Welcome to the Pennsylvania Black Conference on Higher Education, Inc. (PBCOHE). PBCOHE was founded in 1970 by the late Honorable K. Leroy Irvis, the first black speaker of any state House of Representatives since Reconstruction. Our mission is to ensure equal access to higher education opportunities for students, faculty and staff of color throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Over the years, we have worked with politicians, K-12 schools and institutions of higher learning to advance our mission. Our membership is open to everyone, regardless of hue, ethnicity, religion or socioeconomic background, who supports our mission. Thus, I invite you to consider joining our organization. If you are already a member, great! For prospective, new and long-time members, we have many exciting activities each year in which you can become involved.
We have the Annual Conference which rotates between our three regions each year. The 2016 conference was in Philadelphia this past March; and, our 2017 conference is going to be in the Pittsburgh area. We also host the annual Robert D. Lynch Student Leadership Development Institute (SLDI) in the fall. Each year, over 200 undergraduate students of color come together to participate in workshops and other activities which are designed to strengthen their leadership abilities. There's also the Institute for Education Management and Leadership which is designed for faculty and administrators of color who have aspirations of moving into higher echelons of leadership in higher education. Finally, and perhaps, most importantly is that we award a number of scholarships each year to deserving graduating high school seniors, undergraduate and graduate students of color to help defray the cost of enrollment of colleges and universities across the state.
This year, at our Annual Conference in Philadelphia, I unveiled my top five (5) priorities. They are:
I) I have appointed a special advisory committee to the President which will be tasked with advising me on matters which pertain to the elements of the Futures Report, and other relevant matters of conference administration. The members of this committee are: Dr. Judith Thomas, Dr. Brenda Dede, Mr. Larry Dowdy and Dr. Richard Arnold. This committee will be critically important in helping to support me during this, my second time as President of this wonderful organization.
II)Using the recommendations from the Futures Report, we will develop an aggressive membership and fundraising/sponsorship campaign which will help to increase our membership and increase our funding so we can continue providing deserving students with Scholarships to support their pursuit of undergraduate and graduate degrees. It is imperative that we deepen our bench, as it were, to begin to groom our younger faculty and administrators within the conference for positions of leadership within this organization. It is not wise to not have people in the pipeline who can continue to carry the torch.
III) In consultation with the SLDI leadership, I plan to develop the PBCOHE Student Ambassador Program (SAP). Beginning this year, we will select students from each participating university to serve as our ambassadors on their respective campuses. They will be supported by the corresponding regional director and others in the respective region. I envision our ambassadors setting up informational booths on their campuses at strategic times in the fall and spring semesters with information about PBCOHE and soliciting membership from faculty and staff, regardless of their hue. Certainly, we want faculty and administrators of color to join; however, anyone who supports our mission is welcome and encouraged to join our organization.
IV)Reclaiming our place in the Commonwealth among the legislature as being the preeminent voice on issues related to the higher education policies which directly and indirectly affect black and brown students, faculty and staff. We will do this by continuing our relationship with the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and other legislators (regardless of their political party or hue) from the House and Senate. Programs like ACT 101, which is our sister program must be supported. We have to fight for that program, which is why last year we pressed the Legislative Black Caucus to keep up the pressure on the legislature to ensure that the funding remains in place for these programs. As a result of our urging, State Representative Kinsey hosted a hearing at Drexel University on the state of ACT101. ACT101 directors, representatives from PHEAA and other state legislators from across the Commonwealth attended. It was because of our intervention that this hearing took place. ACT101 has not only provided access to higher education for students of color over the years, for many administrators and some faculty of color, it was the vehicle by which they entered higher education and served as the springboard for their career trajectory into higher levels of responsibility on our college/university campuses. Thus, we have to keep up the fight, so PHEAA (which is also a sister organization) must be encouraged to keep funding ACT101.
V) Maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship with PASSHE, the PASSHE universities, our State-related universities, other public and private universities across the state is paramount. Also, I would like for us to develop a more robust relationship with our K-12 schools across the Commonwealth. We do a wonderful job each year at our annual conference visiting schools, reading to elementary school children and donating books and awarding high school scholarships; however, I would like to explore other ways by which we can more formally develop our relationship with our K-12 schools.
Again, thank you for visiting our webpage. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions, suggestions and/or concerns.
With Sincere Appreciation,
John B. Craig, Ed.D.