Grimes leaned on faith to go forward
EXCLUSIVE TO THE FLORIDA COURIER
DAYTONA BEACH – In an exit interview of sorts with the Florida Courier, Bethune-Cookman University Interim President Hubert Grimes spoke personally about a call he had been waiting for.
“…To get that call from SACS (the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges) last week that says, ‘Look, you guys are on the right track, you’ve made progress, you’ve been extended another year to be able to complete the work that needs to be done.’ That certainly was one of the high points (of my administration),” he explained.
Grimes was referring to the June 13 decision of the SACSCOC Board of Trustees to continue to keep B-CU on one-year probation accreditation status. A special SACSCOC committee visited the institution to evaluate its progress in reforming its governing board characteristics and shoring up and controlling the school’s financial resources.
Losing accreditation would be catastrophic for the university. It would prevent B-CU from accepting federal loans to pay for students attending the institution. It would also prevent graduates from taking licensing exams or entering credible graduate programs, among other restrictions.
For Grimes, taking the interim president position in July 2017 had an emotional component.
“One of the most humbling parts of this process was recognizing that I was in the lineage of Dr. (Mary McLeod) Bethune,” Grimes said. “It was borne out even more for me a few weeks ago when I was invited to Mayesville, South Carolina to serve as the grand marshal of the Bethune Festival there.
“I was able to go to her hometown, and the site which she was born – they have a replica of the cabin where she was born down to the fireplace and all the details – again, I was able to feel her spirit.”
‘How did you do it?’
“There were many times on the campus when I would leave the office and say, ‘Dr. Bethune, how did you do it?’ Grimes revealed.
“When you circle back around, it was her fundamental faith in God that got her through all the various challenges, whether it was creating the school, the Ku Klux Klan attacks on the school, and all the host of things that happened. The need to raise money…to me all those things showed her character and her faith.
“Certainly for me, I recognize that faith was a critical factor in trying to carry on this work.”
Statuary Hall high point
For Grimes, another signature accomplishment was the Florida Legislature’s 111-1 vote to make Dr. Bethune Florida’s designated representative for inclusion in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol building.
“That was exceptional, because here you’re recognizing a Black woman for all the work that she has done. And her work continues. It will inspire generations to come. That was certainly one of the high points,” Grimes acknowledged.
Among those more personal successes, Grimes’s self-published President Report Card 2018-19 cites the following successes under his two-year administration:
- Statuary Hall fund raises $293,971.88 toward fundraising goal – In April 2018, more than 100 friends and supporters gathered to kick off the National Statuary Hall fundraising campaign. They raised more than half of the $400,000 goal on that day. To date, $293,971.88 has been contributed to the Mary McLeod Bethune National Statuary Hall Fund. The statue is expected to be unveiled in Washington, D.C in 2020.
- Bethune-Cookman University received the MERLOT/Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Service Award attended by more than 1,200 professionals in Denver. B-CU is the first HBCU to receive this award for its exemplary implementation of Open Education Resources. B-CU’s faculty redesigned 55 courses comprised of the entire general education courses. Two faculty members compiled the data, evaluating the impact of the program, which showed more student engagement and comparable test scores.
- Trip Advisor rated the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation Historic Landmark as the No. 1 place to visit in Daytona Beach.
- The National Science Foundation awarded a grant of $1,199,901 to B-CU for support of a project entitled “Developing Effective Mathematical Sciences School Teachers for High-Need Middle Schools.” It aims to serve the national need of increasing the number of high-quality mathematics teachers.
- After a rigorous eight-week boot-camp style review course and additional studies to prepare for successful completion of the School of Nursing program, six BCU students successfully passed the National Council Licensure Examination to become registered nurses.
Robotics Club performs
- Twelve students from the BCU College of Science Engineering and Mathematics Robotics Club traveled to Huntsville, Alabama to compete in the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) SoutheastCon Robotics Competition. B-CU placed 10 out of 44 schools participating in the competition. The students won second place against the competing schools from Florida, and out of Volusia County B-CU brought home first place.
- B-CU Women’s Basketball won the 2019 MEAC Women’s Basketball tournament, gaining a bid in the NCAA tournament against defending champion Notre Dame.
- B-CU won the Florida Blue Florida Classic 33-19. Before the largest Florida Classic crowd since 2011, the Wildcats scored the game’s final 16 points, thus beating archrival FAMU for the eighth consecutive year.
- B-CU won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Softball Tournament Championship and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.