New Director of HBCU initiative by: Brittany Price
The White House just announced their new HBCU Initiative Director after months of leaving the position vacant. At the White House Summit for Black Colleges on Sep. 18, 2017, it was revealed that Johnathan M. Holifield, an ex-NFL player for the Cincinnati Bengals and tech entrepreneur, would become the next Executive Director.
The Trump Administration had been receiving criticism for snubbing the HBCU community and not giving a second thought to hiring someone to head the post.
At the summit, Holifield expressed his gratitude by acknowledging the importance of HBCUs.
“There is no patent to sustain new job creation, shared prosperity, and enduring national competitiveness without the current and increased contributions of historically black colleges and universities.”
Holifield hails from Romulus, Michigan, studied political science at West Virginia University, and possesses a law degree from the University of Cincinnati.
He also played football in college, where he was captain of the team and went on to have a short stint with the Cincinnati Bengals.
He began his career as a prosecutor and went on to become a private attorney, entrepreneur, the executive director of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, and author of the successful book, The Future Economy and Inclusive Competitiveness.
The last four directors have either graduated from or previously worked at an HBCU.
“With Holifield not going to an HBCU, how would he know what we need, what we like, or what we do that is different from Predominantly White Institutions (PWI),” said Nadilyn Smith, a political science student..
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is the largest HBCU in the nation, the trickle-down effect of whatever Holifield does (or doesn’t do) will impact the university and many more just like N.C. A&T.
With HBCUs needing more funding from the federal government, it is important for Holifield to strive for more funding.
In February at a meeting with the Chancellors of the nation’s HBCUs, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order that relocates the HBCU initiative to the White House, where the office would report directly to the President.
As Chancellors petitioned the President for more money, they were beginning to hope the new administration would significantly help HBCUs.
The President then released a statement claiming the HBCU Capital Financing Program “was an example of provisions that allocated benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender,” and is using it as a base to cut funding to HBCUs.
“Moving the initiative to the White House makes it easier to do away with the program because it is under the President’s direct rule,”said Derick Smith, a professor in the Department of Political Science at N.C. A&T.
The White House released a budget proposal that maintained the $492 million the schools were already receiving.
In the Obama Administration, the government still spent an additional 15 percent to supplement funds that were not covered in the original capital.
70 percent of all HBCU students depend on federal grants. The Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, a grant that helps students on a per-need basis, is in the process of being eliminated from federal student-aid, along with significant reductions to the federal work-study program.
Over 70,000 HBCU students would be affected. With N.C. A&T’s record enrollment this year at 11,877 students, this will affect N.C. A&T very hard.
“I depend on all types of federal aid to continue my education. Especially the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. I look at it as an investment from the federal government. When I get a great job and pay taxes, I am giving the money back, so why not help me help myself,” said Smith.
Holifield succeeds Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, who was acting director under the Obama administration and who is now Colorado’s Executive Director of Higher Education.
Holifield will officially claim his position Oct. 2, 2017.
Greensboro candidates visit A&T’s campus
Greensboro city council, mayoral, and district candidates make an appearance at the All Politics is Local: Who Should I Vote For and Why? Local candidate forum hosted by the Division of Student Affairs in the McNair Hall auditorium on Tuesday, Sep. 20, 2017.
The forum allowed the public and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University students to become more familiar with all the Greensboro candidates. Throughout the forum each candidate was given three minutes to present their platform and views on two specific topics: Economic Development and Police Accountability.
The candidates explained the importance of job training, especially for the Greensboro Police Department, by spotlighting several cases like the Jose Charles body cam video that took place on July 4, 2017 that was withheld from the citizens of Greensboro, NC due to Charles’ age.
“We have to understand that we have to hold the police accountable. We need to make sure that they are not only trained, but that they reflect our community. We’re a community of color, but when our officers don’t reflect that, there’s a problem,” said Diane Moffett, Greensboro Mayoral candidate.
Throughout the forum, there was an immense amount of Aggie Pride as thirteen out of the sixteen candidates were affiliated with N.C. A&T whether they were an alum, spouse of an alum, or parent of a student here.
One Aggie alumnus, in particular, presented his platform at the forum. Irving David Allen describes himself as a proud alumnus, child of two Aggies, and the nephew of one of the A&T four, David Richmond.
Allen, the youngest candidate, is vying for a seat in the city council at-large position. “I have so many plans for the Greensboro community, but I think it has to start with the investment and building students who have been trained in this community. Not that they are only prepared for the jobs, but they are getting the jobs. We have to address affordable housing for the students in the community, in low income and underserved communities. We have to focus on good policy and bad policy in terms of the police training,” said Allen.
After the platforms were presented, the candidates were permitted to answer questions from Twitter profiles that used the hashtag “All Turn Out 2017.” One student posed the question to Allen about his views on the issue of gerrymandering.
“I’m really proud of the students at A&T who forced the Administration here to release a statement about this gerrymandering. I am also disappointed in the Administration that they had to be pushed to make the statement,” said Allen.
“Your historic voting power has been spilt, and that is an issue. They can take photo-ops at the White House, invite Betsy DeVos to speak on your campus, but they can’t stand up for you. That is something we need to see changed.”
The All Turn Out candidate forum is a way that the university is encouraging student awareness of the issues of the world, on campus, and in Greensboro. African-American students’ voting rights have to be viewed as more significant, and it is seen as impossible for that to happen unless students increase their engagement.
“We have many ways to access knowledge on local and national candidates issues through majors like Political Science and Pre-Law, students should take advantage of opportunities like this [the candidate forum] and know who they are voting for,” said Khyla Wood, freshman political science student.
Due to the importance of black youth voters, the N.C. A&T Division of Student Affairs has partnered with The League of Women Voters of the Piedmont, Common Cause, and the Campus Vote Project to create events like the candidate forum. early voting period on Sep. 21, 2017. Their hope is to transition voting as stated on the flyer, “From a small turn out to all turn out.”