In this month’s roundup, Jackson State continues its search for a president, a music icon is honored at Bowie State and a notable name joins the Howard University faculty.
March 15, 2023- April 11, 2023
The Search for a New President
Jackson State University began the search for its next president following the resignation of Thomas Hudson, which took effect on March 31. No information on the circumstances of Hudson’s departure are available at this time. In the interim, Dr. Elayne Hayes-Anthony will serve as Jackson State’s president.
“I’m here; I’m a Jacksonian. Whatever I need to do to work with my university and to make things continue to move ahead, I’m willing to do that for an indefinite period of time,” Dr. Hayes-Anthony said in an interview with WAPT.
A board meeting led by alum Steven Cunnigham took place behind closed doors last month and has left the future of Jackson State’s leadership up in the air.
Honoring a Legend
Bowie State University renamed its performing arts theater after legendary singer and actress Dionne Warwick. The university unveiled the Dionne Warwick Theater in April following a ceremony at which Warwick herself spoke.
“Historically Black colleges and universities are still very vital, not only to our existence but to the world,” said Warwick. “I’m truly excited and thrilled.”
In addition to Dionne Warwick’s celebrated career as a singer, she is also known for being a humanitarian, especially in the 1980s at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Her activism made the decision easy for Bowie State President Tewodross Williams.
“We’re not only trying to create artists and creatives, but we want to create what I call socially engaged artists,” said Williams. “We want our students to be connected socially, globally, and politically in terms of the world and what affects them. We encourage our students to use their art for social change.”
Williams hopes that the renaming will bring more attention to Bowie State’s talent onstage and in the classroom.
Major Wins in Sports
The Texas Southern University Cheerleaders became the first cheerleading team from an HBCU to win a national championship. The cheerleading team won the 2023 NCA Cheer Spirit Rally Division I Championship. The Lady Tigers scored 96.1 in performance and 95.5875 in the event score.
Fisk University’s gymnastics team ended their season on a high note as national qualifiers following the USAG Nationals. The Lady Gymdogs saw great success, with five gymnasts qualifying for national championships and three qualifying for individual finals. This performance led many to consider Fisk’s gymnastics team to be an inspiration to other HBCUs competing in gymnastics.
Also, the first-ever HBCU Coastal City Classic will take place this fall between Savannah State and Albany State. In a press conference, coaches and players stated their excitement and honor to play in the Coastal City Classic. The game is set for September 23 at Glynn County Stadium in Brunswick, Georgia.
Stacey Abrams Joins Howard University
Former Georgia House of Representatives member Stacey Abrams, Esq., will join Howard University’s faculty this coming September as the inaugural Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair for Race and Black Politics.
Abrams shared her excitement for the role and illustrated the honor it was for her to know and work with Dr. Walters. “We are at an inflection point for American and international democracy, and I look forward to engaging Howard University’s extraordinary students in a conversation about where they can influence, shape and direct the critical public policy decisions we face.”
A press release from Howard University details more about Abrams’ position, which includes “fostering interdisciplinary collaborations across the University on critical issues of race and Black politics, especially those issues that affect Americans of the African diaspora.”
Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick expressed his excitement in welcoming Abrams. “Stacey Abrams has proven herself an essential voice and eager participant in protecting American democracy – not just for certain populations, but for everyone with the fundamental right to make their voices heard.”
Awarding a Food Studies Program
Dillard University’s African American Material Culture Program was awarded $700,000 as part of a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The program focuses on food studies and the money will go toward strengthening research and community programming.
Dillard’s President, Dr. Rochelle Ford emphasized the importance of the program. “One of our strategic focus areas, in being a ‘communiversity,’ is improving communities’ mental and physical health…Teaching our students the relationship between food insecurity, food deserts and culture is critical to improving health. Using a liberal arts approach, we are hard at work cultivating leaders, so this grant from the Mellon Foundation will push us more in that direction.”
The program dates back to 2004, when musician and singer Ray Charles established it. The intention behind the African American Material Culture Program was to create a holistic understanding of food, especially New Orleans cuisine, and tie it back to the history of slavery. The program explores the cultural, political and global impacts of food in American history.
This news roundup focuses on the trends impacting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSI). Each month, we highlight the policy, process and programmatic changes happening nationally and among these institutions and how the colleges and universities are responding to them.