Tradition of Excellence

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Black Voice News Goes Back To School

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by Black Voice News Online

African Americans have a rich heritage in education stemming from our early roots in America. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) make up a major part of this heritage. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, defines an HBCU as: “…any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency. As we begin the 2008-2009 school year, Black Voice News interns recount their experiences at several of these HBCU’s as they head back off to continue their education. And, with the fastest growing community being the Inland empire, For our students who don’t want to leave home, continuing adults, or students seeking advanced professional degrees, the I.E. is home to some of the best public and private universities in the country. Join us in welcoming our students back to school.

Hampton University

Hampton’s Heritage

ImageHampton University has embraced the principles of “Education for life” and “learning by doing,” since its founding in 1868 during the days of Reconstruction. Originally opening its doors as Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute to prepare promising young African-American men and women to lead and teach their newly-freed people, the University has continually sought to instill in its students the precepts of efficiency, character and service to society-standards that continue to remain both timeless and relevant.

Founded on the banks of the Virginia Peninsula by Brigadier General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, the 29 year-old son of missionary parents, Hampton became an oasis of opportunity for the thousands of newly-freed people gathered behind Union lines. With the aid of the American Missionary Association, the school was established to train selected young men and women to “go out to teach and lead their people,” and to build a viable industrial system on the strength of self-sufficiency, intelligent labor and solid moral character.

In 1878, Hampton established a formal education program for Native Americans, beginning the Institute’s lasting commitment to serving a multicultural population. Hampton’s historic Native American education program spanned more than forty years, with the last student graduating in 1923. Recent initiatives have attracted Native American students to renew their ties with Hampton.Image

In the early days, support for the Institute came from the Freedman’s Bureau, Northern philanthropists and religious groups, with the first classroom building erected in 1870. The first baccalaureate degrees were awarded in 1922. On July 1, 1930 the school’s name was changed to Hampton Institute, reflecting college-level accreditation. In 1984, Hampton’s Board of Trustees formally adopted a university structure and changed the name to Hampton University, which today represents the unparalleled standard of excellence in American higher education.

-Hampton Alum Briana Boykin

ImageOn May 11, 2008 I became a Hampton University alumna. I will never forget the experience it took to get there. It was Mother’s Day. The commencement ceremony was to begin at 10 am; however, all graduates were to be there at 8am with required documentation to be eligible to participate in the walk. I had misplaced my papers the night before, and it was 8:10 the morning of commencement when I realized that I was not going to find them. Panic and disappointment began to wrestle within me. All I could think about was my mother, who came all the way from California to see me walk across that stage. This was not happening. Thankfully, God agreed. I was able to attain a copy of the necessary documentation just before the ceremony began. I ran to the line where the School of Liberal Arts stood just in time to begin our march to the stage. As we prepared to enter the stadium where our departments would be announced, Marvin Sapp’s “Never Would Have Made It” played faintly in the background. My colleagues and I agreed that the lyrics could not have been more appropriate. Indeed, we were “stronger, better, and wiser,” but I was mostly relieved that my family had not flown out to Virginia in vain. I wouldn’t fully understand the significance of the ceremony until it was all over.

After sitting through an hour or so of speakers, announcements, and the recognition of the schools, it was time for the English department to stand and receive their diplomas. My name was the third to be called. As I walked across that stage in my colorful academic regalia, scenes of my first semester at Hampton flashed through my mind. I saw a bright, yet insecure young Black girl standing at the front of the class in her flip-flops and worn jeans nervous about reading her poetry aloud to classmates in fear of being misunderstood. I saw a young Black girl that was not yet comfortable with her voice, a young Black girl who had great dreams of following the footsteps of her ancestors but was many times too timid to express them, a young Black girl who wanted to make a difference but was often intimidated about making her mark on a campus whose legacy was founded upon great student leaders. As my heels click-clacked across the stage, I witnessed this young Black girl, who wanted to embrace her culture intellectually but until she became a Hamptonite had never been given the means to do so, transform into a confident Black woman who knew herself. Yet, it was certainly not the heels or the suit I had on underneath my ceremonial gown and chords that made me a woman; it was knowing where I had come from – who I was and Whose I was – that allowed me to walk across that stage with dignity and gratitude. I knew my journey would not end there, but graduating from a HBCU where I had professors and colleagues pour into my life stories of my people’s history, struggle, and achievements in ways that could not have been done elsewhere had made all the difference in how I would navigate through life from that point on. And though there were many times where I grew discontented with the smallness campus life, the rigidness of the administration, and the disorganization of the financial aid department, the education I received at Hampton University was invaluable.

