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Bethune-Cookman University Presidential Update

grimes

B-CU Family, Alumni, and Friends,

Greetings. Permit me to welcome our alumni, family, and friends to the Homecoming Celebration for “the school that was built on faith in God and 1.50," and where young people “enter to learn and depart to serve.” I have been blessed to serve as your Interim President for some ninety-plus days and I am reaching out to each of you to update you on the progress that has been made and to seek your support for the university which continues to be a difference maker in each of our lives.

We have just completed our Fall Board of Trustees’ meeting. At that meeting, we presented several updates. One of the first priorities was the fiscal realignment and reduction in force (RIF) for administrative staff. Four positions were eliminated, including the Chief of Staff, Vice-President for Human Resources and two positions in the Office of Capital Assets and Planning. A number of vacant positions have been frozen, as we seek to balance and strengthen our budget. Our CFO has calculated the savings which will result from these changes amount to a total of two million, forty-five thousand, five hundred sixty-one ($2,045,561.00) dollars. A further review of potential savings from administrative changes is ongoing as we look for ways to create more efficiencies in our operations. The overall fiscal budget has been reduced with realignments and more accurate cost controls.

The 2016-17 audit was timely completed and accepted by Board of Trustees. As promised, an auditing firm that specializes in forensic accounting has been hired and a forensic audit is underway. It is anticipated that the breadth and depth of that work will last through the end of the academic year before a final report is issued.

Several persons have been appointed or reassigned to positions within the administration. Dr. Clifford Porter now serves as the V.P. for Institutional Advancement, Attorney Sharon Dudley serves as General Counsel and Director of the Office of Legal Affairs. Mr. Warren Heusner was appointed as V.P. for Enrollment Management, Chelsea Washington serves as Special Assistant to the President for Title III and Sponsored Research, and Corey Potter has returned as Executive Director of Assessment. On the academic side of the house, Dr. Stephanie Henry was appointed as Dean of the School of Education, Associate Provost, Dr. Adrienne Cooper was named as Chief University Research Officer and Dr. Herbert Thompson, Dean of Science, Math, and Engineering has agreed to serve as Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs. Several departments have also been realigned to more properly address the mission of the University while streamlining the budget.   

Our food service provider, Sodexo, is now working to expand the seating capacity of the dining hall by one hundred thirty (136) seats and add additional options, including a Burrito Bowl, and Freshens in the Parlin Center and a Starbucks as part of the Library.  We are also working with the company to develop additional savings in the facilities areas of the university’s operations. The need for expansion was necessitated by the largest enrollment in the history of the University. Coupling a sixty-seven percent returning student ratio with the largest freshman class in our history, we were able to enroll four thousand one hundred forty-three (4,143) representing a full-time equivalency of three thousand nine hundred eighty-two (3,982 )students for the fall semester. These numbers were truly a blessing, as three weeks prior to the start of the semester, it was being reported that our anticipated, confirmed enrollment was less than three thousand students. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of an interdisciplinary team of administrators, deans, and faculty, we were able to not only meet but exceed our target of three thousand, six hundred (3,600) students.

The campus mail room is being modernized and will become a complete copy center based on a partnership with Ricoh. This will also reduce the university’s costs for office supplies, copying, and printing. Two new ATM’s have been added to the campus, in the lobby of White Hall and at the Center for Civic Engagement.

Hurricane Irma was a challenge for the university in much the same way that it was for many persons throughout the state. Prior to the storm’s approach, we made a consultative decision to get our students out of harm’s way. Through the collaborative efforts of some thirty-five staff volunteers, we were able to take measures to keep the campus safe and expedite the return to normalcy, in spite of the loss of electrical power for five days, downed trees, and wind damage to several buildings. A number of our large oak trees were blown down by Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, however, we will be scheduling a significant tree planting ceremony in the spring in cooperation with the Student Government Association and the Pre-Alumni organizations. One hundred sixty-seven (167) students were inducted into the Pre-Alumni Council last weekend, making B-CU, the largest Pre-Alumni Council organization among the thirty-seven member institutions of the United Negro College Fund. Two of our female students broke new ground as they were selected to participate in the NASCAR student internship program working as members of a race car pit crew.

In response to many of the numerous negative news articles appearing in the local media during the recent spring and summer, we met with our liaison from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and submitted an interim report addressing the areas of leadership, governance, integrity and financial stability of the University. We have just completed the campus visit from Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA), the accrediting body for the Bob Billingslea School of Hospitality Management. Based on the exit interview, we believe that the school will be fully accredited by next summer when the report will be made to the full accrediting body. The College of Education will host the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) during a site visit in February 2018 and the Master of Public Health and Master of Science in Counseling are preparing for accreditation visits.

BCU Global Online College continues to expand. Now certified in twenty-five states and the Bahamas, we are seeking the approval of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), which will grant us uniform, nationwide online certification. In addition,  

  • B-CU is 1st college or university in Florida and 2nd HBCU in the nation to obtain United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) Certification (See Appendix A)
  • B-CU Global Online Receives USDLA Hall of Fame Award
  • B-CU Global received accreditation from the National Accreditation and Equivalency of the Bahamas.
  • B-CU Online College is ranked 3rd among top Methodist colleges and universities according to OnlineColleges.com.
  • B-CU Online College was ranked 14th out of 40 best online colleges in Florida, according to CollegeChoice.net.
  • B-CU Online College is the 1st HBCU to be a Member of the United Methodist Cyber Campus
  • B-CU ranked as the 8th Most Affordable Online College for a Bachelor's in Business for 2017 by SR Education:onlineU.org
  • B-CU ranked as the 8th Most Affordable Online College for a Bachelor's in Hospitality Management 2018 by SR Education:onlineU.org

We have also been rated as the number ten (10) military-friendly university among schools with less than five thousand students in the nation.

We have received SACSCOC approval for several new programs, including the Master of Business Administration, the Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Arts in Teaching and the Master’s Level Certificate in Christian Ministry.

Our Concert Chorale has been invited to sing in Israel in February 2018 and the Marching Wildcat Band; The Pride, has been voted as the number one HBCU marching band in the country by ESPN.

As we move forward, we will continue to confront the challenges of stable leadership, and financial restoration, while strengthening the academic enterprise of the university. We will work to enhance the brand of the university through bringing out the positive accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff.

Of particular interest to many of our stakeholders, we are actively involved in both fundraising and friend-raising.  The Rufus and Janice Wilson Foundation recently presented a major gift to the university in the amount of one million dollars, which also resulted in the naming rights for the School of Liberal Arts, located in the Harrison Rhodes building. Additional major donations are anticipated from several local businesses and individuals. We are also developing a major Capital Fundraising Campaign for the university which will be launched in April 2018. I trust that each of you will join me in supporting and funding the National Alumni Association’s Promise to the Future Campaign, where each alum is asked to show their love and support to their alma mater.

In spite of the negative publicity, harmful criticism, and accusations, I believe that our best days are in front of us. We know that the same faith that motivated our founder will keep us moving forward. Let us continue to work together to build an even stronger future for the next generation of our students. I welcome your positive input, as we move forward with transparency, integrity and positive action. Thank you.

Sincerely,

  s/ Hubert L. Grimes

Judge Hubert L. Grimes (Retired)

Interim President

Office of Communications

Ursula James
Assistant Director of Communications
jamesu@cookman.edu
PH: 386-481-2975
FX: Fax

About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit www.cookman.edu.