B-CU looks to shed National Alumni Association
First in a series of dispatches about the move by the BOT to dismantle the National Alumni Association
Bethune Cookman University has decided to ask the National Alumni Association to dissolve. A request was made in the form of a letter from B-CU's attorney, Michelle Bedoya Barnett, dated Sep. 17.
"Please understand that B-CU appreciates the efforts of its alumni and is appreciative of the support its alumni have afforded over the years. However, as B-CU works to ensure that there is uniformity in its practices and that B-CU's records are appropriately maintained, B-CU is moving towards establishing a Direct Support Organization program to support the efforts of alumni affairs and other auxiliaries that represent the B-CU,'' the letter states.The board of trustees at Bethune-Cookman University has asked the National Alumni Association to go away so the BOT can create a new organization that officials say will be more efficient and user friendly.
During a 90-minute webinar on Sept. 23, BOT Chairman Belvin Perry and others laid out their rational for requesting that the NAA move to dissolve while the board creates a "direct support organization" that would be more efficient and encourage growth, as well as provide alumni with more support and access to the university.
Perry also noted that the memorandum of understanding signed in 2006 between the university and the association expired in 2007, and hence, was not legally binding.
The DSO would streamline the donation process, according to trustee David Brewer.
"Major donors look to see if alumni support their university," said Brewer, who sat on the subcommittee that came back with the recommendation to move toward the DSO system. He said officials looked at what other schools were doing and found that this model was preferred by many schools including Claflin University, which leads all HBCUs when it comes to alumni engagement and financial support with 37 percent. Claflin is located in South Carolina and has an enrollment of about 2,000 students. It's current president, Dwaum Warmack, previously served as director of student services at B-CU from 2013 to 2014, before leaving to take the presidency as Harris-Stowe University.
"We must have the courage to change and honor our dear founder," interim university President Hiram Powell said. The DSO would be managed by an executive director. Powell said he already has a candidate lined up for the job.
The invitation for the webinar said it was open to all stakeholders-students, staff, faculty, community members and alumni. More than 400 people reportedly registered.
The NAA, however, was hosting it own meeting at the same time. The Voice has reached out to alumni spokesman. Read their comments in the next dispatch.
Next up-the NAA responds.
B-CU President Steps Down Suddenly
Statement from Bethune-Cookman University Board of Trustees Chairman and Vice Chairman
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
The Board of Trustees of Bethune-Cookman University has learned that current president, Dr. E. LabBrent Chrite, announced his resignation this morning to members of his Cabinet during a regularly scheduled meeting.
Dr. E. Labrent Chrite, who resigned unexpectedly Tuesday as president of B-CU, has been named the ninth president of Bentley University, a private university focused on business, located in Waltham, Massachusetts. Bentley has a student population of 5,460, of which 55.4 percent are white and 3.25 percent are black. Notable alumni include Jay Leno. Chrite, who will be the first black president of Bentley, will assume the job on June 1.
Next, Wildcats react:
Justin LaGon - Sophomore
"I liked Chrite as our president. I'm more concerned on who is going to come take his place next and what will happen to our campus."
Camryn Franklin - Junior
"I'm really upset that he resigned without any immediate explanation. It is like a slap in the face"
Tim Moss - sophomore
"I feel neutral and consistent because this is what I have experienced at Cookman. Unless the school is closing down, or any other consequences are coming from this then I'll be concerned. I need to know more FACTS."
Tazion Richie - Junior
"It takes me by surprise. He's only been with us for a year and a half."
Spike in COVID-19 cases prompt lockdown
By Voice staff
Students can head home earlier for the holidays than expected due to a spike in the number of positive cases of COVID 19 on campus. At the same time, all spring athletic competitions has been cancelled, too, apparently out of caution.
In an email sent out campus wide Monday, President E. LaBrent Chrite said face-to-face classes will end effective Oct. 28. After that date, he said, all classes as well as finals will be remote.
At the same time, he said students have the option of heading home now or waiting until Nov. 20 when finals would be finished.
"After discussions with the University's faculty and academic leadership team, we have concluded that it is in the best interest of our community to begin reducing the on-campus density for the remainder of the fall semester," Chrite said. "Because of spikes in COVID-19, the faculty will be pivoting to an on-line modality, utilizing Canvas and integrating Zoom and other platforms, for the remaining three weeks of the semester."
Officials announced last week that almost three dozen students had tested positive for the coronavirus. Some were asymptomatic, according to John Pittman, vice president for fiscal affairs. Pittman said the school has been conducting random testing of about 150 students a week.
The Voice has heard from one student that had been hospitalized early last week.
In addition to allowing students to leave three week earlier than scheduled, Chrite also said all spring athletics have been cancelled. This come just days after officials had announced the spring football schedule.
"The recent spike in COVID-19 positivity rates in the state, across Volusia County and on our campus provides clear and unambiguous evidence, in our view, that now is not the time simply not the time to resume athletic competition," he said. "While the decision to opt out of spring competition is the only responsible one for us at this time, it was not made lightly. We know that this decision greatly impacts our student athletes, our coaching staff, our Marching Wildcats and others."
He said he will be working with Lynn Thompson, vice president of athletics, and his colleagues "to minimize and ameliorate the impact of this decision."
Students that chose to stay on campus for the reminder of the semester must observe an 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. They also are discouraged from congregating in groups with more than 10 people.