Tuskegee University CHEVRON donates $250,000

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Tuskegee University: The Daily Word from Washington with Presidential Commentary

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“I used to picture the way that I would act under such circumstances; how I would begin at the bottom and keep rising until I reached the highest round of success.”- Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery (1901)

Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson  
Robert Hedrick’s translation of Xenophon’s Cyrus The Great: The Arts of Leadership and War captures a rather profound and startling idea about the power of both the mind and imagination in one’s youth. This is particularly evidenced in Mr. Washington’s autobiographical telling of the time spent in his youth thinking of his future: “I created an empire in my thoughts long before long before I began to win an empire in reality.” The founding principal and president of Tuskegee (Institute) University, Booker T. Washington, tells of not having many flesh-and-blood examples of “success” due to both his poverty and enslavement. Yet, while his “hands” might have been bound, his “heart” and his “head” were certainly not. Though he might have seen but dimly into what his future held, he “used to picture the way [he] would act under such circumstances.” (Note, one can hardly go where one cannot see one’s self beforehand going. And one can hardly do what one cannot see one’s self beforehand doing.) “Vision” is the greatest 6-letter word, and “leader” is the second greatest 6-letter word in this writer’s opinion. (“GENIUS” is the third greatest.) And Mr. Washington possessed “vision” enough for himself-without regard to what others might have seen-to see himself as an “ingenious visionary leader,” which he later realized for some 34 years at the helm of Tuskegee (Institute) University.

Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.

7th President, Tuskegee University
#TrustTheTuskegeeTrajectory #TrustTheTuskegeeTradition

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Tuskegee University: The Daily Word from Washington with Presidential Commentary

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“I remember one young man in particular who graduated from Yale University and afterward took a post-graduate course at Harvard, and who began his career by delivering a series of lectures on “The Mistakes of Booker T. Washington.” It was not long, however, before he found that he could not live continuously on my mistakes. Then he discovered that in all his long schooling he had not fitted himself to perform any kind of useful and productive labour. After he had failed in several other directions he appealed to me, and I tried to find something for him to do. It is pretty hard, however, to help a young man who has started wrong.” -Booker T. Washington, (1911) My Larger Education

Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson  
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. offers the following concerning men and women whose actions are similar to the young man described in Booker T. Washington’s aforementioned passage: “Controversy equalizes fools and wise men in the same way – and the fools know it.”  And the founding principal and president of Tuskegee (Institute) University provides several important lessons about both the young man-as well as all men and women of his ilk-who seek to establish their name and reputation on the basis of disparaging the name and reputation of others-particularly those whose accomplishments they will only be brought in close proximity to only upon the basis of “controversy.” First, Mr. Washington never ever mentions this young man’s name. While this unidentified young man knew full well that persons might give him a hearing-not upon the basis of his own person and accomplishments-but based upon the person and accomplishments of his topic, “The Mistakes of Booker T. Washington,” identifying or responding to this young man provided not a single, solitary benefit to Mr. Washington and Tuskegee. Second, Mr. Washington understood that the young man’s premises were flawed from the onset, and it is the clearest telltale example of Mr. Washington’s oft-repeated phrase, “Let examples answer.” To be sure, the actions of no man or woman are all “good” or all “bad.” (This is naïve, simplistic and child-like thinking.) Yet, in the face of the clear, overwhelming and documentable evidence that testify to the good that Mr. Washington had done locally, regionally and nationally, this young man titled his lecture series according to what he perceived were the mistakes of Mr. Washington. Here again, what one consistently reads and hears, one will consistently become. And this young man ought to have taken heed to how and to what he was hearing for it ultimately led to what he had become. (For this young man’s attempt to categorize and confine a man of Booker T. Washington eminence and accomplishments to a series of perceived mistakes that his limited training, limited knowledge and limited life experience identified did nothing but demonstrate his failure to understand the significance of the (2) greatest 9-letter words and the single, most dangerous 9-letter word: 1. “Integrity” 2. “Knowledge” 3. “Ignorance;”) Finally, we should consider Mr. Washington’s demonstration of another one of his famous aphorisms: “I let no man drag me down so low as to make me hate him.” The very same young man who sought to disparage and defame Mr. Washington later sought him for assistance, and Mr. Washington “tried to find something for him to do.” (This dynamic needs no additional commentary.) Yet what is deserving of additional commentary is that this young man might have spent his time and work writing, lecturing and building his own legacy and life worth reading as opposed to seeking to denigrate another’s whose legacy and life of building Tuskegee (Institute) University spanned 34 years (1881-1915) and remains and is read to this very day.
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.
7th President, Tuskegee University
#TrustTheTuskegeeTrajectory #TrustTheTuskegeeTradition

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Tuskegee University: The Daily Word from Washington with Presidential Commentary

