Presidential Updates

Greetings again from Huntsville, and the beautiful campus of Oakwood University. Spring break has come and gone, and our Oakwood students are now engaged in their final push to close out the semester strong.
Please pray for our graduating seniors who are working tirelessly to make sure that all of their classes are successfully completed.
We are also moving toward an outstanding Alumni Homecoming Weekend, during which you will hear more about the success of our alumni, as well as the breakthroughs occurring at “our dear Oakwood.” In the meantime, we want to share a few updates with you: President’s Staff Recognitions — In 2017, we implemented the President’s Staff Recognition Awards to recognize employees on behalf of the Board of Trustees and the University Administration. This has been one of the high points of my service at Oakwood. During the President’s Staff Meeting on March 11, we recognized the excellent work of our staff members. Oakwood has historically employed a strong cohort of dedicated employees, and on Monday we were happy to acknowledge the contributions of Miriam Battles, Gail Caldwell, Deborah Claborn, Lisa Dalrymple, Ph.D., Sanitha Douglas, and Isaac Ibarra.  
“From Huntsville to the Hill” — During the week of March 4-8, I had the privilege of working the halls of Congress with other UNCF Presidents as we pressed lawmakers to increase HBCU Title III funding by $100,000,000 in the coming fiscal year. Numerous lawmakers joined our gathering, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA-12; Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX-18, and Congresswoman Alma Adams, D-NC-12. We met with the bipartisan HBCU Caucus to solidify a congressional agenda which will bless Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Stay tuned for more information and developments.

UNCF 75 th Anniversary National A Mind Is …Gala in Washington DC — The highlight of the entire week of UNCF meetings occurred at the annual UNCF Gala on Thursday evening at the Marriott Marquis. In the presence of many legends of the civil rights movement, more than 2000 attendees, dressed in their finest, paid tribute to the work of the UNCF. I was grateful and humbled to have offered the invocation for the entire event. We were also honored to have numerous alumni and supporters representing us at our Oakwood table.

Aeolians Shine at the ACDA — Amidst all of the praise showered on the Aeolians during their appearance at the American Choral Directors Association in Kansas City on the weekend of February 24-28, I have remained deeply reflective over what I experienced as a part of the 5000- member audience of musical professionals. I have one word for the experience—SUPERNATURAL! The 25-minute choral set themed “The Promised Land” was nothing short of breathtaking. By taking us on a journey through genres—classical, jazz, and even Broadway–the Aeolians demonstrated a range of musicianship that left the audience first speechless, and finally ecstatic. A four-minute standing ovation crowned the performance. Congratulations to Dr. Ferdinand, and the Oakwood University Aeolians.

Finally, Black History Month — While we have had many outstanding Black History Month programs over the years, February 2019 will go down in history as being an exceptional experience. Dr. Colwick Wilson, our University provost, chaired our BHM19 committee that included academics, staff, faculty, and clergy members. The team planned what was a signature month in the life of the University’s Mission. We culminated the month with a chapel visit by Judge Greg Mathis, who will also be our Commencement speaker on May 11, 2019. More pictures are available on flickr to provide you a small glimpse into the Oakwood experience here on campus.
Be blessed and thank you for keeping Oakwood University in your thoughts, prayers, and in your generosity. We will see you at Alumni Weekend.
Leslie Pollard, Ph.D, D.Min., MBA

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About Oakwood University

The mission of Oakwood University, a historically black, Seventh-day Adventist institution, is to transform students through biblically-based education for service to God and humanity.