“Renaissance or Revolution”, the open dialogue last Thursday between TV One/NewsOne’s Roland Martin and Wilberforce University President, Dr. Herman J. Felton Jr. during the Wilberforce University Alumni Association Conference. The HBCU Town Hall meeting was 360 degrees of interactive conversation.With 250+ attendees fired up to address the priorities required to heighten survivability amid advancing institutional excellence, innovation, and sustainability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Opportunities that reflect on the Wilberforce mission as it relates to the HBCU community, this discussion proved to be necessary and result driven.
This powerful conversation highlighted topics such as “how to” build sustainable partnerships internally and externally, including: framing new success pathways to HBCU curriculum innovation; research funding, improving student recruitment accessibility and opportunity, and responding to the needs of non-traditional and diverse student populations.
The primary thinkpiece for the evening correlated the strength of Alumni relations and the corresponding pressure faced at every level of Alumni giving to the institution. Keynote Roland Martin posed this question, “How do we teach to give to our churches, give to the Obama campaign, but not give to Historically Black Colleges and Universities”. Martin expounded on the practice and significance of Alumni giving, to support scholarship funds and research for institutions of higher learning. He explained that too often people get overwhelmed by the size of the gift and forget that multiple small gifts can be just as impactful.
As America’s first privately owned and operated HBCU, Wilberforce University, founded by African-Americans in 1856 is currently experiencing a renaissance .The transition is defined by operational efficiency, fiscal responsibility, strength on intentional focus on providing a rich campus engagement experience for every student enrolled. President Dr. Herman J. Felton Jr. stated, “ In the 2015-2016 fiscal year the Alumni giving percentage was 1 percent, fast forwarding to now Alumni giving has increased 9 percent”!
Reiterating the importance of giving, Wilberforce University was featured as the HBCU of the day for the #HBCUGivingDay Initiative, Monday July 31st .The HBCU Giving Day is a national call to action in support of raising funds for historically black colleges and universities. Created by Roland Martin, the fundraising initiative represents a different historically black college and university by wearing a lapel pin and then posting the photo on social media using the hashtag. From the one day initiative, Wilberforce University raised 1,304 dollars; we are proud to declare that the renaissance is moving forward!