Morgan Magazine 2021, Volume 1

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...Progress Undeterred A Decade of Morgan Momentum MORGAN MAGAZINE VOLUME I 2021



VO L UM E I 2 0 2 1





President’s Letter

Morgan’s Decade of Momentum

A Light at the Gateway

Donor Profile

Prepared for an essential role in the era of transformation

Reflecting on the institution’s great strides over the past 10 years

Tyler Hall, Morgan’s striking new student services and administrative support facility, creates a new dynamic between students and staff

(Cover Story)

MSU benefactor Stephanie NellonsPaige transformed her early struggles into opportunities to excel and serve





MSU Alumni Gain ‘Momentum’ on Wall Street

Commencement Exercises

Morgan’s Board of Regents Chair Returns to Congress

Leadership Spotlight

A former Mr. Morgan teamed with fellow alumni to build a finance powerhouse in New York City

Congressman James Clyburn and inventor Jesse Russell lifted the fall 2019 graduates; a first-ever virtual commencement highlighted spring 2020

Kweisi Mfume wins the race for Maryland’s 7th Congressional District

Raised by hard workers and educated at HBCUs, Oscar Barton, Ph.D., landed his dream job as dean of Morgan’s School of Engineering




A Groundbreaker in Golf

Research Spotlight

In the Community

Student Success

Professor Harold Morales, Ph.D., and his associates moved from research to activism in Baltimore City, connecting religion, race and community empowerment

Morgan students work with dynamic women’s organizations to engage voters and uplift Black communities

MSU Student Regent Stanley Nwakamma, from Nigeria, fulfills a commitment to servant-leadership and a dream of higher education



Wa nt M o r e M o r g an M a g a z in e ?

• AWA R D S • Morgan Magazine Vol. I, 2020 APEX Award of Excellence ______ Hermes Creative Gold Award

A Life of Service Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, 1951–2019 MORGAN MAGAZINE VOLUME I 2020



Morgan Magazine is published by the Division of Institutional Advancement of MSU for alumni, parents, faculty, students, prospective students and friends. Morgan Magazine is designed and edited by the Office of Public Relations and Strategic Communications. Opinions expressed in Morgan Magazine are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the University. Send correspondence directly to: Morgan Magazine Office of Public Relations and Strategic Communications 1700 E. Cold Spring Lane McMechen Hall, Suite 635 Baltimore, MD 21251 (443) 885-3022 office main M o r g a n Ma g a zine Sta ff

22 Audrey Hill of Morgan’s Class of ’69 broke gender and color barriers in athletics

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Vice President, Institutional Advancement Donna J. Howard, CFRE Assistant Vice President, Public Relations and Strategic Communications Larry Jones Director, Public Relations and Strategic Communications Dell Jackson Assistant Director, Web Communications Henry McEachnie Publications Manager Ferdinand Mehlinger Editor Eric Addison Art Director & Layout and Design David E. Ricardo Photographer P.A. Greene Contributing Writers Angela Alexander Kevin M. Briscoe Donna M. Owens




the future


the world


“Without struggle there can be no forward progress!”— Frederick Douglass


ounded during Reconstruction as a remedy for racial inequity in higher education in Maryland, Morgan State University (MSU) has been tempered by more than 153 years of continual opposition and has emerged stronger than ever. As this magazine documents, Morgan has built an unstoppable forward momentum in its mission during the past decade and was well-prepared to meet the unprecedented confluence of public health, political and socioeconomic crises our nation and the world are now facing. During my 10 years as president of this great institution, I am honored to have been entrusted with the responsibility to protect and expand the legacy passed on by previous Morgan leaders within the Office of the President and elsewhere. Evidence of our bright future, perhaps best symbolized by our striking new student services and administrative support facility, Tyler Hall, is also within these pages. Generations of our alumni — exemplars of excellence such as Congressman and MSU Board of Regents Chair Kweisi Mfume, national transportation and urban planning expert Stephanie Nellons-Paige and the entrepreneurs leading the Manhattan-based finance firm Momentum Advisors — continue to lead the world, following in the footsteps of brave pioneers such as golf champion Audrey Hill of Morgan’s Class of 1969, whose story of athletic triumph during the civil rights era is told here. Our students — such as voter engagement activists Kayla Jackson and Jada Grant, and MSU Regent Stanley Nwakamma — continue to prove that Morgan is growing the future. Our faculty members — passionate educators and researchers such as our new engineering dean, Oscar Barton, Ph.D., and religion and philosophy professor Harold Morales, Ph.D. — continue to serve as vital instruments to achieve that growth and advance Morgan’s work as Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University. As our nation moves thankfully on from 2020, “a year like no other,” Morgan State University is positioned to fulfill its essential role in the current era of global transformation. I hope this message finds you and your loved ones physically, emotionally and spiritually well, and ready to meet the coming challenges. In the meantime, please enjoy this issue of Morgan Magazine. Sincerely,

David Kwabena Wilson President D av i d Kwa b en a W il s o n , E d . D . , P re si de n t • M orga n S ta te University • Ba ltim ore, M a r y land



Morgan’s Decade of Momentum






his past summer, David K. Wilson, Ed.D., hoped to commemorate the 10th year of his presidency of Morgan State University (MSU), reflecting upon a succession of achievements that had elevated Maryland’s largest Historically Black College or University (HBCU). It was the start of a new fiscal year, and the moment was ripe for a new beginning heralding the future being built on the foundation of a new strategic plan. This milestone anniversary signaled a pivotal point in his career, one worthy of celebration. The moment, however, would be tempered by one of the biggest challenges of his presidency to-date: overcoming an unseen global menace threatening to undermine the whole of higher education as we knew it. Seven months earlier, Dr. Wilson and the world were introduced to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and because of this highly transmittable disease, life at the University was completely disrupted, leaving most of the campus deserted since March. The University was at a precipice, but it had been here before. In 2010, the higher education community was wrestling with budget problems that required tuition and fee increases

and was making collective efforts to increase graduation rates. Colleges and universities were dealing with a number of external factors that directly and indirectly impacted operations, namely: a struggling national economy, major reductions in state appropriations, high unemployment rates, issues surrounding race and racial bias, and a swine flu (H1N1) pandemic. During this same period, a first-class postage stamp was 44 cents, Apple had just released its first-generation iPad tablet computer, and Barack Obama was two years into his first term as our nation’s 44th president. Hope and change seemed to permeate the country, and Morgan was not excluded. Dr. Wilson, a self-proclaimed “newcomer” to Baltimore, was hired to take the helm, and so began the tenure of the University’s 10th inaugurated president, an HBCU-birthed, Ivy League-educated optimist, whose worldly experiences spurred him to think bigger than the moment. In retrospect, it seems almost fitting that Dr. Wilson’s first 10 years on the job would be bookended by a deadly global pandemic. He was the type to seek an opportunity in even the biggest of challenges.

