TALLADEGA COLLEGETalladega College announced that its president and chief executive officer, Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, will retire effective June 30, 2022. When Dr. Hawkins took the helm at Talladega in 2008, the institution was struggling to survive and had under 300 students.

Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, president of Talladega College.

He implemented rigorous plans for renovation and growth that resulted in a total transformation of the college. He had one of Talladega’s most prized possessions, Hall Woodruff’s acclaimed Amistad Murals, removed from the walls of Savery Library, where they had hung for almost 70 years, and appraised. They were valued at $40 millions, but in danger of disintegrating. With the assistance of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA, the murals were restored and sent on a three-year, eight city tour. The value of this historic collection soared to $50 million.

As a result of Dr. Hawkin’s vision, enrollment doubled to 601 students in one semester. He stabilized finances; increased fundraising; restarted athletics; reopened historic Swayne Hall; expanded academic offerings; restarted athletic programs; beautified the campus; initiated a robust building campaign; and successfully guided the institution through SACSCOC accreditation in 2009 and 2019.

The college ha enjoyed record high enrollment increases every academic year since 2018, and all previous enrollment records were shattered during the 2020-2021 academic year, when enrollment soared at an all-time high of over 1300 students.

Between January 2019 and January 2020, the college held ribbon-cutting ceremonies for three new facilities – a new residence hall; the Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art, which houses the Amistad Murals; and the Dr. Billy C. Hawkins Student Activity Center. To construct the museum for Woodruff’s murals, Dr. Hawkins secured Talladega’s largest-ever financial gift, a one million dollar donation from alumnus Dr. Williams R. Harvey. Dr. Hawkins also secured a 1.5 million dollar contribution from Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and the state of Alabama. The Talladega College Board of Trustees voted to name the new student center in honor of Dr. Hawkins in recognition of his many outstanding contributions to the institution.

Under Dr. Hawkins’s leadership, Talladega recently launched its first-ever graduate program, an online Master of Science in Computer Information Systems (MSCIS); built an acclaimed 400 member marching band; took 23 students on all-expenses-paid tour of Japan via Kakehashi Project Study Tour; won at least 17 athletic championships; and celebrated the return of Hale Woodruff’s critically acclaimed Amistad Murals to the campus.

Talladega’s 2019 SACSCOC (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges) accreditation was reaffirmed through 2029 with no recommendations for change in any of the standard reviewed and, for the first time ever, the college gained accreditation to teach at the master’s degree level.

As a result of the transformation he brought to Talladega, Dr. Hawkins has become widely known as “the turnaround expert.” He serves as chair of the 37 presidents of member institutions for the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) board of directors, and also serves as UNCF chair of the executive committee of member institutions, vice chair of the corporate board, and vice chair of the corporate board executive committee. He was appointed to the White House Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities in September, 2018. In addition, he was appointed by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to serve on the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council. Dr. Hawkins was the first African American to chair the Alabama Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He is the author of two books, and a member of the Talladega Rotary Club, the Delta Upsilon Boule and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He was ranked first place among the Top Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2020 by HBCU Campaign Fund.

About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabamaa’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the bet southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

Sky view of Savery Library on Talladega College’s campus. Photo courtesy of Talladega College.

TALLADEGA, AL – The Talladega College Board of Trustees authorized Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins to employ a consultant to determine the feasibility of reviving the institution’s football program. Trustees voted in favor of conducting a feasibility study during the institution’s spring board meeting.

Talladega seized the Black College Football National Championship in 1920 and 1921. While the institution’s illustrious football program was canceled 80 years ago, during World War II, the upcoming study may help usher in a new era of football for Alabama’s first private historically black college.

“The year 2021 marks the one hundred year anniversary of our historic back-to-back championship win,” said Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, Talladega College President. “Given the success of our academic and athletic programs; the recent growth and transformation of the college; and the myriad benefits of having a football program, now may be the time to revive our team. This could be great for the college, the community, and central Alabama. However, our decision will be based upon the findings of a formal feasibility study.”

