While President Barack Obama graduation’s talk at the University of Michigan last weekend focused national media attention on the 2010 college and university commencement season and issues facing new college graduates, the president’s scheduled address at Hampton University, a historically Black institution, this Sunday should help bring a spotlight to minority-serving institutions.
The president will have help in that task because on Saturday first lady Michelle Obama will send off the students at the University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff, a historically Black public university. Also on Saturday, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will speak to graduating students at Xavier University of Louisiana and Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez will deliver the commencement address at Northeastern Illinois University.
In all, 11 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and at least 13 Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) will host senior level administration officials as commencement speakers.
“The number of Obama administration people speaking at HBCU and HSI commencements is unprecedented,” Dr. John Silvanus Wilson, executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, said at a recent Education Sector policy forum on educational successes at minority-serving institutions.
Other officials participating in graduation ceremonies include Secretary Robert Gates, Department of Defense (Morehouse College); Secretary Hilda Solis, Department of Labor (Long Beach City College); Administrator Charles Bolden, NASA (Huston-Tillotson University); Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president (Morgan State University); and Melody Barnes, director, White House Domestic Policy Council (Virginia Union University).
Juan Sepulveda, executive director of the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics, said his office made a deliberate effort to reach out to administration officials on behalf of HSIs, a number of which are community colleges, that requested help with graduation speakers.
“These are schools that sent invitations to us,” Sepulveda said. “You’ll see with the HSI list there’s a combination of four-year schools and community colleges.”
Obama Administration HBCU/HSI Commencement Schedule
John Wilson, Executive Director, White House Initiative on HBCUs – Wilberforce University
Jim Leach, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities – Miami-Dade College
Patrick Corvington, CEO, Corporation for National & Community Service – University of Texas at San Antonio (College of Liberal and Fine Arts)
Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy, Domestic Policy Council – University of Texas at San Antonio (College of Education and Human Development)
First Lady Michelle Obama – University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
Arne Duncan, Education Secretary – Xavier University
Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator – Huston-Tillotson University
Melody Barnes, Domestic Policy Director – Virginia Union University
John Wilson, Executive Director, White House Initiative on HBCUs – Wiley College
Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Justice Department – Northeastern Illinois University
President Barack Obama – Hampton University
John Wilson, Executive Director, White House Initiative on HBCUs – Harris-Stowe State University
William Ramos, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Commerce Department – Daley College
Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, Assistant Secretary for Elementary & Secondary Education, Education Department – Texas A&M International
Valerie Jarrett, White House Senior Advisor – Morgan State University
Juan Sepulveda, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics – San Diego Mesa College
Robert Gates, Defense Secretary – Morehouse College
United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice – Spelman College
Cecilia Munoz, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Munoz – Pima County Community College
Hilda Solis, Labor Secretary – Long Beach City College
Tino Cuellar, Special Assistant to the President for Justice and Regulatory Policy, Domestic Policy Council – Rio Hondo College
Juan Sepulveda, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics – Housatonic Community College
Martha Kanter, Under Secretary, Education Department – Merced Community College
Juan Sepulveda, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics – California State University-San Bernardino