Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Miracle of Christmas

I was sitting on this couch at about 4 p.m. on Christmas Day, preparing to go to dinner. About an hour later, it looked like this.

And the rest of the room looked like this. What a difference an hour makes! Tornadoes swept through Mobile, AL and fortunately no fatalities were reported. They came through as people began their Christmas dinners, making the event even more remarkable. While the house suffered damage, no people did. And that was a miracle.
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bleu Priding Rising... FAST

The last week has been a busy one! On Saturday I was with the Dallas area alums to share the message of Bleu Pride Rising. I stayed in Dallas a few days to attend the accreditation meeting. I am having to relearn SACS since it has changed since I left the region in 2004.

Last night I was in Detroit with our alumni there, including incoming Alpha Phi Alpha president Mark Tillman '88. I feel our alumni base being galvanized and I am sure we'll see results soon.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Anuual Christmas Concert

Last night I attended my first Dillard University Christmas concert. I arrived on campus about an hour before the event started, and there was already a significant crowd. As soon as the concert started, I knew why.

Simply outstanding! The entire concert was a treat. Not only did the choir perform well, but did guest soloists, the orchestral group, our dancers, and the female octet.

The audience was very appreciative as well, often feeling the spirit from the voices of the singers. This was definitely not over-hyped, because all of the advanced praise was well deserved.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ortique Lecture on Law and Society

Michelle Alexander with Mrs. Miriam Ortique (next to me) and members of the Ortique family
In 2010, Dillard University honored graduate Justice Revius Ortique, first Black Louisiana Supreme Court Justice, with a mock court room, named scholarships, and an annual lecture. The first lecturer was Attorney General Eric Holder. I was excited about this program but wanted to really get the community involved. So I sought out Michelle Alexander, author of the phenomenal book, "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness."

I had her speak at Philander last November, so I knew she was a home run hitter. And New Orleans responded. In a room that seats 400, we probably had 500 with people sitting on the floor, standing in the back, on the side, and out the door. Incredible audience to hear tough truths about Louisiana, the incarceration capital of the world.

I encourage EVERYONE to read the book. But more than that, as Michelle Alexander stated, I hope we start a revolution here to end mass incarceration.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving tradition

After our youngest was born in November of 2008, we knew we wouln't be traveling to visit parents that year. So we stayed put while people came to see us. The next year, we said we'd stay as well, but realized that there were students with no place to go for Thanksgiving. So a few came to eat with us.

In 2010 we had a nice sized group, and also had a local TV station do a story on what out of state (and country) students do for Thanksgiving. By then it had become our tradition.

So moving to New Orleans we knew we would continue the tradition. I sent out an e-mail to students indicating that if they needed a place to eat, we would have seats. I am sure this caught many of them off guard, and some probably didn't know what to think.

But today, 14 students came to have dinner with us. We also had one of my students from Philande Smith College drive down, making this her third year in a row having Thanksgiving dinner with us (but she had to help cook this time!)

I had a chance to meet some students I had not met, including one from Zimbabwe who celebrated his first Thanksgiving. I was glad we were able to provide that for him.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Practice LSAT

My wife has really been working with Dillard students who have an interest in law. She has been forging partnerships with local attorneys and judges, reaching out to law schools, and advising students. Once we put it out that she is a member of the bar in 4 states, students jumped at the opportunity.

So she spent the last 2 weekends finding time to proctor a practice LSAT so that students would not walk in cold. This has definiely been an asset for our students.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Bleu Pride Rising Tour

Last week I began the Bleu Pride Rising Tour, starting in New Orleans and then on to Chicago and Washington D. C. There was good energy in each meeting and positive responses from alumni.

The best part is always meeting new people. Dillard alumni are very proud of their institution, and many rededicated themselves to moving the university forward. We're going into homecoming and then Thanksgiving, so the tour will pick up again in December in Atlanta, then to Dallas and Detroit. Trying to schedule Shreveport, Baton Rouge and Houston before the end of the year. I'll be heading west in the sprng.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Benjamin

Benjamin Barack Kimbrough was born on election day in 2008, and he turned 4 today.

