VIRGINIA, USA — Through all his tough assignments as a senior at Norfolk State University, Maleik Watkins completed his biggest one Thursday afternoon.
“Definitely the biggest! When Pharrell [Williams] came I met him, spoke to him but I didn’t introduce him," Watkins said.
Inside NSU's library rotunda, Watkins introduced Gov. Ralph Northam who was introducing a new topic of his own.
“We are proposing $297 million," Gov. Northam said before a round of applause interrupted him.
Under a new state budget proposal, Gov. Northam announced he intends to allocate $297 million in additional funding to Virginia HBCU's.
$277 million would be split between Norfolk State University and Virginia State University, with NSU receiving $164 million of that split. An additional $10 million will be allocated to Hampton University and Virginia Union University for scholarships under a newly created HBCU Opportunity Fund.
“The colleges that African Americans attend continue to be underfunded," Gov. Northam told a reporter gaggle after the announcement. "They have been, historically. We’ve looked at our priorities and our economy is doing well.”
The governor’s proposed budget still needs to be approved by the incoming administration. If approved, a Norfolk State University spokesperson told 13News Now that the money could help pay for a new fine arts facility, a new science building and more.
Also included in the budget is an allocation of tens of millions of dollars toward making tuition at HBCU's more affordable.
A release from Northam's office Thursday reads:
The budget will allocate an additional $20 million in 2023 and $20 million in 2024 to increase the affordability of Norfolk State and Virginia State University. More students will be able to access a high-quality education thanks to these state funds.