January 21, 2021
President's Letter to Students for Spring Semester 2021
January 14, 2021

Dear Students:

Welcome to our Spring 2021 semester. Your decision to return to or study at Oakwood University is significant. We continue to maintain safety measures consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the State of Alabama statewide health orders. The institution continues to operate in a modified hybrid operations status (a combination of both remote learning and face-to-face learning). As a significant safety measure, all official University travel remains restricted and drastically reduced. Please take note of the following:


  • The spring academic calendar has been modified to reflect a later start date. In order to avoid the risk of departure-and-return outbreak, we have eliminated the Spring Break in 2021. Undergraduate classes began on January 13. Graduate and Adult Learning (LEAP) classes began on January 11. Instruction ends on Friday, April 23. Mental health, non-instructional days are February 23 and March 17, 2021.
  • Instructional delivery is in one of three modalities: 100% online (asynchronous), 100% synchronous (face-to-face or virtual), or hybrid (asynchronous and synchronous). The University continues to utilize Desire to Learn (D2L) as its learning management system.
  • The University continues to provide professional development and technology training for all faculty, as well as technology and support for all students.
  • All face-to-face study abroad programs remain suspended for spring 2021.
  • All instructional spaces remain open with adjustments and/or restrictions to reduce density. Instructional spaces will be available only to meet the research or instructional needs of faculty and students. Course staggering will continue to be implemented in spaces that are used heavily or back-to-back to ensure classrooms can be properly disinfected.
  • Commencement Exercises for the Class of 2021 are still scheduled for the weekend of May 7-8, 2021.

Health and Safety Protocols

  • Health screening approval (including a negative PCR COVID-19 test) is required for all faculty, staff and students. In addition, all employees and students are required to complete virtual COVID-19 and safety protocols. Randomized testing of all faculty, staff, and students will continue throughout the semester.
  • In addition to locations provided on the University website of where individuals can locate testing sites is https://get-tested-covid19.org/.
  • Faculty, staff, and students must wear a mask in all public places on campus. Mandatory masking indoors, along with signage on the floor and walls to indicate physical distancing, frequent disinfecting of high-touch surfaces, and sanitization stations will continue to occur throughout the campus.
  • COVID-19 updates can be found on the University website under the COVID-19 section or by going directly to this link:
  • https://www2.oakwood.edu/oakwood-university-coronavirus-covid-19-update/.

Residential Life

  • Residence halls and athletic buildings and facilities remain open with adjustments and/or restrictions to reduce density.
  • Residence hall lobbies will operate with reduced occupancy, maintaining a social distance of 6 feet between persons and the use of face coverings. Single occupancy rooms are available on a case-by-case basis. Edwards Hall remains closed for Spring 2021.
  • Student Activities will be delivered either virtually or in a socially distanced format.
  • Dining services have been adjusted to accommodate a reduction in density and includes limited dine-in options with social distancing protocols, as well as increased carry-out and grab-and-go options. Please remember that there are other eating options on campus, such as the Blake Center TreeHouse Bistro.
  • The shuttle system will function under modified operations to ensure physical distancing.
  • Spring semester sports have been suspended. OU Athletics Department has a modified, phased approach for the resumption of training, practice, as well as intramural sports.

Spiritual Life

  • The Office of Spiritual Life will continue all its current programming and will implement streamed watch party events in designated satellite socially distanced spaces, including “Connect Church,” a hybrid socially-distanced experience that allows for small groups to meet and worship together. Connect Church is a new student-driven, discussion-based, worship initiative, launched last spring. All current programming will also continue virtually via Zoom and/or through social media platforms.
  • More information regarding OSLM and the services being provided can be found on the University website at https://www.ouoslm.com/.

Once again, we welcome you back home. And always remember, there is no OU without yOU.

Leslie N. Pollard, Ph.D., D.Min., MBA
Oakwood University Comments on the Significance of VP Harris Graduating from an HBCU
by Keneisha Deas | rocketcitynow.com
and Lauren Harksen | WHNT News19
Vice President Kamala Harris is making history as the first woman, first black person, and first person of Asian descent to hold the vice presidency. She’s also the first graduate of a Historically Black University to hold the office.

Harris graduated from Howard University, an HBCU, in 1986 with a degree in political science and economics.

