Biden appoints Prairie View A&M University President Ruth Simmons, Taraji P. Henson to historically Black colleges board

This 2021 photo shows Prairie View A&M University President Ruth Simmons in her office on the Prairie View, Texas, campus. Simmons, the president of the historically Black university in Texas, felt in December when she received a call informing her that the school would be gifted $50 million not just the largest contribution it has ever received, but nearly 24 times larger than the previous recordholder, the famous $2.1 million gift from thrifty schoolteacher Whitlowe Green in 2005. (Michael T. Thomas/Prairie View A&M University Marketing and Communications via AP) (Michael T. Thomas)

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is naming Prairie View A&M University President Ruth Simmons, actor Taraji P. Henson and the NBA’s Chris Paul to a presidential advisory board on historically Black colleges and universities.

They are among nine men and nine women Biden is appointing to the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the White House announced Thursday.

Several HBCU presidents, the president of United Airlines and the first Black woman to become administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency are among Biden's selections.

They will join Tony Allen, the president of Delaware State University, and Glenda Glover, the president of Tennessee State University, who are serving, respectively, as chairperson and vice chairperson of the board, which was established during the Carter administration.

READ MORE: Outgoing Prairie View A&M President Ruth Simmons will remain at university, create new leadership diversity program

Henson is a Washington, D.C., native who studied acting at Howard University, a historically Black school and the alma mater of Vice President Kamala Harris. Paul is a 12-time NBA All-Star with the Phoenix Suns and two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Besides Simmons, Allen and Glover, the presidents of other HBCUs will also join the board. They are Virginia State University, Norfolk State University in Virginia, Alabama State University, and Dillard University in New Orleans.

Lisa Jackson, who became the EPA's first Black administrator in the Obama administration, and United Airlines President Brett Hart will also join the board.

Biden also intends to appoint Paige Blake, a 20-year-old junior at Bowie State University, an HBCU in Maryland.

The White House said the administration has committed $5.8 billion in support to these historically Black colleges and universities through a combination of pandemic relief funding, grants and forgiving capital improvement debt.