HBCU Leaders Meet at White House Amid Strained Ties

The presidents of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) made their second visit to the White House amid simmering agitation with the Trump administration, reported NPR. The annual gathering was reduced to a two-day summit, further aggravating college officials already frustrated with the administration's slow pace on keeping its commitments.

Advocates for the schools say there has been little to no support from the White House and what they call a lack of understanding of the financial straits some schools are facing. Additionally, leaders took issue with President Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va. and his questioning of the constitutionality of federal funding that HBCUs receive for construction projects. "It benefits schools on the basis of race," the president said back in May.

Of the 107 HBCUs across the country, only leaders from 29 attended, NPR reported.

President Trump was not at the White House to greet HBCU leaders, as his schedule put him in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.

Earlier this week, President Trump appointed Johnathan M. Holifield, a former NFL player turned business consultant, to head up an advisory board that will work with HBCUs. Holifield has experience in the private sector but very limited background in government or with the institutions he will be working to advance. Organizations representing historically black colleges offered tentative praise of the pick, Inside Higher Ed reported. But commentators on issues affecting minority institutions were quick to note Holifield's lack of experience working with HBCUs.

 

Related Links

NPR

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/09/19/552121259/trump-and-most-black-college-presidents-absent-from-annual-meeting

Inside Higher Ed

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/09/19/white-house-goes-nontraditional-pick-lead-hbcu-initiative