After Last Week, We Need A (Spring) Break!

We really have done it big this past week entering into Spring Break. It has just been one great experience after another.

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I have always proclaimed that Dillard should be the living room for the city where we can come together for discussions of all types. Our friends at Cumulus have been big supporters and fans of Brain Food, which is designed to do just that. So they offered a big named guest: Remy Ma, the 2017 BET female rapper of the year! They were going to add local legend Mia X and on air personality Downtown Lesli Brown for a conversation for women’s history month. I was pleased to partner and provide the space, but I was going to fall back. But they suggested I moderate and I really enjoyed the discussion with these women.

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Soon after that, local radio personality Wild Wayne reached out to me and said KeKe Palmer was coming to town and wanted to visit a school. He suggested Dillard because of the Brain Food series. I was hesitant because we already were going to do the event with Remy Ma, Mia X and Lesli Brown, but my team said go for it. I did a quick survey of students to see what size venue I needed- over 300 said they wanted to see here and I believe we had about that many there- at 4pm on a Monday.

So we did one at 4, one at 6. Both sponsored by friends of the university, no cost to us. This was part of the Brain Food goal- establish ourselves and have great partners help expand the events that we are able to host on campus not just for our students, but the community.

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Tuesday morning is one of my favorite days of the year — Honors Day! I love seeing the scholars dressed up as we celebrate their accomplishments. And our speaker, Arlanda Williams, used a great analogy about caterpillars that I will continue to use.

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Our regularly scheduled Brain Food was Tuesday night with Valeisha Butterfield Jones of Google. She’s been an entertainment industry executive, worked in the Obama administration, and now in tech. She spent an hour after the event doing some one on one mentoring, and several students earned shadowing opportunities with her this summer at Essence.

This is why I tell students come to these events!

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For the second year our Theatre program has hosted the National Association of Speech and Dramatic Arts conference. About 10 HBCUs came to participate, with awards on Saturday. Jada Williams and Savion Eagleton (on the left) took home awards as All-Star Cast members.

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In Memphis our Mock Trial team is competing in the national tournament. In the first 3 rounds they drew the University of Iowa, the University of Tennessee, and Millsaps College. On Sunday they draw the big dog, University of Texas at Austin. There are very few opportunities for our students to go head to head with major research institutions. We’ll share results tomorrow!

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A group of students traveled to Washington DC for an Alternative Spring Break. Today, they of course participated in the March for Our Lives! Awesome opportunity.

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Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, computer science students are participating in the National Society of Black Engineers conference. Our trustee MC Lyte hosted the gala tonight.

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Back on campus, the Louisiana AARP along with 100 Black Men hosted an event with Donna Brazile. After her remarks I was on a panel to discuss leadership in New Orleans.

And we’ll finish off with a day of praise in 3 local churches on Sunday. I’m giving the message at First Grace UMC.

I’m tired just reliving such a wondrously active week!

The Prez

7th president of Dillard University

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