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Opened Doors to Learning continued from page 5 When he gained his first university presidency at Coppin State University in Baltimore, Battle inherited the most poorly funded institution in the state. During his four-year tenure, he increased operating support by more than 50 percent and boosted capital support from the state by $300 million. But even more notably, he also took steps to provide an educational lifeline for children and youth in the neighborhoods surrounding the university. Battle worked with the neighboring community and the state legis-

President Battle speaks to middle school students at a recent Dream Camp in Hartford, Conn. The program aims to transform the lives of low-income, urban youth.

ative ways to get middle- and lower-

“The arts are a beautiful bridge

income children excited about college

to build on when you are developing

at a young age,” Kober says.

a campus,” Battle says.

At Coppin, Battle also made

The sciences are another. As

lature to develop an urban education-

good use of the love of music that he

chancellor of North Carolina

al corridor that included revitalizing

developed going to church on Sundays

Agricultural and Technical State

previously failing elementary and mid-

with his parents and siblings in

University, in Greensboro, N.C., Battle

dle schools and creating a high school

Springfield. Battle is a lyric baritone in

secured a prestigious Engineering

for 125 students on the university

the upper range who studied in

Research Center (ERC) grant from the

campus — the Coppin Academy. In

Amherst, Mass., with two faculty mem-

National Science Foundation. The

May 2009, the academy graduated its

bers from Julliard. He later performed

award of $18 million for the initial five

first class of 73 students, almost all of

as a featured soloist with the accom-

years, with a potential duration of a

whom moved on to college.

plished baritone-bass singer William

decade, was a first for an Historically

Warfield and also as a member of the

Black College or University (HBCU).

high-energy man who’s committed to

internationally known Heritage

The center conducts research in the

Battle is a compassionate, supporting children and young people

Chorale. A devotee of classical music —

areas of biomedical engineering and

who haven’t had access to education-

especially the inspiring Beethoven’s

nano-bio applications in partnership

al opportunities — and then holding

9th Symphony — he sang in partner-

with the Universities of Cincinnati and

them accountable for their continued

ship with his twin brother Stewart, the

Pittsburgh and also has global techni-

progress, said Frank Kober, a now-

Coppin State Gospel Choir, and The

cal partners in Germany and India. Reflecting on similar innovative

retired education professor at Coppin

Heritage Signature Chorale of

State. Kober worked with Battle on

Washington, D.C., as part of a

partnerships that have been estab-

obtaining grants to fund Coppin’s

Presidential Concert Series, raising

lished at Southern — for example, the

educational corridor, including

funds for scholarships. Later, Battle

NSF-funded Materials Research

$600,000 from the Bill and Melinda

joined cast members of Disney’s tour-

Science and Engineering Center, a

Gates Foundation.

ing cast of “The Lion King” during two

partnership between Southern, Yale,

special gospel productions that raised

and the Brookhaven National

expect a CEO to do,” Kober says. For

more than $20,000 for scholarship

Laboratory — Battle says he sees rich

example: Battle organized a “Reading

support and other causes, including

potential to establish new educational

Explosion” weekend sleepover at

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, an

collaborations with schools and

Coppin for more than 100 elementary

organization formed by Actor’s Equity

organizations in Greater New Haven.

school children, obtaining donations

Association, the stage actors’ union.

“He did stuff that you wouldn’t

of books and sleeping bags, and stay-

In all, “The Singing President,”

“This is an institution that realizes the importance of academic

ing to work at the event for 36 hours

as he became known at Coppin,

excellence and one that fully under-

straight while honors students tutored

helped raise more than $50,000 for

stands the tremendous power of edu-

the children. “He works to find cre-

the school’s scholarship programs.

cation to transform lives,” he says. n Summer 2010 | 35

Southern Alumni Magazine Summer 2010  

A magazine for alumni and friends of Southern Connecticut State University