October 21, 2021
Blessings and Breakthroughs: Sharing the OU Story
Board of Trustees' Meeting Highlights
On Monday, October 18, 2021, the Oakwood University Board of Trustees convened in the new Oakwood University Community Health Action Center, located at 1863 Sparkman Drive, on what was a beautiful Fall day. Thirty Board Members, along with associated administrators, staff, and students attended the first in-person board session since the pandemic of 2020 forced virtual meetings. The return to face-to-face Board Session was themed “Blessings and Breakthroughs during the Pandemic.” The University focused on its 125th Anniversary of Service to God and Humanity, and on God’s goodness to the institution.
Chairman of the Board, G. Alexander Bryant, introduces the day's agenda.
Order of the Day
After a sumptuous breakfast catered by Sodexo Corporation, the opening devotional was delivered by 25 Rwandan/Congolese students on their experience at Oakwood University.
New Board Members were welcomed, and Resolutions of Appreciation were voted along with the minutes of previous meetings. This was followed by the President's Report.
The President’s Report was followed by Division Reports through the Subcommittees of the Board of Trustees. The President reported that the institution realized an increase in enrollment to 1452 students and a year-ending $8.3 million-dollar net revenue. The Chairs of these Committees introduced the Division leadership who reported the successes of their work.
A number of key actions were proposed and authorized by vote of the Board of Trustees, including the following 2021 actions of the Board.
Voted: To express the profound appreciation of the Oakwood University Board of Trustees to Advent Health and its leadership for its continuing financial support to Seventh-day Adventist higher education.

Voted: To commend the University administration for the commitment to creating a School of Graduate Studies.

Voted: To commend University Administration for the vision to erect the Community Health Action Center. This Board extends commendation to the Division and University for its focused approach to service-learning, community engagement and partnerships to improve health outcomes for both the campus and the community.

Voted: To support the Administration’s proposal for OU HOPE (Home Ownership Program for Employees) innovation as a continuing expression of our employee care program.

Voted: That Administration create a comprehensive plan to build a mixed-use community (apartments, quads, duplexes, single-family homes, retail, and leisure spaces) on the University's 75 acres of property at 305 Winchester Road. When plan options are fully developed, options will be reviewed by the Finance Committee before moving the recommendation to the Board of Trustees.

Vision 2020-2030
Prior to and during the Global Pandemic of 2020, Oakwood University was guided by “Vision 2020—A Road Map to the Future for Faculty, Staff, and Students.” On January 25, 2011, we did not know that God was providing Oakwood with a roadmap of principles, programs, and provisions that would bless and secure the institution during the unforeseen, once-in-a-century Global Pandemic of 2020.
In 2021, Oakwood University cannot be properly understood or discussed responsibly unless we express our gratitude to God for the profound blessings and breakthroughs He has bestowed upon His institution in its 125th year of service! As we prepare for Vision 2030 and the strategies that follow it, we believe it is important to pause and express our
gratitude to God for His blessings.

We express our gratitude to God for the profound blessings and breakthroughs He has bestowed upon His institution in its 125th year of service!
Operating in a Global Pandemic
In June of 2020, we developed our Oakwood University COVID-19 Reopening Plan.
This plan provided a roadmap of how we would navigate the pandemic safely and intentionally.

Major Capital Projects Completed During the Pandemic
Peterson Hall - $7 million
Community Health Action Center - $4.1 million
Oakwood Farms Market - $3.6 million
  • In October of 2020, we launched an “All Hands on Deck” recruitment promotion among employees, including our Affinity Group Recruitment Strategy. In addition to our historic populations, this effort resulted in an increase of more than 100 Rwandan/Congolese students. God used this effort and blessed us with increased enrollment over the previous year.

