FAMU President Robinson Among HBCU Presidents in White House Meeting with National Security Advisor

February 20, 2023
President Robinson & HBCU Presidents
FAMU President Robinson Among HBCU Presidents in White House Meeting with National Security Advisor

Florida A&M University (FAMU) President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., was among 18 Historically Black College and University (HBCU) chief executives who met at the White House with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan Friday.

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 the White House. This was the first ever engagement with HBCU leaders by a national security advisor.  

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, the White House announced in a statement.  

HBCU PresidentsNational Security Advisor Jake Sullivan meets with Presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Friday, February 17, 2023, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Erin Scott)

“I was honored to be among HBCU leaders who were invited to discuss with the National Scurity 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 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 GuideStop 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, 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 has said it 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.