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Pictured from Left to Right: Dr. Herman J. Felton, Jr., Dr. Leslie Pollard, Dr. Melva K. Wallace,  Dr. Erin Lynch, Dr. Dianne Boardley Suber, Dr. Maurice E. Jenkins, Jr., Dr. Roderick L. Smothers and Dr. Alfred Anthony Pinkard

H.E.L.F. Recognizes Five HBCU Trailblazers at Annual Leadership Institute Awards Gala

News Articles
Jun 14, 2024

MARSHALL, TEXAS - On Saturday, June 8, 2024, The Higher Education Leadership Foundation (H.E.L.F.) presented five dynamic and legendary HBCU leaders with awards at its summer Inspire Leadership Institute Awards Gala. 

Dr. Maurice E. Jenkins, Jr., Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer at UNCF, and Dr. Dianne Boardley Suber, former president of St. Augustine’s University, received the Dr. Eugene D. Stevenson, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Dr. Leslie Pollard, President and CEO of Oakwood University was awarded the Dr. Dorothy C. Yancy Vanguard Award. Dr. Erin Lynch received the HBCU Fellows Innovator Award. Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith, President and CEO of Harris-Stowe University, was awarded the HBCU Fellows Trailblazer Award Recipient.

The summer institute, held at Wiley University, was also the host of over 40 higher education practitioners and 12 distinguished HBCU presidents and CEOs from across the nation.

The awardees for June 2024 were selected for their distinguished careers as exceptional leaders who have significantly impacted higher education, specifically within the HBCU landscape.

“This year’s honorees are examples of the genius that is leading and supporting HBCUs,” said Dr. Herman J. Felton, Jr., Higher Education Leadership Foundation Co-Founder and the 17th President and CEO of Wiley University.

“Each award recipient has a career that is distinguished and has significantly contributed to the strengthening of our HBCUs. The Higher Education Leadership Foundation is honored to recognize each of these trailblazers for their service, innovation, and commitment to HBCUs and the students we serve.” 

Each June 2024 awardee has generously given to the field of higher education and is highly recognized by their peers, colleagues, and the communities they have positively impacted through their tireless work. Their extensive contributions and continuous dedication to the preservation of HBCUs underscore their selection as recipients for this year’s H.E.L.F. awards.

Dr. Maurice E. Jenkins, Jr. (center) -2024 Dr. Eugene D. Stevenson, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient - pictured with (left to right) Dr. Herman J. Felton, Jr., Dr. Melva K. Wallace, Dr. Roderick L. Smothers and Dr. Alfred Anthony Pinkard

Dr. Maurice E. Jenkins, Jr. was appointed executive vice president for field development of UNCF in 2011, with an annual campaign goal of $40.2 million focusing on fundraising strategy and execution throughout all of UNCF’s field offices across the country. In 2012, he was appointed to lead UNCF’s consolidated development operation. Jenkins is now responsible for UNCF’s total annual campaign goal of $64.6 million.

He began his extensive career with UNCF as a project manager in 1990. In 1993, he was promoted to area development director for Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, and in 1997, promoted to vice president, Southeast Field Operations. In May 2006, he became senior vice president, Southern Field Operations, with supervisory responsibility for one of three UNCF regional offices in the U.S., overseeing fundraising activities of nine UNCF offices covering 13 southern U.S. states with an annual goal of $18.8 million.

Dr. Dianne Boardley Suber (center)  - Recipient of the Dr. Eugene D. Stevenson, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient, pictured with (left to right) Dr. Herman J. Felton, Jr., Dr. Melva K. Wallace, Dr. Roderick L. Smothers and Dr. Alfred Anthony Pinkard

Dr. Dianne Boardley Suber is an experienced educator and administrator with nearly 40 years of leadership, teaching, consulting and administrative experience from preschool to higher education. Dr. Suber was the first woman to lead St. Augustine’s University. She has held various leadership roles including Vice President for Administration and the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs at Hampton University. 

Under her presidency, the University experienced increased enrollment, re-instituted the football program, fielded a marching band, expanded the adult learners program, established innovative degree granting programs to include: biomedical and scientific communication; forensic science; the Center for Real Estate Development and property management; Allied and Medical Sciences program; and film and interactive media. 

Dr. Suber is an award winning leader who has been honored extensively for tireless and innovative contributions to higher education. 

