Monday, December 15, 2014

A Decade as President

This past Saturday I served as the commencement speaker at Delaware State. Commencement is always a great event, so I was pleased to accept the invitation. Saturday was December 13th. On that day, in 2004, I began my work as president of Philander Smith College.

So today would have been that day, this Monday. 10 years a president is a long time. You can tell because my hair is whiter and there is less of it. There are lots of memories during that time. Always the best part of being a president is working with students and families. When you can watch someone progress and then enter their careers, get married and start families-there is nothing quite like it. It is always special to see those who don't have a clue finally get it along the way. That is the reason why I do what I do.

And yet, I think many people have an unrealistic impression of the presidency. It is a LONELY job. I am very blessed to have a wife who has been a higher ed attorney (assistant to the president) and worked in student affairs, so she really understands what I do. This is her calling too, and she often does so much for our students on her free time- people really have no idea.

But you never expect to have people dislike or even hate you because you have to make a decision they don't like, or many times, they just don't like you because you are simply the president! Right before I moved to New Orleans a colleague said, "Why would anyone want to be a president?" This job takes a toll on you and your spirit, so being grounded in your faith is the only way to survive a presidency, because you have to survive. Simply stated, if you don't know Jesus, you don't need to become a president!

So we'll see what the future holds. The first decade went quickly so I am looking forward to a second decade. This is definitely a calling.

The Prez

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ortique Lecture on Law & Society: Benjamin Crump

Last Tuesday we held the 5th annual Ortique Lecture on Law and Society. The lecture is in honor of Justice Revius Ortique, Dillard graduate who was the first African American on the Louisiana Supreme Court. His family, including wife, daughter and son in law have been tremendous supporters of the university.

We hit the jackpot this year with Benjamin Crump, who spoke roughly one week after a grad jury did not indict the officer in the death of Michael Brown. Crump, a new generation of civil rights attorney, captivated the crowd as he spoke about several civil rights cases and provided a broader understanding of the issues. He also spent time with our pre-law students prior to his open lecture. A standing-room only crowd was not disappointed.

The Prez

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dillard's Center for Law and Public Interest

8 days after the grand jury in Ferguson returned with no indictment, and less than 24 hours before a grand jury in Staten Island did the same thing, we announced our new center for law and public interest. There is clearly a need for more of us to look more closely at law and public interest, government, and policy. Hopefully our efforts will be meaningful in this regard.

My announcement is below. It provides the historical context by which we enter this new endeavor.

The Prez

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

6th annual dinner for students with the Kimbroughs. We started in Little Rock at Philander Smith once Benjamin was born, deciding not to try to travel for both holidays. Plus that year we had a number of students from the Bahamas who could not get home. So it started in 2009 and we have done 3 in Little Rock and now 3 in New Orleans. Always a good time and a lot of food gets eaten!

The Prez

Friday, November 21, 2014

Death of a King

Last night I had a chance to hang out with some cool folks- Dr. Francis, Mary Matalin and Mayor Landrieu as we welcomed Tavis Smiley for a small reception for his new book, "Death of a King.: He spoke for about 10-15 minutes and made me want to read it immediately. The book covers the last year of King's life, from April 4, 1967 to April 4, 1968.

Those at the reception were stunned by the facts the book reveals, particularly how King was shunned by everyone, not just President Johnson, but the NAACP and Urban League. This is definitely a must read for anyone wanting to understand King beyond "I Have A Dream."

The Prez

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Law School Admissions Council Law School Forum

On October 17th a group of 20 Dillard pre-law students attended the Law School Admissions Council law school recruitment forum. We had the biggest group, something other schools had to notice. We've stepped up our efforts to assist students who want to become lawyers, especially when the number of diverse lawyers is not keeping up with the diversity of the nation. This includes an AWESOME LSAT prep course that has generated eye-popping numbers.

In the next few weeks we'll be making an announcement about the next phase in this program. This will occur when we host Benjamin Crump who will be our 5th Ortique lecturer on law on society. The first was Attorney General Eric Holder in 2010. With the Ferguson decision probably announced by then, he will be visiting campus at an important time in this country's history. Definitely a must attend event.

The Prez

Monday, November 17, 2014

Misty Copeland

How many times have you been on a college campus for a lecture, 800 people show up, and many of them are girls under 18? I don't think I've ever seen it before... until last Tuesday. I happened to see a clip of the ABC News Person of the Week on Misty Copeland, an African American ballerina. The idea was intriguing to me so in August I started to make it happen.

Misty Copeland was that person to make this happen. It was powerful watching all of those little faces transfixed on Misty, the soft spoken dancer who was very aware of her role in history. But the highlight was the questions by girls as young as 5. Very rarely do they have a chance to speak in front of large crowds, but last week was their night. And they stepped up!

The Prez