Bacow to serve on Obama’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Bacow hopes to use experiences from Tufts tenure to strengthen HBCUs
Published: Monday, March 8, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 06:03
University President Lawrence Bacow on Feb. 26 was appointed a member of President Barack Obama's reestablished President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), formed to provide advice on strengthening the educational capacity of such institutions.
According to the executive order reestablishing the White House Initiative on HBCUs, the board is tasked with exploring how to improve "the identity, visibility, and distinctive capabilities and overall competitiveness of HBCUs," as well as engaging in a national dialogue on HBCU initiatives and securing funding for their aims.
Bacow went to Washington, D.C. to attend the signing of the executive order for the initiative, created in 1981 by Ronald Reagan.
Obama at the event expressed his confidence in the ability of the board, which is made up of 11 college and university presidents, deans, financial experts and prominent members of the African American community.
"I am pleased to announce the appointments of these talented, diverse and accomplished individuals to the Board of Advisors on [HBCUs], all of whom have shown a deep commitment to the mission of these institutions, which are as relevant and necessary to our society today as they were when first established," Obama said at the event.
John Silvanus Wilson, Jr., executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, explained that Bacow was appointed because of his legacy at Tufts.
"President Bacow is there because he has had a great tenure at Tufts, and has had a great impact on Tufts," he told the Daily. "We want on this advisory board [people] who understand transitional leadership, and Larry Bacow is one of those presidents."
Wilson highlighted in particular Bacow's fiscal stewardship at Tufts.
"We hope that Bacow and his team will be able to transfer [to the advisory board] the administrative practices ... and the financial management that Tufts has in place ... [which] are the principle reason why Tufts is so well off."
Bacow echoed these sentiments, expressing his hope that his tenure at Tufts would help him with his work on the board.
"I am honored to serve," Bacow said in an e-mail to the Daily. "I hope to be able to draw from my Tufts experience to try to help strengthen our nation's [HBCUs]."
Obama at the event said that it was import to reestablish this initiative "to ensure that these schools remain the beacons that they've been for more than a century and a half." The initiative is part of an Obama Administration goal to raise the proportion of college graduates by 2020.
Bacow hopes that serving on this board will allow him to devote more attention to issues of diversity by strengthening HBCUs.
"These institutions play a critical role in providing access and opportunity to so many young people" he said in an e-mail. "As someone who cares deeply about these issues, I am excited by the opportunity to help them fulfill their historic mission in this challenging environment."
Africana Center Director Katrina Moore expressed her enthusiasm for Bacow's appointment.
"I understand the importance of having HBCUs, and I'm very excited the president has [been chosen] to address their needs," she said. "[It's] a testament to what he has accomplished while here and his feeling toward diversity-related issues."
Moore cited the creation of the Office of Institutional Diversity as one of Bacow's key accomplishments as president in the area of promoting diversity.
"We have a ways to go, but we have a president who is very supportive and open to helping us resolve issues of diversity," Moore said. "I really feel he will provide lots of experience [to the board]."
Professor of History Peniel Joseph agreed and expressed his belief that Bacow's focus on increasing diversity in higher education will bring a unique perspective to the board.
"Bacow has really at Tufts and elsewhere shown a real commitment to access and opportunity in higher education," Joseph said. "One of the things you always want [on these types of boards] is people from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. [The appointment] is a comment on his own diverse background."
According to Wilson, six of the 11 board members are presidents of HBCUs as part of an attempt to broaden the perspectives represented.
"The board is traditionally heavily populated with HBCU presidents," he said. "[This is the] first year where, with approval from the HBCU presidents, we are really diversifying the membership."
Wilson added that the number of members would in the future be increased to 25.