White House to host HBCU Summit Monday

Despite some calls for the White House to postpone a conference on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the annual summit will proceed, with most of the action taking place on Monday. President Trump is also expected to sign a proclamation declaring this HBCU Week.

The president will “recognize the extraordinary contributions that HBCUs have made and continue to make to the general welfare and prosperity of our country,” Omarosa Manigault Newman, communications director for the Office of Public Liaison, told reporters Friday.

The White House is also expected to announce a new executive director on HBCUs and to recognize outstanding students from various HBCUs as “All-Star Ambassadors,” Newman said.

Some organizations had misgivings about the conference after Mr. Trump blamed “both sides” for violence between white supremacists and their opponents during clashes last month in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which one woman was killed. But White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said late last month that conference registration was at capacity and the White House had no intention of canceling.

Mr. Trump’s comments on Charlottesville as well as some of his administration’s proposed cuts to higher education programs that would affect HBCUs caused some organizations to call for the postponement of the summit. However, in reaction to these calls, a senior administration official argued that the Initiative is a priority of the Trump administration and that “the work is too critical, too timely, for us to postpone.” 

In February, Mr, Trump signed an executive order that established a White House initiative to promote excellence and innovation at these schools, which were founded at a time when predominantly white institutions of higher learning would not allow blacks to enroll.

The president’s directive moved the Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities from the Education Department to the White House.

It directed the initiative to work with the private sector to strengthen the fiscal stability of HBCUs, make infrastructure improvements, provide job opportunities for students, collaborate with secondary schools to create a college pipeline and increase access and opportunity for federal grants and contracts. It does not specify how much federal money the colleges should receive.

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