When the dean of my school handed me my degree, a new and unexpected feeling of empowerment overcame me. That expensive document which was now mine to keep not only recognized that I had exceeded the 120 units required to receive an English Arts degree, nor did it simply symbolize the tireless nights when my laptop became my pillow, when the pages of my textbooks became tissues for my tears, or when my brain would go numb from analyzing and synthesizing endless amounts of information into ten and twenty page papers; holding that diploma meant more to me than I could have ever imagined. Lyrics from Sapp’s song played over and over in my heart. I had finally made it. Walking across that stage to receive that certificate was a rite of passage, a testimony that I had crossed the bridge into womanhood – young, gifted, and Black – and had done so among the nation’s best.

As a Hampton alumna, I know that I have gained lasting resources in the academic and social community formed by that institution as well as the tools necessary to propel me forward in life. Attending Hampton University taught me so much about myself and about a struggle that is often invisible at traditional institutions – it has helped me gain access to my place in this world. And though my alma mater, like any institution, has its flaws, I urge anyone to consider the unique cultural value in attending an HBCU; for, as far as education goes, there is nothing more valuable than having a personal confidence in the life-long experience of learning.

Wilberforce University

Wilberforce Heritage

Founded in 1856, Wilberforce University can trace its origin to a period of history before the Civil War, when the Ohio Underground Railroad was established as a means of escape for all those blacks who sought their freedom in the North from the yoke of slavery, one of the destination points of this railroad became Wilberforce University. As the Underground Railroad provided a route from physical bondage, the University was formed to provide an intellectual Mecca and refuge from slavery’s first rule: ignorance.


Wilberforce University, the nation’s oldest private, historically black university, was named to honor the great 18th century abolitionist, William Wilberforce. Early in 1856, the Methodist Episcopal Church purchased property for the new institution at Tawawa Springs, near Xenia, Ohio. The school met with early success until the Civil War when enrollment and financial support dwindled. The original Wilberforce closed its doors in 1862. In March of the following year, Bishop Daniel A. Payne of the African Methodist Episcopal Church negotiated to purchase the University’s facilities. Payne, a member of the original 1856 corporation, secured the cooperation of John G. Mitchell, principal of the Eastern District Public School of Cincinnati, Ohio and James A. Shorter, pastor of the A.M.E. Church of Zanesville, Ohio. The property was soon turned over to them as agents of the church.

The University was newly incorporated on July 10, 1863. In 1887 the State of Ohio began to fund the University by establishing a combined normal and industrial department. This department later became the University’s sister institution, Central State University. Wilberforce also spawned another institution, Payne Theological Seminary. It was founded in 1891 as an outgrowth of the Theological Department at Wilberforce University.

Today, Wilberforce University continues to build on its sacred tradition. It is a four-year, fully accredited liberal arts institution. The 1990s were good years for the University, ushering in a period of growth and financial accountability. Wilberforce University offers some 20 fully accredited liberal arts concentrations to students in business, communications, computing and engineering sciences, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. It offers dual degree programs in architecture, aerospace, and nuclear engineering in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati. Other dual degree programs are available in electrical and mechanical engineering in cooperation with the University of Dayton, and in law with St. John’s University School of Law. The University’s Adult and Continuing Education Program, CLIMB (Credentials for Leadership in Management and Business), annually attracts some 200 nontraditional students interested in completing bachelor of science degrees in organizational management, health care administration and information technology.

The University continues to attract an increasing number of student scholars who are active on the campus newspaper, the Forensic Team, Campus Ministry programs, the University Choir, the Jazz Band, the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams, WURS-Radio Station, Greek and honorary societies and student government.

The brush stroke that completes the picture of Wilberforce University is its mandatory Cooperative Education Program. Wilberforce bears the distinction of being only one of two four-year institutions in the country to require internships as a requirement for graduation. Cooperative Education has been the heartbeat of academics at Wilberforce. The program has seen many others attempt to duplicate its success story, but to date no other has been able. Wilberforce University has been cited for its excellence in many publications such as Black Enterprise, Better Homes & Gardens, Career, and the Black Employment & Education Journal.

