TALLADEGA, AL – In partnership with the City of Talladega, the Omega Academy of Science and Fine Arts has acquired the Talladega Golf Course and the Eastside Head Start building. These acquisitions will be used to provide education and sports initiatives to underserved communities.

The Omega Academy of Science and Fine Arts is a public-private partnership led by Dr. Mark E. Stevens, Vanessa Williams-Nash, Lamar D. Williams, and Dr. Shaquille O’Neal. Its mission is to provide solutions that enrich education and child development options to diverse communities by leveraging the organizers’ relationships with corporate partners using Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

Motivated and inspired by Dr. David Marion, Grand Basileus, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Dr. Stevens undertook the challenge to find a new and innovative pathway to educational equity and inclusion.

The Omega Academy of Science and Fine Arts will provide services to individuals and families whose quality of life has been negatively impacted by poverty, unemployment, homelessness,crime, and inadequate public education services. The Academy’s resources will provide an alternative education platform and child development options for the community.

Plans include utilizing portions of the old golf course to create a golf school or six-hole loop course and driving range for the the city on the current 38-arce property. The program will enable youth to build the strength of character that empowers them through a lifetime of new challenges by seamlessly integrating the game of golf with a curriculum focused on diverse life skills.

Talladega City manager Seddrick Hill Sr. speaks during the ribbon cutting ceremony for Omega Golf Academy on June 17, 2022. Photo courtesy of The Daily Home.

Dr. Marion stated, ”Our historic organization is proud to partner with the Omega Academy of Science and Fine Arts in an effort to continue our legacy of building and developing tomorrow’s leaders. This partnership is an innovative solution to addressing the great challenges that many of our communities and cities are facing today.”

Talladega City Manager Seddrick Hill Sr., a Talladega College alumnus, noted that the city is undergoing a transformation that includes knocking down dilapidated, abandoned buildings; combating crime more aggressively; beautifying public spaces; and creating resolutions and ordinances that will help make the city a better place to live, work, and do business. He believes the academies will have a ”tremendous impact.”

Hill stated, ”The Omega Academy of Science and Fine Arts and the Omega Golf Academy will increase hope, opportunity and pride in Talladega.”

The Omega Academy of Science and Fine Arts plans to hire many of the same staff and previous student that attended the Eastside Academy in the past years.

During a recorded messages shared at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 17, 2022, Dr. Shaquille O’Neal praised Mr. Hill for helping to transform Talladega.

”When I do something, I do it big cause I’m still a kid at heart,” says O’Neal.

For more information, email Dr. Mark E. Stevens, Vanessa Williams-Nash or Lamar D. Williams at admin@theomegaaosafa.org.

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Every Monday, the HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF) will spotlight a Chancellor or President who currently serves a Historically Black College or University. This initiative recognizes and introduces those individuals who serve our nation HBCUs on a daily basis, changing and educating lives while producing the forthcoming visionary leaders of tomorrow.

This week’s Chancellor or President:  Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, Talladega College

Billy C. Hawkins, PhD

Dr. Billy C. Hawkins has served as president of Talladega College since January 1, 2008. During his distinguished tenure of the institution’s 20th president, he has stabilized finances; increased fundraising; expanded academic offerings; successfully guided the institution through SACSCOC accreditation; and led the College in reaching record-breaking enrollment increases. Under his leadership, Talladega College has been completely transformed and revitalized.

During his first year at the College, Dr. Hawkins implemented rigorous plans for renovation and growth. As a result of his vision, enrollment doubled from just over 300 students to 601 students in one semester; athletic programs were reinstated for the first time in ten years; and major campus beautification projects were undertaken. Today Talladega College has 1,217 students and is listed among the Princeton Review’s best colleges in the Southeast and U.S. News and World Report’s best regional colleges and best HBCUs. The college recently launched its first-ever graduate program, an online Master of Science in Computer Information Systems. In addition, the campus is undergoing a major physical transformation.

