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President Obama Cabinet Member to Speak at UVI Pride Week Event

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Dr. George E. Cooper, executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), will be the guest speaker at the University of the Virgin Islands Pride Week rally at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 26, outside the Melvin H. Evans Center on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix.  Dr. Cooper will address the value of HBCUs to higher education and the general community.

Dr. Cooper is the first member of President Barack Obama’s HBCU Initiative to visit the UVI campus. The University of the Virgin Islands is one of 105 HBCUs located in 20 states and the District of Columbia.

In 2010, President Obama signed an executive order renewing the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The initiative signifies the president’s goal to advance equal opportunity in higher education, strengthen the capacity of historically black colleges and universities to provide the highest quality education, and increase opportunities for these institutions to participate in and benefit from federal programs. 

The initiative has since fostered private-sector partnerships to promote academic research and shares administrative and program practices within the HBCU community. Additionally, the initiative sponsors the HBCU All-Star Students Program, in which students serve as ambassadors by communicating with their peers about the value of education. Students are also encouraged to promote the HBCU Initiative as a networking resource.

President Obama appointed Dr. Cooper to lead the HBCU initiative in 2013.  As executive director, Dr. Cooper serves as liaison between the executive branch and HBCUs across the nation, including the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Dr. Cooper helps to shape policies and deploy resources to better serve the students, faculty and families within the HBCU community. He also works to secure federal grants and contracts for HBCUs. 

Prior to his appointment Dr. Cooper was a senior fellow with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, where he reviewed key federal legislative initiatives of significance to HBCUs.

UVI Pride Week, celebrated March 23 – March 27 is a celebratory display of pride through pep rallies, dance squads, speakers, athletic events, and cultural workshops on both UVI campuses. Pride Week is also a vehicle to expose high school students to the University through pride rallies at each of the four high schools in the territory.  UVI staff, students, faculty, alumni and the general community are encouraged to ear the institution’s colors—blue and white—or other UVI clothing during the week.