During this amazing time of the year, we pause for a moment to warmly embrace the spirit of hope, peace, and goodwill that is so evident during this special holiday season. It is also a time, as the year ends, that we also reflect on our challenges and accomplishments with hearts of gratitude. As always, my thoughts go toward the heart of our mission - educating and graduating the women and men who we will empower to change the world. The business of education is about the creation of the future. Every day, at our colleges and universities around the globe, we prepare and inspire those upon whom we will depend to lead in the future and manage the processes that will impact our well-being. What an awesome and rewarding responsibility!
We are proud of our sustaining legacy, spanning 144 years, of producing outstanding leaders, who have contributed immensely to a global democracy. We see the results of our collective investments, paying dividends through the lives and good works of our alumni who are the educators, physicians, policy makers, lawyers, business leaders, scientists, and other public servants, as they use their education to effect constructive change in our global society. Our well-established legacy of excellence, relevance, and influence that continues today is as impactful in this 21st century as it was during the 19th and 20th centuries. A Tougaloo education is indeed timeless and still serves as any student’s passport to success.
Two of our current students, Melvin Smith, class of 2014, and Margie Rayford, a junior, recently won 1st place awards at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) based on their research in the fields of Public Health and Epidemiology, respectively. This conference was attended by over 350 institutions, ranging from small private colleges to Ivy League schools and major medical and research schools. More than 1,500 students from across the United States participated and competed in poster and oral presentations in twelve disciplines of biomedical and behavioral sciences, including mathematics. Melvin and Margie were exceptionally outstanding among a sea of other outstanding students. We congratulate them for their strong performances, as well as the dedicated work of their professors and advisors.
Bradley Hall, class of 2014, is a two-time 2nd place winner in the Black College Quiz Competition. In Jeopardy style fashion, this competition brings together some of the brightest minds from our HBCUs to showcase their knowledge of a wide array of subject areas.
As you can see, the legacy continues. From one of our first baccalaureate degree recipients, Traverse Crawford, the grandfather of famed actor Avery Brooks to Dr. Aaron Shirley ’55, founder of the Jackson Medical Mall and the 2013 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award from the National Black Alumni Hall of Fame to astrophysicist, Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi ’91, to White House Fellow, Shirlethia Franklin ’04, to the amazingly gifted class of 2014, Tougaloo College has consistently produced America’s leadership class and moved America toward a more perfect union.
A small college’s capacity to produce a rocket scientist is no small feat. Alumnus Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi recently visited the College as a Presidential Lecturer. He is a native of Heidelberg, Mississippi and an internationally recognized astrophysicist, inventor, science communicator, and humanitarian. He earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University and engaged in post doctoral work at Applied Materials and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is the author of over 40 scientific publications and holds eight patents. Regardless of the generation of our students or their disciplines, our graduates excel in their chosen professions and strive to make the world a better place.
Constancy and change define how Tougaloo operates today. This is never more evident than our recent approval by COCSACS to offer master level education. We plan to offer the master of arts in teaching, effective the fall of 2014, followed by the master of arts in child development in January 2015. We congratulate the Division of Education for leading the way to make this happen.
As this calendar year winds down, I hope you will join other alumni and friends who make an annual gift to the 1869 Fund. The holiday season is a perfect time to make a year-end gift to Tougaloo College. Your gift is important in making a collective contribution to our work to help create the future. It helps us address some of the most pressing challenges that we confront in educating today’s students for tomorrow’s leadership. We need adequate resources for scholarships, faculty development, campus technology and facilities, and expanded student learning opportunities like study abroad initiatives.
At a time when the value of a four year college education is being constantly questioned, and students and their families are struggling to finance their education and make the right choices, your gift will provide college access to students who are teetering on the edge of hope. Gifts from alumni and friends aid us in assuring our students, prospective students, and their families that Tougaloo is indeed worth the investment. Your gift of any amount provides important enhancements for our learning environment and is gratefully appreciated.
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a very blessed holiday season, filled with the promises of peace, happiness, and prosperity.