The Independent Thinker
Private Colleges Serving the Public . . .                                       Winter 2020
One Student At a Time                                                                                  
Happy New Year from Alabama Independent Colleges!
The Alabama legislature convenes in regular session on February 4, 2020.

Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, Stillman College President Dr. Cynthia Warrick, and Former Miles College President Dr. George T. French, Jr. Named One of T en Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2020

  The dynamics of higher education in America today are driving the demand for a new set of skills and capabilities for tomorrow's leaders. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) provide quality education to low-income, first-generation, and academically under prepared students. Those institutions of such also serve a diverse population while maintaining the role as the backbone of educational institutions for more than 140-year history.
As President and CEO, Founder at the HBCU Campaign Fund, a non-profit that advocates for HBCUs and MSIs, leadership plays a substantial role in the management of the day-to-day operations of an institution. This third select group of individuals has proven their responsibilities for shaking policies, changing perspectives and making decisions that affect millions of individuals in the higher education sector and the daily needs of an HBCU or Minority-Serving Institution.
HCF has compiled a list of ten chancellors and presidents that currently serve an HBCU or MSI who is a dominant and influential leader that presently displays the following responsibilities in the progress of moving their institutions forward.
For complete list, click here.
Amistad Murals Have New Home at Talladega College  
In 1938, Talladega College c ommissioned artist Hale Woodruff to paint six murals illustrating the rise of African Americans from slavery to freedom. Known as the Amistad Murals, these works of art will be displayed at the new Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art.
   Later this month Talladega College will open a new on-campus home for the world-renowned Amistad murals.  A grand opening for the college's newly-constructed Dr. William R. Harvey Museum of Art is scheduled for Jan. 31, 2020. It is the latest stage in one of the largest expansions in the history of Alabama's oldest historically black college.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. for the new museum, and a ceremony will take place at 2:30 p.m. for the school's new 47,000-square-foot student center. 
The event will be a homecoming for the murals after more than a decade.  Talladega College commissioned artist Hale Woodruff in 1938 to paint six murals illustrating the rise of African-Americans from slavery to freedom in the United States. Woodruff, a native of Illinois who was raised in Nashville, studied at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis and the Art Institute of Chicago, before spending four years studying the masters in Paris. Woodruff also studied in Mexico under famed muralist Diego Rivera. 
Three of Woodruff's panels, known as the Amistad Murals, were the first pieces of twentieth century art to commemorate the 1839 slave uprising on the Spanish ship La Amistad. A group of African captives from Sierra Leone bound for the slave trade mutinied and took over the ship. The incident provoked several court cases which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The captives were ultimately repatriated to their home country in 1842.
The other panels depict the founding of the College, the construction of Savery Library and the Underground Railroad. The murals were rendered in vibrant colors at large scale, with almost life-size figures meant to be seen from a distance.  However, the passage of time took a toll. In 2008, the murals were taken down from the walls of Savery Library where they had hung for almost 70 years. At the time, they appraised at a value of $40 million.  After a restoration process with the assistance of Atlanta's High Museum of Art, the murals went on a multi-year tour until they were placed in storage for safekeeping until a museum with proper climate control and security could be built.
Talladega College alumnus William R. Harvey, president of Hampton University, contributed more than $1 million toward the construction of the museum, along with funds from other donors. The museum will also celebrate Woodruff's legacy.
  The FY 2020 final spending deal, passed by Congress and expected to be signed quickly by President Trump, contains much good news for students and families paying for college. Despite the stop and start nature of the appropriations process this year, Congress was able to successfully complete its work before the end of the session and ensure that student aid funding remained  a bipartisan and bicameral priority.
Funding Increases in Student Aid Programs:

Secretary DeVos Praises Higher Education Reforms Signed Into Law that Simplify the FAFSA, Provide Consistent Funding for HBCUs
  U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement on the FUTURE Act after President Trump signed the bill into law. The Act contains several important higher education reforms championed by the Secretary that will benefit students for decades to come:
"This administration continues to put students first, and this historic bill is another example of our commitment to them. The more than 300,000 students who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), along with millions more at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), will benefit from consistent funding for their treasured institutions. This law also marks a long-sought victory for simplifying and improving the FAFSA for the nearly 20 million students and families who complete it each year. From day one, I have worked with Secretary Mnuchin, Sen. Alexander and many other congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle to advance these common-sense reforms signed into law today. From eliminating up to 22 questions on the FAFSA form to reducing burdensome verification paperwork, applying for and receiving student aid will now be easier, faster and more secure than ever. Importantly, this law ensures students will not have to provide the government the same information twice, which also protects taxpayers from improper payments.
"The FUTURE Act will have a lasting impact on students and their families. President Trump will continue to support all students and ensure they can pursue the education needed to succeed in our thriving economy.

Charles Barkley Donates $1 Million - Largest Gift in Miles College School History 
  On Wednesday, January 6, 2020, Miles College received the single largest gift in its 122 years existence by a donor of $1 Million. Charles Barkley, former NBA Hall of Fame athlete and philanthropist, was the donor of this large historic gift made under the helm of President Bobbie Knight, Interim President of Miles College and first woman in history to lead the historic institution. In addition to his generous gift to the college, Mr. Barkley has also given of himself and time engaging students on Miles College campus.
Mr. Barkley has a history of philanthropic giving and support for HBCU's. His leadership gift to Miles will help establish the level of key gifts from others in the philanthropic community.  
"It's great that Mr. Barkley thinks enough of Miles College to donate a million dollars.  This gift lays the foundation to launch our $100 million dollar comprehensive campaign," said President Bobbie Knight, Interim President of Miles College.
"I've gotten to know Bobbie Knight over the last year and it was something I really wanted to do," said Charles Barkley, NBA Hall of Fame athlete and philanthropist. "To have a female president is a big deal. I want to help Bobbie be as successful as she can be."
In 2020-2021, he plans to do economic development around the Birmingham and Leeds Area, in his hometown. Barkley is a majority owner of Redmont Distillary.

Did You Know?
Campus News  
FirstRisk Advisors Joins AAICU as Business Partner
   FirstRisk Advisors offers comprehensive healthcare solutions for students throughout the U.S.   AAICU members have exclusive access to Unit ed Healthcare Student Resources offered by FirstRisk Advisors. It features one of the largest groups of in-network providers and includes benefits that cover mental health, prescriptions, emergency services, and urgent care. This plan is designed to take care of the everyday needs of modern domestic and international students.
FirstRisk Advisors is proud to be AAICU's exclusive Coalition for Cost Savings Program provider. To get a free onsite consultative meeting to review the program and how it can benefit the school and
its students, contact Al Marinucci at or visit