Stillman College president champions distance learning, possible virtual graduations

Stillman College president champions distance learning, possible virtual graduations
Cynthia Warrick, Ph.D., is president of Stillman College. (Photo provided)

Cynthia Warrick, Ph.D., is the president of Stillman College, a historically Black college in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She has more than 20 years of experience in higher education as a faculty member and administrator. Rolling out spoke with Warrick about her leadership during COVID-19.

Share with us your vision for the new normal.

Like everyone else, spring break had to be extended. Our students were asked to go completely online to finish off this semester. Our semester will end at the end of this month, so they’re getting ready for finals right now. We serve a student population that is 87 percent Pell [Grant]-eligible. That means that the majority of our students come from households with incomes under $30K a year. That’s considered below poverty.

Our students, many of them do not have [access to] technology. Everybody has a phone. It may not be a smartphone, and it may not be an iPhone, but they have a phone. We were able to get some of our faculty new technology. And with this COVID-19 stimulus, we’re in the process of ordering Chromebooks for all of our students, so they’ll have the technology to complete this semester.

How do you get in front of this distance learning?

Stillman has been a leader in technology. In 2002, they received an award from Apple for innovation and technology. We’re a complete Apple campus. Every computer lab —everything is Apple.

We’ve been delivering courses online since 2007, and last year, we were approved to offer fully online degree programs. So this is where we’re going anyway — because we know that the largest number of students out there today are your adult learners — not necessarily your traditional high school graduates. We want to continue to attract those students to Stillman so they can have this wonderful HBCU experience.

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