May 03, 2013
CU Transforming to Produce A Quality Education for the 21st Century
In the last few years, funding has receded rather drastically at both the federal and state levels for public higher education. While these reductions in funding are disturbing, they foretell transformations and opportunities that are evolving in higher education for the foreseeable future. Like many other industries, higher education must transition towards meeting the unprecedented 21st century workforce and lifestyle needs of a broader spectrum of Americans.
April 03, 2013
Recently, a colleague and I had lunch with our two twenty-something daughters. Both of these young ladies are college graduates, fluent in Spanish, and have traveled and lived in other countries.
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
January 25, 2013
Most of us have visited a pre-school or kindergarten and noticed how much fun the children are having playing, moving around, laughing, and learning. Their enthusiasm seems contagious, and some may even marvel at the teacher's ability to direct the students' energy and movement towards the learning and development activities. But many of us also notice that when we visit students in the sixth or eighth grades, something has changed. The students seem to have become more sluggish, and there is less laughter and enthusiasm. These differences seem to become more pronounced as students enter high school. The noticeable transitions from excited interest toward apathy probably are related, in some part, to hormones and adolescent development, but does it have to be so? Some of the transitions in students' outward attitude towards school, learning activities, and the acquiring of cognitive skills brings back memories of Jonathan Kozol's observations of his teaching experience that he discussed in "Death at an Early Age."
December 17, 2012
As the door closes on 2012, we look back in thankfulness as we come out of a massive depression, we move forward with guarded optimism, we mourn a national tragedy in the loss of innocent young lives in Connecticut, and we give gratitude to the s/heroes among us.
What will it mean to be a good American citizen in 2013?
As we look at the changing demographics of America, we see signs that a more pluralist society is emerging. Thus, it is important for each of us to broaden our socio-political perspectives to realistically map our roles and responsibilities in the global community.
Despite our shared past, complete with profound sorrows and unprecedented triumphs, we know that our future will be full of opportunities--and we will go where no one on this planet has gone before. So, how does a good citizen prepare him/herself for this new world?
As we move forward into the year 2013, effective higher education, true diplomacy, and an understanding of our roles in preserving the Earth for future generations seem essential.
Thus, as we make our individual resolutions, it seems essential that we also include a few global resolutions: Resolve to make more compassionate daily decisions, to do more to preserve the planet for coming generations, to understand how our daily actions affect the communities and countries around us, and to be excellent in all that we do.
At Cheyney University, we are demonstrating our community citizenship by the choices to use green design and construction methods, such as those for our new science building. We also are taking responsibility for spreading as much knowledge as possible about the interconnectivity of our communities. And, we embrace the need to support the intellectual and emotional development of all of our next generation of our rising, global citizens.
There is a lot to do in 2013, we hope that you will join us in becoming more enlightened and more excellent citizens of the planet.
November 15, 2012
Over the last decade, there have been numerous articles on HBCUs and discussions about their value and continued relevance in the 21st century. Some of these articles state that in order to survive, HBCUs must be more competitive, more diverse, and more responsive to the needs of the nation. It should be noted that during the same time period, there has not been equal scrutiny of religious colleges and universities, women's colleges, and colleges that profess missions for other specialized groups. Moreover, there are many bright students and middle-class students who choose HBCUs because they seek faculty and staff with different perspectives. However, that is the subject for another blog.
While the focus on HBCUs is broad, generally from lenses of others, and within the current racial understandings in America, these discussions often overlook some of the more substantial contributions of HBCUs. Besides the bright students and middle class families who choose them, these institutions also serve as safe havens for students who have been underserved, if not pushed to the outskirts of learning, by K-12 educational systems with limited paradigms. In this regard, the curricular and extra-curricular activities of HBCUs help some students overcome low academic expectations and serve as the needed "village" to help guide and direct them towards contributing and responsible citizenship.
When I meet the incoming class of students each year at Cheyney University, I note the range of students who attend HBCUs. I embrace these students and assure them that education is about transformation and change. The faculty and staff will help them with this transformation. For some students of color, first generation college students, and other marginalized students, this transformation can be a hugely emotional, psychological, and social transformation that helps to guide them farther along their life's journeys. For many incoming students, they have yet to experience high expectations from their families or academic institutions. Once accepted, these students are challenged and expected to perform at higher standards.
