Lady June Cole, Allen University’s New President, Has Set Firm Goals and Sparks Energy for the HBCU

Allen University's interim president, Lady June Cole, is trying to put the historically black university on a new path; advocates say there is energy and "forward motion" on the campus under the leadership of Cole. GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com
Allen University’s interim president, Lady June Cole, is trying to put the historically black university on a new path; advocates say there is energy and “forward motion” on the campus under the leadership of Cole.
GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

The interim president of Allen University has set some determined goals for the small, historically black school that sits at Harden and Taylor streets, including restoring financial credibility, raising academic standards and creating a small learning community where faculty and students work closely together.

“One of the things I’m looking forward to is creating a campus that really embraces the students,” said Lady June Cole, who took over the leadership at Allen in September, following the resignation of President Pamela Martin Wilson.

The board at the African Methodist Episcopal Church-affiliated school has not launched a presidential search, and plans to review Cole’s performance at the end of one year in the interim post.

On campus, students say Cole has high aspirations for a school that has suffered from financial instability, low admissions standards and a failure to ensure that freshmen were able to graduate in four years. This month, Cole, with help of Allen alumni, is opening an Honors House along Pine Street where top students can come together to study and do research.

“She is looking to improve Allen,” said Kendrick Barnes, an English major from Barnwell County who said it will be up to the students to fulfill those expectations.

“I see a phenomenal amount of energy right now,” said Charlene Spearen, chairwoman of the humanities department and an assistant vice president of academic affairs. “We are writing grants. Faculty have been attending conferences with students. We are talking about summer camps that we are doing.

“I can honestly say faculty here support her,” Spearen said. “She has a fantastic vision and has stepped up to the plate. She really knows at the ground level where we need to go.”

Seeing progress

Fred Sheheen, who serves on Allen’s board of trustees, said Cole has “a real grasp” of what is going on at the institution. He said Cole and other top administrations are extremely sensitive to the necessity of retaining accreditation by SACS, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which issued a warning to Allen late last year.

The board of trustees of the SACS Commission on Colleges took the action Dec. 9 because of issues over financing and financial stability, its governing board, student achievement and compliance with Title IV program responsibilities related to the administration of federal student aid.

A report will be issued in June after a special committee visits Allen in late April. The SACS board of trustees will have the option to remove the warning without an additional report; keep the warning in place and request another inquiry; continue accreditation and place the institution on probation; or lift its SACS accreditation.

“I think they will see progress,” Cole said Monday, noting that Allen hired a new chief financial officer in January. “Whether they will have seen enough progress between January and April, I don’t know.”

Sheheen, the trustee, said he believes Cole is working hard. “I think during this period there seems to be a sense of stability and forward motion on campus,” he said.

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Source: The State | CAROLYN CLICK – cclick@thestate.com

One comment

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