“I encourage you to think of me as a teacher,” implored Maya Angelou. “The truth is I am a teacher who can write.”
Angelou is much more than a teacher and a writer. The illustrious educator, poet, novelist, actress, historian, film producer and human rights activist spent an evening addressing a few hundred students, faculty and guests at Cheyney University’s Marian Anderson Music Center on Thursday.
“Each one of us is a rainbow in the clouds,” she stated shortly after the curtain opened and she was welcomed by warm, thunderous applause. “We have the possibility to be someone’s rainbow in the clouds.”
Humble and modest beyond measure, Angelou, 83, went against her physician’s orders, traveling from her Winston-Salem, N.C., home to spend an evening speaking in Delaware County. “Retired means expired. I keep on going as long as I continue to be wanted,” she said before visiting the campus.
In her distinct, deliberate speaking style, Angelou said she is “impressed with Cheyney University and the students of the Keystone Honors Academy. “This is the right place for them to come.”
In addition to hosting nationally and internationally renowned scholars and speakers, the Keystone Honors Academy has one of the highest graduation rates of African-American college students in the country.
Prior to Angelou’s gracing the stage, alumni of the Academy shared their testimonies on what the program has meant to their lives.
Alumnus Christopher Carter, a 2011 graduate currently pursuing a law degree at the University of Pittsburgh, said, “I admire Dr. Angelou’s ability to express herself, open everyone’s hearts and find ways to touch them.” The Pittsburgh native is also the vice president of the University of Pittsburgh’s Black Law Student Association.
As Angelou recited Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29, self proclaimed “nontraditional” Keystone Honors Academy student Rashid Salahud-Din found himself reciting along with her. “I learned the sonnet preparing for a play here at Cheyney. It was a memory exercise,” said the 63-year-old Vietnam veteran, father of 11 and grandfather of 29. “She was amazing. Eloquent, sophisticated and real.” The 1966 Overbrook High School graduate is studying psychology and acts as a dormitory resident adviser.
“I have a tattoo of ‘Still I Rise,’ said first-year Academy student Sierra-Katherine Brooks of Carlisle. “I’m really excited to see her.” The track and field student-athlete has a full scholarship and acts as a student ambassador for prospective Cheyney students. “Whenever I go through a rough time, I am inspired by her (Angelou) to keep going.”
Cheyney University President Michelle Howard-Vital said she was delighted to host such an “icon” and “have Dr. Angelou share her thoughts in a venue like this. Our students and the Keystone Honors Academy are fortunate to share this experience with people that have come from many areas throughout our region.”
John Cavanaugh, chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, echoed the sentiments of President Howard-Vital: “This is a fantastic opportunity for not only Cheyney University, but for the state of Pennsylvania. The Keystone Honors Academy program is one of the state’s jewels.”
“It is very important for a young Black person to go for their first college degree at an HBCU — Historically Black Colleges and Universities — so that she or he can be introduced to great ideas of people like Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King and 18th-century writers of African descent,” Angelou said in an interview before her appearance.
Throughout her life Angelou has lived by and utilized the words she shares with audiences around the world. “Language can be beautiful, and used as a device like clothes are used to keep us warm. Read aloud to hear the language — to hear it in your own words.”
Angelou has gained global respect and admiration, often being referred to as a powerful voice for the masses for her accomplishments. “I know that I am thought of highly, and for that, I am grateful. I have an attitude of gratitude,” she said. “All great achievements require time.”
In her signature, deeply raw yet rich and compassionate oration, Angelou reiterated her message before leaving the stage: “I am a man. I consider nothing that is human alien to me,” reciting Terence, an African playwright of the Roman Republic. “Develop the courage to be a human being,” she encouraged, and urged the audience. “Be that rainbow in someone else’s clouds.”
“She left blessings with each of us,” said Keystone Honors Academy Dean Tara Kent,
Founded as the African Institute in 1837, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is the oldest of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America.
Black college students and their families plan to demonstrate on the National Mall later this month to express outrage over new rules used to establish creditworthiness for federal Parent Plus loans that help students pay their college tuition.