(During the past 10 years,) we have implemented exciting new programs, and there has been implementation of online programs as well as installation of new technology and systems to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of offices. Our institution is over 150 years old, and our current students, faculty, staff and leadership respect that history and have the vision, talent and commitment to take the University into the future. — Cheryl Rollins, Ph.D., MSU Director of Institutional Research



Since I’ve been employed here, Morgan has changed significantly, by increasing its research capacity, increasing its partnerships and collaborations, increasing its student recruitment and retention and increasing its building infrastructure. — Kevin Peters, Ph.D., Director, MSU Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education Seeking a Higher Level Dr. Wilson came to Morgan following the extraordinary, 26-year presidency of Earl S. Richardson, Ed.D., now namesake of Morgan’s library, who had led MSU from a difficult period of academic and organizational stagnation to a time of growth often referred to as the Morgan Renaissance. Morgan, by then, was a well-set pillar of Baltimore City and the region, having prepared generations of students for careers in critical areas such as education, social work and civic governance and having laid the academic groundwork for many who went on to excel in fields such as medicine and the law. The University’s influence in what is now known as STEM 4


(science, technology, engineering and mathematics) had also been growing for decades and had flourished with initiatives such as the founding of the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. School of Engineering in 1984. The challenge for Morgan’s new administration was how best to extend the University’s winning track record and move the institution to an even higher level of success. Dr. Wilson took that challenge head on during his second month in office, appointing a task force composed of MSU faculty, students, staff, alumni, administrators and deans, in addition to members of the local community, to create a 10-year strategic plan for the

University. The plan, “Growing the Future, Leading the World: The Strategic Plan for Morgan State University, 2011–2021,” redefined the institution with new vision and mission statements and a set of core values, all supporting five quantified strategic goals. Ten years after his inauguration, and three years after the celebration of the institution’s sesquicentennial, we bear witness to the great strides Morgan State University has made with President Wilson’s stewardship. Despite the challenges of the times, Morgan, today, is enjoying a period of unprecedented growth and advancement, a period perhaps best characterized as, simply, Morgan Momentum. MORGAN.EDU

Office of Student Success and Retention, part of the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Success, are major reasons why Morgan has achieved its goals for second-year retention, which has remained above 70% since the 2010– 11 academic year. Moreover, the University is also making steady progress toward its “50 x 25” goal, which is to achieve a six-year graduation rate of 50% by the year 2025. The graduation rate for the cohort of students who entered Morgan in 2014 was 46.2%, a significant improvement over the 29% rate for the students who entered in 2005, and the highest rate on record for the University.

Academic Advancement Morgan State University’s academic tree has burgeoned greatly since 2010, with the addition of 30 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs; a dozen post-baccalaureate certificates; and a new school, the School of Global Journalism and Communication, which was established in 2013 and internationally accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications in May 2020. The University launched its first online degree program, a doctoral in Community College Leadership, in 2010. That program now stands with 14 others that have helped Morgan keep pace with the advancement of higher education in the Digital Age. Morgan offers the sole degree program in Maryland in a number of key disciplines, such as Actuarial Science, Architecture and Environmental Design, Interior Design and Psychometrics, and is a standout now in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, graduating more technical degree holders than the national average and having a higher percentage of STEM-employed alumni than any other college or university in Maryland. Two recent additions to degree offerings in Morgan’s School of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences promise to continue that trend: a Bachelor of Science in Cloud Comput-

ing, the only such program in the state, and a Master of Science in Advanced Computing. The impressive academic growth of Morgan State University will accelerate in the coming years. The University signed an agreement with Salud Education, LLC, this past January, for the establishment of a College of Osteopathic Medicine on MSU’s campus. Scheduled to open in early 2023, the college will be the first new medical school at an Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in nearly 45 years and the first-ever osteopathic medical school at an HBCU.

Student Success MSU’s intense focus on “Enhancing Student Success,” Goal #1 of its 2011– 2021 Strategic Plan, has yielded many positive results. Since recognizing its 50,000th graduate, Computer Science major Joseph L. Jones of Baltimore, during the University’s Fall 2016 Commencement Exercises, Morgan has conferred an additional 3,994 baccalaureates and an additional 1,307 master’s and doctoral degrees, bringing the total number of MSU graduates to more than 55,000. Key to this achievement was the innovative work the University has done to move its students from matriculation to graduation. The award-winning initiatives of MSU’s

In Spring 2020, Morgan’s student body comprised more than 7,763 scholars, a number that represented a 7.4% increase over its enrollment in 2009. Disruption by the COVID-19 pandemic caused a surprisingly small 2% dip in student enrollment in Fall 2020 compared with Fall 2019, continuing the University’s movement against the trend of steep enrollment declines at many four-year institutions of higher education across the country.

As the diversity of Morgan’s student body continues to grow, in line with the University’s Core Values, MSU’s tradition of success in advancing its original mission of providing higher education to African Americans thrives. Morgan is a leader in Maryland and the nation in producing African-American recipients of academic degrees in many key disciplines. The enrollment, retention and graduation statistics, and high national and state rankings in degree production, are sources of pride for the University, but even more so are the countless success stories behind those numbers: the accomplishments of Morgan students who have earned recognition for their scholarship and service. MORGAN MAGAZINE VOLUME I 2021


Research and Innovation The designation of Morgan State University as the state’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, in May 2017, reflected decades of foundational work as well as MSU’s research accomplishments over the previous seven years. In 2010, the University gained a $3.1-million share of a $129-million U.S. Department of Energy grant to Penn State University to research energy innovation. Another major milestone was reached in 2011, when MSU procured its largest research contract to date: a $28.5-million, five-year agreement with NASA in a program titled GESTAR, Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research. Two years later, the University established its Division of Research and Economic Development (D-RED), which has the primary responsibility for research policy, oversight of the administration and management of grants and contracts to support faculty research activity, and oversight of responsible conduct of research education and compliance at Morgan. The organizational change that created D-RED has yielded tremendous benefits, as the division — and its previous incarnations — have overseen more than $314 million in awarded contracts and grants. Among the many highlights: in 2014, Morgan received a $23.3-million award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to launch “A Student- Centered, Entrepreneurship Development” (ASCEND) Training Model to Increase Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce.” The competitive award was the second-largest in the University’s history and the highest to date to Morgan from the NIH. Additional wins increased Morgan’s momentum in research in 2019: to list just a few, the NIH continued its support of ASCEND with $16.9 million in additional funding; NASA and USRA, Morgan’s lead partner in GESTAR, extended the University’s participation in that program for an additional five years, increasing the value of the contract to $40 million; and a five-year grant from the Silicon Valley-based financial technology (“fintech”) firm Ripple funded an academic partnership to advance research, technical development and innovation at MSU in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital payments. 6


In December 2018, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education moved Morgan to an elevated classification of R2, a status reserved for doctoral universities with high research activity. The University joined only 130 other institutions nationwide — including fewer than a dozen HBCUs — that have an R2 classification. Statistics show that Morgan generates significantly more key innovation outputs and outcomes per research dollar than state and national averages. And the University’s focus on innovation has also enhanced its campus operations, in areas ranging from course delivery to facilities construction to digital communication.

Expanded Global Footprint Having established its Division of International Affairs in 2014, Morgan has grown from regional and national influence to become an institution with truly global reach during the past decade, more than doubling its number of international students from 2010 through 2019. The number of students engaged in study abroad has also reached a record high, and the formation of academic partnerships with universities beyond the United States for student and faculty exchange and other collaborations is rising. Among those partnerships are two recent initiatives in Africa: Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Global Multimedia Journalism and Communications and Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship programs with the African University College of Communications and a five-year agreement with Nigeria’s Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) that will sponsor up to 50 new Ph.D. students and up to 20 postdoctoral researchers from public tertiary institutions in Nigeria for study and research at Morgan each year. China, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are among many other countries where Morgan began new academic collaborations that have brought large numbers of international students to the MSU campus since 2010.


Campus Facilities and Infrastructure For some Morgan alumni and others long absent from the campus, the visual impact of the transformation created by more than $271 million in campus construction over the past 10 years is stunning. Among many improvements, large, modern facilities now highlight the grounds at the northern, central and southern approaches to the campus from Hillen Road, blending beautifully into the well-kept greenery of the nation’s only HBCU campus named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The impact of the campus improvements on Morgan’s mission has been just as strong. The University’s well-planned investment in its facilities and other physical infrastructure has helped enhance the quality of the education Morgan offers, grow the University’s enrollment numbers and increase the competency and competitiveness of its students. In addition, Morgan’s campus is attracting new faculty, facilitating partnerships with other organizations and is growing opportunities to conduct research that benefits community and economic development in the city of Baltimore and the surrounding region.

