Cheyney University Blog

PRESIDENT'S BLOG - April 2014 - Angela Davis - An Intellectual Bridge to the Future

April 21, 2014

As she walked onto the stage, an audience of nearly 500 people sprung to their feet to give Angela Davis a standing ovation.  This was the second standing ovation Ms. Davis received that day.  As someone told me after the presentation--" it was for what she did for us." The first standing ovation was from faculty, students, and other supporters of the Keystone Honors program who sponsored the Angela Davis lecture and conversed with Ms. Davis during the dinner prior to the presentation.

Standing tall, wearing an easy fitting black leather blazer, employing only an engaging voice punctuated with helpful hand gestures, for nearly an hour Angela Davis captivated a full-house of receptive students, alumni, and other guests at Cheyney University's Marian Anderson Music Hall with intractably woven historical and current perspectives on the struggle for freedom, moments in the Civil Rights movement, the role of the penal system in American and other countries, and the need for a broad base of bottom-up, positive social action that will demand and effect change. This was all accomplished from a overall, but not overbearing, feminist perspective.

The Angela Davis of 2014, just entering her 70th decade of life, is still fiery, deeply intellectual, committed to the understanding of freedom, and very attractive with a full head of curly brown hair.  She is a wonder to behold, an intellectual bridge from the not too distant past to the yet to be realized future.

The hosting of the Angela Davis lecture by the Keystone Honors Program presentation punctuated the need to explore different world views and the essential responsibility of Cheyney University to expose students to such perspectives.

Listening to her recount the people and the incidents of the Civil Rights Movement linking them to the current American societal and educational challenges illustrated how this American icon continues to urge us on towards a broader base of freedom that is won by the people and shared by the people.

After the presentation, Angela Davis stayed for at least an hour more to sign copies of books from those in the audience. It took me nearly an hour to leave the auditorium. Many faculty, alumni, staff, and guests stopped to talk about Ms. Davis' positive message, her eloquent delivery, and her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.  Many commented on her youthful appearance and her keen insights into the power of broad-based positive social action.

After getting a copy of my book signed for my daughter, my husband and I finally left the auditorium content that we had brought this legacy to a Cheyney University.


Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph.D.
President
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

Tags: Angela Davis , Cheyney University , Civil Rights Movement , Keystone Academy

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President's Blog - February 2014 - Loving One Another

February 04, 2014

Lately, I have been wondering what it means to really "love one another."  How do we prepare youth to do such, and how do we support this "loving" in our broader communities?  I admit, I am worried and wondering if we have a commitment to love one another. Of course, it's February, and we are inundated with images of romantic love -- especially the more idealized versions of romantic love-- the falling in love part. Promoting romantic love seems to be really big in American culture. We spend a great deal of time following strategies to capture it, maintain it, and survive it.  

However, as many mature adults know, the daily practice and expressions of love are difficult human interactions that not only demand commitment but also endurance since loving others can stretch us in ways we never felt were possible.

There are novels, movies, poems, music videos, artistic expressions and other genres that have sought to capture and encapsulate this romantic love-- so we know what it should look like-- I guess.   However, in some religions and philosophical circles, there is also discussion about what it means to share love with neighbors, the broader citizenry, and global citizens of the planet.  I wonder about this type of love on most Sundays.  Just how do we operationalize this broad-based grand love that influences the well-being of others? 

Possibly, there is an example that deserves more review and replication. For two years, for reasons I do not know, I was invited to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).   This Initiative was designed by President William Jefferson Clinton in 2007. It encourages college students to look for creative solutions to problems in the global community. To get the CGI going, some college students were furnished seed money to design and implement innovative projects that seek to ameliorate pressing global challenges such as alleviating poverty, improving public health, supporting peace and human rights, advocating for environment and climate change, and delivering education.  About 1,200 students participated in both conferences I attended. The students were demonstrating their concern and care for local communities and farther away neighbors by constructing solutions to help--to make life better for others. President Clinton with his army of youth organizers seemed to be exemplifying, on a larger scale, at least one way to operationalize loving near and far neighbors. Besides enjoying hearing about the innovative solutions to improve the well-being of others, it was also intriguing to watch the students from so many different countries and cultures interact.  Could this be fledgling diplomacy?