At least two of the state’s historically-black colleges and universities, Lincoln and Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, are expected to join historically-black colleges and universities from around the country as the nation marks a historic moment: the 50th anniversary of the march where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his rousing speech, “I Have A Dream.”
Cheyney University President Dr. Michelle R. Howard-Vital and Lincoln University President Robert R. Jennings said a busload of delegates will travel to the nation’s capital to protest new requirements on Parent Plus loans approved by the U.S. Department of Education.
Jennings took issue with new rules requiring any loan application by individuals who have an “indentation” on their credit report within the last 18 months. Under the new tighter restrictions, a parent who wishes to co-sign a federal loan to pay for education costs would be automatically denied if a payment had been recorded with a credit bureau as more than 30 days late.
“I don’t know too many people from the middle-class who don’t have an indentation on their credit report. Sometimes, you don’t even know that it’s happening,” Jennings said at an editorial board meeting held Wednesday at The Philadelphia Tribune offices.
Jennings said he told a Congressional panel as much during last month’s hearing at Swarthmore College in Springfield Township. He said loan applications can be denied for other reasons, including low credit score, being out of work for too long or due to a dispute over a credit transaction.
Howard-Vital, who participated via conference call, said changing loan approval criteria has “really exacerbated the have’s and have-not’s.”
“The divide is getting bigger and bigger,” she said. “It’s hitting the working-class, middle-class and lower-income families hardest.”
The new rules regarding creditworthiness has forced HBCU’s around the country to turn away new and returning students, according to presidents of both universities. Cheyney lost 250 students because their family’s Parent Plus application were rejected. At Lincoln University, 849 of 1,159 students seeking Parent Plus loans were denied.
Jennings said Black students with high grade-point averages aren’t immune. If they can’t afford to pay their tuition, they are forced to suspend their studies.
Nearly 2 million college students apply for Parent Plus loans each year, but Jennings said that only 300,000 are African-American.
The Parent Plus loan program came under scrutiny because student loan debt has exceeded credit card debt for the first time; federal loans were being approved without considering an individual’s ability to pay it back; and more students defaulting on their federal loans.
Some students have difficulty meeting the requirement of paying 80 percent of their tuition costs prior to the start of the semester. An average tuition at Lincoln costs $9,100, and that means a student must pay a minimum of $7,500 in advance in order to take classes.
Many students attending HBCU’s are already relying on supplemental federal funding, including PELL grant and Stafford loans, among others. Congress’ recent increase, then decrease, of the student loan interest rate only served to add more confusion and exacerbate the problem.
Jennings said he received 14 e-mails in a single day from students asking for his help in seeking alternative financing. He believes the problem could have been minimized if higher education institutions, particularly HBCUs, were given more notice about changing rules for qualifying for Parent Plus loans.
Jennings criticized the Obama administration for pushing for an educated populace but allowing practices and programs that prevent people from obtaining college degrees. He challenged Obama to do a better job of protecting special-interest groups like HBCUs, just as President Reagan protected corporations and President George W. Bush looked out for companies with oil interests.
The board of governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) increased tuition at Cheyney University and 13 other state-owned universities by three percent for the 2012–2013 school year. This marks the fifth time in eight years that the increase in tuition has been at, or below, the rate of inflation.
“The gap between financial aid and the cost of attendance will be minimal, but it will also vary from student to student,” said Michelle Howard-Vital, president of Cheyney University. “Many students will owe about $3,000 that they will have to pay by working or by taking out loans. While this does not seem like a great deal of money, with the economic downturn and the average Cheyney University family income of about $35,000, money will be very tight.”
For in-state undergraduates, a three percent increase in tuition and technology fees will mean an extra $198. Out-of-state graduates will pay anywhere from one and half to two and a half times as much, and will also see a three percent increase. Cheyney Board of Trustees will not determine fees for registration, student activities and dormitory expenses until July 26.