A few highlights of Morgan’s physical improvements since July 2010 follow: • Martin D. Jenkins Hall, Behavioral and Social Sciences Center ($79 million) and the Morgan Business Center ( $81 million) • Legacy Bridge, linking the University’s Main Campus and West Campus. • Campus information technology infrastructure upgrade ($25 million) • Calvin and Tina Tyler Hall Student Services Building ($88 million) • Northwood Commons renovation/New Police and Public Safety Building ($50 million) • W.A.C. Hughes Memorial Stadium upgrades ($2.5 million) • Health and Human Services Building ($156 million)* • Thurgood Marshall Complex Residence Hall ($115 million)* *Construction now underway

Martin D. Jenkins Hall, Behavioral and Social Sciences Center (left) and the Morgan Business Center

(When) I was hired in January 2008, I was thrilled… I got recruited to serve as the dean for Morgan’s School of Architecture and Planning. I imagined a future University with an extensive research footprint, especially in the built environment disciplines. That vision is certainly realized. I believe the campus image has significantly changed how the public looks at us. — Mary Anne Akers, Ph.D., Dean, MSU School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) MORGAN MAGAZINE VOLUME I 2021


Fundraising and Finance Monetary support of the institution’s mission has been a central part of Morgan State University’s success story since its founding as Centenary Biblical Institute in 1867. Morgan’s Sesquicentennial Anniversary Campaign, launched in July 2010, is another great chapter in the University’s saga. The University’s Institutional Advancement team, Research and Development staff, faculty members and others collaborated successfully to raise $254 million in public and private funds — $4 million above the University’s goal and among the largest amounts ever raised for an HBCU. The goal of the campaign was to raise money to support every facet of life at the institution, from underwriting student financial aid and funding new academic initiatives to growing community engagement programs and strengthening the University endowment. More than 13,000 individuals — alumni, parents, faculty and students — contributed to the record-setting sum, among them, nationally known 8


philanthropists Calvin and Tina Tyler, whose $5-million gift to their endowed scholarship fund in 2016 was the largest individual donation in the school’s history at the time, and President Wilson, who has contributed more than $158,000 to the Five Dollar Scholarship Fund he launched in 2010. The value of that fund is now more than $1 million, on its way to the initiative’s $5-million goal.

A1 and A+, respectively, with a stable outlook. In addition, Morgan received an unmodified opinion of the University’s audited financial statement from SB & Company for the eighth consecutive year. The University’s strong credit rating and shrewd financial acumen have enhanced the Morgan brand and have been a major factor in the University’s historic fundraising.

Moreover, since the conclusion of the Anniversary Campaign in December 2018, fundraising for Morgan has continued apace. The University raised $13.7 million during the 2019 fiscal year, an amount that significantly exceeds the annual total raised in the past.

Morgan’s financial strength also supports the region. An independent report compiled in 2018 at the request of President Wilson quantified a benefit long known by MSU supporters. “Morgan is a major economic engine for the city and state, annually producing nearly $1 billion in statewide economic impact, supporting 6,500 jobs and generating $47 million in state tax revenues,” stated a summary of the 92-page document, which is titled “Excellence in Education, Research, and Public Service: The Economic and Social Impact of Morgan State University.”

Skillful management of the University’s finances is another pillar supporting the institution’s decade-long success, and that proficiency has gained recognition from top authorities. The annual credit rating reviews conducted by Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s in the fall of 2018 affirmed the companies’ ratings of


For a comprehensive retrospective of significant milestones achieved during the last decade ushering Morgan’s ‘New Modern Era’, scan the QR code at right to view the digital publication, “Growing the Future, Leading the World: A Decade of Morgan Momentum, Innovation and Transformation” The Road Ahead Morgan’s success in implementing initiatives to meet the goals of its 2011–21 Strategic Plan surprised even the most faithful of the University’s believers. By December 2018, so much progress had been made that President Wilson’s administration announced higher quantifiable targets for the institution through 2023, in areas including student housing, student enrollment, student diversity, graduation and retention rates, study

abroad, research, capital improvements, capital additions, strategic partnerships, community engagement and athletics. The road ahead will not be easy for Morgan or for HBCUs in general, however. Recovery from the personal and economic casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic, and closing the racial and political divisions long prevalent in the nation, will be challenging. With higher education itself in flux, much change will be required.

But challenge and change are no strangers to Morgan. With strong leadership and with the unbreakable commitment to mission that has permeated the entire institution throughout its history, the University will continue to thrive. The numbers prove that Morgan State University is stronger than ever, a fact that bodes well for the institution’s success as it envisions Growing the Future, Leading the World in the decade to come. n



Pandemic Planning and Response


he decision by Morgan State University to instruct its students remotely during the Fall 2020 semester came after months of thoughtful deliberation, careful communication and meticulous planning to meet the evolving challenges of COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Morgan has led most institutions of higher education in the region with its response to the coronavirus: reviewing and updating its CampusWide Pandemic Disease Preparation Plan in late February 2020 to address the new virus, for example, and appointing administrators, faculty, staff and student leaders to a Campus Reopening and Readiness/Preparedness Committee in early May. The University announced in June that fall semester courses would include a mix of in-person and remotely instructed classes. However, as MSU President David K. Wilson stated in an email message delivered to the Morgan family on Aug. 11, “…even the best laid plans must be revisited when all of the indicators show the COVID-19 virus increasing in spread in our city, state and nation.” The pivot was made to online-only instruction, and on-campus living was reduced significantly, while most of the buildings on campus remained closed. Other decisions announced in the President’s August communication included fee reduction for students to account for unused room and board; increased institutional aid to assist students who are financially challenged because of the pandemic; and special, on-campus housing arrangements for 300 students who have extenuating circumstances that do not allow them to reside elsewhere. Plans for the Spring 2020 semester will be revised as required to account for new data on the spread of COVID-19. n




A Light at the Gateway By Eric Addison

Morgan’s New Tyler Hall

The 139,000-square-foot, five-story facility houses student services and administrative support functions, including Admissions, Records and Registration, Financial Aid, Bursar, Comptroller and Human Resources.


t would be hard not to notice anything that happened to be standing in the location — overlooking E. Cold Spring Lane and Hillen Road, at the western edge of the main campus — but, then again, the striking design of Morgan State University’s (MSU’s) Calvin and Tina Tyler Hall would attract attention anywhere. The new, 139,000-square-foot facility, named after two of the University’s most generous benefactors, officially opened in fall 2020. The five-story facility houses student services and administrative support functions, including Admissions, Records and Registration, Financial Aid, Bursar, Comptroller and Human Resources. Kim McCalla, MSU’s associate vice president for Facilities, Design and Construction Management, led the teams that helped determine the units that would occupy the building and that developed the Kim McCalla building’s design.

“The building was reprogrammed in 2011 and 2016…. The design actually started in 2016 (with the commencement of funding), and construction started in 2018,” she explained. “With Tyler Hall sitting on a prominent corner…and being a gateway building, it was important for us to make sure that 1) we had a building that would easily service the students, one Morgan would be proud of and 2) would be a good transition between our traditional and our modern-looking buildings…. We spent time, over a year, working and refining the look, feel and texture of the building, taking into consideration how Truth Hall, Cummings and Baldwin Halls looked in conjunction with the library, the student center, then the proposed Tyler Hall. We wanted a modern structure to reflect the future, and we worked to respect the tradition with coloring and stone.”

building,” McCalla reported. “We’re also pleased that (the building) creates a new dynamic between the students and the staff on campus.”

Did her teams hit their targets?

“This facility is so much nicer. Just to have everyone together is so great. And I think it will also improve interaction on our team,” Campbell said. “Actually, we do

“Yes. I think we very much achieved the goals, and we’re very pleased with the

Central to that new dynamic are a building layout that facilitates staff interaction within and between departments, and a “one-stop” location named Bear Essentials just inside the front door of the facility, for greeting visitors and starting the student services process. The Bear Essentials unit is led by a Morgan alumna, Chevaun Whitman. Keisha Campbell, MSU registrar, is one of a number of Tyler Hall occupants we spoke with who report being very pleased with their new accommodations. Her team was previously divided among offices on three floors of the aging Montebello complex, near the north end of the campus.



