A Message from the President
Dear Tougaloo College Family,
Tougaloo College is a remarkable institution with enviable academic excellence and activism legacy. Its impact on our alumni, the state of Mississippi, and our nation is immeasurable, and I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead this historic institution. As such, it is bittersweet to announce that I will step down as president of Tougaloo College, effective June 30, 2023.
I am overjoyed by all that my administrative team and I have accomplished since my arrival in July 2019. While navigating through a devastating pandemic and combating record-breaking low enrollment for HBCUs nationwide, Tougaloo College made significant strides. I celebrate this progress with our entire Tougaloo family, including our students, faculty, staff, Board of Trustees, and alumni. Together, we have:
- Navigated through a devastating COVID-19 pandemic, requiring us to pivot to remote teaching and learning, adjust finances to ensure continuity in cash flow, and implement COVID prevention practices to manage all teaching, learning, work, and other activities safely and orderly.
- Successfully weathered a cyber-attack that attempted to disrupt and access data, functions, or other restricted areas of the College's network system.
- Improved our national ranking. In 2021, US News & World Report ranked Tougaloo No. 2 among the top three National Liberal Arts Colleges; advanced Tougaloo from No. 16 to No. 12 as one of the country’s top best Historically Black Colleges and Universities; and named Tougaloo No. 3 as a social mobility performer among National Liberal Arts Colleges.
- Created opportunities for more high schoolers to access college courses. The Board of Trustees approved the Dual Enrollment/Dual Credit policy created to increase the number of high school students who simultaneously earn college credit while in high school, paving the way for more than 50 high school students to obtain their associate degrees while earning their high school diploma at Tougaloo College.
- Developed new academic programs in Cybersecurity, Data Science, and Business Accounting to grow enrollment, maintain relevancy in the curriculum, and differentiate the institution.
- Celebrated winning teams. The Men's Basketball team celebrated winning two back-to-back Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Championships, and the College recognized their achievement with ring ceremonies.
- Launched the Electronic Sports (Esports) video competition program, winning Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 championships.
- Added women's flag football, men's and women's soccer, and competitive cheer and dance to the athletic program.
- Improved our facilities. The College invested over $4 million to renovate/upgrade campus facilities, including Galloway Hall, New Women's, Renner, and AA Branch Residence Halls, Jamerson Hall, Zenobia Coleman Library, Pope Cottage, George A. and Ruth B. Owens Health and Wellness Center, and Woodworth Chapel. In addition, renovations are underway to upgrade Warren Hall Cafeteria and install additional windows in Woodworth Chapel.
- Consulted with a landscape architect to develop a plan that enhanced the College's outdoor spaces, including trees, plantings, walks, and landscapes.
- Added exterior banners and signage for major campus facilities.
- Strengthened our financial standing. In 2021, Tougaloo made the Top 10 Forbes List of Achievers and Most Improved Colleges Financially.
- Been featured by Philanthropic People, which highlighted Tougaloo in its February 28, 2022 issue for the gift of $10 million from Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, and his wife, film producer Patricia Quillin.
- Been highlighted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which featured Tougaloo College in its June 1, 2021 issue for the $6 million gift from Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.
- Attracted national philanthropists (MacKenize Scott, Reed Hastings, Patty Quillens, and others including several anonymous donors, one who donated$2.5 million) to the College whose investments afforded the institution to grow the endowment by more than 50 percent from $14 million in 2019 to $31 million in 2023.
- Established an endowed scholarship for male students. I gifted $50,000 to the College to honor my husband's legacy, Mr. Wayne Walters, establishing an endowed scholarship to support black and brown males majoring in STEM.
- Launched the inaugural Tougaloo College President's Circle honoring donors who have given one million dollars or more to Tougaloo College in their lifetime.
- Launched the 2021-2026 strategic plan, Preserving the Past, Advancing Tomorrow.
- Celebrated the College's sesquicentennial with events and activities commemorating lifelong traditions, honoring liberal arts education, recognizing inspiring visionaries and fearless leaders who made the institution's progress possible, acknowledged donors, named several interior, and external spaces on Tougaloo's campus.
- Nurtured our social justice mission by collaborating with the Episcopal Church on a proposal to build the Tougaloo College Center for Racial Justice and Equity. This world-class center would combine groundbreaking academic research and meaningful scholarship in ways that allow Tougaloo to make substantial contributions to creating a more just and equitable society. The Center would provide a home for the college's Civil Rights documents and the Tougaloo College Archives. Most importantly, this center would enable the college to attract new students and scholars, develop new parts of our campus footprint, and advance our legacy of advocating for social change. The Board is exploring this option further.
- Made history again, becoming one of nine HBCUs in the Howard University-led UARC consortium focusing on tactical autonomy, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, machine learning, and K-12 activities to attract students to STEM field careers. Tougaloo is the only four-year liberal arts institution associated with a UARC, collaborating with Virginia State University, Hampton University, Delaware State University, Bowie State University, Tuskegee University, Florida Memorial University, Norfolk State University, and Jackson State University in research endeavors in collaboration with the United States Department of Defense.
- Unveiled the Board-approved new trademarked logo, seal, and other marks designed to reflect the College's forward momentum, solidify the institution's name recognition among the nation's best colleges and universities, and build pride and visibility.
- Partnered with the Collegiate Licensing Company and Logo Brands Design Approval and Royalties to protect, promote, grow, and maximize our potential to sell our brands.
- Digitized 100 percent of the College's American art collection through the support of the Henry Luce Foundation.
- Partnered with the United Negro College Fund and the Educational Advisory Board (EAB) through the Transformation Grant to strengthen our capacity to grow the College's enrollment. As a result, this Spring 2023, we successfully disrupted the application lag, enabling the institution to increase the number of freshman students applying to Tougaloo by 11.74 percent and increase transfer applications by 69.47 percent for Fall 2023. This Fall 2023 Freshman class includes 7 of the 15 Valedictorians and Salutatorians of the Jackson Public School District Class of 2023.
- Partnered with Hyatt-Fennell Executive Search Firm to recruit qualified leaders to fill three executive-level positions.
- Partnered with national industry technology leader Ellucian to strengthen the technological infrastructure. As a result, our technology is more robust across the board, and this partnership is a huge step forward as we make inroads to launch Tougaloo Online, prepare the College for a stronger future, and evolve to provide the best technology to the campus community.
As I reflect upon my time as President, I wish to thank the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students, and alumni for their support. It has been the honor and privilege of a lifetime to represent this distinguished institution through my interactions with several national leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to represent Tougaloo College.
Our beloved Eagle Queen is magnificent to behold. Tougaloo has a rich history and a promising future. I will always reflect on my tenure at the College with pride and root for its continued success as a passionate supporter.