Ronald E. McNair

NEW ORLEANS, LA – Dillard University is among a number of institutions that recently received the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The $1.3 million award is part of a five-year grant designed to provide support services and to encourage eligible undergraduate students to pursue graduate education leading to doctoral degrees, according to the University.

The grant coincides with Dillard’s mission as well as other efforts to increase the number of Dillard graduates entering graduate studies. The grant, which will be directed by Tracie Thomas, pre-health advisor, will function as a program within the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and will report directly to the interim associate provost, Eric Buckles. The program went into effect October 1 and will run through September 2027.

According to Theodore Callier, interim president of institutional advancement, Dillard’s application was highly competitive and one of the few relatively new programs awarded in this year’s competition.

“I am beyond grateful that Dillard was awarded the TRIO Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program grant. We will be able to continue to equip our students as research scholars with the necessary resources to excel in graduate school and beyond,” said Thomas.

Program staff will provide graduate school planning and awareness activities, access to research and scholarly activity, specialized advising, mentoring and other wrap-around services to better prepare and equip students to success in graduate school.

After earning a Ph.D. in physics, Ronald E. McNair was selected out of 10,000 applications to train NASA. McNair would later become the second African American to go into space in 1984. The $60 million Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program is one of the Department of Education’s federally funded TRIO programs.

About Dillard University
Dillard University is a historically Black institution that cultivates leaders who live ethically, think and communicate precisely, and act courageously to make the world a better place. Located in New Orleans, Dillard is a private faith-based liberal arts university that offers 22 majors and two certificate programs. Ranked 5th on 2021 The New York Times Overall Mobility Index and 14th in 2022 by Academic Influence for Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship, Dillard’s call to future leaders is to Write Your Legacy. Learn more about Louisiana’s oldest HBCU by visiting

This month, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) institutions – Spelman College, Dillard University, Hampton University, and Southern University officially welcomed their selected presidents to their campuses to begin their presidential tenures.

Spelman College, America’s oldest private HBCU liberal arts college for women, announced the selection of Helene Gayle, a globally recognized public health leader, in April 2022. Dr. Gayle previously led The Chicago Community Trust, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations. In a 3-minute welcome introduction video, Dr. Gayle thanks the Spelman and Atlanta community for the warm welcome to campus and congratulatory messages received. Additionally, she addressed that she is prepared to collaborate with crucial partners, identify strategic priorities, solve critical issues and forget new opportunities for the college.

Dr. Gayle succeeded Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., who served a seven-year tenure as Spelman’s 10th president.

“I’m excited about Dr. Gayle’s appointment and confident that her demonstrated ability to address complex issues in communities of color many of which involve the strength of Black females and her success factors, coupled with her commitment to equity, will further build on Spelman’s legacy and propel the College into the future,” said Rosalind G. Brewer, Spelman College Board Chair.

Meanwhile, on Dillard University’s Avenue of the Oaks, madam president and Howard University alumnae Dr. Rochelle Ford has presented the campus with her charismatic elegance. Dillard selected Dr. Ford as the eighth president, succeeding Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough.

Dr. Rochelle Ford, 8th president of Dillard University. (Courtesy of Dillard University)

Ford previously served as dean of Elon University’s School of Communications. Before that, she served as Syracuse University’s Provost faculty fellow. The dynamics in her have her already hitting the ground running, and as Dr. Ford mentioned during an interview with Higher Ed Drive, she plans to meet people and listen to what they’re excited about. She wants to know what they believe is possible to ensure Dillard’s sustainability for generations to come.

“Students, faculty, and trustees were blown away by her insight, passion and drive. As impressive as Dillard has been over the past 150 years in producing history makers and change agents, there is no questions that, under Dr. Ford’s leadership, the best is yet to come,” said Michael D. Jones, Esq., Chair of Dillard’s Board of Trustees.

Two more presidents have begun their roles at HBCUs and are succeeding retiring presidents. Darrell K. Williams to lead Hampton University and Dennis J. Shields will lead the way at the only university system known to HBCUs, the Southern University System. President-Chancellor Shields will also lead the main campus in Baton Rouge (Southern University and A&M College). His previous experience has been in higher education outside of the HBCU space. So during his 100 days, he is expected to understand his dual role as President-Chancellor and the HBCU experience. His plans focus primarily on student outcomes (retention, graduate rates, and first-time employment), community engagement, and stakeholder involvement.

Southern University President-Chancellor Dennis J. Shields met with students, faculty, and staff during his first week of his presidential tenure on campus. (Courtesy of Southern University and A&M College)

Dr. Shields previously served as the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Platteville since 2010.

On the other hand, Hampton University also hired a male successor for Dr. William R. Harvey, alumnus Ret. U.S. Army Gen. Darrell K. Williams. With background as an educator with nonprofit development experience, Williams says that his focus will be creating an unparalleled higher education experience for students that includes excellent academics, support for strong physical, emotional, and mental health, and access to cutting-edge technology, research opportunities and innovative students.

