Robinson: ‘Nonsense’ won’t deter WSSU

Robinson: ‘Nonsense’ won’t deter WSSU
March 26
00:00 2015

Chancellor speaks at The Chronicle’s 30th banquet honoring servants in the community

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) has a lot of good things going on, and will continue to thrive despite talk of possibly closing the university, its chancellor said.

Elwood L. Robinson called such talk ‘nonsense’ when he spoke to those gathered Saturday, March 21 for The Chronicle’s 30th annual Community Service Awards Banquet at the Benton Convention Center.

“I’m proud to stand before you today representing the number one university in the state of North Carolina whose graduates are now employed,” Robinson said, referring to a study by the N.C. Department of Commerce that was released Friday at the WSSU Board of Trustees meeting. The report covered the 16 or 17 universities in the University of North Carolina system.

Robinson also said that WSSU is the No.1 university in the UNC system whose undergraduates make the most money when they find a job and the No. 2 university — behind UNC-Chapel Hill — whose graduate students earning master’s degrees earned the most money after graduation, more than $62,000.

Some members of the UNC Board of Governors, which governs the schools in the UNC system, have said that five state-supported historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in North Carolina might need to close because of the number of them in North Carolina. The state has more state-supported HBCUs than any other state.

Robinson has been on the job less than 90 days. He started as chancellor on Jan. 1.

“I think that we are in a great place. I think that we are in great times,” Robinson said. He applauded the people who were honored at the gala, who give their time, talent and “spend days laboring in the vineyard.”

Then he addressed the contentious atmosphere surrounding North Carolina’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) within the UNC Board of Trustees. Members of the UNC Board, which governs the UNC system, have said that the board is looking at possibly eliminating HBCUs in the state.

“But every day I look around and hear people and they get nervous about where we are. People call me and they get frantic about whether, indeed, historically black colleges are going to close and whether they’re relevant and all that nonsense,” Robinson said.

“I say to you that work is never easy. Someone said you don’t do something because it’s hard or because it’s easy. You do something because it’s right. So when you think about where we have to go and what we have to do, I don’t get nervous. I simply roll up my sleeves and get back to work,” because of the great things happening at WSSU.

“Tell me how you even consider, how it even gets in a conversation, where an individual or anybody or a system would think about closing an institution that has those attributes,” Robinson said.

He said WSSU is not telling its story of success.

“We are going to tell the story. We are going to create the narrative, we are going to purchase the reality, and then we are going to sell that reality to others. We’re about beginning to train students for the 21st century.”

WSSU has shown that its students can get jobs, Robinson said. “I’m interested in people creating jobs.”

“We must have your support in educating students,” Robinson said. He said almost 200 students did not return to WSSU in the spring, not because of grades but because of finances.

“I think we have something special and something unique and dynamic to offer our students,” Robinson said.

Woman of the Year, Randon Pender, a WSSU graduate, reiterated what Robinson said about helping the university.

“I heard our chancellor say it’s about communication. If we have not inspired anyone, then what is it all for?” she said. Robinson “has made the appeal to us.”

She also thanked various organizations and people, including her husband, who has one of her kidneys.

Man of the Year, the Rev. Nathan Scovens, also thanked various people. He paid tribute to his deceased mother and his aunt, who traveled from Virginia to see him get his award.

He entreated the audience: “The only way to serve God is by serving other people.”

The program for the event included greetings from area lawmakers: U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, N.C. Sen. Paul Lowe, Winston-Salem Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke and County Commissioner Walter Marshall.

The honorees are:

*Man of the Year, Scovens, is pastor of Galilee Missionary Baptist and chaplain for the Winston-Salem Police Department. Under Scovens’ leadership, Galilee moved onto a new 28-acre campus. He is a member of the NAACP Legal Redress Committee, Communities in Schools Board, Board of Directors for the Bethesda Center and Board of Directors for the United Way. He was also recently was selected to receive the Religious Leader Award by the men of the Delta Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.