New Tyler Hall (continued)

“(The building) creates a new dynamic between the students and the staff on campus.”

— Kim McCalla (front), MSU Associate Vice President for Facilities, Design and Construction Management

have two spaces, because our Veterans Engagement team will not be sitting in the same space with us. But the exciting part is I will be able to see everyone! For team-building purposes, that helps, when we bring in new staff.” “…The natural light is very bright and airy and open, and I think it lends itself to a lighter demeanor. It’s just a much nicer building. Let’s be real,” she added with a laugh. Seana Coulter, director of Morgan’s Center for Career Development, reported that her unit moved from Montebello to Tyler in July. “We were overjoyed with our new accommodations and couldn’t wait to welcome students/alumni and employer partners to our new center,” she said. “Our Center is absolutely beautiful. It is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment. We have a dedicated computer lab that students may use to take career assessments, search for jobs and internships, create resumes, etc. We have rooms dedicated to virtual interviewing that students may use to interact with employer partners. We have multiple spaces that employer partners may utilize to conduct inter12


views, host information sessions or conduct career development workshops.” “We are thrilled to be located centrally on campus,” she added. “It is our hope that the new location will make us more accessible to students and we will no longer be the ‘best kept secret’ on campus.” Ernest Brevard Jr., Ed.D., a special assistant in Morgan’s Enrollment Management and Student Success (EMASS) Division was one of the few staff members working full-time in Tyler Hall this past fall, as many of the building occupants continued working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. He and EMASS Vice President Kara Turner, Ph.D., are building captains for the facility, responsible for handling deliveries to the building, coordinating tours and office entries and serving as the first points of contact for matters involving the Physical Plant and the Design and Construction Management and Police and Public Safety Departments.

scheduling conflicts at times, and we just had to be accommodating and reschedule or move things around. But here in this new space, we gained a conference room inside our suite, as well as a storage area and a kitchenette.” Morganites can look forward to an official celebration of Tyler Hall’s opening, later this year. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility was originally scheduled for October 2020 but was postponed because of the pandemic. n

“I really love our new space,” Dr. Brevard reported. “Dr. Turner and I came from Truth Hall. We did not have a storage area or a kitchenette or our own conference room in our space. So there were MORGAN.EDU

Success in Inclusion and Local Hiring

“We started that process very early on, when we were (onMorgan State University had a goal of excellence for the design and boarding) our subcontractors. We wrote into our project construction of its newest building, Tyler Hall, and it also set high manual about local employment, and we wanted to make standards for the project with regard to inclusion and community sure we were encouraging them (to do that)….” Goodykoontz impact. The data show that MSU was successful on all fronts. said. “And then when the project started, we actually hosted Funds spent with minority business enterprises (MBEs) on the a career fair here on campus for the community, to make sure design portion of the project totaled approximately $2.8 million, that they were getting exposure to the subcontractors…. or more than 41% of the contract value, exceeding the goal of 40%. There were some success stories, some local hires that came The 34% participation rate of MBEs in the construction contract out of that.” likewise passed the project goal (30%), and sent $22.1 million to Baltimorean Crystal West, a Morgan graduate, worked on Tyler minority-owned enterprises. Hall as an employee of JLN Construction Services, LLC, a Morgan set a target for Tyler Hall’s construction manager, Barton subcontractor of Barton Malow on Tyler Hall. Malow Company, to hire 19 individuals who resided within the “It’s special mainly because I went (to Morgan); I have two Morgan Community Mile, a 12.2-square-mile area within a onedegrees from here. So it’s a personal project for me,” said mile radius of the campus, where the University has committed West, who lives within the Morgan Community Mile and to engaging in university-community partnerships to make the plans to remain in the city. “So when I’m coming back for community a better place to live and work. By the time the project Homecoming and I see this building, (I say,) ‘I was a part of was completed, in April 2020, Barton Malow and its subcontractors that.’ ” had made 51 such local hires, including 16 project management Baltimore native Benjamin P. Morgan, vice president for staff: 268% of the goal. Barton Malow, said he believes the Tyler Hall project can be a Rochester, New York, native Brian Goodykoontz, 35, brought his model for employers seeking to empower the local community. growing family to Towson, Maryland, in 2009 when he landed a construction management job with Barton Malow. He later moved “…What I’ve learned is that no matter what you do, you can always do more. That’s the lesson behind this,” Morgan said. to Baltimore City then to the Morgan Community Mile, closer to his work as a project manager on Tyler Hall. He’s grown close to “…If you look at just this example, if every company would do his teammates, who include a number of Morgan students and just a small part of that, Baltimore would change, Maryland graduates, Goodykoontz said, and he was instrumental in Barton would change. And that’s what should be mandated for all companies…to just do that.” n Malow’s search for local hires. MORGAN MAGAZINE VOLUME I 2021


MSU Benefactor Transformed Struggle Into Opportunity “I thought, ‘What can I do to make the city more livable?’ And so I majored in urban studies to change the trajectory of lives.” — Stephanie Nellons-Paige, MSU Classes of 1981 and 1985


tephanie Nellons-Paige knows that the roots of her successful career are anchored in her upbringing in Baltimore City and her education at Morgan State University. Nellons-Paige, a member of Morgan’s Classes of 1981 and 1985, lived her early years in the Flag House public housing project, near Baltimore’s inner harbor, after her parents lost their home to a title scandal. There were 13 children in the Nellons clan, from her father’s two marriages, and Nellons-Paige, next to last of the siblings, says she learned early to assert her influence by “managing up” through the hierarchy of her elder brothers and sisters, some of whom were older than her mother. She said that skill came in handy in the corporate world. Neither of her hardworking parents had a higher education: her mother, “the CEO of the household,” had a high school diploma, and her father, who always worked numerous jobs, left school earlier. But the couple made pursuit of a college degree a high priority for their children, including the girls.

Phot og r a p h y b y J a v e o n B u t l e r, J . L aR ay M e di a 14



“My father’s last words and continuous words to us were, ‘Go to school, get yourself a good education, a good job…and find yourself a good husband like your sister Nora,’ ” Nellons-Paige recalled with a laugh. Her eldest sister Nora and Nora’s husband, Eric Simmons, a successful businessman, had a large, comfortable home in Syracuse, New York, and were gracious hosts and influential role models when she spent summers there, Nellons-Paige said. As college age drew closer for her, she was mentored by sorors of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. who ran an academic support program for students at her high school. Nellons-Paige credited the Deltas and her First Apostolic Faith Church family with getting her through the trauma of her father’s death when she was 15 and keeping her on the path to college. Then, when she decided to attend Morgan, the sorority helped her find much-needed financial assistance. “Morgan was a real financial struggle for me,” she said. “I did get grants and loans to go to school, and I also worked. I was the ‘kitchentician.’ …I was the barber and the beautician.” She also held jobs at Soper Library, a bank and several retail clothing stores. Besides needed income, the work, especially styling hair, brought her many good relationships. “I became pretty popular,” she recalled. Her choice of urban studies as her undergraduate major was born at Baltimore’s inner harbor during her childhood, where she spent time with friends playing and imagining how beautiful the dilapidated area would look with her aesthetic touches. The Rouse Company’s development of Harborplace preempted her plan, but her desire to improve urban life remained. “I thought, ‘What can I do to make the city more livable?’ ” she explained. “And so I got into urban studies to change the trajectory of lives.”

Her decision to study transportation management at the master’s level was likewise guided by personal experience. As a student at Morgan, she relied on the #8 bus to get to class, but the bus was late so often that a professor threatened to fail her because of tardiness.


“So I majored in transportation, because I figured I could fix the bus system,” she said. “…I realized that transportation is the social and economic vitality of an individual and a community.”