Hampton University President Darrell K. Williams and First Lady Williams walking the campus, meeting and eating with students in the dinning hall during their first week of the presidential tenure. (Courtesy of Hampton University)

“I love Hampton and the opportunities provided to me here. The university’s values and standard of excellence will not change. As the new president, my priority will be providing our students with a robust experience that is second to none and prepares them for life after graduation,” said Williams.

Williams retired from the U.S. Army in 2020 after 37 years of service. His last leadership position was as the first Black and 19th director of the Department of Defense’s Defense logistics Agency (DLA). He oversaw a global workforce of over 26,000 civilian and military professionals. He comes to Hampton from Fortune 250 technology company Leidos, where he served as the global organization’s United Kingdom vice president and managing director of the U.K. Ministry of Defense Logistics Commodities and Services Transformation (LCST) programme, providing global logistical support to U.K. military forces.

HCF welcomes all four of them to leadership at the helm of their designated colleges and universities and expresses our profound and heartfelt congratulations on their appointment. We appreciate their leadership and wish them the very best throughout their tenures.

Dillard University’s Campus Entrance, New Orleans, LA. Photo creds: HCF’s Division of Communications and Marketing.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – Nicholls State University and Dillard University have signed an agreement to work together to prepare students for a modern business environment. The memorandum of understanding will allow Dillard College of Business graduates a seamless transfer pathway to Nicholls’ Master of Business Administration program.

“The Nicholls MBA program is continuously seeking ways to broaden the diversity of its student population,” said Ray Peters, director of the Nicholls MBA and EMBA programs and professor of leadership. “Similar to our agreement with Grambling State University, we are adding a portal to qualified African-American students. Dillard is an outstanding institution, and its business graduates would undoubtedly enhance our program.”

Dillard is an accredited private, historically black university in New Orleans. Dillard’s College of Business was established in 1984 when the Division of Business was created from the University’s Division of Social Sciences. The Division of Business eventually became the School of Business, and now, the College of Business. This evolution is a testament to the fact that the faculty and staff of the College of Business have diligently fulfilled the charge for educational excellence and student satisfaction. The College of Business delivers business education through innovative, student-centered teaching and scholarships.

“Through this Memorandum of Understanding between Dillard University and Nicholls State University, the two universities will work together to prepare students to meet workforce development needs as well-educated, responsible, and engaged business professionals,” said Dr. Kristen Broady, dean of the Dillard College of Business and Barron Hilton Endowed Professor of Economics.”I am excited about this opportunity for our students and I look forward to working with our new partners at Nicholls.”

The Nicholls MBA prepares current and future professionals to face an evolving future. Students will study economic conditions, technological changes, diversity, international issues and the political and legal environment. “Anything we can do to upskill students, helping them prepare for careers need, is beneficial to economies throughout the regions,” said Peters. “It’s an opportunity for continued growth and development.”

For more information on the Nicholls MBA program, click here.


A study performed by the American Council on Education Center for Policy Research and Strategy, Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) play an integral role in the education of students of color, those from low-income backgrounds, and students who are first in their family to attend college. The data in the report verify that working assumption with concrete numbers that show income mobility by students who attended MSIs across the country exceeding mobility rates at non-MSIs. This distinction is an important one to make at a time, when public implications for institutions – including many MSIs – already struggling with low general and educational expenditures and endowment sizes. This distinction is further important given the outsized performance of MSIs in generating income mobility even while they are operating with limited resources.

The importance of MSIs to individual students, families, communities, and our national economy cannot be overstated. MSIs are ubiquitous to the postsecondary landscape, representing roughly one-fifth of all degree-granting, Title IV-eligible institutions of higher education in 2014-15. In this same year, taken together, approximately 700 MSIs enrolled 4.8 million students, or 28 percent of all undergraduates enrolled in U.S. higher education.

Finally, there is evidence that MSIs provide students of color with stronger academic experiences and more supportive environments whole in college than do non-MSIs.

According to the latest study conducted by the American Council on Education (ACE) Center for Policy Research and Strategy, Alcorn State University, Southern University and A&M College, Lincoln University (PA), Dillard University, and Alabama State University leads other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the Minority Serving Institutions category as Engines of Upward Mobility study.

View below:

The date presented in this report verify a working assumption of those familiar with MSIs – that these institutions are standouts in the field for their contribution to income mobility. This distinction is important given the outsized performance of MSIs in generating upward income mobility even whole they are operating with limited resources. Further, across the whole of higher education, we could stand to learn and share the policies and practices employed by the top-performing MSIs, such that the field can from their success.