Dr. Hawkins has extensive experience in bringing back a college football program. During his tenure as president of Texas College, where he served prior to beginning his presidency at Talladega, he successfully restarted the institution’s football program that had been shut down for 40 years. Texas’s football program is still thriving today.

Talladega Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Jeffery T. Burgin Jr., recently spearheaded a preliminary investigation to determine the feasibility of adding a football program. His committee surveyed employees and found that an overwhelming majority of Talladega’s faculty and staff are in favor of having a football program. Most employees believe a football team will increase student enrollment and retention; attract donations and sponsorships; and increase institutional pride.

“We are now moving forward with a true feasibility study. Adding a football program will affect community members so we want to hear their opinions. We also want to gage the opinions of our alumni and other stakeholders,” Dr. Burgin stated.

Talladega College Athletic Director Kevin Herod added, The possibility of adding football would only enhance our athletic program and bring new opportunities to the campus, the community, and the overall collegiate experience of our students.”

Shakayah Midgette, a 2021 graduate who served as student representative to the Talladega College Board of Trustees stated, “The ban would love to actually march at home games, and many students are excited about the possibility of attending football games on campus. School pride has increased a great deal, and I believe a football team would help it to increase even further. Football would attract new student as well as sponsors.”

Talladega recently launched its first-ever graduate program and constructed three new facilities – a 45,000 square-foot resident hall; the Dr. Billy C. Hawkins Student Activity Center; and the Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art, which houses Hale Woodruff’s renowned Amistad Murals. The 2020-2021 academic year was Talladega’s 3rd consecutive year for record enrollment increases. Talladega Is consistently listed among the best colleges in the Southeast and the top HBCUs in the nation.

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TALLADEGA, AL – Talladega College will confer three honorary degrees during its 146th commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 1, 2021, at 9 a.m. Honorary degree recipients for the Class of 2021 include Executive Business Management (EBM) President/CEO Essye B. Miller, who previously served as principal deputy, Department of Defense chief information officer (CIO); acclaimed poet and social justice advocate Nikki Finney; and UNCF (United Negro College Fund) Senior Vice President Lodriguez Murray. Commencement will be live-streamed at www.talladega.edu/live-events/ on Talladega’s website.

Essye B. Miller

Talladega College alumna Essye B. Miller (1985) is a seasoned executive with 35+ years of federal and Department of Defense (DoD) experience. She provides consulting and strategic advisory services focused on national defense issues related on information management, information technology, and cybersecurity. Ms. Miller is also a CIO Strategic Advisor Government Executive (SAGE) for Partnership for Public Service. During her tenure as principal deputy chief information officer, she served as primary advisor to the Secretary of Defense for information management, information technology, and information assurance. She oversaw implementation of the department’s Digital Modernization Strategy; set the strategic direction for DoD IT reform efforts in support of the National Defense Strategy; drove the Fourth Estate Network Optimization efforts; and successfully managed the Department’s $49 billion IT budget. As the DoD face to the Federal CIO Council, she influenced IT priorities and policies across government agencies. Ms. Miller was recognized by their Secretary of Defense for her Distinguished Civilian Service. She is also a 2018 recipient of the Presidential Rank Award for exceptional service an a staunch advocate for developing the next generation of technology and cybersecurity leaders.

Nikky Finney

Talladega College alumna Nikky Finney (1979) holds two endowed chairs at the University of South Carolina, the University Distinguished Professor Chair and the John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters. She is the recipient of the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets (2020), the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry the University of the South (2020), the Elizabeth O’Neil Verner Award for the Arts in South Carolina (2016), and the Benjamin Franklin Award for Poetry (2004), and the PEN American Open Book Award (1996). She has authored and edited numerous publications, including Head Off & Split, winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry. Her newest book, Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry, is a finalist for the 2021 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her work is on display in the inaugural exhibition of the African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C. She is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, a place for poets of color of Appalachia. She was recently elected chancellor of the American Academy of Poets.