Recently, I have been reviewing the mission statements of a few colleges and universities to determine how higher education perceives that it fits into the theme of "loving one another" and promoting positive social action.  In mission statements randomly selected and reviewed, colleges/universities state that they "encourage service to humanity... dedication to innovation and social justice."  One college states that its core values include, "a global vision that understands and appreciates the common goals and purposes of all people," and "an appreciation of diversity that nourishes mutual respect and solidarity." Another college states that it seeks to "sustain a community diverse in nature and democratic in practice, for we believe that only through considering many perspectives do we gain a deeper understanding of each other and the world."  So, it seems that the rhetoric is there, at least in the mission statements of some colleges.

At Cheyney University, as we begin our strategic thinking for our next strategic plan 2015-2020, I hope that we find ways to operationalize positive social action and the encouragement of well-being locally and globally.

It would be nice, too, if we helped students develop their capacity for life-long learning and "nourishing mutual respect and solidarity."

Happy Valentine's Month!

Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph.D.
President
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

Tags: Cheyney University , Dr. Michelle Howard-Vital , love , strategic plan

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President's Blog - January 2014 - New Year's Hope

January 08, 2014

As I come to the realization that it is indeed 2014 and another year has buzzed pass us, there are some things I hope will happen in 2014.
 
My first hope is for everyone to really see poor, decent Americans make better lives for themselves and their families through education.  These Americans are not the "beautiful people" that are stylishly portrayed in the media, but they are the citizens who possess "true grit."  They are the unnoticed and unheralded Americans who go through their daily lives unrecognized and unappreciated for the stability they provide America because of their steady belief in the American dream.
 
Moreover, even though I am not recommending any redistribution of wealth, I hope to see more affluent Americans invest in the future of America and strengthen our national well-being. I hope Americans with affluence invest in one or two fewer "toys" and contribute to much needed merit and need-based scholarships for young people with steel in their spines and hope in their eyes.  Further, I hope we see the value in investing generously in our youth -- our collective futures.
 
I also hope that in 2014 we will move closer to closing the achievement gap by realizing that students learn in many different ways, And we will  use the  many options at our disposal  to help students increase both their cognitive abilities and emotional intelligence.  Really, it is hard to believe that with all the technology that students can master that we cannot learn from them how students do actually learn and how they want to learn. Perhaps if students saw their lives at the center of their learning and they could be engaged in solving problems, we, the educators, could possibly change our somewhat parochial instructional design.
 
Oops, I digress. What I really hope happens in 2014 is that we celebrate our successes and learn from our past experiences.
 
As we welcome students back to another semester at Cheyney University, it is my hope that we keep our focus on examining evidence on our professional practices and pledge to continuously improve.

 

Tags: 2014 , blog , Cheyney University , Dr. Michelle Howard-Vital , education , President's Blog

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President's Blog - July 2013 - The Great Migration-- A Journey Only Half Completed

July 08, 2013

Recently I have been reading the Pulitzer Prize winning author, Isabel Wilkerson, in her book, The Warmth of Other Suns.  In this rich and beautifully written prose, Wilkerson artfully weaves numerous stories of persons of African descent who demonstrated significant acts of courage to escape plantations, overseers, Jim Crow Laws, and other indignities to move to the North for freedom, for opportunities to support their families, and for better futures for their children.   

Even though Wilkerson, a Howard University alumna, takes great pains to portray the lives of individuals from the thousands of persons she interviewed, she is really telling the story of The Great Migration of persons of African descent from the back-breaking and humiliating work of the fields to the work of the Northern factories, docks, railroads, and households.  These individuals and families fled the South for Northern and Western cities...for better lives and opportunities for their families...for freedom.
 
From 1915 to 1970, approximately six million people participated in an exodus that changed the face of America.  The Migration from South to North, as monumental as it was, is still incomplete in many American cities.  
 
Daily we are bombarded with data that confirms, without dispute, that the migration to freedom and equity is yet to be completed.  Indeed, families who moved to the North were only caught, again, in a cycle of poverty, high unemployment, poor educational opportunities, and diminished hopes and dreams.  The families who struggle to send their young men and women to Cheyney University––often for the first time in their families’ histories––are very much among those impacted by these inequities. 
 
Higher education––which can transform students by helping them to develop higher cognitive abilities, confidence, compassion, and exposure––is one of the portals to complete this Great Migration.  The Great Migration from South to North can be viewed symbolically as a move from captivity to enlightenment.  This enlightenment can also be viewed as spiritual, in part, and it should fortify us to go beyond the desire to acquire personal possessions. It should further awaken in us a moral certitude that it is imperative to pave a way for future Americans, so that they can experience, more fully, the multifaceted American dream. 
 
