How will HBCUs work with the Trump administration?

Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr.

How will HBCUs work with the Trump administration?
January 26
06:30 2017

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As of Friday, Jan. 20, it is a new world for the 107 historically black colleges and universities across the country and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Donald J. Trump is now the new Republican president, and many in the black academic world are either very hopeful for a fruitful relationship, or so cautious about what the change in executive leadership in Washington, D.C. means, they’re very much in a wait-and-see mode.

“At this time, it is premature for us to comment,” Jay R. Davis, director of Communications and Media Relations for Winston-Salem State University, said Tuesday when contacted to comment for this story. Other North Carolina HBCUs –there are five public and five private HBCUs in the state – that were also contacted did not offer comment by press time.

But in a Dec. 8, 2016, story for McClatchy Newspapers, Ronald Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, said, ““I think it’s a bit premature to try to guess or deduce what he’ll do and what the priorities will be for higher education in general and historically black colleges and universities in particular.”

The news organization also reported that since Trump’s dramatic win in November, HBCU officials and Trump advisers have been huddling, having discussions that some participants describe as listening sessions and sales pitches for the incoming administration to heavily invest in the 100-plus HBCU campuses, which are home to about 300,000 students.

It also helps that Omarosa Manigault, seen as President Donald Trump’s closest black adviser, and White House liaison to the African-American community, graduated from Central State University in Ohio. She attended a meeting of HBCU presidents at the National Association of Equal Opportunity in Higher Education in Atlanta last month.

Had former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the presidency, she promised to create a $25 billion fund to help HBCUs. Now the question is what is Trump willing to do to show his support now that he’s in office, and should HBCUs reach out to him?

“It is vital that North Carolina A&T State University maintain a healthy relationship with the executive branch,” Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, said in a statement Tuesday.

“Like universities and colleges across the country, we are watching closely the confirmation process for the Secretary of Education nominee (Betsy Devos).  We will also be monitoring work later this year toward re-authorization of the Higher Education Act, which will be critically important to A&T and our peers across North Carolina and the country.”

Chancellor Martin, named the nation’s most influential leader of an HBCU by HBCU Digest, continued, “As the nation’s largest historically black university, A&T recognizes that these issues and others impact many students at our university and campuses around the United States.  We look forward to working with officials in the new administration as we continue to provide an outstanding education for our students at A&T and enhance the impact of our research and outreach on our community and the region.”

As of the fall of 2014, the university had 10,725 students.

There is one hopeful sign, observers say. Pres. Trump has proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to help rebuild roads and bridges across the nation.

Rep. Alma Adams [D-NC-12] told McClatchy in December, “I would hope the incoming president would carve out somewhere in his infrastructure program a niche for HBCUs,” she said in an interview. “We clearly need work on these campuses.”

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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