By C.C. Campbell-Rock Contributing Writer Dillard University officially welcomed Dr. Rochelle L. Ford, Ph.D., APR, the school’s eighth President, during a weekend of inaugural eventsContinue Reading »

By C.C. Campbell-Rock
Contributing Writer

Dillard University officially welcomed Dr. Rochelle L. Ford, Ph.D., APR, the school’s eighth President, during a weekend of inaugural events dubbed “Activating Our Commitment: Continuing a Legacy of Leadership.”

Several HBCU presidents, educators, students, and community leaders attended Ford’s investiture ceremony. The historic groundbreaking of Dillard’s new 200-unit residential facility was also a part of the festivities.

Other events included a jazz breakfast, a day of service, a night with the New Orleans Pelicans, and the Call to Chapel.

Dillard University’s Office of Community and Church Relations, DePaul Community Health Centers, and Aetna hosted the 2023 Community Call to Service, including free healthcare screenings, mental health resources, and a school supply giveaway for kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

Ford said she will continue Dillard’s mission of cultivating leaders who live, think, and act courageously and ethically. In a recent interview, Ford stressed the importance of teaching students to “act truthfully, honorable, and accountable daily.”

Her vision includes improving campus facilities, enhancing faculty and staff recruitment and retention, and booster fundraisers to support student degree completion.

Ford brings to the presidency career priorities that inform her belief that students should learn how to think critically about issues presented in a social media-driven society. “I want them to analyze issues and not just accept what they see. They (future leaders) must think critically and precisely, communicate effectively and act courageously and ethically.”

Dillard’s new President is a former university communications professor, dean, chairperson, and program director. Ford served as the dean of the School of Communications at Elon University, she was a professor and chair of the Public Relations Department at the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and she taught at her alma mater, Howard University.

At Howard U., Ford served as associate dean for research and academic affairs and directed the Preparing Future Journalism Faculty Program. Ford also led the University’s initiative to establish a campus-wide Center for Academic Excellence.

Mindful of the societal challenges confronting students of color throughout her career, Ford specialized in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion on and off campus. She is doing the same at Dillard University.

Ford announced a partnership between Dillard University Campus Bookstore and Black Opal Cosmetics. “I am proud to support a Black business at every chance I get and promote the products they make when I use them,” said Ford.

“The Dillard bookstore will be the first HBCU bookstore to carry our products. It’s especially important to me as a New Orleans native – I’m happy to be coming home,” said Desirée Rogers, CEO & Co-Owner of Black Opal LLC.

Ford is excited about the school’s new programs and existing programs. The Ray Charles Center’s Food Studies program is attracting students from Tulane and Loyola, she says. The food students will travel to Cuba this year to study that country’s cuisine.

The University also has a new athletic team. The Blue Devils Baseball Team. The school will also support a new softball team and its Tennis and Blue Devils Basketball teams.

This article originally published in the January 30, 2023 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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