To view the entire study, visit

ELIZABETH CITY, NC – Elizabeth City State University’s 165th Fall Commencement will take place on Saturday, December 9, 2017, at 10 a.m. in the R.L. Vaughan Center. Dillard University’s president Dr. Water M. Kimbrough will deliver the keynote address.

Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough

According to a press release by the university, Dr. Kimbrough is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia, and Miami University in Miami, Ohio, Dr. Kimbrough earned a doctorate in higher education from Georgia State University. He has made his career in student affairs, serving at Emory University, Georgia State University, Old Dominion University, and Albany State University in 2000, where he became the Vice President for Student Affairs at the age of 32.

In October of 2004, at the age 37, he was named the 12th president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 2012 he became the 7th president of Dillard University in New Orleans.

Kimbrough has been recognized for his research and writings on HBCUs and African American men in college. He has also has been noted for his active use of social media in articles by The Chronicle of Higher Education, and in the book “Follow The Leader: Lessons in Social Media Success from Higher Ed CEOs.”

He was cited in 2010 by Bachelors as one of 25 college presidents you should follow on Twitter, by Education Dive as one of 10 college presidents on Twitter who are doing it right (@HipHopPrez), and in 2015 he was named by The Best as one of the 20 most interesting college presidents.

A 1986 initiate of the Zeta Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., at the University of Georgia, Dr. Kimbrough was the Alpha Phi Alpha College Brother of the Year for the Southern Region and served at the Southern Region Assistant Vice President. Dr. Kimbrough has forged a national reputation as an expert on fraternities and sororities, with specific expertise regarding historically Black, Latin and Asian groups. He is the author of the book, “Black Greek 101: The Culture, Customs and Challenges of Black Fraternities and Sororities.”

Dr. Kimbrough was named the 1994 New Professional of the Year for the Association of Fraternity Advisors. In 2009, he was named by Diverse Issues in Higher Education as one of 25 To Watch. In 2010, he made the Ebony Magazine Power 100 list of the doers and influencers in the African-American community, joining the likes of President and Mrs. Obama, Jay-Z and Tyler Perry.

In February 2013 he was named to NBC News/The’s 100 African-Americans making history today, a group which includes Kerry Washington, Mellody Hobson, and Kendrick Lamar. Dr. Kimbrough was named male HBCU President of the Year for 2014 by HBCU Digest.


NEW ORLEANS, L.A. – Dillard University (a private, liberal arts historically black college) located in New Orleans has announce that multi-talented superstar Janelle Monáe will deliver this year’s commencement address. The 81st Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 13, at 8 a.m., on the historic Avenue of the Oaks. The University will confer more than 160 undergraduate degrees that day.

According to the University’s press release, Monáe is a multi-Grammy nominated singer-songwriter, performer, actor, producer and CoverGirl spokesperson known for her unique style and groundbreaking sound. She’s also known for her activism speaking out against social justices, police brutality and civic rights. Last fall, Monáe launched Fem the Future, an initiative to create more opportunities to advance the awareness inclusion and opportunities for women and those identify as women through music, arts, mentorship and education.

“Janelle Monáe’s significant accomplishment in music and particularly, film and STEM, both signature programs here at Dillard, along with her activism made her the ideal person to deliver a timely message to our graduates,” President Walter M. Kimbrough, Ph.D., said. So for more than a year, he pursued Monáe for the University’s commencement speaker. Kimbrough tracked her down going through magazine reporters, record companies, and finally the national president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc, to get her to Dillard University. He said: “I believe this is her first commencement speech and we are very excited to see this day come.”

Monáe hasn’t allowed her fame to silence her from being vocal on injustices. Conversely, Monáe has used fame as a platform and her political activism is well-documented. During a 2015 performance on NBC’s “Today,” Monáe performed her protest song “Hell You Talmbout.” Last February, Monáe performed at a concert in Flint, Mich., to raise money for the city’s recent water crisis. In January, after the most recent presidential election, she spoke and performed at the Women’s March on Washington that drew a record-breaking crowd.

As 2016 closed, Monáe took her talent to the silver screen, starring as a lead actor in the dramas Hidden Figures and Moonlight. Both films earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture, with Moonlight winning the award at the 89th Academy Awards. Hidden Figures centers around the true story of three African-American women who work for NASA and help make John Glenn the first person to orbit the Earth in 1962. The film also stars Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Kevin Costner. Hidden Figures won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Moonlight, produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment and A24, chronicles the coming-of-age of Chiron (Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes), a young man facing an uphill battle with his sexuality during Miami’s turbulent war-on-drugs era in the 1970s. Moonlight also stars Naomie Harris, André Holland and Mahershala Ali.

Using Hidden Figures as a catalyst, Monae has become an advocate for STEM, and in a interview with Teen Vogue she said: “I hope we see more girls from all backgrounds working in STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematics] as a result of it being on-screen.”
For more information regarding Commencement, visit Dillard University’s website at