LORMAN, MS – Alcon State University has announced the launch of its 150th anniversary celebrations at noon Thursday, May 13, kicking off more than a year of activities that will honor the nation’s oldest public historically Black land-grant institution.

Less than a month after the investiture of Alcorn’s 20th president, Dr. Felecia M. Nave, the vibrant ceremony featuring national and local luminaries will capture the university’s history – including its ability to defy the odds and transcend expectations over its first 150 years – and the bold strategies it has set in place to define its next 150 years.

About the event

Oakland Memorial Chapel on Alcorn State University Lorman Main Campus. Photo courtesy of the Division of Communications & Marketing/HBCU Campaign Fund.

Hosted by alumnus and Mississippi’s Fox 40 News anchor Melissa Faith Payne, the event will be live and streamed from the Historic Oakland Memorial Chapel on the Lorman campus. The May 13 event will honor the history of Alcorn State University, with brief panel discussions of its academic and athletic excellence, a mini-documentary narrated by Emmy Award-winning actress Aunjaune Ellis show casting the evolving campus life and powerful legacy, and appearances from national and local celebrities, including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, and Dr. Jacqueline Walters.

To kick off the Sesquicentennial celebrations, the event will bring together current and former students, faculty, staff, and supporters of Alcorn State University, highlighting Alcorn’s impact on the world and feature a variety of tributes, including the renowned Sounds of Dyn-O-Mite Marching Band and the Golden Girls, and the University’s Concert Choir.

For more information about the upcoming Sesquicentennial events, please visit www.alcorn.edu/150.

About the moment

Born in 1871 from the embers of the Civil War, Alcorn was both Mississippi’s first public college for Black youth and the country’s first historically Black land-grant college. The University’s founders includes the first Black U.S. senator, Hiram Revels, and Alcorn students followed his lead, blazing new paths in academics, athletics, civil rights, government, medicine, and other domains; Alex Haley, Medgar Evers, and Steve McNair stand as just three distinguished Alcornities who dared to make indelible marks with their fields.

Photo courtesy of the Division of Communications & Marketing/HBCU Campaign Fund.

“For 150 years, Alcornities have excelled and defied odds while remaining humble and supportive of one another,” said Felecia M. Nave, President of Alcorn State University, an alumnus of the university and its first female president. “We lean deeply into our storied past and look forward to our bright future. I am truly honored to lead Alcorn into the next 150 years doing just – celebrating our roots while running full steam ahead into our future.”

Alcorn today enrolls more than 3,200 undergraduate and graduate students from Mississippi and around the globe. These students come to Alcorn for the excellence and affordability of its academic programs, the vibrancy of its campus life, and the legendary NCAA Division l athletic program. Still deeply connected to its land-grant mission, the university operates its Extension Program from three locations serving local farming and ranching needs in 15 southwest Mississippi counties while empowering citizens across the state.

“Alcorn State University plays an unparalleled role in Mississippi history,” said Robert D. Gage IV, ASU Foundation Chair and the chief executive of Rivers Hills Bank. “Today, we honor the University’s legacy while paying tribute to all that is contributing to the future of our state and our nation.”

About Alcorn State University

Alcorn State University is the nation’s first public historically Black, Morrill land-grant university. Alcorn State offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in more than 50 top-degree programs. Located on 1700 acres in Lorman, Mississippi, with branches in Vicksburg and Natchez, the University is celebrating 150 years of academic excellence. In addition to its generous scholarship opportunities, Alcorn has earned nationwide recognition in nursing, biology, music, technology, agricultural research, and the liberal arts. Outside of the classrooms, students are involved in NCAA Division I athletics as well as more than 85 organizations and clubs, including student-run radio and television stations, study abroad, and the 200-strong Sounds of Dyn-O-Mite Marching Band featuring the Golden Girls. For more information, visit www.alcorn.edu.

DENVER, CO – Colorado Community College System (CCC) Chancellor Joe Garcia announced the selection of Dr. Mordecai Brownlee as the next president of Community College of Aurora (CCA), according to a press release by the College.

