Dr. Dietra Trent Appointed as New Director of the White Area Initiative on HBCUs

Dr. Dietra Trent, the newly appointed executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUsDr. Dietra Trent, the newly appointed government director of the White Area Initiative on HBCUsThe White Area and U.S. Division of Training (ED) has appointed Dr. Dietra Trent as the brand new government director of the White Area Initiative on Advancing Instructional Fairness, Excellence, and Financial Alternative thru Traditionally Black Schools and Universities (WHI-HBCUs).

Trent, who’s an HBCU graduate and Virginia’s former secretary of training, will get started the function on Monday. Students of HBCUs, advocacy group leaders, and previous administrators of the White Area Initiative welcome this long-awaited appointment, in particular of a Black girl. 

“It’s thrilling that we’ll have a Black girl on this place as a result of I don’t assume that has came about earlier than,” mentioned Dr. Felecia Commodore, an assistant professor of instructional foundations and management at Outdated Dominion College, the place she research HBCUs. “I don’t know a lot about Dr. Trent, however I feel it’s promising that she graduated from Hampton College, this means that she has an immediate reference to HBCUs.”

Trent, who used to be no longer to be had for an interview previous to beginning her place, earned her bachelor’s level in sociology and felony justice from Hampton. She went directly to obtain her grasp’s and doctoral levels in public management and coverage from Virginia Commonwealth College. 

“I’m very excited to look the appointment of an African American girl with in depth upper training enjoy, and who used to be trained at an HBCU,” mentioned Dr. Marybeth Gasman. Gasman research HBCUs and is the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair in Training at Rutgers College. “To me, that is any other instance of President Biden’s publicly mentioned dedication to empowering and developing alternative for extra Black girls and spotting their vital function in society.”

Dr. Robert T. Palmer, division chair and affiliate professor within the division of instructional management and coverage research at Howard College, additionally stressed out Trent’s coverage background as a robust have compatibility for the process. Trent has served within the administrations of 3 former governors. In 2016, she used to be appointed as Virginia’s secretary of training. Previous to that appointment, Trent used to be deputy secretary of training. Maximum lately, she held management positions at George Mason College, together with as leader of body of workers.

“I’m thrilled on many fronts,” mentioned Palmer. “Primary, given the truth that a feminine shall be serving on this capability is truly empowering. However extra importantly, you’ve got any person who may be very well-qualified, who were given her undergraduate level at an HBCU, who has labored in upper training, who has labored in coverage and with governors earlier than, who has wealthy enjoy.”

Lezli Baskerville, president and CEO of the Nationwide Affiliation for Equivalent Alternative in Upper Training (NAFEO) mentioned Trent’s enjoy in Virginia’s division of training holds explicit promise in her talent to push for higher reinforce to HBCUs. NAFEO is a club and advocacy affiliation for HBCUs and Predominantly Black Establishments (PBIs).

“That carrier and her carrier as Senator Warner’s state deputy director nicely place her to guide the WHI-HBCUs in understanding one in every of NAFEO’s precedence objectives for the dep., particularly to beef up the connection between the WHI-HBCUs and the Nationwide Black Caucus of State Legislators,” mentioned Baskerville in an e mail to Numerous

Dr. Ivory A. Toldson, who used to be the director of the Initiative underneath former President Barack Obama, emphasised the significance of the process. He added that whilst he used to be no longer accustomed to Trent earlier than her appointment, she “turns out to have the {qualifications} and connections to create alternatives for HBCUs during the Initiative.”

“The White Area Initiative on HBCUs is a very powerful entity for HBCUs to achieve get admission to to federal assets, together with Name III, pupil help, and grants and contracts from throughout 30+ federal businesses,” mentioned Toldson. “The present earnings HBCUs obtain from the government is very important to their temporary survival and long-term enlargement.”

Nonetheless, Dr. Leonard L. Haynes III, who used to be the director of the WHI-HBCUs underneath former President George W. Bush, famous that the Biden management took over a 12 months to nominate a brand new director. That lengthen isn’t just odd however may just pose issues for Trent and HBCUs, he argued.

“I suppose all we will be able to say is congratulations,” mentioned Haynes. “They in any case did determine any individual. And she or he has a problem in entrance of her, indisputably, as it’s been nicely over a 12 months for the reason that management has been in administrative center. I feel that’s the longest hole that we’ve had between having any person appointed and the president taking administrative center.”

Haynes added, on the other hand, that he hopes Trent will take “complete merit” of the HBCU PARTNERS Act, which former President Donald J. Trump signed. The invoice calls for positive federal businesses to publish annual plans for strengthening the capability of HBCUs to take part in federal systems.

“She’s misplaced a 12 months already,” mentioned Haynes. “So, the query is, what’s going to be her priorities shifting ahead? And can she be capable of increase a compelling approach to put in force her priorities? That’s what she’s were given to increase.”

But to Lodriguez Murray, senior vice chairman of public coverage and govt affairs on the United Negro School Fund (UNCF), the behind schedule appointment isn’t essentially an obstacle for HBCUs. UNCF is a countrywide philanthropic and advocacy group that finances scholarships for Black scholars and common scholarship finances for 37 HBCUs.

“I’m satisfied that the White Area took a beat to get the fitting particular person for this process,” mentioned Murray. “We at UNCF have at all times been prone to imagine this is without doubt one of the maximum vital appointments for the HBCU group. And the truth that the White Area took the time to seek out the fitting particular person on the proper time is one thing that I’m more than happy with.”

Gasman additionally commented at the behind schedule appointment.

“I do know that President Biden and his management have needed to blank up numerous messes left from the Trump management,” she mentioned. “Alternatively, I do assume that this appointment must have come quicker. I’m heartened that regardless of this appointment, President Biden and Congress have dedicated really extensive investment to HBCUs to this point.”

However on Trent’s subsequent steps, Haynes mentioned that he’s “to be had to be supportive and inspiring of no matter she wishes.” 

Toldson, who may be professor of counseling psychology at Howard College, in a similar fashion mentioned that he’s desperate to assist and appears ahead to the months forward.

“As a former director of the Initiative and present HBCU professor and director of training innovation and analysis for the NAACP, I stand keen and able to reinforce her and her body of workers.”

Rebecca Kelliher can also be reached at rkelliher@diverseeducation.com

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