Cheyney University Blog

Clinton Global University Initiative

February 22, 2009

Dear Cheyney University Family,

I recently had the pleasure of participating in the second Clinton Global Initiative University conference at The University of Texas Austin in Austin, TX. The Clinton Global University Initiative (CGUI) was founded by the 42th President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton. I was privileged, as your president, to represent Cheyney University and to participate in a luncheon meeting with former President Clinton, Dr. Donna Shalala, and many other college presidents and students from around the globe. At the luncheon meeting, we talked about how to translate visionary leadership into positive social action that improves many areas of our lives including competitiveness in the STEM (science technology, engineering, and math), increasing the college completion rate among less advantaged students, decreasing world disease and hunger, and guiding our college students to make significant impact in the global economy.

I pledged to commit to work towards increasing the college-going rate in our area by increasing our precollege, outreach activities and by working with our students to demonstrate the positive effects of higher education. As you know, we are working towards increasing our presence at the Urban Site in Philadelphia and in other areas such as Coatesville and Chester City.

Moreover, I hope that students, faculty, and alumni will reflect on how we can be engaged in positive social action and public service to respond to the needs of the Commonwealth, the region, and the nation. Our country depends on the energy, commitment, and positive action of groups that collaborate to create an improved collective future. One theme at the CGUI was that we should focus on collaborative efforts and helping students to acquire the technical skills to fuel their passion for make our world a better place.

I look forward to working with students, alumni, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders to organize specific action plans to help us engage in positive social action.


Michelle R. Howard-Vital, Ph.D.


