Cheyney University Blog

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.

President

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

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Cheyney University – 175 Years of Access, Opportunity, and Excellence

September 17, 2012

 

This year we celebrate the 175th anniversary of the beginning of higher learning for African descendants in America––Cheyney University.  This anniversary also symbolizes the courage, persistence, perseverance of historically black colleges and universities in spite of staggering odds, and their enduring faith in the power of education to improve the futures of generations of citizens spanning three centuries––19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.  As the first such institution in America, the story of Cheyney University begins with Quaker Richard Humphreys, and chronicles a long and arduous journey that reflects aspects of American history and American s/heroes by whose sheer force of will we have moved forward as Americans.


We only wish we were able to tell the full stories of the connected lives and works of all the diverse s/heroes who have served to enrich America by broadening its intellectual capital.  The most important aspect of the legacy of Cheyney University is that it is a story about people and the value they have brought to the Commonwealth and the nation.  These visionaries and beacons of hope have included the faculty, the advisors, the mentors, the alumni, the administrators, the supporters, stakeholders, and the hundreds of families who converged at institutions called The African Institute, the Institute For Colored Youth, Cheyney State Teacher's College, Cheyney State College, and finally, Cheyney University with hopes for a better tomorrow.


There are many facts that are less known about the value of Cheyney University, such as the fact that Cheyney University has a very high percentage of students who have gone on to complete doctorate degrees.  There are graduates of Cheyney University who are surgeons, physicians, attorneys, scientists, entrepreneurs, political analysts, teachers, and responsible and contributing citizens in a host of jobs that are too numerous to mention.  All of these graduates bring the experience of a Cheyney University education back to their families and communities and demonstrate the range of possibilities available for other youth.


We hope that this 175th Anniversary will bring credit to some of the s/heroes who have created the legacy of Cheyney University.  We also hope that stakeholders will invest in the next generation of leaders by helping us raise merit scholarships for talented and deserving students.


It is important for us as Americans to ensure that creativity and genius will continue to emerge in all segments of America.  Thus, we invite all to join us at our 175th Anniversary Gala on October 18th in the Pennsylvania Convention Center to raise merit scholarship dollars, so that the University can better produce more young intellectual capital and continue its legacy of access, excellence, and opportunity!


Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph.D.
President

 

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awesome
Desmond Kking 2:38PM 09/22/12

A Fork in the Road ...

August 15, 2012

As new students arrive on campus to begin their first year of college, it is certainly a moment of anticipation and hope for many.  The unloading of cars by family members, even grandparents, cousins and smaller siblings, comes with a measure of anxiety about what this move to college really means.
 
For most families, going to college is an important fork in the road of life.  Students and families have participated in somewhat agonizing financial decisions and planning involving financial aid, loans, and expectations regarding the continuing value of a college education.   As many of us at Cheyney view these transitions into a higher education environment, we smile and assure these families that the journey that led to this fork in the road has been worthwhile -- and there are life changing adventures ahead.

Cheyney University will help structure some of these potential life transformations through the learning communities in University College, the Keystone Honors Program, the Call Me Mister program, internship placements, activities in the Entrepreneurship Institute, and many cultural and sporting events on campus.  However, it will be up to students to avail themselves of these learning opportunities and exposures.

Now as I begin my sixth year, as president of Cheyney University, I am assured that this academic learning environment represents a good fork in the road of life when I review the accomplishments of recent graduates as well as the emerging changes on campus.  The new residence hall is opening.  The new science center is under construction.  With a measure of patience and yet, anticipation, we are restructuring our enrollment management, scholarship and financial processes for more efficiency.  As a growing liberal arts university with a focus on communications and natural and applied sciences, Cheyney University offers students a knowledgeable and committed faculty, cultural exposure to the arts, and a supportive environment in which students are encouraged to discover their purpose in life.

On behalf of the Cheyney University family, welcome to the Class of 2016!
 
Sincerely, 
 

Michelle Howard-Vital

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100 Black Men: Fathers and Husbands Working for A Better Tomorrow

June 18, 2012

I had the pleasure of accompanying my husband, Geri Vital, to the 2012 annual 100 Black Men of America conference in Atlanta, GA.   Even though my time at the conference was limited, it was apparent that the National 100 Black Men organization is continuing to leverage the expertise, goodwill, and time of its many thousands of members to guide young men and women towards positive life choices. 

A record 3,000 members, guests, sponsors, students, and mentees participated in the 100 Black Men Conference-- the largest attendance to date. It seems appropriate that the 2012th conference was scheduled a few days before Father's Day. As I sat at the Friday night banquet, I especially enjoyed the co-host Sheryl Ralph Lee, wife of Senator and Cheyney Trustee Vincent Hughes, and the positive energy in the enormous ballroom that contributed to both a sense of well-being and gratification.
 
As the various speakers thanked and congratulated Attorney Albert Dotson for successfully steering the organization in a period of growth that included the development of charter schools, structured mentorship programs, health care awareness, and sponsorships, I looked around the ballroom and saw looks of pride, satisfaction, and hope on the faces of the members who ranged in ages from the energetic 30s to the wise 80s. These men were engaged and committed to moving forth an aggressive agenda of mentoring and good works to build responsible and contributing future generations of leaders.
 
