Within days of beginning her work over the summer as the new Vice President for Academic Affairs at Wiley College, Dr. Gloria Pryor James departed the campus to fly to Washington, D.C., to serve on a congressional panel to discuss the role of historically black colleges and universities(HBCUs) in the 21st century and the inequities that must be addressed to promote their longevity.
"When I was in school, I was a number; HBCUs focus on value added, meaning we know [our students'] names," Dr. James told a congressional committee comprised of educational leaders from around the country. During the briefing, Dr. James also talked about Wiley's new initiative with the federal government, the Second Chance Pell Grant program, which will allow Wiley to offer academic programs leading to degrees via an online portal for incarcerated individuals. Wiley is one of 65 schools selected from a pool of more than 200 applicants to take part in the initiative.
Dr. Brian K. Bridges, Vice President of Research and Member Engagement at UNCF, also served on the panel. And in comments released just before the hearing, he spoke of the vital, unique role that these schools play in higher education for people of color and beyond. "HBCUs are more relevant now than ever before and UNCF is excited to be at the forefront of working with Congressional leaders to ensure these historic institutions continue to have a special place in the fabric of American history, culture and education, today and in the future."
Speaking about Wiley's legacy of excellence in higher education, Dr. James released similar comments. "As the historic 'Home of the Great Debaters' and as the future home of the Nate Parker School of Film, Theater, and Drama, Wiley College has proved – and continues to prove – that HBCUs are instrumental in preparing students for careers and for service to their communities."
Dr. James and Dr. Bridges were joined on the panel by Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, President of Virginia State University; Dr. Bill Mayew, Associate Professor of Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, Dr. Larry Walker, Educational Consultant and Author at online news outlet, HBCU Lifestyle; and Ms. Vashti Hinton, Congressional intern for Representative Adams' office and student at North Carolina A T & T State University.
The panel discussion was part of a series of congressional briefings leading up to and in hopeful anticipation of the reauthorization the Higher Education Act (HEA) hosted by the Committee on Education and the Workforce – Democrats, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional HBCU Caucus, and Congressman Keith Ellison.
In photo from left to right : Bill Mayew, Ph.D., associate professor, Duke University's Fuqua School of Business; Makola M. Abdullah, Ph.D., president, Virginia State University; Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), ranking member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Larry Walker, Ph.D., educational consultant and author, HBCU Lifestyle; Gloria Pryor James, Ph.D., provost and vice president of academic affairs, Wiley College; and Brian Bridges, Ph.D., vice president of research and member engagement, UNCF.