Mignon Clyburn
Former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn will speak at the University of Florida on Thursday, September 9.

Former FCC Commissioner to discuss closing the digital divide at free event

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Mignon Clyburn will speak at the University of Florida on September 9 about expanding broadband access to marginalized communities in the United States as part of a new speaker series from the UF Warrington College of Business Digital Markets Initiative (DMI).

The free event will be held in the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom from 11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m. Attendees are also welcome to participate virtually. University of Florida students, faculty and staff as well as members of the local community are invited to hear Clyburn speak about closing the gap of broadband internet access. Free lunch will be provided to in-person attendees.

While the U.S. has spent billions of dollars to address this digital divide, 20% of American households do not have broadband, according to Pew Research. In addition, minorities in the U.S. are 15% less likely to have broadband in their homes as compared to white Americans, and 75% are more likely to be dependent on smartphones for internet access. This disparity has only been magnified due to the effects of COVID-19 in the form of educational gaps for children and minority Americans’ abilities to make a living.

As Congress and the Joe Biden Administration consider spending $65 billion to address digital disparities, Clyburn will explain what it will take for the U.S. to see real results.

“Commissioner Clyburn’s leadership has gotten the U.S. through some of its most difficult decisions for closing the digital divide,” said Mark A. Jamison, director of DMI. “Students and the Gainesville community will benefit from her knowledge and passion for helping marginalized groups, and from her deep insights into preparing yourself to provide leadership in critical moments.”

While the event is free, registration is required by September 6 at 12 p.m. and in-person seating is limited to a first come, first serve basis. To those choosing to attend virtually, a link will be provided via email prior to the program.

Throughout her career, Clyburn has made closing the broadband access gap a priority. During her nine years with the FCC, Clyburn advocated for marginalized people by working to close the digital divide, modernizing programs for making broadband affordable, championing diversity in media ownership, and pressing for a free and open internet.

Clyburn was appointed to the FCC in 2009 by President Barack Obama for a five-year term. In 2013, she began a second five-year term. She served as Acting FCC Chairwoman from May 20, 2013 – November 4, 2013.

Prior to the FCC, she spent 11 years as a member of the sixth district on the Public Service Commission (PSC) of South Carolina. Prior to the PSC, Clyburn was the publisher and general manager of her family-founded newspaper for 14 years, the Coastal Times, a Charleston-based weekly newspaper that focused primarily on issues affecting the African American community.

Clyburn is the first presenter invited as part of a new speaker series from DMI. Housed in the university’s Public Utility Research Center, DMI examines the business and regulatory implications of the growth of digital markets. The speaker series will play a role in accomplishing the initiative’s goal of transforming how researchers, policy makers and practitioners consider the business, regulatory and antitrust implications of the new economy.

University of Florida students, faculty and staff and the public can learn more and register for the event on Eventbrite