Dr. Brownlee will assume the presidency on July 15, 2021. He will succeed Dr. Betsy Oudenhoven, who announced in October that she was retiring at the end of July concluding a decade of leading the institution and a remarkable 42-year career in higher education.

Dr. Mordecai Brownlee

Dr. Brownlee, an inclusive educator who is committed to the intellectual and economic empowerment of diverse communities, bring an impressive resume in advancing student access, expanding student support services, and empowering academic pathways at several public and private higher education institutions, including St. Philip’s College in Texas, the University of Charleston in West Virginia, Blinn College District in Texas, and Houston Baptist University.

Upon his announcement, Dr. Brownlee called it an honor to lead an institution so steeped in inclusive excellence and guided by the vision of ensuring that every student it serves succeeds.

“I am immensely grateful to Chancellor Garcia, and CCA’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community supporters for the opportunity to serve this distinguished institution as its president,” said Dr. Brownlee. “Raised by a single-mother who was an educator, I learned first-hand the importance of faith, hard work, sacrifice, and the responsibility we have as educators to empower the minds and lives of students through equitable learning environments and ample student support. CCA is an institution that has embraced this charge and as its president, every day I will be committed to serving as an example of the institution’s mission in action.”

Dr. Brownlee rose to the top of a field of impressive candidates during the nationwide search process. The nine-member search advisory committee carefully screened over 80 high quality applicants and conducted open forums to actively engage the community.

“We wanted someone with an entrepreneurial spirit who would expand CCA’s reach and partnerships, and experience in strategic enrollment management who will be able to reverse the declines in students and revenues facing the institution during these challenges times. CCC’s goals of diversity, equity and inclusion also called for someone who will champion learning environments that promote student success for Aurora’s growing and increasingly diverse communities,” said Garcia. “Without a doubt, that candidate was Dr. Brownlee. His impressive background and progressive leadership style make him the best fit to advance CCA’s vision, mission, and values.”

Currently, Dr. Brownlee serves as vice president for student success at St. Philip’s College, the only college in the nation federally designated as both a historically Black college (HBCU) and a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI), located in San Antonio, Texas. During his tenure, Dr. Brownlee championed strategic enrollment and student success initiative that led St. Philip’s to record enrollment and four of their largest degree and certificate awarding classes in the college’s 123-year history.

Throughout his career in higher education, Dr. Brownlee raised millions for student scholarships and academic programs – some of which went to new programs designed to retool individuals to fill high-demand employment opportunities. He has also played an instrumental role in securing several multi-million-dollar capital construction projects.

In his spare time, Dr. Brownlee serves as an adjunct professor at Morgan State University School of Education & Urban Studies and the University of Charleston School of Business and Leadership where he teaches business management, human resources, social justice, and community college leadership. He also dedicates time as a columnist and nationally recognized speaker covering a broad range of critical higher education topics including education technology; financial literacy and student debt; community college innovation; progressive legislation; and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Among his many accolades, Dr. Brownlee was twice awarded the Trusted Leaders Award by the faculty and staff of St. Philip’s College and in 2018 received the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award. Recently, EdTech Magazine featured him as one of the 30 most interesting voices in higher education who are shaping the conversation around technology and education.

Dr. Brownlee’s service on community, state, and national boards includes serving as the director of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Community College Institute; Co-Founder of the Rising Leaders Institute for the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE), member of the My Brother’s Keeper White House Initiative in San Antonio, Community College Chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), ApplyTX Advisory Council, and a member of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. He is also a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.


About the Community College of Aurora (CCA)
The Community College of Aurora (CCA) provides high-quality instruction and student support services to Aurora and Denver, Colorado. The college offers course on two campuses, online and through its high school concurrent-enrollment program, helping students prepare for employment or transfer to a four-year institution. For more information, visit www.ccaurora.com.