At Cheyney, the three percent tuition increase was almost welcoming news — considering the 7.5 percent increase in 2011.
“Even though it was only three percent, I was concerned, because with last year’s increase we lost 300 students,” Howard-Vital said. “I’m glad that it wasn’t as high as the year before, but any increase means sacrifices and choices made by the students and their parents. When a student picks a college, it’s initially because of three reasons: cost, academic programs and the overall image of the university.
“… some students may need to stop going to school and work in order to afford tuition. In the past, I had to talk students back into school because they were working so much to support themselves and their families. I just want students to know that despite the recent increase, the faculty, administration and alumni are doing everything we can to help you.”
The Cheyney University National Alumni Association has been developing scholarship funds for students who do not have enough money between the gap of financial aid and the cost of attendance. The alumni have raised $800,000.
“We were expecting a decision like this, but it is unfortunate because of the economic challenges that people are experiencing,” said Barbara Daniel Cox, 1966 Cheyney alumna and former president of the National Alumni Association. “There are ways for students to get help for their education. Cheyney offers various scholarships, including the Wilt Chamberlain Scholarship and the James Hughes Memorial Scholarship. Various companies, churches and organizations will also provide scholarships. Students just need to be very proactive and search for various scholarships and grants.
“Students can still get an education, they just need to think outside of the box when it comes to the cost. In addition to scheduling classes, they also need to be mindful of cost. Students need to continue to put together a combination of resources to be successful financially. We will continue to support and help the students who attend Cheyney.”
PASSHE also approved new tuition rates for resident graduate students and all nonresident students. The resident graduate tuition rate in 2012–13 will be $429 per credit, an increase of $13. Nonresident graduate tuition will increase by $20 per credit to $644. Full-time, undergraduate tuition for nonresident students will range from $9,642 to $16,070, depending on a variety of factors, including the university and program in which a student enrolls. The tuition technology fee will increase by $10 to $358 for the full academic year for full-time resident students and by $16 to $542 for full-time nonresident students.
The recent tuition increase will leave a $15.8 million gap in PASSHE’s budget. Last year’s budget gap was more than $30 million after the 7.5 percent tuition increase, according to the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.
The total cost of attendance including tuition, fees, and room and board will likely remain below the national average, and significantly below the average in the Middle States region, made up of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, according to PASSHE officials.
“This action demonstrates our ongoing commitment to our students and their families, and to the commonwealth,” said Guido M. Pichini, PASSHE Board of Governors Chairman. “PASSHE universities will continue to offer high-quality education at the most affordable cost possible.”
In a recent announcement, Cheyney University president Michelle Howard-Vital stated “Cheyney University has self-imposed two years of probation on its athletic department after self-reporting NCAA violations that occurred when multiple student athletes were not registered with the NCAA’s eligibility center. As such, Cheyney athletics will voluntarily not participate in the PSAC/NCAA 2012–2013 tournaments and will vacate victories of affected programs.”
Her statement continued, “All student-athletes that participated while ineligible that are still members of institutional teams have gone through reinstatement process. All student-athletes were certified for competition during the 2011–2012 academic year. In addition to incorporating safeguards regarding certification of eligibility of student athletes, the institution will increase compliance staff and increase NCAA rules education for students, staff and university personnel.”
Developmental Basketball League finishes 39th season
The Developmental Basketball League, Inc. just completed its 39th summer league season providing opportunities for many high school women basketball players in the city. The DBL was started in 1973 by Ina Newman and Lurline Jones. Newman and Jones are two former Public League basketball coaches. Newman coached for many years at Simon Gratz and Jones was a long time coach at University City High School.
The league has produced some great players such as Yolanda Laney, Marilyn Stephens, Dawn Staley, Andrea Gardner, Shawnetta Stewart and others. The DBL put the finishing touches on its summer league with an all-star game and championship game earlier this week. The league gave the fans a chance to see some of the up and coming players in the Public League such as Tiffany Then (Paul Robeson) and Bryce Garrett (Communications Tech). In addition, the league honored Stanley Jones for 25 years of service to the program.
