By Elfred Anthony Pinkard, PhD, 22nd President of Wilberforce University
Special to The Truth
On May 7, 2022, Wilberforce University will hold its 166th Commencement, an occasion when the university community will celebrate the graduating class. It is also a solemn ceremony when our graduates are reminded of the magnificence of this venerable institution that will become their alma mater.
Wilberforce University stands at the front of history in the making of a community of precious institutions we call HBCUs. At the height of its influence, Wilberforce was an institution of sterling reputation and noteworthy achievement and the most revered, respected and accomplished African Americans stood on its grounds to study, work and contribute to the uplift of their communities and this nation.
Wilberforce has a proud and illustrious history that is shared by few other institutions. None can legitimately claim a place in the history of higher education for African Americans comparable to Wilberforce University. 1n 1856, no other institution established for the education of African Americans bore university behind its name, only Wilberforce University did.
Our beginning was audacious and demonstrated the willingness of our founders to determine their fate and future in a nation that disregarded them. They imagined a university where none like it had existed. They were unafraid to disrupt the prevailing status quo and their vision for themselves and their descendants exists to this day, 166 years later.
Today, we are proud of our history and excited about our future. We are delighted to share that probation accreditation was lifted last fall and we are operating in full compliance with our governing body, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Our fiscal strength is noteworthy, the university has balanced the budget for current fiscal for 2022 and our CFI score, a financial indicator of the fiscal strength of an institution is currently 2.88 with 3.0 being the highest score attainable. Since 2017, the university reduced its debt and liabilities by 67% – assisted by a $22 million debt forgiveness from the U. S. Department of Education.
This administration, led by President Elfred Anthony Pinkard, paid with interest, outstanding pension benefits of more than $520,000 to the former labor union, Wilberforce University Faculty Association (WUFA). We have garnered financial support from Penn National Gaming, Dominion Energy, JP Morgan Chase, Vista Corp and MasterCard and national attention from the BeyGood and Kanye West Foundations.
A newly established Premier Health-Wilberforce University Student Health Center is designed for our students and has expanded health care and wellness services to the entire campus community. Partnerships with the Coles School of Business at Kennesaw State University, the Department of Homeland Security, CompTech, the Dayton Job Corps and the Office of Ohioans for Disabilities, create jobs, internships and occasioned a focused conversation about reimagining the academic curriculum and program offerings.
We have developed a partnership with the Ohio State University School of Engineering to submit a collaborative proposal to Intel for capacity building in STEM.
An exciting agreement with the Cincinnati Reds will bring baseball back to the university in the fall after an eight-decade hiatus. We are excited to welcome a new marching band and the return of the University choir.
We are a university community committed to high performance, operational efficiency, and fiscal responsibility. Our students are offered academic and student engagement experiences that will prepare them to be agents of social change and thought leaders. We invite your support as we continue to grow. From the audacity of our founders, we have pushed forward with tenacity shaped by a powerful legacy. We are Wilberforce University, an institution that is fearlessly embracing a vital, and sustainable future.