Bennett College dominated the local higher ed news cycle over the weekend. Here are the highlights:
• Late Friday, the college announced that it received $31,000 from Alpha Phi Alpha, the nation's oldest African American fraternity.
The bulk of that donation, $30,000, came from the national fraternity. That check was delivered by Everett Ward, who is both the fraternity's general president and president of Saint Augustine's University. St. Aug's, as you'll recall, recently survived its own close call with its accreditor.
The Greensboro Alpha chapter donated another $1,000.
By the way, Martin Luther King Jr. was an Alpha, and he famously spoke at Bennett in 1958:
• On Sunday, Mount Zion Baptist Church of Greensboro contributed $40,000 to Bennett. The church on both its Facebook and Instagram pages said simply: "We believe in supporting and standing with our community. We are committed to the success of Bennett College."
WFMY-Channel 2 has video from Sunday's service.
• UNC TV late last week put up a video about Bennett and the efforts to save it. If you're wondering why High Point University President Nido Qubein is featured, both Bennett and HPU are affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
• In an op-ed in Sunday's News & Record, Henry Frye, Margaret Arbuckle, Gladys Robinson and Tom Ross make the case for saving Bennett:
"The concern of some seems to be whether supporting Bennett College financially at this time is an investment or a bailout. This is a question that made us think back to Bennett’s origins.
"After the Civil War, the Methodist church had a commitment to help educate newly freed slaves. Bennett College was founded in what is now St. Matthews United Methodist Church here in our city. The parishioners were joined in raising money for the school by a New York philanthropist, Lyman Bennett, who donated $10,000.
"Bennett, who became the school’s namesake, believed in education and what is now Bennett College and, therefore, made an investment — not a bailout.
"If Lyman Bennett could see what he saw in 1873, surely we ought to be able to see that today’s Bennett College needs our support and our funds so it can continue to prepare young women for their future and that of our community, state and nation."
Ross, the former UNC System and Davidson College president, said he'll serve on a new Bennett College Re-Engineering Committee that'll do just what the name suggests:
"The committee will work to develop a 'turnaround' plan for the college and a plan to ensure a sustainable, successful future for an important Greensboro institution. The committee’s focus is to help Bennett strengthen its competitive academic offerings, increase its operational efficiencies and position the college for long-term sustainability."
I expect the committee to build on the strategic plan the college came up with a year ago.
Bennett, meanwhile, is almost a third of the way (about $1.6 million) toward its goal of $5 million. Click here if you want to help.