St. Louis Public Radio News
9:08 am
Tue June 24, 2003

Black Schools Plan for Larger Role in Business World

St. Louis – A Bush Administration education official said historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, will have a larger role to play as American companies seek more business school graduates.

Wilbert Bryant advises U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige on HBCUs. He was in St. Louis for the first national meeting of HBCU business school deans, sponsored in part by Harris-Stowe State College.

Bryant said labor statistics predict 19 million job openings in the next 25 years could go unfilled because of a shortage of skilled workers.

"This presents an unprecedented opportunity for HBCUs and their business programs to work toward helping to fulfill this need," Bryant said.

Bryant said minorities will make up a steadily-increasing percentage of the workforce.

Bryant also praised Monday's mixed Supreme Court rulings on affirmative action. He said achieving diversity on American campuses is best done with non-discriminatory methods.

"I support the Bush Administration and what he's tried to do," Bryant said. "He's talked about race-neutral policies. Secretary Paige has put a statement out on that. I support the President's position. I support Secretary Paige's position on that."

In his statement, Paige said the Department of Education will continue to promote race-neutral solutions to achieving diversity.

Over four days, 60 HBCU business school deans discussed partnering with the private sector and increasing African-American representation in business, among other things.