Lodriguez V. Murray

Lodriguez V. Murray is a tenured executive federal lobbyist based in the District of Columbia, he specializes in representing diverse constituencies to policy and political leaders. He is highly skilled at procuring federal funding for the organizations he represents, due in part to his working knowledge of federal laws, departments agencies, and programs. In addition to his ability to procure federal funds, Mr. Murray has proven capability in coordinating successful fundraising events and receptions. Key to his effectiveness as a lobbyist in his ability to develop strategic plans, analyze policies, and provide regular recommendations for programs enhancements. His solid and trusting relationships enable him to effectively represents clients of members of Congress, congressional staff and agencies. He is the youngest ever permanent member of the UNCF Leadership Team.

About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals.

billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban. Cuban is owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

TALLADEGA, AL – Talladega College students, faculty, and staff participated in a virtual meeting with billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban on March 29, 2021. Mr. Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is a media proprietor and the primary investor on the ABC reality television series Shark Tank.

Mr. Cuban talked about experiences that shaped his life and urged prospective entrepreneurs to select businesses that will “leverage your unique skill sets.” He also stated, “You’ve got to put in the effort. You’ve got to be able to prepare.”

During the presentation, Talladega College senior Kamari McHenry asked questions about Mr. Cuban’s successful business endeavors and the experiences that helped him to excel. After the event, Kamari stated, “I was happy to be a part of the virtual experience today with Mark Cuban. He gave our students and me some wonderful advice. He let me know the sky is the limit. I can do anything with hard work.”

Mass Media Studies Chair Dr. Luis Almeida, who arranged the event, stated, “Having Mark Cuban come into my classroom at Talladega was a wonderful opportunity for students. He helped them to understand the importance of entrepreneurship and realize that, after graduation, they can create their own jobs.”

During the presentation, Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins stated that Mr. Cuban’s “passion, confidence, poise, and drive” are among the keys to his success. Dr. Hawkins also noted that similarities between Mr. Cuban’s story of starting out with little and building a fortune to the experiences he had when he became president of the college in 2008. There were barely over 300 students at the time. With hard work and perseverance, the college doubled enrollment from approximately 300 to 601 students in one semester and a major campus transformation began.

In January 2019, a 45,000-foot-square-of-the-art residence hall opened. In 2020, two additional facilities opened – the Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art, which houses the Amistad Murals, and the Dr. Billy C. Hawkins Student Activity Center. Enrollment recently rose to an all-time high of 1313 students, making the 2020-2021 academic year Talladega’s 3rd consecutive year for record enrollment increases. Talladega College is listed among the Princeton Review’s best colleges in the Southeast and ranked among the U.S. News and World Report’s best National Liberal Arts College, best Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs), and Top Performers on Social Mobility. The College recently launched its first-ever graduate program, an online Master of Science in Computer Information Systems.

About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently, ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, Williams Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

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Dr. Kristie L. Kenney, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Talladega College.

TALLADEGA, AL – Dr. Kristie L. Kenney, Talladega College’s vice president for institutional advancement, has been selected to participate in the Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI). A new class of 32 exemplary, senior-level higher education professionals will participate in the 2021 MLI, a premier leadership development program of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

“I commend Dr. Kenney for being one of 32 higher education professionals in the nation selected to participate in the 2021 Millennium Leadership Initiative,” said Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, president of Talladega College, who was a member of the 2000 Millennium Leadership Initiative. “Having completed the MLI, I understand and appreciate the value and lasting impact that this program can have on a participant’s life.”

MLI provides individuals traditionally underrepresented in the highest ranks of postsecondary education with the opportunity to develop skills, gain a philosophical overview, and build the network and knowledge needed to advance to the presidency.

Since MLI’s inception 22 years ago, 662 protégés have graduated from the program. One-fifth of MLI graduates have become a president or chancellor, and more than one-third have advanced significantly to other leadership positions within higher education, including at the state level.

