Roosevelt Room
4:02 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Well, thank you very much.  We appreciate it.  This is very important, and very important to me and the administration.  I want to, again, reiterate such a commitment to what we’re doing in so many different aspects, and especially the incredible job that Betsy is doing.  And I think you’re seeing the fruits of that labor, and you will see it over the years, definitely.

I want to begin by expressing our tremendous gratitude to Johnathan Holifield and the members of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities throughout our country.  They’re working hard, doing well, and we’re making a very big commitment to them today.

Since I signed — and, by the way, Johnathan —

MR. HOLIFIELD:  Yes.

THE PRESIDENT:  Where’s Johnathan?  Thank you very much.  Great job.

Since I signed the executive order establishing this initiative in my administration, we have made great strides in strengthening HBCUs, a cherished and vital institution in our country.  Very important.

I’m proud to say that my budget continues America’s commitment to helping HBCUs improve their competitiveness, requesting more than half a billion dollars for HBCU-focused programs.

Further, the recent budget deal allows for the forgiveness of any outstanding loans owed under the HBCU Hurricane Supplement Loan program, which was a very difficult task and it worked out.

I’m also pleased that our extension of the Pell Grant eligibility will greatly help the many students attending our wonderful HBCUs.

Today, I’m honored to announce that Johnny Taylor, Jr. — well known to a lot of us, great guy — will serve as our new Chairman and Chairman of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Johnny is the CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, which serves to connect the students at these institutions with the jobs of tomorrow.  He also recently served as president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.  I know he will advance the cause of HBCUs, a major priority of our administration.

And with that, I’d like to introduce and thank Chairman Taylor, and invite him to the podium to say a few words.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
4:05 P.M. EST