WASHINGTON (AP) — Presidents from a majority of the country’s historically black colleges and universities are in Washington this week, calling for $25 billion in the upcoming budget to help address priorities including infrastructure, college readiness and financial aid as President Trump prepares to sign an executive order aimed at signaling his commitment to the schools.
Trump met briefly with the college leaders on Monday, posing for a photograph in the Oval Office before the group met with Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Tuesday’s order is expected to move the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities from the Department of Education into the White House. A senior White House official said the order was intended to prioritize the initiative and make it easier to partner with various federal departments and agencies.
The moves are among the actions some college presidents said they would like to see coming from the new administration. For some, their decision to come to Washington was over the objections of students and alumni, but they say they can ill afford to play politics as Trump moves quickly to set priorities.
Florida A&M Interim President Larry Robinson said it is important for schools like his to have a seat at the table early.
“We are the subject matter experts in terms of what needs to be done,” Robinson said. “We wanted to communicate that to those who were receptive of doing something on our behalf … regardless of who’s sitting in the White House, or what their political affiliations are.”