  • The Oakwood University Honors College increased its enrollment from 24 students in 2020 to 50 members in the 2021school year.
  • In September of 2021, Oakwood University is currently among three (one of the few as the West Coast college’s semester had just started) of the 13 institutions in NAD that showed an enrollment increase over the previous year.
  • In January of 2021, Oakwood launched its “Return to Residency Program” entitled Live, Learn and Play Safely, encouraging students to stay on campus as the safest place in Huntsville. Our campus residency is at capacity, with expansion planned for a complete remodeling of our Married Student Apartments.
  • The COVID infection rate on campus is less than 1%.
  • "Oakwood Live!” (October 6-9, 2021) brought 400+ high school students and 100+ chaperones to the campus; 118 prospective first-time students received on-the-spot acceptance for Fall 2022; a total of 243 prospective students applied during the 3-day event.
  • In 2020 and 2021 we awarded $4.1M in HEERF (Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund) emergency aid and financial assistance. For Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 we awarded institutional aid including academic scholarships of $12.5M, ($4.6M non- academic, - $7.9M academic)

  • Oakwood has maintained the most affordable tuition in North American Division for 10 consecutive years.
  • In 2020, we relaunched the new Oakwood App which places University information and service access in the hands of students
  • During the Oakwood Live! Activities, Oakwood University’s Dual Enrollment Program expanded to six new Academy partners in addition to Oakwood Adventist Academy—Greater Atlanta Adventist Academy, Pine Forge Academy, Takoma Academy, and Northeastern Academy (Boston campus, Northeastern, South Brooklyn Academy).
  • During the pandemic, Oakwood University ended fiscal year 2020-21 with an $8.3M increase to its bottom line.
  • In light of the uncertainty of the global pandemic, rather than launch layoffs, Oakwood reduced salaries on a graduated scale in November of 2020 with the President taking the largest reduction. This action protected employment and ensured healthcare to our 325-member workforce.

  • In August 2021, under the blessing of God’s provision, the University returned ALL back pay to affected employees in a single payroll check AND will include the COLA adjustment check of 3% to each employee for Christmas, 2021.

  • In 2021, Oakwood University was awarded $16,954,939 HEERF dollars federal and state grant funding (Grants awarded in 2021 including HEERF totaled $26,525,824)
  • In 2019, Oakwood won a $1.5M Alabama State contract to host the new Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering
  •  Oakwood applied for and won a $1,000,000 federal contract with the US Census Bureau.
  • In May 2022 Oakwood University applied for and was awarded grants $350,000 to serve as a COVID testing and vaccination site for the State of Alabama.
  • In 2020-2021 fiscal year, donors generously gave more than $2.5 million dollars to support the mission of Oakwood University.

  • Expanded industry recovery with construction and completion of a farm-to-table supermarket in 2020 https:// www.youroakwoodfarms.com/
  • In October 2021, we will roll out our focused $50m “Enlarging OUr Territory” Capital Campaign, Currently, silent-phase commitments stand at $10M.

  • In January of 2020, our “20 by 20” Endowment campaign reached the goal of $20M (increased University endowment by 205%); by 2021 the Endowment has climbed to $26M— with a goal of $35M by 2025
  • Oakwood University has a Composite Financial Index score of 6.78.
  • In 2019, Oakwood became the first Seventh-day Adventist University to create and launch a Digital Tour of Oakwood University -- just in time for the pandemic.
  • In July 2021, Oakwood completed a $1M renovation of the historic Eva B. Dykes Library.
  • In July 2020, completed a $1.6M renovation of the Biology Department.
  • In August of 2020, Oakwood created and implemented the OU C.A.R.E. Work Scholarship program, which reduces student debt by 66% across a 4-year University Education.

  • In 2020 Oakwood University launched three new graduate degrees:
  • 2019 - Master of Public Health in Nutrition and Wellness
  • 2019 - Master of Business Administration in Leadership and Management
  • 2019 - Master of Arts in Urban Ministry
  • Graduate education enrollment grew during the pandemic with enrollment increases in August 2021

  • Ranked 4th among HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) for graduating African American students in STEM fields (Math and Biology) by the hundred-seven.org

  • Ranked 11th among HBCUs for sending African American students to medical school by aamc.org.

  • Within 3 years of graduation, graduates of the Department of Chemical & Biochemical Sciences have a 100% placement rate in graduate school or job in their degree area.

