Two HBCUs Announce Online-Only Fall Semester, LeMoyne-Owen Receives $40 Million Endowment Gift, and Saint Augustine's Offers Details on George Williams Firing

Hampton, Wiley Announce No On-Campus Instruction for Fall Semester

Hampton University and Wiley College have announced that academic courses for the fall semester will be offered exclusively online, citing growing concerns of increasing coronavirus infections nationwide.

Hampton President William R. Harvey, who two weeks ago revealed plans for a hybrid on-campus and distance learning semester, said that concerns with states where a sizable percentage of Hampton students reside forced the change in operational strategy.

“Among those states that have reported significant increases, 6 of the top 10 states are those where Hampton University students reside,” Harvey wrote in a letter to the campus community. “These states include California, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas.  The other 4 states from our top 10 feeders are New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. Experts are predicting that cases will continue to rise, and many states are beginning to revise their reopening plans and implement additional restrictions.  These statistics have caused us great concern.”

“To be sure, there are going to be those who criticize this decision, and there are going to be those who applaud it.  Here, at Hampton, we do not hold our finger up to see which way the wind is blowing and then follow.  Instead, we act responsibly and make decisions based upon what is right and best for our students and other members of the Hampton University community.”  

Wiley College officials also announced the exclusive online learning semester, in addition to the cancellation of all fall sports competition and non-essential travel for faculty and staff.

“This decision comes after several months of monitoring, researching and planning for every possible on-campus scenario,” wrote Wiley President Herman Felton in a letter to the campus. “Please know that during planning, our ultimate goal was to bring every student, faculty, and staff member back to our beloved campus. The science, data, projections, and counsel from state health officials simply does not lend itself to re-entry at this point.”

Hampton and Wiley join Morehouse College in a growing list of private HBCUs announcing major cancellations in recent weeks. Morehouse announced last week the cancellation of its participation in fall sports within the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which today also debunked rumors that it would cancel its fall sports schedule.

Morehouse, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University jointly announced yesterday plans to reopen the Atlanta University Center with hybrid instruction and new guidelines for reduced campus residency and health measures for all faculty and students.

LeMoyne-Owen Receives $40 Million Endowment from Memphis Foundation

LeMoyne-Owen College today announced a $40 million endowment established by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, the largest gift in the 158-year history of the institution and the latest transformational gift to be awarded to a private HBCU in recent months.

“Many of our students and their families were already struggling, even before COVID-19. Recent demonstrations have heightened our awareness and commitment to do more to address the inequality and racism that has led to their financial challenges and the critical need to create a more equal and just world,” says Dr. Carol Johnson Dean, interim president of LeMoyne-Owen College. “The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis has generously and courageously helped LeMoyne-Owen College take a huge step forward in educating our future leaders and providing a stronger financial foundation from which to grow.”

The endowment will annually pay the college five percent of the fund’s average balance, which without contributions or investment returns would equal $2 million per year. The money will be for unrestricted use by the college, and subject to no conditions other than maintaining its status as a degree-granting institution of higher learning.

“Even before the pandemic, there has been transformative work happening at LeMoyne-Owen College,” Bob Fockler, Community Foundation of Greater Memphis president says. “The college offers unique opportunities for African-American students, and we are committed to ensuring that work continues to benefit students and their families for years to come.”

According to officials, the endowment triples the school’s current fund of $13 million.

LeMoyne-Owen follows Morehouse College and Spelman College as the third HBCU to receive a gift of at least $40 million in the last three weeks.

As Saint Augustine’s Alumni Call for Reinstatement of Track Coach George Williams, University Provides Details on Firing

The Saint Augustine’s University National Alumni Association has called for the reinstatement of former athletic director and iconic track and field head coach George Williams, who was fired yesterday afternoon. But officials from the university has provided new insight into the dismissal of the HBCU sports legend.

In a letter, SAU-NAA President John T. Larkins said that alumni nationwide have denounced the firing of Williams, who over 48 years at the university won 39 national titles in indoor and outdoor track and field, and was named coach of the 2004 United States’ Track and Field national team.

Coach Williams is no newcomer to the University, having dedicated his career and his life to our beloved University, with more than 50 years of service, during which time he brought recognition and esteem to Saint Augustine’s. When people speak of Saint Augustine’s University the first thing they mention is our outstanding track team and Olympic coach, the “winningest” coach in the NCAA. The despicable firing was cruel and thoughtless, and Board leadership knew or should have known that this would become a public issue. Coach Williams is known in Raleigh/Wake County, North Carolina, the United States and internationally.

But in a statement released this afternoon, university officials said that negotiations with Williams to realign his role within the athletic department were refused.

Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) deeply appreciates the contributions of Coach George Williams over the last 52 years.  His achievements as a world-class track coach are unquestionable with both a winning record at SAU and as the US Olympic Team track coach. He has left an indelible mark on SAU’s track program, students, and colleagues.

While SAU’s track program continues to perform at a championship level, other areas of SAU’s athletic programs need significant development and focus. SAU administration determined that a more robust athletic program with an expanded capacity across multiple sports categories and attracting more regional and national events to our campus needs to be cultivated under new leadership initiatives.

The university has been in negotiations with Coach Williams since March 2020. He was offered the opportunity to continue his service at St. Augustine's as Head Coach of the SAU Falcons track team and to be honored with the lifetime appointment as Athletic Director Emeritus with a continuity of consulting with the athletics program. He declined the offer.  We sincerely appreciate his service and wish him all the best as he moves forward.