Often when I meet incoming students at Cheyney University, I see hope in their eyes, but caution in their interactions. It generally takes more than four years to help most students realize that they are talented and bright, and can be responsible and contributing citizens (not to mention taxpayers) in the Commonwealth. At the end of the students' academic journey, faculty and staff often celebrate the obvious transformations of these students to intelligent and assertive citizens.
What is interesting about this transformation is that faculty and staff at HBCUS like Cheyney University are rarely applauded for the extraordinary work they perform which includes serving as surrogate parents, exposing students to a range of academic and career options, and helping students develop the academic and social skills that will help them succeed in the global village.
Some in the larger society look at HBCUs and question why they should still exist, even though the same questions are not asked as rigorously about religious and special interest colleges and universities. However, few observers of HBCUs delineate the extraordinary value these institutions add to the Commonwealth and nation by elevating, and supporting the lives of families, both advantaged and disadvantaged, who want what most Americans profess to desire—a better life for their children and the next generation of leaders.
Even if K-12 educational institutions found ways to buoy the lives of all of their students and families, and all students left secondary educational institutions on a level-playing field, students and their families still should have choices—it is the American way.
Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph.D.
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania
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.
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!
July 16, 2012
It is blog time, and my attention seems fixated on the violence I see every day on the morning news. Like many others in the Commonwealth, I watch the morning local and national news shows while sipping my morning coffee, occasionally tweeting my plans for the day, or gathering words of wisdom from Twitterland.
Almost every morning, there are beautiful news people who momentarily interrupt their updates about Who's who, Hollywood, and "The Royals" to somberly inform us about some of our sisters and brothers who did not make it through the night. I know... " If it bleeds it leads." But what about the lost lives reported, and what about those many more lives that never make it to the "B-roll" footage morning shows used for optional "filler" stories? Usually, after we hear the accounts of lost lives and other mayhem in the world, the news seems to quickly revert to a lighter entertainment fare, and those lost lives, or the societal consequences, are rarely addressed.
Maybe I am more sensitive to the accounts of needless lives lost because I work with, and for, many young adults who also worry about their daily safety. It is not unusual for about a dozen students to ask to stay on campus during breaks because they fear for their safety if they were to go home. The majority of the students who arrive at Cheyney University have already survived, in many respects, and they come to the University to gain knowledge, exposure, and guidance to help them navigate the uncharted waters of future challenges in a competitive workforce.
Students who learn to persist and manage to navigate through the financial aid hurdles and college coursework usually exclaim that it is because of the excellent faculty and staff who care about them, their dreams, their lives, and their ultimate successes.
It is our goal at Cheyney University to broaden our influence, increase our capacity, and help guide these young people, so that they will not be one of the woefully brief 15-second news flashes about violence and arrests and circles of lives that will never be the same again. It is our goal to be one solution to save some of those lives––to add to the roll call of living, improving, and contributing survivors.
We view them as our noble and highly worthwhile contributions to the Commonwealth!
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.
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
A R C H I V E
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
B L O G S B Y T A G175th, 21st century, 21st Century graduates, access, achievement gap, alumni, athletic hall of fame, athletics hall of fame, BBBS, Bennett College for Women, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Bill Cosby, black history, black males, blog, Bond Hill, budget cuts, butterfly effect, Call Me MISTER, centers of excellence, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, City Year, college, college board, commencement, cost of higher education, education, education challenges, education crisis, educational enterprise, excellence, fall, featured, Gaston Caperton, giving back, global citizens, graduating seniors, Haiti, hall of fame, Harrisburg, healthcare, heroines, homecoming, homecoming 2010, human rights, Humphrey Scholars, Humphrey’s Hall, Inaugural Speech, intellectual capital, James Dumpson, Keystone Honors Program, legacy, legacy breakfast, life long learning, Mayor Nutter, Michael Nutter, Michelle Howard-Vital, Michelle R. Howard-Vital, minority males, NEED, negro educational emergency drive, opportunity, pathways to excellence, president, President, President Barak Obama, President Michelle R. Howard-Vital, President's blog, President's Blog, renovations, residence hall, retirement, Rose-Anne Auguste, scholarships, social media, strategic plan, student engagement activities, student organizations, study abroad, Sylvester Pace, teachers, thanksgiving, The Bond, The Pact, The Talented Tenth, The Three Doctors, transformation, transition, university college, Vital, Vivian Stringer, W.E.B.Dubois, We Beat The Streets, welcome, women history month, youth