Friday, October 19, 2012

NOLA and DU host delegation from sister city of Matsue, Japan

He hosted a cool event today. The press release shares the details. I promised the next time they visited I would give my remarks in Japanese!

The Prez




New Orleans, LA – Today, the City of New Orleans reinforced its cultural ties and friendship with its international sister city, Matsue, Japan, by hosting a delegation of business leaders for several special activities, including a plant exchange that will yield educational fruit for students at Langston Hughes Academy Charter School.

At a ceremony this morning at Dillard University, a delegation from Matsue presented the City and students from Langston Hughes Academy (LHA) with Japanese fig tree cuttings that will be housed and cultivated in Dillard’s greenhouse during a required quarantine period. The fig trees will then be planted in school gardens that are part of FirstLine School’s Edible Schoolyard New Orleans Initiative, including the Langston Hughes Dreamkeeper Garden.

In return, the LHA students presented the Matsue delegation with the City’s gift of okra seeds and a cookbook of favorite New Orleans recipes.

“We’re eager to see these fig plants grow and thrive, just as we hope our relationship with Matsue will flourish,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “This visit was an important step toward continued cultural understanding, a strong sister city relationship with Matsue, and many future cultural and economic exchanges.

The idea of the edible plant exchange came from Matsue, and representatives from that city chose fig trees, which are widely grown in Japan for their fruit. In order to fulfill U.S. Department of Agriculture quarantine requirements for foreign plants, the City reached out to Dillard University to house the 30 fig tree cuttings in its greenhouse. Dillard has an existing partnership with Langston Hughes Academy on a program called “From Seed to Table.” The program creates the opportunity for Dillard University students and LHA scholars to use the greenhouse located on Dillard’s campus as an educational facility twice a week.  As part of the project, vegetable seeds will be planted in the greenhouse for initial growth and then transplanted to the LHA Dreamkeeper Garden.

The fig tree cuttings will remain in the Dillard greenhouse for two years, and then will be transplanted to gardens at five FirstLine Schools across the city.

“I am always excited when we can find new ways to partner and engage the community. This is exactly that kind of partnership,” said Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University. “Working with the City of New Orleans, our sister city Matsue, Japan, and the Langston Hughes Academy, we have a unique opportunity for learning on many levels,” he added.

”The Edible Schoolyard New Orleans is thrilled to partner with our fellow garden enthusiasts from our sister city of Matsue to broaden the knowledge our scholars have about international horticulture,” stated Claudia Barker, Executive Director of Edible Schoolyard New Orleans.  “Our scholars will participate in an intercultural exchange through which they will learn about a similar climate, thousands of miles away, where a non-traditional Louisiana crop, like okra, can thrive.  This lesson will continue for years as the Japanese fig trees flourish throughout our five gardens.”

The Matsue delegation’s visit also included a tour highlighting New Orleans’ rebuilding efforts, several meetings with City officials and local business leaders, and a luncheon hosted by the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and the New Orleans Business Alliance.

Although Matsue, which sits along the banks of the Ohashi River in Japan, is thousands of miles from New Orleans, the two cities share much in common.  Matsue is sometimes called the “water city” because of the prominence of lakes, the river and a network of canals in the city-scape and scenery. Like New Orleans, Matsue is also a popular tourist destination.

New Orleans and Matsue signed an official sister city agreement in 1994, but the cultural exchanges ended following Hurricane Katrina. Last year, Matsue Mayor Masataka Matsuura visited New Orleans to meet with Mayor Landrieu and to attend a luncheon in his honor, to discuss restoring and developing cultural and economic ties between the two cities.

This week’s visit by the Matsue delegation is a direct result of those meetings.

