President Obama Needs the Help of HBCUs

President Obama Needs the Help of HBCUs

Over the weekend his staff met with Black college and university officials to discuss how to become more globally competitive.

Published July 11, 2011

President Obama is calling on Historically Black Colleges and Universities to do less talk and more action.


Over the weekend White House executives met with six HBCU presidents to discuss the president’s initiative to obtain around eight million more graduates with around two million of them being African-American and about 200,000 coming from HBCUs.


"That is a big challenge," John S. Wilson, Jr., executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities told the presidents at the recent Southern Education Fund conference. "That means we have to go from around 36,000 a year of graduates from HBCUs to somewhere north of 50,000 a year by 2020."


The president’s goal is an effort to regain a global leadership position in higher education in the United States. Wilson says that HBCUs will need to play a “major role” in helping to accomplish this mission.


College and University presidents in attendance included Charlie Nelms of North Carolina Central University; Mary Evans Silas of Kentucky State University; David Wilson of Morgan State University; Carlton Brown of Clark- Atlanta University; Beverly Hogan of Tougaloo College; and Walter Kimbrough of Philander Smith College.


Currently 17 percent of all Black college degree recipients graduate from HBCUs. North Carolina Central University Chancellor Charlie Nelms says that HBCUs need to take more action and make critical changes, however.


"We have to raise our standards, not just for students, but for faculty, staff, presidents, chancellors and trustees," she said at the conference. "We have to hold ourselves to a higher level of accountability. We have to reform gateway courses. We have too many students who are not making it through their basic courses and they are not able to go on to their majors."


The presidents agreed in order to reach those numbers, they have a daunting task ahead of them.



(Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Written by Danielle Wright


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