In 2020, AASCU restructured MLI in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 institution will also feature virtual programming – four meetings a month from March 17 to May 26. Additionally, it includes a tentative, in-person meeting in the fall. Protégés will also have a yearlong mentorship with an experienced president or chancellor and four months of professional coaching from a retired president or chancellor.

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About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, Williams Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

About AASCU
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of nearly 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. Theses are institutions Delivering America’s Promise. For more information, visit www.aascu.org.

Dr. Alvin Smith

TALLADEGA, AL – Talladega College graduate Dr. Alvin Smith, manager of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA JPL) Planetary Protection Center of Excellence and Backward Planetary Protection Lead for Mars Sample Return, credits Talladega for providing the foundation that helped him excel in science.

“Talladega College really shaped my first understanding of the scientist, individually and collectively, that I wanted to become. The sense of family and community fostered a sense of belonging you rarely find these days, rooted in historical black excellence,” said Dr. Smith. “It was this TC community that made the first investment, through scholarships and didactic scientific education, that truly launched my ambitions to the stars.”

Dr. Smith provides program management and scientific oversight to several research & development projects, training programs, university outreach, and interagency collaborations at NASA JPL at the California Institute of Technology. The JPL Planetary Portection Center of Excellence promotes and sustains the infrastructure of planetary protection at JPL while supporting NASA missions. JPL fosters a culture of intra and inter collaboration to meet evolving mission requirements. The Planetary Protection Center of Excellence ensures that its scientists and engineers are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, remain effectively trained, lead mission-related Research & Technology Development projects, and leverage leading government and industry advancements, so that they can better fulfill multi-mission needs. Dr. Smith joined JPL after spending over 16 years in consulting as a biodefense subject matter expert (SME) and researcher in high containment labs.

These experiences highlight his understanding of what it takes to conduct challenging biological studies, implement and lead successful scientific projects, and build lasting partnerships. His scientific contributions in immunology, infectious diseases, and animal models have aided the federal government in developing medical countermeasures and biodetection capabilities for human smallpox, Ebola, and other potential biological weapons. He is a past recipient of numerous awards and honors, including JPL’s Voyager Award, the Noblis Technology Leadership Award, and the IGCC (Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation) Public Policy and Biological Threats Fellowship Award.

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About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is home of the renowned Hall Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

Dr. Pamela Brady, Chemistry Department Chair/Assistant Professor at Talladega College.

TALLADEGA, AL – Talladega College Chemistry Department Chair/Assistant Professor Dr. Pamela Brady is listed among the 1,000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America. This prestigious list, which was complied by Cell Mentor, a publication of Cell Press, highlights the important contributions that Black scientists make to the world’s scientific company.

Dr. Brady, a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry/pre-med with minors in both mathematics and Spanish at Winston-Salem State University in 2008. She completed her doctoral degree in analytical chemistry at Louisiana State University in 2015. Her research was focused on development of methods to assign methylated NMR peaks for the determination of the quaternary structure of proteins.

Dr. Brady completed a NH funded IRACDA Postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her work at UAB involved investigating the structure function relationship of coronaviral proteins using multidimensional NMR spectroscopy. During her postdoc, she also gained valuable teaching experience and earned CIRTL certification in teaching and learning, mentorship, and leadership. She joined Talladega in the Fall of 2019. Since that time, she has written a proposal to the state of Alabama for the college to obtain an Industrial Hemp license for the year 2020. Currently, she is working to submit an implementation grant for the establishment of the UTEACH program at Talladega. This program will be the one of the first to be implemented in HBCUs nationwide and the first to be implemented in an HBCU in the state of Alabama.

About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

Mass Media Studies Department Chair Dr. Luis Almeida (right) with student.

TALLADEGA, AL – Talladega College has been named to the PR News 2021 Education A-List Top 35 institutions for advancing careers in public relations and communication.

