Trump HBCU Executive Order Resembles Obama Guidance, But Moves Colleges Closer to Presidential Review

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A leaked version of the Trump Administration’s executive order on historically black colleges and universities appears a close resemblance to an order issued by President Barack Obama in 2010, but contains major shifts in federal reporting and White House review over HBCU development.

CrewOf42.com founder Lauren Victoria Burke released the leaked version of the order this afternoon via Twitter, outlining the administration’s plans to emphasize private partnerships and federal agency accountability as a pathway to enhanced capacity building for black colleges.

The Trump executive order officially moves the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities from the US Department of Education to the White House, where it will function under the supervision of a presidentially-appointed executive director. The new order also mandates that federal agencies identified as active or potential funding matches for HBCU programs will have 90 days to submit reports to the White House on how they will leverage public and private resources to build capacity at black colleges.

The order maintains an advisory board on HBCUs, which will meet twice yearly to brief President Trump on trends among federal agencies relative to funding and industrial challenges. HBCU presidents were particularly critical of President Obama for declining to attend any of the advisory board meetings or the annual national conference on HBCUs throughout his eight years in office.

Much of the order mirrors the guiding document issued by President Obama, which similarly called for increased advocacy on behalf of HBCUs by way of agency liaisons, annual reports and increased communications between the government and institutions.

But the order does not outline specific goals sought by an advocacy coalition comprised of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the United Negro College Fund; most notably, an aspirational goal that HBCUs be awarded five percent of total federal grant, internship and cooperative agreement funding; and 10 percent of total federal contract funding awarded to colleges and universities, which supporters say would nearly double federal support to HBCUs.

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