Newly-elected Central State University President, Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, hope to continue the success of the university’s 7th president, John Garland, as she leads the 125 year-old institution into a path unknown by the majority its 21st century students.
Though former president Garland rewritten the image of Central State, taking over during a period of time when there were talks about closing the school from the Statehouse, the historically black university still has more obstacles to overcome, most notably from its students.
During the summer while at summer school, I had the opportunity to be among the first to meet and greet our new president. She was very delightful and refreshing, and for some reason, I felt overwhelmed by her presence.
The new face on the yard walked campus as if she been a part of the community for years, and indeed, faculty, staff, students and alike greeted her as our own. She spoke to everyone, fairly and by the same token, no matter how ill-mannered the exchange maybe.
For instance, I remember vividly how she gracefully stepped out of her car to meet students conversing on the Mason plot (a gathering place on the yard where students congregate and smoked at). As she approached, some students seemed to have no clue of who the woman was, and others reacted with shock and glee.
In her nicely fitted pink dress, she continued to draw closer to the students, even while some of them did not hesitate to carry on smoking their…cigarettes. Once face to face, she greeted the students and introduced herself, saying “I am President Cynthia Jackson-Hammond.” (Students immediately put out their trippy sticks.) The moral of this story is, there is a time and place for everything.
Jackson-Hammond knows changing the image of a university begin with the image of its students, and with this in mind, she is chopping down on how to be the “CSU Man” and the “CSU Woman.”
In an open letter separately addressing the men and women of Central State, Jackson-Hammond talks about creating a new image for CSU men and women.
“The campaign to create a new image of the Central State University student will require that each of you be reflective and aware every day of your role in developing an image that is positive and speaks to your uniqueness,” she said, to the CSU Man. “Every prominent HBCU has a student image that defines their students. We at CSU can cultivate an image passed on the tenets of Service, Protocol and Civility! By living these tenets every day, you define your purpose and image…not only for yourself but also for others in the community, other HBCUs and, certainly, for the world.”
As the university’s first female president, Jackson-Hammond is a new beacon of light that is well needed at Central State. She is proof that the impossible is possible, and she sets a new standard to Central State’s motto, “Change is Central,” advocating that students should be the change they want to see.