Flag on The Play? White House Names New Head of HBCU Initiative


The Trump administration named Johnathan Holifield, Former NFL Player (Cincinnati Bengals) , Author and consultant, the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Mr. Holifield is a co-founder of ScaleUp Partners LLC, a nationally networked and locally focused company in the business of advancing Inclusive Competitiveness. He is also a founding executive director of CincyTech USA – Cincinnati’s Voice of Technology and Innovation, was CEO of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and Cleveland Urban League. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from West Virginia University, where he was elected football team captain, a master’s degree in educational foundations and a law degree from the University of Cincinnati. He is a graduate of The University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute.

United Negro College Fund released a statement Sunday saying it had learned Holifield would be named an executive director. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF’s president, and CEO, said the group looked forward to hearing how Holifield would advance the interests of historically black institutions and ensure more African-Americans get the opportunity to attend and graduate college.
“As we have done since the start of the new administration, UNCF will seek every opportunity to present Mr. Holifield with our federal policy proposals and enlist his essential support of investments in HBCUs and, most importantly, our students,” Lomax said in a statement.

Like many administration officials, Johnathan Holifield, has a track record in the private sector but practically no experience in government or with the institutions he’d be working to advance. Organizations representing historically black colleges offered tentative praise of the pick. But commentators on issues affecting minority institutions were quick to note Holifield’s lack of experience working with HBCUs.

Holifield has spoken frequently on how to make innovative areas of the economy more inclusive. Speaking after his introduction at the White House Summit on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, he said HBCUs are “entrepreneurial institutions.”

There are mixed reactions to Mr. Holifield being named the Head of HBCU initiative given his background and unfamiliarity with HBCUs. Do you all feel as though Mr. Holifield will have a positive impact on the fight to keep HBCUs A priority in this administration regardless of his lack of experience?


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