Mass Media Studies Department Chair Dr. Luis Almeida believes Talladega teaching methods, in which students learn by engaging in real-world projects, helped land the college on the prestigious list. Other HBCUs listed among the top 35 also include Virginia State University.

“Talladega College students work beside professionals and produce high-quality products for companies in our regions and for departments on campus. Our students are engaged in applied media and learning the exact skills that are needed in the marketplace,” said Dr. Almeida, who is an award-winning photographer.

Upcoming fall classes at Talladega College include Innovation and Social Media, Multimedia Storytelling, and Digital Photography. For more information about admission to Talladega College, you may email admissions@talladega.edu or call 256-761-6235.

In addition to being list among the top institutions for public relations and communication, Talladega is listed among the Princeton Review’s “Best Southwestern Colleges.” In its “2021 Best Colleges: Region by Region” section, the Princeton Review notes that many students are drawn to Talladega because of its “amazing scholarships” and “family-like atmosphere” as well as the fantastic academic programs and “outstanding” and “supportive” professors. Talladega College also earned rankings in three categories of the 2021 U.S. News & World Report Best College Guide – National Liberal Arts College, Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs) and Top Performers on Social Mobility.

Click here to see PR News 2021 Education A-List.

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About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, Williams Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

TALLADEGA, AL – Talladega College has named Dr. Kristie L. Kenney as its vice president for institutional advancement. Her tenure at the College begins March 8, 2021, according to a press release by the College.

Dr. Kristie L. Kenny

Dr. Kenney will provide leadership and direction through the planning, organization, coordination, and implementation of the College’s development programs. Her responsibilities will include leading the advancement team in carrying out the institution’s goals and funding priorities as determined by the College’s mission and vision. She will report to the president.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Kenney to our senior leadership team,” said Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, president of Talladega College. “She brings a wealth of experience in fundraising, development, and alumni relations, and has the vision and expertise to elevate our advancement efforts.”

Dr. Kenney previously served as director of alumni giving for Christian City, Inc., in Union City, Georgia, where she increased annual giving, donors retention, and employee giving. Prior to joining Christian City, she served as executive director of JSU (Jackson State University) Development Foundation, Inc., where she managed its $52 million assets operation, $3.5 million annual contributions, $17 million endowment, and $1.2 million operational budget.

Dr. Kenney holds a Ph.D. in Urban Higher Education from Jackson State University, a master of science in Higher Education – College Administration and Leadership from Purdue University Global, and a bachelor of science in Agricultural Business from Tennessee State University. She also earned a certificate in fundraising management from the Center for Philanthropy at Indianan University.

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About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCU in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, Williams Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

Pictured: left to right in this 2013 are former Talladega College Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Harry Coaxum, Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, Billye Aaron and Henry “Hank” Aaron. The Aarons, who established a $500,000 endowed scholarship at Talladega College, were conferred with honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees.

(TALLADEGA, AL) – While Henry “Hank” Aaron will be remembered for his extraordinary baseball skills, Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins noted that Aaron’s contributions to higher education were equally legendary.

“Hank Aaron was not only a sports legend, but a devoted philanthropist and an advocate for higher education. His generosity made it possible for thousands of students to enroll in college and graduate. Here at Talladega College, he and his wife, Billye, established a $500,000 endowed scholarship that has had a tremendous impact,” said Dr. Hawkins.

“Hank was a personal friend of mine and he was very receptive when I approached him about helping Talladega College students. I am so grateful for the support that he and Mrs. Aaron have provided our students and for students throughout the nation,” he continued.

Hank and Billye Aaron were both conferred with honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Talladega College in 2013, when they presented the college with a $104,000 check.

“I first met Hank when I served as president at Texas College, his wife’s alma mater. I was immediately inspired by their profound generosity and their impact on the lives of students. While the world will definitely remember him for his amazing athletic skills, thousands of college students will remember Hank Aaron for his remarkable generosity.”

“On behalf of the Talladega College family, I extend my sincere condolences to Mrs. Aaron and the entire Aaron family.”

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About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, Williams Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amisted Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.