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This blog topic correlates to relentless willpower of Rhio O’Conner. According to the Cancer Monthly website, Mr. O’Connor was diagnosed with a deadly cancer and given a year to live. However, instead of giving up, he outlived his prognosis by more than six years by researching his cancer. Mr. O’Connor spent hours in the library and spoke to countless doctors, researchers and patients. He learned what various therapies offered, their long and short term side effects, and the theories and philosophies behind them. Through this rigorous educational process, Mr. O’Connor was able to help create his own therapeutic protocol along side the clinicians that he selected (Scholarship, 2004-2009). Rhio O’Connor’s courage corresponds to the need to develop help college students translate visionary leadership into positive social action; as well as the need to make a contribution to society, which is a fundamental principal of the Clinton Global Initiative. When faced with such a terminal prognosis, how many of will respond by fighting through education? Not many. If the hundreds of thousand of people diagnosed each year with terminal diseases decided to place their fate in their own hand, would we be that much closer to a cure to diseases such as AIDS and cancer? Shouldn’t the majority of society want to leave behind some sort of legacy? It must be a incredible feeling to know that through a tragedy, a contribution to society was made. The legacy of persons such as Rhio O’Connor demonstrate the significant contributions one can make when challenged. Education is a society’s mechanism to gaining empowerment. In its technical sense education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another (Education, 2009). Each person’s research will get society one step closer to a cure. This is what Rhio O’Connor demonstrated to society. Each day that his life was extended brought researchers closer to the value of a holistic approach to medicine. Rhio O’Connor changed the course of research to focus on additional therapies to work alongside the conventional methods. When faced with such difficult challenges, I hope to find it necessary to utilize my most powerful tool – my mind. Knowledge is power. How does one gain power in the face of a terminal illness? Educate oneself on the deadly disease. You may not find a cure, but you may just give yourself the extra time you need to appreciate life and to appreciate your family. Isn’t this what medical science is all about? Giving a person the ability to appreciate life just a little bit longer? Allowing a person more time to spend time with their loved ones is the greatest contribution medical science can ever make in my opinion. That is the fundamental premise of saving lives. According to the American Cancer Society, 1.4 million new cases of cancer were estimated to be reported in 2008. At some point in my life, I know I will be faced with some sort of tragedy. I anticipate that one of these years I will be one of these new cases. When this happens, what will I do? I will work with my doctors to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. I will not rely solely on my medical providers, but I will rely more on my need to survive. Using a combination of conventional treatments (i.e., chemotherapy) combined with supportive therapy strategies such as spiritual support, nutritional alternatives, and exercise maintain my strength and improve the overall quality of life. I will never give up until my maker calls me home. I will remember the spirit of Rhio O’Connor, and remember the need to get the next person just one step closer to a cure. Taking the initiative to be responsible for your own health is something that all college students should learn. Through this education process, we contribute to society as a whole. We leave behind new resources and maybe new technologies for the next generation. What better motivation does one have except to be faced with a life or death circumstance? The amount of energy we can devote to give ourselves just a little more time is absolutely remarkable. Who knows, it may be that what actually extends one life is the need to survive… It may not be medicinal at all. Works Cited Education. (2009, 29 November). Retrieved 30 November, 2009, from Wikipedia Foundation, Inc.: Scholarship. (2004-2009). Retrieved November 29, 2009, from Cancer Monthly: By: TBW
tbw 11:50PM 11/29/09
I think that is amazing that you got the oppurtunity to sit down with the former president of the united states. It was also enlightening to hear that you represented Cheyney University.
Brad Engle 4:32PM 04/24/09
I founed it very interesting to see that you where invited to such a very speical event where Cheyney was repesented in the Good Lime Light! The fact that you where able to enjoy a meal with whom i believe is one of Americas best presidents is outstanding on its own. the STEM program I believe is a very promising program for cheyney. Finally I would like to say i am extremly happy about the pledge that you have put forth i hope that it is carried thru accordanly! Tiffany M. Sheppard Freshman Cheyney University
Tiffany M. Sheppard 4:32PM 04/07/09
I find it very interesting that you were given the opportunity to participate in the second Clinton Globe Initiative University Conference. I find this appreciated because you were able to be a avoice Cheyney University. I also like the the pledge you committed bacause we do need more activities and positive effects of higher education. I look forward to helping organize specific plans to help engage in positive social actions. JB
Anonymous 4:32PM 03/30/09
I was interested in the discussion of STEM education, but noted that the focus of the discussion has yet to land on the real problem. If you want to get young people excited about science (or math) you have to get them at the earliest possible age. By the time students get to high school they already have filtered out types of jobs they don’t want – and it’s pretty likely that things involving science or math are among them. In the case of science it is likely due to the fact that they don’t know much about it. Unless education has changed dramatically since I was a lad – elementary schools have very little science. It seems to be used as an occasional diversion rather than a daily subject to be studied. In my day – there were little experiments that were set up for the students to admire – but only once in a great while. One remedy for this, based on what you said in your blog – is to conduct more outreach with elementary schools. If we could send faculty with the charisma of a Dr. Adeyiga into an elementary school to demonstrate some simple science ideas or the like, the kids would get excited. Maybe it could be an after school program. As for math – the country will never produce many mathematicians of any race as long as the typical elementary school teacher is math-phobic. Kids are like sponges – they absorb everything in their environment. So if teacher isn’t comfortable with math – the kids will pick up on that, and since most kids see their teachers as role models – most will begin developing their own phobia. In my view efforts to improve primary and secondary education over the past 40 years have been woefully off the mark. Sadly, we have become slaves to numbers. How could anyone seriously think that forcing prospective teachers to score high on a standardized exam would produce better teachers? As one who began in the classroom you must know that teaching is essentially an art. The science of teaching is a relatively small factor – and our insistence on promoting teaching as a science has blinded us to the importance of the art. In short – a student in teacher education at any level can achieve top scores in all classes and on the Praxis exams – but that does little to predict whether the student will be a good teacher. You can either teach or you cannot – and all the training in the world cannot substitute for having the “gift” or whatever you may call it. I have no formal training on the piano, for instance – but I have something of a gift for teaching. Because of that, I would not hesitate to teach a first course in Piano. On the other hand being a highly trained virtuoso on the Piano does not mean that you could teach someone else how to play. These insights are certainly nothing profound – I’ve read article after article and listened to presentation after presentation bemoaning the fact that we have become a nation of test scores – and have been largely satisfied if we can report that our test scores have improved. Never mind that typical high school graduates cannot write a coherent paragraph free of spelling and grammatical errors. Never mind that the typical college freshman (and beyond) sees a page of numbers or formulas and begins feeling nauseated. The school performed at the Xteenth percentile, by golly!! I could go on and on – but I know your time is limited, and I’m probably not telling you anything new, but it is a subject that gets me riled. Until I was in 6th grade I was taught by little old white-haired ladies (literally). Based on their age at the time, I’m guessing they were products of the Normal School movement. If they had a weak subject – none of us ever knew it. I was not an easy student to teach – nor did I excel very often – but – in spite of all that I got a good education, and one that has stayed with me. I never saw one of them lose control of a classroom – and there were no “teachers aides” to help out. I’m sure they had their favorites – but I never saw students being treated differently. In fact – I recall once being “instructed” by an oak yardstick after chiding a fellow student who was a little slow in picking up on the lesson. I came out of the public schools (4 different high schools in 3 states and a foreign country) with a damned fine education – one that ultimately got me here. I wonder how many students across the country today can say that? There has been much said about the bad old days and how wrong-headed the teaching methods were back then – but, doggone it, they worked! Even students who were not destined for college came out able to read and comprehend, to do simple mathematics, and the like. The modern methods that have replace those bad old practices have utterly destroyed that – leaving universities to try to remedy the damage. That costs money and valuable time – and has a relatively poor success rate. Students who come here with poor writing skills typically do not get that much better by the time they leave – in spite of our concerted efforts to make them write. We simply cannot correct the mistakes of K-12 in a semester or two. Somehow we have to break the mania for test scores and get serious about understanding what used to work in public education. Cheyney could, perhaps take the local lead in this. If you are committed as you say to bringing in better students – perhaps we should take a hand in creating them in the first place. Just a few thoughts.
B. Buchner 4:31PM 02/25/09



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