November 10, 2009
As the Holiday season quickly approaches, and the leaves display a beautiful assortment of natural color before they fall from the trees, members of the Cheyney University community tell us there is much for which to be thankful. Our students tell us that they are thankful for their resilience and preparedness for future challenges; they affirm that because they are accustomed to doing a great deal with the meager resources at Cheyney University—they are ready. Our students believe that because of their overall lack of advantages they will be prepared to handle whatever life offers them, once they have completed their college education. Students proclaim, also, that they are thankful; for the caring faculty, coaches, and staff. They value the small classes and the quality interactions they have with faculty and staff. Further, many of our students assert that they are thankful to be at Cheyney University for the opportunity to acquire a college education and an opportunity to gain knowledge and skills for more effectively giving back to their communities after graduation.
Our alumni still recount stories of the affect that specific faculty, coaches, and staff at Cheyney University had on their development when they attended the University decades ago. Our alumni tell us that they are so grateful for the sacrifices and commitment of their former teachers, coaches, staff, and mentors because those dedicated individuals helped them to develop into the responsible men and women they are today. Many alumni are also grateful for the lifelong friendships and connections they have with the extended Cheyney University family. Alumni also let us know that they are appreciative that there was, and still is, a Cheyney University that takes students from where they are and helps them to pursue personal dreams.
Many of the current faculty and staff tell us that they are pleased to work with some of our students who have not been privileged, but who bring a wealth of experience, optimism, talent, and courage to the college environment. Some of our staff who are baby-boomers, moreover, attests that they are pleased to work with the students at Cheyney University because it furnishes an opportunity for them to bring forth a diverse group of new leaders for their disciplines and for the nation. It furnishes an opportunity for them to “give back” and to pay for future generations.
Some of our colleagues in the K-12 continuum offer that they are grateful for some of the successes of Cheyney University—some of their students who left high school as more-or-less nondescript persons blossomed and developed into leaders by the time they graduated from Cheyney University. Other colleagues in the K-12 continuum are thanking Cheyney University for expanding our dual enrollment activities and our outreach to precollege venues.
Without a doubt, I am thankful for the anxiously awaited new residence hall, so that we can offer our students accommodations similar to other institutions. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the students of the Commonwealth who come to Cheyney University and trust us with their hopes and dreams. Overall, I am also thankful for my assortment of skills and talents that can be put to use to help build a stronger America—one student at a time.
I am also thankful for the family and friends who support me, so that I can support others.
October 13, 2009
After thirty years in higher education, I have attended numerous homecoming events at our respective universities. Both my husband and I agree, however, that Homecoming at Cheyney University was different—it was a family reunion. As is the custom on homecoming weekends, thousands of CU alumni came “home” to attend various social events and to connect once again with not merely colleagues or classmates, but beloved members of a family spanning four generations.
If you merely scan the list of events on the Homecoming calendar, you may miss the difference in tone and spirit of homecoming. Of course, there was the football game against Millersville University in which the Cheyney Wolves amply demonstrated that they have the heart and discipline to become PSAC competitors. There was also the Lifetime Alumni members breakfast, the Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet, the various meetings of the respective graduating classes and Greek organizations, the book signings, the jazz concert, the vendors, the Legacy Breakfast, and of course the tailgating of hundreds of alumni on “the Hill.”
Besides the football game and the extraordinary vitality and school spirit demonstrated by the cheerleaders, the Cheyney University Band, the Athletic Department, and the volunteers, the two events that seem to exemplify the tone and spirit of Homecoming to me, were the Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet on Friday night and the Legacy Breakfast on Sunday morning. Both events were attended by hundreds of alumni who gathered to retell more and more facets of the Cheyney University “story.”
The Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet began at 7pm on Friday evening, and by 10 pm, alumni athletes were still thanking former teachers, coaches, and the Cheyney University family for providing the opportunity, discipline, and excellence that still resonates with them on their life journeys. Although there were varying nuances in each of the inductee’s stories, the general theme that consistently emerged was that the faculty, staff, and coaches at Cheyney University had mentored, cared for, and guided the inductees during critical periods of their young lives. They were there for them. Each inductee told of the periods at Cheyney University that was critical to their development as responsible men and women. Listening to these stories and adding their own excellence to the evening, the current CU Jazz Combo played soft jazz notes at program interludes.
Homecoming weekend activities hosted by the University officially culminated with the Legacy Breakfast on Sunday morning. At this breakfast, many more stories from the alumni were shared—this time from alumni who graduated in the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, and so forth.
Hundreds of alumni listened with awe and amazement as 100-year-old pioneer, Dr. James Dumpson, recounted highlights from his illustrious career in New York City in which he served as a United Nations advisor, consultant on Pakistan, Commissioner of Welfare, a member of the Commission on Narcotics and Drug Abuse, and numerous other roles. Mrs. Hermione Pinckney Hill Logan, the daughter of former Leslie Pinckney Hill, the first president of the Cheyney Normal College, shared memories of living in the president’s house on campus in the much earlier 20th century. She recited, from memory, the famous poem her father wrote entitled “The Teacher.”
Alumnus Charles Grantham, former executive director of the National Basketball Association Players Association, who is currently the CEO of Ceruzzi Sports and Entertainment, offered the keynote speech. During his time as executive director, Charles Grantham played a pivotal role in the revitalization and advancement of the NBA. You could literally hear a pin drop in the large room as he shared stories of courage and character that he observed during his years of interacting with prominent athletes in his role with the NBA.
As is usually the custom, one family was highlighted as a legacy family at the Legacy Breakfast. This year’s family was recognized for having 18 family members who received degrees from Cheyney University–and the legacy continues as two students in the family are currently enrolled at Cheyney University.
By the time the Legacy Breakfast concluded on Sunday afternoon, it was obvious that the Cheyney University alumni were back to celebrate the faculty, staff, and significant others who had contributed to their personal transformations. They were back to reconnect with their family who helped them become responsible and contributing men and women.
By 1:00 pm. on Sunday, we had laughed, commemorated those who were no longer with us, prayed, and promised to help new generations of students endure and achieve. Numerous alumni volunteered to mentor the current Cheyney University students and to work with the vice president of student affairs to provide internships for each student before they graduated.
And as always, the Legacy Breakfast ended with holding hands and singing our Alma Mater more meaningfully than ever:
Cheyney, Cheyney, Alma Mater
Thou whose light can never fail.
With a deep and true devotion
We, thy sons and daughters, hail,
Hear the pledge thy children offer
Strong of hand and clear of brain,
When thou callest, Alma Mater,
Never shalt thou call in vain.
Thou has taught us not to falter,
To be loyal, brave and true,
Striving upward by thy spirit,
In whatever we may do;
And at last, when we have triumphed
Down the long life battle-line,
All the honor and the glory,
Alma Mater, shall be thine.
WORDS AND MUSIC: LESLIE PINCKNEY HILL
President of the College, 1913-1951
And they left home again.
P R E V I O U S P O S T S
- President's Blog - April 2013 - CU Transforming to Produce A Quality Education for the 21st Century
- President's Blog - March 2013 - Our Daughters and The Broadening of The Talented Tenth
- President's Blog--January 2013--Our Collective Action is Required
- President's Blog - February 2013 - Helping Others Reach Their Potential
- Thoughts for a Really New Year
- HBCUs – A Village of Choice for Some
- Cheyney University – 175 Years of Access, Opportunity, and Excellence
- A Fork in the Road ...
- The Unleveled Playing Field
- 100 Black Men: Fathers and Husbands Working for A Better Tomorrow
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- April 2013
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