Active Alumna Today, Nellons-Paige has more than 25 years’ experience as an executive and advisor in workforce development and economic inclusion in the private and public sectors. She and her husband, Rod Paige, former U.S. secretary of education (2001–2005), have a consulting firm, Nellons-Paige Group, Inc., which is based in Houston, Texas. Her consulting, through their company, for the transportation, food service and facilities management industries led to an important role in the nearly $25-billion Texas high-speed rail project, leading the business and workforce opportunity strategy. Her expertise and her willingness to give honest counsel have brought her appointments to the boards of several organizations, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed her to the city’s Minority and Women Business Ecosystem Assessment and COVID-19 Health Equity and Response task forces. Last October, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Nellons-Paige to the Board of Regents of Texas Southern University, a position that provides another outlet for her passion to help students of all ages. She is also active with a group of Black business executives who recently launched the Houston Fund for Social Justice and Economic Equity. The group’s initial goal was to raise $25 million to advance its mission. Her physical distance from Morgan’s campus hasn’t diminished Nellons-Paige’s involvement with her alma mater. She is a regular at the annual Homecoming Gala, where she purchases a table, and she sponsored an appearance of the MSU Choir at The Links, Incorporated’s National Assembly in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2016. Most recently, she made a generous gift to the Transportation and Urban Infrastructure Department of Morgan’s Clarence M. Mitchell School of Engineering, to fund scholarships, outreach and student recruitment. Clearly, the Houstonian is still connected to her roots in Baltimore.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner

“I do want to come back home one day,” she said. n MORGAN MAGAZINE VOLUME I 2021


MSU Alumni Gain ‘Momentum’on Wall Street By Kevin M. Briscoe

Boomer launched Momentum Advisors in 2012, seeking to change the way Wall Street does business.

Momentum Advisors executives Allan Boomer (front) and Tiffany Hawkins (center), with Momentum Risk Management executive Sylvia Alston (rear)


ver the course of his seven years at Goldman Sachs, Allan Boomer managed a $450-million investment portfolio as part of a team that oversaw $7 billion in client assets. Armed with an MBA from the New York University Stern School of Business and an undergraduate business degree from Morgan State University (MSU; Class of 1999), he had a goal to climb the corporate ladder — and reap the financial benefits befitting a Wall Street investment banker — that was firmly in his grasp. 16


That all changed for the former Mr. Morgan in April 2010, in the aftermath of the financial crisis of the late 2000s. “Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein testified before Congress and was asked if Wall Street had a fiduciary responsibility to its clients,” said Boomer, 44. “I assumed the answer was, ‘Yes.’ ” But he learned that his views differed from Blankfein’s, Boomer said. In a market of investors fed up with conflicts of interest and demanding objective advice, Boomer launched

Momentum Advisors in 2012, seeking to change the way Wall Street does business. Today, the New York Citybased financial planning and investment advisory firm has more than $280 million in assets under management. The firm operates, according to Boomer, with a focus on advice over products. “A lot of people who have dealt with financial advisors were really dealing with product salesmen. They’re masquerading as financial advisors but are really trying to push a product,” he said. “But, MORGAN.EDU

sometimes the advice we provide is the product, and that’s what we lead with.”

aligning the investments and value system of their clients.

A few of the firm’s notable clients include civil rights activist Shaun King, former National Football League defensive end Randy Starks, and Sashi Brown, chief planning and operations officer for Monumental Sports & Entertainment.

“Right now, we’re in an era of Black Lives Matter, but does your investment portfolio reflect that Black lives matter?” Boomer asked. “We really try to make sure that our clients are able to express their values through their investments.”

Boomer has tapped his MSU network extensively in growing Momentum Advisors. New CNBC Contributor Tiffany McGhee, a 2000 Morgan graduate, was a partner of the firm and served as head of Institutional Investment Services before departing to launch her own investment firm, Pivotal Advisors, in 2020. Morgan graduate Tiffany Hawkins, 38, chief operating officer, is a vital part of Momentum Advisors’ current brain trust. After years of managing business ventures for prominent individuals and brands such as Jay-Z, Sean Combs, Mercedes-Benz and Procter & Gamble, she now focuses on improving her current firm’s culture, systems, business development and brand awareness.

While Momentum Advisors is busy helping its clients build wealth with sound investment advice, its sister company, Momentum Risk Management (MRM) is helping those clients protect it. MRM is a full-service insurance firm whose focus areas include wealth preservation through life and disability, asset protection through home and auto, business commercial, employee benefits and professional liability insurances.

“Allan and I explored and discovered things that didn’t work,” said Hawkins, who graduated from Morgan in 2005 with Bachelor of Science degrees in communication studies and statistical research. “Momentum had everything it needed to be a big brand. Allan let me rip up and rebuild that brand awareness and take the company to the next level.” Aligning Money With Mission Both Boomer and Hawkins added that part of the firm’s allure in the marketplace is its commitment to

“We really try to make sure that our clients are able to express their values through their investments.” — Allan Boomer,‘99, Founder and Managing Partner, Momentum Advisors

Sylvia K. Alston, 44, is MRM’s co-founder and managing partner and a speech communication graduate of Morgan’s Class of 1999. Alston began her career in risk management at Zurich Insurance in Baltimore, Maryland, while attending Morgan, and learned some of the keys to business sales and persuasion technique while a student at MSU. She took those skills to New York City, where she quickly rose to senior executive, working for some of the largest national insurance brokerage firms in the U.S.

As the child of two activist parents, Alston said, she is intent on creating generational wealth for People of Color. “Though my career experience is in private client wealth and asset management, the focus of my practice is centered on working with emerging wealth families in Black and Brown communities to help them establish a legacy for generations to come,” she said. The Morganites at Momentum each credit their MSU experience with the upward trajectory of their lives and have sought to give back to their alma mater. Their creation of “Morgan Takes Manhattan” is one example. The 2019 fundraising event celebrated the MSU “Magnificent Marching Machine” Marching Band’s performance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. From the vantage point of their New York offices, the Momentum team and MSU President David K. Wilson hosted a breakfast and viewing of the parade. The event raised more than $16,000 for the University. Their Morgan experience has helped them grind through personal challenges, aiding in their maturity and raising their awareness of self, Boomer, Hawkins and Alston said. “When I was running for Mr. Morgan in 1998, I recited a poem, ‘Morgan Made Me Make It,’ ” said Boomer, who added that he was a “Black nerd” in his predominantly white high school honors classes. “Morgan gave me more exposure to people who looked like me. It boosted my confidence.” n

In Memoriam Earl G. Graves Sr. of Morgan’s Class of 1957 The Morgan State University family mourned the passing of one of its most renowned alumni, Earl G. Graves Sr., in April 2020. Graves, the founder and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine, was the eponym of the University’s School of Business and Management. A staunch advocate of higher education and equal opportunity, he made many financial contributions to MSU, including a $1-million gift to advance business education.

Earl G. Graves Sr.

