UNCF Member Institution Leaders
Clarence D. Armbrister
Dr. Bobbie Knight
Dr. Cheryl Evans Jones
- creation of SA Works to focus on creating a strong workforce development framework for the entire community;
- execution of local “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative to help connect more young men of color to opportunity;
- creation of a city faith based partnership initiative;
- increased college scholarships for students through city’s Martin Luther King Commission;
- approval of a package of charter amendments in the May 2015 municipal election, including a historic City Council salary initiative;
- settlement of a contentious police contract that provides over $80million in healthcare cost savings to the San Antonio taxpayers;
- several new companies relocating to San Antonio and bringing more than 1,000 new jobs;
- effective job training program, Promise Zone to Work, placed its first graduates;
- adoption of an annexation plan to ensure the city’s continued fiscal viability;
- UNESCO World Heritage Designation of San Antonio’s Spanish colonial missions;
- Google Fiber and AT&T Gigapower delivered fiber optic network;
- Negotiation of Uber and Lyft ride sharing services operating agreement for San Antonio;
DiversityFIRST Award recognizing City for achievements and commitment to the pursuit of cultural diversity and inclusion in the community and workplace;
- Achievement of functional zero in Veterans Homelessness through the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness in partnership with HUD;
- Named first Monarch Butterfly Champion City in the country.
Dr. Paulette Dillard
Helene D. Gayle, M.D., MPH
Dr. Cynthia Warrick
Dr. Carmen Walters
Charlotte P. Morris, Ph.D.
Dr. Hakim J. Lucas
Dr. Elfred Anthony Pinkard
Dr. Ernest McNealey
Roslyn Clark Artis
Dr. Roslyn Artis is the 14th President of Benedict College. She is the first female president in the college’s 147-year history. Dr. Artis brings an impressive mix of higher education and corporate experience.
As the former president of Florida Memorial University, she led an unprecedented academic innovation of several programs, expansion of online courses, and developed new majors in high-demand fields. Additionally, she created academic centers of excellence and updated the university’s technology infrastructure and website. She led the development of the University’s Five-Year Strategic Planning Process and increased grant writing productivity. Since assuming the presidency in 2013, unrestricted gifts increased 20% (year over year), restricted gifts increased by 38%, and revenue from grants and sponsored research increased by 22%. Dr. Artis is also credited with soliciting and receiving the largest gift from a single donor ($3.8 M) in the institution’s history. She completed construction on a state-of-the-art Science Annex and a comprehensive Athletic Facility and Wellness Center on campus. Dr. Artis initiated and consummated strategic partnerships and collaborations between the University and external public and private entities for the purpose of revenue generation and the visibility for the institution.
Dr. Artis is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, where she earned a doctoral degree in higher education leadership and policy. She also holds a juris doctorate degree from West Virginia University College of Law, and a bachelor of arts degree in political science from West Virginia State University. Additionally, she has a Certificate of Fundraising Management from Indiana University and a Certificate of Mastery in Prior Learning Assessment from DePaul University.
Dr. Artis is married to Selby Artis and is the mother of three, Christopher, Jayden and Jocelyn.
Suzanne Walsh earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from Cornell University, as well as a master’s degree in social work and law degree from Case Western Reserve University. She is a member of the Ohio Bar, and has received national recognition for her portfolio of work with organizations at the intersection of innovation, technology and learning.
Walsh will also work closely with the Board and the Bennett Reengineering Committee (BRC), which was appointed earlier in 2019 to identify ways to transform the College and keep it relevant in a rapidly changing educational environment.
Although Walsh has a storied career in education, this will be her first role at a four-year institution. Previously, she served as the deputy director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Postsecondary Success division, where she focused on higher education issues, helping students do better in college, and assisting institutions in making changes to improve graduation rates. Prior to that, Walsh worked on an initiative to make college more affordable and increase college productivity at the Lumina Foundation in Indianapolis. She also worked as an administrator for a community college in Cleveland back in 1998.
Dr. Hiram C. Powell
Hiram C. Powell, Ph.D., is the Interim President of Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU). Dr. Powell graduated in 1976 from B-CU with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and worked at the university since 1977. He most recently served as Dean of Performing Arts and Communications. During his time at B-CU, he served in critically important leadership roles including Interim Provost and Vice President of Institutional Advancement. Dr. Powell also served as Dean of Graduate Studies and as Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs.
Dr. Powell’s dedication and commitment to the future of B-CU runs deep. “Bethune-Cookman University gave me a foundation and support that allowed me to learn, grow, and lead in music and academia,” Powell said. “I embrace this chance to lead B-CU forward and to help our students succeed from every opportunity that this institution has to offer. I am living proof of what Dr. Mary McLeod intended when she established her college; it is my great honor to lead B-CU.”
Dr. Powell began his career at B-CU in 1980 as an associate director of bands/arranger and ultimately became chair of the music department after other roles that included assistant director of bands and band director. He earned his master of fine arts in music theory from the University of Florida, followed by his Ph.D. in music theory in 1992 from Florida State University. He received certifications from a variety of leadership programs including the Millennium Leadership Institute, Executive Leadership Summit from Hampton University and the Leadership Disney Style from the Disney Institute. He is a graduate of the music management program at DePaul University and studied at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
Among his numerous awards, Dr. Powell has been honored with the Miami Herald Silver Knight Award for Musical Excellence; the John Phillip Sousa Award; Outstanding Leadership Award from Phi Beta Sigma; Outstanding Musicianship Award from the University of Florida; and the ACE Leadership Scholar. He was named Bethune-Cookman College Faculty Member of the Year; is a distinguished honorary inductee in Sigma Alpha Iota; and earned the title of Distinguished Adjudicator, Festival Disney.
Dr. Powell is a member of the Association of Professional Fund Raisers; the Florida Music Educators Association; the Florida Bandmasters Association; the Music Educators National Conference; Florida State Music Teachers Association; Daytona Beach Civic Orchestra; World Saxophone Conference; and Florida Higher Education Arts Network to name a few.
He served as board chair for the Atlantic Center for the Arts; state advisor, Collegiate Music Educators National Conference; and president, Florida State University Music Theory Society. He is a committee member with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and has held trustee and board positions with the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Florida International Festival, Pabst Foundation for the Arts, and currently serves on the board of directors for the prestigious Pabst-Steinmetz Foundation.
Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack
Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack is the ninth president of Claflin University. Warmack comes to Claflin after serving as president of Harris-Stowe State University and at the time of his appointment was one of the youngest serving presidents of a four-year institution in the nation. Warmack brings more than 20 years of progressive administrative experience in higher education at five distinct higher education institutions. Dr. Warmack provided leadership to more than 450 full and part-time faculty and staff and oversaw a budget in excess of $32 million. After his arrival in 2014, Harris-Stowe witnessed a transformation, unheralded in its 160-year history. Dr. Warmack shepherd more than $15 million in external funding to the institution, including a $5 million grant, the largest in the institution’s history. He cultivated more than 16 partnerships and collaborations with Fortune 500 companies, regional organizations and other higher education institutions to strengthen Harris-Stowe’s infrastructure. During Dr. Warmack’s tenure, Harris-Stowe witnessed its highest gains in student enrollment in decades, posting the highest percentage enrollment increases among Missouri’s public institutions for two consecutive years. Additionally, as part of the institutional strategic plan that he spearheaded, the institution embarked on an ambitious goal of expanding its academic offerings. As a result, degrees, minors, and certificate programs have increased by more than 40 percent. These includes expanding liberal arts and business degrees and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines (STEM). As a result of his executive leadership to transform the curricular and co-curricular enterprises at Harris-Stowe, the institution is ranked regionally and nationally in various publications and online journals with U.S. News and World Report ranking Harris-Stowe as one of the best HBCU’s and Midwest Universities in the United States. Dr. Warmack’s success at Harris-Stowe has captured national acclaim cumulating with a front-page article in the Chronicle for Higher Education, features in the New York Times, the Detroit Free Press and appearances on CNN, Al Jazeera America, C-SPAN and NPR.
