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University President Calls DoD Observance an Eye-Opener

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 26, 2006 – Having the Defense Department's two-day National African American History Month observance at Huston-Tillotson University here was an eye-opener for faculty and students, the university's president said.

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Larry Earvin, president of Huston-Tillotson University, said having the two-day Defense Department observance of National African American History Month at the university was an eye-opener for faculty and students. The university is one of more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the nation. Photo by Rudi Williams

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Larry Earvin said he invited DoD to hold its observance at Huston-Tillotson because most of the activities related to these kinds of programs are centered in the southeastern United States, and Texas' large African American population hasn't had such events before.

The 130-year-old Huston-Tillotson University is one of more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the nation.

"I also wanted in a public kind of way to raise the issues that we face as African Americans in Texas in higher education," Earvin said. "The pipeline issue of developing students in sciences and mathematics and the stem areas is something that I wanted to put on the radar screen."

He added the observance allows institutions to learn from one another. For the faculty, it means that they get a chance to hear about programs that are in place in other universities that they can model, mirror and emulate," Earvin noted. "The dean of our School of Arts and Sciences said he heard something on two occasions this morning that he's going to take back to our campus and make it work for our students. I think that's tremendously successful from our vantage point. We don't have all the ideas, but we can certainly benefit from other people who have programs that are working."

Most students, Earvin said, aren't aware of DoD's civilian employment opportunities. "This is a chance for us to highlight that particular aspect of this program," he said. "There are folks who challenge us for having this program because they are opposed to what the nation may be involved in terms of activities in the Middle East. But I look at it from a different standpoint. It's an opportunity for students to learn about job opportunities in the Defense Department's civilian services."

Yesterday, on the second day of the observance, middle school, high school and college students were invited to Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard expositions. The event included presentations about appointments to the service academies, the ROTC program and civilian career opportunities in DoD, including how to participate in civilian intern programs.

"This is a pipeline issue, Earvin said. "We have to start back with middle school and high school students to get them positioned to take advantage of opportunities. They'll interact with us to find out more about what the opportunities are and understand what they must do to take advantage of those opportunities."

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