Delaware Public Media

Delaware State University urges congressional action for HBCU funding

Oct 9, 2019

Delaware State University officials are enlisting the assistance of the state’s Congressional Delegation to get funding for historically black colleges and universities.

Congress missed last month’s deadline to approve the FUTURES Act. It would give $255 million to minority institutions for the next two years - with $85 million going to HBCUs.

DSU could lose nearly $900,000 dollars in Fiscal Year 2021 without the bill. The funds would go to improve library services, support its teacher education program, subsidize assistantships in Math and science and campus technology upgrades.

PhD student Azubuike Okorie is a Mathematics Teaching Assistant. He said the federal dollars contribute to the DSU program paying for assistantships like his.

“I really want to say that the funding has really helped me to follow my program, my education up to this level," he said. "I really benefited a lot from it.”

University Provost Tony Allen, some department heads and students met with Sen. Tom Carper Wednesday. Allen said they wanted to convey to Carper the impact that the lost funding would have on DSU.

“The things we talked about today are must-haves," he said. "We knew if we talked to him about that, he would get it right away. We just needed to make sure he was armed with the information to talk to some of his colleagues in the Senate and move the agenda forward.”

The FUTURES Act passed the U.S. House with bipartisan support.

But Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee objected to the bill in the Senate. He’s pushing a broader package updating the Higher Education Act.

Carper said he would be speaking with Alexander on DSU's behalf.

"There's no question that these monies are good investment for taxpayers and for preparing the workforce that we need," he said. "Today in America, about 157 million people went to work in this country. There's 4 million jobs that nobody showed up for."

Carper said there's a real need for male teachers of color in Delaware and across the country and the funding in FUTURES Act is helping to address that shortfall.