Beverly Hogan on Tougaloo College
Beverly Wade Hogan is the first woman and 13th president of Tougaloo College. Since Hogan became president in 2002, new undergraduate programs, a new honors program and three centers have been established at Tougaloo. The Northsider earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Tougaloo College and masters in public policy and administration from Jackson State University. She recently spoke with Northside Sun Staff Writer Nikki Rowell about the college’s upcoming 150th year celebration.
As a former Tougaloo student, what does it mean to you to come back and serve the campus in this role?
“Tougaloo College is a very important part of my life. I received an excellent education that has positioned me for a meaningful, professional career and participation as a productive citizen of the world. It has been a rewarding opportunity to have returned as its 13th president. It has been the inspiration for how I lead this institution with the students we serve first in mind. It is the opportunity of a lifetime for me.”
Historically, what is Tougaloo’s role in the Jackson community?
“Tougaloo College is a trusted resource. It is an educational, social and economic engine of opportunity for the Jackson community and the state of Mississippi. Its economic impact is more than $42 million annually. This does not include the impact of its accomplished alumni to the educational, social, cultural and economic landscape. Historically, Tougaloo College has been at the forefront of positive social change for the city of Jackson and the state of Mississippi. It was the intellectual battle ground and safe haven for the civil rights movement.
The Tougaloo Nine, a group of Tougaloo College students, accelerated the Jackson Movement when they staged a ‘read-in’ in the Jackson Library that at the time was closed to African Americans. This set the stage for the integration of the Jackson library. Tougaloo College was the only safe place where blacks and whites could meet together without fear of reprisal. It has represented a diverse and inclusive culture since its founding in 1869. Its graduates are second to none. For close to 15 decades, Tougaloo College has populated our city and state with medical doctors, dentists, lawyers, administrators and educators who are leaders and contributing citizens in every sphere of influence. Tougaloo College has been a leader of change and an influencer for change.”
Tell me what is in store for the 150th celebration.
“2019 is Tougaloo College’s sesquicentennial anniversary year, marking 150 years. We will celebrate our sustaining legacy of academic excellence and social justice. Our sesquicentennial theme is ‘Transforming Lives, Transforming the World.’ A Tougaloo College education is a transformational learning experience. We are launching the Sesquicentennial Campaign for Scholarships to raise $10 million over the next two years. Each month, beginning in January, we will hold an event that connects the public with the college. There will be a convocation on January 22, focusing on the importance and value of preserving and celebrating our histories; Tammy Boyd, lead author of legislation for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. is the speaker.
The Annual Business Luncheon will be held on February 22 and the speaker is Michael Petters, president and CEO of the Huntington Ingalls Industries ship building company. The Presidential Lecture and Humanities Festival will take place in March. In April, New York University will host a reception and roundtable conversation with foundation leaders and other friends who have historically supported Tougaloo College.
The 2019 baccalaureate and commencement ceremonies will be held on May 5. The speakers are Dr. Janet Cooper Nelson, chaplain at Brown University and Attorney Stacey Abrams of Atlanta, respectively. The Two Rivers Gala/Tougaloo Honors will be held on May 18.
The 150th events will culminate in October during Founders’ Week, which will also include a celebratory event with Brown University. The Brown Tougaloo Partnership spans almost 55 years and includes student and faculty exchange programs, an Early Identification to Medical School Program and joint research projects among other initiatives. We expect the last phase of the restoration of the Robert O. Wilder Building, the home of John W. Boddie, master of the former plantation on which Tougaloo is situated today, also commonly known as the Mansion, to be well under way. The actual reopening is scheduled for 2020.”
What are you most looking forward to for Tougaloo’s 150th year celebration?
“The intentionally coming together of alumni and friends and the renewal of connections which will favorably impact the college’s future. This is also the year of my retirement. I am optimistic about the college’s future, new leadership for a changing time and to begin a new chapter in my own life that allows me more time with my family and to explore some of my many interests. The 150th year is a good time to pass the torch of leadership to another leader. Serving Tougaloo College has been my absolute honor. Departing will be bittersweet.”
I read something about an enrollment push for the 150th year. Can you tell me more about that?
“Yes, we will be emphasizing recruitment in the Campaign for Scholarships mentioned earlier in my responses. The competition for students is increasing with demographic shifts among other factors. Students often make their decisions about college choice on the financial assistance package awarded to them. We want to make Tougaloo College more viable and competitive as it moves further into this century of rapid change.”
What is Tougaloo’s current enrollment?
“Approximately 800 students.”
Can you tell me some changes and advancements you’ve seen in your years attending and working at Tougaloo?
“Constancy and change characterize developments at Tougaloo College over the years. While we value tradition, we also understand the importance of innovation and change. We hold fast to our core values of academic excellence, intellectual freedom, student-centeredness, inclusion, fiscal integrity and stewardship, social responsibility, accountability and relevance. They help define who we are. The Tougaloo College today is different in many aspects than the one I attended in the early 1970s, from the physical appearance of the campus, its infrastructure, the curriculum and the way we deliver education. The landscape of the campus has changed with the addition of new and renovated buildings, widened and paved streets and enhanced lightings.
New undergraduate degree programs have been added, as well as two graduate degree programs in education. The general education curriculum has been revised to more intentionally align with what twenty-first century students need to know. A new Honors Program, the Center for Undergraduate Research, the Center for International Studies and Global Change and the Institute for the Study of Modern Day Slavery have been established.
We provide a mixture of instruction - the face to face classroom instruction and online course instruction. Indeed, technology has changed and advanced over the years and drives everything we do today. Significant technological improvements have been made, including campus-wide connectivity, smart classrooms, wireless networks and the installation of an integrated information management system.
We recently opened the Early College High School on our campus in partnership with the Jackson Public School District. We have always had an outstanding faculty and that continues today which is the primary reason we have such good student outcomes. Tougaloo College also has a significant art collection that includes African, African American, European and Oceanic art, which has grown over the years. It is now housed in the Bennie G. Thompson Academic and Civil Rights Research Center, constructed in 2011, which includes space for the art gallery, art storage and offices, along with classrooms and an auditorium.”
What do you hope to see happen for the college in the future?
“I hope to see sustained growth which includes student enrollment, a fully developed online education program, stronger collaborative partnerships with businesses and universities, including international ones, and the development and monetization of the college’s fixed assets such as our land and water. I hope the college will continue to provide a transformational educational experience for its students, and our graduates will continue to use their education to uplift humanity and transform the world. I hope the college will become an internationally recognized, transforming engine of opportunity - exposing more of our students to the world and bringing the world inside our gates. I hope the college will continue to prepare its graduates to be productive in their time and will always be inspired to be the difference maker – influencer of change in society. I hope the college will stand and prosper for another 150 years.”