Greetings Tougaloo College Family, Extended Family, and Friends:
I have served as president of this great institution for one full year, and I couldn’t be more optimistic. As I reflect on what has undoubtedly been the most unusual semester of my career, I am immensely proud of our students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, and friends for everything we have accomplished together. I am so pleased and delighted to share some of our accomplishments.
The spring semester begins in almost 75 days, and more than ever, we are looking forward to welcoming our students back to the campus in January 2021. Our ability to reopen is due to our faculty and staff’s diligent work, who have established and implemented necessary safety protocols and created built-in flexibility for our programs. Every decision made is informed through active coordination with our COVID Task Forces with state and local public health officials and guidance from the CDC. We are committed to protecting students, faculty, and staff’s health and safety when we come back together this spring. For more COVID-19 updates, visit the College’s website at www.tougaloo.edu/health-wellness-center-updates.
We recently celebrated the 151st founding of the College, which gave us an opportunity to meet and connect with one another virtually. Alumni throughout the United States joined students, faculty, and staff to show their Tougaloo Pride and celebrate what it means to be a Tougalooian. This year’s Founders’ was momentous on so many levels. Throughout the week, we championed the theme, “Tougaloo College: In the Continuous Pursuit of Excellence.” We retired our current American flag and posted a new one thanks to the generosity of Tougaloo Alumna Lt. Colonel Linda Prowell and the Forest Hill High School Color Guard. Tougaloo alumni from different decades shared their knowledge and views about the landscape of higher education, the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health, social justice reform, and the value of a Tougaloo education.
We formally announced our partnership with the University of California at Los Angeles. We celebrated Tougaloo’s winningest coach Lafayette Sribling with the naming of the gymnasium floor in his honor; long-time educator and Athletic Director Dr. James Coleman with a sign erected in his honor; and recognized President Emerita Dr. Beverly W. Hogan with a $4 million endowed scholarship named in her honor created by Drs. George Wallerstein and Julia Lutz at the Annual Presidential Lecture. This year’s presidential lecturer was the Reverend Teresa “Teri” Hord Owens with the United Church (Disciples of Christ). We formally announced the establishment of the Dr. Frederic L. Pryor Endowed Scholarship honoring the legacy and life of our long-time trustee emeritus.
We celebrated the accomplishments of four outstanding alumni with induction into the Tougaloo College National Alumni Association Hall of Fame: Dr. Peggy J. Wells Howard, Dr. Candice Love Jackson, Dr. Wroten McQuirter, and Mrs. Emleigh Mitchell. We celebrated the Early College High School’s formal renaming, which is now the JPS-Tougaloo Early High School. We installed the 2020-2021 Student Government Association officers and crowned Miss Tougaloo College, Miss Sylvionna M. Moten-Horton and Mister Tougaloo College, Mr. Levell Williams. The week culminated with the Founders’ Convocation that featured the Reverend Kenneth Daniel, President and CEO of the United Church Homes, as the keynote speaker. It was indeed a fantastic week of celebrating Tougaloo’s pillars of academic excellence and social responsibility, the people, legacies, traditions, and milestones that have made it the institution it is today, and planning for its future.
The Board of Trustees at its October 16, 2020 meeting approved a new logo as part of our efforts to develop a consistent marketing campaign and readily identifiable brand for Tougaloo. Ad Hoc Committee Chair Elane Coleman received input from students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The new wordmark logo uses unique typography that will give it a sense of movement, accessibility, and a collegiate look. It captures the iconic chapel and historic gate. The logo will be unveiled very soon.
The Board also approved creating a philanthropic foundation that will work collaboratively with the Division of Institutional Advancement to achieve significant fundraising in our endeavors to preserve and advance excellence. Finally, the Board approved extending the current strategic plan, Vision 2020: Transformation through Innovation, for an additional year as we began the planning phase for a new five-year strategic plan. Our work will be guided by higher education strategic planning consulting firm, Credo. The planning phase will facilitate alignment and integration, identify strategic goals and objectives, drive resource allocation, and serve as a precursor to an implementation plan. Credo will engage the Board of Trustees and all of the College’s stakeholders in the process that will launch in January 2021 with a Leadership Team Retreat.
Tougaloo recently entered into a partnership with Ellucian Enterprise Services to privatize the operations of the institution’s Information and Technology Department. Ellucian will provide Tougaloo with state-of-the-art technological expertise and cost-effective measures to enhance the College’s capabilities to offer our students, faculty, and staff the very best. As new technologies emerge, such as artificial intelligence, big data, cloud technology, and the demand to deliver information and services timely and efficiently to our constituents, Ellucian will help the College explore automation and innovation to succeed in a 21st-century technological landscape.
In our mission to remain socially responsible and remain connected to our community, Tougaloo is addressing food insecurity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tougaloo College Owens Health and Wellness Center is partnering with Clara’s Table, Service for Humanity, via St. Augustine’s Community Development Corporation, Anti-poverty Institute. Through this partnership, the College will contactlessly distribute weekly 1,200 food boxes of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to students, employees, alumni, community friends, and families in need. We are excited about the opportunity to provide this much-needed resource to the Tougaloo College family and community. If you know of families that need assistance, please contact Ms. Tiffany Wright at 601-977-7797.
As we near the end of this academic semester, I could not be more proud of our students for their positive attitudes and resilience, our faculty for their hard work, our staff for their commitment, and our alumni and friends for their steadfast support. Although we are physically apart from one another, for the time being, thank you for remaining committed to the College’s mission of furthering higher education and creating tomorrow’s thought leaders.
Tougaloo College . . . Where History Meets the Future”
Carmen J. Walters, Ph.D. President