Hampton University President Blasts Federal Government for Lack of HBCU Support

When Hampton University President William Harvey, Ph.D., took the stage at this year’s HBCU Conference, the leading educator gave his candid opinion about the strained relationship between HBCUs and the federal government.

Throwing out statistics in regards to decreased federal funding for research and development opportunities at HBCUs, Harvey, who serves as chairman of the White House Advisory Board on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, calls out the government for continuously failing to realize the importance of investing in the leading institutions that educate minority students.

“Information compiled by the White House Initiative on HBCUs for FY 2011 showed that out of the total contracts and grants awarded to all institutions of higher education, those to HBCUs from 16 federal agencies totaled less than 5% and 12 agencies totaled less than 3%,” Harvey said in his speech at the conference.

In addition to throwing out specific numbers that speak to the lack of HBCU funding, Hampton’s leading man also called out a recent partnership between universities and philanthropic organizations for not including one HBCU school in their efforts to support low-income students.

In September, it was announced that 11 public universities including Arizona State University, Georgia State University, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, Oregon State University, Purdue University, The Ohio State University, University of California Riverside, University of Central Florida, University of Kansas, and the University of Texas at Austin, and six national foundations including the Ford Foundation; The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Lumina Foundation; Kresge Foundation; USA Funds; and Markle Foundation had formed an alliance to help low-income, minority and first generation students attain a college degree. While the efforts of the partnership are much needed, Dr. Harvey criticised the alliance, which is receiving $5.7 million in grant money, for not including one HBCU.

“HBCUs were serving first-generation, minority and low-income students when some of these institutions were denying their entry or were not even in existence,” Harvey said.

Harvey isn’t the first to call out the federal government for their lack of HBCU support. Earlier this year, BlackEnterprise.com spoke to UNCF President Michael Lomax, Ph.D., who also expressed his frustration with the lack of funding for HBCUs and called for a revamp of the federal financial aid program.

“A large number of high performing, low-income African American kids are not even applying to college because they’re just making the assumption that college isn’t affordable and that’s why I would say we need a revamp. A comprehensive revamp of the federal financial aid program because they are broken and this has to happen as a part of the reauthorization of the higher education act,” Lomax said.

Hopefully more vocal outcries from leading educators like Harvey and Lomax will bring about change in the way the federal government distributes HBCU funding.