Graves’ career reflected the high value Morgan places on service. He retired from the U.S. Army as a captain and served on the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, among other positions of civic responsibility. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Morgan and had honorary degrees from more than 65 colleges and universities. n



Commencement xercises E

Congressman James E. Clyburn

Fall Speakers Called on Morgan Graduates to Excel and Persevere Pride was in the air on Dec. 14, 2019, as nearly 500 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree candidates, and hundreds of their supporters, braved a cold, rainy journey to Hill Field House for the Seventh Fall Commencement Exercises of Morgan State University. The third-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Majority Whip James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, was the keynote speaker for the event, and communications technology expert Jesse E. Russell, a pioneer in the development of the cellphone’s wireless technology, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science. The event marked a number of significant institutional milestones for the then 152-year-old Historically Black Institution as well as notable personal 18


milestones for many of this season’s graduates. The University conferred its 800th doctoral degree during the ceremony, a number that included a record 79 doctorates awarded in calendar year 2019. Congressman Clyburn exhorted the soon-to-be graduates to persevere in their endeavors and be thankful for those who have supported their dreams. “You will not always get things right the first time you attempt it. Remember to never, ever give up,” Clyburn said. “…In order to be successful in life, you must never give up, and don’t hesitate to get outside of your comfort zone,” he continued, citing proof from African-American history, including his own political career, in which he ran three times for Congress before succeeding in 1992. In his acceptance speech for his honor-

ary degree, Russell continued the theme of perseverance, recalling the challenge of working at Bell Laboratories as an engineering graduate of historically Black Tennessee State University in the 1980s, “when it was unpopular for African Americans to be at that institution….” “As I stand before you and reflect on a meeting at Bell Labs with an all-white group in 1984, where the young man from Tennessee State University had the self-confidence necessary to challenge the teaching of the Bell System of putting phones in places and rose up and asked the question, ‘Why not focus on putting phones on people?’…which gave rise to digital cellular technology and ultimately a digital cellular communications industry,” Russell said. Russell called on the degree candidates to pursue excellence, study continuously and value courage and character. MORGAN.EDU

Spring Virtual Exercises Celebrated the Class of 2020

46-minute presentation, which was universally well-received, recapped the memorable experiences of the graduating class beginning in 2016, the first year of its undergraduate cohort — from the designation of Morgan’s campus as a National Treasure, to the University’s Sesquicentennial Celebration, to Vice President Joe Biden’s Commencement address and Cardi B’s Homecoming performance in 2017, and more.

After the coronavirus pandemic forced a difficult decision by Morgan’s administration to postpone the in-person Spring Commencement Exercises this year, the University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication stepped into the breach to produce a virtual event to celebrate MSU’s Class of 2020.

After MSU Board of Regents Chair Kweisi Mfume offered congratulations and encouragement to the 45 doctoral, 217 master’s and 763 baccalaureate candidates, MSU Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Lesia Crumpton-Young confirmed their degrees, and MSU President David K. Wilson conferred them en masse.

Morgan State University’s Spring 2020 Virtual Commencement, a video production, was aired on and on YouTube, on May 16 at 10 a.m., the date and time that had been slated for the original, in-person event. The

President Wilson urged the graduates to look beyond the current pandemic reality to a brighter future.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Lesia Crumpton-Young announced the four undergraduate candidates who shared the title of class valedictorian, and Senior Class President Imani Dews recounted lessons she and her classmates had learned during their time at Morgan, during her Salute to the Graduates. n

“…Without exception, the sons and daughters of Morgan State University, our National Treasure, have always

found the tenacity, they’ve always found the courage, to persevere. And I know that you will, too,” Dr. Wilson said. He then made a surprise announcement to the graduates that digital versions of their diplomas were being emailed to them at that moment. Other highlights of the virtual ceremony included a stirring performance of “We Are the World” by the technologically united MSU Choir, and the induction of the new graduates into the MSU Alumni Association by the association’s president, Phyllis C. Davis of Morgan’s Class of 1982. “I set before you the rainbow of excellence, worthy of your total commitment, to lead the world,” said the Rev. Dr. Bernard Keels, dean of the MSU Memorial Chapel, in the benediction. “Choose this day the lessons you have learned, for you are that difference that will set you apart from Commencement, in order that you will joyously run the race of commendation. The best is yet to come.” n MORGAN MAGAZINE VOLUME I 2021


Morgan’s Board of Regents Chair Returns to Congress By Kevin M. Briscoe

More than 30 years after he was first elected to Congress, Morgan State University (MSU) Board of Regents Chairman Kweisi Mfume is returning to Washington to again represent Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a “new-old” congressman, Mfume goes to Capitol Hill focused on an aggressive set of legislative priorities. Mfume, 72, said he will maintain his role in setting the strategic direction of the University while serving in Congress. “We all have priorities in life. Morgan is a priority for me,” said Mfume, who has stepped down as board vice chairman of Research America, a health advocacy group, to devote more energy to both Morgan and Congress. “I’ll devote less time to some other things, but it’s a matter of balance.” On campus, Mfume leads an active board that now is overseeing the execution of the University’s strategic plan, which involves enhancing student success, promoting the University’s status as a 20


Kweisi Mfume was elected to represent Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives (Nov. 3, 2020)

doctoral research institution, improving campus infrastructure, growing Morgan’s resources and engaging with the community. “The direction of the University has its genesis at the board level, but it’s executed by (University President) Dr. (David) Wilson, Mfume said. “We’ve established a line of demarcation between overreach and oversight, and (we) work together with a very good president.” Simone Lonas, from Toledo, Ohio, a 21-year-old MSU senior and vice president of the Student Government Association, had good things to say about the board under Mfume’s leadership. “The board has done a good job of making sure that student voices are heard and considered,” said Lonas, who was anticipating enrollment in law school at Atlanta’s Emory University last fall. “And all of the decisions made so far have been what the school has needed.”

Progressive Agenda Known for his progressive ideologies and capacity for practical compromise, Mfume has a political agenda that includes better access to personal protective equipment to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, increased small business funding, expanding Obamacare, and stronger gun-control laws. With the election behind him, Mfume is free to concentrate on his two roles and two distinct constituencies. To Morgan students, he paraphrased Booker T. Washington: “ ‘Cast your bucket down.’ Make Morgan your priority. It’s the fastest four years of your life but the most consequential.” For the people of the 7th District, he added: “Thank you. I’m not a perfect servant, but God calls us to a perfect mission. Thank you for seven years on the (Baltimore) City Council, 10 years in Congress and nine years at the NAACP, and another opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.” n


Realizing Dreams in LeadershipSpotlight Engineering Education Dr. Oscar Barton Jr., MSU’s Newest Dean By Eric Addison

It seems that the stars, hard work and experience all aligned to bring Oscar Barton Jr., Ph.D., P.E., to Morgan State University (MSU). Before being selected this past June in a national search for the new dean of MSU’s Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. School of Engineering (SOE) — replacing Interim Dean Craig Scott, Ph.D. — Dr. Barton had a 22-year career as an engineering professor and academic administrator at the U.S. Naval Academy. He then served the last six years at George Mason University as professor and founding chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. George Mason, a Carnegie-classified R2 (“high research”) institution when he arrived, moved up to R1 (“very high research”) status during his tenure. Dr. Barton’s working-class upbringing in Washington, D.C., and his higher education at two Historically Black Institutions — Tuskegee University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, and Howard University, where he earned his master’s in mechanical engineering and doctorate in applied mechanics — had trained him to be both “a doer” and “a thinker,” Dr. Barton said. “At Tuskegee, Booker T. Washington once had the philosophy that that institution was about creating artisans, doers, and so a lot of the programs there were experiential, experimentbased. And when I went to Howard, Du Bois’ philosophy had been that (students) become thinkers. So I had the computational, theoretical work at my graduate level,” he explained. “…I had the complement of both experiences.”

Moreover, he said, he really wanted the position at Morgan: “Being a dean at an HBCU had always been my dream job. I didn’t know when it was going to happen, but I knew it was going to happen.” Now four months into the job, Dr. Barton is moving collaboratively and relentlessly toward the goals he has identified for the SOE, which include increasing experiential learning for undergraduates; building a junior- to senior-year professional practicum with Morgan’s industry partners; creating more experiences for graduate students to do research of consequence; and establishing industry-centric Ph.D. programs; among others. “Morgan (now an R2 institution) has a goal of becoming an R1 institution,” he said. “It’s a tremendous, achievable goal. I think what we will have to do in the School of Engineering is to expand our research enterprise to help towards this effort.” But most important, he said, is that MSU engineering “focus on experiences that build our students’ curiosity, build their sense of passion and their sense of risk taking…. I think if you energize those attributes, they can then use the STEM tools (we provide) to become good engineers.” Dr. Barton, third youngest of eight siblings, said he learned much from his father, a man who had little formal education but managed to build a good life for his family, and provide a higher education for most of his children, through hard work in the U.S. military (a World War II and Korean War veteran) and as a janitor for the U.S. Postal Service.

