Cheyney University Blog

President's Blog - March 2014 - Let Us Continue to Build Heroines

March 05, 2014

Usually during Woman's History Month, I write a Blog about past extraordinary heroines like Fanny Jackson Coppin, Laura Waring Wheeler, or the many equally courageous but unsung heroine mothers and grandmothers who nourished and supported us throughout our lives.  These women, and many hundreds of thousands of others rightfully should be appreciated and remembered for their contributions to the backbone of our country--creating resilient families.

However, this Blog is motivated by an extraordinary, probably viewed by many as a consummate, professional woman who has quietly demonstrated an exemplary amount of courage daily, as she fights a daunting health issue.  Now, I am sure that many of us have heard of remarkable recoveries and unexplained cures of women and men who against all odds stay positive and experience seemingly miraculous cures.   It is a gift to watch this sort of courage unfold before your eyes.  To witness such courage strengthens us all!

Thus, this March, my Blog wish is for us to appreciate and really see the courage, resiliency, and compassion illustrated by women daily.  Also, it is my wish that we work as a community to continue to support the development of values such as courage, integrity, honesty, diligence, and exemplify these values for the young women we encounter daily.

At Cheyney University, we are working to help young women (and men) discover their unique values and life purposes, so that we will help them examine popular dictums of beauty, sexuality, and popularity to find their own unique beauty and life purposes.     This a legacy that gives for generations!


Tags: blog , heroines , Michelle Howard-Vital , President's Blog , strength , women

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President's Blog - November 2013 - Let Us Give Thanks to Our Parents and Our Grandparents

November 26, 2013

Jackson Family members Henrietta Stukes '48; Aaron C. Quarterman '84; Germaine J. Branch '61 and Mary Quarterman '53, accept the 2013 Legacy Family Award on October 20 on behalf of their family. Nine Jackson family members are CU graduates.

Jackson Family members Henrietta Stukes '48; Aaron C. Quarterman '84; Germaine J. Branch '61 and Mary Quarterman '53, accept the 2013 Legacy Family Award on October 20 on behalf of their family. Nine Jackson family members are CU graduates.

A couple of weeks ago, after attending one too many funerals of parents of my friends, it became clearer than ever that we owe so much to the generation born in the 1920s and 1930s. They were those in our families who weathered wars, economic depressions, and the unrelenting Industrial Age.  It is interesting to note that this generation is often called the “Silent Generation," or the “Traditional Generation,” yet, their legacies speak for themselves.

Our parents and their parents worked long, hard hours, often without complaining, paid cash before credit cards became the norm, sacrificed dreams and luxuries for their children, and believed that the future would be better -- if they just did their parts in small ways.  

Although they were born before it was possible to take "selfies" with  cell phones,  the unrelenting hopes and legacies of love that our parents and grandparents left us can be recounted in detail by some of us.  There were parents who worked two jobs to help make possible college educations for their "Baby Boomer" children.  There were parents and grandparents who were wounded in wars while fighting courageously for our rights to pursue our American Dreams.  There  were uncles and aunts who passed from our lives unheralded, but who also labored for us, and guided us, in quiet, but dignified ways.

This Thanksgiving, as we carve turkeys and pass around the sides, I hope we take a moment to give thanks to those who left us these foundational legacies of hope and love.  As we pay our respects to their legacies, we cannot help but thank them for believing in the possibilities of  our country, for returning to their farms to feed a nation, for bearing the indignities that only humans can inflict upon each other because of racial and class differences.  Most of all, I hope we thank them for stubbornly clinging to the belief that their sacrifices would lead to a better America for their children.

As we know,  the Silent Generation had their personal  and cultural struggles, and they gave birth to the more vocal and dramatic Baby Boomers who helped America evolve into a more diverse and future-oriented nation.  As a member of the Baby Boomers generation,  I hope that Generation X and the Millennials will advance positive social action, embrace the sacrifices they will face to advance and sustain the ideals of our nation, and pay it forward to the next generations of leaders.

It is also my hope that what we share with the talented, but not advantaged, students like many of those at Cheyney University, will yield long-lasting ripple effects for their families and will undergird our societal well-being-- moving us closer to our more sublime ideals.

This Thanksgiving, I give thanks to those hundreds of thousands of "silent Americans" who made it possible for us to celebrate peaceful and comfortable Thanksgivings with family and friends in 2013.


