Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., joined a distinguished panel on March 20 on Capitol Hill for the first HBCU STEAM Day of Action. The Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Caucus and the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) Caucus hosted the event.
HBCU presidents and administrators from 34 schools and industry leaders met with congressmen and senior staff from both parties and in both chambers. The meetings focused on advocacy for bipartisan priorities impacting HBCUs and increased efforts to diversify their workforce.
During a panel hosted by Intel, Dr. Robinson shared his perspective on the significant investments that public and private partners should be prepared to make to impact HBCUs.
Intel is among corporate partners contributing more than $500,000 to FAMU for scholarships and training students majoring in STEM disciplines. Barbara Whye, vice president of Human Resources and chief diversity and inclusion officer for Intel Corporation was also on the panel.
“Florida A&M University and our HBCU partners have been in the business of producing outstanding graduates in STEM disciplines throughout our history,” said Dr. Robinson. “The fact that HBCUs produce more than 40 percent of African-American engineers while constituting only three percent of colleges and universities in this nation is a remarkable achievement, in and of itself, but when you consider that only about 10 percent of all HBCUs have engineering programs, our productivity would suggest to anyone that these are the places to invest in and partner with for those private sector and federal entities interested in diversifying their workforce.”
Robinson summarized several insights provided at the event. Including:
- The best way to establish productive partnerships with the private sector is to recognize the wealth of expertise that HBCUs bring to the table and use a bottoms-up approach to frame the relationship, taking into consideration the special needs of corporate partners and skill sets needed by our graduates to succeed. HBCUs’ corporate partners should be prepared to make substantial and sustained investments in the institutions to include student support, internships, jobs, faculty, and infrastructure.
- After establishing partnerships we need to see graduates not only employed in early career positions but also ascend to all tiers in the organization at a pace comparable to other employees.
- HBCUs and their partners need to establish lasting change. Partners in educational and private sectors should all show measures of improvement. We should all realize mutually beneficial outcomes. And the partnerships should persist regardless of leadership or other personnel changes on either side.