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Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Photo of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities forum meeting.

Building deeper ties with our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBU) and bolstering employee training were the key themes of events that the Office of Personnel Management’s Blacks In Government (BIG) chapter and the agency’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) sponsored during African American History Month.

BIG and ODI partnered to host a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) forum that brought together representatives from Claflin University, Bowie State University, Hampton University, Howard University, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T, University of the District of Columbia, the Association of Public & Land Grant University, and Prince George’s Community College. They were joined by representatives of Federal agencies and the business community.

The purpose of the HBCU forum was to have a robust discussion and to establish and sustain relationships with colleges and universities, Federal agencies, and other stakeholders in order to create a pipeline of talented students and alumni that will result in:

  • High school and college students knowing about and attending institutions of higher learning whose curriculum will prepare them to apply for the mission critical occupations offered by the Federal government;
  • College students nearing graduation looking to the Federal Government and government contractors as career destinations.
  • Federal agencies and the business community being more familiar and better understanding the mission of HBCUs, and be better prepared to recruit from these institutions.
  • Creating an environment for young college graduates and alumni who become Federal employees to have opportunities for professional growth and move into leadership positions;
  • Fostering genuine dialogue between the universities, the Federal Government, and other stakeholders to improve the kind of collaboration and engagement that will enhance the Federal Government’s continued efforts towards diversity and inclusion at all levels of Federal service.

 

OPM’s Acting Director Beth Cobert said at the forum that “the contributions that graduates from historically black colleges make to the Federal workforce across the country are extremely important. OPM is proud of the relationships we have built with many of you in this room.” She also pointed out that HBCU’s are some of the biggest producers of black undergraduate degrees in STEM fields, an area where many Federal agencies are in need of talented and motivated employees.

Director Cobert also challenged the attendees to take the opportunity to discuss and collaborate on ways OPM could work with the universities to enhance diversity and inclusion within the Federal and private sector. Also during African American History Month, representatives from Howard University provided executive leadership training to OPM BIG members and other agency employees.

The “Leadership in Action Seminar” covered leadership and executive communications, principles in group and cross cultural communications, decision-making, and team building. The training was conducted by Dr. Kim Wells, Executive Director of Executive Education at Howard University’s School of Business and Retired Air Force General Frank Anderson.

The interactive training discussed how easy it is to fall into making hiring and promotion decisions based on conscious or unconscious biases that can impact an organization or company having a diverse and inclusive employment culture.

The events BIG organized during this year’s African American History Month are just the beginning. We will continue to promote collaboration and partnerships with representatives from our nation’s HBCUs, all with the goal of continuing to create a diverse and inclusive environment in the Federal workplace.


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