*Woman of the year, Pender, is the president of the WSSU Brown Alumni Chapter,  a member of Chi Eta Phi Inc.’s  Chi Chi Chapter, the chairwoman of the Forsyth County Democratic Party 81st Precinct, a volunteer and community organizer for the Oak Summit and Country Club Annex Community, a member of the Womens Fund  of the Winston Salem Foundation and member of Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, where she is a Sunday School Teacher.

*Minority Business of the Year, Camel City Caravans, was formed by Reid and Kirsten Hinsley. The business uses golf carts to shuttle downtown patrons between the Arts District, Fourth Street and Burke Street.  The ride is free for customers, with advertisers providing the funding.

*Organization of the Year, the Ministers Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity, is a Christian based nonprofit organization serving as a place for ministers to gather for fellowship and worship. The organization is also open to the public to discuss and find solutions to local issues. The minister’s conference has partnered with farmers in Rural Hall and the YMCA to implement a plan that will teach young people about farming and how to build a community garden.

*Curator of the Arts, Chadwick Cheek, is owner and president of Elephant In The Room, which specializes in brand strategy, product and communication design for local and national clients.  He has been a Board trustee of The Arts Council since 2012.

*Human Relations Award, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Forsyth and Davie Counties, provides children ages 6-18 who are facing adversity with strong and enduring professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.

*Community Service Awards were given to Claudia Schaefer, Linda Sutton and Patricia Sadler.

**Claudia Schaefer launched CZS Communications LLC in 2010 to help nonprofit organizations strengthen their reputation through strategic communications that inform and inspire their audiences to donate, advocate and volunteer.

**Linda Sutton has been active in the community since the early ’70s, working with election boards and issues. She currently works as the Central North Carolina Field Organizer for Democracy North Carolina.

**Patricia Sadler is one of the central figures at the Winston-Salem Urban League, serving as the Workforce Development and Community Relations Director.  She provides leadership for the Urban League Senior Community Services Employment Program, serving over 230 unemployed low-income seniors in 18 counties.

*Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to Lenwood Davis, Nancy Young, Evelyn Terry and Harry Davis, Esq.

**Lenwood Davis is a longtime resident of Winston-Salem and a retired WSSU professor. He is one of the founders of The Society for the Study of Afro-American History in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County and Preserve Historic Forsyth. He has been called “The World’s Most Prolific Living Bibliographer.”

**Nancy Young has been director of public relations at WSSU since April 2009. She has more than 40 years of experience in media, corporate and nonprofit public relations and administrative leadership roles.  She has led several nonprofit organizations’ boards.

**Evelyn Terry is a N.C. state representative for Forsyth County’s 71st District. She was influenced by her grandfather George Black, a famous native son who made bricks by hand in Winston-Salem. She has had a professional career of service, including teaching, working at ESR, WSSU and HAWS. She has had a profound impact on the lives of countless youth and those needing a second chance.

**Harry Davis, Esq. is a community icon representing the voiceless, tackling discrimination and degradation as an attorney. In 1967, there was racial unrest in the city after the death of an African-American male who was arrested by the Winston-Salem police. This resulted in many arrests, and Mr. Davis collected several of the cases, winning most of them.

*Special Recognition was given to Courtney Omega Taylor and Children’s Law Center of Central North Carolina.

**Courtney Omega Taylor opened up her own competitive dance studio in 2005 called Positive Image Performing Arts. That first year she had 17 students. Ten years later, she has 112. She provides her award-winning dancers with love, support and guidance outside and inside the studio.

**Children’s Law Center of Central North Carolina was founded by Penny Orr Spry and Amy Kuhlman in September 2005. The mission of the Children’s Law Center is to provide children with quality legal advocacy focusing on domestic violence issues, high conflict custody cases and ensuring access to education.

Some people who served the community but have died were remembered, also.

They are:

*Rev. Melvin “Rip” Wilkins, Raphael Black, Louis Lowery, George Redd, Apostle John Heath, Edward Hanes, Ernest Hodge, Robert Brown Sr., Al Beatty and Rodney Sumler.

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Donna Rogers

Donna Rogers

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