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Obama Taps Bacow for Higher Education Initiative

Obama Taps Bacow for Higher Education InitiativeTufts President Lawrence S. Bacow has been appointed to President Barack Obama's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [03.02.10] President Barack Obama has appointed Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow to the board of advisors for a reinvigorated White House initiative to support historically black colleges and universities, institutions Obama described as "crucibles of learning where students discover their full potential and forge the character required to realize it."

Bacow was present with other members of the board in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 26 as Obama signed an executive order strengthening the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Today, there are 105 such institutions in the United States. Many of them have suffered from the effects of the economic downturn, in part because they enroll higher proportions of low- and middle-income students than many other institutions. 

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"These institutions play a critical role in providing access and opportunity to so many young people," said Bacow. "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." 

The initiative, which began in the Carter administration, aims to "help these schools give their students every chance to live up to their full potential," Obama said. The goals of the initiative include ensuring access to federally-sponsored programs and opportunities and boosting the number and percentage of college-trained Americans by the year 2020.

"We're not only doing this because these schools are a gateway to a better future for African Americans," Obama said. "We're doing it because their success is vital to a better future for all Americans."

Video from the Feb. 26 event:

The board of advisors, according to a White House statement, "is tasked with advising the President and the Secretary of Education on methods, programs, and strategies to strengthen these valued institutions."

In a White House statement on the initiative, Bacow is noted as "an advocate for broader access to higher education, the importance of need-based financial aid, and the role of civic engagement in colleges and universities."

The appointees to the board, Obama said, "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."

White House photo by Charles Dharapak, Associated Press

Bacow photo by University Photography

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