He is considered a scholar-practitioner and possesses a wealth of experience in program design, faculty, student development, assessment and accreditation. Dr. Warmack’s trajectory in higher education has been extraordinary. Prior to his appointment as president of Harris-Stowe, he served as the senior vice president, administration and student services at Bethune-Cookman University overseeing a staff of 170. His successes include oversight of a multi-million dollar renovation of the institution’s residence halls. Prior to his tenure at Bethune-Cookman, he was the associate dean of students at Rhodes College in Memphis, where he had oversight of student affairs including judicial affairs, student activities, Greek life, new student and parent orientation and multicultural affairs. Warmack has also held positions at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., and Delta State University.
Dr. Warmack provides a brand of leadership that is characterized by an unqualified insistence on data driven decision-making and a commitment to higher education’s current best practices. A visionary with a unique understanding and appreciation for today’s millennial students, he is committed to academic integration and the holistic development of students. Warmack is committed to developing programs that promote diversity, pluralism and cultural competency. Throughout his career, he has championed inclusion, academic excellence and the retention of underrepresented students. Over the years he has presented more than 120 diversity and leadership presentations and workshops to an array of individuals and groups.
To bolster his executive fortes, Dr. Warmack has participated in a variety of professional development opportunities including the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU), Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI), and Hampton University’s “On The Road to the Presidency: Executive Leadership Summit.”
Dr. Warmack was named the Delta State University “Black Alumnus of the Year” and was inducted into the institution’s Hall of Fame. Other awards and recognitions for his work in higher education and the community include but not limited to, Delux Magazine Power 100 “Trailblazer Award” Recipient, St. Louis Business Journal “40 under 40”, St. Louis American “Salute to Excellence Young Leader Award”, The Rickey Smiley Foundation “Trailblazer Award”, Who’s Who in Color Most Intriguing People and “Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2018.”
Dr. Warmack’s past board memberships include Cortex Innovation Community, the Saint Louis Science Center, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, St. Louis Muny, the Greater St. Louis Area Council Boy Scouts of America, the United Way of Greater St. Louis, Southern Association for College Student Affairs (SACSA) Foundation, and the Alumni Board of Directors for Delta State University. He is a peer reviewer with the Higher Learning Commission, the largest regional accreditation body in the United States.
Dr. Warmack earned a bachelor’s degree in education and master’s degree in sociology from Delta State University. He earned his doctorate in educational leadership with a specialization in higher education from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and his post-doctoral studies in educational leadership at Harvard University School of Education.
Dr. Warmack is married to LaKisha Warmack and they have one daughter, Morgan.
Dr. George T. French, Jr.
Dr. George T. French, Jr., is the the fifth president of Clark Atlanta University (CAU).
Dr. French served as president of Miles College, 2006-2019 before taking the lead at CAU. During his tenure, Miles College exceeded capital campaign goals—besting previous fundraising records, achieved an unprecedented financial composite score to position the school for growth, increased student access to educational funding, and more than doubled the size of the existing campus with key land acquisitions.
Prior to serving as the president of Miles College, Dr. French served in the roles of acting and interim president for the institution between October and December 2005. Before serving as interim president, Dr. French served as a member of the president’s cabinet in the capacity of director of institutional planning and development, and as such directed the offices of alumni affairs, federal contracts and grants, Title III, institutional research and effectiveness, congressional relations and public relations.
A native of Louisville, KY, Dr. French earned a bachelor of arts in political science with an emphasis in policy analysis from the University of Louisville. He was competitively accepted into the University of Richmond Law School and completed two years of studies before being recruited by Miles College to serve as the director of development. He completed his final year of law school at Miles Law School, earning a juris doctorate. Dr. French received his Ph.D. in higher education from Jackson State University.
Dr. French also has great influence off campus grounds. He served two terms, respectively, on the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges’ Board of Trustees, and the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. He is a member of the Birmingham Business Alliance’s Executive Committee and Birmingham Museum of Art’s Board of Directors. In 2015, Dr. French co-founded Higher Education Leader Foundation to help prepare highly-skilled talent for positions of leadership at historically Black colleges and universities.
“I am thankful and blessed to have the opportunity to lead another great institution and serve as the fifth president of Clark Atlanta University,” Dr. French said. “CAU has strong faculty, students and academics. I’m optimistic about the university’s next stage of growth and eager to build on the strong foundation CAU has established.”
Dr. Rochelle Ford
Dr. Rochelle L. Ford, APR, serves as the University’s eighth president. Ford was the dean of Elon University’s School of Communications, where she led more than 80 faculty and 1,500 students with six undergraduate major programs of study and one graduate program. Ford is a 2021 fellow in Clark Atlanta University’s HBCU Executive Leadership Institute. Succeeding Dr. Walter Kimbrough, Ford assumed her role as president July 1, 2022. [Dillard University is a UNCF-member institution.]
“I feel very blessed and honored to be selected to service Dillard University, which is a national treasure committed to producing leaders who live ethically,” said Ford. “Dillard’s alumni think precisely and act courageously to make the world a better place. I aim to continue that legacy and ensure the sustainability of Dillard for generations to come.”
Having built a robust resume in higher education administration and instruction, Ford has earned a reputation as a hard-working transformative leader. Her scholarship and experience include diversity, equity and inclusion, public relations, advertising, journalism, and media.
The following are some of Ford’s many accomplishments:
• The second dean in the history of Elon’s School of Communications, Ford increased student enrollment approximately 15% between 2018 and 2021. Among many factors, Ford credits relationship-rich, engaged learning for the school’s enrollment success.
• Ford completed the HBCU Executive Leadership Institute microcredential on navigating board governance.
• At Syracuse, Ford co-chaired the university’s successful Middle States Commission on Higher Education re-accreditation and initiated a university-wide required common first year experience.
• With the recommendations of the School of Communication’s Faculty Technology Committee, Ford made strategic investments in her unit’s technological infrastructure including creative software, establishing video distribution through OTT, providing media analytics and social listening tools, enhancing video over fiber optics and audio over IP, updating and increasing camera coverage for Elon Athletics and Elon Sports Vision, and branding through digital signage in addition to other resources.
• At Elon, she led a reorganization of the academic departments to provide students with more access to administrators, improved faculty and student mentoring and strengthened academic curriculum and industry partnerships. Ford also hired more than 10 full-time faculty and more than 10 part-time instructors.
Before entering her role at Elon, Ford served as Syracuse University’s provost faculty fellow, implementing its strategic plan. She also served as the chair of the public relations department in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Prior to Syracuse, she helped establish the Academic Center for Excellence at Howard University and served as the associate dean of research and academic affairs in Howard’s School of Communications.
Among Ford’s numerous publications are “Administrative Challenges and Organizational Leadership in Historically Black College and Universities” and “Setting a New Agenda for Student Engagement and Retention in Historically Black Colleges and Universities”, both co-authored with Charles B.W. Prince.
In 2018, Ford was inducted into the PRWeek Hall of Fame. ColorCOMM listed her as one of 28 Most Influential Black Females in Communications in 2021.