Oscar Barton Jr., Ph.D., P.E.

“Being a dean at an HBCU had always been my dream job. I didn’t know when it was going to happen, but I knew it was going to happen.” “…He instilled in us that there is a way to be successful, and that way is through education,” Dr. Barton said. “…He gave us a model that showed that it’s not what you have, it’s what you do with what you have. That’s what I believe in, and I think that’s what we need to preach to our Morgan students as a lifelong mantra.” n MORGAN MAGAZINE VOLUME I 2021


A Groundbreaker in Golf

“Sometimes a few of the men complained that I was there, but that did not stop me. I was just as good as they were.” — Audrey Thomas Hill of Morgan’s Class of 1969

By Donna M. Owens

“It was a glorious day. I won the golf tournament, and our tennis player (Bonnie Logan) won the women’s singles tournament.”




‘A Wonderful Experience’ An opportunity to go pro at 16 didn’t pan out, but her athletic prowess and dedication paid off when it was time for college. Hill initially planned to attend Texas Southern University. But unbeknownst to the future coed, her mother, their minister and educators in the community had applied to Morgan on her behalf. “I was accepted and given a scholarship,” she said of her enrollment in 1965 as a physical education major. “From the start, it was a wonderful experience.”

Raymond (“Bus”) Thomas (circa 1948)


olf was long known as a “gentleman’s game,” but Morgan graduate Audrey Thomas Hill was among the women who proved the fallacy of that title. “I was just 5 years old when I picked up a golf club for the first time,” recalled Hill, a member of Morgan’s Class of 1969. “By age 9, I’d played in my first tournament. I’ve loved the game for a long time.” Hill was introduced to golf by her father, the late Raymond (“Bus”) Thomas. “He worked as a janitor by day, and in the evenings he was a caddie at the white golf clubs,” said the Montgomery County, Maryland, native. “He was self-taught and a natural...he loved the game. My parents didn’t have a son, so he passed his skills down to me. My two younger sisters weren’t interested,” she chuckled. “I idolized my dad.” Father and daughter played at the renowned Langston Golf Course, established in 1939 in Washington, D.C. Situated on the banks of the Anacostia River, Langston was an early haven for Black golfers in an era of segregation when other public golf courses catered to whites only. “My father had me practice for hours,” said Hill. “If I didn’t get it right, Dad would say, ‘Nope. Do it again.’ Sometimes I had tears in my eyes. I worked hard at it.”

Hill was a four-sport varsity athlete who was mentored by Morgan coaching legend Effietee (“Mama”) Payne and assistant coach Erta Franks. One day, the freshman was approached by the men’s golf coach, Mr. Bowie.

Audrey Thomas (front) at age 5, at Langston Golf Course in Washington, D.C., with her father and kids from their neighborhood in Rockville, Maryland (1952)

“I hear you’re Bus Thomas’ daughter and quite the golfer,” she recalled him saying. “There was no women’s golf team, so he told me, ‘Come and practice with the guys.’ I did. We would see who could drive the ball the farthest or who was the better putter. Sometimes a few of the men complained that I was there, but that did not stop me.” She laughed. “I was just as good as they were.”

all was said and done, Hill outswung, outmaneuvered and outplayed her competitor. When her name was called as the winner, she gasped as the Morgan section erupted with gleeful cheers and the judges handed her a trophy.

‘A Glorious Day’ In 1968, Hill’s junior year, the NCAA admitted women’s golf and tennis programs from Black colleges. (They did not admit sports such as football and basketball until later.) That same year, the East Coast Regional Women’s Golf and Tennis Tournament was held at the University of Maryland, College Park — the first NCAA tournament to which Historically Black Colleges or Universities were invited. “My coaches at Morgan told me they were going to pay my entry fee for me and one of our tennis players to go,” said Hill. Her father, thrilled at the news, volunteered to be his daughter’s caddie. “He cleaned and shined my clubs.” On tournament day, Hill faced off against a white student from Florida who was also accompanied by her own father. As the game began, stressed nerves were evident, and the other young woman became flustered and made mistakes. When

“It was a glorious day,” Hill said, the joy still evident in her voice. “I won the golf tournament, and our tennis player (Bonnie Logan) won the women’s singles tournament.” ‘Proud of the History’ Today, Hill is retired after more than four decades in education: she had a 34-year career as a secondary school counselor for the Montgomery County Public Schools then served 11 more years as a counselor and professor at Montgomery College. Married with an adult son and a grandchild, Hill gives highest precedence to her faith and family these days, but she has played at courses around the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia region with her husband and will always love golf. And Morgan still holds a place in her heart: she attended her 50th class reunion in 2019 and had a grand time. “Once upon a time, you only heard of white golfers or saw them on TV. I am proud of the history we made at Morgan,” Hill said. “I hope there will be another generation of Black women golfers.” n



Connecting Religion, Race and Community Empowerment

By Angela Alexander

The Center for the Study of Religion and the City (CSRC) seeks to drive innovative religious studies and theological engagements with Baltimore residents, community organizations and religious communities, to address the city’s most pressing issues.

Harold D. Morales, Ph.D. 24




Harold D. Morales, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Morgan State University (MSU). He is also a researcher with a long-held focus on the nexus of race and religion and the connections between lived and mediated experience. The author of a book titled “Latino and Muslim in America” (Oxford University Press, 2018), he has engaged deeply with the topic of Latinx religions in general and Latino Muslim groups in particular. Those areas of interest may sound arcane, but, at heart, Dr. Morales is an activist. His years of research, scholarship and writing have led him to a motivating principle at the intersection of liberation theology, restorative justice and critical race theory: that religious organizations have the ability to criticize structures of oppression and establish meaningful change in their communities. And under his guidance as director, Morgan’s Center for the Study of Religion and the City has helped facilitate that change. “So much more work and support is needed,” Dr. Morales said, “and yet I’m continuously inspired by those in our communities who are now working to bring about racial justice.” The Center for the Study of Religion and the City (CSRC) grew organically from longtime community engagement in Baltimore by Dr. Morales; a colleague in MSU’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Marcos BisticasCocoves, Ph.D., and their students; engagement that spawned a broad coalition of like-minded individuals interested in restorative justice and that led to a discussion that created the framework for the vision for the CSRC:

To inspire, shape and support scholarly engagements with the City that bridge gaps and partner with diverse religious groups, scholars, activists, community organizations and policymakers. Dr. Morales submitted a proposal to the Henry Luce Foundation (HLF) in 2018, with that vision in mind, and Morgan has received more than $700,000 since then for the development of the center and its programs. The CSRC has partnered with numerous religious and secular organizations as well as a host of scholars in various disciplines from Morgan and beyond. By integrating the skill sets of the scholars with the mission of the organizations, the CSRC seeks to drive innovative religious studies and theological engagements with Baltimore residents, community organizations and religious communities, to address the city’s most pressing issues. Educators from the CSRC have integrated issues of race, justice, poverty, religion and community into their curricula, equipping college students with tools needed to engage with their communities and address the problems of poverty, injustice and social inequity. In addition, the CSRC bridges the gap between academia and the community by organizing public workshops, conferences and talks, enabling students, community members and educators to connect with one another and address social injustices. ‘Life-giving Work’ Since May of 2020, the CSRC has sharpened its focus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I had a meeting with stakeholders,

