Director John S. Wilson Explains the Purpose of the White House Initiative on HBCUs

Dr. Marybeth Gasman is at it again.  Check out this amazing interview with White House Initiative on HBCUs director, John Wilson.  The article was originally posted in the Huff Post.

In 1980, then-President Jimmy Carter signed Executive Order 12232, which established a federal program to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Carter’s bold move resulted in the White House Initiative on HBCUs. The current executive director of the Initiative is John S. Wilson, a Morehouse College graduate with extensive higher education leadership and fundraising experience.

This Monday, Sept. 18 and Tuesday, Sept. 19, the Initiative will be hosting its annual conference in Washington D.C. And this year’s meeting boasts the theme “HBCUs Engaging the World Anew.” In an effort to create greater understanding of HBCUs and the White House Initiative, I recently interviewed John S. Wilson about the state of HBCUs and how the Initiative contributes to these institutions’ successes.

Wilson has a passion for HBCUs that was nurtured throughout his youth. His parents and family members went to HBCUs, and he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. In his words, “I have an appreciation and familiarity with HBCUs that is in my family blood.” Although the majority of Wilson’s higher education experience was gained at majority institutions, he has remained very active at his alma mater, volunteering in myriad ways. Wilson has a faith and optimism in the future of HBCUs that undergirds his work. He noted, “The gap between where HBCUs are and where they can and should be is pretty wide, and it can intimidate people. I have a faith and determination that it can and will be closed.”

When asked about the Initiative’s most significant accomplishments thus far under his leadership, Wilson was clear, noting, “We have increased the core support to HBCUs as measured by Title III and other institutional support, Pell Grants, and direct funding from various federal agencies.” He then pointed to better internal government relations, engagement of the private sector, and a change in the national narrative on HBCUs. According to Wilson:

Read the rest of the article and the full interview here


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