Dr. Wade will transition to new role May 1, 2021

GRAMBLING, LA – Dr. Gourjoine M. Wade will transition to a new role at Grambling State University (GSU) as interim Vice President of Student Affairs. The Monroe, Louisiana native currently serves as Associate Vice President and Dean of Students at the institution. Having received his bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Grambling State, earning a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration and a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Management from Walden University.

Dr. Gourjoine M. Wade

Dr. Wade is a high-impact, outcomes-driven, social media-connected student affairs practitioner.

A first-generation college graduate at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral level, he has dedicated his 16-year career to finding innovative and strategic ways to make higher education possible for those who desire it.

“Dr. Wade’s interim appointment represents a full-circle moment,” said Rick Gallot, Grambling State University President. “As a first-generation graduate of GSU almost 20 years ago to his current role, he represents the level of quality and preparation we aspire our students. He is a nationally recognized leader in digital student engagement and we are excited about his leadership as the formal search process commences.”

Dr. Wade said that Grambling has given him so much and has always been a special place for him.

“I found the love of my life on The Yard and identified my passion for student affairs by serving as a work-study student in the same spaces where I now work almost 20 years later,” he said. “It is indeed an honor to serve in this interim capacity and I appreciate President Gallot for his trust and confidence in my ability to collaboratively lead our team and genuinely support our students. For me, higher education can provide people with an established and supportive avenue to achieve their desired goals and aspirations. It is a joy to serve as one of many stewards for young people who decide to travel that road.”

Before serving at Grambling State, Dr. Wade served as the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Alabama State University. He is a student advocate who fosters a sincere passion to serve students, especially first-generation HBCU students and students of color. In addition to working extensively with collaborators and colleagues to enhance the student experience, Dr. Wade serves as an active member and leader within the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), where he holds the Region III African American Knowledge Community Co-Representative position, serves on the Conference Advisory Committee for the NASPA Conferences on Student Success in Higher Education, and led GSU’s efforts to successfully join the 2020 Cohort of the NAPSA First Gen Forward Initiative.

Listed by digital leadership expert Dr. Josie Alhquist as one of the 40 Digital Leaders to Follow, Dr. Wade has been named a Higher Ed Digital Leader and serves as a member of the Student Affairs Digital Task Force, a national collective of social media and digital thought leaders in higher education. He was also a member of 2017 Aspiring Vice President for Student Affairs Cohort and was recognized by the HBCU Campaign Fund as a 2021 Emerging Higher Ed Professional. He remains eager and ready for partnerships with those who are committed to meeting students where they are, so collaborators can get them where they need to be.


About Grambling State University
Grambling State University is a comprehensive, historically-black, public institution that offers a broad spectrum of undergraduate and graduate program of study. Through its undergraduate major courses of study, which are undergirded by a traditional liberal arts program, and through its graduate school, which has a decidedly professional focus, the University embraces it founding principle og educational opportunity. With a commitment to the education of minorities in American society, the University seeks to reflect in all of its programs the diversity present in the world. The university advances the study and preservation of African American history, art and culture. For more information, visit www.gram.edu.

TALLADEGA, AL – Talladega College will confer three honorary degrees during its 146th commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 1, 2021, at 9 a.m. Honorary degree recipients for the Class of 2021 include Executive Business Management (EBM) President/CEO Essye B. Miller, who previously served as principal deputy, Department of Defense chief information officer (CIO); acclaimed poet and social justice advocate Nikki Finney; and UNCF (United Negro College Fund) Senior Vice President Lodriguez Murray. Commencement will be live-streamed at www.talladega.edu/live-events/ on Talladega’s website.

