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Brain Food Concludes with Mara Brock Akil, Michael Eric Dyson and Lawrence Ross PDF Print E-mail
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Mara Brock Akil, creator of Being Mary Jane. Photo by L. Kasimu Harris


Brain Food, Dillard University President’s Lecture Series, 2015-2016, had intellectual offerings that ranged from race and religion to education, entertainment and politics that appealed an array of senses. Walter M. Kimbrough, Ph.D., president, curated leading minds, who are at the forefront of their professions. The series concluded this year with Mara Brock Akil, television writer, and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Georgetown University professor, and MSNBC political analyst and author Lawrence Ross.

 In March, Mara Brock Akil, an American television writer and producer, provided insight to the creative and business aspects of Hollywood and perspectives of black womanhood. She is the creator of “Being Mary Jane,” the hit drama series on BET that stars Gabrielle Union. She worked on ABC’s “Cougar Town,” UPN’s “Girlfriends” and recently signed a multiyear deal with Warner Bros., TV.   

The next month, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, a Georgetown University professor, MSNBC political analyst and best-selling author of 17 books. His latest effort, “The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America” was released in February. The book examines the powerful and unexpected way the politics of race have shaped Barack Obama’s identity and unprecedented presidency.

Weeks later, the series concluded with Lawrence Ross, author of  “The Divine Nine”and a leading expert on sororities and fraternities will speak about race and college. He dicussed his recent book, “Blackballed:The Black and White Politics of Race on America's Campuses” is a dynamic and controversial book that tears off the veil of America's hidden secret: America's colleges have fostered a racist environment that makes them a hostile space for African-American students.

A Brief History of the Dillard Presidential Lecture Series

Beginning with the university’s first official president, William Stuart Nelson in the 1930s, public intellectual discourse has been a part of Dillard’s heritage. In the 1950s, Albert Dent organized the Edwin R. Embree Memorial Lecture Series whose guests included Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, Mary McLeod Bethune, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jackie Robinson. Subsequently, Dillard presidents have assembled lectures that reflected their sensibilities. During Samuel DuBois Cook’s tenure, 1974 to 1997, he established a lyceum series, but also built a fine arts center to provide a new venue for lectures, theater and music. Walter M. Kimbrough launched Brain Food in 2013, and has continued the tradition with speakers such as Iyanla Vanzant, Misty Copeland, Benjamin Crump and Michael Steele.  

Photos Brain Food of Lawrence Ross

Photos from Brain Food of Michael Eric Dyson

Photos from Brain Food of Mara Brock Akil

 
Actor and Author Terrence “J” Jenkins to Deliver Dillard University 2016 Commencement Address PDF Print E-mail
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Photo: Terrence “J” Jenkins

NEW ORLEANS – Dillard University holds its 80th Commencement on Saturday, May 7, at 8 a.m., on the historic Avenue of the Oaks.  The University will confer more than 200 undergraduate degrees that day.

The University is proud to announce that actor, philanthropist, and author Terrence “J” Jenkins will deliver this year’s commencement address.  Jenkins may be best known for his seven-year stint on “BET’s 106 & Park” and his starring role as Michael in the films “Think Like a Man” and “Think Like a Man Too.”  Most recently he spent three years co-hosting “E! News” on the E! Network.  In 2013 he published his first book, “The Wealth of My Mother’s Wisdom,” which was an in-depth look at his mother’s journey raising him as a teenager.  In addition to his thriving entertainment career, Jenkins is also a spokesperson for Ronald McDonald’s House Charities Future Achievers Scholarship Campaign, a mentor with Steve Harvey’s Disney Dreamers Academy and an avid supporter of the Newark New Jersey Boys and Girls Club.  The Queens, New York native spent his formative years in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism from North Carolina A & T University.  Jenkins is also a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.

This year’s honorary degree recipients are President of the Ray Charles Foundation, Valerie Ervin and actor Garrett Morris ’58 (“2 Broke Girls,” “The Jamie Foxx Show,” “Saturday Night Live”).

