Bethune-Cookman Chairman Responds to Rick Scott Award Controversy

By: Jarrett Carter Sr. – @jlcarter_sr

Bethune-Cookman University Board Chairman Joe Petrock this morning released a statement concerning the school’s plans to award a Legacy Award to Florida Governor Rick Scott, a polarizing figure among students, alumni and supporters of the university. 

Scott, who has been criticized for comments and policy which some say have marginalized HBCUs and HBCU students in the state, will be among five honorees at the third annual scholarship awards banquet next week in Daytona Beach, which will recognize “outstanding citizens whose work has developed global leaders committed to service and creating transformative experiences to enrich the lives of our students.”

From the letter:

Bethune-Cookman University is excited about our 3rd Annual Mary McLeod Bethune Legacy Awards Gala, founded by President Edison O. Jackson and myself.  The gala is an opportunity to celebrate those who have supported and continue to support the university in its mission to become the best small, research-driven university in the nation that happens to be an HBCU. Over the last two years, we have honored 10 outstanding leaders, including Drs. Betty Jane France and Lesa France Kennedy (NASCAR), Dr. Glenn Ritchey (former mayor of Daytona Beach), Attorney Gloria Carr (partner, Dean, Ringers, Morgan and Lawton, P.A.), Dr. Charles Lydecker (Brown & Brown) and great alumni like John and Lee Bryan.  

Collectively, these individuals have donated millions of dollars, time and resources to help us continue to Ascend to Greatness. As a private, non-partisan university, we continue to follow in the footsteps of its founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.  One hundred eleven (111) years ago, Dr. Bethune depended on the support from people of various, diverse backgrounds despite their affiliations-individuals such as Thomas White, Harrison Rhodes, Carl Swisher, Henry Flagler and most notably, former President Franklin and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.  

These individuals are part of the Bethune-Cookman legacy of reaching beyond social, political, and economic lines to ensure our students have access to affordable, quality education. This year, there is a lot of excitement around the selection of Governor Rick Scott as one of five recipients who will receive a Mary McLeod Bethune Legacy Award.  Governor Scott was selected for this award based on his ability to deliver precious resources to the university.  Over the past three years, he has ensured more than $15M was allocated to B-CU.  

These funds benefit the university with providing access and enhancing retention, fostering entrepreneurship and economic development, enhancing undergraduate research programs, expanding our College of Health Sciences and more. 

We thank those who are in support of our decision to honor the Governor; and we thank those who have yet to appreciate what the governor’s support means to B-CU.  However, while the Governor may have differing views on many issues as it relates to several matters, those who support the governor and those who do not, should all agree to support B-CU and our efforts to Ascend to Greatness.


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