Essye B. Miller

Talladega College alumna Essye B. Miller (1985) is a seasoned executive with 35+ years of federal and Department of Defense (DoD) experience. She provides consulting and strategic advisory services focused on national defense issues related on information management, information technology, and cybersecurity. Ms. Miller is also a CIO Strategic Advisor Government Executive (SAGE) for Partnership for Public Service. During her tenure as principal deputy chief information officer, she served as primary advisor to the Secretary of Defense for information management, information technology, and information assurance. She oversaw implementation of the department’s Digital Modernization Strategy; set the strategic direction for DoD IT reform efforts in support of the National Defense Strategy; drove the Fourth Estate Network Optimization efforts; and successfully managed the Department’s $49 billion IT budget. As the DoD face to the Federal CIO Council, she influenced IT priorities and policies across government agencies. Ms. Miller was recognized by their Secretary of Defense for her Distinguished Civilian Service. She is also a 2018 recipient of the Presidential Rank Award for exceptional service an a staunch advocate for developing the next generation of technology and cybersecurity leaders.

Nikky Finney

Talladega College alumna Nikky Finney (1979) holds two endowed chairs at the University of South Carolina, the University Distinguished Professor Chair and the John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters. She is the recipient of the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets (2020), the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry the University of the South (2020), the Elizabeth O’Neil Verner Award for the Arts in South Carolina (2016), and the Benjamin Franklin Award for Poetry (2004), and the PEN American Open Book Award (1996). She has authored and edited numerous publications, including Head Off & Split, winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry. Her newest book, Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry, is a finalist for the 2021 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her work is on display in the inaugural exhibition of the African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C. She is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, a place for poets of color of Appalachia. She was recently elected chancellor of the American Academy of Poets.

Lodriguez V. Murray

Lodriguez V. Murray is a tenured executive federal lobbyist based in the District of Columbia, he specializes in representing diverse constituencies to policy and political leaders. He is highly skilled at procuring federal funding for the organizations he represents, due in part to his working knowledge of federal laws, departments agencies, and programs. In addition to his ability to procure federal funds, Mr. Murray has proven capability in coordinating successful fundraising events and receptions. Key to his effectiveness as a lobbyist in his ability to develop strategic plans, analyze policies, and provide regular recommendations for programs enhancements. His solid and trusting relationships enable him to effectively represents clients of members of Congress, congressional staff and agencies. He is the youngest ever permanent member of the UNCF Leadership Team.

About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals.

(Photo by Division of Communications and Marketing/HBCU Campaign Fund)

JACKSON, MS – Jackson State University appears to have come out on top after the recent Mississippi legislative session. The university scored $500,000 toward the preplanning for construction, furnishing, and equipping a new dinning facility. This is good news for JSU, whose Heritage Dinning Hall was built in 1977 and has seen little renovation or upgrades.

Other funding includes $1,175,025 toward campus construction, renovations, and repair. Another $506,111 went toward the Urban Research Center, which is an increase $55,152. JSU’s College of Health Sciences – A CEPH Accredited School of Public Health, will receive $1,500,000 for construction, furnishing, and relocation to the university’s main campus. Currently, the school is located in the Jackson Medical Mall on Woodrow Wilson St.

President Thomas K. Hudson offered special thanks to Mississippi legislators and state leaders for their investment in Jackson State.

“We appreciate the state’s contribution in helping maintain and improve JSU’s infrastructure. Our university is a community staple and economic driver for the city, county, and state,” he said. “Funding further allows us to make a significant impact on the people and communities we serve.”

Even more important, campus improvements, Hudson said, will enhance the quality of life for current students and entice potential students to enroll.

JSU’s Government Relations Directors Jacqueline Woods also extended gratitude to the Mississippi Legislature under the leadership of Philip Gunn, speaker of the House of Representatives, and Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann. She further ackowledged the Hinds County delegation and Hudson’s leadership.

“These appropriations will allow JSU to continue to provide amazing educational opportunities to our students,” said Woods. “I look forward to continuing to focus on our legislative agenda as we work to expand programs, build out campus and bring positive change to our communities.”

Most recently, news of the state allocating $250,000 for a stadium study created quite the buzz. Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium has been home to the Tigers since 1970. Still, talks of a new stadium have recently resurfaced with the state again making a good-fath effort in helping make it a reality.

