Building the Bridge to the Obama Administration: New White House Initiative Leader Dr. John Silvanus Wilson Jr. Seeks to Forge Relationships between HBCUs and Obama

By Seymour, Add, Jr. | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, August 20, 2009 | Go to article overview

Building the Bridge to the Obama Administration: New White House Initiative Leader Dr. John Silvanus Wilson Jr. Seeks to Forge Relationships between HBCUs and Obama


Seymour, Add, Jr., Diverse Issues in Higher Education


Dr. John Silvanus Wilson Jr. looks back at his days as a Morehouse College student as a time when faculty, staff and administrators formed a campus community that was nurturing and family-oriented--a distinguishing characteristic of many historically Black colleges and universities.

"But I'm a little concerned that positive feature for some (HBCUs) is becoming more legend than reality," said Wilson, the new executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. "I think there is a need to preserve that. For some, it's slipping away."

That is just one of the aspects of HBCUs that Wilson, an assistant professor at George Washington University, hopes to jump start as head of the office in the U.S. Department of Education that serves as a liaison for HBCUs and the White House.

His office issues to the president an annual report on the state of HBCUs and their participation in federal programs, advises the education secretary on increasing the federal role in strengthening HBCUs and about increasing the private sector's role in boosting HBCUs.

"Very obviously we're going to have to have great relationships with the new administration, the board of advisors, presidents of the nation's HBCUs and new constituents," he said. …

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