A group of former presidents and chancellors of historically black colleges and universities recently drafted an open letter to President Barack Obama. The group, which calls itself the Alliance of Former Presidents and Chancellors of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, asks the president to take a more active role in strengthening the nation’s HBCUs.
After praising the president’s leadership on other issues, the group stated, “Our concern is that you could leave office without having effected the necessary change in how the state and federal governments view, promote, support, and fund HBCUs. That would be, in our opinion, a tragedy of untold proportion.”
Among the recommendations made by the groups are:
• A return the Office of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities to the White House from its current office space at the Department of Education
• Use of the bully pulpit of the Office of the President to encourage state governments, federal agencies, private foundations, the corporate community, and the general public to support the cause of the HBCUs, their students, and stakeholder communities.
• Encourage White House staff and department secretaries through in-house directives and other forms to explore with HBCUs opportunities for upcoming grants, contracts, and other program support for expanding institutional capacity.
• Have the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice consider Title VI enforcement proceedings against states that are in violation of federal law and related desegregation agreements. The former HBCU leaders note that officials at publicly operated HBCUs are reluctant to press state officials on these matters in fear of cuts in appropriations and therefore it is essential that the federal government make sure that funding is equal.
Here is a list of the members of the alliance:
- Earl S. Richardson Former President, Morgan State University
- William DeLauder Former President, Delaware State University
- Edward Fort Former President, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University
- John Garland Former President, Central State University
- Fred Humphries Former President, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
- Joseph Johnson Former President, Grambling State University and Talladega College
- Ivory Nelson Former President, Lincoln University Pennsylvania
- Benjamin Payton Former President, Benedict College and Tuskegee University
- Delores Spikes Former President, Southern University Baton Rouge; Chancellor of the Southern University System and Former President, University of Maryland Eastern Shore
- Arthur Thomas Former President, Central State University
- Thelma Thompson Former President, University of Maryland Eastern Shore