Hudson explained that the stadium study will help determine the overall cost for a new on-campus multi-purpose facility with modern concessions and amenities.


About Jackson State University
Jackson State University, an HBCU and comprehensive urban research university, is to provide quality teaching, research and service at the baccalaureate, masters, specialist, and doctoral levels to diverse populations of students and communities using various modalities to enure that they are technologically-advanced, ethical, global leaders who think critically and can address societal problems and complete effectively. For more information, visit www.jsums.edu.

TALLADEGA, AL – Acclaimed scholar Dr. Karla FC Halloway delivered a poetic and inspiring message at Talladega College’s 2021 Alpha Chi Society Initiation Ceremony and Honors Convocation. During this enlightening virtual event, she charged students to make themselves ready for the path that will emerge when the pandemic ends.

“As rooted as we might feel in this moment – bound to the pandemic – rootedness happens only because roots burrow and stretch. They slip downwards. They thicken. It may be chaotic burrowing, but it is insistent,” stated Dr. Holloway, who is a 1971 graduate of Talladega College. “Sometimes roots emerge as braided trunks on an ancient temple’s ruins or as tentacles strong enough to split a stone, but roots find ways and means, and they grow old even whole they sprout new growth.”

Dr. Karla FC Holloway

Dr. Holloway received a B.A. from Talladega College, and M.A. and Ph.D. from Michigan State University, and a Master of Laws from Duke University. She has taught at a number of higher education institutions, but completed her tenure in the academy at Duke University, where she served as chair of African and African American Studies and dean of the Humanities and Social Science faculty. She retired in 2016 as distinguished James B. Duke Professor Emerita of English, and Professor of Law. At Duke University, she served as chair of the University’s Appointments, Promotions and Tenure Committee and a member of the Institute on Care at the End of Life. She was the founding co-director at the John Hope Franklin Center and Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of the Humanities.

Dr. Holloway has spoken internationally; won numerous awards and fellowships; and published eight academic books, two novels, and over 75 articles, essays, and public media presentations.

Her mother, father, and great-great grandfather were also graduates of Talladega College.


About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, Williams Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

CHICAGO, IL – HBCU Campaign Fund’s (HCF) Founder, President & CEO, Demetrius Johnson Jr., will return to his alma mater to serve as a Student Recruitment Specialist in the good faith of assisting the team in increasing enrollment at the institution. His tenure began on April 16th. He is excited to provide his passionate and student-centered enthusiasm to the team. This will be in addition to Johnson continuing his duties as the Founder, President & CEO at the HBCU Campaign Fund where he has served for eight years. He does not accept a current salary for his position at HCF.

Demetrius Johnson Jr., Founder, President & CEO at HBCU Campaign Fund.

Johnson has a total of three years of higher education experience, most recently serving as a Financial Aid Counselor at Mississippi Valley State University. Prior to that, he served as Admissions Communications Specialist at Lincoln University of Missouri from 2017 until 2019. Since 2015, he has served as the Founder, President & CEO of the HBCU Campaign Fund, an advocacy non-profit educational organization that supports the significance and raises funds for scholarships and services at HBCUs and MSIs.

“It is such an honor to return back home to my alma mater to continue my service from once that I had provided as a student with this amazing opportunity. I look forward to working alongside those who align with the same vision in reaching the ultimate goal in making a better future for our Dear Mother as an HBCU,” said Johnson. “I care deeply about my alma mater, I BLEED black and gold, and those who know me personally know that I truly do. I am eager to accept this task and ambitiously willing to prepare students for success. Vice Chancellor Dr. Braque Talley has a vision and It’s UAPB to the TOP!”

Described as a highly visionary and passionate leader at heart, Johnson is a strong advocate for HBCUs. His vision for HCF is to lead the organization forward as an essential tool for supporting students and higher education. His ultimate goal is to ensure that HBCUs remain the relevant institutions that they were created to be, by us.