Spiritual Life & Mission - Telling the OU Story
  • Created and launched the Office of the SDA Encyclopedia resulting in 40 Oakwood articles submitted to the 2020 SDA Encyclopedia regarding the history and contributions of Oakwood University to the SDA church
  • Currently preparing International Young Womens’ Devotional through our Oakwood University Anna Knight Center for Women’s Leadership. Scheduled for publication in 2022.


  • During the pandemic we implemented virtual weekly Town Hall meetings s to facilitate direct communication to employees via ZOOM. Attendance ranges from 120 to 190 employees weekly.
Oakwood University Administration Leadership Motto
"We will launch plans that are destined to fail,
except God intervene!!!"

Submitted with gratitude to God for 125 years of grace on Oakwood University,
Leslie N. Pollard, Ph.D., D.Min., MBA
President, Oakwood University
October 18, 201
Oakwood University Welcomes New Provost
On October 18, 2021, the Oakwood University Board of Trustees named Dr. James Mbyirukira the new Provost for Oakwood University.

“We are delighted to have an academic of Dr. Mbyirukira’s experience, history, and reputation providing guidance to the Academic program of the University” said President Leslie Pollard.  “His 21 years of service to Oakwood University, his hands-on leadership of our Department of Education, his experience as a University Dean, his advanced terminal training in education, his experience as an Adventist Accrediting Association site-visitor, and his leadership in regional accreditation will greatly benefit our institution for years to come.”
Dr. Mbyirukira was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo to ministerial parents. He has been married for 39 years to the former Stella Ryamukuru, and they have three adult children and five grandchildren.

The Oakwood University community welcomes Dr. Mbyirukira to this new responsibility with prayer and best wishes.
We Need YOU to Stand Up for HBCUs
Dear HBCU Supporter,

Congress is busy working on a bill that will impact education for years, and we need YOU to make Capitol Hill stand up for HBCUs.
  1. We need you and everyone you know to go to UNCF.org/hbcuignite. (Feel free share this email with your friends and family.)
  2. Click the "Email Your Members" button at the top of the page.
  3. Fill out the form.
  4. Press "send."

Just like that, in less than 30 seconds, you will stand up for HBCUs by sending a letter to each of your two Senators and your Member of the House of Representatives.

We are counting on you, because we can only be successful with your help. Our institutions and students are counting on you to take this stand.

Thank you,

Lodriguez Murray
Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Government Affairs
Picture of the Week
Proverbs 17:22 says that "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." President Pollard and members of the Board of Trustees take the instruction to “Smile” seriously during a photo shoot at the studios of Oakwood University Broadcasting Network, in the Leroy & Lois Peters Media Center. To see additional photos of the Board Meeting, click here.
Alumni Engagement "Under & Through"
the Office of Alumni Relations
YOUR OAKWOOD WANTS YOU TO GET INVOLVED!! The FUTURE is here for ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT "under & through" the Office of Alumni Relations for any type of alumni organization.

With the goal to have 3,000 Oakwood alumni actively engaged annually by 2026, we need everyone willing, able, and committed to helping their alma mater - OAKWOOD - TO CONTINUE TO THRIVE. All are welcome!! Alumni who are a part of an Oakwood reunion honor class, clubs, online affinity groups, or even new and old chapters may obtain their own Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that we call the Direct Relationship Model from the Oakwood University Alumni Council and its NETWORK of alums. Click here to watch a short video that explains this Win-Win relationship. Student recruiting, volunteering to lead, giving financially, mentoring, providing internships, or simply championing Oakwood's brand are ALL NEEDED.

If you are interested in taking your alumni engagement to the NEXT LEVEL by starting a club, online group, chapter, or simply wanting to plug in somewhere, please feel free to contact the Office of Alumni Relations at alumni@oakwood.edu or call 256-726-7039, and let's get you started TODAY!
It’s the 125th year celebration of Oakwood’s existence and our Reunion Honor Classes of the 2s and 7s are next up to celebrate!

