Assistant Editor's Two Cents
Strenghtening HBCU Schools
Almost two months ago on Feb. 26, President Obama signed an executive order that vows to renew the government's initiative on historically black colleges and universities around the nation. Among the core tasks of this executive arrangement are:
- Strengthening the capacity of HBCUs in order for them to participate in federal programs
- Fostering private sector initiatives and public-private initiatives that would promote funding to academic research
- Improving the quality, distribution, and availability of information concerning HBCUs to inform public policy and practice and
- Improving the relationship between the Federal Government and HBCUs.
This executive order also coordinates a board of advisors that will advise the Obama administration on issues of relevance to HBCUs. According to John S. Wilson, who has been appointed by Obama to be the executive director of the White House initiative on HBCUs, stated "This will establish a new platform for strengthening the capacity of HBCUs."
Its budget plan which is set take effect in fiscal year 2011 consists of $98 million in new money for HBCUs at the Department of Education. This includes an $85 million in pending student aid, $20.5 million in construction and/or acquisition of educational facilities and equipment, and $64.5 million for strengthening the general HBCU graduate institution.
Students attending HBCUs will also receive approximately $900 million in Pell grants with the maximum individual award being increased to $5,710 in 2011. Finally, students enrolled at HBCUs will also receive benefits from other components in the president's higher education package. This entails the Student Aid Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which is intended to provide financial supplement to Minority Support Institutions (MSI) that is centered on increasing the overall enrollment of Minorities in higher education programs and allocating resources so as many as possible can complete it.
I know you are probably wondering how this impacts your life. Well, I assume you are a student, are a prospective student, or are in some relationship with a student here. Since Bowie State University is an historically black university this legislation will have direct consequences to this institution and its customers. Based on the text, this should give the BSU community, like many others, a step up toward a more level playing field in the game of higher education, as HBCUs hopefully progress in their federal funding.
This funding is key to the continued progression of African Americans socially, economically and politically. The 105 HBCUs across the country are major pillars in the structure of the African-American community. HBCUs are schools that for generations have been the only source of higher education for countless African Americans. Just as Dr. Wilson stated, "There will be even more success in the future for HBCUs and the students, faculty, and communities they serve."