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WSSU Chancellor Elect Bonita Brown: Five key takeaways

On May 29, 2024, Bonita Brown, the new Chancellor Elect of Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), held her first press conference. Her remarks highlighted her vision and plans for the university. Here are five key takeaways from her address:

  1. Historical Significance and Inspiration for Female Leadership
    Chancellor Elect Brown emphasized the importance of her role as the first woman to hold the position at WSSU. She acknowledged the weight and significance of this milestone, expressing hope that her leadership would inspire other women. Brown said, “I felt the weight, the significance, of me being the first female to be selected. I’d like to think I would be an example for others.” She highlighted the unique perspectives that female leadership brings and expressed her desire to celebrate this achievement, although she has not yet planned the specifics.
  2. Personal Connection to Winston-Salem and Commitment to Community
    Brown shared her deep-rooted connection to Winston-Salem, having grown up in the area and attended Wake Forest University. She expressed excitement about returning home, stating, “I still pinch myself every day. I just cannot believe that I’m back home.” Her strong ties to the community, coupled with her extensive local network of family and friends, underscore her commitment to making a significant impact. She plans to enhance WSSU’s role in the community, ensuring the university is visible and actively involved in regional development.
  3. Strategic Vision for Higher Education and Enrollment Growth
    Addressing the challenges facing higher education, Brown outlined her strategic vision for WSSU. She emphasized the need for fiscal soundness and relevant degree programs that equip students with the skills needed to become leaders and entrepreneurs. She stated, “We have to find our ground, make sure we’re fiscally sound, and ensure our students leave with the skills and tools they need.” Brown also highlighted the importance of enrollment growth, noting the decline in the number of 18-year-olds nationally. She plans to strengthen relationships with community colleges, the military, and adult learners to diversify and bolster enrollment.

4. Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Amid Policy Changes
When asked about the recent repeal of the UNC System Board of Governors’ policy on diversity and inclusion, Brown expressed her dedication to supporting the diverse needs of WSSU students. She said, “Our students are diverse, and our goal is to support their needs to give them what they need to reach their goals.” Brown intends to work closely with her team to understand the implications of the policy change and to continue fostering an inclusive environment.

5. Enhancing University Culture and Athletics
Brown underscored the importance of university culture and athletics at WSSU. She aims to celebrate and promote the work of faculty, from research to artistic performances, to enrich the university’s cultural footprint. “I want to celebrate our faculty’s work and get it out into the public,” she said. Brown also highlighted the significant role of athletics in university life, noting its impact on student engagement, alumni loyalty, and community spirit. She plans to collaborate with the new athletic director to enhance the university’s athletic programs, aiming for both academic and competitive success.

    Chancellor Elect Bonita Brown’s inaugural press conference set a hopeful and ambitious tone for her tenure at Winston-Salem State University. Her commitment to leadership, community engagement, strategic growth, diversity, and a vibrant campus culture promises to shape the future of WSSU in meaningful ways

    WSSU Chancellor Elect Bonita Brown: Five key takeaways

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