On Monday morning, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris held a roundtable discussion with the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The event included key figures like Dr. Tony Allen, Chair of the Board of Advisors and Delaware State University President, and Mayor Steve Benjamin, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

The topic of discussion during the meeting was the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensuring HBCUs receive the same kinds of investments as other universities and remain affordable for students.

Biden spoke about the importance and crucial need to support HBCUs.

“HBCUs produce 40% of all Black engineers in America, 50% of all Black lawyers, 70% of all Black doctors and dentists, and 80% of all Black judges,” Biden remarked. “And HBCUs are engineers of economic mobility helping to increase the Black middle class. When the middle class does well, everybody does well. The poor have a road up, and the wealthy still do well although they’ve got to start paying their taxes. That’s why it’s critical we invest in these universities.”

Dr. Allen listed four recommendations for supporting HBCUs, framed around President Biden and Vice President Harris’s core fundamental tenets.

The first recommendation was to focus on infrastructure, “both as it relates to physical infrastructure and technological infrastructure.” “We already know that HBCUs were the best return on investment in higher education and provide a quality education, and we want our living and learning spaces to match that quality education,” said Dr. Allen.

In the second recommendation, Dr. Allen emphasized the importance of research capacity building at HBCUs. “We think we have unique expertise across an array of disciplines that will help the American economy.” Dr Allen said. “And we have a number of HBCUs who are in the R2 position, which is a cla- — a Carnegie Classification that are ready for their R1 status. “

Dr. Allen’s third recommendation was “connected pathways,” which supports students in obtaining opportunities as they matriculate through college and onto graduate school, and the fourth recommendation was HBCU preservation and growth. 

Biden also touched on his promise to make historic investments in HBCUs, citing increased Pell Grant funding and research allocations.

The president said he’s worked for bipartisan support in helping HBCUs. “Just a few months ago, the Speaker of the House and I agreed to spending levels for the government. We were up right to the very edge, almost reneged on our debt, and — that we could fund essential priorities and still cut the deficit by $1 trillion over the next decade,” Biden noted.

“Land-grant universities used to be robustly supported by their state legislative bodies. They would support, in some cases, up to 60 percent of the land-grant budget for that university. “From 1987 to 2000, land-grant universities have lost — Black and white — more than $13 billion in investments from the state — from the states and government to help them. And that has exacerbated the problem — particularly for Black land-grant universities, HBCUs. Everybody does better in the whole United States when the potential of HBCUs is realized. Everybody. I make no apologies for the kind of effort we’re expending on HBCUs.”

– President Joe Biden

Vice President Harris, a graduate of Howard University, stressed the importance of diversity and HBCU graduates being in leadership roles.

“I strongly believe — based on experience and knowledge about what our country needs, in terms of its strength and growth and development — that our HBCUs are extraordinary centers of academic excellence and must continue to be supported, not only because of the historical role that they have played in building and helping to contribute to America’s leadership and global leadership, but also because, as the President has said: As we look forward, we know that our HBCUs are also pipelines for very extraordinary young people to enter the fields of work that we require to cure disease, to create that which we have not imagined, to supply us with the innovative approaches that will allow us to continue to work on the strength, prosperity, and security of our nation,” Harris said.