“I really enjoy working and servicing the students with the neccessary essentials that they’re needing to be successful in their collegiate studies. I am a strong believer of customer service and being user friendly, which is the key to a successful staff to student relationship. Also, it plays a huge part in retention,” Johnson added.

Johnson has received numerous awards and recognitions since his presidency at HCF. He was named among the 2016 HBCU Top 30, Under 30 by HBCU Buzz. Also, he served on a number of committees and groups.

Johnson earned his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (2016). In 2016, he was selected to attend a four-week study abroad program at the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaures in Toulouse, France. He is currently working on his Master’s degree.


About the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB)
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is a public comprehensive HBCU 1890 Land-Grant Institution. The University embraces its land-grant mission of providing cutting edge research, teaching, outreach, and service programs that respond to the social and economic needs of the state and region. Its mission is to promote and sustain excellent academic programs that integrate quality instruction, research, and student learning experiences responsive to the needs of a racially, culturally, and economically diverse student population. Ultimately, the University is dedicated to providing access and opportunity to academically deserving students and producing graduates who are equipped to excel through their contributions and leadership in a 21st century national and global community. For more information, visit www.uapb.edu.

About the HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF)
The HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF) is a nonprofit advocacy educational organization that is mission to support the significance and raises funds for scholarships, initiative programming, and for private and public HBCUs and MSIs. HCF remains today as a strong advocate for students and higher education. For more information, visit www.hbcucampaignfund.org.

DALLAS, TX – The Dallas Foundation, the first community foundation in Texas, has announced the appointment of Dr. Michael Sorrell, President of Paul Quinn College, as the next Chair of The Dallas Foundation’s Board of Governors. Sorrell follows in the footsteps of his predecessor Jeanne Witman Bobbitt, who served as Chair since 2019.

Sorrell began his tenure on The Dallas Foundation’s Board of Governors in 2015, and is an active member of its Community Philanthropy Committee. With half a decade of experience serving the organization, Sorrell will lead the 16 members of The Dallas Foundation’s Board of Governors in building on the strategic plan adopted in 2019 and overseeing the governance of the Foundation’s funds.

“The Dallas Foundation is thrilled to have Michael lead our next era of impact as we work to reduce intergenerational poverty and make Dallas a brighter and more equitable community,” said Matthew Randazzo, President & CEO of The Dallas Foundation. “Michael brings a distinguished track record of success on issues facing Dallas and we look forward to his thought partnership and board leadership as we build a community where everyone can thrive.”

“Reducing intergeneratonal poverty by investing in the earliest years of child’s life will yield dividends for future generations and ensure that Dallas becomes an opportunity rich community for all of our neighbors,” said Dr. Sorrell. “This is important work and I am honored to serve as Chair of The Dallas Foundation’s Board of Governors as we focus on one of the most pressing issues facing our community today.”

Sorrell is a demonstrated and well-known leader in Dallas and is the longest-serving President in the history of Paul Quinn College. Under his leadership, the institution has became nationally recognized as one of the most innovative colleges in the country and is renowned for its efforts to remake higher education to serve the needs of under-resourced students and communities. Sorrell has received numerous awards for his dedication to education, the City of Dallas, and the legal community. He received his Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (where his dissertation defense was awarded “with Distinction”), J.D. and M.A. in Public Policy from Duke University, and his B.A. in Government from Oberlin College.


About The Dallas Foundation
The Dallas Foundation, established as the first community foundation in Texas in 1929, brings together people, ideas, and investments in Greater Dallas so individuals and families can reach their full potential. In 2019, The Dallas Foundation, in partnership with the more than 400 fundholders, invested over $70 million into the community. For more information, visit www.dallasfoundation.org.

BOWIE, MD – Voting rights champion, political leader and bestselling author Stacey Abrams will deliver the commencement address to the Spring 2021 graduating class at Bowie State University during a virtual commencement to be held on May 21, 2021 at 10 a.m. EDT.

Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams is an outspoken advocate in the fight to expand voting access and is the New York Times-bestselling author of “Our Time Is Now” and “Lead from the Outside.” She is widely credited with increasing voter turnout in Georgia in the 2020 presidential election, as well as in the state’s 2020-21 U.S. Senate election and special election. She was nominated for a 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts. She made history in 2019 as the first African-American woman to deliver a response to the State of the Union address.

She was the nation’s first African-American female major-party gubernatorial nominee when she ran as the Democratic candidate in the 2018 Georgia governor’s race, winning more votes, at the time, than any Democrat in state history. Before her gubernatorial run, she served as Democratic Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives for seven years.

Abrams has launched several organizations to address inequities in government. She started Fair Fight Action to ensure every American has a voice in our election system, Fair Count to ensure accuracy in the 2020 census and the Southern Economic Advancement Project, a public policy initiative to broaden economic power and build equity in the South.

Abrams hold a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School, a Master of Public Affairs degree from University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College.


About Bowie State University
Bowie State University (BSU) is an important higher education access portal for qualified persons from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, seeking a high-quality and affordable public comprehensive university. The university places special emphasis on the science, technology, cybersecurity, teacher education, business, and nursing disciplines within the context of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit www.bowiestate.edu.

PINE BLUFF, AR – The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) was recently awarded financial support from the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU), to support participation in the largest-ever institutional collaborative effort to collect and share data geared at finding solutions for college access and help generate more graduates from underrepresented minority, low-income, and first generation backgrounds. Dr. Braque Talley, Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management and Student Success at UAPB, has a passion for student success and retention and the grant will support his efforts to improve local and national education opportunities.

Dr. Braque Talley, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Success at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

“Getting students enrolled in college is no longer enough,said Dr. Talley. “We don’t just want students to attend UAPB. We want them to graduate from here as well. The success of our students is a priority for our Chancellor.”

Dr. Talley is using the funds to help review best practices that help with student successes and share the successful initiatives that impact institutional equity. As a participant, Dr. Talley will share his data with other public universities working together to increase college access, eliminate the achievement gap, and award hundreds of thousands more degrees by 2025.

“By collecting, reporting, and analyzing data from students of all backgrounds across the country, it will help to foster more informed decisions about how to improve opportunities and support the current gaps in student success,” said Dr. Talley.

“Dr. Talley’s dedication to student individual success is evident,” said George Cotton, Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement at UAPB. “Since day one, he has been driven to finding solutions to help student succeed, generate retention for the university, and help young people find their place in the world.” Even amid history’s worst pandemic, Dr. Talley was relentless in finding ways to stay engaged with local youth and help students find success. He and his team are credited for helping UAPB reach the largest enrollment increase in nearly a decade and increase the retention rate the one of the highest in the university’s history, according to reports.

“We are proud of our participation in this new initiative focused on data-driven research to determine solutions for student outcomes,” said Dr. Laurence B. Alexander, UAPB Chancellor. “UAPB is committed to being more student-focused and more responsive to change with the goal of increasing student success and the removal of impediments to student retention, progression, and timely graduation.”

Other institutions selected for the nationwide initiative are Clemson University; Illinois State University; Ohio University; Middle Tennessee State University; Montana State University; New Mexico State University; University of New Orleans; New Jersey Institute of Technology; Rutgers University-Newark; University of South Alabama; Texas Tech University; Tuskegee University; Virginia Commonwealth University; Western Michigan University; and University of Wyoming.

Dr. Talley proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the HBCU Campaign Fund.


About the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is a public comprehensive HBCU 1890 Land-Grant Institution. The University embraces its land-grant mission of providing cutting edge research, teaching, outreach, and service programs that respond to the social and economic needs of the state and region. Its mission is to promote and sustain excellent academic programs that integrate quality instruction, research, and student learning experiences responsive to the needs of a racially, culturally, and economically diverse student population. Ultimately, the University is dedicated to providing access and opportunity to academically deserving students and producing graduates who are equipped to excel through their contributions and leadership in a 21st century national and global community. For more information, visit www.uapb.edu.