Unofficially, New Orleans’ ties to Matsue stretch back more than 100 years with a shared connection to author and journalist Lafcadio Hearn, who lived in New Orleans from 1877 to 1887 and moved to Matsue in 1890 and became a naturalized Japanese citizen. Hearn became gained international fame for his writings about Japan, particularly his ghost stories, and remains a favorite writer in that country.

The Matsue delegation’s visit coincides with the opening of a special Tulane University exhibition titled, “The Open Mind of Lafcadio Hearn,” featuring writings and other artifacts from Hearn. The delegation attended the exhibit’s opening reception that featured a lecture from Hearn’s great grandson.

City officials expect there to be continued cooperation and exchanges between New Orleans and Matsue going forward.

District D Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell said, “I am excited about the rejuvenation of our sister-city relationship with the people of Matsue. I had the pleasure of leading a delegation of students to Matsue prior to Katrina, and will forever remember the kindness and hospitality of our sister city.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

DU students national debate correspondents

Last week I got a tweet from my man Jeff Johnson asking if Dillard would participate in the VP debate. I immediately said yes, and we pulled together a debate party the very next day. Tonight was the presidential debate, and I was proud to watch them on Skype giving their reflections on the debate.

This was a great experience for them, as well as a great way for Dillard University to continue to gain national exposure. Having our students in this kind of forum is priceless.

So thanks to Charlie Coleman (left), senior, JaKararh Porter, senior and SGA president, and Nicole Tinson, a junior. Good job!

The Prez

Friday, October 12, 2012

Color of Justice

Today we hosted a group of high school students participating in the National Association of Women Judges program, The Color of Justice: Encouraging Students to Consider Legal and Judicial Careers.
The program is described on their website as:
"To encourage girls and minority high school students to consider pursuing careers in the law and judiciary, NAWJ developed this highly effective program. Experienced judges and lawyers discuss law school and the requirements for admission, share their experiences including the reasons why they chose their careers, and answer questions in small groups. Students, judges and lawyers laud the project, and it has been reproduced simply and successfully around the country."

My wife, an attorney licensed in four states, welcomed the studens on behalf of the university. She is working with a group o faculty to create a unique pre-law program for Dillard students.

The Prez

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Michael D. Jones to Serve as Co-Chair of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Board of Directors

Congrats to Trustee Michael Jones, Dillard Class of 1982.

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Michael D. Jones to Serve as Co-Chair of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Board of Directors

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 5, 2012, 2012 – Michael D. Jones, partner in the D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, was officially installed as co-chair of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s board of directors on September 10th.  As co-chair with Jane C. Sherburne, senior executive vice president of BNY Mellon and the company's general counsel and corporate secretary, he will lead an influential board of over 200 members.  His term officially began on September 1st and a welcome reception was held his honor on September 18th. 

“Mr. Jones brings a wealth of experience, leadership skills and compassion to our board,” said Lawyers’ Committee President and Executive Director Barbara Arnwine.  “His invaluable insight will help to further distinguish us as a leading civil rights organization as we continue our quest to move America toward justice.  Since joining the Lawyers’ Committee’s board of trustees in July 2003 and being elected to the board of directors in June 2009, he continues to be a creative and dynamic force.”

Jones and his colleagues have served as co-counsel with the Lawyers’ Committee on several key cases.  His numerous outstanding accolades include being noted as one of the top 10 trial attorneys in the nation by The National Law Journal in their feature, Winning: Successful Strategies From 10 of the Nation’s Leading Litigators.  Most recently, he served with Lawyers’ Committee Chief Counsel Jon Greenbaum in litigation work in the Maryland Historically Black Colleges and Universities case (Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, Inc., v. Maryland Higher Education Commission, et al.) in a six-week trial was held from January 3rd through February 9th in which equality in funding and programming for the state’s minority higher education institutions was sought.  This case spawned considerable media attention to stark inequities in funding of historically black colleges and universities in Maryland and became a rallying cause in the African American Community.  