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 5.05.09 PMValerie Ervin began her career hand-selected by international music icon Ray Charles to serve by his side and today stewards his legacy as president of the foundation that bears his name.  She played an important role in the production of the Oscar-winning film “Ray” and in the release of the best-selling album “Genius Loves Company,” featuring duets with Mr. Charles and some of music’s most legendary names.  Ervin also orchestrated the establishment of the Ray Charles Memorial Library, the U.S. Postal Service’s Ray Charles Forever Stamp, the naming of a Los Angeles USPS branch in Charles’ honor, and the recognition of his RPM Building as a historic site.  Today, she oversees the work of the Ray Charles Foundation in the fields of hearing and education that began some 30 years ago, including the Dillard University Ray Charles African-American Material Culture Program, which was established by Charles in 2003 to help preserve the unique culinary traditions and culture of New Orleans and the South.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 5.05.20 PMGarrett Morris, who has been entertaining audiences for nearly six decades, is a native New Orleanian and proud Dillard alumnus.  After graduating from Dillard he attended Manhattan School of Music and studied voice for five years at Julliard.  His professional career as began as a performer with the Harry Belafonte singers, with whom he performed for a decade.  During this time Morris branched out into acting, appearing in both Broadway and Off-Broadway productions of “Porgy and Bess,” “Show Boat,” “The Great White Hope,” and others.  He took on his most-well known role in 1975 as one of the original cast members of the landmark sketch-comedy series “Saturday Night Live.”  Since leaving SNL in 1980, Morris has been a fixture on television.  He is also the playwright of two original works, and in 2014 he added recording artist to his list of credits, releasing the CD “Black Creole Chronicles,” with jazz musician Billy Mitchell.  Morris currently resides in Los Angeles, where Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa honored him in 2007 for his work and contributions to the black community.

Each of this year’s honorary degree recipients will be conferred a doctorate of humane letters by Dillard President Walter M. Kimbrough.

“Our honorary degree recipients are all extremely accomplished in their fields and are embodiments of the type of success that should inspire our graduates,” says Dr. Kimbrough.  “They also reflect Dillard’s enduring commitment to the arts and celebrate the transformative power of the platform that each of these individuals have worked so hard to reach.”

As part of the commencement ceremonies, the University will also present Golden Citations to members of the Class of 1966, which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary.

For more information on the 2016 Dillard University commencement ceremonies, and for a copy of the commencement guide, visit www.dillard.edu.

 
Dillard University president Walter Kimbrough honored with 2016 Advocate for Higher Education award PDF Print E-mail
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NEW ORLEANS – Walter Kimbrough, president of Dillard University, was honored with the 2016 Advocate for Higher Education Award by the Counselors to Higher Education section of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA CHE) at a dinner in New Orleans on Wednesday evening.

Kimbrough then delivered the Patrick Jackson Lecture to an audience of more than 175 university communications and marketing professionals. In his remarks, Kimbrough emphasized the need for universities to articulate a clear and bold mission, and he encouraged university presidents to take a stand on the important issues of the day in higher education and in society.

The lecture was sponsored by Merit, whose platform connects the dots from high school to college to career for nearly 1.4 million students at 250 colleges by sharing the unique stories of their personal collegiate experiences with Merit’s network of legislators, high schools, local newspapers, and families. Amy Mengel, Merit’s vice president of marketing and a member of the PRSA CHE national executive committee that selected Kimbrough for the award, introduced Kimbrough.

“Walter is the embodiment of higher education advocacy,” said Mengel in her introductory remarks. “His larger-than-life presence on Twitter makes him a relatable figure that helps audiences connect with him in a personal way, and allows him to deliver important messages about equity and access in our higher education system today.”

indexKimbrough is the first leader of a historically black college or university to receive the award, which was created in 2009 to recognize an individual who has done the most to advocate on behalf of America’s higher education system. Previous winners have included Teresa Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia; Mary Sue Coleman, president emerita of the University of Michigan and now president of the Association of American Universities; Rebecca Chopp, chancellor of the University of Denver; Hunter Rawlings, interim president of Cornell University; and Mark Yudof, former president of the University of California system, among others.

