― Nelson Mandela
December 5, 2014
As we enter this wonderful holiday season, we reflect on our blessings and how God continues to smile on Tougaloo. We likewise are reminded of those who contribute to the vitality and viability of this special place with grateful hearts. We extend warm holiday greetings from our hearts and hearth to yours. We wish you all the joys of the season – love, happiness, hope, and peace.
We are experiencing an exciting academic year. Our fall semester began in an encouraging way with an increase in student enrollment, as many institutions continue to struggle with the reality of declining enrollment in this tough environment for higher education. Our Enrollment Management team is ever vigilant in their efforts to attract the quality of students who will thrive in our academically rigorous environment of higher expectations, opportunity, and promise.
We were pleased to welcome new faculty and staff to what we refer to as the Tougaloo family. This simply means that we wear the brand of unity for Tougaloo, understand that we are part of the whole – each part is significant in achieving our mission and desired outcomes for our students, and support one another to ensure that our Tougaloo stands and prospers. Whether we are trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students, or alumni, in the collective – we are Tougaloo.
Our national rankings remain very good and competitively on par or higher than many better resourced institutions. The U.S. News & World Report lists Tougaloo College among the top fifteen best HBCUs in the nation. A new college ranking index done by the Educate to Career rated Tougaloo number 23 out of the 1,224 public and private institutions included in the survey for economic value with degree added. Tougaloo also received the Best Value School Award, which recognizes schools that offer quality education at an affordable cost and are highly regarded by their students. The representative from the organization, in presenting the award, shared with me the in-depth process they conduct with alumni and students to make the decision of the institutions to be recognized, pointing out that this is an award institutions cannot buy; they have to earn it.
The College has been approved to offer graduate degree education. The first two graduate degree programs will be offered through the Division of Education – the Master of Arts degree in Child Development and Master of Arts degree in Teaching, which will begin in Spring 2015 and Fall 2015. We are expanding our academic offerings to include degree completion programs and professional certification programs for the nontraditional learners through a Weekend College under the auspices of the Division of Continuing Education.
We have been successful in securing grant funding to expand the learning and living opportunities for our students. The Mellon Foundation recently approved funding for the Digital Humanities program that will facilitate the enhanced use of technology in teaching and learning. A recent partnership with Mississippi State University has been formed in STEM education. The Delta Health Partners program, operating under the auspices of the Owens Health and Wellness Center, was upgraded from a Level I program to a Level II and funded at $1.2 million yearly for the next five years. This program was begun in 1998 and addresses our service mission and focuses on health and social issues in the Mississippi Delta. Also, as part of our strategic initiative to create a healthy campus and promote healthy lifestyle, we have constructed a Fitness Trail which opened earlier this fall. Known as TC Squared, it was funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.
The College also continues to be recognized for its commitment to the historic preservation of its properties. We received three awards from the Mississippi Heritage Trust: 1) the Heritage Restoration Award for the restoration of the Medgar Evers Home Museum; 2) the Exterior Restoration of the Mansion; and 3) the Trustees Award for Organizational Achievement, recognizing overall commitment to historic preservation.
The College was the host site for Mississippi events to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer, along with the Mississippi NAACP, Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, and SNCC. More than 3,000 people from across the globe assembled on our historic campus to commemorate, celebrate, and rededicate themselves to the posterity and preservations of our democratic ideals through purposeful plans. Tougaloo reaffirms its commitment to justice, the ideals of a more fair, just, and inclusive world for all humankind and to educate today’s students for democracy in their time.
We also celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Brown-Tougaloo Partnership with activities on both campuses. Among a number of celebratory events, President Paxson and I reaffirmed our institutions’ commitment to the Partnership by resigning the proclamation that was first enacted in 1964.
Our Concert Choir will perform in a televised Christmas concert at the Greater Imani Church in Memphis, Tennessee featuring Kirk Whalen and Gerald Albright, on Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. If you are in the area, please join us for this exciting event.
Our quality continues to be validated, evidencing a continuing legacy of excellence, relevance, and influence. It is our hope that the work we are doing in our laboratories of knowledge to create a better world and the joys of this holiday season inspire you to invest in Tougaloo College. Together we can lead the change in 2015.