Dillard Notable #6 of 2017: The Co-Curricular Signature Programs

We have two very active co-curricular signature programs that both made lots of noise this year. First, our Ray Charles Program in African American Material Culture. While dating back to the late 1990s with our first grant from the Ray Charles Foundation, the program didn’t take off until Zella Palmer joined the team in 2014. She has been doing exceptional work since then. This past year alone she played an instrumental role in the documentary about legendary New Orleans chef Leah Chase.

She has brought several international chefs to the city for discussions on their traditions, as well as the issues facing Black chefs in New Orleans.

She also partnered with campus offices like the Academic Center for Excellence and the Office of Career and Professional Development to bring local chefs to campus to engage students.

Image for post
Image for post

There were several cooking demonstrations, including one by a Nigerian brother-sister combo.

She even found a way to get our legendary physics professor, Dr. Abdalla Darwish, to share some of his culinary wizardry!

Image for post
Image for post

Our other program is the Dillard Pre-Law program. While conceptualized in 2010 after Katrina, like the Ray Charles program, it didn’t take off until 2015 when Adria Kimbrough started the program. Because of who she is married to, she knew from the beginning that she would have to work twice as hard to establish the program.

Image for post
Image for post

History was made as Dillard fielded its first Mock Trial team which competed in February in the regional contest in Jackson, MS. Dillard is only the 5th HBCU with a mock trial team (Howard, Spelman, Mississippi Valley and Harris Stowe), and only the 4th in Louisiana (Tulane, LSU, and ULM). They are coached by prominent New Orleans Judge Kern Reese, who scrimmaged against the students with his team of experienced litigators! (above)

Image for post
Image for post

We were fortunate that the team from the Mississippi University for Women agreed to come visit us for another scrimmage.

Image for post
Image for post

And out team went to Jackson for the competition. It was great for us to be competing with the likes of Georgia Tech, Florida State University, University of Alabama, University of Mississippi. The Mock Trial Team consisted of seven students at the regional competition: Captains Raven Morris and Kiana Stewart, Sarah Caldwell, Ashlyn Harris, Aria Lowery, Chevel Powell, and Destiny Tucker.

The team recently participated in a smaller tournament also in Jackson, but this time made some noise.

They also did another scrimmage this time at MUW. There was local press coverage as well. The 2018 tournament will be one to watch.

Image for post
Image for post

The program continued to host lots of programs and experiential visits, like the one to see the Chief Judge of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, alumnus Carl Stewart.

Image for post
Image for post

As well as continue the substantive, unique programs, like our LSAT test prep program that Dillard students can access for less than $200. In addition, we continued the pre-school admissions workshop where law school recruiters from across the country came to campus to do workshops. This year we opened up the program to students at SUNO and Xavier as there is such a need for a diversity in the legal profession.

Image for post
Image for post

Two years of intense activity paid off when we were awarded a two year grant of about $180,000 by the Legal Education Diversity Pipeline Program. As the graphic shows, we are the only HBCU to have received this grant, and the only undergraduate institution to receive this grant (the rest were given to law schools). This grant will also benefit students from SUNO and Xavier as we are taking an Atlanta University Center model in trying to build a diverse legal profession, and we’re the only HBCU with a full time advisor (one who is a member of the bar in four states), and we have a robust pre-law program. Sometimes it is better to use the strongest model rather than everyone try to create their own. This can be a great model for collaboration and we’re excited about where this will lead.

You can follow both programs on social media:

Ray Charles Program

Dillard Pre-Law

Written by

7th president of Dillard University

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store