Many people think Donald Trump did something for HBCUs because they heard about this thing called an Executive Order. First of all, they need to know the first HBCU executive order was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, and every president since then has signed one. So anyone thinking this is a big deal doesn’t know the history. You can find out more here:
White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity…
Updated 5/19/2021 On August 8, 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed Executive Order 12232, which directed the Secretary…
But what I’ve always known is that NONE of them have actually read it (or any EOs for that matter)!
So I annotated Trump’s EO by comparing with what was in Barack Obama’s EO. Short story- there is no money, and most of it appears in previous EO’s from previous Presidents.
Executive Order 13779 of February 28, 2017
THE WHITE HOUSE INITIATIVE TO PROMOTE EXCELLENCE AND
INNOVATION AT HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES AND
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to advance opportunities in higher education, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy.
Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have made, and continue to make, extraordinary contributions to the general welfare and prosperity of our country. Established by visionary leaders, America’s HBCUs have, for more than 150 years, produced many of our Nation’s leaders in business, government, academia, and the military, and have helped create a black middle class. The Nation’s more than 100 HBCUs are located in 20 States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and serve more than 300,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. These institutions are important engines of economic growth and public service, and they are proven ladders of intergenerational advancement.
A White House Initiative on HBCUs would: advance America’s full human potential; foster more and better opportunities in higher education; strengthen the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest-quality education; provide equitable opportunities for HBCUs to participate in Federal programs; and increase the number of college-educated Americans who feel empowered and able to advance the common good at home and abroad.
Where Trump made changes in his I bolded them above.
Below is what is in Obama’s EO so you can see the comparison. As you can tell, this is just new wordsmithing so they wouldn’t simply copy it.
Section 1. Policy. Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have made historic and ongoing contributions to the general welfare and prosperity of our country. Established by visionary leaders, America’s HBCUs, for over 150 years, have produced many of the Nation’s leaders in business, government, academia, and the military and have provided generations of American men and women with hope and educational opportunity. The Nation’s 105 HBCUs are located in 20 States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and serve more than 300,000 undergraduate and graduate students. These institutions continue to be important engines of economic growth and community service, and they are proven ladders of intergenerational advancement…
NOTE: Mostly word for word.
… for men and women of all ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds, especially African Americans.
NOTE: This phrase was left out of the Trump EO. Read it again.
These institutions also produce a high number of baccalaureate recipients who go on to assume leadership and service roles in their communities and who successfully complete graduate and professional degree programs.
NOTE: The last few lines differ significantly for each.
Okay- back to the Trump EO.
Section 2. White House Initiative on HBCUs.
NOTE: This section differs in terms of the writing but lots of similar phrases and ideas.
(a) Establishment. There is established the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Initiative), housed in the Executive Office of the President and led by an Executive Director designated by the President.
NOTE: The same except Trump moved the initiative to the Executive Office of the President, while the Obama EO says “to be housed in the Department of Education (Department).”
(b) Mission and Functions. The Initiative shall work with agencies, private-sector employers, educational associations, philanthropic organizations, and other partners to increase the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest-quality education to an increasing number of students. The Initiative shall have two primary missions:
NOTE: While Obama’s EO has 5 core tasks, the Trump EO divides the work into 2 primary missions:
(i) increasing the private-sector role, including the role of private foundations, in:
(A) strengthening HBCUs through enhanced institutional planning and development, fiscal stability, and financial management; and
(B) upgrading institutional infrastructure, including the use of technology, to ensure the long-term viability of these institutions; and
NOTE: This section is unique to the Trump EO.
(ii) enhancing HBCUs’ capabilities to serve our Nation’s young adults by:
(A) strengthening HBCUs’ ability to equitably participate in Federal programs and exploring new ways of improving the relationship between the Federal Government and HBCUs;
(B) fostering private-sector initiatives and public-private partnerships while promoting specific areas and centers of academic research and program-based excellence throughout HBCUs;
(C ) improving the availability, dissemination, and quality of information concerning HBCUs in the public policy sphere;
(D) sharing administrative and programmatic best practices within the HBCU community;
(E) partnering with elementary and secondary education stakeholders to build a “cradle-to-college” pipeline; and
(F) convening an annual White House Summit on HBCUs to address, among other topics, matters related to the Initiative’s missions and functions.
NOTE: Most of the mirrors what is in the Obama EO. The similarities are in bold.
(c ) Federal Agency Plans.
(i) The Secretary of Education (Secretary), in consultation with the Executive Director, shall identify those agencies that regularly interact with HBCUs.
NOTE: The Obama EO has a subsection for administration which essentially covers what section (c ) (i) above covers, saying “There shall be an Executive Director of the Initiative. The Department shall provide the staff, resources, and assistance for the Initiative, and shall assist the Initiative in fulfilling its mission and responsibilities under this order.”
(ii) Each agency identified by the Secretary under subsection ©(i) of this section shall prepare an annual plan (Agency Plan) describing its efforts to strengthen the capacity of HBCUs to participate in applicable Federal programs and initiatives. Where appropriate, each Agency Plan shall address, among other things, the agency’s proposed efforts to:
(A) establish how the agency intends to increase the capacity of HBCUs to compete effectively for grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements;
(B) identify Federal programs and initiatives where HBCUs are not well represented, and improve HBCUs’ participation in those programs and initiatives; and
(C ) encourage public-sector, private-sector, and community involvement in improving the overall capacity of HBCUs.