-Wilberforce Audrey Osborne

Hello my name is Audrey Osborne, when asked why I chose to attend Wilberforce University all I can say is that I wanted to be different and I did not want to get caught up in the lifestyle that I am used to at home in San Bernardino. My initial thought once receiving my acceptance letter from Wilberforce University was “I need to see if I can make it on my own”. Now truth be told I did apply to four other universities and I did get accepted to all but for some reason I decided to attend Wilberforce University. My attraction to the school began with their follow up, in their brochures  they made it a well known fact that they were a Christian based, historically Black, family oriented school. I felt like if I was going to be so far away from home then I needed to be in a smaller environment where I could still focus on the reasons for me leaving my surroundings in the first place.

Coming to Wilberforce seemed to be a major cultural shock in the way we dress (i.e. style), the way we speak, the difference in foods, and even the difference in our thought processes and views on life. In California our style is known to be what people like to call Wild, Crazy and Fun! We are not afraid to step outside of what people call normal. We like to mix bright neon colors with dark earth tones. Coming to the Midwest I have come to realize that many of the people in my surroundings wear a lot of dresses and moderate clothing. Many of the females portray style through the art of their hair. The males on the other hand seem to hold “bagging” to a high standard. They like that thug look; big chains, earrings, and clean cut oversize tee’s. On the other hand the guys in California like to wear bright colors, skinny jeans, and stylish shades!

Growing up in California I was introduced to gangs and violence at a very young age. I knew that it was always around me but it never bothered me. When I got to Wilberforce University and I began to speak to many of the students from Chicago, and New York and other cities around the country. I came to realize that their story was the same as mine’s. Everyone has struggled and lived in the hood and at least knows the boundaries of those areas. Many of us can relate and come together on campus especially during prayers, and informational sessions. That is one of the major things that I love about Wilberforce, that no matter what, you will always have someone there to support your views and feelings. If everyone was the same as me I would never learn nor be able to teach. At this University we all learn from each other, we teach one another, and we encourage one another!

My journey at Wilberforce thus far has been quite interesting! I never would have imagined that I would have ended up here in Ohio so far away from home. I also would have never imagined that I would stay here in Ohio. My goal is now to complete each semester with honors and become an Alumnus here at Wilberforce University. Once graduating I intend on going to Wright State University and soon after I want to return home in California and open up a nonprofit youth center… My journey is just beginning and I would not have it any other way.

Howard University

HOWARD’S Heritage

In November 1866, shortly after the end of the Civil War, members of the First Congregational Society of Washington considered establishing a theological seminary for the education of African-American clergymen. Within a few weeks, the concept expanded to include a provision for establishing a University. Within two years, the University consisted of the colleges of Liberal Arts and Medicine. The new institution was named for General Oliver O. Howard, a Civil War hero who was both a founder of the University and, at the same time, commissioner of the Freedman’s Bureau.

The University charter as enacted by Congress and subsequently approved by President Andrew Johnson on March 2, 1867, designated Howard University as “a University for the education of youth in the liberal arts and sciences.” The Freedmen’s Bureau provided most of the early financial support of the University. In 1879, Congress approved a special appropriation for the University. The charter was amended in 1928 to authorize an annual federal appropriation for construction, development, improvement and maintenance of the University.

ImageIn 1926, when Dr. Mordecai Wyatt Johnson, Howard’s first Black president, assumed the presidency of Howard, the University was comprised of eight schools and colleges, none of which held national accreditation. The institution’s enrollment during this year stood at 1,700 and its budget at $700,000. By the time Johnson retired 34 years later, the University boasted of 10 schools and colleges, all fully accredited; 6,000 students; a budget of $8 million, the addition of 20 new buildings including an expanded physical plant; and a greatly enlarged faculty that included some of the most prominent Black scholars of the day. Another key indicator of the University’s enhanced academic status was the 1955 inauguration of graduate programs that had the authority to grant the Ph.D degree.

Dr. Johnson’s successor was Dr. James M. Nabrit, Jr. who was previously Secretary of the University and Dean of the Law School. A leading constitutional lawyer and educator, Dr. Nabrit established at Howard in 1938, what is generally considered the first systematic course in civil rights in an American law school.

In 1969, Dr. Nabrit was succeeded by Dr. James E. Cheek, who had previously served as President of Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Dr. Cheek retired in June 1989. He was followed by an Interim President, Dr. Carlton P. Alexis, a physician/administrator who had been the University’s Executive Vice President and before that, its Vice President for Health Affairs.

On December 16, 1989, the Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Dr. Franklyn G. Jenifer to head the University. Upon his inauguration, Dr. Jenifer became the first Howard alumnus to head the University in its 123-year history. Dr. Jenifer served through May 15, 1994, when the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Joyce A. Ladner as interim President. Dr. Ladner was the former Vice President for Academic Affairs and had also served as a professor in the School of Social Work.