“As the Lawyers’ Committee approaches its 50th anniversary in June 2013, I am honored to serve with Jane Sherburne as co-chair in fulfilling the vision of President John F. Kennedy of marshaling the bro bono services of the private bar to address racial discrimination, said Jones.  “I also look forward to continuing to work with board members, staff, volunteers and clients as we endeavor to fight the ongoing scourge of racism and inequality in this nation.”

Jones has a national trial practice that has ranged from New York to Hawaii. He is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been recognized by the Legal Times as a “Champion of Justice” and Georgetown University with the outstanding alumni award.

Jones graduated cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center in 1985 where he also received the Thurgood Marshall Award.  He received his B.A. from Dillard University, in New Orleans, La, graduating summa cum laude.   He is an adjunct professor of Trial Advocacy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.  He also serves as a board member with Dillard University in New Orleans, D.C. Council for Court Excellence and Equal Justice Works

About the Lawyers’ Committee

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (“LCCRUL”), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. We are celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2013 as we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending; community development; employment; voting; education and environmental justice.  For more information about the LCCRUL, visit

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Marguerite Washington

Today we held the funeral for Dillard freshman Marquerite Washington. She is another tragic victim of gun violence in thi city. The following are my remarks from the funeral today.
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Part of my duties is to speak on behalf of the university in all types of situation. That includes celebrations of life. Most of the time, I have spoken in this capacity at the service of a well lived alumnus. But what happens when you come to celebrate the life of an 18 year old in college for just over one month? I struggled on Tuesday when I thought about what I would say today. My wife tried to encourage me, reminding me that it will come to me by Saturday; it always does.

She had shared the news with our pastor’s wife in Little Rock, who was intrigued and began to try to learn more about Marguerite, and sent an e-mail Tuesday night with a link to a news story that aired this past July 4th. The title of the story was “She’s still alive in me.”

There, on the screen, sitting in this sanctuary, I watched Marguerite Washington and Cheryl Guillery, a mother of 3 who needed lung transplants. Marguerite’s birth mom, Umeka Smith, an organ donor, died at 36 due to a stroke. Cheryl received her lungs, and concluded that Umeka would be alive in her.

That made me think. It is all of our responsibility to make sure we keep Marguerite alive in us. Tuesday I attend the launch of the flip the script campaign with the Mayor and Spike Lee to address black on black crime. The one minute video shared a series of headlines: Black males earn respect by killing each other, and black male returns with gun and takes victims life. It was a powerful message.

We all need to be committed to flipping the script. We must find out what we can do to stop this violence. We have to stop accepting this as normal. In fact, we need to have the same kind of concern and outrage with Marguerite’s murder as we did with Trayvon’s. If we only get mad when George Zimmerman kills, we’re not serious about making our community better.

But in the midst of this painful event, I found profound stories of love. I learned about a 36 year old organ donor who saved two people’s lives with her lungs and liver. A woman who, out of love, gave her daughter for adoption but maintained a relationship with her.

I also learned more about a daughter of Dillard, who adopted a child and raised her as her own, providing grounding, as well as exposure through church and activities. Margaret, your act of unconditional love moved me this week. When I learned this back story, I thought here is a woman who doesn’t just participate in church regularly by singing in the choir or reading a scripture; she is the church. If we all would exhibit your example of love, taking responsibility for children that our not our own in one way or another, we could flip the script.

I better understand you now. Your e-mail to me after I was on the radio trying to field tough questions about an issue I just learned about, or the note just thanking us for coming here to worship; It now all makes sense. And while you grieve, please know that Marguerite will be alive in all of us. No, I don’t have one of her organs, but I have this story to share as a reminder of my responsibility, our responsibility to children that are not ours.

