By Anita Kumar and William Douglas
President Donald Trump is expected to provide historically black colleges and universities a long-awaited boost as he looks to outdo his predecessors — including the nation’s first African-American president — on a surprising issue.
Trump will sign an executive order as early as Monday, when the schools’ presidents arrive in Washington for a visit. It’s expected to significantly strengthen the office that pushes the federal government to do business with the colleges by moving it to the White House…
“It would be truly, truly historic,” said Leonard Haynes, a longtime educator who ran the office and is helping to write the executive order. “It’s part of a long time dream…none of (the other presidents) had the courage to do it.”
Though African-Americans overwhelmingly support Democrats at the polls, many education experts credit Republican leaders for helping to improve HBCUs, the common shorthand for historically black schools.
Some black college administrators say they were disappointed in President Barack Obama for not making the schools a priority and, in some cases, harming their financial health and contributing to declining enrollment with the changes he made to loan programs.
“The president has a strong commitment to them and understands over the last eight years they’ve been woefully neglected,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said. “And I think he wants to really show a commitment. … And so you’ll see, I think, not just a push this month, but in his budget and going forward.”
During the transition and into the start of his presidency, Trump’s advisers met with HBCU officials as they considered how to make good on Trump’s “New Deal For Black America,” which he unveiled at a speech in Charlotte, N.C. that alluded to black colleges.
Those meetings included Omarosa Manigault, a graduate of Central State University in Ohio and Washington’s Howard University, both HBCUs. She gained fame in the first season of “The Apprentice” and now serves as communications director for the Office of Public Liaison in the White House.
Some are pushing him to commit to a goal that HBCUs be awarded 5 percent of total federal grant, internship and cooperative agreement funding; and 10 percent of total federal contract funding awarded to colleges and universities, which would nearly double federal support to HBCUs. They also hope he will boost funding in his budget to be released mid-March.
The executive order will coincide with the visit of about 90 presidents of historically black colleges and universities, who will be in Washington for a daylong conference. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. are scheduled to attend.