It was not a surprise within academic circles that Dr. Ivory Toldson was appointed by President Obama to fill the role of deputy director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Toldson, 38, is not only an associate professor at Howard University and The Journal of Negro Education editor. The multifaceted educator is also an award-winning writer and research scholar who is a staunch advocate of young black men and boys. He produced the groundbreaking report, “Breaking Barriers” in 2008, that illuminates the scholastic success of young black males. Toldson is also a senior research analyst for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
Toldson’s report, “Breaking Barriers 2,” focuses on the juvenile justice system and was released in April.
In this new capacity, he will work alongside its executive director, George Cooper, serving as a liaison between the federal government and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Toldson discussed his new exciting post with rolling out.
“We serve as advocates for HBCUs at the federal level. So when decisions are made regarding Title III and Title IV spending, which are federal programs that HBCUs benefit in various ways, and issues of contracts and competitive grants come up with federal agencies, we are the ones at the table to make sure that HBCUs needs are met adequately. And also to make sure the federal agencies understand the strengths of the HBCUs to further investments in HBCUs.”
De-emphasizing funding for HBCUs sent massive shock waves along the corridors of power within black colleges and universities, something that Toldson and his colleagues are determined to reverse, especially through college preparation.
“Strengthening the power of HBCUs is very important. And one of the ways that HBCUs can be strengthened is to have a more well-prepared application pool,” he said. “Our discussions have been about the role of colleges to the K-12 population and to ensure that there is equity. I think that is an important part.”
Contrary to popular but erroneous beliefs, President Obama only started the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence. He did not start The HBCU Initiative, which has been going on since the 1970s.
Toldson explained that his tenure as deputy director will last as long as long as Obama is in office. In the interim two years or so, Toldson and his colleagues have a few goals they want to accomplish.
“I want to make sure that the federal budget that comes out adequately addresses HBCUs’ needs. To make sure that there are funding streams within that budget — not just to make sure that HBCUs have a line item, which they have, but to have some stimulus for innovation and to have some things that could demonstrate certain programs to address,” he said.
“Another thing is to amplify the successful students at HBCUs,” Toldson continues. “We’ve done that through the HBCU All-Star program, where we’ve had different student ambassadors across different HBCU campuses as representatives of the HBCU Initiative.”