U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will deliver remarks at the opening plenary session of the National HBCU Week Conference at 8:30 a.m., on Thursday, Sept. 26, in Washington, D.C. He will discuss the enduring and the evolving role of HBCUs, as well as the need for HBCUs to be centers of innovation, entrepreneurship, STEM and international education.
Entitled "HBCUs Facing Forward: A New Paradigm for Educating the 21st Century Student," this year's conference will convene more than 500 of the nation's college, business, and government leaders for a wide range of sessions and discussions, such as "College Affordability and Value: How Do We Deliver More HBCU Graduates While Preserving College Opportunity for At-Risk Students?" to "STEM Opportunities for HBCUs – Leveraging STEM Partnerships in Relation to Workforce Development, Diversity and Inclusion."
HBCU Week is sponsored by the White House Initiative on HBCUs along with the President's Board of Advisors on HBCUs. Earlier this month President Obama named George Cooper, past president of South Carolina State University, as the new executive director of the Initiative. The Initiative and its Board are charged with strengthening the role of HBCUs, assisting the Secretary of Education as liaison between the executive branch and these institutions, and working with 32 federal agencies that support HBCUs through federal grants and contracts.
HBCUs have played an important role in our nation's history and they continue to provide pathways of opportunity for students across our country, as we move toward our goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. Ensuring these schools have the resources they need to help students reach their fullest potential is a top priority for the Obama Administration, which has taken steps to keep these institutions strong including providing funding for infrastructure and technology and increasing investments in Pell Grants.