On April 22, 1995, the Howard University Board of Trustees appointed H. Patrick Swygert to be its 15th president. Mr. Swygert is also the fifth African-American to serve as the University’s chief executive officer. H. Patrick Swygert received his undergraduate degree in history from Howard in 1965 and his law degree, cum laude, from the University’s law school in 1968.

Today, Howard University is one of only 48 U.S. private, Doctoral/Research-Extensive universities, comprising 12 schools and colleges with 10,500 students enjoying academic pursuits in more than 120 areas of study leading to undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. The University continues to attract the nation’s top students and produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D.s than any other university in the world. Since 1998, the University has produced a Rhodes Scholar, A Truman Scholar, six Fulbright Scholars and nine Pickering Fellows.

In addition to President H. Patrick Swygert, Howard’s notable alumni include: the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; the first African-American governor L. Douglas Wilder; Nobel Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison; Savage Holdings LLC CEO and Howard Board of Trustees Chairman Frank Savage; Emmy Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad; opera singer Jessye Norman; actress, producer and director Debbie Allen; the first African-American president of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. LaSalle Leffall, Jr.; attorney, civil rights leader and Wall St. executive Vernon Jordan; former mayor and United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young; and the first female mayor of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin. A list of Howard distinguished faculty members through the years reads like a “Who’s Who in Black America.” Among them: Ralph J. Bunche, Political Science; Charles R. Drew, Medicine; E. Franklin Frazier, Sociology; Alain J. Locke, Literature; Carter G. Woodson, History; and Lois Mailou Jones, Art.

-Howard’s New President Dr. Sidney Ribeau


Dr. Sidney Ribeau

Former CSU San Bernardino and Cal Poly Pomona administrator, Dr. Sidney Ribeau became the 16th president of the nation’s premier historically Black institution of higher learning when he assumed the new position earlier this month.

Dr. Ribeau has been President of Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, for 13 years. At the University he initiated a number of successful, innovative, values-based initiatives that provide students with an academic environment that develops culturally literate, technologically sophisticated, productive citizens.

During his tenure Dr. Ribeau upgraded Bowling Green’s communications and computing technology and encouraged collaboration with other institutions to increase operational and cost efficiencies. Under Dr. Ribeau’s leadership, Bowling Green State University was recognized for its residential learning communities, values-based education and innovative graduate programs. Bowling Green offers programs in more than 270 academic and professional fields and maintains an enrollment of approximately 21,000 students.

He began his teaching career in 1976 as a professor of communication studies at California State University, Los Angeles. Eight years later, after being honored as an outstanding teacher and student adviser, he became chair of the university’s Pan African Studies Department. He held that position until 1987, when he was named dean of undergraduate studies at California State University, San Bernardino. Three years later, he became dean of the College of Liberal Arts at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo campus. In 1992 he was named vice president for academic affairs at Cal Poly Pomona, a position he held until coming to Bowling Green.

In 2003, Dr. Ribeau was recognized by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, which presented him with its President’s Award for his “courage and leadership in guiding the Bowling Green State University campus community to develop a community focused on student learning and designed to educate the whole student by taking students’ personal and intellectual growth into consideration.”

Raised in Detroit, President Ribeau received his bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University in 1971. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees in interpersonal communication from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1973 and 1979, respectively.

Dr. Ribeau serves on Ohio’s Higher Education Funding Commission, is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and chair of the Inter-University Council of Presidents for 2005-06. A member of the Bowling Green and Toledo Chambers of Commerce, he also serves on the boards of United Way, the Greater Toledo Urban League, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), the Regional Growth Partnership, the Andersons Inc. in Maumee, Convergys Corporation and Worthington Industries.

Morehouse College

Morehouse Heritage

In 1867, two years after the Civil War ended, Augusta Institute was established in the basement of Springfield Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga.  Founded in 1787, Springfield Baptist is the oldest independent African American church in the United States. The school’s primary purpose was to prepare black men for the ministry and teaching. Today, Augusta Institute is Morehouse College, which is located on a 66-acre campus in Atlanta and enjoys an international reputation for producing leaders who have influenced national and world history.

As Morehouse celebrates 140 years of challenge and change, the College continues to deliver an exceptional educational experience that today meets the intellectual, moral and social needs of students representing more than 40 states and 18 countries-a distinguished institution dedicated, as always, to producing outstanding men and extraordinary leaders to serve humanity with a spiritual consciousness.


