(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

CHICAGO, IL (April 1, 2021) – Shedd Aquarium, a leader in animal care, conservation, education and research, announces the election of six new senior executives to the aquarium’s Board of Trustees which includes Zaldwaynaka “Z” Scott, Chicago State University President.

Zaldwaynaka Scott, president of Chicago State University.

“The dynamic group of leaders brings years of economic, cultural, social and community contributions that will bring great value not only to Shedd’s role in the healing and recovery of Chicago but also to informing and strengthening our future ambitions,” said Brain A. Kenney, chairman, president and CEO of GATX Corporation and Shedd Aquarium Board Chairman.

Scott serves as the President of Chicago State University as of 2018 and is considered a thought leader on issues of equity and access in higher education. In her time as President, she has overseen the development and advancement of student success initiatives, developed and implemented a five-year strategic plan and created a statewide, cross-sector Equity Working Group for Black Student Access and Success in Illinois’ Higher Education.

“Shedd Aquarium’s Board of Trustees is generous in so many ways, providing hard work, ideas, resources and connections that translate to meaningful and lasting impacts for Shedd and for Chicago,” said Bridget Coughlin PhD, president and CEO of Shedd Aquarium. “We are thrilled to usher in new insights and contributions from six tremendous leaders, who are also passionate about animals and saving this blue planet.”

Shedd is governed by the Shedd Aquarium Society, composed of volunteer corporate, civic and community leaders that make up the Board of Trustees with the primary responsibility for governance oversight and fiduciary accountability, as outlined in the Society bylaws. The board provides strategic direction for institutional priorities through work in both governance and programmatic committees.

About Shedd Aquarium
The Shedd Aquarium connects nature lovers and animal enthusiast with the aquatic animal world. Beluga encounters, beach clean-ups and 360 virtual dives with Caribbean reef sharks are all tools that deepen connections with wildlife and work toward this vision. For more information, visit www.sheddaquarium.org.

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billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban. Cuban is owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

TALLADEGA, AL – Talladega College students, faculty, and staff participated in a virtual meeting with billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban on March 29, 2021. Mr. Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is a media proprietor and the primary investor on the ABC reality television series Shark Tank.

Mr. Cuban talked about experiences that shaped his life and urged prospective entrepreneurs to select businesses that will “leverage your unique skill sets.” He also stated, “You’ve got to put in the effort. You’ve got to be able to prepare.”

During the presentation, Talladega College senior Kamari McHenry asked questions about Mr. Cuban’s successful business endeavors and the experiences that helped him to excel. After the event, Kamari stated, “I was happy to be a part of the virtual experience today with Mark Cuban. He gave our students and me some wonderful advice. He let me know the sky is the limit. I can do anything with hard work.”

Mass Media Studies Chair Dr. Luis Almeida, who arranged the event, stated, “Having Mark Cuban come into my classroom at Talladega was a wonderful opportunity for students. He helped them to understand the importance of entrepreneurship and realize that, after graduation, they can create their own jobs.”

During the presentation, Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins stated that Mr. Cuban’s “passion, confidence, poise, and drive” are among the keys to his success. Dr. Hawkins also noted that similarities between Mr. Cuban’s story of starting out with little and building a fortune to the experiences he had when he became president of the college in 2008. There were barely over 300 students at the time. With hard work and perseverance, the college doubled enrollment from approximately 300 to 601 students in one semester and a major campus transformation began.

In January 2019, a 45,000-foot-square-of-the-art residence hall opened. In 2020, two additional facilities opened – the Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art, which houses the Amistad Murals, and the Dr. Billy C. Hawkins Student Activity Center. Enrollment recently rose to an all-time high of 1313 students, making the 2020-2021 academic year Talladega’s 3rd consecutive year for record enrollment increases. Talladega College is listed among the Princeton Review’s best colleges in the Southeast and ranked among the U.S. News and World Report’s best National Liberal Arts College, best Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs), and Top Performers on Social Mobility. The College recently launched its first-ever graduate program, an online Master of Science in Computer Information Systems.

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.

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Dr. Kristie L. Kenney, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Talladega College.

TALLADEGA, AL – Dr. Kristie L. Kenney, Talladega College’s vice president for institutional advancement, has been selected to participate in the Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI). A new class of 32 exemplary, senior-level higher education professionals will participate in the 2021 MLI, a premier leadership development program of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

“I commend Dr. Kenney for being one of 32 higher education professionals in the nation selected to participate in the 2021 Millennium Leadership Initiative,” said Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, president of Talladega College, who was a member of the 2000 Millennium Leadership Initiative. “Having completed the MLI, I understand and appreciate the value and lasting impact that this program can have on a participant’s life.”

MLI provides individuals traditionally underrepresented in the highest ranks of postsecondary education with the opportunity to develop skills, gain a philosophical overview, and build the network and knowledge needed to advance to the presidency.

