It was a tremendous honor to host the first ever HBCU Presidents Dinner, says Ashley Northington, RW Jones Agency. We had seven top-notch presidents in the room: Dr. Dwaun Warmack of Claflin University, Dr. Rosalyn Clark Artis of Benedict College, Dr. Logan Hampton of Lane College, Dr. Carmen Walters of Tougaloo College, Dr. Cynthia Warrick of Stillman College, Dr. Sean Huddleston of Martin University and Dr. Ernest McNealey of Allen University.
For the past five years, RW Jones Agency has partnered with a college to host The Presidents Dinner. It’s an opportunity for college and university presidents to sit down with top-tier media outlets (think: New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Inside Higher Education, etc.) to discuss the amazing things happening at their institutions and the trends they see happening across higher education.
This year we decided to do an additional dinner focused explicitly and intentionally on historically and predominantly Black colleges and universities. Of course, HBCU and PBI leaders have participated in The Presidents Dinner. But the first HBCU Presidents Dinner was special.
I was super intentional about the presidents I asked to participate. The presidents we had were phenomenal. I wanted to have a robust dialogue with presidents representing institutions that are not always in the limelight, yet are doing groundbreaking work to serve their students. And I was super intentional about ensuring there was Black media in the room so that they too could benefit from the discussion.
What happened was powerful. These institutions got a chance to amplify their work with journalists who might not otherwise think to call them first. I know for a fact many of those journalists were educated about HBCUs and PBIs in new ways. And that was the point. We busted myths. We enhanced existing narratives. And we created a new discussion around the power of an HBCU education.
It was beautiful and I’m proud.
(Pictures by Phillip Emanuel Francis)