On Jan. 27, 2023, Dr. Rochelle L. Ford was officially installed as the eighth president of Dillard University. The ceremony was held at Lawless Memorial Chapel on the campus of Dillard University and included a jazz breakfast, the Investiture Ceremony, a day of service, a night with the New Orleans Pelicans and the Call to Chapel. The General Board of Higher Education Executive Director of the Black College Fund and Ethnic Concerns, Dr. Crystal Banks, participated in the investiture ceremony, bringing greetings on behalf of the Black College Fund and the United Methodist Church.
During the first one hundred days of Dr. Ford’s presidency, The Black College Fund provided Dillard University with $300,000 for Lawless Memorial Chapel repairs. The Lawless Memorial Chapel is an on-campus ministry space that serves the religious and spiritual needs of the Dillard University community. Since 2000, the Black College Fund has provided Dillard University with over $19 million in funding.
Though the Black College Fund celebrates 50 years of operation, the special relationship between Dillard University and the United Methodist Church dates much further back. Dillard University resulted from a 1935 merger of two historically African American denominationally affiliated institutions, the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.
The roots of Dillard University reach back to 1866, when the Methodist Episcopal Church founded the Thompson Biblical Institute for the training of African American ministers. The Normal School for the training of teachers was added to Thompson in 1869, and the school that resulted was named New Orleans University. When New Orleans University and Straight University, were merged and renamed Dillard University, the denominational affiliations were maintained.
From the very beginning, the United Methodist Church has provided constant and consistent support in the developing and prospering of Dillard University. The Black College Fund has been instrumental in carrying out this mission providing Dillard University with financial support to help students have a successful college experience. The Black College Fund continues to help support college staff and faculty who can serve as strong intellectual, cultural and spiritual mentors. To learn more about The Black College Fund visit: theblackcollegefund.org.