A native of Gahanna, Ohio, Ford earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism with a specialization in public relations from Howard, her master’s degree in journalism with a specialization in public relations from University of Maryland, College Park, and her Ph.D. in journalism from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She also earned a graduate certificate in higher education administration from Harvard University.
Active in both her discipline and her community, Ford is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, where she holds an Accreditation in Public Relations. She is also a member of the National Black Public Relations Society, the Arthur W. Page Society, the American Advertising Federation, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., the Alamance County Chamber of Commerce’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and the United Church of Christ. Dillard is affiliated with the United Church of Christ as well as the United Methodist Church.
Ford is the second woman named Dillard’s president in a permanent capacity. Dr. Bettye Parker Smith served as interim president 2004-2005, and Dr. Marvalene Hughes served as president 2005-2011.
Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr.
Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr., assumed responsibility as the 30th president and CEO of Edward Waters College (EWC) (now Edward Waters University) in 2018 following a unanimous vote by the college’s board of trustees. Just 37 years old at the time of his appointment, Dr. Faison’s selection as EWU’s leader made him the youngest serving president and CEO of an historically Black college or university (HBCU).
A native of Atlanta, GA, Dr. Faison’s career exploits include distinguished professional experiences as a higher education executive administrator, educator, and attorney. Before his presidential appointment at EWU, Dr. Faison served as general counsel and vice president of external affairs at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, AL, where he maintained responsibility as the university’s chief legal officer and provided principal oversight for its legislative and governmental relations functions. Prior to his appointment at Tuskegee, he served as vice president for enrollment management and student affairs at Virginia Union University (VUU) in Richmond, VA, where he led the university in achieving historic increases in overall student enrollment and retention having founded the VUU College for African American Men. Dr. Faison also previously served as special assistant to the president for legal and legislative affairs, community affairs and economic development at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, MS, where he later became university chief of staff before being named vice president of institutional advancement and executive director of the MVSU Foundation. Faison’s philanthropic work at MVSU yielded nearly $25 million dollars in funding to the university towards new capital projects, infrastructural improvements, and campus renovations. As a scholar-educator, he has held professorial appointments at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in various academic disciplines including political science, criminal justice and business administration. A licensed member of the State Bar of Georgia, Faison is also a former state prosecutor having prosecuted criminal felony drug cases in Georgia.
Dr. Faison graduated magna cum laude from Albany State University (ASU) with a bachelor of arts in English where he was an ASU Presidential and Foundation Scholar, Dwight D. Eisenhower National Fellow, and an ASU Velma Fudge Grant University Honors Program and Merit Scholar Graduate. He attended the University of Georgia School of Law where he earned his juris doctorate and was a member of the UGA School of Law Executive Moot Court Board and UGA Law Moot Court team. He completed post-doctoral study as a graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education’s Institute for Educational Management and was a Millennium Leadership Initiative Institute Fellow of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and Association of Public Land-Grant Universities. Additionally, Dr. Faison has earned the Certification in Fundraising Management (CFRM) designation from The Fundraising School of Philanthropy at Indiana-University-Purdue-University at Indianapolis.
Dr. Faison is active in several professional, civic, and social organizations and has delivered more than 50 presentations and lectures at conferences and professional meetings nationwide. He currently serves as a member of the Jacksonville Civic Council, the Rotary Club of Jacksonville, the DW Perkins Bar Association, and is a trustee member of the Jacksonville Chamber. He has received national recognition for his outstanding professional, community and civic achievements from The Business Journals Influencers: Rising Stars 100; the Jacksonville Business Journal (Top 40 Business Leaders Under 40); the National Bar Association (Top 40 Attorneys Under 40); The University of Georgia (Top 40 Alumnus Under 40) and Albany State University (Top 50 Alumnus Under 50).
He is the son of Alderman Faison, Sr., and Dr. Jewel J. Faison, and brother to Dr. Morgan Zacheya-Jewel Faison. Dr. Faison has been blissfully married for 12 years to Tyciee L. Faison, who is also a seasoned higher education administrator, educator and ordained minister.
Dr. Vann R. Newkirk, Sr.
Dr. Vann R. Newkirk, Sr. was named Interim President in August 2020 and permanently named president in August 2021. Since 2018, Dr. Newkirk has served as Fisk’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. He has an extensive leadership record with proven evidence of effectiveness on many levels. For instance, he has a 25-year career in creating innovative educational programs which, have enhanced enrollment, at each institution in which he was formerly employed. Over his career, he also built and managed off-campus degree programs, enhanced sponsored programs productivity, and played major roles in the administration of institutional research and effectiveness.
Newkirk has worked with organizations such as the SACS Consulting Network, the Capacity Building Institute of the UNCF, and the Patterson Research Institute. In these roles, he led more than a dozen colleges and universities through initial accreditation or through reaffirmation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or with the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. Finally, he has played important roles in improving institutional efficiency and in resource husbandry at institutions across the Southeastern United States. These efforts have required consensus building within each institution, inside institutional governing boards, and with state coordinating agencies. Newkirk’s experiences have allowed him to build and maintain relationships with a wide variety of constituencies on all levels.
A noted historian, Newkirk has written extensively on crime and punishment in the state of North Carolina. He is the author of the seminal work on the subject, Lynching in North Carolina (2008), which won the Willie Parker Peace History Award for the best non-fiction study of North Carolina in 2009. Other recent publications by Newkirk include, “That Spirit Must be Broken: The Mutilation of Joseph Needleman and North Carolina’s Effort to Prosecute Lynch Mob Participants During the 1920s,” Southern Jewish History (Vol.13, 2010), and “Washed Down in Blood: Murder on the Schooner Harry A. Berwind,” North Carolina Historical Review, (January 2014). An HBCU advocate, his new book, New Life for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (McFarland Press, summer 2012) seeks to identify the challenges that Black Colleges face, explore the historic origin of Black college management systems, and identify models of success that will improve the long-term viability of HBCUs. He is currently writing what will be the seminal work on the history of African Americans in Alabama.
Newkirk and his wife Marylin are the proud parents of three adult children – Vann Newkirk II, a television personality and writer; Casandra a biologist; and Richard, a college student/aspiring graphic artist. Newkirk formerly served as Provost/Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of History at Elizabeth City State University. Other positions held include Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, Dean of Graduate Studies, and Professor of History at Alabama A&M University; Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Associate Professor of History, Fort Valley State University; Academic Dean/Chief Academic Office, and Professor of History, Andrew College; and Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness at North Carolina Wesleyan College. He attended North Carolina A&T State University, and holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Barber-Scotia College; a Master of Arts degree in History from Winthrop University; a Master of Science degree in Library Science from North Carolina Central University; and the Doctor of Philosophy in History from Howard University.
Dr. Jaffus Hardrick
Jaffus Hardrick, Ed.D., is an award-winning senior academic executive with a proven track record for promoting student success, enhancing student outcomes, optimizing faculty and staff development, and cultivating a culture of excellence. Dr. Hardrick fully understands the promise of education. Through education, Dr. Hardrick was fortunate to earn significant roles as a higher education administrator. He served as the vice provost for access and success at Florida International University, the nation’s fourth-largest public urban research university; assistant vice provost for academic affairs at Baylor University; and now the president of Florida Memorial University. As an education executive, he is committed to developing future leaders and closing achievement gaps among underrepresented students, and creating a culture of academic excellence in higher education. He is also the co-author of Making Global Learning Universal: Promoting Inclusion and Success for All Students (Stylus).
