Chancellor Donald J. Reaves

Chancellor Donald J. Reaves

Over the past several months, it seems that I have spent a great deal of time and energy and thought dealing with issues that affect the future of this university.  We have had to deal with a budget for 2009 through 2011 that included significant reductions in allocations from the state.  That meant we had to make spending adjustments that were difficult, but necessary to protect and preserve the core mission of the university which is to provide our students with an education.

We also have been working diligently on Winston-Salem State’s strategic plan for 2010-2015.  That effort has created a new focus on our vision and mission for the university, with many people from across the campus and the wider community having had an opportunity to provide input into our future direction.

Then, there have been other issues and activities ranging from the decision about intercollegiate athletics to the selection of a new athletic director to the unveiling of a master plan for the future development of Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.  These and many more issues have filled the agendas of my staff, of the students and of the various boards, including the Trustees, the Foundation Board, and the Board of Visitors.

With all of the focus on the future, we sometimes forget to take time to pay homage to our past.   Having the privilege of spending time with the 50th Reunion Class during our Homecoming 2009 celebration reminded me that we often need to take time to express our gratitude for those who came to this campus before us.  As we plan for our future, we must remember our proud heritage and we should celebrate how far this institution has come since its founding in 1892.

Over the past several weeks, the message of remembering, honoring and celebrating the past has been brought home to me by two key events on our campus.

During Homecoming, we also celebrated Founder’s Day, a time to remember Simon Green Atkins.  It was his determination, courage and strength that created Slater Industrial Academy in 1892 with a one-room frame structure, 25 students and one teacher.  He knew that preparing African American students to teach African American children was of key importance to the future of all African Americans.   He had a vision and though he faced a shortage of resources, he still managed to create a school that has stood the test of time.

In addition to being the founder and serving as president of WSSU’s predecessor institutions, Simon Green Atkins changed his community with other activities such as Columbian Heights, a new housing development for African-Americans, playing a role in the founding of Forsyth Savings and Trust Company, the first bank for African-Americans in the city, and being instrumental in starting the YMCA.

The other event that reminded me of the legacy of the university’s founding family was the J. Alston Atkins Memorial Lecture in Constitutional Law.  The lecture honors the legacy of Jack Atkins, the son of Simon Green Atkins, who is someone to be admired in his own right.

Jack Atkins managed to position himself for a life of privilege and success when he graduated from law school with high honors at the age of 24.  In a time when a man of color faced tremendous obstacles, he had gotten a good education and a good job practicing law.  Yet, he was a soldier in the battle for civil rights, arguing a voting rights case before the U.S. Supreme Court when he was only 37.  He went on to argue other cases before the Supreme Court and filed law suits that became the catalyst for actions that ultimately led to the desegregation of public education in this state and more equitable support for the HBCUs in the University of North Carolina System.  Additionally, when he was needed, Jack Atkins returned to Winston-Salem Teacher’s College as executive secretary and served for 24 years.

I find looking back on the legacies of these two visionaries inspiring and, sometimes, a bit daunting.  They both had visions of how the world should be and the courage to do whatever it took to help move toward the future.

We now have an obligation to all of those who came before us and were diligent in their pursuit of a better world for future generations.  Today, our vision is still one of developing graduates who are prepared to be competitive in today’s world and who also have the strength and the character to help make that world a better place.

So, the lessons of the past are still relevant to the plans for our future.  We need to be reminded of that on occasion so that we can celebrate the progress we have made over 117 years and maintain our commitment to the progress we need to make during the years ahead.

Bill Hayes

Bill Hayes

Bill Hayes, whose career in college sports spans 36 years, has been named the new athletic director for Winston-Salem State University.  He will begin work at WSSU on January 1, 2010. Hayes is currently athletic director at Florida A&M University.

Hayes served as head football coach at WSSU for 12 seasons, during which the team won three CIAA championships.

“We are absolutely delighted that Bill has agreed to come home to Winston-Salem State University,” said Chancellor Donald J. Reaves. “We conducted an extensive search to find the right person with the right credentials who would be able to immediately make a difference in our athletic program.  Bill Hayes certainly fits that description.  I am truly delighted that he has accepted our offer, and I want to thank the search committee and its chair, Dr. Dennis Felder.

“Over the years, Bill has maintained ties with the university and with our community,” Reaves added.  ”Having him in this key position will certainly support our efforts to build our athletic program to the championship level.”

“As a former athlete and coach, I have an abiding passion for athletics and the betterment of our young people through sports,” Hayes said.  ”Also, having worked at WSSU under the legendary Clarence ‘Big House’ Gaines years ago, I have a true appreciation for the great tradition of Rams’ sports.”

