Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, 20th President of Talladega College

TALLADEGA, AL – The Talladega College Board of Trustees voted on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, to name the newly constructed 47,000-square-foot student center/arena in honor of the College’s 20th President, Dr. Billy C. Hawkins.

“Dr. Hawkins took over as president in 2008 when Talladega College was struggling to survive. As a result of his leadership, the College is once again recognized as one of the most well-respected HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in the nation,” says Isaiah Hugley, Talladega College Board of Trustee Chairman.

HBCU presidents are called upon to enhance the quality of HBCU student population, academic programs, faculty, physical facilities and financial base. Chairman Hugley states that Dr. Hawkins has not only delivered in each of the areas noted, but he also boosted the College’s ranking, enrollment and visibility, nationally and globally.

“Dr. Hawkins has not only talked the talk, but walked the walk,” said Chairman Hugley. “Dr. Hawkins recently signed a $1.8 million dollar commitment to Talladega College alleviating a future long-term contractual obligation fore the Institution, established a $50,000 endowed scholarship and up to $100,000 in other financial commitments. Given this financial commitment along with the remarkable impact his leadership has had on the College, the Talladega College Board of Trustees agreed that the new student center should be named in his honor.”

The foundation for Talladega College’s most transformative era was laid in 2018, at the beginning of Dr. Billy C. Hawkin’s 12-year tenure. The moment he arrived on campus, Dr. Hawkins began working diligently to stabilize finances; increase fundraising; expand academic offerings; and guide the institution through the 2009 Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Accreditation. His rigorous plans for renovation and growth included assessing the Institution’s assets. he had Hale Woodruff’s murals, now valued at $50 million, appraised, restored, sent on tour, and in January 2020, returned to campus to hang in the newly constructed Dr. Williams R. Harvey Museum of Art.

As a result of Dr. Hawkin’s vision, enrollment doubled from approximately 300 students to 601 students in one semester; athletic programs were reinstated for the first time in ten years; and major campus beautification projects were undertaken. In 2018, the College continued soaring to unprecedented heights. The simultaneous construction of three new facilities commenced, the College’s ranking rose rapidly, and Talladega’s first-ever graduate program was launched. Specifically, enrollment rose from 782 students during the 2017-2018 academic year to a record-high 1217 students during the 2018-2019 academic year, and an all-time high of 1230 students during the 2019-2020 academic year. Also, in January 2019, a new residence hall opened and, on January 31, 2020, ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held for the other newly erected buildings – the Dr. Williams R. Harvey Museum of Art and the new student center/area.

Dr. Hawkins was named amongst ‘The Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2020‘ by the HBCU Campaign Fund. He serves on the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs and also serves as chair of the 37 presidents of member institutions for the UNCF (United Negro College Fund). His national leadership positions have allowed him tom lobby effectively on behalf of Talladega College and other HBCUs. He is equally effective at building relationships on the local and regional levels, having secured a $1.5 million donation from the State of Alabama for the new museum project, and infrastructure support from the City of Talladega for campus roads and entryway improvements. In 2019, Dr. Hawkins secured a sponsorship that allowed 23 Talladega College students to travel to Japen at no expense to the Institution.

Under the leadership of Dr. Hawkins, Talladega College is listed among Princeton Review’s best colleges in the Southeast, U.S. News and World Report’s most innovative colleges, and Kiplinger’s Best Value Colleges. Further, due to his leadership, Talladega’s 2019 SACSCOC Accreditation was reaffirmed through 2029 with no recommendations for change in any of the standards reviewed and, for the first time, the College is accredited to teach at the master’s degree level.

It is because of his aforementioned extraordinary performance, $1.8 million dollar financed commitment, and national recognition for academic leadership excellence that the Talladega College Board of Trustees voted to name the new student center/arena “The Dr. Billy C. Hawkins Student Activity Center” in honor of the College’s 20th President, Dr. Billy C. Hawkins.

“We congratulate, commend and thank Dr. Billy C. Hawkins for his service to our beloved institution,” said Chairman Hugley.


About Talladega College

The oldest private Historically Black College in Alabama, Talladega College was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant. Talladega College is the home of the reowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals, which received rave reviews from the New York Times during a three-year, eight-city tour.

Every Monday, the HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF) will spotlight a Chancellor or President who currently serves a Historically Black College or University. This initiative recognizes and introduces those individuals who serve our nation HBCUs on a daily basis, changing and educating lives while producing the forthcoming visionary leaders of tomorrow.

This week’s Chancellor or President:  Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, Talladega College

Billy C. Hawkins, PhD

Dr. Billy C. Hawkins has served as president of Talladega College since January 1, 2008. During his distinguished tenure of the institution’s 20th president, he has stabilized finances; increased fundraising; expanded academic offerings; successfully guided the institution through SACSCOC accreditation; and led the College in reaching record-breaking enrollment increases. Under his leadership, Talladega College has been completely transformed and revitalized.

