2022 Incoming Dillard president wants to bring the HBCU ‘to the table’


By far, one of the vital prolific school presidents on social media is Walter Kimbrough, chief of the traditionally Black Dillard College, a personal establishment with an oak tree-studded campus within the coronary heart of New Orleans. 

Kimbrough is the self-dubbed “Hip Hop Prez” online, the place he routinely feedback on the political points du jour and people affecting greater schooling. However his attain extends past Twitter and Instagram. 

In his decade at Dillard, Kimbrough is credited with growing the HBCU’s endowment by 115%, to about $105 million, and considerably bolstering philanthropy. One in every of his most recognizable achievements helps guarantee the federal government forgave a roughly $160 million mortgage made within the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

He’s stepping down, and Dillard’s trustee board believes it’s found the “dynamic, charismatic and visionary chief” to fill his massive footwear: Rochelle Ford, at the moment dean of the College of Communications at Elon College, a personal nonprofit establishment in North Carolina. 

Ford has been dean of communications since July 2018, having come from Syracuse College, a personal nonprofit establishment in New York. Previous to that, she was a school member at Howard College, one other personal HBCU in Washington, D.C. 

She was a part of revamping the construction of Elon’s communications college, creating packages in areas reminiscent of cinema and tv arts, and media analytics. 

Ford begins July 1. We spoke to her about her imaginative and prescient for Dillard, in addition to essentially the most pertinent challenges dealing with it and different HBCUs. 

This interview has been edited for readability and brevity. 

Rochelle Ford

Rochelle Ford, incoming president of Dillard College

Randy Piland/Elon College


HIGHER ED DIVE: What drew you to the Dillard presidency? 

ROCHELLE FORD: Dillard has an incredible legacy of making ready its college students and its alumni base to stay ethically and in addition actually deal with pondering and speaking exactly. And that drew me to Dillard. 

I additionally know that its alumni act courageously. I’ve gotten to talk to a few of them. And that is sort of the historical past of HBCUs. I am a second-generation HBCU alum. That is what my dad and mom had been drawn to. That is what I used to be drawn to. I needed the chance to offer that again. 

It is sponsored by the United Methodist church and in addition by the United Church of Christ. And I’ve belonged to each of these church buildings all through my lifetime. It simply made excellent sense to assist take an already superb, legacy-rich college and proceed to assist it thrive and to be sustainable. 

What’s one thing you’ll do if you first arrive on campus?

Meet the individuals. Meet everybody, like those that maintain the campus trying stunning. I wish to meet the groundskeepers. I wish to meet the upkeep crews. I wish to meet people who find themselves working within the eating halls. I wish to meet the scholars, the school. I wish to meet the individuals and I wish to hear their tales. 

I wish to pay attention — hearken to what they’re enthusiastic about. Additionally what introduced me to this place is the optimism, the potential, the hope that exists and what we will do collectively. And I wish to hear what they consider is feasible. What are the strengths? What are a number of the challenges? As a result of, you understand, there’s challenges, there’s hurricanes. I already took my hurricane preparedness class.

Your predecessor has a really established model on-line. Is {that a} function you envision taking?

I am right here to symbolize Dillard. And I have been energetic and was an early adopter of Twitter. In truth, I used to be a really early adopter even of Fb when it was nonetheless at Harvard they usually had been increasing it out to different individuals with .edu addresses. So I have been a continuing person of social media and I’ve a nice-sized following. 

However I believe the extra essential use of social media is to construct group and a way of belonging. How can I deliver individuals collectively — the enterprise group, how can I deliver them into Dillard to type partnerships? How can I work extra intently with the native, state and federal governments, nonprofits, constructing that group, constructing that partnership? My aim is to pay attention, social listening, and to then make connections. 

So if I’ll have interaction within the dialog, it’s how can I deliver Dillard to the desk. We wish to use social media to draw leaders and thinkers and artists. Utilizing social media can be a possibility to say, “Hey, this can be a excellent spot to return and study collectively.” How do I let individuals know Dillard has a nursing program? As a result of we’d like nurses like no person’s enterprise. How do I appeal to of us into that program, or individuals who have an curiosity in STEM?


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