On August 23, UNCF (United Negro College Fund) issued a letter to the White House requesting that the 2017 National HBCU Conference be postponed, given that a new Executive Director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) has not been appointed, and the lack of progress on HBCU initiatives. The letter was addressed to Andrew Bremberg, Director, Domestic Policy Council for the White House, and Betsy DeVos, Secretary, U.S. Department of Education. Read that letter below:
Dear Director Bremberg and Secretary DeVos:
On behalf of UNCF and our member historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), I am writing in regard to the 2017 National HBCU Week Conference sponsored by the White House Initiative on HBCUs and the U.S. Department of Education.
After thoughtful deliberation, UNCF joins with other HBCU advocacy organizations in requesting a postponement of the annual HBCU conference in September sponsored by the White House Initiative on HBCUs, and we ask you to reconsider yesterday’s announcement that the White House will move forward with the conference. At a critical time in our nation, and in the spirit of unity among our HBCUs, we believe this postponement would allow us to work together to develop a common agenda that will serve the best interests of our HBCUs, and especially our students.
UNCF recommends that the White House postpone the HBCU conference in order to focus on appointing an Executive Director of the White House Initiative who has the respect of the HBCU community and establishing this office as part of the Domestic Policy Council, as set forth in Executive Order 13779 signed in February; convening the President's Board of Advisors on HBCUs; and developing a meaningful plan of action with concrete commitments to invest in and advance HBCUs. UNCF previously has provided the Administration with a roadmap for such investments, and we look forward to working with you to identify the highest short-and long-term priorities.
UNCF and our member institutions believe that these actions would best actualize the Administration's commitment to HBCUs in lieu of the convening planned for September. Further, UNCF will not release, as part of the conference, an important national HBCU economic impact study that we have commissioned if the conference occurs as planned.
We make this recommendation in the spirit of sincerely advancing our mutual goals of promoting excellence and innovation at the nation's HBCUs and enhancing their unique educational, economic and civic contributions to the country.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like additional information on UNCF's views.
Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D.
President and CEO