Hayes joined Florida A&M in January 2008 after serving as athletic director at North Carolina Central University for nearly five years.  He also served as head football coach at N.C. A&T State University for 15 years after leaving WSSU in 1987.  In addition to posting the most wins of any football coach at both WSSU and N.C. A&T, he led major fundraising efforts during his tenure as athletic director at both Florida A&M and N.C. Central.

Hayes also served as an assistant football coach at Wake Forest University for three seasons, the first African American assistant coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

A member of the Sports Halls of Fame for both WSSU and N. C. Central, he was also inducted into the CIAA Hall of Fame.  Hayes has been active in the Boy Scouts of America and received its highest regional award for a volunteer in 2001.  He was selected as MEAC Football Coach of the Year in 1991 and 1999 and was CIAA Athletic Director of the Year in 2006 and 2007.

“Based on Bill Hayes’ track record, I feel confident that he will make a major contribution to our athletic program immediately,” said Felder.  ”I was, however, extremely impressed with the number and the quality of the applicants for the athletic director position. We had applicants from all levels of athletic programs, from large and small schools, and from public and private institutions.  To me, that illustrates the reputation and tradition that WSSU has in academics and athletics.”

The selection committee, which included faculty, students, staff and four alumni members, worked over the last six months to fill this position from among more than 175 expressions of interests, nominations and applications.

East Ward Winston-Salem City Councilman Derwin Montgomery.

East Ward Winston-Salem City Councilman Derwin Montgomery.

Derwin Montgomery ‘10 was interning in Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines’ office this past summer when the idea hit him: He should run for a seat on city council this fall, as a college senior.

No one else was stepping up to oppose Jocelyn Johnson, the sixteen-year Democrat incumbent in the city’s East Ward (which includes the university). So Montgomery, 21, who says he’d been planning a run for council in 2013, switched into high gear. In months he had organized a successful primary campaign; no time like the present.

“I knew this was a prime opportunity, because I graduate in May. After that I wouldn’t have the same political capital that I do now, being on campus,” he says.

That capital came up big for Montgomery, with students voting early and in big numbers. He campaigned online and in person, often educating his peers in the process. And he beat Johnson handily, taking 57 percent of the vote in the East Ward primary in September.

Without a Republican opponent, Montgomery won the council seat on Tuesday, the first Winston-Salem State University student to serve on city council.

Montgomery came to WSSU from Hopkins, South Carolina, where he was politically active in high school, including three years as class president. At Winston-Salem State, he has been active in the chapter of NAACP since his freshman year; he serves as chapter president this year.

But he knows about defeat, too. He ran for student government president in his sophomore and junior years and lost both times. This year Montgomery serves as president pro tem of the student senate.

In high school, Montgomery thought he would try biology in college. But attending a campus program on the sciences the summer before his freshman year convinced him otherwise. “That helped me define that political science is what I was really interested in.”

Montgomery in a moment of thought prior to the election.

Montgomery in a moment of thought prior to the election.

The youngest city council member says in order to tackle any of his priorities for the East Ward, the first step will be organizing people. He plans to bring together neighborhood groups in each precinct to talk about pressing issues such as public safety and economic development, “so people begin to talk to each other and neighborhoods know they’re not alone.”

Already, he says, running for elected office has made a difference. “My campaign definitely made students on campus more aware of local issues. The university is the largest employer in the ward, and we (the students) make up the largest number of residents.”

Montgomery plans to enter Wake Forest University School of Divinity next fall for a master’s degree.

He thanks two fellow students who have served as his campaign managers: Shanda Neal and Candace Knight.

WSSU help seniors get the hang of Wii Bowling

WSSU help seniors get the hang of Wii Bowling

Winston-Salem State University researchers visited a Clemmons, NC, retirement community Oct. 21 and 28 to study the effects of the Nintendo Wii Bowling game on the quality of life of the sixty and older population living in retirement facilities.

The researchers worked mainly with the residents and staff at Clemmons Village I and II on Holder Road.  They performed some work at Independence Village on Reynolda Road in Winston-Salem.

Dr. Cynthia Bell, WSSU assistant professor of occupational therapy in the School of Health Sciences, Elizabeth Fain, WSSU occupational therapy instructor, and six students conducted the study.  They used Nintendo’s Wii Bowling game to assess quality of life, confidence in preventing falls and social skills – three major areas in the lives of seniors.

“There have been a number of cases at senior communities in which people are led to believe that residents who play Nintendo Wii Bowling tend to experience greater quality of life.  But that is based mostly on unofficial observation,” said Fain. “This study will scientifically confirm the true effects,” she noted.

