WASHINGTON, D.C. – Black higher education organizations are urging President-elect Joe Biden to consider North Carolina Congresswoman Alma Adams for the top job at the U.S. Department of Education.
Leaders with the United Negro College Fund, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education offered praise for Adams on a call with the press Wednesday.
Lodriguez Murray with UNCF said the organizations had written and spoken to the Biden team about the possibility of Adams being tapped for the secretary position.
“We’re looking for a champion like this in the upcoming administration, and that person exists now,” he said. “They were listening to us carefully. They noted our strong support. We’re all waiting to hear back from them.”
A spokesman for Adams said in a statement that she is “surprised, but flattered, that so many education leaders would put her name into consideration.”
“She would be honored to be considered,” he continued.
Adams, who has served in Congress since 2014, has made Historically Black Colleges and Universities one of the focuses of her tenure. She founded and serves as co-chair of the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus on Capitol Hill.
Last year, she helped lead the effort to extend federal funding for STEM-related programs at HBCUs and other minority serving institutions – a push that ultimately proved successful. Recently, a bill with her backing aimed at improving relationships between federal agencies and HBCUs is on the move on Capitol Hill.
Adams is a two-time HBCU grad and taught for decades at Bennett College.
The congresswoman was a supporter of President-elect Biden during the Democratic primary. On Wednesday, she told reporters she had been in touch with the Biden team during the campaign and the transition about education issues.
“I have shared many of my concerns about higher education and about education in general with the Biden team,” she said. “I’m confident that we’re going to see education in a different light and that education will be certainly a priority for this administration.”
If Adams were nominated and confirmed to the Department of Education post, she would have to leave her congressional seat. With the Democratic majority in the House already slim, her departure from the chamber would make that margin only smaller – even if just temporarily. Her district is comfortably Democratic.
Last week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer expressed concern about the Democrats’ margin, saying he had “indicated to the administration very early on that I wanted them to be very careful in terms of the members that they appointed from the Congress given the closeness of our majority,” according to The Hill.
North Carolina Names on Biden’s Radar
While higher ed leaders try to influence the Biden team to consider Adams, other North Carolina names are reportedly already on his radar for cabinet posts.
Earlier this week, Axios reported that Michael Regan – the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality – is a leading contender for the top job at the Environmental Protection Agency. He previously worked at the EPA during the Clinton and Bush administrations.
Mike Sprayberry is reportedly in the mix of candidates to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), according to E&E News. Sprayberry has served as North Carolina’s director of Emergency Management since 2013.