NOTE: All of this is pretty much the same. Similarities in bold.
(iii) The head of each agency identified in subsection ©(i) of this section shall submit its Agency Plan to the Secretary and the Executive Director no later than 90 days after being so identified, and submit an updated Agency Plan annually thereafter.
NOTE: The Trump EO provides a 90-day deadline. Interestingly, the plan is submitted to the Secretary of Education & White House Initiative Director, NOT to the office of the President which Trump made a big deal about.
The Obama EO says:
“The Secretary shall establish a date by which agency plans shall be submitted to the Secretary. The Secretary and the Executive Director shall review the agency plans in consultation with the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs, established in section 3 of this order, and shall submit to the President an annual plan to strengthen the overall capacity of HBCUs.”
NOTE: The Obama EO asks that the plan actually go to the President. So again, while a big deal was made about moving the initiative to the White House, only the Obama EO indicates in writing a connection to the President.
(iv) To help fulfill the objectives of the Agency Plans, the head of each agency identified by the Secretary may provide, as appropriate, technical assistance and information to the Executive Director to enhance communication with HBCUs concerning the agency’s program activities and the preparation of applications or proposals for grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements.
(v) Each agency identified by the Secretary shall appoint a senior official to report directly to the agency head on that agency’s progress under this order, and to serve as liaison to the Initiative.
(d) Interagency Working Group. There is established an Interagency Working Group, which shall be chaired by the Executive Director and shall consist of one representative from each agency identified by the Secretary pursuant to subsection ©(i) of this section, to help advance and coordinate the work required by this order.
NOTE: All of this is about the same.
Section 3. President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs.
(a) Establishment. There is established in the Department of Education the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Board). The Board shall consist of not more than 25 members appointed by the President. The Board shall include the Secretary, the Executive Director, representatives of a variety of sectors — such as philanthropy, education, business, finance, entrepreneurship, innovation, and private foundations — and sitting HBCU presidents.
NOTE: Pretty much the same. Bold is the same wording.
The President shall designate one member of the Board to serve as its Chair, who shall help direct the Board’s work in coordination with the Secretary and in consultation with the Executive Director. The Chair shall also consult with the Executive Director regarding the time and location of the Board’s meetings, which shall take place at least once every 6 months.
NOTE: This language was simply moved around in the same section, so really just cutting and pasting. I was fascinated by the addition of meeting at least once every six months. Trump’s team made a big deal about how fast he signed the EO (and as you can tell, it really is mostly the same as Obama’s).
That was February 2017.
But he didn’t name a chair of the advisory of board until September 2018 (19 months later) and appointed the full advisory board a few weeks later. Finally, the board didn't have its first meeting until June 2019, 9 months after they were announced, and over 2 years after the EO that people bragged about was signed.
With Trump it is always about the show, not substance.
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For comparison, Biden’s EO was signed in September 2021, 8 months after inauguration (compared to one month for Trump) but he named a chair of the advisory board days later (a year earlier than Trump did). He appointed the full board in March 2022, and our first meeting was in May 2022 (and over a year before the Trump advisory board had their first meeting).
We actually had three meetings before the Trump advisory board had one.
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(b) Mission and Functions. The Board shall advise the President, through the Initiative, on all matters pertaining to strengthening the educational capacity of HBCUs. In particular, the Board shall advise the President in the following areas:
(i) improving the identity, visibility, distinctive capabilities, and overall competitiveness of HBCUs;
(ii) engaging the philanthropic, business, government, military, homeland-security, and education communities in a national dialogue regarding new HBCU programs and initiatives;
(iii) improving the ability of HBCUs to remain fiscally secure institutions that can assist the Nation in achieving its educational goals and in advancing the interests of all Americans;
(iv) elevating the public awareness of, and fostering appreciation of, HBCUs; and
(v) encouraging public-private investments in HBCUs.
NOTE: All of this was practically word for word. Notable though, for section iii under Obama includes “… in reaching its goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020” which was part of his overall goal.
(C ) Administration. The Department of Education shall provide funding and administrative support for the Board, consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations. Members of the Board shall serve without compensation, but shall be reimbursed for travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, as authorized by law. Insofar as the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), may apply to the Board, any functions of the President under that Act, except for those of reporting to the Congress, shall be performed by the Chair, in accordance with guidelines issued by the Administrator of General Services.
NOTE: Pretty much the same.
(D) Report. The Board shall report annually to the President on the Board’s progress in carrying out its duties under this section.
NOTE: Both say an annual report is due. Under Trump, the advisory board never submitted a report. We met with President Biden in September to provide an overview of our submitted report draft.
Most importantly, THERE IS NO MONEY MENTIONED IN EITHER EXECUTIVE ORDER! So, when someone says Trump gave HBCUs money in the Executive Order you know they have not read it.
But you also know that it is essentially the same as President Obama’s, with some eyebrow raising exceptions and lack of follow through.