July 11, 2013
Dear Howard University Community:
He demonstrated a unique ability to generate resources from organizations and foundations like the Lilly Endowment, the Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation in support of more inclusive and representative higher education for our nation. During the past two decades, Howard University evolved in an environment of enhanced opportunity shaped in large part by the efforts of William “Bill” Gray.
Among Congressman Gray’s diverse contributions, his advocacy for improved research and related outlets, and technological resources available to support the education of students at HBCUs is significant. His F. D. Patterson Institute initiative, which focused on designing, conducting, analyzing and disseminating research on blacks in education, substantially increased information that informed public policymakers and university administrators’ decision-making. He led the Technology Enhancement Capital Campaign in partnerships with Microsoft Corp., IBM and AT&T that enhanced the technology infrastructures of UNCF institutions.
Howard’s unique mission was advanced generally by the higher education policy environment that Congressman Gray helped create in his roles as the first African American chair of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives and member of the Congressional Black Caucus. As a member of Congress, he had a clear appreciation of Howard’s essential role in American and international higher education. Howard was able to initiate its innovative Preparing Future Faculty program with funds that Congressman Gray secured from the Lilly Endowment. Congressman Gray understood the need to strengthen the effort to increase the pool of African Americans available to assume faculty positions in our nation’s institutions of higher education.
Congressman Gray was part of the national leadership to which Howard University students looked as they actively engaged with efforts to liberate the people of South African, free Nelson Mandela, and create a plural democratic nation. Through his leadership, he enriched the education of our students.
We should be strengthened by his vision, life and sacrifices as we serve our institutions and communities, and address the challenges before us.
Sidney A. Ribeau
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