Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Lauds Morehouse Diplomats-In-Residence Program in Helping Boost Numbers of African Americans Working in Foreign ServicesDate Released: August 18, 2017
By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson singled out Morehouse College as one of the institutions doing outstanding work in helping boost the lagging number of African Americans in the nation’s diplomatic corps.
“People of all backgrounds should know that a State Department career is possible,” Tillerson said during a press conference in Washington, D.C., Friday. “We need to work harder to find those individuals. Twenty-five percent of our civil service is African American, but only nine percent of our foreign service specialists and five percent of our foreign service generalists are African American.”
Tillerson said that the Diplomats-In-Residence program at Morehouse College, as well as at Spelman College, Howard University, and Florida A&M, “do an outstanding job ensuring that people understand the opportunities at the State Department. There are more than 100 historically black colleges and universities, and there is so much more that we can do to raise awareness about the range of careers at [the State Department].”
Julius Coles ’64, director of Morehouse’s Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership, spent 28 years as a respected member of the foreign service, most notably as a senior official with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Coles said that Tillerson’s remarks are very encouraging, and the assignment of two Diplomats-in-Residence at Morehouse and Spelman – James Watson of the USAID and foreign service officer Vallera Gibson – sends a clear message to students that a foreign service career is a great option.
“Morehouse is very pleased and honored to be the host of Diplomats-in-Residence at Morehouse and Spelman,” he said. “They are excited about being at our institution to help encourage more students to go into the foreign service and various careers in the foreign service.
“It’s very important in the sense that our country needs to show its representation abroad to be representative of the American people and the population,” Coles said. “We are a multicultural society, a multiracial society, and currently the State Department is not very representative of the U.S. population. This has to change. We have to do more to get more of our people into those jobs.”
Coles said Watson and Gibson give class lectures about their foreign service responsibilities and participate in career fairs. One even joined Morehouse students on a mission trip to Haiti last year.
“I think this is a wonderful statement coming out of this administration,” Coles said. “I think by assigning those officers to our institution speaks well for our institution, as well as for the federal government in believing that our institutions offer the best opportunity for recruitment for minorities into the foreign service.”
Last Modified: August 18, 2017, 17:08 PM, by: Kara Walker
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