Florida A&M University (FAMU) President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., was among a group Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) chief executives who recently discussed diversity concerns with top Google executives.
“I was impressed with the depth and clarity of the issues presented by my colleagues and the willingness of Google’s senior executives to continue engaging with us to explore mutually beneficial solutions,” Robinson said following the 60-minute virtual session Friday, January 29.
Robinson and leaders from Howard University, North Carolina A&T University, Morgan State University and Prairie View A&M University as well as Thurgood Marshall College Fund CEO and President Harry Williams, discussed the recruitment, hiring and retention of HBCU students with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and seven senior leaders.
Following the meeting, Google and the HBCU leaders issued a joint statement, first published by CNN, confirming their plans to work together going forward.
“We are all encouraged about the future partnership. The meeting paved the way for a more substantive partnership in a number of areas, from increased hiring to capacity building efforts that will increase the pipeline of tech talent from HBCUs,” the statement said.
The meeting was held in the wake of racism accusations leveled against the tech giant by two former employees. In December, the two women announced on social media they had been fired by Google after voicing concerns about the scarcity of Black people at the company and its treatment of Black employees.
“HBCUs are a great source of untapped potential. Tech companies continue to overlook our students at their peril,” Robinson said. “This is an opportunity to assess our relationship with Google and forge partnerships that will open doors for our science, technology, engineering and math students. It’s a win-win proposition, for Google, for FAMU and all HBCUs.”
FAMU Students are eligible to participate in the Google Tech Exchange Program,
an initiative that brings students from HBCUs and Historically Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) to Silicon Valley to take their junior and senior level computer science courses. One recent participant is senior electrical and computer engineering student Darryl Brooks, who was accepted into the program in 2020 after a rigorous screening process.
Brooks, who is scheduled to graduate this spring, said being exposed to new technologies at Google helped him immensely.
“This program introduced me to those technologies that are currently used today and really gave me a good foundation for them that I still use to this day,” said the Jacksonville native. What Brooks enjoyed most was that Google allowed participants to network with other companies such as Lyft, Adobe, and Uber. But the program wasn’t easy.
“This program was super rigorous and those selected needed to be capable of keeping up,” Brooks said. “I can pick-up new concepts faster and more efficiently, which will be needed for the industry that I’m going into.”