Temple picked eighth in preseason Big East poll
Temple was picked eighth in the preseason annual media poll in the Owls’ return to Big East play. The Owls bring just 10 starters back from last year’s team that went 9-4. Head coach Steve Addazio will turn to a solid running back tandem of Montel Harris — the active career rushing leader among FBS players, and Matt Brown. Louisville was chosen as the favorite to win the Big East championship.
Sixers sign rookie free agent Wayns
The Philadelphia 76ers have signed rookie free agent guard Maalik Wayns, former Roman Catholic and Villanova standout. Wayns, a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, was an early entry candidate for the NBA draft following his junior year at Villanova.
He was named second team All Big East in 2011–12 after averaging team-highs of 17.6 points and 4.6 assists to go along with 3.8 rebounds a game. Wayns ranked seventh in the nation in free throw shooting (89.2 percent) this past season.
As a member of the Orlando Magic in the Orlando Pro Summer League, Wayns appeared in three games, averaging 11.7 points, 5.7 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals in 26.7 minutes. He was ranked second in the league in both assists and steals per game.
Wayns joins a Sixers team that has fellow Big 5 member and former Temple standout Lavoy Allen, who just completed his rookie year.
Summer Youth Basketball League scheduled this month
Boys and girls between the ages of 10 to 16 can sign up for the summer youth basketball league. The Philadelphia Future League will play its games at Fisher Park, Fifth and Spencer streets during the month of August. This community effort was organized by Honorable State Representative Mark Cohen and Honorable City Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco. Ducky Birts is an adviser. For more information, contact Sonja Thomas at (215) 200-6144.
William T. Walker Jr. named first Mr. Cheyney
Cheyney University has crowned Janelle McKelvey as its 2012–13 Miss Cheyney University and William T. Walker Jr. as the school’s first Mr. Cheyney University.
McKelvey is a General Science major and Keystone scholar, with an extensive Cheyney heritage. Her parents James and Rochelle McKelvey are Cheyney alumni. Walker is a Communications Major with a focus on broadcasting.
“Creating A New Legacy To Treasure” was the theme of the Inaugural Mr. and Miss Cheyney University Pageant.
The event was hosted recently by the Office of Student Activities and the Student Government Cooperative Association in the Marian Anderson Music Center.
Pageant host and hostess, Aaron Yancey and Arisa Abdur-Rahman, led the audience through the evening. The night included a blue carpet promenade of 2011–12 Miss Cheyney Skakeemah Simmons, viewing of the 2012 contestants and announcements.
Female contestants included: Ciera Brown; Shakia Marie’ Canty; Tresa Marie Gray; Alexa Kirsey; Sha’Tique Martin; Janelle McKelvey; and Sibongele Murray.
Mr. Cheyney entries included: Antoine Pendleton; Tyrik Thorn; and William T. Walker Jr.
The talent component brought poetry readings, a piano solo, a dance routine monologues and songs.
Evening highlights included Cheyney President Michelle Howard-Vital’s compliments and her reflection on Simmons’ reign.
“Shakeemah was the best Cheyney representative ever — she has done everything you can imagine with such grace,” she said. “And tonight has been first-rate — it will be hard to top this next year.”
Show organizer, Sharon Thorn, reflected on the inaugural event.
“In a place with 175 years of history I’m a little skeptical of saying first,” she said. “But I can say the three Mr. Cheyney contestants are now a part of Cheyney history as a first on our campus. Next spring, this year’s Mr. Cheyney will head to the Mr. HBCU Pageant to represent Cheyney University.”
Simmons gave the audience parting words, “Thank you all,” she said. “This has been the best year of my life. Imagine. When I come back, I’ll be an alumni.”
On Thursday Oct. 18 nearly a thousand people gathered in Philadelphia in celebration of the 175th anniversary of the founding of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.
Founded in 1837 as the Institute for Colored Youth, Cheyney is the oldest of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in America.