The Great Migration will be complete when it produces resilient, exposed, altruistic citizens who realize that education is a matter of national well-being and prosperity.  The Great Migration will be complete when we care more about other people's children than about acquiring bling and comfort.
 
We move into next year with plans to protect the core of the University and to retool our academic offerings to meet the workforce needs of the 21st century.  The cycle of continuous budget deficits and struggles at Cheyney University which span several decades is a story that itself deserves just and proper resolution.  Chairman of the Trustee Board Robert Bogle and Trustees have recommended that we cut more than $5 Million dollars from an already meager and depleted budget to achieve a balanced budget.  
 
Yet, even with these sacrifices, it is imperative for us to realize our purpose here is ultimately about our young people, our children, and our next generation of leaders who deserve the promise and realization of the Great Migration––equity, well-being, freedom, and a fair chance to pursue the American dream.
 
In his recent Op Ed in the New York Times, Charles Blow states "Our problems would be fixable if only we could agree that the protection and healthy development of this country’s children is not only a humanitarian and moral imperative, but also an economic and cultural one: today’s students are tomorrow’s workers."
 
Moreover, President Barak Obama has affirmed: "We have an obligation and a responsibility to be investing in our students and our schools.  We must make sure that people who have the grades, the desire and the will... but no money...can still get the best education possible." 
 
President Obama further states "In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less.  It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer leisure over work, or for those who seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.  Rather, it has been for the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women, obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom."
 
Without a doubt some of these unsung and obscure heroes/heroines, are linked to the legacy of Cheyney University.  It is because of their vision, hard work, and belief in our young people that this University continues today.
 
Dear Friends, I ask you to join me, in yet another critical point in our 176th history, towards the path that will lead us to a successful Reaffirmation of Accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a path that will lead us towards prosperity, enlightenment, and freedom–– the unfulfilled promise of the Great Migration! 
 
Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph.D.
President

 

  

Tags: Cheyney University , Dr. Hazel Spears , integration , Lindback Foundation , Michelle Howard-Vital , Middle States Commission on Higher Education , president , teacher certification , The Great Migration , Title III

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It's my first visit of this site. I found very helpful posts here.
Reza 3:16PM 08/30/13

President's Blog - June 2013 - The Value of Cheyney University is Affirmed for Us

June 11, 2013

CU Collegiate 100 Members attend an International Conference in New Orleans

CU Collegiate 100 Members attend an International Conference in New Orleans

Each time we spend several intensive days with students, the value of Cheyney University is reaffirmed for us. Recently members of the Collegiate 100 Black Men Chapter demonstrated what they valued about Cheyney University.  These talented, bright, well-mannered, and appealing students conversed with us about their classes, their relationships with specific professors and staff, and they told us their personal triumphs and how Cheyney University is helping them to pursue their American dreams. Moreover, I observed with some amusement how pleased these students were to travel with my husband, to participate in an International Conference hosted and flawlessly executed by members of the 100 Black Men, Inc.  For the CU students, this conference offered many opportunities to network, to become exposed to many other successful African Americans, and to reassess personal goals and strategies. There were approximately 1,000 adults, Collegiate members, and younger students in attendance.

As we continue our plans to adjust the University’s organizational structure, it is essential that we realize that students come to Cheyney University for specific reasons—to acquire academic knowledge in specific areas and to learn from us as role models, guides, mentors, and citizens how to become confident, resilient, and contributing global citizens.  My observations also suggest that many Cheyney University students choose Cheyney University because they want the small, quality learning environment that we offer with intensive faculty/staff interactions. 
 
As we prepare for the April 2014 Middle States reaffirmation of accreditation visit in April 2014, it is important to remember that the Middle States Association on Higher Education will be reviewing our self-study in which we:
1. Affirm our mission and measurable goals
2. Establish through a strategic plan the conditions (resources, staffing, and organizational structure)  in which our mission and goals will be realized
3. Assess the institution’s effectiveness in meeting our mission and measurable goals, and
4. Demonstrate that we are engaging in continuous improvement to continue to accomplish our mission and goals.
 
Although it is often not as obvious, it is also important to communicate clearly and convincingly, the value that Cheyney University has been furnishing to thousands of families in the Commonwealth.   
 
This is ultimately our Raison D’Etre.  
 
Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph.D.
President

Tags: 100 Black Men , 100 Black Men Conference , blog , Cheyney University , Michelle R. Howard-Vital , president

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