DoD, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Sign Pact
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 25, 2006 With the theme, "Reaching Out to Youth: A Strategy for Excellence," the Defense Department and 20 Historically Black Colleges and Universities signed a pledge of commitment to support each other's needs during the DoD observance of National African American History Month held here yesterday and today.
"The commitment shows our mutual support of DoD and the presidents of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities in reaching out to our nation's youth to influence them to become better citizens," said Clarence A. Johnson, DoD's director of civilian equal employment opportunity. "To do that, we're working with HBCUs so they can learn the kinds of discipline needed to make them successful in life. One outcome of this, we hope, is that HBCUs become better pipelines for DoD's military and civilian work force."
The idea is to reach out to youth and tell them how to prepare for their careers, Johnson said. "Certainly they must go to college, and HBCUs are a good venue for them to get educated, and DoD is an excellent place for them to work," he said.
Nine more HBCUs than expected signed the commitment yesterday, Johnson noted. "Up until this date, about 20 signed up," he said. "Each time we hold an event like this different times during the year, we get HBCUs to commit themselves with a signature."
Johnson pointed out that DoD is working with HBCUs in support of a 2002 presidential executive order that federal agencies be involved with HBCUs to work toward enhancing their capacity "to serve as a beacon of personnel for use in federal programs as the kids come out of schools," Johnson explained.
Noting that the executive order promotes infrastructure and capacity enhancement, Johnson said DoD brings its programs to HBCUs to encourage them to enhance their research and development program to comply with DoD's needs and to enhance their enrollment of students in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.
"These are the kinds of individuals who DoD and the nation needs if we're going to maintain our global edge in technology," Johnson noted. "We're looking for every opportunity for HBCUs to understand that if they don't have current research and development programs, they need to start developing them. If they have them, they need to figure out how to enhance them."