Saturday, September 17, 2016

Who Won the Week

What a great news week for Dillard!

When I got an email this week saying our men's basketball team was ranked #1, I expected it. We won the conference last year so I knew we were favored. But I was wrong. We are ranked #1 in the nation for all of NAIA! I don't even know how big this really is yet until we check the records. But this is big for us.

It is part of the larger athletics dominance as our program ranked #1 in conference for use of Twitter and Facebook, and in the top 30 nationally for both social media tools.

US News rankings don't move me much- I've been a strong critic. But I know some like the bragging rights, especially on the HBCU list. Dillard moved up 2 spots to #12 based on strong alumni giving and improved graduation & retention rates.

Finally, I did a lot of media this week based on a Washington Post editorial published last Sunday on HBCU enrollment. From NPR to CNN to the NY Times to HBCU Lifestyle to The Chronicle of Higher Education, I had a chance to offer a different narrative- HBCU enrollments growing. And as more data is released there appears to be fairly robust growth throughout the HBCU sector. Sure, there are many factors involved, but unrest on majority campuses is a factor too- maybe bigger than we want to realize.

It was a good week for Dillard.

The Prez

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Helping Students Become Sprinters

Monthly our university leaders (vice presidents, deans and directors) spend a couple of hours sharing information, looking at big picture issues, and strategizing. One of the conversations over the past few months revolve around the Jeff Selingo book, "There Is Life After College." Jeff spoke here a few years ago.

One of Jeff's ideas is that only a third of students graduate as sprinters, meaning they are ready to go right into a career or have a path to career through graduate school. In any case it is deliberate. So we gathered and added student leaders to figure out what kinds of unique experiences can we enhance or develop to create more sprinters, and what do we need to do to ensure students don't miss out of experiences and opportunities that will help them become sprinters.

Our students were very engaged, and provided good ideas to continue this conversation.

The Prez

Saturday, August 13, 2016


On Thursday we kicked off our faculty staff institute with Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, Professor and Director of the Center for Higher Education Enterprise (CHEE) at The Ohio State University. He is a very accomplished brother- 10 books, dozens of articles, and hundreds of presentations. He spoke to our faculty and staff as well as our student leaders.

He shared lots of good ideas and thoughts in a moving speech that made people laugh, think, reflect and cry (literally). There were several key themes and ideas that I want us to remember this year:

1. We must always remember that we are here on purpose, on assignment, and we should make sure we ask ourselves why are we here?

2. What student are we telling that they are great? (This was actually a nice preview for my speech later that day when I used a Muhammad Ali analogy)

3. There are 3 things we have to do to raise the confidence of our students:
     A. Verbal persuasion
     B. Vicarious experiences
     C. Mastery experiences

4. We have to make sure our students can tell their stories- people who can tell their story will always have a job!

5. It is impossible to be culturally aware without exposure- this is key for liberal arts colleges.

6. Place matters- we should be intentional to ensure students experience New Orleans as part of their education.

7. We have to understand that many students bring past educational traumas with them, so we have deal with and help address those traumas.

8. I love this one- we can be Academic Spotters. We are there attentively to help step in if they can't handle the situation.

As you can see, not only were the faculty and staff moved, so too were the student leaders. I think after Dr. Strayhorn finished, we were all ready to #DoGoodWork!

The Prez

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Shame on UL System Day 9 (Last update)

Progress. It only took nine days after announcing the search is open to actually post the "qualifications" to be president of Grambling State University.  So this is better:

But as I've said, really no need to act like this is a real, legitimate, intentional search. I know they know what a real search looks like. It looks like this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

They didn't even use a non-search search during the current process for the system president:

Real talk: The decision has been made and really that's OK- it is within the board's powers. I am going to do whatever I can to help the new president be successful because Grambling has to be successful. A strong GSU is good for Dillard and all HBCUs.

The problem with a play search though is the ULS board has set themselves up for scrutiny if a stronger, eminently qualified candidate than the one they've selected decides to apply & challenge the process. With an open process everyone will get to see resumes and then compare to the job description (which is why in my op ed I suggested just selecting without a search if you have someone already).

This will be a great case study for grad students and researchers studying HBCUs!

The Prez

Monday, July 4, 2016

Shame on UL System Day 6

Hopefully tomorrow, after the holiday, we can fix this. Reminder- here is the Grambling search page:

Here is the Northwestern State search, conducted in the Spring of 2014:

Meeting and public forum. Search firm. Search committee (included alumni, faculty, staff and student reps). They hired a TERRIFIC president (I love him).

Why won't they give Grambling the same consideration? Why not wait a year and really figure out what's wrong at Grambling so they can hire the best fit.

The Prez

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Shame on UL System Day 2

Ok- they added a little to the Grambling presidential search page:

But still no job description, no desired characteristics or skills, etc. Basically, anyone is qualified to lead Grambling. We don't care!

Again, let's compare another school in the system. This is the page from the 2013 Nicholls State presidential search:

Real search. Real process. Must mean that Grambling isn't seen as real....

The Prez

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

UL System's Presidential Search Process- One Way for HBCU, Another for PWI

I have a scathing editorial coming out on Sunday in the Monroe LA News Star regarding the proposed search process for Grambling State University. The University of Louisiana System apparently has one process for its 8 predominantly white institutions when selecting a new president, and a trifling process for its only HBCU.

The president of Grambling State resigned last week. Today, the system announced the position is open for applications and they hope to meet finalists next month. They even set up a website:

That's it. No links. No job description. No overview of Grambling State. One page and an email address. You can find more detail applying for a job at Starbucks!

Contrast that to the recently completed search for a new president at the University of New Orleans. Here is the search website:

Detailed information about the University. The process for selecting the next president. A profile. Members of the committee. 12 links for more information. The new president who was the provost is AWESOME! Yet he was vetted by a thorough process that was done quickly. I would argue Grambling needs more time to address the campus culture but a process is warranted.

All Grambling alums and friends of Grambling should begin to FLOOD the UL system with calls, letters and e-mails demanding that they conduct a serious search for an institution in need of great leadership. This bold display of disrespect should not be allowed without swift and strong responses.

The Prez