During his first year at the College, Dr. Hawkins implemented rigorous plans for renovation and growth. As a result of his vision, enrollment doubled from just over 300 students to 601 students in one semester; athletic programs were reinstated for the first time in ten years; and major campus beautification projects were undertaken. Today Talladega College has 1,217 students and is listed among the Princeton Review’s best colleges in the Southeast and U.S. News and World Report’s best regional colleges and best HBCUs. The college recently launched its first-ever graduate program, an online Master of Science in Computer Information Systems. In addition, the campus is undergoing a major physical transformation.

A 45,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art residence hall opened in January 2019. In fall 2019, the College will open its first-ever student center, a 47,000-square-foot facility replete with a 2,000-seat arena as well as a banquet hall, restaurant, convocation center, computer lab, health care clinic, VIP suite, concession stand, coffee lounge and convenience store. Ground has also been broken on the Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art, which will house six critically-acclaimed Hall Woodruff murals, including the renowned Amistad Murals. To construct the museum for Woodruff’s murals, which are valued at 50 million dollars, Dr. Hawkins secured Talladega’s largest-ever financial gift, a one million dollar donation from alumnus Dr. William R. Harvey. Dr. Hawkins also secured a 1.5 million dollar contribution from Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and the State of Alabama.

Dr. Hawkins spearheaded a similar transformation at Texas College, where he also served as the 20th president. Prior to his arrival, the College had lost both its accreditation and its membership in the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). During his 7-year tenure, which began December 1, 2000, the institution flourished. There was an 82% increased in student enrollment within the first ten months of his arrival. Under his leadership, the institution regained accreditation in 2001, stabilized its finances, and also regained its membership in the UNCF. Dr. Hawkins implemented five new academic programs, constructed three new facilities, remodeled all academic and student service facilities, procured property assets, eliminated all long-term debt, and started new athletic programs which won three championship. As a result of the remarkable turnaround, the college received a new 10 year accreditation in 2006.

Prior to joining Texas College, Dr. Hawkins served as Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Education at Mississippi Valley State University. During his tenure at Mississippi Valley State University, he developed and proposed 18 new academic programs; increased internet accessibility and computer access for students and faculty; spearheaded diverse innovative faculty development initiatives; and re-engineered the registration process. Dr. Hawkins began his career as an educator in the Lansing Michigan Public Schools System. His passion for teaching led him to the field of higher education where he has served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs/Professor at Mississippi Valley State University; Vice President for Academic Affairs/Professor at Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Virginia; Acting Dean, Associate Dean, and Assistant Dean/Professor in the College of Education at Ferris State University; and Director of Educational Opportunity Program, State University of New York at Morrisville College. 

A prominent leader in the field of education, Dr. Hawkins has appeared on numerous television programs, including the O’Reilly Factor with Bill O’Reilly on FOX News, the Don Lemon Show on CNN, the Armstrong Williams Show, the ABC Evening News with the late Peter Jennings, BBC News, and diverse programs on local ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX affiliates. In addition, he has been featured on the cover of Diverse Issues in Higher Education and highlighted in publications such as Alabama Business Magazine, U.S. News and World Report and the Chronicle of Higher Education

Dr. Hawkins serves as chair of the 36 presidents of member institutions for the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) board of directors, and also serves as UNCF chair of the executive committee of member institutions, vice chair of the corporate board, and vice chair of the corporate board executive committee. He was appointed by President Donald Trump to the White House Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities in September, 2018. In addition, he was appointed by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to serve on the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council. Dr. Hawkins is the first African American to chair the Alabama Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the author of two books, and a member of the Talladega Rotary Club, the Delta Upsilon Boule and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He is a recipient of the Vanguard Award from the Higher Education Leadership Foundation, the Colonel Leo Thorsness Courage Award, the Ferris State Distinguished Alumni Award, the Kent Hall of Fame, the Presidential Service Award from the HBCU Title III Administrators, Inc, the Distinguished Service Award to the Nation’s HBCUs, a Certificate of Appreciation from the Anniston Army Depot, Alabama’s Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc’s Graduate Citizen of the Year Award, and the Theta Tau Chapter’s Citizenship Award. Quality of Life Health Services named Dr. Hawkins a “Hero in Healthcare for 2018.” In recognition of his leadership in the community and the College’s 17 million dollar economic impact in the region, the Talladega City Council presented Dr. Hawkins with the Key to the City and other awards at a special council meeting and reception held in his honor in 2019.  

The Kent, Ohio native holds a B.S. in Teacher Education from Ferris State University; an M.A. in Education Administration from Central Michigan University; and a Ph.D. in Education from Michigan State University. He has completed post doctorate study at Harvard University. Dr. Hawkins and his wife Lucy reside in Talladega, AL. 


About Talladega College

Talladega College is located in an historic district of the city of Talladega, Alabama. The campus is on a plateau about 700 feet above sea level in the heart of a fertile valley in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The campus is a quiet place – away from the distractions and fast pace of urban living. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

About the HBCU Campaign Fund

HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF) is a non-profit advocacy organization which is mission to supporting the significance and campaign in raising funds for scholarships and services at historically black colleges and universities and predominately black institutions. HCF advocates for students, alumni, HBCU and PB institutions. For more information, visit www.hbcucampaignfund.org.