The founding of Cheyney was made possible by Richard Humphreys, a Quaker philanthropist who bequeathed $10,000, one tenth of his estate, to design and establish a school to educate the descendents of the African race.
The evening gala was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Ballroom and launched the 2012 University Homecoming weekend.
“This event is extraordinary for many reasons,” said Cheyney University President Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph. D. “It celebrates the lives of those who have contributed to the legacy of Cheyney University through the 19th century, 20th century and 21st century. At a time when people are questioning the value f historically Black colleges and universities, it demonstrates that Cheyney University, which has always been a very, very small liberal arts and teachers college — has contributed significant value in terms of responsible contributing citizens to the commonwealth, and that we will continue to contribute to the commonwealth.”
The committee organizer and Cheyney alumna, Barbara Daniel-Cox, lined up an evening filled with entertainment by Harold Melvin's Blue Notes, Billy Paul, Amazin' Grace, Bill Jolly & TSOP Band and many more.
Hosting the evening of awards, dinner, entertainment and dancing was Philadelphia International Records co-founder, Kenny Gamble.
“One hundred and seventy-five years is an understatement and is just unbelievable when you just think about it,” remarked Gamble, who deemed himself “Honorary Cheyney person” during the VIP reception. “It is hard to think about something being able to last 175 years. You know, I remember Cheney when it was a state teachers college. Many of our teachers, especially African-American teachers, and opportunities came through Cheyney and it's still true today. I am happy to support Cheyney, and I think the whole community should support Cheyney because education is so essential for just surviving today.”
The black-tie event attracted many area notables including Cheyney graduates.
“For Cheyney it means another bright tomorrow, quite frankly,” said Philadelphia Tribune President and CEO Robert W. Bogle, who is a Cheyney alumnus. “Cheyney has done so much for many of those from yesterdays that have had an enormous impact on our city, our state and our nation. I think this event makes it clear that our future is bright by the support that we have gotten for this event. As for what it did for me: I wouldn't be whatever you say I am if it had not been for Cheyney University, and all the men and women, faculty, staff who contributed. Because in those days, faculty and staff worked with you, they were a part of you, and it was important to them that you were successful. So, whatever I am, I owe it to Cheyney.”
The gala also marked the culmination of a $1 million donation campaign initiated nearly three years ago by the Cheyney University Alumni Association.
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is marking 175 years of providing educational opportunities to African Americans.
Cheyney President Michelle Howard-Vital said the milestone provides a spotlight on the significant accomplishments and contributions made by Cheyney’s founders, faculty members, staff, stakeholders and alumni.
“This is a time to honor them. It’s also a time to help people in the commonwealth realize the value that Cheyney University has had for three centuries, and for more than 10,000 students and their families,” said Howard-Vital.
That value is apparent at Cheyney’s annual commencement ceremonies, which typically draw more than 2,000 family members of about 250 graduates.
For many graduates, Howard-Vital said, the occasion often the marks the significance of being the first in their family to obtain a college degree.
“It’s also a symbolic transition from maybe a life of low income to a life of potential,” she said.
“I think that signifies what Cheyney University has done for 175 years — and it’s one of the reasons why the Quakers started the university — because they wanted to enable people of African descent to be able to make a livelihood.”
The nation’s oldest institution for African Americans was established through the bequest of Richard Humphreys, a Quaker philanthropist. After seeing African Americans lose employment to skilled immigrants, he provided $10,000 in his will to start a school that would teach African Americans the skills needed to be more competitive in the job market. The school was founded by the Quakers on Feb. 25, 1837, as the African Institute.
The school was renamed the Institute of Colored Youth. In 1902, the school purchased a farm owned by another Quaker, George Cheyney, and relocated 25 miles west of Philadelphia. In 1914, the school was renamed the Cheyney Training School for Teachers. The institution became Cheyney State College in 1959, and in 1983, it joined the State System of Higher Education as Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.
The Institute for Colored Youth offered basic subjects such as reading, writing and math as well as mechanics and agriculture.
