It was truly a night at the Oscars at Grambling State University when the Title III Program Office held its awards and recognition ceremony for its activity directors and support staff for the grant cycle 2007-2012.
The red carpet was rolled out, and the spotlight shone brightly. Just like at the Oscars, the audience did not know who the award recipients were until an envelope was opened and “winners'” names were announced.
After their names were called, the honorees strolled down the carpet and took photographs with Dr. Frank G. Pogue, GSU’s president, and Title III’s executive director, Beverly Hill-Hercules.
Award recipients included Rory Bedford, Willie Daniel, Nettie Daniels, Sheila Griffin, Eldrie Hamilton, Shakira Hardison, Winfred Jones, Brenda Lewis, Donna McGee, Katherine Mixon, Shelia Nash, Arnita Ogunyemi, Tammy Stewart-Dixon and Terence Williams.
In addition, past internal evaluators, activity monitors and activity directors were recognized. Past GSU presidents Dr. Raymond A. Hicks and Dr. Steve Favors and former Title III Directors Dr. Lamar Carter and Dr. Joe Copes were acknowledged.
Dr. Charlie Nelms, who is launching a national initiative related to transforming historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), served as the guest speaker.
Nelms told everyone to make sure to vote. “Who you vote for is your business. Vote your interest. Title III is in jeopardy, no matter who the president is. We will have a hard row to hoe,” he said.
He recognized Haywood Strickland, Wiley College’s president, for advancing HBCUs via assessment.
He said one-fourth to one-third of the 105 HBCUs will not be here in 20 years. Fierce competition for students, money, standards for admissions and accreditation are the reasons.
“We do not need our institutions simply to survive. We need to thrive. There should not be a black excellence or a white excellence. Our students’ credentials should have value in the marketplace, anywhere,” said Nelms.
He said it is not how many Smart boards we have. It is how many smart faculty members who use it that counts. Unless we develop a comfortable relationship with change, our students will go someplace else.
“We have to compete. Technology is important. The largest university in America is the University of Phoenix. They enroll 40% of blacks, but only 6% finish. We have to embrace technology as a tool that our students need and deserve,” he said.
Commitment to excellence, leadership, focus in energy and activity, strategic investments and accountability can help HBCUs to produce more graduates.
Nelms said three exemplary Title III programs at Grambling are Service Learning (Bedford), the master’s in nursing (Stewart-Dixon) and Technology (Jones). Although he lauded these programs, he challenged the activity directors to take them to the next level and raise the profile of GSU.
Hercules said the night would not have been a success without the help of her staff Tamika McCaskill-Whitley, Tasha Heard and Shalena Johnson. Students who assisted were Eucabeth Soi, Essence Johnson, Joshua Etheridge and Alfred Mettle.
Dr. King David Godwin was the artistic director who created the night at the Oscar’s atmosphere. He was assisted by Tony Brooks, Annie Hamlin, Dr. Ruby Higgins, McGee and David Ponton.
The Title III Program (Part B) provides financial assistance to HBCUs to establish or strengthen their physical plants, financial management, academic resources, and endowment-building capacity.