Dr. Hardrick’s contributions have been highlighted by national and regional organizations like Forbes, Indulge Magazine, Colleges and University Professional Association for Human Resources, Legacy Magazine, Greater Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, Florida Education Fund, South Florida Business and Wealth Journal, Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce and more. Under his leadership, the Chronicle of Higher Work for Higher Education has consistently recognized his previous institution for creating an exceptional environment in its “Great Colleges to Work For.” This distinction honors the largest and most respected workplace-recognition programs in the country.
A visionary leader with a keen eye for strategic direction, Dr. Hardrick has developed a record of success by working across the academy to enhance organizational effectiveness and efficiency, improve academic quality, and ensure student success. Some of his professional experiences include attracting and developing talented workforces, increasing donor and business relations, and forging strong community relationships. Dr. Hardrick has been recognized as a strategic thinker, thought leader, problem solver, consensus builder, motivator, and fund and friend raiser. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; a master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University; and his doctoral degree from Baylor University. He is a proud member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette
Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette becomes the first female president of the merged Huston-Tillotson University and only the second female president in the institution’s 140-year history.
Dr. Pierce Burnette is an experienced leader in higher education with a deep commitment to student success. In 2012, she served as interim president at Pierce College in Puyallup, WA, leading the college within a district environment and working collaboratively with executive leadership to serve more than 30,000 students each year. Dr. Pierce Burnette had an extensive career at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, from 1999 – 2012 that scaled to vice president for administration and CFO where she provided financial, analytical, physical plant, auxiliary services, capital construction and human resources leadership to achieve mission-based goals. In addition, at Central State University, Dr. Pierce Burnette served as vice president for information technology and chief information officer.
She earned her master of science degree in administration with honors from Georgia College in Milledgeville, GA, in 1983 after completing a bachelor of science degree in industrial and systems engineering from Ohio State University in Columbus, OH, in 1980. In 2003, Dr. Pierce Burnette was accepted and graduated from the Harvard Graduate School’s Education Management Development Program. She earned an Ed.D. in higher education administration at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Pierce Burnette said, “I am deeply honored to serve as the sixth president of Huston-Tillotson University. When I stepped on the grounds of this campus and interacted with the distinguished faculty, administrators, alumni and bright and engaging students, I could see myself here. HT has a rich and remarkable history of preparing students for careers that enhance our society and world. The diverse student population, enhancement of STEM offerings, the future Community Health and Wellness Center, and this beautiful campus are just some of the reasons why I see Huston-Tillotson as a truly special place.”
Dr. Pierce Burnette is the mother of two children Daarel II, a journalist in Memphis, TN, and Daana, a public relations professional in New York, NY. She is married to Dr. Daarel Burnette, a proficient administrator and consultant in higher education finance and fiscal leadership. She is affiliated with many organizations and has membership in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Matthew Wesley Williams
The Rev. Matthew Wesley Williams is the president of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC). His appointment makes him ITC’s 11th President, and at 43, Williams is the youngest person to lead the institution, which was formed in 1958.
Williams, an ITC alumnus and community leader, formerly served as the vice president of strategic initiatives for the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE). In Matthew’s role at FTE, he was instrumental in helping to restructure FTE’s operations to better achieve its mission amidst a changing religious landscape. While in this position, FTE’s ministry and doctoral initiatives grew and expanded. In addition, after studying various challenges theological executives face in their institutions, Williams established FTE’s Institutional Doctoral Network to teach and train theological executive leaders how to address systemic barriers to desirable change in their respective institutional context.
“I am deeply humbled and honored to return to my beloved alma mater to help facilitate the beginning of the next chapter of the Interdenominational Theological Center’s life and legacy,” stated Williams. “I am clear that our call is not to merely ‘save the ITC’ as we know it. This is the beginning of an effort to co-create the ITC our communities need. This is village work. I look forward to joining with ITC’s faculty, staff, students, alumni and allies to co-author this next chapter.”
Williams received a master of divinity degree from the ITC and bachelor’s degrees in both psychology and philosophy and religion from Florida A&M University. He is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Dr. Lester C. Newman
Dr. Lester C. Newman assumed duties as the 12th president of Jarvis Christian College (JCC) on April 2, 2012.
A native of Shreveport, LA, Dr. Newman received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from Atlanta University, now Clark Atlanta University.
Dr. Newman is a dedicated leader and academician, having served in several positions in higher education for a period spanning more than thirty-seven years. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in higher education administration to JCC. Prior to joining the JCC family, Dr. Newman served as the Executive Assistant to the President and Director of Administrative Management Programs at Wiley University in Marshall, TX and as the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Lane College in Jackson, TN. For nine years, he also served as President and Professor of Political Science at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, MS.
Earlier in his career, he held such positions as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Political Science, Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, NC; Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Political Science, Shelby State Community College, Memphis, TN; Dean of Arts and Sciences and Associate Professor, Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY; and Assistant Professor of Political Science, Associate Director of Institutional Self-Study and Assistant to the Dean of the Junior Division at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA.
He is the recipient of numerous honors, awards and recognitions and has authored more than fifty presentations and publications. He remains active in professional associations and holds memberships in more in than twenty-one highly recognized and esteemed associations, institutes, consortia, and organizations in higher education—including current service as Chairman of the Council of Presidents for the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC); Board of Directors for the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT) and the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC); Institutional Director for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF); member of the Council of President for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA); member of the Texas Association of Developing Colleges (TADC); and member of the Steering Committee for Educational Testing Services (ETS).
Dr. Newman and his wife Gloria have two children and seven grandchildren.
Dr. Logan C. Hampton
Logan C. Hampton is 10th president of Lane College by the Lane College Board of Trustees, named to the post in 2014.
Dr. Hampton has a doctorate in higher education from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, received a master’s degree in student personnel services from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA, and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Arkansas Tech University. He also is a graduate of the Harvard Institute of Management and Leadership in Education. Before UALR, Hampton held positions at Texas A&M University, Texas Christian University and the University of Central Arkansas.
Prior to coming to Lane College, Hampton served in numerous student services capacities at UALR. His most recent appointment at UALR was vice provost for student affairs. In this position, Dr. Hampton served as the chief student affairs officer and led the student development and student life programs, including judicial affairs, budgetary and administrative services. In addition to working as a higher education administrator, Hampton was a member of the Board of Trustees for Arkansas Baptist College.
He and his wife, Susan, are the parents of three children: Elise, Crystal and Logan III.
Dr. Vernell Bennett-Fairs
Dr. Vernell Bennett-Fairs began her tenure as the 13th president of LeMoyne-Owen College on January 5, 2021. Dr. Bennett-Fairs is the second woman chosen to lead the only historically black college or university in Memphis, TN.
A native of Lorain, Ohio, Dr. Bennett-Fairs is a trained vocalist and orator who has served as a tenured associate professor and college administrator in progressive roles in her twenty-five years in higher education. However, her most cherished role is that of student advocate. Formerly, Dr. Bennett-Fairs served as the Vice President for Student Affairs at Delta State University (DSU). There, she was responsible for the oversight of the Office of Admissions, the Office of Financial Aid, University Police, the Office of Student Development, Housing and Residence Life, the University Health Center, and the Office of Career Counseling and Placement.
