On Feb. 6, 2017, I had an important conversation with Cheryl Smith, our United Negro College Fund (UNCF) senior vice-president for Public Policy & Government Affairs, regarding the president's planned agenda for higher education. On Feb. 3, President Donald Trump's representatives from the U.S. Department of Education extended an invitation to the presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to attend a meeting at the White House on Feb. 27, and to meet with Speaker Paul Ryan and congressional representatives on Feb. 28.
The purpose of the meeting is to confirm a national agenda to assist HBCUs in continuing and strengthening — their contribution to the nation's graduation rates. While HBCUs make up only 3 percent of all institutions of higher education in America, HBCUs graduate annually 21 percent of all African Americans that receive Bachelor’s Degrees from all institutions.
The White House has informed us that they are working on a new and stronger executive order on HBCUs. The UNCF Government Affairs Office, along with HBCU partner organizations, provided input to White House staff on the top priorities for a new HBCU Executive Order, including a request to increase Pell grant funding.
I will be attending the meetings in Washington, D.C., and will keep you informed of any and all developments affecting our Oakwood mission. And by all means, please say a special prayer for the Feb. 27-28 meetings.
— Leslie N. Pollard, Ph.D., D.Min., MBA, Oakwood Univeristy president