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.
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.
October 21, 2013
Homecoming 2013 demonstrated, once again, the commitment and dedication Cheyney University alumni have for the transformative educational and personal development that CU offers for students and their families.
Homecoming 2013 demonstrated, once again, the commitment and dedication Cheyney University alumni have for the transformative educational and personal development that CU offers for students and their families.
As I read the various tweets and Facebook comments leading up to Homecoming, it became clear that alumni wanted to return to campus to rekindle, once again, the relationships and memories that had transformed their lives. As I walked with my husband through the thousand of alumni gathered in the stadium, on the Quad, and tailgating on “The Hill,” numerous alumni would relate how Cheyney University had “steered them in the right direction,” “saved them,” or “made them into what they are today.”
Each year at Homecoming, I learn more about the evolution of Cheyney over the last 100 years. One year, I was allowed the privilege of putting on a blue and white beanie to wear that all freshman had to wear when entering the college. This year, I learned that one fraternity had rented horses to ride around the edge of campus during the weekends to entertain themselves and others.
Each year, I am more and more impressed with the alumni’s investment in the future success of the students of Cheyney University. To me, these alumni have demonstrated their belief in the words of the Cheyney Alma Mater,
“Hear the pledge thy children offer
Strong of hand and clear of brain,
When thou callest, Alma Mater,
Never shalt thou call in vain…”
At Homecoming 2013, we received numerous checks for scholarships for Cheyney University students including $50,000 from the CU National Alumni Association from President Junious Stanton which represented the proceeds from the 175 Gala. An additional $25,000 from the Gala has already been distributed to students for “last dollar” scholarships. The campus community thanks the alumni for this generous gift. Just recently, the CU National Alumni Association also surpassed their $1,000,000 pledge. Realizing the need is even greater, the CU National Alumni Association is now working on a $2,000,000 pledge for scholarships. Without a doubt, these funds will change lives.
Additionally, during Homecoming 2013, there were numerous individual checks put in my all-accepting hands such as the $5,000 check from Alumnus and NBC Washington News Anchor Jim Vance for a scholarship in honor of Alumna Vivien Vance Cherry—the oldest living CU Alumnus. Ms. Vivien Vance Cherry graduated from high school in 1929, enrolled in West Chester State Teacher’s College, and returned to college in 1956, at the age of 42, to complete her degree at Cheyney University. Ms. Vivien Vance Cherry is also the aunt of Chief of Staff Sheilah Vance who is also contributing to the scholarship in her honor.
The University community also thanks the Cheyney University Foundation for helping to support athletics, the band, and the cheerleaders with contributions of more than a quarter of a million dollars. We thank David Alston for his leadership and stewardship.
It is the University’s plan to use these precious scholarship dollars to attract the most talented students to Cheyney University who will persist and graduate.
It is important to note that where there is sacrifice and generosity, there is also responsibility. Faculty, staff, and students, we must demonstrate our commitment also to the mission, strategic goals, and future success of the students and families associated with Cheyney University. Each day we can add to the forward movement of Cheyney University by raising the bar on our personal performance and professional practice. We must work together as an effective, efficient, and evidence-based team (remember “team work makes the dream work”) to provide the best quality education, the best support for the teaching and learning environment, and the best customer service to the next generation of leaders.
September 13, 2013
Let us hear it for the Southern Ladies—Steel Magnolias have left their Mark
When I was growing up in Chicago in the 50’s and 60’s, sometimes a friend or a teacher would indicate that I had a southern accent. Now the intonation that usually accompanied this marvelous observation conveyed to me quickly that I needed to work post haste to disguise my southern accent and to learn to talk “right,” so as not to give-away the fact that my mother was from New Orleans and my dad from Gonzalez, LA. However, I must state that my Southern mother was a registered nurse, seamstress, devoted family person, great mom, and avid church-goer. She supported her three children through college, and in her later life, helped her grown children purchase their dream homes. So, just what was I supposed to be ashamed of?
Over the years, there have been a comment or two about my accent, and I realized that living in North Carolina for over 15 years probably refreshed this accent a bit. However, for the record, southern ladies have taught this nation a thing or two.
One of the first southern ladies that I admired on stage was the incomparable and legendary Pearl Bailey. Ms. Bailey could take any play, or part in the play, to another level, like the Tony she won for playing Dolly in Hello Dolly. I remember how proud I felt when I was able to purchase expensive orchestra tickets to see Pearl Bailey perform for everyone in my family. I earned the money working two jobs. Sitting there, so close, watching Ms. Pearl Bailey performing on stage was one of those special moments in a young woman’s life; it was so easy to be entertained by her style of humor and engaging warmth. Later I learned that Ms. Pearl earned a degree in theology from Georgetown University at age 67, and she wrote several books. Ms. Bailey also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Reagan, and she is buried not too far from Cheyney University in West Chester, PA.
Because I loved to read when I was growing up, I was exposed to some southern women through their writings. Some of these women include Flannery O’Conner, who grew up in Georgia and shared the same religion as I. Her short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” comes to mind sometimes when watching the “if it bleeds, it leads” news. Southern writer Carson McCullers, in Member of the Wedding, provoked a great deal of thought about coming to grips with one’s identity and relationships. Additionally, it was through reading that I learned about the lives of other extraordinary women of the south such as Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, and Dr. Maya Angelou—a Keystone Honors speaker. Each of these southern women helped to awaken the conscience of a nation through defining moments. The works of Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni, and Sonia Sanchez helped guide the next generations—all these women have spoken at Cheyney University. Recently, I completed Isabel Wilkerson’s research-based, epic book, The Warmth of Other Suns, which followed and connected families of the Great Migration to our current reality. Ms. Wilkerson has won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize.
Since coming to Cheyney University, I have become inspired by, humbled by, and guided spiritually by an unsung heroine and southern woman, Fannie Jackson Coppin. Ms. Fannie Jackson Coppin was born into slavery in Washington, DC, in 1837, the same year that the Institute for Colored Youth (later Cheyney University) was founded by Richard Humphreys and supported, for 176 years, by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). My husband found a copy of Ms. Coppin’s autobiographical book, Reminiscences of School Life, which was published after her death in 1913, and gave the book to me for a Christmas gift—how I treasure that book. Fannie Jackson Coppin graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio and became the first African American principal in America at the Institute for Colored Youth known for its extraordinary success in teaching classical education, teacher training, and industrial education to persons of African descent. After serving the Institute for 36 years, Fannie Jackson Coppin accompanied her AME Bishop husband, at age 65, to Africa on missionary work. Coppin State University is named after this southern-born servant leader. Cheyney University has her legacy to uphold.
This discussion of southern came up again recently when it was noted that I just hired a North Carolinian woman as Provost- Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins. Oh well, I guess there is no use trying to explain that it was not the part of the country, but it was the education, background, and belief in the mission of Cheyney University—access, opportunity, and excellence. The Cheyney University community also looks forward to engaging in dialogue with another southern who will be on campus in the spring—Angela Davis.
Hmm, now that I think about it, I am glad to be southern!
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.
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.
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
June 11, 2013
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.
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."
P R E V I O U S P O S T S
- President's Blog - November 2013 - Let Us Give Thanks to Our Parents and Our Grandparents
- President's Blog - October 2013 - When Thou Callest ....
- President's Blog - September 2013 - Let Us Hear It For The Southern Ladies
- PRESIDENT'S BLOG - August 2013 The Importance of Senior Leadership Teams
- President's Blog - July 2013 - The Great Migration-- A Journey Only Half Completed
- President's Blog - June 2013 - The Value of Cheyney University is Affirmed for Us
- 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
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