In 2002 the Department of Defense began an outreach event for historically black colleges and universities. Last week marked a first for the program which travels to various institutions each year.

This was the first year Alabama A&M University served as host.

"We see this as an opportunity to further the infrastructure and capacity of our nation's HBCUs as well as maintaining DoD as a model of diversity and equal opportunity for our nation," said Clarence Johnson, principal director of the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity. He traveled from the Pentagon to Alabama A&M for the event held Feb. 25-26 during African-American History Month.

The program, which DoD calls "Taking the Pentagon to the People," included a technical assistance workshop on opportunities for doing business with DoD through contracts and grants, an awards program to servicemembers who have supported the Global War on Terrorism, career fairs for students, and a leadership symposium for presidents and staff members of HBCUs.

Dr. Saundra DeLauder, associate dean for the college of science and technology at North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C., was among the scheduled speakers for the leadership symposium.

"I think anything the federal government can do to expand opportunities for minorities in the business sector and the science sector is worthwhile," DeLauder said.

Bobby Coney, chief of equal employment opportunity at the Aviation and Missile Command, attended the activities on the Alabama A&M campus.

"It's a great outreach event," Coney said, "that further enhances the AMCOM EEO mission element, particularly the minority college relations element and the special ethnic observances specifically during African-American History Month."

Dr. Teresa Merriweather Orok, vice president for institutional research, planning and sponsored programs at Alabama A&M, was instrumental in bringing the DoD outreach to A&M for the first time.