Mengel noted that Kimbrough was unanimously selected by PRSA CHE’s national executive committee, made up of senior communications leaders at more than a dozen top colleges and universities in the US.

“Walter is not afraid to advocate for students and institutions that have often been ignored or marginalized,” Mengel said. “Last summer, he penned a compelling piece in InsideHigherEd questioning the value of mega-gifts to already wealthy institutions, and drawing stark comparisons to how much more impactful that money could be at institutions that are serving higher percentages of Pell-eligible students, first-generation students, and students from low-income families. Walter is a powerful voice in higher education.”

Kimbrough was named the seventh president of Dillard University in 2012, after previously serving as president of Philander Smith College in Arkansas for seven years. In 2014, he was named by HBCU Digest magazine as the Male HBCU President of the Year.

 
Reverend Raphael Warnock selected as 2016 Dillard University Baccalaureate Speaker PDF Print E-mail
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NEW ORLEANS – The Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, Senior Pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, spiritual home of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the 2016 Baccalaureate speaker.  The service is scheduled for May 6, 2016 at 6:00 pm at Dillard University on the Avenue of the Oaks.

Rev. Warnock is a native of Savannah, Ga., and completed his undergraduate studies as Morehouse College (B.A., Psychology).  He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, from which he graduated with honors and distinctions.  Continuing his studies, Warnock went on to receive both a Master of Philosophy and a Doctor of Philosophy from Union.  He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc., and is a Lifetime Member of the NAACP.

His pastoral career began as an intern at the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., where he was ordained by the Rev John T. Porter, who himself had served as Martin Luther King Jr.’s pulpit assistant at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.  After ten years of service at the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City, Rev. Warnock spent 4 ½ years as the Senior Pastor of Baltimore’s Douglas Memorial Community Church.

In 2005, at 35 years of age, Dr. Warnock became the fifth as well as the youngest person ever called to be the senior pastorate of Ebenezer Church.  Under his leadership, more than 4,000 new members have joined Ebenezer while Dr. Warnock has enhanced the Church’s legacy of social activism.  Through his work Ebenezer has expanded ministries and community services to unprecedented levels.  In 2016 he was honored to have his footprints placed on the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, just one of the many recognitions he has received during his illustrious career.

For more information on the 2016 Dillard University commencement activities, and for a copy of the commencement guide, visit www.dillard.edu.


 
Dillard University to Honor Community Leaders at 2016 “Champions of the American Dream” Best in Business Awards Luncheon PDF Print E-mail
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April 11, 2016
NEW ORLEANS
– The Dillard University College of Business will honor local business leaders at its annual Champions of the American Dream Event on Thursday, April 14, at 11:30 a.m. in the Waldorf Astoria Ballroom of The Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel.

Business leaders in five categories will be recognized and receive a “Best in Business” award for their work and contributions to our community.

This year’s honorees are:

  • Chris Walker: Founder/President of CDC Services with the David Dillard                  Award for Excellence
  • Dr. Andre Perry: Commentator, Activist, and Educator with the Social Justice Award
  • Dr. Juan Gershinak: President, Neonatal Medical Group with the Excellence in Innovation Award
  • Jaqueline Vines: Senior Vice President, Cox Communications with the                Cultural Pioneer Award
  • Sandy Rosenthal: Founder/Executive Director, Levees.org with the Pioneer of Purpose Award

“Champions of the American Dream” is an initiative designed to recognize local and statewide business leaders and entrepreneurs for their success and persistence in their chosen careers, their history of philanthropy, and their service as role models in the community.

“Entrepreneurship coupled with ingenuity have been at the core of what has built America,” said Richard Harley, Regional Manager for the Office of International Trade with the U.S. Small Business Administration and one of the event’s core committee members.  “Dillard University takes pride in honoring these local ‘Champions of the American Dream’ who have made their marks both on our community and our nation.

The keynote speaker for the event is Augusto “Cookie” Rojas, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the New Orleans Zephyrs.

For complimentary tickets to the event, or for sponsorship inquiries, please call or email Erica Durousseau, Corporate Relations contact at Dillard University at 504-816-4669 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
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