Members of the school’s faculty and administration left their mark on the school’s legacy such as Fanny Jackson Coppin, the first African-American woman to receive the title of school principal, and Leslie Pinckney Hill, who served as the institution’s administrator for 38 years.
The school has produced historic pioneers such as activist Octavio Catto and Julian Abele, a prominent African-American architect.
Today Cheyney offers baccalaureate degrees in more than 30 disciplines and a master’s in education.
Many Cheyney graduates have gone on to become educators, surgeons, physicians, attorneys, scientists, entrepreneurs and political analysts.
Some of Cheyney’s distinguished alumni include former CBS News journalist Ed Bradley; former Temple basketball coach John Chaney; U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon; Robert L. Wooden, founder and president of the National Neighborhood Enterprise in Washington, D.C. and Robert W. Bogle, publisher and CEO of The Philadelphia Tribune.
Now Cheyney officials are gearing up to make more advances with the 2013 opening of the $22 million Center for Excellence for Research and Applied Sciences. Construction is underway on the 39,970 square foot science center, which was launched in response to the regional needs in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
The Tom Joyner Foundation has kicked off a three-month fundraising drive for the university. The drive is a part of foundation’s efforts to assist Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Cheyney will be promoted by the Tom Joyner Morning Show and will receive funds raised from listeners, alumni and other parties. Funds received will be used to provide support for Cheyney’s Call Me Mister (Mentors Instructing Students Towards Effective Role Models) teaching preparation program.
The Cheyney University National Alumni Association (CUNAA) is hosting a 175th anniversary gala on October 18 at 6 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch Street.
“It’s a historic occasion but it’s also about honoring a legacy of struggle, of perseverance, of overcoming the odds and of African people having the initiative to take it to another level,” CUNAA President Junious R. Stanton says of the university’s significant milestone.
“We are standing on their shoulders, so what we are attempting to do is to keep the legacy alive by providing scholarships and showing that the alumni are actively involved in the survival and the renaissance of the institution.”
Proceeds from the gala will place the alumni association closer to its goal of raising $1 million for student scholarships. The alumni association has raised almost $900,000 over a three year period.
The gala will be hosted by Kenny Gamble and features Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, Billy Paul, Amazin’ Grace, Bill Jolly and the TSOP Band, Cheyney University Concert Choir and an after party with the Urban Guerrilla Orchestra.
The Men of BACA and alumni who have made significant financial contributions to the university will be honored during the event.
General tickets are $175. For ticket information contact (215) 843-2027 or visit www.cheyneyfoundation.org.
Alumni and visitors got their first glimpse of Cheyney University’s new residence hall on Friday as the university threw open the doors of the first new dorm on campus in 30 years.
“It’s a gorgeous building,” said university President Michelle Howard-Vital. “So many alumni and people from the community have seen it going up and want to know what it looks like, so we invited them to visit the residence hall.”
Construction on the $44 million, 127,000-square-foot building started in June 2010. Students moved in on Aug. 22.
The building includes a variety of environmental and other features that are relatively new at Cheyney. They include a geothermal climate control system that enables central air and heat throughout the building, security cameras and key card access to suites, study rooms, and lounges throughout the building.
The residence hall, which brings the campus total to six, is home to 390 students, but it’s a lot more than that. It also includes seven study lounges, four social lounges, a computer lounge, recreational lounge and multipurpose room.
But, even more than that, it represents a new way of thinking at Cheyney.
“It’s a place that’s co-curricular with the academic community,” Howard-Vital said. “When you leave the classroom, you go there and continue to learn in a different manner.”
Officially, the building — called a living and learning center — is different from a traditional dorm, Howard-Vital said. The new hall combines living and learning spaces and is broken into “learning communities.” They are clusters of students with similar interests and attached to faculty advisors who provide additional learning opportunities for students that school officials hope will help Cheyney retain students. As examples, Howard-Vital cited science and technology groups, a communications group and a public service cohort.
The faculty advisors carry learning into the residence hall.