board members and community partners to discuss a vision for putting things together for relief,” Dr. Morales recalled. The funds that the CSRC received from the HLF were designated for specific purposes and couldn’t be repurposed without the Foundation’s permission, he explained. “But even more than relief, people were interested in restorative work, so that whenever the next crisis comes along or whenever funding runs dry…communities (can) restore themselves, so they (won’t) need help….” The CSRC was successful not only in reapportioning its existing HLF funding but also in receiving an additional $150,000 from the Foundation. Much of the additional funding was to provide direct relief, but a significant amount was designated for sustainable solutions, such as developing farms, job assistance and health-related services. In addition to COVID-19 relief and restorative work, the CSRC has placed an emphasis on documenting its efforts through oral histories and surveys. Approximately 30 researchers are involved in this project, presenting their reflections in various media and developing curricula to assist high school teachers in incorporating oral histories into project-based learning. “It was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life,” reflected Dr. Morales, “to be able to help organize the relief and restoration work. To be able to see the number of people fed by these organizations and to help support them both financially but also by documenting their stories, their work, and then trying to lift that up for the public. It’s been tiring but very, very meaningful and lifegiving work.” n MORGAN MAGAZINE VOLUME I 2021


in theCommunity

Students Take the Lead in Voter Engagement By Eric Addison

Jada Grant

By objective measures, the 2020 U.S. election was truly as historic as many predicted. More than 159 million votes were cast in the general contest in November, the highest total ever. Moreover, the percentage of eligible voters who cast ballots reached nearly 70%, according to preliminary estimates from the United States Election Project: the highest rate since the beginning of the 20th century. Data from Morgan State University’s (MSU’s) home state of Maryland were consistent with the trend, and with Morgan’s long history of civic engagement by students, it should come as no surprise that MSU scholars were among those at the vanguard of the effort to get voters registered and to the polls to fulfill their responsibility to choose government leadership and policy. Jada Grant is in her junior year as a computer science major at Morgan. The Baltimore County native and third-generation Morgan student (Her mother and maternal grandfather are both Morgan graduates.) has a packed academic schedule, a 3.94 grade point average and an impressive list of summer internships completed. She has worked for Facebook and for Microsoft, which has invited her to return in 2021.

Kayla Jackson

Grant is also president of the MSU Section of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and a general body member of the MSU Chapter of Black Girls Vote (BGV) , an organization whose national president, Kayla Jackson, is also a Morgan student. The two are among many Morganites seeking to increase political activism in Baltimore and beyond. “Black Girls Vote’s purpose is to engage and educate and empower women within the Black community,” said Jackson, during an interview this past October outside of Morgan’s University Student Center, near the early voting site on Morgan’s campus, in Hurt Gymnasium. “We are all about making positive change within our community, and in order to make change, we have to be the change. We have to be out here actively registering people to vote. We’re not just focused on the presidential elections. We also try to register people to vote during their local elections.” Jackson, a junior political science major, joined Black Girls Vote in 2019, soon after the five-year-old organization established its chapter at MSU. She was elected national president a year later. A native of Prince George’s County, Maryland, Jackson said, “I really grew passion for the Baltimore communities, many of which are under-resourced. I really wanted to give back and be civically engaged and help my peers realize that their vote matters, that this is our time.”

“I knew the upcoming year was going to be highly important politically. I wanted the women of our section to realize how our mission aligned Grant joined the Morgan State Section of NCNW during her freshman year, in 2018, attracted to the group by the sisterly with the need for (Black women) to vote.” — Jada Grant, MSU Section President, National Council of Negro Women



vibe of the NCNW members she met at Morgan’s student organization fair, and guided by the teachings of her “best friend,” MORGAN.EDU

MSU’s Campus Starred in the 2020 Election Morgan State University was proud to be selected as the site of one of Baltimore City’s eight early voting centers and 23 locations for same-day voting in the nation’s 2020 general election. People of all ages, races and backgrounds chose Morgan’s Edward P. Hurt Gymnasium as the location to cast their vote from

“We are all about making positive change within our community, and in order to make change, we have to be the change.” — Kayla Jackson, National President, Black Girls Vote

Oct. 26 through Nov. 3. More than 13,300 citizens cast their ballots in the early voting at Hurt, which made MSU’s campus the most utilized site in the city.

her mother, who raised Jada and her twin sister to “serve a higher purpose.” The 85-year-old organization’s mission is “to lead, empower and advocate for women of African descent, their families and communities.”

Morgan also hosted a State of Maryland

“Through NCNW, I was able to participate in a lot of community service initiatives which I enjoy, such as feeding the homeless, interacting with elderly people, mentoring and tutoring in high school and cleaning up the community, and we were able to give back to the Morgan community also,” Grant said. When she began her term as section president in fall 2020, “I knew the upcoming year was going to be highly important politically. I wanted the women of our section to realize how our mission aligned with the need for (Black women) to vote,” she added. The section hosted an NCNW 2020 social media campaign in which members posted photos of themselves after voting or during other civic engagement. The group also held a joint event with Black Girls Vote titled “Your Voice, Your Vote,” to evaluate the initiatives that candidates for political office were promoting to address issues such as Black women’s healthcare, and racial and economic disparities.

ballots. The box was located in front of

ballot box to collect absentee/mail-in

the University’s new student services and administration facility, Tyler Hall.

Black Girls Vote’s activism during the 2020 political season included numerous voter registration events in Baltimore and other predominantly Black cities, and a campaign titled Party at the Mailbox, an initiative launched in March 2020 to support mail-in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. In that campaign, BGV sent boxes of voter information along with free gifts to interested citizens in Baltimore, Detroit and Philadelphia. Jackson and Grant say they’re very happy with the strong turnout of Black voters this year as indicated in preliminary reports, but they stress that the work of the electorate is far from done. “Although Biden and Harris have been elected, we must hold them (and other office holders) accountable and ensure what they willingly promised during the presidential election season is implemented,” Jackson said. n MORGAN MAGAZINE VOLUME I 2021



Fulfilling a Commitment to Servant-Leadership By Eric Addison

When Stanley Nwakamma was growing up on his family’s poultry farm in Imo State, Nigeria, his dreams of a higher education in the U.S. were nurtured by a gift from his uncle. The gift was a souvenir teacup that was displayed in the family’s living room. “My uncle went to Morgan State University, and the teacup has ‘Morgan’ written on it…,” he said. “I knew a number of people who went to Morgan, and they were very successful.” Nwakamma’s mother, who is a high school principal, and his father, who heads the farm, are both collegeeducated, so Stanley had strong role models for his future. He was also an excellent student in high school. But he knew early on that money to fund his dream would be scarce. “My dad tells me that the very day I got a full scholarship from Morgan was the happiest day of his life,” Nwakamma said. “That was like his wildest dreams coming to reality.”

Stanley Nwakamma

Stanley Nwakamma’s position as Morgan’s student regent is one of many noteworthy items on his already impressive resume.



Today, Nwakamma holds a 3.92 grade point average as an electrical and computer engineering major at Morgan, where he is also serving a one-year term as the student regent on the University’s Board of Regents, helping govern the institution as a voting member of the 13-member board. The board position is one of many noteworthy items on his already impressive resume. A Martin D. Jenkins scholar, Clara I. Adams Honors College student and resident

assistant at Morgan, the committed campus leader has proudly represented the University at highprofile events and as a University Innovation Fellow. He also serves as the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Ambassador for MSU and has served as an intern at major technology companies including Facebook and Apple, where he worked in Cupertino, California, as an Apple HBCU scholar this past summer. Nwakamma’s short-term plans include completing his bachelor’s degree program; seeking employment with his ideal employer, Apple, as an electrical engineer; and earning master’s degrees in business and in artificial intelligence/machine learning. In the long term, he wants to return to Nigeria, invest in his parents’ farm and bring in advanced technology to expand the business. Serving as student regent during the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of his greatest challenges, he admits, but one that he still relishes. “Deciding whether to keep the campus open or opt for remote instruction was a very tough decision,” he said. “I voted for going virtual…. It wasn’t most popular with the students, but I believed that it was in the best interest of everyone and their safety.” “I love that I am a proud ambassador of Morgan State University…” said Nwakamma, “and being the student regent is one of the highest ways I can serve my campus community.” n MORGAN.EDU


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