Since MLI’s inception 22 years ago, 662 protégés have graduated from the program. One-fifth of MLI graduates have become a president or chancellor, and more than one-third have advanced significantly to other leadership positions within higher education, including at the state level.

In 2020, AASCU restructured MLI in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 institution will also feature virtual programming – four meetings a month from March 17 to May 26. Additionally, it includes a tentative, in-person meeting in the fall. Protégés will also have a yearlong mentorship with an experienced president or chancellor and four months of professional coaching from a retired president or chancellor.

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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.

About AASCU
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of nearly 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. Theses are institutions Delivering America’s Promise. For more information, visit www.aascu.org.

Dr. Alvin Smith

TALLADEGA, AL – Talladega College graduate Dr. Alvin Smith, manager of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL) Planetary Protection Center of Excellence and Backward Planetary Protection Lead for Mars Sample Return, credits Talladega for providing the foundation that helped him excel in science.

“Talladega College really shaped my first understanding of the scientist, individually and collectively, that I wanted to become. The sense of family and community fostered a sense of belonging you rarely find these days, rooted in historical black excellence,” said Dr. Smith. “It was this TC community that made the first investment, through scholarships and didactic scientific education, that truly launched my ambitions to the stars.”

Dr. Smith provides program management and scientific oversight to several research & development projects, training programs, university outreach, and interagency collaborations at NASA JPL at the California Institute of Technology. The JPL Planetary Portection Center of Excellence promotes and sustains the infrastructure of planetary protection at JPL while supporting NASA missions. JPL fosters a culture of intra and inter collaboration to meet evolving mission requirements. The Planetary Protection Center of Excellence ensures that its scientists and engineers are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, remain effectively trained, lead mission-related Research & Technology Development projects, and leverage leading government and industry advancements, so that they can better fulfill multi-mission needs. Dr. Smith joined JPL after spending over 16 years in consulting as a biodefense subject matter expert (SME) and researcher in high containment labs.

These experiences highlight his understanding of what it takes to conduct challenging biological studies, implement and lead successful scientific projects, and build lasting partnerships. His scientific contributions in immunology, infectious diseases, and animal models have aided the federal government in developing medical countermeasures and biodetection capabilities for human smallpox, Ebola, and other potential biological weapons. He is a past recipient of numerous awards and honors, including JPL’s Voyager Award, the Noblis Technology Leadership Award, and the IGCC (Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation) Public Policy and Biological Threats Fellowship Award.

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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 home of the renowned Hall Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

The HBCU Campaign Fund would like to extend its warmest congratulations to Dr. Adena Williams Loston on the completion of her 14th year as President of St. Philip’s College located in San Antonio, Texas. She joined the SPC family on March 1, 2007, on the occasion of St. Philip’s 109th anniversary.

Adena Williams Loston, Ph.D., 14th president of St. Philip’s College.

Named as one of The Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2021 by the HBCU Campaign Fund, Dr. Loston serves as president of the only college to be federally designated as a Historically Black College (HBC) and a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). Prior to joining SPC, she previously served as the Director of Education and Special Assistant for Suborbital and Special Orbital Projects Directorate for the Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Flight Facility and Chief Education Officer for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at its Headquarters in Washington, DC. Her initial appointment at NASA was as the Associate Administrator for Education on October 28, 2002, and prior to joining the Agency, she served as the NASA Administrator’s Senior Education Advisor starting in September 2002. As NASA’s senior education official, she was responsible for structuring the Office of Education, providing executive leadership, policy direction, functional management, and guidance in coordinating the Agency’s overall efforts to organize and enhance its education investments and portfolio nationally and internationally for its Headquarter operations, mission directorates and 10 field centers. Dr. Loston was responsible for a $230 million budget (including earmarks) and directed policy for $1.3 billion.

Recently, Dr. Loston was named to two local committees, serving on both The San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF) 2021 Executive Committee and Mayor Nirenberg Commission on the Status of Women. She has been a proud member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. for more than forty years. She is also a recipient of many awards, achievements, and recognition.

Dr. Loston is the product of a historically black college, Alcorn State University, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1973. She received her Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Bowling Green State University in 1974 and 1979 respectively. She also attended the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University in 1996; the Oxford Roundtable at Oxford University in 2001; and the Wharton School of Business in 2005.

Learn more about Dr. Adena Williams Loston here.

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About St. Philip’s College
St. Philip’s College, founded in 1898, is a comprehensive public community college whose mission is to empower our diverse student population through educational achievement and career readiness. As a Historically Black College and Hispanic Serving Institution, St. Philip’s College is a vital facet of the community, responding to the needs of a population rich in ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic diversity. St. Philip’s College creates an environment fostering excellence in academic and technical achievement while expanding its commitment to opportunity and access. For more information, visit www.alamo.edu/spc/.