WASHINGTON, D.C. – Florida A&M University (FAMU) President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., was among 18 historically Black Universities and Colleges (HBCUs) chief executives who met at the White House with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Friday, February 17.
Sullivan met with the HBCU leaders to discuss a range of issues, including partnerships to advance national security, recruitment of graduates from their campuses for national security careers, and campus security, according to a White House statement. This was the first ever engagement with HBCU leaders by a National Security advisor.
“I was honored to be among HBCU leaders who were invited to discuss with the National Security advisor the vital role of these institutions to provide much needed talent through our academic programs and conduct research in areas critical to the well-being of this nation,” Robinson said of the visit. “Developing strategies to effectively engage our students, faculty and staff will lead to outcomes that advance democracy and freedom around the globe.”
HBCU presidents shared their desire to expand partnerships with Federal agencies to support groundbreaking research and improve curriculums to meet national security needs. HBCU presidents discussed ongoing work connected to critical national security topics including data science, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence & machine learning, nano-technology, energy systems, and international affairs.
HBCU presidents also shared their commitment to work with the White House and Federal agencies to update their curriculums in criminal justice programs and humanities programs to include topics on security studies and factors that can contribute to mobilization to violence.
HBCU presidents also spoke about security challenges facing their institutions, most notably the challenges and concerns associated with recent bomb threats against HBCUs. Sullivan discussed existing U.S. Government resources available to campuses to help to bolster their preparedness and resilience against both physical and cyber-attacks, including the HBCU Bomb Threat Resource Guide, Stop Ransomware Guide, and SHIELDS Up Resource Guidance.
During the conversation, Sullivan also spoke to HBCU leaders about existing efforts to recruit talent from HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, including through work President Biden directed in his White House Memorandum on Revitalizing America’s Foreign Policy and National Security Workforce, Institutions, and Partnerships. Additionally, Mr. Sullivan listened to feedback on how to expand the talent pipeline for national security and foreign policy fields. He articulated how the Administration is addressing some of the challenges that can prevent students from entering national security professions, including steps such as improving hiring timelines; expanding paid internships and student loan repayment; and broadening fellowships.
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to supporting the vital mission of HBCUs. Through the American Rescue Plan, grant funding, and by forgiving capital improvement debt of many these institutions, President Biden has already committed nearly $6 billion in support.