During her tenure at DSU, Dr. Bennett-Fairs founded the Okra Patch, which is an engagement initiative for students, faculty, staff, administration, alumni and community members. Other innovative Student Affairs programming projects that Dr. Bennett-Fairs spearheaded at DSU included: the annual men’s and women’s conferences and leadership retreat for student leaders, the international festival Culture on the Quad, the Statesmen Club pipeline of recruitment of high school and community college students, and Each One Recruit One. Dr. Bennett-Fairs guided DSU’s Office of Admissions’ recruitment operations and marketing, developed virtual recruitment and tours, and created contemporary methods of recruitment including utilizing social media. Her all-hands-on-deck approach to recruitment fostered successful collaborations across the campus and within the community. Dr. Bennett-Fairs was also responsible for establishing the campus’ food pantry, the Statesman’s Shelf.
Dr. Bennett-Fairs began her postsecondary career at Kentucky State University (KSU) as a non-tenure tract Instructor of Music and advanced to the rank of tenured Associate Professor before transitioning to several administration roles. Dr. Bennett-Fairs’ career spanned 20 years at KSU where her final role was as the Vice President for Student Affairs.
Dr. Bennett-Fairs is the founder of Operation Half-Note Incorporated, a music institute geared toward pre-kindergartners that she founded at KSU. She earned a Governor’s Award in the Arts (the most prestigious honor bestowed upon citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky) for this groundbreaking program. Dr. Bennett-Fairs left a legacy at KSU as the creative mind behind the Thorobred Express mobile recruitment initiative. Her accomplishments at KSU are innumerable, but some of her most noteworthy include the aforementioned and having served as the President of the Faculty Senate for two consecutive terms. To date, she is the youngest person to have served as the Faculty Senate president at KSU.
Dr. Bennett-Fairs is a former Who’s Who among College and University Professors. She was identified as a Top Minority Business Leader for 2019 by the Delta Business Journal. Her most prized honors however, are those bestowed upon her by the students, which include: KSU Girls Rock, Woman of the Year, the SGA Award of Accomplishment, and her first DSU student award, a Lady Statesman Emerald Award of Excellence for Top Female Administrator.
Dr. Bennett-Fairs’ student-centered and collaborative approach as an administrator has resulted in hundreds of campus and off-campus partnerships in support of the tens of thousands of students that she has served in her 25-year career. A creative and innovative administrator, Dr. Bennett-Fairs has been the mastermind behind successful recruitment strategies and creative and innovative programming at Delta State University and Kentucky State University.
Dr. Bennett-Fairs is currently a protégé in the 2020-2021 cohort of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI). She is an alum of the Executive Leadership Summit, the Hawkins-Scott Leadership Institute, Leadership Kentucky, and Leadership Mississippi. Dr. Bennett-Fairs is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and the Mississippi Delta Chapter of the Links, Incorporated. Dr. Bennett is also a member of the Rotary Club.
Dr. Bennett-Fairs received a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance from Fisk University, a Master of Arts in Vocal Performance from Eastern Michigan University, and a Doctorate of Education in Administration and Instruction from the University of Kentucky.
Dr. Bennett-Fairs is married to Patric Fairs and has one adult son, Jeffery.
Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr.
The Livingstone College Board of Trustees named Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., the school’s 12th president in 2006. A longtime educator and administrator, Dr. Jenkins was chosen from among five finalists.
Jenkins most recently served as president of Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, FL, from 1997 to 2005. During his tenure, the college expanded its faculty and broke ground on its first new building in decades while reducing its debt from $8.5 million to $500,000 in three years and growing its enrollment from 300 students to 1,300 students. Recently, Edward Waters named this new building after Jenkins as a tribute to the tremendous progress made under his leadership.
Prior to his tenure at Edward Waters College, Jenkins served as a chancellor of Elizabeth City State University from 1977 to 1995, becoming the first alumnus to serve as its CEO. While there, he secured the support of the State Legislature of North Carolina for construction of six major buildings on campus. He also launched a $5 million capital campaign, completing the fundraising a year ahead of schedule. He was honored to have the then newly constructed science building named in his honor.
Jenkins earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Elizabeth City State University, teaching certification in biology from Howard University, and a master’s degree and doctoral degree in biology education from Purdue University. He is married to Dr. Faleese Moore-Jenkins, and they have three children: Dr. Lisa Lopez, attorney Ginger Cartwright, and Jimmy Jr., a graphic artist and college lecturer.
Dr. David A. Thomas
Dr. David A. Thomas is the 12th president of Morehouse College. Under his administration, the college raised $107 million last fiscal year—a giving total that is higher than any other president in the history of the college. A visionary leader, Dr. Thomas is working to make Morehouse one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country.
He has more than 30 years of experience in the business of higher education and is nationally respected as an expert in organizational change. He has served as the former dean of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and as a former business school professor at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Thomas is leading dynamic changes at Morehouse, which is mission-driven to produce leaders committed to community service. Under his guidance, the college has emerged as a national innovator in STEM education, has expanded its online class offerings from nine to more than 300 courses, and has increased its profile as the national epicenter for thought leadership on civil rights.
Dr. Thomas has used his platform as president of Morehouse to speak out against injustice as the nation faces two pandemics—COVID-19 and the persistence of systemic racism. He believes that Morehouse has a responsibility to help the nation to address the inequities caused by institutional racism, which have created disparities in income, employment, health, housing and educational opportunities for people of African descent.
Dr. Thomas has a doctoral degree in organizational behavior studies and a master of philosophy degree in organizational behavior, both from Yale University. He also has a master’s degree in organizational psychology from Columbia University and a bachelor of administrative sciences degree from Yale College. He is the co-author of three books.
Dr. Leroy Staggers
Dr. Leroy Staggers is the 10th president of Morris College. Joining the Morris College family in 1993, Dr. Staggers, whose passion for students’ intellectual growth, has provided dedicated service to Morris College for roughly 27 years. Most recently, he has served 16 years as the institution’s academic dean. As academic dean, Dr. Staggers was responsible for the supervision of all academic programs, all full-time and part-time faculty members as well as all academic support instructional programs. He worked very closely with former President Dr. Luns C. Richardson on all aspects of Morris College’s reaffirmation of accreditation efforts.
Before joining the Morris College family, he served as vice president of academic affairs, associate professor of English, and director of faculty development for Barber-Scotia College in Concord, NC. Additionally, he has served as instructor of English and reading at Alabama State University in Montgomery, AL, and chairman of the division of humanities and assistant professor of English at Voorhees College in Denmark, SC.
Dr. Staggers is a Salters, SC, native. He earned an undergraduate degree from Voorhees College and earned both masters and doctorate degrees from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA. Also, he completed the Harvard University Institute for Education Management Program, which addresses the critical stewardship role played by senior-level leaders at their respective institutions. It provides a core set of conceptual tools for understanding both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of effective institutional leadership. Dr. Leroy Staggers is a member of Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church in Sumter, SC, where he served for six years as chairman of the board of trustees of the Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church Christian and Academic School.
Under his leadership, Dr. Staggers has initiated the first phase of upgrading the campus broadband infrastructure, implemented a campus wide Hypersign digital communication system, as well as initiated a complete redesign of the Morris College website and has begun the process of a campus beautification to include a new digital marquee at the front of the campus. “Dr. Staggers has a deep passion for Morris College. We are confident in his ability to lead Morris into the future without losing the momentum built by our late and legendary president, Dr. Luns C. Richardson,” said Dr. James Blassingame, president, Baptist E&M Convention.
Leslie N. Pollard, Ph.D., D.Min.
Leslie Nelson Pollard serves as the 11th President of Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL.
President Pollard brings an extensive education to his service and calling. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Oakwood University (1978), a master of divinity degree from Andrews University Theological Seminary (1983), and the doctor of ministry degree in preaching and worship from Claremont School of Theology (1992).