These 13 AMAZING & MEMORABLE CLASSES will help us celebrate in a BIG way in the engagement of their time to organize their giving financially to their alma mater during their reunion year up to Homecoming 2022. Last year, our Reunion Honor Classes of the 1s and 6s gave over $140,000 by Homecoming. Will our Reunion Honor Classes of 2s and 7s outdo the last year’s Honor Classes? We will see. The Reunion Year GIVING CLOCK started April 5, 2021, the day after Homecoming 2021. Exciting!!!

If you are a member of these NEXT UP Reunion Honor Classes, information is on the way. We especially want to hear from the class presidents of these honor classes. If you have questions, please contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 256-726-7039 today.
We are saddened to announce the passing of
Dr. Richard Showers, Sr.
Dr. Richard Showers, Sr., is remembered for representing District 1 of Huntsville as City Councilman for close to 30 years. He was the first African American elected to the City Council in 1988.

He served as a board member of numerous professional, civic and community organizations where he used his talents, skills and expertise to add value to the organizations’ mission.

Dr. Showers was a generous donor and supporter of the mission of the UNCF and Oakwood University, routinely urging the City Council to adjust their meeting schedule on Thursday nights to accommodate Oakwood’s annual UNCF Gala during Alumni Homecoming. He was a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Dr. Showers was an active and faithful member of the Union Chapel Missionary Baptist Church.
“Councilman Richard Showers was a great servant of our Huntsville community. It was my pleasure to represent our university at his funeral, as a friend and colleague. The funeral was a beautiful service and tribute to a great servant of God. Dr. Showers’ many visits to our Alumni Homecoming Weekend Sabbath services will forever be remembered. We extend our condolences to Mother Showers, and his entire family,” said University President Dr. Leslie Pollard.
Reminders & Opportunities
Thursday @ 8:30 a.m. CDT

Join us at 8:30 a.m. (Central Daylight Time) Thursdays on Morning Joy with Dawna Baker, for a special edition of "Inside Oakwood with Dr. Leslie Pollard." Programs are broadcast on Facebook Live, and you can also listen via our live stream at http://wjou.org. Click the links below to listen to previous episodes:

Call for Submissions: Young Women's Devotional
The Anna Knight Women's Leadership Center & Museum is excited to announce the upcoming production of the 2022 Young Women’s Devotional. Sharing your story is important and we have compiled templates and guidelines to help you put your story in motion, to help, motivate, and encourage other young women. We encourage you to submit as many entries as you wish!

We want to encourage you to submit as many entries as you wish. We cannot do this without you!

Submit your story or your artistic expression today! If you have any questions, please contact Adrienne Reid at wlc@oakwood.edu, or (256) 726-7245.
Leave a Legacy at OU
Pave the way into the next 125 years of success by purchasing a personalized brick on the Legacy Walkway, that leads from Ford Hall and Peters Media Center to the rest of the campus.

The Legacy Walkway Brick Campaign provides an opportunity to leave a legacy and support campus improvement at the same time. Our Legacy Walkway features names of donors, loved ones, special remembrances, and favorite sayings. Bricks are a great opportunity to congratulate a graduate, celebrate an advanced degree or accomplishment, or honor your loved ones.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to leave more than a memory at Oakwood University. You can leave your own legacy as we continue our mission – to transform the lives of our students.
Give back year-round to Oakwood University
while shopping online with AmazonSmile.
The AmazonSmile Foundation will send OU .5% of eligible purchases when you choose Oakwood University.
It's simple:

  • You can use your current Amazon account.
  • Just click https://smile.amazon.com.
  • When prompted, select Oakwood University as your charitable organization, and then
  • Shop as you normally do.

Donations are made by the AmazonSmile Foundation and are not tax deductible by you.

Your Oakwood University family thanks you for all you continue to do for our dear Oakwood.  
Show yOUr Pride in Alabama!
The mission of Oakwood University, a historically black, Seventh-day Adventist institution, is to transform students through biblically-based education for service to God and humanity.

InsideOakwood is published by the Office of Integrated Marketing & Public Relations.

Editor: Debbe Millet
Photographer: Teymi Townsend
Graphic Designer: Ron J. Pride

pr@oakwood.edu | (256) 726-7202