UNCF-Member School Xavier of Louisiana President Testifies Before U.S. Senate on HBCU COVID Response

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Khalilah Long UNCF Communications 202.810.0241 khalilah.long@uncf.org

Dr. C. Reynold Verret’s remarks showed U.S. Senators how federal response helped higher education students and their safe return to campus

This morning, the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) conducted held a hearing entitled “COVID-19 Response and Recovery: Supporting the Needs of Students in Higher Education and Lessons on Safely Returning to Campus.” Dr. C. Reynold Verret, president, Xavier University of Louisiana, a UNCF- (United Negro College Fund) member institution, testified of his university’s coronavirus response, how historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have put the historic federal investment to good use and how students from low-income backgrounds have been supported.

“Dr. Verret represented Xavier, the New Orleans community, all UNCF-member institutions—and indeed all HBCUs—with aplomb as he explained the pains experienced by HBCUs and their students while responding to COVID-19,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF. “The disparities we all knew existed were painstakingly clear, and New Orleans was an early ground zero. Our students and institutions benefitted from a strong federal investment, thanks to congressional leadership. Xavier University was an excellent example to explain how HBCUs have bounced back and led to keep so many low-income and first-generation college students on track for higher education degrees.”

“Xavier University of Louisiana’s president, Dr. Verret, a biochemist and immunologist, is also a respected leader in higher education,” said Lodriguez V. Murray, senior vice president for public policy and government affairs, UNCF. “He was uniquely qualified to testify, not just among HBCUs—but among all higher education leaders. Xavier has a track record as the top feeder school for Black Americans into medical and health care careers. He was a leader in the African American community in the early stages of the COVID vaccine rollout. His institution began discussing possible pandemic COVID responses as early as January 2020, and he has led on the health disparities responses that have plagued New Orleans. We are proud of how well he represented our entire community of institutions before the Senate HELP Committee today.”

Dr. Verret joined Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, University of California at Los Angeles; Anthony Harris, a student at Baldwin Wallace University; and Madeline Pumariega, president, Miami Dade College, in providing expert witness testimony before the Senate committee with joint jurisdiction over much of education priorities as well as health responses. View today’s testimony here:  https://www.help.senate.gov/hearings/covid-19-response-and-recovery-supporting-the-needs-of-students-in-higher-education-and-lessons-on-safely-returning-to-campus-on-safely-returning-to-campus. Dr. Verret previously provided congressional testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Education Committee in 2019.

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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, supports and 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 nearly 20% of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF 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 over 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 updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.