Seeking higher-level fiscal and administrative enrichment, Pollard earned a master of business administration (MBA) from the La Sierra University School of Business in Organizational Management (2005).
To culminate his academic pursuits, he earned from Andrews University the doctor of philosophy degree in New Testament Language and Literature (2007), with a specialty in apocalyptic literature. Pollard is the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in academic content theology from Andrews University Theological Seminary.
Since 1978, Pollard’s leadership has reflected local, national, and international service. He has served as senior pastor for a number of large church complexes, including the Kansas Avenue (Riverside, CA), Berean (Los Angeles, CA) and the Oakwood University Seventh-day Adventist churches. Additionally, he has been a youth pastor, a university chaplain, a healthcare program administrator, and an educational administrator.
As a clergyman, Pollard has functioned as an evangelist, professor, ministerial educator, and leadership development facilitator to the 17-million-member General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; for example, he conducts leadership and mission conferences regularly for SDA and non-SDA audiences. Pollard has spoken or presented in 44 countries. These environments are as diverse as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, England, Germany, Ghana, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Israel, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad, Turkey, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Pollard remains a productive and engaged scholar. He is editor and contributing author to the groundbreaking volume on leadership and cultural competence entitled “Embracing Diversity: How to Reach People of all Cultures.” Since its publication, Embracing Diversity has been translated into Spanish, German, and French and has become a global text for trans-cultural leadership education. Pollard also writes regularly for the Adventist Review, Ministry, and Message magazines. He is a member of the editorial board of The Journal of Applied Christian Leadership of Andrews University. Pollard has published numerous articles and/or book chapters on the subjects of leadership, cultural competence, and mission.
Since 1979, Pollard has been married to the former Dr. Prudence LaBeach. The Pollards have two daughters, who are also Oakwood graduates.
The Pollards have received numerous acknowledgments across their 35 years of professional service. They were honored in April of 2009 with the Oakwood Alumni Association’s Certificate of Merit. In April 2010, the Pollards were honored at the President’s Donor Breakfast for their annual financial contributions to Oakwood’s needy students across each of the last 12 years. The Pollards are both lifetime members of the National Oakwood University Alumni Association.
Dr. Roderick L. Smothers
Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., was named 14th president of Philander Smith University on October 1, 2014, and began his tenure in January 2015. A dynamic scholar, transformative leader and forward-thinking visionary, Smothers is committed to building upon the institution’s strong and historic legacy, while advancing its mission to new levels of excellence. His focus is on strengthening academic programs, enhancing the college’s local and national presence, growing enrollment, increasing donor giving, and better equipping graduates with the qualifications, skills and resources that will allow them to compete in the globalized 21st century marketplace.
Previously, Smothers served as vice president for institutional advancement at two historically black universities: Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, TX, and Langston University in Langston, OK, where he was responsible for university development and fundraising, sponsored programs, marketing and public relations, external affairs, community engagement and alumni affairs. As an accomplished fundraiser, he has worked extensively with individuals, non-profit organizations, corporations, and foundations along with federal, regional and state agencies, and holds a cumulative fundraising/grant writing record that exceeds $60 million.
While at Langston, Smothers also served as the associate vice president for academic affairs, assistant dean of the school of education and behavioral sciences and assistant professor of education. Years prior, he was on the faculty of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and was dean of enrollment management at South Louisiana Community College in Lafayette. His higher education career began at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he spent eight years as an administrator in academic and student affairs. As a higher education professional, he is also experienced in conducting scientific and applied research, facilitating data-driven, community-based interventions, and training educators aspiring to leadership roles in elementary and secondary school administration. His research agenda includes the past, present and future of historically black colleges and universities; the transformation of toxic urban school districts, strengthening the secondary and post-secondary educational pipelines for African American males; effective mentoring programs; the access dilemma in higher education for minority students; and the effectiveness of state merit-based tuition programs.
A native of Vidalia, LA, Smothers earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in public administration (with a concentration in higher education administration), and a doctoral degree in educational leadership, research and counseling, all from LSU. He also holds a certification in fundraising management from The Fund Raising School at The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Initiative. Additionally, he has served as a U.S. Air Force reservist with active-duty time spent during Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
Smothers holds membership in several professional organizations, including the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), American Association of Governing Boards (AGB), Research Association for Minority Professors (RAMP) and the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). A strong youth, community and civic proponent, he currently serves on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas Board of Directors. He formerly served on the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., National Board of Directors as its Southwestern regional vice president, and remains active at the local, regional and national levels. He looks forward to becoming engaged in service with the Central Arkansas community. In his leisure time, Smothers enjoys college sports, fishing, reading and traveling. He is the proud father of five children: Roderick Jr., Joshua, T’Keira, Wilson and T’Keyah.
Dr. Ivy R. Taylor
Dr. Ivy Ruth Taylor is the 12th president of Rust College; the first woman to lead Rust College as President.
A native of Queens, New York, Taylor has spent twenty years in San Antonio, Texas, leading efforts to connect people to opportunity. She has been an educator, affordable housing advocate, and elected official. Ivy served as Mayor of San Antonio, Texas for three years and as a member of the San Antonio City Council for five years.
Taylor’s career began as a City of San Antonio employee. She then served as Vice President of Merced Housing Texas where she worked to improve family stability for low-income apartment community residents. During her time working with residents of those apartments, she became convinced of the need to provide more access to higher education to help low income families in achieving stability. She spent six years as a lecturer at the University of Texas at San Antonio in the Public Administration Department. Taylor also served on the San Antonio Planning Commission and was previously a Commissioner for the San Antonio Urban Renewal Agency.
While serving as council member, Dr. Taylor led a significant community revitalization effort. Through her leadership, the Eastside, a distressed area of San Antonio, was awarded over $50 million in grants. This effort included a large scale community plan, and execution with many partners that resulted in new affordable housing, new educational and community programs and enhanced public investments in an area that had suffered from disinvestment.
In the summer of 2014, she was appointed as Mayor of San Antonio, per the charter’s requirements following a vacancy of the mayor’s office. In 2015, she was elected by the citizens of San Antonio. The 2014 appointment singled her out as the first African American to serve as Mayor of San Antonio. It also made San Antonio the largest city in the United States to have an African American woman serving as mayor at that time.
From day one in the Mayor’s office, Taylor showed her willingness to tackle tough issues, listen to the citizens and do what was best for the community. Accomplishments during her mayoral tenure include:
Dr. Taylor has been committed to improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged people. She has worked on many partnerships with educational organizations including local school districts, charter schools, community colleges and four-year colleges. During her six years at the University of Texas at San Antonio, she engaged her undergraduate and graduate students in community initiatives. She also developed and implemented a professional development program for Black employees at the city, county, and other public agencies.
Taylor is a positive community role model and has worked in partnership with many community agencies to improve outcomes for families. She served on the Board of Directors of Healthy Futures of Texas, which works to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy in San Antonio and Texas. She also served on the Board of Directors of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of South Texas, which provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one to one mentoring relationships. Additional past service includes stints on the boards of the San Antonio Education Partnership, Project Quest, San Antonio Zoological Association and Haven for Hope.
In 1988, Taylor arrived at Yale University as a first-generation college student. She majored in American Studies and graduated in 1992. She also obtained a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1998. She is currently enrolled in an Executive Doctorate program in Higher Education Management at the University of Pennsylvania and will receive an Ed.D. in August 2020. Her dissertation research focused on board governance at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Ivy credits her academic success to the strong foundation, faith, and values instilled in her by her mother, a North Carolina native, who never had the chance to pursue her educational dreams.
