President Names Cavett As Director of WHITCU

May 15th, 2006 | By | Category: 17-4: Reforming Our Schools, Native Style, Tribal College News

FAMILIAR FACE. WHITCU Director Deborah Cavett comes to the agency already familiar with the tribal colleges and universities from her work in USDA.

President George W. Bush has appointed Deborah Cavett as executive director of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities (WHITCU). The agency is responsible for implementing an Executive Order signed by the president in July 2002, which was designed to ensure that the nation’s tribal colleges and universities (TCU) are more fully recognized and have full access to federal programs benefiting other higher education institutions.

Cavett serves as the primary contact for the President’s Board of Advisors on Tribal Colleges and Universities. This board consists of 15 members who provide advice and recommendations on ways the federal government can help tribal colleges and universities strengthen and expand their resources, programs, facilities, and technology use.

Board members include tribal college presidents, educators, business leaders, and public servants. The U.S. Department of Education coordinates the WHITCU office and provides staff and support for the board of advisors.

Formerly with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Cavett has worked with tribal colleges and universities since 1994. She was director of interagency initiatives at USDA, serving as the contact for tribal colleges and universities and for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Cavett was also a member of the USDA’s policy committee with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. Cavett received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Northern Iowa.

Ron His Horse is Thunder (Hunkpapa Lakota) said he was pleased that Cavett had been appointed. “Without an executive director, we weren’t getting any movement under the Executive Order. It is good to have someone who is familiar with tribal colleges and their needs.

“Also because she is coming from a federal agency, she understands the federal bureaucracy from the inside. I have met with her and know that she has already started moving toward fulfilling the goals of the agency.” His Horse is Thunder is chairman of the President’s Board of Advisors on Tribal Colleges and Universities and former president of Sitting Bull College.

More information about WHITCU is available at

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