Winston-Salem State University has teamed up with NASCAR to launch the nation’s first motorsport management bachelor’s degree program at a historically Black college or university. The program is one of the initiatives NASCAR has undertaken to introduce minorities to some of the behind-the-scenes opportunities in auto racing.
The program was approved by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors last week and will begin this fall.
“This is great news for WSSU,” says the university’s interim chancellor, Dr. Michelle Howard-Vital. “This degree will help prepare a whole new generation of students to excel in the management aspects of motorsport.”
Vital, who has been the interim chancellor since July 2006 at the university, was recently selected as the new president of historically Black Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, and will begin her tenure there on July 30th.
The curriculum for the new degree program includes concentrations in motorsport operations and motorsport marketing and event planning. Students are also required to complete a semester-long internship to gain real-world experience and to form relationships with potential employers.
Program coordinator Travis L. Teague says the growing motorsport industry and NASCAR’s diversity efforts factored into the university’s decision to offer the major.
According to NASCAR, there are 75 million fans, representing one-third of the U.S. adult population.
“NASCAR is committed to making our sport, on and off the racetrack, look more like America. For NASCAR to continue to succeed and to grow, no other issue is more important,” said NASCAR CEO Brian France in a statement posted on WSSU’s Web site.
Three of NASCAR’s nine offices — in Charlotte, Concord and Conover — are located in North Carolina. The Charlotte office is only about 50 miles away from WSSU.
NASCAR’s diversity initiatives at the university include scholarships, ticket giveaways, tours of both the business offices and sporting events, panel presentations and discussions on the sport’s history and the opportunities for minorities.
On the national level, the organization has developed a diversity council, chaired by former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson and the NASCAR-HBCU Consortium. The consortium works with the White House Initiative on HBCUs alongside the U.S. Department of Education and Labor to increase the number and quality of job opportunities for Blacks.
NASCAR has also partnered with Howard University’s radio station, WHUR, which became the first urban station to sponsor a NASCAR race when they sponsored the NASCAR Busch East Series in South Boston, Va., two weeks ago. The driver WHUR sponsored directly, 16-year-old Marc Davis, placed fourth in the race.
For more information on WSSU’s motorsport program, write to:
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