While serving as Mayor and supporting the UNCF, Taylor joined the Board of Trustees for Huston-Tillotson University, an HBCU in Austin, Texas. This sparked additional interest in higher education and supporting HBCUs. She is also on the board of the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, a minority-serving institution. Taylor is committed to changing lives, improving communities and reducing economic inequality through working in higher education.
She currently works as a consultant with J.L. Powers and Associates. She relishes time with her family, which includes her husband of 20 years, Rodney and her daughter, Morgan, a high school student.
Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail
Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail is the 13th President of Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC. Prior to joining Saint Augustine’s, Dr. McPhail served as President and CEO of the McPhail Group, LLC and a nationally recognized thought leader in higher education. She is the founding professor and director of the Community College Leadership Doctoral Program at Morgan State University. Dr. McPhail is the former president of Cypress College in California. She also recently served as a professor of practice at Kansas State University in the John E. Roueche Center for Community College Leadership Development. She is a Certified Associate for Emergenetics International, which helps organizations, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, achieve desired results including increased efficiency and improved communication through solutions centered on the Emergenetics Profile and tools.
After multiple decades in higher education, Dr. McPhail served as a leadership coach with Achieving the Dream with a mission to help leaders shape the teaching and learning environment by engaging, aligning, and inspiring people to act. She has developed proven coaching and consulting methodologies and leadership programs that are now used by numerous institutions to help their leaders drive results.
Dr. McPhail is the recipient of the 2018 Diverse Champions Award from Diverse Issues in Higher Education, the 2010 AACC National Leadership Award, and the 2008 League of Innovation’s Terry O’Banion Leadership Award. She served on the Advisory Council for the Community College Survey of Student Engagement and the National Center for Postsecondary Research at the Community College Research Center.
She served on the board of directors for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Council for the Study of Community Colleges. Dr. McPhail has also served as the affirmative action officer for Division J of the American Education Research Association and on the editorial board for the Community College Journal of Research and Practice. She is the editor for one of AACC’s best-selling publications, Establishing and Sustaining Learning Centered Community Colleges, the coauthor of the best-selling Practical Leadership in Community Colleges with Dr. George Boggs, and author of Leadership Tune-Up: Twelve Steps to Becoming a More Successful and Innovative Leader.
Dr. McPhail’s research interests lie in the intersection of three fields of higher education: leadership, governance, and learning.
Dr. Gregory J. Vincent
Dr. Gregory J. Vincent is an award-winning educator, executive, acclaimed civil rights attorney, and community leader who serves as the 21st president of Talladega College located in Talladega, Alabama. Dr. Vincent recently served as Professor of Educational Policy and Law, Inaugural Executive Director of the Education and Civil Rights Initiative, and Program Chair of the Ph.D. Senior Diversity Officer Specialization at the University of Kentucky. His personal and educational achievements and career milestones demonstrate his commitment to education, which included serving as Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement and W.K. Kellogg Professor at the University of Texas at Austin from 2005 to 2017. He also held executive leadership positions and professorships at several flagship universities. In addition, Dr. Vincent served as Grand Sire Archon (Chief Executive Officer and Chairman) of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated (The Boule’), which is the oldest African American Greek- letter organization.
We can trace Dr. Vincent’s foundational and educational roots to New York, New York. The grandson of Caribbean immigrants, Gregory’s father, Cyril Vincent, worked as an electrical engineer and executive. His mother, Gloria, served as a counselor and was elected community school board member for the Bronx School Board District 8 (1970-1983). Both Cyril and Gloria removed the glass ceiling, becoming first-generation college graduates. In addition, his parents bestowed three priceless gifts, unconditional love, a love of reading, and a church home, St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church in Harlem, where he could start his own journey of faith.
Gregory attended New York City public schools and graduated from Bronx High School of Science. He received a full academic scholarship to attend Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where he exemplified the term of scholar-athlete and competed on the school’s basketball, cross country, and track teams. Gregory continued and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Economics. While there, he received the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award. The award recognizes a student who exhibits exceptional leadership qualities that honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He also served as the 16th President of his Alma Mater. Dr. Vincent earned a Juris Doctor degree from The Ohio State University Mortiz College of Law, where he serves on the National Advisory Council and received the 2012 Distinguished Community Service Award. In addition, Dr. Vincent earned a Doctor of Education from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was named Educator of the Year in 2016.
In addition to his distinguished career in academia, Dr. Vincent is a civil rights attorney. He served as the assistant attorney general in the Office of the Ohio Attorney General and successfully argued several major civil rights cases before the Supreme Court of Ohio. Those impressive wins propelled him to Director for Regional and Legal affairs for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and vice president and lead counsel for Bank One. Later, Vincent served as the spokesperson for the University of Texas in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (UT) United States Supreme Court Case, which held that the race-conscious admissions program used by UT was lawful under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Dr. Vincent is also a successful entrepreneur founding Gregory Vincent Law, an Ohio law firm focusing on civil rights, education, and employment. In addition, he co-founded and, from 2018-to 2022, served as CEO of Vincent Strategies, a global diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting firm.
When Dr. Vincent is not in a class, court, or boardroom, you can find him investing his time, talents, network, and resources to help others. He has chaired multiple boards, including the Austin Area Urban League, Communities in Schools of Central Texas, and the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Also, as a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, Dr. Vincent chaired the fraternity’s Commission on Racial Justice.
Several organizations and institutions have recognized Dr. Vincent for his distinguished community service. He received a commission as a Kentucky Colonel, the highest honor bestowed by the state’s governor for outstanding community service, in October 2019. In addition, Mayor Steven Adler and the City Council of Austin, Texas, proclaimed June 13, 2017, Dr. Gregory J. Vincent Day in Austin, Texas. Similar honors were bestowed on July 15, 2018, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Louisville, Kentucky, on October 27, 2019. Dr. Vincent was the 2022 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Black Professional Alliance (BPA) and has been named the 2022 recipient of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award from The Ohio State University Mortiz College of Law.
The old saying goes, beside every great man stands a phenomenal woman, and Kim Wilson Vincent, a community leader, award-winning attorney, and business powerhouse in her own right, has partnered with Gregory throughout this incredible journey. Kim is an attorney, entrepreneur, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Expert. She is the founder and owner of Wilson Vincent Law, PLLC, CEO of Vincent Government Solutions, and Co-Founder of Vincent Strategies, LCC, where she now serves as Chief Executive Officer. In 2017, The Texas Governor’s Office commissioned Attorney Vincent a Yellow Rose of Texas for her outstanding work in child advocacy, leadership in the arts, and distinguished community service. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated and The Links Incorporated.
Together, the successful couple are the proud parents of six successful children, two daughters and four sons, of which three are HBCU graduates. Continuing Dr. Vincent’s legacy of scholarship, leadership, and community are Ashleigh (Louisiana State University ‘13, Xavier University New Orleans M.Ed. ‘17); Camille (Spelman College ‘14, Georgetown University M.A ‘21, Howard University Ph.D. Student); Gregory Jr. (the University of Texas at Austin ’15); Raymond (Morehouse College ’21); Shawn (Berklee College of Music ’23); and, Cameron (Lake Travis High School ’23).
Dwight J. Fennell is the 23rd president of Texas College (Tyler, TX). He is a native of Miami, FL. Following graduation from high school, he immediately enrolled in Saint Augustine’s College (now Saint Augustine’s University) in Raleigh, NC, where he completed the baccalaureate degree in history and government. He pursued and completed the master of arts degree in history at Atlanta University, and a second master of science degree in education at Florida International University in Miami, FL.