There was also a sense of Philadelphia Pride when the academic team that the 100 Black Men of Philadelphia sent to compete in the national African American History Challenge came in second in the junior division; this was their first appearance, and they competed against more experienced and championship teams. This Philly accomplishment was cheered by all in attendance and gratified the Philadelphia 100 who seek to expand their mentoring activities with a range of young men and women in the Philadelphia area. Another good Philly moment was when Boyz II Men performed in the concert portion of the program, with pictures of Center City in the background. They were excellent, and bought the audience to their feet in appreciation.
 
There were many opportunities at the conference to network and make friends for the 100 Black Men of Philadelphia and Cheyney University. In order to help support the retention goals of the University, the 100 Black Men of Philadelphia are pledging their support to developing a Collegiate Chapter at CU!
 
We welcome the mentoring activities of a 100 Black Men of Philadelphia!

 

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Learning For A Lifetime Of Choices

December 09, 2011

Recently, I had lunch with a childhood friend, Marlene. We have been friends since we were both thirteen years old, many decades ago. Our lifelong friendship began on the south side of Chicago where we discovered personal commonalities, as we explored public libraries and devised many less intellectual adventures together. On a chilly Wednesday in November, we met in Union Station in Washington, D.C., and it was indeed a joyous reunion as we hugged and launched into trading endless recollections and stories of all the life that has happened to us since. When we looked into each other's faces, we bore witness to a half-century of American societal forces that had shaped the lives and choices of two women who grew up with limited resources, but dreamed of nearly endless possibilities.

Between the two of us there were four children–all with college degrees. It was our prayer, and that of our spouses, that we had prepared these talented young adults to lead responsible, worthwhile, and altruistic lives. My friend earned an MBA from a big ten university, and I earned a Ph.D. from an equally prestigious university. Besides the fact that we both have done well by American standards, we also both gained so much more from our college experiences than only the academic content and subsequent jobs offered. It was our advanced educations that provided exposure to options, consideration of diverse perspectives, and development of skill sets beyond our imaginations.

As states struggle with competing priorities for revenue, and the economic downturn lingers, there is even more debate about the value of a college education in relationship to the costs of attendance. Now I know that as a lifelong learner and educator, much of what I think about the value of a college education can be considered biased–since I liked learning so much, it did not occur to me to leave the structured community of learning – a college/university environment. Moreover, it is clear that today’s prospective students can still choose from a range of institutions which correlate as closely as possible with their families and financial support systems, and in doing so reap similar lifelong rewards that Marlene and I enjoyed.

However, as my friend and I shared stories in Union Station, I realized that an expanded worldview is in itself a legacy, possibly just as precious as an inheritance of a land estate. It also occurred to me how fortunate we both have been to have spent so much time developing broader perspectives and expanded worldviews. Our experiences with higher education influenced the activities we engaged in with our children and, in turn, improved the range of choices in the lives of our children and probably their grandchildren.

Without a doubt the knowledge and confidence we have both gained can be acquired from other experiences other than a college experience, but the efficiency and sequencing of these learning experiences that occur in a college environments might take years to acquire without the talented and caring professors who serve as learning guides and mentors.


As I returned to Cheyney University on the train and savored the reconnection with a life-long friend, I enjoyed thinking about the access to a quality education that we at CU offer to young adult learners who have the opportunity to create robust lifetime options and legacies of learning for their children, and their children, and their children, and so forth.

This is how we hope to build a powerful legacy of learning for future Americans.

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

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The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

November 02, 2011

So often,  like other Americans, I  have stood with my hand over my heart and sung the words of our national anthem placing special emphasis on the words "for the land of the Free and the home of the Brave."

Also,  undoubtedly,  though most of us stand proudly when we sing the Star-Spangled Banner," the song ushers forth a range of diverse memories, dreams, and expectations in current day Americans  who have emerged, one way or another, from a nation that was built by  diverse immigrants.  Nonetheless, as a nation, we  are still defining Freedom.  I often wonder—just how does defining and defending freedom relate to our daily lives?

As I come to grips with another birthday, watch the developing millennium generation,  and imagine America in 2052, I have definite hopes and dreams that we will truly build a nation that is free to care about each other.  I hope we are building a nation of people who are courageous enough to fight for the tenets in which our nation was built.  I also hope we build a nation that cares about the development of personal character and the well-being and security of the least of us.

Before you go there, I am not naive.   Steeled by the broad shoulders of Chicago where I was prepared for a life of the mind  and  nestled by the dreams of my southern, and depression era, mom-- I think I see us for what we are.

I  see our possibilities for altruism, our potential  for more  innovation, and our genius that could be employed to tackle the intractable problems  that were once conceptualized by Nelson's book, The Moon and the Ghetto (1977).

I guess that is why I enjoy higher education-- especially higher education at Cheyney University.  In many respects our students, most of whom are first generation students arrive on campus as survivors of  K-12 systems that were not really designed with them in mind.  These students arrive on campus as immigrants to a new, broader, and more complex world with a depth and scope they could not imagine before arriving.  The transition into an academic environment that prepares for a more independent and ambiguous global work  environment is daunting for many students-- even those who come with a quest to live the American ideals.

What we hope to do through programs such as  the University College, athletics, the Keystone Honors College, and our STEM scholars is to acclimate these students through their affinities to a world of possibilities.  Moreover,  through student engagement activities which include leadership seminars, introduction to American s/heroes, internships, and mentorships, we hope to grow some resilient Americans who will proudly move forth with their hands over their hearts representing the land of the free and the home of the brave.   We owe them that!

Michelle.





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

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