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Black College Panel Undergoes Change

Black College Panel Undergoes Change
Co-chair resigns; Education Department names new leadership
By Charles Dervarics

The co-chair of the President’s Advisory Board on Historically Black Colleges and Universities has resigned, setting the stage for changes on this federal panel that advises the administration on Black college policy.

Dr. Benjamin F. Payton, Tuskegee University president, announced his plans in a recent letter to President Bush outlining his decision not to seek another term. In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Black Issues, Payton said a change in leadership “might be appropriate and timely” after the panel completed its first annual report.

To replace Payton, the president has named Dr. Louis Sullivan, former secretary of Health and Human Services in the first Bush administration. Sullivan is former president of the Morehouse School of Medicine and has been an active participant in discussions about federal aid to historically Black graduate schools.

The switch comes amid reports of how the advisory board, under Payton’s leadership, had called for a major increase in federal support for Black colleges. Payton has no comment about these issues, a Tuskegee official said.

In addition to advisory board changes, the Bush administration also named a new director for the Education Department office on Black colleges. Wilbert Bryant will take over as counselor to the education secretary for the Black college initiative. Bryant already is at the department, serving as deputy assistant secretary for postsecondary education. He will continue in that capacity after adding the HBCU responsibilities.

Bryant is a former secretary of education in Virginia. He has a bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University and a master’s degree from Howard University. A Vietnam War veteran, he served in the Army for nearly 28 years. Prior to his secretary post in Virginia, he was vice president for student affairs at Virginia Union University (see Black Issues, Jan. 3, 2002).

He replaces Dr. Leonard Spearman at the HBCU office. A former ambassador and president of Texas Southern University, Spearman will become special assistant to the secretary.

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