by offering and securing real investments for HBCUs, our public education system and the students and families who they serve.”
Publication Date: 3/2/2017