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Regional HBCUs Move to Recruit Students at Closing Concordia

When word spread that Concordia College – a small, historically Black college in Selma, Alabama – was closing its doors, nearby institutions sprang into action to recruit their students.

Alabama State University (ASU) is the latest institution to help, traveling to Selma  on Thursday morning to encourage students to enroll at their school. Representatives from admissions, the university’s five degree-granting colleges and other divisions met and spoke with Concordia students about their potential future at ASU.

Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., President, Alabama State UniversityDr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., President, Alabama State University

“I’m here because these institutions don’t exist without our students,” said Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., president of ASU. “Our students are our most precious resource. We are extremely student-centered at Alabama State University. I know that they were student-centered here at Concordia, so we wanted to show them the same.”

Ross said that after speaking with his administration and admissions director Freddie Williams, Jr., everyone on campus embraced the idea of supporting a “fellow sister institution” and its students so that the transition period is as smooth as possible.

“Concordia College has been a destination point for students for years in our community,” Ross added. “When the news [of its closing] actually hit, all I could think about was the students, and particularly those students who may be first-generation students, who have made this journey to get to this point to pursue a higher education degree.”

ASU leaders, staff and students from divisions ranging from admissions, financial aid, athletics, the graduate school and more arrived at Concordia two buses strong. Concordia students engaged with ASU officials and students in a fair-like setting where student projects and interactive displays about various programs were on display.

Representatives from ASU’s five colleges were present to speak directly with students about their particular majors. Williams and his admissions and recruitment team also hosted on-the-spot admissions meetings with Concordia students, waiving application fees.

Moreover, ASU’s HR department traveled to Concordia to assist employees searching for new positions. “We tried to be inclusive in all things, including this trying time for them,” Williams said.

Concordia, the only Lutheran HBCU institution, announced its closing late last month due to financial reasons. A notice on the college’s website states that current students will receive assistance in furthering their education, and faculty will receive assistance in finding new positions.

Other HBCU institutions have joined the effort to support the approximately 400 students enrolled at the college.

Like ASU, Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala. sent representatives to Concordia on Thursday and Friday to introduce students to Oakwood, its programs and scholarship opportunities.

Talladega College, Alabama’s oldest private historically Black college, is also among the schools looking to make the transfer process “as seamless as possible” for Concordia students, said Mary Sood, director of public relations at Talladega.

Should Concordia students apply to Talladega, the college will offer them an exclusive $5,000 scholarship and a one-year housing grant of $3,020. Additionally, Talladega will waive the application fee and assign students to a dean during the transfer process.

Concordia will officially cease operations at the end of the 2018 spring semester. Its closing sheds light on the challenges HBCUs face, but it also reveals the bond that connects HBCUs in their effort to serve their students.

“This year is our 150th anniversary as a university,” said Kenneth Mullinax, director of media relations and public information at ASU. “You can imagine how poignant it is to be able to throw a lifeline to students at another college, another fellow HBCU, and to help the students. That’s what this is all about.”

Tiffany Pennamon can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter @tiffanypennamon.

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