President Leslie Pollard says this shows the significance of HBCUs. Dr. Marcya Burden, Director of the Pre-Law Program at Oakwood, agrees with Dr. Pollard. Dr. Karen Benn Marshall, Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Education, also commented on the ties of sisterhood that develop at HBCUs.

The Aeolians of Oakwood University Scheduled
to Perform During Orlando's Frontyard Festival
Through Unity, We Shall Overcome
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts - February 20, 2021

This beautiful annual concert in Orlando, Florida, is performed by a community choir directed and produced by Grammy Award–winning music educator Dr. Jeffery Redding. The world-renowned Aeolians Chorus from Oakwood University will return for this year’s free event—which features diverse local vocalists who come together in perfect harmony. The program is made possible by Orlando Mayor Dyer’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission and AdventHealth. The Frontyard Festival™ is six months of socially distant, live entertainment and unique experiences. Click here for more information.

OU 2020 All In Annual Fund & Scholarship Campaign
...Depart to Serve: Alumni Spotlight
Zsakeba Henderson, M.D., '95
Senior Vice President and Deputy Chief Medical and Health Officer
March of Dimes (Photo; March of Dimes)

March of Dimes has named Dr. Zsakeba Henderson, ’95, as senior vice president and deputy chief medical and health officer, effective February 1, 2021. She will lead the Office of Maternal and Child Health Impact, providing strategic direction and clinical expertise across the organization.

"We're at a critical point in the maternal and infant health crisis and the pandemic has made it even more imperative that we close the health equity gap,” Henderson said. “I look forward to working collaboratively with all our partners to fight this health crisis and ensure all moms and babies get the best possible start." Dr. Henderson is a board-certified Ob/Gyn with more than 15 years of experience managing maternal and infant health initiatives, including the establishment of the National Network of Perinatal Quality Collaboratives.

She previously served as medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she developed epidemiologic, programmatic and surveillance projects aimed to improve healthcare for moms and babies. She holds a medical degree from Harvard Medical School and a bachelor of science from Oakwood University.

"Dr. Henderson is recognized nationally for improving health outcomes for moms and babies, and her skills and knowledge will go a long way in helping us end preventable maternal and infant mortality and preterm birth," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, chief medical and health officer, senior vice president and interim chief scientific officer at March of Dimes. 
In Memoriam...
Originally from Delaware, Ohio, Madison Cole, who became known by the name “Matt,” attended and graduated from Pine Forge Academy in 1957. From there he attended Oakwood College. While at Oakwood, he and his roommate Richard Penniman would sing and tell great stories. Working his way through college, he is noted as the first African American car salesman in Huntsville. Mr. Cole served in the Army during the Vietnam War. The majority of his life was spent in Southern California, where he worked in the movie industry. He is preceded in death by his parents, two sisters, one brother, and his wife Josephine. For the last few years, he was cared for by his sister Sara. He succumbed to Covid-19 on January 15, 2021. He is survived by his son Kenneth Cole (Los Angeles, CA); four remaining siblings; a host of nieces and nephews and extended family members.

A YouTube memorial service is scheduled for January 30th, at 6:00 PM (Eastern). Please contact his niece Kennee Moore at Oakwood University (kmoore@oakwood.edu) for more information or to be part of the remarks. In lieu of flowers, monetary contributions can be made to the Worthy Student fund at either Oakwood University or Pine Forge Academy.

Condolences may be sent to his sister, Mrs. Sara Pitts Pelote, by email: sarapitts2018@gmail.com.

Please keep the family in your prayers during this time of bereavement.

Monday, Jan. 25 @ 8:30 a.m. CST

Join us at 8:30 a.m. (Central time) on Monday, January 25, 2021, on Morning Joy with Dawna Baker, for a special edition of "Inside Oakwood with Dr. Leslie Pollard." We will be on Facebook Live, and you can also listen via our live stream at http://wjou.org

The Legacy Walkway, that leads from Ford Hall and Peters Media Center to the rest of the campus, is paved with bricks that can be personalized. Oakwood University is excited to offer you the opportunity to pave the way into the next 125 years of success by purchasing a brick on the Legacy Walkway.

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 recent graduate, celebrated 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.  
About Oakwood University

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