Finally, take comfort. Your story is a familiar one. I know of a woman who also raised a child that was not hers. She loved and nurtured him, and he grew up to be a man who worked to help people. He traveled around doing these good deeds, and even found others who followed him because of his wondrous works. But one day her son died violently on a hill I believe they called Calvary, and he was buried, only to rise on the third day. It’s because of that woman’s son that I know Marguerite lives with her heavenly father.

And yes, Marguerite is still alive, in me.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rap Sessions

This past Wednesday, Professor Michael Wilson, freshman instructor and part of the African World Studies program brought Rap Sessions to campus. Rap Sessions brings a panel of scholars, activists, and even artists to look at contemporary issues. The topic this night was "Does Hip-Hop Hate Women?" With the lyrics and videos, it is easy to ask this question. We had a great panel who really engaged the audience.

I was excited by the crowd. The students came out in large numbers for this conversation. I heard over and over again that we need more of these events on campus. Historically, Dillard has been a place for these kinds of events.

Soon, we will be a place where this happens again... regularly.

The Prez

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cradle of Leadership

Not much to say. Dillard is probably the only university that will simultaneously have 2 sitting presidents of historically Black Greek-lettered organizations. On the left, incoming Alpha Phi Alpha presidet Mark Tillman, and on the right, current Delta Sigma Theta president Cynhia Butler-McIntyre.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Black College Fund Meeting

Tonight I returned from Nashville after attending the fall meeting of the Council of Presidents for the Black College Fund of the United Methodist Church. The Methodists support 11 HBCUs through an apportionment system. This system generates about $9 million a year.

So it is great to be part of the connectional church. The schools that are members, and the presidents pictured above, are (from left to right):

Rust College, David Beckley
Wiley College, Haywood Strickland
Paine College, George Bradley
Clark Atlanta University Carlton Brown
Huston-Tillotson Universty, Larry Earvin
Claflin University, Henry Tisdale
Dillard University, Me
Philander Smith College, Johnny Moore

There are interim presidents at Bethune-Cookman University and Bennett College. The 11th school is Meharry Medical College led by Wayne Riley.

At our meetings a number of emeritus presidents participate. At this meeting there were 5 of us who had led Philander Smith College. We are, from left to right:

Johnny Moore, Present
Me, 2004- 2012
Julius Scott, Interim, Fall 2004
Trudie Kibbe Reed, 1998- 2004
Myer Titus, 1988- 1998

Dr. Moore is a PSC alum, and his president was Dr. Titus, also a PSC alum.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Liberty Bank Reception

A few weeks ago Liberty Bank sponsored a reception for us. We had a great turnout. Thanks to bank president Alden McDonald, Dillard trustee Ronnie Burns, and Xavier president Dr. Norman Francis, chair of the Liberty Bank board for hosting this event.
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Sunday, September 9, 2012

United Methodist-Related Colleges Rank in Top 100

I am not a fan of rankings, but at least Washington Monthly has been able to neutralize the priviledge of rich schools. In this ranking, HBCUs have done exceptionally well. That includes Dillard, which in this ranking is a top 60 liberal arts institution.

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United Methodist-Related Colleges Rank in Top 100


(Nashville, Tenn.) -- What are colleges doing for the country? The Washington Monthly magazine named 13 United Methodist-related colleges in the top 100 in its 2012 liberal arts college rankings, based on schools’ contribution to the public good in three broad categories (social mobility, research, and service).

“We are very pleased to see a recognition that education should include character and community building, as well as spiritual formation,” said Dr. Gerald D. Lord, who heads the Division of Higher Education of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church. “United Methodist-related institutions have a long history of being able to reach thousands of people in their most formative years and give them opportunities regardless of their income, race or gender.”

Here are the United Methodist colleges and universities in the top 100 and their overall rankings: 22 – Millsaps College; 23 – Willamette University; 33 – Emory and Henry College; 34 – Wesleyan College; 38 – Claflin University; 41 – Allegheny College; 45 – Southwestern University; 59 – Dillard University ; 65 – Albion College; 80 – Hendrix College; 89 – Drew University; 90 – Centenary College of Louisiana ; and 95 – Dickinson College.