Tags: blog , Michelle Howard-Vital , President Vital , Thanksgiving , the Silent Generation

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PRESIDENT'S BLOG - August 2013 The Importance of Senior Leadership Teams

August 20, 2013

As we begin the 2013-2014 academic year, with fewer staff and the continuing challenges of supporting deserving, but not financially-advantaged, first generation  families,  I am reminded of the 2008 work of Wageman, et al on the importance of the development of senior leadership teams.  In the text, Senior Leadership Teams: What it takes to make them great, published by Harvard Business School Press, the authors present research that distill the assumption and myth that successful organizations are related solely to the efforts of a heroic CEO.   Rather, the authors affirm that the demands on the top leaders of contemporary organizations outpace the talents of any one single leader—no matter how talented.   Organizational research, the authors affirm, instead illustrates that modern organizational success and flexibility depends on the talent and cohesiveness of senior leadership teams working to achieve team goals.

Thus, it is important for the CEO to put in place, and to nurture, the development of senior leadership teams who focus on specific goals and who work together across silos to support each other and to accomplish overarching goals.

Therefore, as we approach the upcoming new year and continue our preparation for the Middle States reaffirmation of accreditation self- study and site visit in April 2014,  we will focus on developing appropriate leadership teams who will work across divisional boundaries and other silos to follow the University's strategic plan and to identify evidence that the University is indeed in compliance with the 14 MSCHE standards noted in the document Characteristics of Excellence.

It is indeed absolutely essential that the leadership teams focus on supporting the teaching and learning environment for our students and faculty. 

As students move back on campus, it is easy to perceive that the Class of 2017 is anxious to start their new journey, and it is important that the senior leadership teams lead Team Cheyney,  so that as a University we present a welcoming and positive attitude to our incoming class and returning students.   The Cheyney University culture is created by each interaction with individual students—whether on the telephone, email, or other social media.  

This year, it is especially important for our enrollment team to help students and families navigate the registration and financial aid processes within the changed organizational structure in Student Affairs.   The offices of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid are now co-located in the Wade Wilson Administration Building, along with the Bursar and Registrar offices.  This structure supports the development of an enrollment management team who will move towards one-stop-shopping customer service for students and their families and enrollment specialists who will eventually take individual students through each step in the process.  The over-arching objective of these co-located offices is to assure that students can complete their registration and financial aid  processes quickly and efficiently with the help of knowledgeable and committed team members.

After several years of preservation work and remodeling,  the senior leadership team reports that Humphreys Hall will be occupied this fall with Humphreys Scholars and, from time-to-time, visiting scholars.   In order to help enrich the  students' academic experience, the student engagement leadership teams will offer a wealth of opportunities for student engagement, including the Arts and Lectures series, the Entrepreneurial Learning Center lecture series, dozens of student organizations, and 12 intercollegiate sports teams.

The Self-Study team reports that we are following the established timeline created by our Middle States Steering Committee, and they look forward to welcoming the Chair of our Evaluation team, Dr. Juliette Bell, this October for a preliminary campus visit.

The senior leadership team at Cheyney University understands that bringing in a balanced budget in FY 2013-2014 by cutting $5 million from the budget continues to put strain on the functioning of all of our teams this year.  However, these adjustments will put CU on the path of financial security for the future.  The new academic year is in our hands.  By the daily action of teams and individuals,  we will shape the future direction, future growth and viability of Cheyney University.  

Together, we can make this the best year ever at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania!


Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph. D.

Tags: blog , leadership , Michelle Howard-Vital , Middle States

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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.



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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Reza 3:16PM 08/30/13

President's Blog--January 2013--Our Collective Action is Required

January 27, 2013

The Inaugural Speech of President Barack Obama probably will be one of the most memorable Inauguration speeches of  United States' presidents and, likewise, one of the most defining speeches of Barack Obama, the man and leader.

Like many other Americans, I listened to the speech wanting to hear a message that would brace us through these tough times, bring us together in times of extreme divisiveness,  and steer us  towards a future that envelopes the dreams of  happiness and well-being for a diverse, varied, and sustainable America.   Like he has done so many times in the past, President Barack Obama delivered.  He reemphasized that we are the "change,"  in statements like, "Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action," and "We are responsible, each of us as citizens, for setting the country's course."

Understanding the difficulty of our challenges, President Barack Obama stated, "We must act,  knowing that our work will be imperfect."  Yet, "that is our generation's task- to make these words, these rights--of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness--real for every American."

As we prepare the campus for students to return this weekend, the words of this courageous American echo in my ears--"it is our generation's task"; "commitments we make to each other... do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us."

We at Cheyney University consider it a noble task to work towards the words memorialized in our Declaration of Independence:  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Welcome back students!

Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph.D.


Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

Tags: Cheyney University of Pennsylvania , featured , Inaugural Speech , Michelle Howard-Vital , President Barak Obama , President's blog

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