The Magic of LeMoyne-Owen, a New Interim at West Va. State, NC Central Supports COVID-19 Response and a Historic Grant for North Carolina A&T

For everyone who was hoping we would be back this fall, say hello to 2021. It begs the question – how does a culture shaped by socialization, community, and togetherness adapt to section of our lives being forced into a holding pattern for a safe vaccine?
What is HBCU culture without football Saturdays? Without homecoming in October? Without gym jams, alumni galas and Fried Chicken Wednesdays?
We’d like to think that HBCUs still have a story to tell and a product to sell beyond our cultural traditions. But if those elements of campus life and community are HBCU calling cards, is anybody going to be quick to dial us up when those things are taken away?


LeMoyne-Owen President Carol Johnson-Dean

LeMoyne-Owen’s Interim President discusses the effort for Memphis’ flagship HBCU to transition to life in the midst of a pandemic, the transition of moving from college trustee to president, and the secret of LOC’s magic.

R. Charles Byers Named West Va. State Interim President

A long-serving former provost and alumnus of West Virginia State University has been named as the preferred choice to serve as the institution’s interim president.

R. Charles Byers, who has served as interim provost since last July, was named to the post today, pending approval from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission this Friday.

Dr. Byers, returned to serve as interim provost five years after retiring from the position. Prior to his departure, he had served for 41 years as a faculty member and vice-president of the school.

“I am looking forward to continuing to serve the University and to working with the leadership team to manage through these uncertain times posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, while also planning for the future of West Virginia State and the brighter days we all know are ahead,” said Byers. “We will continue the work to fulfill the University’s mission of meeting the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.”

NC Central Faculty Supporting Coronavirus Response in Surrounding Counties

Faculty members from North Carolina Central University are leading public health and awareness-building efforts in several counties in the state, in an effort to fill gaps where essential healthcare personnel are overwhelmed or understaffed in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

The Health Equity, Environment and Population Health program (HOPE) is offering assistance in the North Carolina counties of Cabarrus, Anson and Rowan counties, where public health systems may lack funding and staff to adequately serve patients during the pandemic…

“The HOPE program was initiated to help develop a deeper understanding of the health disparities that exist in communities across North Carolina, and it is fortunate that this network is in place to assist public health agencies in these areas,” said Deepak Kumar, Ph.D., director of the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical Biotechnology Research Institute. “As a National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities-designated research center, BBRI faculty and staff also will be providing support for the HOPE team as needed throughout the pandemic.”

North Carolina A&T Receives $8M Grant for Air-Taxi Research and Development

North Carolina A&T State University will lead a multi-institution research consortium to develop alternative methods of transportation, thanks to a four-year, $8 million grant awarded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s University Leadership Initiative.

NCAT researchers will head a team of scientists from Purdue University, Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and private R&D corporations in designing air taxi solutions, a transportation alternative that can reduce environmental and traffic congestion in metropolitan areas.

“We won’t have the luxury of physical space to build more roads as the populations in urban areas continue to grow,” said Abdollah Homaifar, Ph.D., principal investigator and a NASA Langley Distinguished Professor in the College of Engineering (COE). “I am excited for this collaboration as we are addressing real challenges in our society that require solutions that one group cannot provide alone.” 

NCAT is the first historically black institution to lead a project under NASA’s higher education research initiatives, and the funding is the second-largest gift awarded in school history.