Greetings Shaw Alumni,
If all of us rally around the mission, and diligently make this a reality, Shaw University will continue to grow, thrive, and reach new heights in the higher education community. Dr. Charlie Nelms, Ed. D., who now serves as an Higher Education Expert and Consultant and former HBCU college President, has written a thought provoking article entitled “An Open Letter to HBCU Graduates “. I have lifted from his presentation the following statements that I think will help all of us keep Shaw University strong and healthy. Please note them:
1. We must stop complaining about the imperfections of HBCUs and fretting about the few things that did not go as well as we would have liked when we were students. There are neither perfect schools nor perfect people.
2. We must be willing to serve as ambassadors for our Alma Mater by referring prospective students, including our own children, grandchildren, neighbors and friends, to the admissions office. We should not be persuaded solely by the size of a PWI scholarship or its marketing prowess when making a student referral. The ice at PWIs really isn't any colder than it is at an HBCU! In fact, many black students who initially attend PWIs end up graduating from HBCUs.
3. We must be willing to share with our Alma Mater our expertise -- without charge. That expertise is just as diverse as the careers that we have, or have had, and can be used to improve curricular offerings, university operations, and marketing and facilitate job placement for graduating students, among other things.
4. We must be willing to provide access to our vast network of people, programs and services that will allow our Alma Mater to achieve levels of excellence and responsiveness not otherwise possible. By activating our collective networks, we can do more than imaginable to strengthen HBCUs and enhance their competitiveness. The soul singer Jerry Butler was correct when he proclaimed, "Only the strong survive."
5. We must be willing to invest our money in the places that produced us, and we must be committed to do so every month of each year. I never quite understood how HBCU alums expected their Alma Mater to achieve and sustain excellence without money! Have you noticed that there are no poor schools on the U. S. News and World Report's national rankings of excellent schools? Many years ago to emphasize the importance of investing in what we value, my friend and Pastor, the late Dr. Robert Lowery, reminded his parishioners that life is like a bank account: "You can't make a draw unless you make a deposit.” Unless we as alums make a deposit (invest), our Alma Mater cannot offer competitive scholarships, purchase state-of-the-art equipment, hire top professors, or offer study-abroad opportunities for students, among other things.
Please join me in educating our alumni about supporting the overall needs of the institution, and the importance of giving so that they are regular givers rather than ' crisis givers.' In addition, we must work together to build strong relationships with each other as any appearance of infighting appears as chaos to outsiders, especially funders. They want to see everyone on the same page in terms of institutional support. (Reference: Marybeth Gasman and Nelson Bowman 111. A Guide to Fundraising at HBCUs an all campus approach. Taylor and Francis (2012)
Thanks again for all that you do for Shaw University, and I am looking forward to serving you as NAA President in the spirit of our University's motto: "For Christ and Humanity."
Peace and Love