Why New Orleans Gets A “Lyft” To Dillard

Earlier this week, our friends at WDSU news did a report on the top Lyft destinations in New Orleans. The report listed the most visited restaurant, bar, event space and university. As they made their way through the list, most of the answers were predictable.

But one caught their attention. Most visited university was not one of the larger ones. It was the jewel of Gentilly, a relatively small historically Black university we call Dillard.

If you think about it, this absolutely makes sense. Historically, the first president of Dillard, William Stuart Nelson, had a vision for the university to have an aesthetic spirit “designed to build a closer relationship between the students and the community, and elevating awareness of the university throughout the nation.” Jazz Fest, the huge two-weekend event each April, began after a similar festival was organized by students at Dillard University. So we have been intentional to serve as the living room for the city where diverse people can come have important conversations, attend cultural events, hear stimulating lectures, and watch competitive sporting activities.

Just think about the past few months. We started off the school year turning away over 200 people while about 1,000 packed into the chapel to see Issa Rae. Folks lined up on campus an hour before the doors opened. She kicked off our Brain Food series for the year, which also hosted Malcolm Nance, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, the documentary “Tell Them We Are Rising,” and Angela Rye.

We host more candidate forums than anyone in the city, including three with mayoral candidates as well as additional forums for city council and judicial positions. One of our debates was televised on WDSU.

Outside groups often rent our space for their events. So hosting notable attorney Kimberle Crenshaw brought several hundred to campus on a Sunday afternoon. Local community groups often hold meetings on campus as well.

My class (hip hop, sex, gender and ethical behavior) always brings a few special guests, including Dee-1, entertainment journalist KiKi Ayers, and none other than Big Freedia the Queen Diva!

We packed out gym to see Tiffany Haddish a few days after she hosted SNL. This was after our homecoming week where we welcomed back many alums as well as local college students to an array of activities.

Our fall theater production was fantastic, marking our 82nd season. And every December, we have a full house for the annual Christmas concert. This year was no different!

We take great pride in hosting events on campus, serving as a cultural hub for the city. So make plans in 2018 to catch a “Lyft” to Dillard. Basketball season is in full swing with our women’s team ranked #20 in the nation. Upcoming Brain Food speakers include Rev. Howard-John Wesley of the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Virginia (our annual Martin Luther King Jr. service), Valeisha Butterfield Jones of Google, and Jemele Hill of ESPN, our annual Honors Day, and of course baccalaureate and commencement.

And I’ve got some big surprises for 2018!

The Prez

Written by

7th president of Dillard University

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