“They work with the students like a peer group to provide support, intellectual stimulation, engagement, so we can increase our retention numbers,” she said. “What research shows is that engaged students are more likely to be retained. They develop relationships that make them feel like they are part of a campus community.”
Howard-Vital credited Robert W. Bogle, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, as being one of the driving forces behind the new building.
“The university community thanks Chairman Bogle and the council of trustees for being strong advocates for getting this living learning community constructed,” she said. “When I came, the notion of a new residence hall was all over the place.”
Bogle, who is also president and CEO of the Philadelphia Tribune, could not be reached for comment Friday, but said in a previous interview he was pleased to see Cheyney expanding.
“I’m pleased that we’re building this building. I hope it’s just the beginning of some other opportunities,” he said. “It’s shameful that it’s come so late in the life of this university.”
The new building is just part of a more comprehensive expansion plan.
“We’re hoping that it’s a new beginning,” said Sam Patterson, a university trustee and chair of the finance and administrative services committee. “Hopefully, it’s the first of several new buildings.”
Expansion plans include a new science center, an athletic center and more dorms.
Officials started with housing because it immediately creates more space.
“Hopefully, it adds to enrollment because young people want to know: ‘Where am I staying?’” he said.
Plans need the approval of the board of governors of the Pennsylvania System of Higher Education, which approves all such projects for the state’s 14 universities.
“This will make us compatible with other state system schools as well as some other schools in the area,” Patterson said. “We’re hoping that Cheyney, with its unique mission and its unique set of requirements, that we’re going to be constantly lobbying the state to bring us up to speed and make us more competitive with other schools in the state system.”
CHEYNEY — Charisse R. Lillie, vice president of Community Investment of Comcast Corporation, was the keynote speaker at Cheyney University’s commencement exercises Saturday at the historic quadrangle on campus. Founded in 1837 as the Institute for Colored Youth, Cheyney University is the oldest of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America.
“We are honored to have Ms. Charisse R. Lillie, vice president of Community Investment of Comcast Corporation and president of the Comcast Foundation serving as our 2013 commencement speaker,” said Cheyney University President Michelle Howard-Vital.”This year we celebrate the 176th anniversary of the founding of Cheyney University. Her many accomplishments will inspire our new graduates to aim high as they approach their future.”
Lillie joined Comcast in 2005 as vice president, human resources-Comcast Corporation, and senior vice president, human resources-Comcast Cable. A native of Houston, Texas, she received her B.A. in 1973 from Wesleyan University where she was a cum laude; her J.D. in 1976 from Temple Law School where she made the dean’s honor list; and her LL.M. in 1982 from Yale Law School. She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Seton Hill University in Greensburg in 2005. In 2011, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Peirce College.
Lillie’s law practice included the representation of employers and management in a wide variety of labor and employment matters, primarily in federal court. She served as an advisor to clients on diversity and anti discrimination issues. She is a frequent lecturer and panelist regarding talent management, recruitment and retention strategies, and diversity. Prior to joining the Comcast Foundation, she was a partner in the law firm of Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP from January 1992 to February 2005. She was chair of the litigation department from 2002 to 2005, and was a member of the employment and labor law group of the firm.
Lillie’s legal experience included positions as a trial attorney; working for the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division; serving as deputy director at Community Legal Services, Inc.; being a professor at Villanova Law School; being an assistant United States attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, as well as serving as general counsel to the Redevelopment Authority of the city of Philadelphia and city solicitor of the city of Philadelphia .
Additionally, Lillie has been a member of many civic commissions, including the Independent Charter Commission, the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Task Force, the MOVE Commission and the Philadelphia Election Reform Task Force. She is a member of the Forum of Executive Women and is the former president of the Board of the Juvenile Law Center .
She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Howard University, NBC Universal Foundation, The Franklin Institute, the Board of Directors of the American Arbitration Association, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, and the Board of Governors of the Pyramid Club. She served as a trustee of Friends Select School from 1994 to 2002 and 2003 to 2006. She was also president of the Board of Trustees for two years. Lillie was elected to membership in The Executive Leadership Council in 2008.