United Methodist-related institutions such as top-ranked Millsaps College not only provide a first-rate liberal arts education that explores the relationship between values and knowledge, but also affords students vocational discernment to reflect on questions of faithful living across a range of professions. “Millsaps strives to connect the life of the mind with the habits of the heart, and we aim to educate and nurture the entire person – mind and spirit,” said Robert Pearigan, president of Millsaps College. “All the intelligence in the world profits little if not guided by good character.”

Those values scored high on the Washington Monthly rankings. Each school was evaluated in three main categories: social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students); research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs); and service (encouraging students to give something back to their country). Three United Methodist schools – Emory and Henry, Willamette and Wesleyan College– were ranked in the top 10 schools specifically for community service participation and hours served.

The Washington Monthly editors say in an online statement that they created their ranking system to offset rankings that push individual colleges to raise prices and only cater to the most privileged students.

“The more expensive college becomes, the more students are encouraged to see higher education as a mere return on investment. The students in our best colleges are taught by example and design to look beyond themselves and give back.”

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Opening Convocation: When I Think of Home

On Thursday we had our opening convocation. Our student leaders started this event last year so this was the second one. As you can see, we had a tremendous crowd- standing room only. People were standing in the foyer of the chapel as well.
During our orientation week, we used the theme "Ease on Down the Oaks" inspired by The Wiz. So I used as a theme forhe convocation, "When I Think Of Home." I wanted to describe what a healthy family looks like. The first criteria is to have respected and responsible elders. Students should respect faculty and staff, but likewise, the faculty and staff must carry themselves in a manner to role model positive behaviors.

Second we must promote and protect each other. In a social media world, people often lash out at each other or their organizations via Facebook and Twitter. We have to use social media to encourage and motivate each other. Finally, healthy families have an active love. We go out of our way to cheer each other up, to help when needed. We just don't say we're a family, we act like one.

I tried to say that my family is here because we want to be, and that we want to be involved in the lives of our students. My wife spoken to a dozen or more pre-law students after the event since she is excellent in helping students navigate that process. The point was that when we think of home, we think of Dillard, and I hope that everyone else there does as well.
The Prez

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Aftermath (I Don't Mean Dr. Dre)

I haven't been able to access the internet to update my blog, but you all know why. Here's a look at what Isaac left at Dillard. Not too bad so we are thankful!

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Now you know why I did this on August 3rd...

We visited the Greater New Orleans Hurricane & Storm Damage Risk Reduction System. I don't really know much about hurricanes, so this is a learning process. But the university cancelled classes for the next 3 days and will monitor throughout the weather event.

We're definitely relying on the city and state for guidance as they have people with the proper training to make the best calls for our safety. So we hope people will keep following the news, our website, Twitter (@du1869) or my Twitter (@hiphopprez) for the latest updates.

For a checklist click the following link:

Be safe!

The Prez

Friday, August 24, 2012

Scenes from Opening Weekend

We had a great time moving in our new students- DU Class of 2016!

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

College majors’ value not measured in cash

Several United Methodist college and university presidents were asked to write a response to a recent Kiplinger's article about majors which discouraged those considered to be low paying. When I saw the note I had about 30 minutes to get it done but it came out nicely. You can read it below:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Faculty-Staff Institute

Wednesday was my first Faculty-Staff Institute. I gave my first state of the university address. I fooled everyone and made them think that I would simply read a boring speech. I gave them about 2 minutes of that and then did what I always do- solid facts, data, transparency framed in a creative presentation with lots of images and humor.

I spent time introducing myself andmy experience as a president at Philander Smith. Then I detailed my assessment of the state of the university, and the challenges we need to address. But I made sure I conveyed that we could do it, and this was the beginning of the process. So I got lots of great feedback, and I actually had a ball developing my presentation.

The Prez