President Donald Trump, Signing of the HBCU Executive Order

Bluefield State College looks to benefit from executive order

President Trump Signs the HBCU Executive Order. Watch the video here.

BLUEFIELD — Bluefield State College may benefit from an executive order signed by Pres. Donald Trump on Tuesday. BSC President Dr. Marcia Krotseng attended the ceremony.

That order, Krotseng said, is aimed at providing more help for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

“The President said this (executive order) means a ‘great deal’ to him,” she said, adding that he also said the order “makes HBCUs an absolute priority for the White House.”

Not only could that eventually mean more funding for scholarships, building and infrastructure, but also more open communication and dialogue with the White House on problems the schools face.

Krotseng said the program to support HBCUs has been around since the President Carter Administration and each president since has renewed it. However, there is a difference this time.

“Under the prior administrations, the initiative was under the Secretary of Education,” she said. “This (the order) elevates it to be within the White House itself.”

That will bring it higher visibility with a more direct line to the President.

“That shines a wonderful spotlight on Bluefield State College and all of our sister institutions,” she said. “It will help highlight to the world what we have been doing here for 122 years to help elevate the lives of students.”

Krotseng said the order “speaks volumes” about the commitment at the “very highest level of government” for BSC.

“That can translate in providing additional resources, scholarships, infrastructure and building needs that we have down the road,” she said.

Krotseng the order is a huge step in the right direction.

“I think it’s a great first step in showing this is a priority of the administration,” she said. “It’s also a wonderful first step in opening a dialogue between our institutions and the federal government in helping them understand what we do and how we serve our students. We can partner to work closer together to meet the needs of our students.”

The order will also require federal agencies to create plans that will increase the capacity of the HBCUs to participate in applicable federal programs. “That an essential piece of it,” she said.

“All of this flows down to the students, and that is the reason we are here,” said Mark Warner, BSC’s director of communications and assistant to the president. “If we measure what we do here by the people who go out and succeed, we will be smiling all day.”

Krotseng said she and the presidents of the other 100-plus HBCUs in the country were in Washington Monday and Tuesday for the meeting related to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. That meeting included a listening session Monday with Vice President Mike Spence and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Other federal agencies also participated, and the focus was on bringing attention to the needs of HBCUs.

“We were all invited to the White House, but did not know what to expect,” she said.

The visit ended up with the presidents of the schools in the Oval Office, shaking hands with Trump.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said. “We all shook his hand and thanked him for his interest in the institutions.”

Krotseng said she knew the order would be signed the next day, but was surprised later on Monday to be chosen as one of a handful of college presidents to be invited back to the White House on Tuesday to witness the actual signing.

“I did not expect that and it was truly a very special privilege to be one of the presidents to see that signing,” she said, again shaking the President’s hand as well as the Vice President’s.

Krotseng said no one had any idea that all of this would happen, and she described Trump as being “personable” and he was complimentary of the schools and the work they do.

The signing was even more remarkable, she said, because that same evening of the signing was Trump’s first address to the nation.

“He was preparing for his first State of the Union address and knowing how important that would be,” she said. “It (taking the time to sign the order) makes it even more special in that context. This order was signed six hours before his address and he was in the middle of preparing for one of the most important speeches he would ever make.”

Krotseng said she was honored to be chosen to witness it.

“It makes me so proud of Bluefield State College that I am able to represent our students, faculty and staff,” she said.

One of those students, Student Athletic Advisery Committee member Tanasia Blake, said Thursday that she was pleased to learn about the order.

“It actually caught me by surprise,” she said. “I’m not really into politics, but I think it’s great that helping (the HBCUs) is a priority.”

The senior, a basketball recruit from Brooklyn, New York, said she has enjoyed her years at Bluefield State.

“I love it here,” she said. “A part of me wants to stay here after graduation. Bluefield State is like home. You go away to college for the first time and you don’t want to go, but Bluefield State is so comfortable and welcoming.”

Krotseng said the order also said these institutions are “important engines of economic growth and public service and provide leaders of intergenerational advancement.”

Krotseng and Warner pointed out that BSC also creates an economic footprint in the community, providing jobs and boosting the economy overall.

“Every dollar the state invests in us, we return $6 or more back to the community and the state,” she said.

Krotseng said the entire experience in Washington was memorable, but her trips to the White House were special.

“They (White House staff) made us feel welcome,” she said. “They made us feel comfortable. They were very hospitable.”

Krotseng said she is optimistic that BSC and the other HBCUs will be helped, and that the President is setting a good tone.

“He said he wants to unite people, and that is important,” she said, adding that the communication and dialogue will help that process.

“Simply the fact that Bluefield State College is a part of this process with the new federal administration says a lot,” she said. “It is very significant to the college and a significant part of our future.”

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