Rolling Out

Hampton University, JetBlue step up for the Bahamas; 5 Hampton alumni to know

Hampton University, JetBlue step up for the Bahamas; 5 Hampton alumni to know
Calvin L. Butts Jr. (Photo provided)

Hampton University announced that it will provide free admission, tuition, and room and board during its fall semester to 46 students from the University of the Bahamas-North campus who were displaced by Hurricane Dorian.

Calvin L. Butts Jr., a 2002 graduate of Hampton University who sits on its board of trustees, helped to connect Pastor Jamal Bryant of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta and Christal Jackson, founder of Head and Heart Philanthropy in Oakland, California, with the Virginia-based historically Black institution. Bryant and Jackson then used their connections to secure a commitment from JetBlue Airways to transport the students to Richmond, Virginia.

Rolling out spoke with Butts about Hampton University’s involvement in assisting Bahamian students impacted by the hurricane.

What inspired Hampton University to take action and support these students in this way?

What you have is a history of the two leaders of two great universities [Rodney Smith, president of the University of the Bahamas, and William Harvey, president of Hampton University] who have a past of having worked together here at Hampton University. I think they have a friendship and bond that exemplifies the true Hampton spirit of family and character.

How did JetBlue and New Birth assist in this effort to help the students?

Pastor Bryant was on the phone with Christal Jackson, and they reached out to me to get access to the university. They talked with such passion and enthusiasm about how to help and the things that they can do. I believe through their great relationship here in the Atlanta area, they were able to communicate with the JetBlue executive team, and they were able to help arrange flights for [the students] to arrive at Richmond, Virginia, this week.

Where is the money coming from to support free tuition and room and board for the students who are going to enroll in the fall 2019 semester?

There was a donation by another one of the trustee members. He put up $100,000. I saw that the president of the [University of the] Bahamas gave $25,000. Then there [are] some others on the trustee board that will be donating as well. Then the school obviously looks to do what it can to help smooth the transition. Not only will the school be supporting tuition [and] room and board, but the school will also be supporting them with some clothing, books and other needed items to help them with their transition and settlement here in Virginia.

Click here for a list of other notable Hampton University alums everyone should know.

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