House Republican-HBCU Summit Leaders Announce Task Force
Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., and some of his colleagues announced the formation of a task force to follow up on the first House Republican Historically Black Colleges Summit on Capitol Hill earlier this summer (see Black Issues, July 6).
The task force, which Watts says will convene at least three times in one year, will be composed of 13 HBCU presidents, as well as representatives from the House and from industry. It will provide a discourse between the three groups on ways to improve Black colleges.
“The dialogue [earlier this summer] only reinforced my beliefs about the importance of HBCUs,” Watts said. “Republicans need to have a sound
understanding of these cutting-edge institutions.”
Reps. Jay Dickey, R-Ark., a member of the House Appropriations committee, and Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., joined Watts in making the announcement earlier this month.
Dr. Ernest Holloway, president of Langston University, Dr. Michael Lomax, president of Dillard University and Cathy Fore, director of the minority institutional technology partnership at Lockheed Martin, also participated in the announcement.
“From this, we are gaining a greater appreciation of the knowledge base and technical strengths of those institutions,” said Fore, a member of the task force’s corporate advisory board along with such companies as DaimlerChrysler, the Carmen Group and Computer Associates.
Watts says he hopes that Congress can help alleviate poor minority retention rates and reduce high minority loan default rates by boosting federal programs such as TRIO and Pell grants.
Pell, TRIO Slated for
House and Senate negotiators have agreed to increase funding for Pell grants and TRIO college-access programs next year.
Bridging gaps between competing House and Senate bills, Republican leaders in both chambers have recommended a $350 increase in the maximum Pell grant for next year. If approved by the president, this figure would yield a maximum grant of $3,650 for the neediest student.
TRIO programs that promote college access and student retention also would reap gains under the package. Overall, negotiators are recommending $760 million for TRIO, up $110 million from current funding.
Head Start, state vocational education grants and special education are among other major programs set to receive budget increases under the agreement. n
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