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“It seems to me that there never was a time in the history of the country when those interested in education should the more earnestly consider to what extent the mere acquiring of the ability to read and write, the mere acquisition of a knowledge of literature and science, makes men producers, lovers of labour, independent, honest, unselfish, and, above all, good. Call education by what name you please, if it fails to bring about these results among the masses, it falls short of its highest end…How I wish that from the most cultured and highly endowed university in the great North to the humblest log cabin school-house in Alabama, we could burn, as it were, into the hearts and heads of all that usefulness, that service to our brother, is the supreme end of education.”-Booker T. Washington, (1899) The Future of the American Negro

Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson  

Cornel West suggests the following about the “quantity” of educated persons in the present generation as opposed to the “quality” of the past generation in his best-selling work, (1994) Race Matters: “THERE has not been a time in the history of black people in this country when the quantity of politicians and intellectuals was so great, yet the quality of both groups has been so low…How do we account for the absence of the Frederick Douglasses, Sojourner Truths, Martin Luther King, Jrs., Malcolm Xs, and Fannie Lou Hamers in our time?” And perhaps the answer to Professor West’s rhetorical query resides in what the founding principal and president of Tuskegee (Institute) University wrote in the above passage: “…usefulness, that service to our brother, is the supreme end of education.” (Here again, Washington’s Tuskegee idea was not one based solely upon the work of one’s “hands”. Rather, the complete configuration of his conception of education-as ought be for all of education-was that of Heart (Character)-Head (Competence)-Hands (Capable). And once again, the little-discussed and deeply personal notion of the individual “heart” in modern education from which the “service” of the head and hands flow is likely why the “quality…has been so low.” The heart (character) is the seat of all an individual’s ambitions, ideas, motives and foci, and if the heart is not rooted in the idea of genuine and authentic service to mankind without respect to color, then the number of degrees, the name of the universities or the notoriety of the career matters little. And this is precisely why the “education”-not simply degree-received at Tuskegee University revolves around the university’s motto: Knowledge-Leadership-Service. 

Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.

7th President, Tuskegee University
#TrustTheTuskegeeTrajectory #TrustTheTuskegeeTradition

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Tuskegee University to launch historic first online degree programs

Tuskegee University.

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Tuskegee University adding ‘STEAM’ to degree programs

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Tuskegee University: The Daily Word from Washington with Presidential Commentary

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“…I have tried to pursue the policy of acting in a business-like prompt way especially when we are able to pay. I wish you would take up all these small accounts that are overdue and settle them. It is doubly necessary that an institution that depends for its living on begging money should keep a good business reputation. It is much more necessary than for an institution doing a strictly commercial business. It does not take long for a rumor to get circulated in any community to the effect that we are not businesslike and this hurts us in getting funds. For all these reasons it is very necessary that all the matters I am referring to in this letter be carefully, systematically and promptly attended to in your office. Some of the letters regarding the bills that I refer to I enclose.” -Booker T. Washington, “February 13, 1915″

Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson  

As the founding principal and president of Tuskegee (Institute) University, Booker T. Washington, repeatedly demonstrated during his 34-year long administration, the stewardship of one’s existing resources goes hand-in-hand with the petitioning of additional resources. And Mr. Washington here again describes, in what would be the last year of his life, an important philanthropic consideration between a non-profit institution like Tuskegee University-and similarly situated higher education institutions-as opposed to a for-profit “commercial business.” A non-profit institution seeks to serve a higher and greater good, and while profit and revenue are supremely important drivers in such institutions, its focus upon an area of societal need such as higher education makes profit generation only one of several considerations unlike “commercial business”. And this is why non-profit institutions rely upon philanthropic (fundraising) gifts to help support their efforts to serve the larger good. (In the case of Mother Tuskegee, the education and the comprehensive development of her students is the highest and larger good.) Notwithstanding, such a noble aim does not exempt a non-profit institution from “keep[ing] a good business reputation” particularly when it continuously seeks “funds” to support its mission and vision-its tradition and trajectory. Without respect to an institution’s noble ambitions, if it does not manage its existing resources in a manner that demonstrates that it can manage additional resources, it “hurt[s]” itself “in [the] getting [of] funds.” And Mr. Washington tells us precisely why it becomes “difficult” for others to give to it: “It does not take long for a rumor to get circulated in any community to the effect that we are not businesslike…” Moreover, if such a “rumor” is circulated in the kind of “community” that can actually provide a non-profit institution with major, transformational assistance in the pursuit of its noble aims then the hurt is extremely harmful. For no corporation, foundation, organization, entity or individual donor who has successfully stewarded its own fiscal resources will give them to another who has not successfully stewarded its own-however small or meager. These entities are also accountable to their own stakeholders, customers and constituents who rightly question where their gifts are directed, and stakeholder’s rest easier knowing that major gifts from entities they are vested in are going to non-profit institutions who will steward them appropriately. And Mr. Washington, who Tuskegee University celebrates in the centennial year since his passing (1915-2015), was the recipient of many such major, transformational gifts because he “carefully, systematically and promptly attend[ed]” to the stewardship of Mother Tuskegee’s resources from 1881-1915.

Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.

7th President, Tuskegee University
#TrustTheTuskegeeTrajectory #TrustTheTuskegeeTradition

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