-Morehouse BVN Summer Intern Terrence Campbell

As a student in high school I frequently overheard talk of Morehouse College being the college of choice for Black men in America. After my own research, I too was convinced that this particular institution was where I needed to be.  I’d had a great academic experience at the predominately white Murrieta Valley High School, but I was often pestered with feelings of being out of place. I chose Morehouse because I longed to surround myself in an environment specifically blueprinted for a Black man to succeed.  Moreover, I was impressed by Morehouse because not only was it structured for Black men to succeed but it was actually highly successful in achieving this.

I am currently entering my sophomore year at Morehouse and I vividly remember my freshman experience on campus. Traditionally, Morehouse holds a week-long initiation for its incoming freshmen.

This week is jam packed with dynamic speeches, elaborate ceremonies and everything imaginable to demonstrate the school’s strong tradition and challenge its young men to rise and continue the legacy.  For me, this week confirmed that I had chosen the right institution.  Being raised in California, the moment I parted with my parents marked a checkpoint in my life where responsibility for my own education and decisions was thrust upon me.

Morehouse also had the appeal of being located in Atlanta, GA.

This means different things to different people but for me it meant that whatever I was looking for, it wasn’t too far away.  Among other things, Atlanta is known to provide the perfect mix of southern hospitality and the liveliness and vigor of a bustling city.  There are many colleges in Atlanta, including the three that surround Morehouse (Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and Morris Brown College), so there was always someone to share the good experiences with. Moreover, when one school is having an event, it is common for students from surrounding schools to show up and join in.

Morehouse has about 3,000 students which means that class sizes are usually between 20-30 students.  This was a great thing because with the class size at Morehouse, it’s not intimidating to ask questions in those classes where questions are so necessary and professors are usually glad to elaborate.  It also allowed for closer interactions with my professors as they actually knew my name and my own personal potential.

Within the brotherhood that is Morehouse, there is a unique environment that encourages success.  One of the factors that contributes to this is the unspoken realization that every brother at the college is preparing to enter the workforce and compete with a larger world that is almost opposite to the Morehouse setting of all Black males.  Once students grasp this idea, we become “our brother’s keeper” and the focused is placed on helping one another become more fit to survive in today’s Darwinian style workforce.

In my experience, Morehouse has provided unique situations and opportunities to grow as a student and as a man.  My most recent experience was earlier this summer when I traveled with fellow classmates to Mexico to study abroad.  It was unique because along with being further exposed to the Spanish language, I was able to take an economics class and learn concepts that I have yet to learn in my own business courses at Morehouse.  Other distinctive experiences include visiting speakers such as, Cornel West, Bill Cosby, Fonzworth Bentley and even a homecoming performance from Lil’ Wayne.

I believe Morehouse has provided me an excellent HBCU experience.  Morehouse was a great fit for me but I also believe there are many other HBCUs, and colleges period, where Black students can find their unique niche and become scholars that contribute great things to the world around them.

Oakwood University

Oakwood’s Heritage

Since 1896, Oakwood University has provided students the opportunity to enter its halls of learning in preparation for service to community, country, and the world. The University is regionally accredited by the Southern Accrediting Association of Colleges and Schools and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Department of Education. It offers a liberal arts curriculum in a Christ-centered atmosphere.

ImageThe university is situated on approximately 1,000 acres in Huntsville, Alabama, a cosmopolitan city in northwest Alabama, nestled in the beautiful Tennessee Valley at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Huntsville, fondly called “the space capital of the world,” is home for the Marshall Space Center, and is recognized as being one of the most progressive cities in America.

The diverse mix of students’ drawn from many foreign countries and over 40 states, provides an enriched environment that exposes our students to the richness of different cultures and fosters the development of self-esteem, respect for others, and the required skills to be socially adaptable and globally successful.

A caring, supportive faculty with over 60% holding earned doctorates is responsible for Oakwood’s proven ability to meet students’ academic needs.

Oakwood University affords its students a remarkable balance between quality of services rendered and cost. Academic excellence is offered without the student having to worry about paying an exorbitant price for tuition and living expenses. What the university has to offer is well worth the student’s time, money, and effort. It is an investment that will greatly return multiplied dividends.

Institutional scholarships are available to incoming students for their high academic achievements, musical talent, and demonstrated leadership abilities. In addition, state and federal aid is available in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and employment. A high percentage of students receive some form of financial assistance.


Written by Symphony

August 31, 2008 at 6:23 am

Posted in Education, Honors

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