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Senate Approves HBCU Preservation Bill

Senate Approves HBCU Preservation Bill
By Charles Dervarics

Historically Black colleges and universities could get new funds to promote historic preservation under legislation the U.S. Senate approved in late January.

The plan from Sens. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. and Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., would provide $10 million annually for five years to help HBCUs improve historic properties on their campuses. Similar legislation cleared the U.S. House of Representatives last year, but the Senate failed to act before it adjourned for the fall elections.

“Despite playing a central role in our economy, society and culture, HBCUs have been physically eroding for years,” says Lieberman, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination and the party’s 2000 nominee for vice president.

The bill would update a 1996 law that provided $29 million for historic preservation at HBCUs. That law, since expired, required HBCUs to provide a 50 percent match of federal funds, a provision some Black college leaders found cumbersome. Under the new plan, HBCUs would have to provide only 30 percent of the total cost, with the rest funded by federal dollars.

Similar legislation from Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., a Congressional Black Caucus member, passed the House last year. The Senate language is tied to a 2003 budget bill for education and other agencies.

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