Several leaders of historically black colleges and universities in Louisiana were among those who met with President Donald Trump on Monday to try to seek support for ideas they say will help provide stability for their schools.
Southern University, Southern University Law Center, Southern University at Shreveport, Grambling State University, Dillard and Xavier were represented in the meeting, which took place in the Oval Office and included dozens of other HBCU representatives.
Trump shook hands and made small talk with the HBCU leaders as video cameras rolled and still cameras clicked.
“I don't think we've ever had this many people in the Oval Office,” Trump said to laughter. “This could be a new record, forever."
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The nation's HBCU chiefs are urging Trump to set aside more federal contracts and grants for their schools. They also are urging the White House to take control of a key program that oversees HBCU initiatives, currently through the U.S. Department of Education.
Trump is expected to sign an executive order related to historically black schools this week, though his administration has been light on details so far.
Nationally, historically black colleges and universities have in recent years have struggled with declining enrollments.
There were more than 231,000 students enrolled at black colleges and universities in 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Almost 80 percent were black.
Total HBCU enrollment declined from 326,614 to 294,316 between 2010-2014, according to the latest information available from National Center for Education Statistics. The percentage of black college students attending a historically black college or university also dropped from 18 percent of the overall total in 1976 to 8 percent in 2014.
Enrollment at Southern University's main campus in Baton Rouge has fallen from 7,619 in fall 2009 to 6,360 this school year.
Grambling State's enrollment, meanwhile, went from 4,553 in fall 2012 to 4,863 this fall.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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