Members Meet In Middleburg For 2015 Winter Meeting

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Despite a disruptive snowstorm, more than 100 ELC members and guests attended the 2015 Winter General Membership Meeting in Middleburg, VA. The focus of The ELC’s inaugural External Advocacy initiative – the state of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) – was the subject of the meeting. ELC members heard from renowned stakeholders who provided an accurate assessment of the current challenges facing HBCUs. They gained firsthand insight into how ELC members, their companies and personal/professional networks can best support HBCUs at this critical time.

Thursday, March 5

The meeting kicked off with a special induction ceremony to welcome 30 of the 60 new members from the 2015 Winter Class who were in attendance. The Opening Session entitled “An Executive Conversation with HBCU Presidents and Provosts” engaged members in a discussion on the value of corporations and business leaders forging relationships with HBCUs. ELC Member Akosua Barthwell Evans led a discussion with Dr. Ronald Mason, Jr. J.D., president of the Southern University and A&M College Systems and Dr. Harry L. Williams, president of Delaware State University. Both presidents made it clear that not all HBCUs are the same.

Dr. Mason said his network of campuses in Louisiana is the last resort for a higher education for many of the state’s black high school graduates due to limited resources and lower grade point averages. Southern’s community college provides an opportunity for students to develop the skills they need to prepare for its four-year programs. He also said that while the state has recently cut college funding by as much as $700 million, Southern has developed the “Five-Fifths Agenda” to intervene by preparing promising young black men with leadership skills in high school to get them on track for college and a career.

Dr. Williams spoke about the importance of relationships, citing his efforts to reach out to state legislators on a bi-partisan basis. Through his outreach and focus on excellence, enrollment at Delaware State has nearly doubled to 4,600 students. He credits the involvement of business leaders, a successful rebrand of the school and operating the university with the discipline of a successful business.

Both Mason and Williams called on ELC members to take on the challenges facing HBCUs by bringing their expertise and company support to the schools, recruiting on HBCU campuses and engaging the schools in research and development.

Friday, March 6

During the morning Business Session, members heard from ELC leadership about the organization’s strategic plan and initiatives for 2015. Council and Foundation Board Chairs Carla Harris and Rhonda Mims welcomed members and thanked them for their active participation, encouraging them to attend other ELC events throughout the year.

Dr. Steven Williams, director of the Institute for Leadership Development & Research, shared plans to expand offerings during Leadership Development Week and introduce a Digital Learning platform to create a revenue stream for the organization that will help fund more leadership development initiatives. The ELC also launched its External Advocacy initiative at the Winter Meeting. The organization adopted External Advocacy as one of our key strategic pillars with current efforts focused on education.

Following the Business Session, we hosted two Breakout Sessions on HBCU Board Service and the importance of developing funding sources for historically black institutions. Each session featured HBCU experts and ELC members associated with HBCUs as alumni or board members. Following the breakouts, members reunited for the “State of HBCUs: Unscripted” session moderated by Valerie Mosley of President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs and chairwoman, Valmo Ventures, featuring key thought leaders in higher education.

We were pleased to welcome Dr. George E. Cooper, executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, who provided insight from the perspectives of the Obama Administration and HBCU presidents and thought leaders. The panel also featured representatives from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO). The group discussed ways ELC members, corporations and influencers can advocate on behalf of strengthening HBCUs, both administratively and financially.

During the afternoon, Dr. Price Cobbs and Dr. Marilyn Parker led a confidential and candid conversation with members about their experiences and issues of mutual interest. The day concluded with ELC Corporate Board Initiative Cohort members and the National Association of Corporate Board Directors Board Chair Reatha Clark King, Ph.D. discussing shareholder activism and managing disruption in the boardroom.

Call to Action

Based on the lively exchanges between panelists and ELC members over the two-day Winter Meeting, ELC President and CEO Ronald C. Parker would like ELC members and their companies to consider taking the following actions to support HBCUs:


·Commit to reaching out to HBCU presidents to offer your participation as a board member, trustee or advisor to a Business School or department.


·Encourage your companies, CEOs and senior executives to engage HBCUs, recruit on their campuses and offer research opportunities.


·HBCUs need financial assistance. Advocate on their behalf and encourage alumni, non-alumni and your companies to contribute financially.

·Share your knowledge, experience and best practices regarding HBCUs with ELC’s External Advocacy Committee as we build our relationships with strategic partners such as NAFEO, Thurgood Marshall College Fund and UNCF to promote social marketing and advocacy that will generate support for HBCUs.

Details about the meeting are available in the meeting program book. We look forward to seeing you at the 2015 Summer General Membership Meeting in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, June 11 – 13, 2015. Save the date!

The panel on the State of HBCUs: Unscripted featured Mr. Johnny C. Taylor of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Valerie Mosley of the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs as moderator, Dr. George E. Cooper, executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, Dr. Lezli Baskerville of NAFEO, and Dr. Brian Bridges of UNCF.

Delaware State University President Dr. Harry L. Williams, Southern University President Dr. Ronald Mason, Jr., and Moderator Akosua Barthwell Evans, CEO of The Barthwell Group, engaged ELC members in the Opening Session, An Executive Conversation with HBCU Presidents and Provosts.

The Funding for HBCUs Breakout Session featured Sidney Evans, vice president of Finance and Management for Morgan State University.

The ELC & HBCU Boards Panel featured ELC members who serve on HBCU Boards including Moderator Barry Granger of DuPont, and panelists Marc Howze of John Deere, Shelley Stewart of DuPont, and Hilda Pinnix-Ragland of Duke Energy.

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