A 45,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art residence hall opened in January 2019. In fall 2019, the College will open its first-ever student center, a 47,000-square-foot facility replete with a 2,000-seat arena as well as a banquet hall, restaurant, convocation center, computer lab, health care clinic, VIP suite, concession stand, coffee lounge and convenience store. Ground has also been broken on the Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art, which will house six critically-acclaimed Hall Woodruff murals, including the renowned Amistad Murals. To construct the museum for Woodruff’s murals, which are valued at 50 million dollars, Dr. Hawkins secured Talladega’s largest-ever financial gift, a one million dollar donation from alumnus Dr. William R. Harvey. Dr. Hawkins also secured a 1.5 million dollar contribution from Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and the State of Alabama.

Dr. Hawkins spearheaded a similar transformation at Texas College, where he also served as the 20th president. Prior to his arrival, the College had lost both its accreditation and its membership in the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). During his 7-year tenure, which began December 1, 2000, the institution flourished. There was an 82% increased in student enrollment within the first ten months of his arrival. Under his leadership, the institution regained accreditation in 2001, stabilized its finances, and also regained its membership in the UNCF. Dr. Hawkins implemented five new academic programs, constructed three new facilities, remodeled all academic and student service facilities, procured property assets, eliminated all long-term debt, and started new athletic programs which won three championship. As a result of the remarkable turnaround, the college received a new 10 year accreditation in 2006.

Prior to joining Texas College, Dr. Hawkins served as Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Education at Mississippi Valley State University. During his tenure at Mississippi Valley State University, he developed and proposed 18 new academic programs; increased internet accessibility and computer access for students and faculty; spearheaded diverse innovative faculty development initiatives; and re-engineered the registration process. Dr. Hawkins began his career as an educator in the Lansing Michigan Public Schools System. His passion for teaching led him to the field of higher education where he has served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs/Professor at Mississippi Valley State University; Vice President for Academic Affairs/Professor at Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Virginia; Acting Dean, Associate Dean, and Assistant Dean/Professor in the College of Education at Ferris State University; and Director of Educational Opportunity Program, State University of New York at Morrisville College. 

A prominent leader in the field of education, Dr. Hawkins has appeared on numerous television programs, including the O’Reilly Factor with Bill O’Reilly on FOX News, the Don Lemon Show on CNN, the Armstrong Williams Show, the ABC Evening News with the late Peter Jennings, BBC News, and diverse programs on local ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX affiliates. In addition, he has been featured on the cover of Diverse Issues in Higher Education and highlighted in publications such as Alabama Business Magazine, U.S. News and World Report and the Chronicle of Higher Education

Dr. Hawkins serves as chair of the 36 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 by President Donald Trump 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 is the first African American to chair the Alabama Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the author of two books, and a member of the Talladega Rotary Club, the Delta Upsilon Boule and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He is a recipient of the Vanguard Award from the Higher Education Leadership Foundation, the Colonel Leo Thorsness Courage Award, the Ferris State Distinguished Alumni Award, the Kent Hall of Fame, the Presidential Service Award from the HBCU Title III Administrators, Inc, the Distinguished Service Award to the Nation’s HBCUs, a Certificate of Appreciation from the Anniston Army Depot, Alabama’s Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc’s Graduate Citizen of the Year Award, and the Theta Tau Chapter’s Citizenship Award. Quality of Life Health Services named Dr. Hawkins a “Hero in Healthcare for 2018.” In recognition of his leadership in the community and the College’s 17 million dollar economic impact in the region, the Talladega City Council presented Dr. Hawkins with the Key to the City and other awards at a special council meeting and reception held in his honor in 2019.  

The Kent, Ohio native holds a B.S. in Teacher Education from Ferris State University; an M.A. in Education Administration from Central Michigan University; and a Ph.D. in Education from Michigan State University. He has completed post doctorate study at Harvard University. Dr. Hawkins and his wife Lucy reside in Talladega, AL. 

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About Talladega College

Talladega College is located in an historic district of the city of Talladega, Alabama. The campus is on a plateau about 700 feet above sea level in the heart of a fertile valley in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The campus is a quiet place – away from the distractions and fast pace of urban living. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

About the HBCU Campaign Fund

HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF) is a non-profit advocacy organization which is mission to supporting the significance and campaign in raising funds for scholarships and services at historically black colleges and universities and predominately black institutions. HCF advocates for students, alumni, HBCU and PB institutions. For more information, visit www.hbcucampaignfund.org.