This resident is totally into the game.

This resident is totally into the game.

Fear of falling has a major impact on mobility and consequently the social and other activities of residents of senior residential facilities, according to the researchers. “Those issues impact quality of life,” Bell said, noting that study results are planned for release in January.  “Social relationships have a tendency to decrease with age when fewer social opportunities are available.  Establishing supportive social relationships is central to the older person’s self-efficacy, well-being and continued success in socializing,” she added.

The study involves examining three groups.  The participants in group A were exposed to virtual rehabilitation through the Nintendo Wii Bowling only. The participants in group B were exposed to both the Nintendo Wii Bowling and the fall prevention education (checklists, tips and low-impact exercises).  The participants in group C were not be exposed to the Nintendo Wii or the fall prevention education.

Virtual rehabilitation is an interactive video game experience that utilizes gross and fine motor skills to enhance overall quality of life through physical and mental well-being.

The Nintendo Wii system is a recent technological advancement in the area of virtual reality video games and provides an interactive experience that blends physical activity and interface through simulation of real world environments.  Participants can engage with the games one-on-one or in a group setting.<–>

From left to right are: Dr. Suresh Gopolan, assistant dean of graduate programs in the WSSU School of Business and Economics; Nathan Thompson, WSSU assistant controller; Miranda Dalton, the manager of enrollment and family services for Rockingham County Head Start; and Willie Hunt, a portfolio review manager at BB&T Corp.

The winning team, from left to right: Dr. Suresh Gopalan, assistant dean of graduate programs in the WSSU School of Business and Economics, the team's advisor; Nathan Thompson, WSSU assistant controller; Miranda Dalton, the manager of enrollment and family services for Rockingham County Head Start; and Willie Hunt, a portfolio review manager at BB&T Corp.

Three MBA students from Winston-Salem State University took third place in the 2009 National Student Case Competition, held as part of the National Black MBA Association’s annual convention.

The competition was sponsored by Chrysler Group LLC and The Chrysler Foundation and brought in teams from 22 of the nation’s leading business schools to compete for $35,000 in scholarships. The WSSU team won $8,000 in scholarship money. UNC Chapel Hill earned first place and Emory University took second place.

The WSSU team was comprised of MBA students Nathan Thompson, an assistant controller at the university; Willie Hunt, a portfolio review manager at BB&T Corp.; and Miranda Dalton, the manager of enrollment and family services for Rockingham County Head Start.

The National Student Case Competition is a unique event designed to give high-powered student teams an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and problem-solving skills in a formal competition. Teams are given a hypothetical business case from which they develop business solutions. Each student team then prepares and presents its case before a panel of experienced business executives. Teams are judged on their analysis of the case, the feasibility of their recommendations and the quality of their presentation.

The competition was held September 22-26 in New Orleans.

Civil Rights Legal Expert Enlightens Audience at Atkins Law Lecture

John Payton, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, delivered the J. Alston Atkins Constitutional Law Lecture on October 15. The event was presented by the university and the Winston-Salem State University Foundation and sponsored by the law firm of Kilpatrick Stockton.
Payton, who has defended some of the most important civil [...]

Shannon Henry Named Director of Internal Audit

Shannon Berg Henry was named director of internal audit at Winston-Salem State University, effective November 2.
As the university’s internal auditor, she will be responsible for evaluating financial and administrative processes to ensure that WSSU maintains an effective system of internal controls and accurate accounting records. Henry reports to Chancellor Donald J. Reaves.
“We are pleased that [...]

Young Americans Exhibit Gives ‘Generation Y’ a New Voice

“Young Americans,” a dynamic new series of photographs by photographer Sheila Pree Bright that explores the identities of young people and their relationship to the United States, is on display at Diggs Gallery.
These pictorial statements on America feature participants aged 18 to 25 posing with an American flag. It will run through March 6.
“We are extremely [...]

H1N1 – Nothing to Sneeze At

Thousands of people around the world and across the United States including hundreds in the state of North Carolina have been struck by the H1N1 virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu activity is now widespread in 48 states. Nationwide, visits to doctors for influenza-like illness are increasing steeply and are now higher than [...]

Pianist, Conductor Awadagin Pratt Hosts Master Class

World-renowned concert pianist and conductor Awadagin Pratt conducted a master class at Winston-Salem State University Oct. 8, in Kenneth R. Williams Auditorium.
On Oct. 10, WSSU’s Burke Singers performed with Pratt and the Winston-Salem Symphony in Reynolds Auditorium at Reynolds High School.  Among his generation of concert artists, pianist Awadagin Pratt is acclaimed for his musical [...]

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