Oakwood Wins "Retool Your School" Competition

Oakwood University won a Tier 1 grant of $50,000 in The Home Depot's Retool Your School competition. The judges liked Oakwood's grant proposal for a mile-long circuit of outdoor exercise stations emphasizing the laws of health. The stations will be a part of the Healthy Campus 2020 initiative that will officially launch this August. Winners were announced yesterday, in Atlanta, Georgia. The University's Administration would like to thank everyone who voted and/or utilized social media to help Oakwood win this competition, for the third year in a row.

Commencement 2015 - By the Numbers


An excited graduate waves to her family during Commencement 2015. (Photo courtesy of al.com.)

This past weekend, Oakwood University hosted its 2015 Commencement. Listed below are some of the statistics shared by President Leslie N. Pollard about the 358 members of the Class of 2015:


Male - 135

Female - 223


Age of oldest graduate - 62 years old

Age of youngest graduate - 20 years old


Top three states with most graduates:

labama - 111

California - 36

New York - 32


Highest student GPA in the traditional educational program: 3.97 (Jonté Hunter)


Highest student GPA in the LEAP (adult and continuing education) program: 4.00 (Shannon Lallemand)


Masters Graduates - 3

Adult & Continuing Education (LEAP) Graduates - 46

Dietetic Interns - 29


Major with highest number of graduates: Biology - 33


Note: An additional five "guests" marched with the Class of 2015. The guests were defined as those who chose not to march at their respective institutions because of Sabbath observance and other scheduling concerns. 


The Huntsville Times/al.com writer Bob Gathany reported on the Commencement Ceremony. Click here to read his summary of the occasion. Also click here for the OU Graduation photo gallery

Alabama HBCU Presidents on Federal College Ratings 

by George T. French, Jr., president, Miles College; Billy C. Hawkins, president, Talladega College; Peter E. Millet, president, Stillman College; and Leslie N. Pollard, president, Oakwood University 


We are the presidents of four Alabama historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)- Miles College in Fairfield in metro Birmingham, Talladega College in Talladega, Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, and Oakwood University in Huntsville. Along with the 33 other private HBCUs that belong to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), we have a track record of enrolling and graduating students from low-income families, the students the nation most needs to get on the path to college and stay there.  HBCUs out-perform non-HBCUs by 14 percentage points when it comes to educating low-income African Americans-and at tuition levels 30 percent lower than at comparable colleges and universities.


Collectively, we have graduated over 16,000 students since 1986. Alabama's first African-American federal judge, U.W. Clemon, and Birmingham's five-term mayor Richard Arrington and two-term mayor Bernard Kincaid graduated from Miles College. United States Senate Chaplain Dr. Barry Black and Grammy Award-winning, a cappella group Take 6 graduated from Oakwood University.


President Obama pledged to return the United States to world leadership in college graduates-and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has stated that "HBCUs will, and absolutely must, play a critical leadership role in meeting this challenge" of increasing the number of college graduates. The HBCU community is hard at work to meet this challenge.   


We are concerned, however, that our ability to build on our record could be imperiled by a plan by the U.S. Department of Education to implement a federal college rating system. Under this new system, factors like a college's graduation rate and the jobs its graduates get after graduation will influence ratings that could also affect student aid availability. Colleges and universities, including ours, should be accountable for the quality of higher education they deliver. Students and families can benefit from getting meaningful information to help them make informed college choices.


Nonetheless, the proposed rating system lacks the complexity necessary to adequately evaluate our institutions and would ultimately do more harm than good. It would undermine our ability to give low-income students the education they deserve and that Alabama's economy needs them to have. Indeed, the impact of most college ratings systems has been baleful.  A rating system with the weight of the federal government behind it would almost certainly be worse yet.


This plan, while giving the appearance of helping students, would divert attention from what really needs to be done-increasing the student aid that is low-income students' real and greatest need. Pell Grants, for example, the federal government's primary aid program for low-income students, now pay the smallest share of the cost of college in the program's 50-year history.


Even if more appropriate rating criteria were substituted, a government rating system would be less than desirable. The history of ratings like those that appear in US News & World Report is not encouraging. Their criteria, like those for the proposed federal rating system, reward the "haves," elite colleges that cater to the needs of well-to-do high achievers, and penalize schools like ours which have dedicated themselves to educating first-generation and lower-income students. In addition, US News-type rating systems incentivize some colleges to change admission standards and student aid policies to increase their rankings, at the expense of students who most need additional support.  


Imagine how much more pressure will be exerted by ratings bearing the imprimatur of the federal government, ratings that will not only introduce more complexity and uncertainty into federal student aid programs but also come with the threat of reduced student aid. Imagine the level of regulation that will accrete like barnacles as the government defines the criteria that will lead to higher or lower ratings.


It's not too late to stop implementation of the proposed rating system, as suggested by some Congressional legislators. Boost maximum Pell Grant awards and repeal eligibility restrictions so that more low-income students can get financial support. Reduce student loan interest rates and fees, and allow all student loan borrowers to make repayments based on their incomes.

Finally, for maximum return on educational investments, invest in HBCUs. Provide additional federal resources so we can enhance our track record of positive results and grow our capacity to graduate underrepresented students.


© 2015 AL.com. All rights reserved.

Oakwood's Blue and Gold Challenge Continues through June 30


Join us in the Blue and Gold End-of-the-Year Challenge by making a gift to the Oakwood Annual Fund by midnight, June 30. Our goal is to increase the annual giving participation rate of our alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff and friends.


Your participation at any level is valued, appreciated, and counted! Annual Fund donors will be listed on the OU Donor Roll in the Oakwood Magazine, as a sign of our appreciation.


For your convenience, you may give online at online at www.ougiving.com, or you may send a check, payable to Oakwood University (Annual Fund), to the Office of Advancement and Development by midnight, June 30, 2015.


Your commitment, demonstrated through your tax-deductible charitable gift, is important to our students, employees, and the advancement of "our dear Oakwood." 


Together, we can make a difference!  Thank you for your generosity!

Miss Oakwood 2014-2015 Needs Your Vote


Even though the school year is over, please remember to vote daily for our outgoing Miss Oakwood Nia Johnson as she competes in EBONY Magazine's HBCU Campus Queens contest.


The campus queens who finish in the top 10 as determined by the number of votes she receives will be featured in the September 2015 edition of Ebony Magazine. This would be a great way for Nia to finish her Oakwood career, and to promote Oakwood University on a national level.


Similar to the Retool Your School contest, you can vote daily and as often as you want per day between now and May 22. (When you vote for the first time you'll have to fill out a questionnaire, which you'll no longer have to do after your first vote.) 


As of May 12, Nia is currently in the top 10, and we want to be sure she stays there! 


Additionally, please be sure to include one, two or all of the hashtags #2015HBCUCampusQueens, #HBCUQueens, or #EBONYQueens in your social media messages.  


The top 10 vote-getters on the website will receive an all-expense paid trip to Chicago for an exclusive photo shoot that will appear in the September 2015 issue of EBONY magazine. 

About Oakwood 


The mission of Oakwood University, a historically black, Seventh-day Adventist institution, is to transform students through biblically-based education for service to God and humanity.

In This Issue - 5/13/15
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Huntsville, AL 35802

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 Click here to see the Spring 2015 issue of Oakwood Magazine, or visit www.oakwoodmagazine.com
insideOakwood is published by the Office of Integrated Marketing & Public Relations
Editor: George Johnson Jr. | Managing Editor: Debbe Millet | Copy Editor: Michele Solomon