United States Agency for International Development administrator Samantha Power appeared at Morehouse College Tuesday morning to announce a new partnership with the school’s Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership, a branch of the college dedicated to preparing students for careers in international affairs.
The five-year partnership serves as the agency’s fifth agreement in its Minority Serving Institutions initiative, which works to reduce poverty and promote peace, development and stability by investing in historically Black colleges and universities and other minority-dominated institutions. The agency has previously established partnerships with Tuskegee University, Delaware State University, Florida International University and Alcorn State University.
Administrator Powers and the president of Morehouse, David Thomas, provided remarks and signed the Memorandum of Understanding in the college’s African American Hall of Fame, formally initiating the partnership.
The assistance from USAID will allow Morehouse students to pursue careers in international development through new academic programs, which will teach students about the industry through funded research opportunities and guest lectures from professionals in the field. The partnership will also grant students opportunities to learn outside of the classroom through internships, mentorships and fellowships, some of which will involve working directly with USAID staff members.
Powers said the agency had not prioritized diversity in its recruitment efforts from previous years, but hopes to change their approach to hiring new talent through the Morehouse partnership and the MSI initiative at large.
“Diversity and inclusion aren’t luxuries,” Powers said. “They are critical to the success of any aspect of public policy, including American foreign policy, and they are certainly critical to the success of USAID’s programming, and our pursuit of improvements in human welfare around the world.”
In his remarks, Morehouse president David Thomas said USAID’s mission and values align with the college’s strategic plan to broaden the horizons of its student body and to expand the campus’s outreach overall.
“Every student at Morehouse will have a global experience and global exposure,” Thomas said about the future of the college. “We will become a more global campus, so that we are global at home.”
Thomas also said the partnership could produce future leaders in international development within Morehouse College, who will later assist in solving the impending global humanitarian crisis, a feat that Thomas said no one country can accomplish single handedly.
“We need leadership that understands the world globally, and, in particular, understands those communities and parts of the world that are disproportionately impacted,” he said. “We need leaders who will bring a sensibility about social justice that is not simply intellectual, but is also somehow deeply ingrained in their sense of identity. I believe that those are the kinds of leaders that we are producing here at Morehouse College.”
USAID was created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to lead and center American efforts in international development and humanitarianism. Today, the agency works to improve health, create stability and advance democracy in over 100 countries around the world, as well as improve the economic and social wellbeing of those living within the United States.
According to a Nov. 1 press release from USAID, both USAID and Morehouse will use the partnership to educate students on climate change, peace-building and conflict solution – issues considered important by both parties. The release also says USAID and Morehouse “will mutually support and contribute to the partnership” over the next five years.