John Silvanus Wilson, Jr. Appointed Executive Director for White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities

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John Silvanus Wilson, Jr. Appointed Executive Director for White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities

July 17, 2009

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the appointment of John Silvanus Wilson, Jr., as executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

"We're delighted to have someone with the breadth and quality of experience that Dr. Wilson brings to address the challenges our HBCUs face," President Obama said. "His expertise and insight will be invaluable to the Department."

As executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, Wilson will work with the presidentially appointed HBCU Board of Advisors and assist the Secretary as liaison between the executive branch and HBCUs. He also will work with 32 federal agencies that support HBCUs through federal grants and contracts.

"I am pleased President Obama selected Dr. Wilson to head the White House Initiative. Among other things, he will be a strong advocate for HBCUs with the federal agencies," said Dr. William R. Harvey, President of Hampton University for the last 31 years.

Wilson has been an associate professor of higher education at George Washington University (GWU) since 2006, when he took research leave as executive dean of GWU's Virginia campus, a post he has held since 2002.

He joined the staff at George Washington in 2001 to help develop a strategic plan for the university. Previously he spent 16 years at MIT, where he served as director of foundation relations and assistant provost. As director, Wilson helped to lead two major capital campaigns that raised a combined total of nearly $3 billion. In that context, he more than doubled the productivity of the office he managed and reached a record annual revenue stream of more than $50 million.

"This is a superb appointment. As a graduate of Morehouse College, John Wilson knows well the contributions, strengths and heritage of our nation's HBCUs," said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). "In this position, he can now play a central role in ensuring that these institutions are strengthened in their capacity to help us all meet the challenging goal that President Obama has set--that America will regain its position as the number one nation in the world in producing college graduates."

Wilson also held several teaching positions during more than a decade in Harvard University's Afro-American Studies Department, as well as in their Graduate School of Education. His primary research and teaching interests include advancement and finance in higher education, and the transformation of aspiring college and universities, especially HBCUs.

Wilson has served as a board member for Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., and for the Independent Federal Savings Bank in Washington, D.C. He also has served as an official advisor to a variety of efforts to improve black colleges, including initiatives led by the Kresge Foundation, the Mott Foundation, and the United Negro College Fund. He has received distinguished alumni awards from Morehouse College and from the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education.

Wilson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College, a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard University, and both master's and doctoral degrees in educational administration, planning, and social policy, also from Harvard University.