Digest 50 – 2018's 50 Most Intriguing People in the HBCU Community

It’s our annual list of the 50 most intriguing, influential or just plain noticeable people of the year that was in the HBCU community. Many people not on the list may have done exceptional work or were exceptionally bad; but this is a list of individuals and groups who grabbed attention from audiences beyond their campus borders.

The Executives

  1. Michael Sorrell – Campus expansion, record-breaking fundraising and a new vision for the HBCU mission puts Dr. Sorrell at the top of our list of intriguing campus executives.
  2. Ronda Stryker – A historic $30 million gift sets a new standard for HBCU philanthropy among executive stakeholders.
  3. Roslyn Clark Artis – Dr. Artis cut tuition, increased enrollment and alumni giving, and finished the 2017-18 academic year as the newly-extended Female President of the Year.
  4. Wayne Frederick – No other HBCU president dealt with more crises more gracefully than Howard President Wayne Frederick, who survived a winter storm, student protests, federal inquiry and a threat against the university’s medical school all in one year.
  5. Michelle Carter-Scott – The embattled chairman of the Bethune-Cookman Board of Trustees remains in charge despite unprecedented debt and controversy
  6. Rick Gallot – One of the most decorated HBCU presidents of the year racked up awards while remaining silent on the state’s extraordinary development of schools around GSU without investment in Grambling itself.
  7. Glenda Baskin Glover – The Tennessee State University President and International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. raised more than $1 million in a matter of hours for HBCUs, while fighting off negative impacts from the state’s institutional realignment and free college initiatives.
  8. Makola Abdullah – The Virginia State President led the university to HBCU of the Year accolades while raising enrollment, developing new partnerships for key programs and graduating two children from HBCUs.
  9. Quinton Ross – Alabama State graduate and new president brings historic federal funding and investment to a campus no longer rocked by political intrigue and controversy.
  10. Everett Ward – A president seemingly in the crosshairs of his board and on the verge of closure for his institution survives to fight another day.


  1. HU ResistThe students took over the ‘A’ building and national headlines.
  2. Bethune-Cookman University Students – Wildcats remain dialed in about problems at the historic university.
  3. Tyrone HankersonThe man and the meme at the center of Howard University’s financial aid crisis.
  4. Shorter College Second Chance Cohort Incarcerated students make history for the HBCU and for the State of Arkansas.
  5. North Carolina A&T Blue and Gold Marching Machine – A halftime show speaks volumes about the state of social inequality in America.
  6. Ashley Montgomery – The Hampton University student receives federal funds to put the HBCU at the forefront of flooding planning and prevention in the region.
  7. Cori Bostic – Bostic made history becoming the first female drum in Florida A&M University Marching 100 history.
  8. Elijah Preccieley – Preccieley became the latest child prodigy to take his talents to Southern University before becoming a teenager.
  9. Kyana Washington – The Spelman College student wins a historic international academic fellowship.
  10. Lila Grant – The Spelmanite speaks out about inequities in her role as drum major for the Morehouse College House of Funk Marching Band.


  1. Clayton Yates – The Tuskegee University professor earned a historic federal research and outreach grant.
  2. Patrice Gilliam-Johnson – A former state executive leaves her post to lead a division at Delaware State University.
  3. Nathan HaymerHaymer’s departure from Southern University was one of the most high-profile stories in the HBCU community in 2018.
  4. Hugh Mighty – Howard University’s College of Medicine confronted political threats late in the year, with the college’s dean at the forefront of advocacy for students and alumni.
  5. North Carolina A&T Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry Research Group – The group facilitated groundbreaking research in air pollution testing.
  6. Mikhail Goloubev – The professor earned the first invention patent in Bowie State University history.
  7. R. Renee Reams and Kinfe Redda – Florida A&M University researchers earned a historic grant in the university’s fight to stem and cure cancer.
  8. Neelam Azad – Hampton University’s research imprint in minority health grew through a $1.2 million federal grant for the acclaimed scientist.
  9. Dr. Ernst Cebert – Alabama A&M University launched a new partnership for Toyota through a $300,000 private grant in support of transportation research.
  10. UVI’s Center for Marine and Environmental Studies – Faculty and students at the Virgin Islands’ flagship institution work to make hurricane study and prediction easier ahead of natural disaster.


  1. Irvin and Pamela Trotman Reid – The couple donated $1 million to Howard to support scholarships and program development.
  2. Saint Paul’s National Alumni Association – Alumni from the shuttered institution raised money in support of embattled sister HBCU Saint Augustine’s University.
  3. Benedict College National Alumni Association – Alumni from the private HBCU shattered fundraising records.
  4. Elizabeth City State University National Alumni Association – Facing leadership change and legislative realignment to tuition revenues, alumni at ECSU responded with giving.
  5. The Politicians (Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, Keisha Lance-Bottoms) – Several HBCU products made historic impacts on political campaigns and helped to change the profile of democratic candidates for years to come.
  6. Robert Delancy – Delancy is one of the signature voices in steady opposition to leadership and direction at Bethune-Cookman University.
  7. Jackson State University National Alumni Association – The association helped to raise $1 million in support of the school, and have launched a concurrent $5 million giving campaign.
  8. Texas Southern University National Alumni Association – The HBCU Award winner for Best Alumni Association helped to raise nearly $1 million for the university at it’s annual Maroon and Gray gala.
  9. Alabama A&M University National Alumni Association – Historic giving and participation guided the successful completion of the school’s first capital campaign and nearly doubled the campaign’s original goal.
  10. Shawn Hall – The Bennett College alumna raised awareness for a high achieving high school graduate without any scholarship offers from HBCUs, and is at the forefront of saving the institution from accreditation loss.


  1. Tarik CohenThe Aggie alumnus promoted HBCUs in his history-making moment as an NFL player.
  2. Greg Moore – The SIAC Commissioner leads the pack in corporate outreach and expansion of the conference brand.
  3. Fred McNair – The McNair name returns to Alcorn State glory with the Braves SWAC football championship and Celebration Bowl appearance.
  4. Darius Leonard – The South Carolina State standout is the leader of the pack for NFL Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year accolades.
  5. Sam Washington – The Aggies head coach carried on the A&T tradition in Greensboro with championship football and a viral video.
  6. Mo’ne Davis – The Little League legend landed Hampton back in the national sports discussion with her announced intentions to attend the Home by the Sea this fall.
  7. Kenny Anderson – The former NBA all-star headed to Nashville to coach Fisk men’s basketball back to prominence, and became the highest profile name in a growing list of former NBA players securing coaching gigs at HBCUs.
  8. Etienne Thomas – Kentucky State broke the model with a former University of Kansas athletic executive making the rare move to HBCU leadership.
  9. Kiki Baker Barnes – Dr. Barnes is leading sustained excellence across several sports in New Orleans and within the GCAC.
  10. Johnny Jones – Baylor, Oregon, Texas A&M – that’s the list of signature wins for the first-year Texas Southern men’s basketball head coach in just the first half of the 2018-19 season.

4 thoughts on “Digest 50 – 2018's 50 Most Intriguing People in the HBCU Community

  1. Some of these names I am familiar not familiar but any African American who have made positive differences in the lives of their students and/ or communities deserves praise .

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