He received the education specialist and doctor of philosophy degrees from Florida State University in Tallahassee. He has completed post-doctoral work in educational leadership with the American Council on Education as an ACE Fellow at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. Fennell began his professional career in higher education at Florida International University, where he worked in various capacities including community service initiatives, adult and continuing education and as assistant director of the honors program. He also worked at Florida Atlantic University as director of the Student Retention Program.
After leaving the State University System of Florida, Fennell taught at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, and later at Saint Augustine’s College (his alma mater). While at Saint Augustine’s College, he became a tenured associate professor of history and later vice president for academic affairs, a position he held for seven of the 11 years he spent at the institution. Fennell relocated to Dallas in 1998 to become provost of Paul Quinn College with the responsibilities of both academic affairs and student affairs. He was appointed interim president of the college in 2001, and in 2002, he received the unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees to become the 32nd president of Paul Quinn College.
During his tenure as president, the college experienced an increase in enrollment, increased student retention, enhanced community collaborations, increased funding of student scholarships, renovations to the campus buildings and increase in the college’s endowment. Fennell served as Executive Director of Project Development in 2005 at The Potter’s House Incorporated with the ministry of Bishop T.D. Jakes for two years. He held the overall responsibilities for design, development and construction of Capella Park, a residential subdivision featuring more than 1,000 single-family homes. He also had responsibility for the administrative oversight of Clay Academy, a private, Christian college preparatory school. Fennell led the preparatory school to accreditation, scholarship funding, enrollment and grade level growth.
As president of Texas College, Fennell leads with a focus on “student centeredness.” This means that his primary direction is with creating an educational environment and processes that lead to student learning in an atmosphere that is conducive for such. Fennell’s approach to leadership is that of “shared governance,” and he holds his team to accountability, integrity and productivity. Fennell’s “student centeredness” focus has been embraced by faculty, staff and students. The results of this focus have led to facility improvements, academic program refinement, accreditation enhancements, enrollment growth, and growth in the college’s endowment along with enhanced relationships with the local communities.
Fennell is married to Angelia, and they have one son, Dwight, Jr.
Dr. Ronnie Hopkins
The Voorhees College Board of Trustees named Dr. Ronnie Hopkins to serve as the 10th president of the institution, effective July 9, 2021.
“Dr. Hopkins brings a wealth of higher-education experience, expansive leadership, fundraising acumen and vast institutional knowledge. His appointment perfectly positions the college to advance and accelerate the current momentum and focus on enrollment, innovation and fiscal stability. His remarkable demeanor, skills, prudent judgement and interpersonal skills will be a great asset. We welcome him and look forward to his leadership as we ‘begin, believe and become’ in this next chapter,” said Dr. Traci Young-Cooper, vice chairperson of the board.
Prior to being named the president of Voorhees, Hopkins served as interim president and before that he was the institution’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. He is the accreditation liaison and a tenured professor of English.
Hopkins has been in public and higher education for nearly 30 years, serving in senior leadership roles and instructional positions that involve supervision of faculty, staff, students, budgeting, and strategic planning. He has authored more than 10 research articles and received $30 million in grant funding to advance higher education priorities.
Hopkins has conducted international scholarly research and made presentations in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa; Buea, Cameroon, Central West Africa; the University of Technology at Quibdo, Choco, South America; Guilan, Beijing, and Shanghai, Republic of China; University of Ghana-Legon, Accra, Ghana, West Africa; Merida, Mexico; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and, Cape Town, South Africa.
He actively serves as an Off-site and On-site Reaffirmation Committee Evaluator for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. He is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Possible Worlds Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides full-service career strategic directions and opportunities in education and employment for disenfranchised citizens impacted by homelessness, incarceration, and HIV/AIDS.
Before coming to Voorhees, he served at Benedict College as founding dean of the Freshman Institute and the School of Honors. Other positions in which he served at Benedict included professor of English, chair of the Department of English, Foreign Languages, and Mass Communication, and dean of the School of Continuing Education, Graduate Studies and Lifelong Learning.
Hopkins earned doctoral and master’s degrees in English from Michigan State University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a secondary teaching certification from North Carolina Central University. He also completed postdoctoral studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received a Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa from Saint Monica University in Buea, Cameroon, Central West Africa.
Hopkins is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Bible Way Church of Atlas Road, and the Class of 2020 Executive Leadership Academy sponsored by the American Academic Leadership Institute for preparation of experienced college executive officers to become successful presidents and chancellors.
For more information, contact the Office of Communications at 803.780.1191 or at email@example.com.
Dr. Herman J. Felton, Jr.
Herman J. Felton, Jr., is the 17th president of Wiley University.
Prior to joining Wiley in December 2017, Dr. Felton served as the president of Wilberforce University, the nation’s oldest private HBCU and UNCF-member institution, since July 2016. During his tenure, he successfully secured $3.8 million in programmatic grants to strengthen the institution’s master’s degree program; increased career placement through advisement; and created an intramural complex with a $50,000 grant secured from the Home Depot Retool Your School Campus Improvement Program. As a result of Dr. Felton’s engagement efforts, alumni support grew significantly, with $458,000 in gifts being garnered at the 2017 Wilberforce University National Alumni Association Conference. Dr. Felton also secured $350,000 to create the Dr. Mark and Shelly Wilson Center for Entrepreneurship, Social Good and Transformational Leadership.
Before his appointment to Wilberforce University, Dr. Felton served as senior vice president, chief operating officer and vice president of institutional advancement for Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC. He also was the director of development while serving as a lecturer in the Government, Law, and International Affairs Department at Murray State University in Murray, KY.
Dr. Felton earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from UNCF-member institution Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, FL, and earned his J.D. from the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
He is co-founder of the Higher Education Leadership Foundation (H.E.L.F.), an organization ensuring that a pipeline of transformational, highly skilled and principled leaders are identified and cultivated to meet the needs, challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Dr. Felton served in the United States Marine Corps for eight years.
Dr. C. Reynold Verret
Prior to his appointment at Xavier, Dr. Verret served as provost and chief academic officer for Savannah State University. He served also as provost at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania and as dean of the Misher College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. At these institutions, he led the revisions of general education curricula, oversaw accreditations, developed international programs, established collaborative agreements with neighboring institutions at the K-12 and higher education levels, instituted new state-approved academic programs, promoted interdisciplinary efforts between the humanities and sciences, and planned new facilities. Dr. Verret also served on faculty at Tulane University and also at Clark Atlanta University, where he was chair of the department of chemistry for many years.
As a scientist, Dr. Verret’s research interests have included the cytotoxicity of immune cells, biosensors and biomarkers. He has published in the fields of biological chemistry and immunology. At the University of the Sciences, he led a faculty effort establishing a knowledge network on social exclusion in support of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health within the World Health Organization.
Throughout, Dr. Verret works to enhance student achievement and progression to degree. He has contributed to increasing the number of U.S. students pursuing degrees in STEM disciplines and continuing to advanced study. This has included initiatives to mitigate the shortage of qualified science and math teachers in K-12.
He has served on many professional organizations and advisory bodies, including those of the National Institutes of Health, the Board of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and the Georgia Coastal Indicators Coalition. He has received awards and fellowships for teaching and scholarship.
Dr. Verret received his undergraduate degree cum laude in biochemistry from Columbia University and Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. To these, were added postdoctoral experiences as fellow at the Howard Hughes Institute for Immunology at Yale and the Center for Cancer Research at MIT.