Entering the second week of International Month of Women, we are excited to recognize the appointment of Dr. Dietra Trent as the new executive director of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHI-HBCUs). Dr. Trent graduated from Hampton University, providing her with a personal, direct connection to HBCUs. She is the first Black woman to be appointed to this position.
“It’s exciting that we’ll have a Black woman in this position because I don’t think that has happened before,” said Dr. Felecia Commodore, an assistant professor of educational foundations and leadership at Old Dominion University, where she studies HBCUs. “I don’t know much about Dr. Trent, but I think it’s promising that she graduated from Hampton University, which means she has a direct connection with HBCUs.”
“I am very excited to see the appointment of an African American woman with extensive higher education experience, and who was educated at an HBCU,” said Dr. Marybeth Gasman. Gasman studies HBCUs and is the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair in Education at Rutgers University.
“To me, this is another example of President Biden’s publicly stated commitment to empowering and creating opportunity for more Black women and recognizing their important role in society.”
“I’m delighted on many fronts,” said Palmer. “Number one, given the fact that a female will be serving in this capacity is really empowering. But more importantly, you have someone who is very well-qualified, who got her undergraduate degree at an HBCU, who has worked in higher education, who has worked in policy and with governors before, who has rich experience.”
Dr. Trent has extensive educational and career experiences that have prepared her for this new role. At Hampton University, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice. She then attended Virginia Commonwealth University where she received her master’s and doctoral degrees in Public Administration and Policy. She has worked with various former governors on their administration teams and was appointed Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2016. She previously served as Deputy Secretary of Education in Governor Tim Kaine’s administration and as Director of Constituent Services as well as Director of the Council on Human Rights under Governor Mark Warner. Most recently, she served as George Mason University’s chief of staff. Dr. Trent’s rich experiences and educational background make her a very strong woman to fill this position.
This appointment has been long awaited as it has been over a year since a leader has been in this position. HBCUs and organizations supporting HBCUs are looking forward to the initiatives that Dr. Trent will begin pursuing. Today, we celebrate this new appointment and the increased advocacy, support, and opportunities that will arise for HBCUs across the country.
Congratulations Dr. and Executive Director!