UNCF-Member Presidents Meet with President Trump in Oval Office

Vice President Pence and Education Secretary DeVos participate in subsequent “listening session”

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Ashlei Stevens UNCF Communications
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WASHINGTON—UNCF and 32 of its 37 member-institution presidents participated in an unprecedented meeting in the Oval Office with President Donald J. Trump, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and other top administration leaders Monday afternoon to discuss areas of collaboration between the nation’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and the federal government. They also discussed ways in which HBCUs can continue to drive positive change in their communities. Immediately following the meeting with President Trump, nearly 90 HBCU presidents participated in a “listening session” with Vice President Mike Pence and DeVos. 

“President Trump’s administration has expressed an interest in partnering with HBCUs. We welcome that interest and are ready to work with the Trump administration and Congress on critical challenges facing HBCUs and the opportunities that lie ahead,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF president and CEO. “Today’s meeting was an important first step toward building a working relationship between the administration, UNCF and America’s HBCUs. We look forward to continued dialogue and meaningful actions to advance HBCUs, including additional resources and investments that will expand the capacity of these historic institutions, which currently produce nearly 20 percent of the nation’s skilled African American undergraduates.” 

Additional White House advisers attending the Oval Office meeting included: Reince Priebus, chief of staff; Steve Bannon, senior counselor and strategist; Stephen Miller, senior adviser for policy; Kellyanne Conway, counselor; Omarosa Manigault, assistant to the president and director of communications for the office of public liaison; and Ja’Ron Smith of the Domestic Policy Council. 

UNCF’s HBCU-coalition partners, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), also attended Monday’s meetings. The HBCU coalition previously provided input to White House staff on the development of a new executive order on HBCUs. The HBCU coalition collectively, and UNCF individually, recommended several key proposals for White House consideration in drafting a new and strong executive order, which the White House has indicated will be released Feb. 28, while UNCF presidents are attending a bi-partisan Congressional “HBCU Fly-in.” 

In December 2016, UNCF prepared and submitted “A Memo to President-elect Donald Trump: Ten Ways to Invest in Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” which laid out a substantive 10-point plan in support of HBCUs. For further impact, UNCF provided to the new administration “Six Top Priorities” for consideration in the development of the federal FY 2018 budget. 

“We want to ensure that more African American students have the opportunity to go to and through college and on to successful careers, and that our colleges and universities, which for 150 years have provided college opportunity for these students, not only survive, but thrive,” said Lomax. “The federal government plays a huge role in financing that opportunity and today’s discussion is a positive first step in affirming that HBCUs matter.” 

Four UNCF-member presidents spoke at today’s listening session with Pence: 

  • Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, Claflin University president, spoke on promises unfulfilled: the need to fully fund Title III programs for HBCUS 
  • Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, Spelman College president, spoke on the role of HBCUs in revitalizing local communities, from working with K-12 public education, to public safety 
  • Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, Florida Memorial University president, emphasized the need for infrastructure investment, particularly in technology, so that HBCUs can do even more to train STEM graduates 
  • Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, Talladega College president, spoke to leveraging HBCUs as centers of excellence, noting the ways the HBCUs could provide professional development opportunities for teachers in the expanding number of charter schools 

For 73 years, UNCF, as a non-partisan organization, has worked with presidents and members of Congress of all political persuasions toward a common goal: ensuring that African American students have the opportunity to go to and through college and on to successful careers. UNCF worked with the previous administration and the Congressional Black Caucus to advance key initiatives, such as the inclusion of HBCUs in America’s College Promise, and the organization is proud of that collaboration.

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Statements from UNCF-Member Presidents

Several UNCF-member presidents prepared formal statements to be presented during the White House meeting. Please note that President Tisdale and President Hawkins delivered remarks but  departed from their prepared remarks. The additional remarks featured below were prepared, but not delivered during the event.

Statement from Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, President, Talladega College

Statement from Dr. Beverly Wade Hogan, President, Tougaloo College

Statement from Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., Ph.D., President, Livingstone College

Statement from Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, President, Dillard University

Statement from Dr. Haywood L. Strickland, President, Wiley College

Statement from Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, President, Claflin University

 

About UNCF
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation's largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students' education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF annually awards $100 million in scholarships and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org, or for continuous news and updates, follow UNCF on Twitter, @UNCF and #HBCUsMatter.