TALLADEGA, AL – Talladega College will hold a naming ceremony for the Dr. Billy C. Hawkins Student Activity Center on Friday, August 14, 2020, at 3 p.m. The newly constructed 47,000-square-foot student center/arena will be the first-ever campus facility to be named in honor of one of the institution’s African American presidents.
In 2008, when Dr. Billy C. Hawkins became the 20th president of Talladega College, the institution was struggling to survive. Dr. Hawkins implemented rigorous plans for renovation and growth that transformed the college. 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. The College enjoyed record-high enrollment in both the 2018-2019 academic year and the 2019-2020 academic year. Talladega College now has over 1200 students.
Under the leadership of Dr. Hawkins, Talladega College is listed among Princeton Review’s best colleges in the Southwest, U.S. News and World Report’s most innovative colleges and Kiplinger’s Best Value Colleges, 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.
Talladega recently launched it first-ever graduate program, an online Master of Science in Computer Information Systems. In addition, the campus is undergoing a major physical transformation.
New construction on campus includes a 45,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art residence hall, which opened in 2019 and the Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art, which opened in 2020. The Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art houses six critically-acclaimed Hale 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 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 Isiah Hugley, chairman of the Talladega College Board of Trustees.
Dr. Hawkins serves on the U.S. 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). In addition, he was appointed by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to serve on the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council. He 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 was ranked first place among the Top Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2020 by HBCU Campaign Fund. He is also a recipient of numerous other awards, including 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, Alabama’s Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.’s Graduate Citizen of the Year Award, and the Theta Tau Chapter’s Citizenship Award.
The Kent, Ohio native holds a bachelor’s of science degree in teacher education from Ferris State University, a master’s of arts degree 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.
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 renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals, which received rave reviews from the New York Times during a three year, eight-city tour.