Dr. Leslie Pollard (center) - Recipient of the Dr. Dorothy C. Yancy Vanguard Award Recipient,  pictured with (left to right) Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Dr. Herman J. Felton, Jr., Dr. Melva K. Wallace and Dr. Alfred Anthony Pinkard

Dr. Leslie Nelson Pollard serves as the 11th President of Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. Dr. Pollard’s leadership has reflected local, national, and international service.  He has served as a leader for a number of large church complexes, as well as a youth pastor, a university chaplain, a healthcare program administrator, and an educational administrator. 

Dr. Pollard remains a productive and engaged scholar. He is editor and contributing author to the groundbreaking volume on leadership and cultural competence entitled, “Embracing Diversity: How to Reach People of all Cultures.” Since its publication, Embracing Diversity has been translated into Spanish, German, and French and has become a global text for trans-cultural leadership education. Pollard also writes regularly for the Adventist Review, Ministry, and Message magazines. He is a member of the editorial board of The Journal of Applied Christian Leadership of Andrews University. Pollard has published numerous articles and/or book chapters on the subjects of leadership, cultural competence, and mission. 

Dr. Erin Lynch (center) - HBCU Fellows Innovator Award Recipient, pictured with (left to right) Dr. Herman J. Felton, Jr., Dr. Melva K. Wallace and Dr. Alfred Anthony Pinkard

Dr. Erin Lynch, CRA is the President of Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network. Dr. Lynch’s research area is strategic planning and program development. Her work is in educational assessment and evaluation, and systems change in equity centeredness. Educated at James Madison University (BA), Vanderbilt University (MaEd), Tennessee State University (EdD), and Northcentral University (PhD, IO Psych ~2023), Dr. Lynch has applied her training in her roles as: President of Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network; Associate Provost of Scholarship, Research, and Innovation and Dean of Graduate School at Winston-Salem State University; Research Director of the Center of Excellence of Learning Sciences (COELS) at Tennessee State University; and a faculty member in the College of Education at Austin Peay State University. 

As a researcher, she has been funded in intervention development for historically marginalized minority groups and adult learners. Her research in funding equity and R&D productivity seeks to support minority serving institutions. She has produced over $600 million in proposals, and is published in the topics of leadership, HBCUs, innovation management, and instructional design.

Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith - HBCU Fellows Trailblazer Award Recipient

Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith is the 21st President of Harris-Stowe State University. She is the first woman to serve the University in this role. Collins Smith has more than 25 years of progressive leadership experience and an extensive administrative and program development background. She began her career in higher education at Harris-Stowe State University in 2010 and has served the University in several leadership roles. 

Dr. Collins Smith is a leader whose contributions included serving as the co-principal investigator of a $5 million National Science Foundation grant to substantially strengthen STEM in the state of Missouri, the largest grant in the history of Harris-Stowe State University . She has served in various leadership roles including interim President of HSSU, where she raised more than $3.5M in scholarships, donations, including those designated to endowments, as well as grants. 

Dr. Collins Smith has received numerous awards and recognition for her outstanding leadership. She is a proud graduate of St. Louis Public Schools, and earned her Educational Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from Maryville University, Master of Social Work degree and a Master of Public Health degree from Saint Louis University, and is a graduate of the University of Central Missouri, where she majored in social work.

The Higher Education Leadership Foundation is preparing for the 2024 December Institute at Wiley University in Marshall, Texas. H.E.L.F. will also celebrate ten years of HBCU leadership development with its 2nd IIC (Innovation, Ideation, and Collaboration), which will be held on May 12-15, 2025, in Charlotte, NC.

For more information about the Higher Education Leadership Foundation at Wiley University, please contact Assistant Vice President of Public Relations, Marketing and Communications Marlee Archer at communications@wileyc.edu, or visit www.heleaders.org

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About Wiley University:

Wiley University, formerly known as Wiley College, is a premier liberal arts institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church, with an intentional focus on social good and leadership.

About the Higher Education Leadership Foundation:

The Higher Education Leadership Foundation (H.E.L.F.) was established in March 2015 to provide bold, engaging, and innovative learning and mentoring opportunities for current and aspiring leaders. H.E.L.F. plays a vital role in encouraging leaders to “lift as they climb” to ensure that HBCUs survive and thrive as national models of achievement.