December 15, 2022

Van Hollen, Tillis Secure Provision to Boost HBCU, MSI Research Capacity in FY23 Defense Bill, Legislation Heads to the President’s Desk

The Senators worked to include language in the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act modeled after their HBCU RISE Act to increase research and investment in HBCUs and MSIs

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) secured Senate passage of key language from their HBCU RISE Act within the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. The Senators’ provision aims to spur greater research investment in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) while strengthening our national defense research ecosystem. It creates a new program with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to help HBCUs and MSIs achieve “very high research activity status,” also known as “R1” status. Maryland’s Morgan State University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), as well as North Carolina A&T State University and the District of Columbia’s Howard University, are all classified as high research activity status or “R2” universities that could benefit from this provision, which will unlock more opportunities for students and new funding streams for the universities. Having passed the House last week, the annual defense bill now goes to President Biden to be signed into law.

“Maryland is home to four outstanding HBCUs that provide a quality education for their students and help power American innovation. And with this bill heading to the President’s desk we’re providing an even greater investment in the success of universities like Morgan State and UMES in Maryland and many others across the country. Our provision will help them take the next steps toward becoming top-tier research institutions while supporting the growth of a more diverse STEM workforce and bolstering our national security,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“North Carolina A&T is a world-class university and just one example of the crucial role that HBCUs play in cultivating cutting-edge research and our workforce pipeline in the state,” said Senator Tillis. “I am proud this bipartisan legislation will become law and help our HBCUs continue this important work, reach R1 status, and strengthen our national defense research network.”

The provision that Senators Van Hollen and Tillis worked to include in the NDAA will create a new DOD pilot program to increase capacity at high research activity status (R2) HBCUs and MSIs in order to help them achieve very high research activity status (R1). Under the program, the Secretary of Defense will consult with the Defense Science Board to establish annually a list of strategic areas of defense research for which the eligible institutions would apply for funding. Funds may be used for faculty professional development; stipends for undergrad, graduate, and post-doctoral scholars; lab equipment and instrumentation; recruitment and retention of faculty and graduate students; construction, modernization, rehabilitation, and retrofitting of facilities for research purposes; and other activities necessary to build capacity in research activity indicator areas.