White House HBCU initiative visits Gadsden State

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Photo: Gadsden State Valley Street Campus Director Ricky Tillis speaks to members of the White House Iniatitive for HBCU and students in the Construction Technology program on the Valley Street Campus. (Courtesy of Gadsden State)

A group with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities recently visited Gadsden State Community College’s Valley Street Campus as a part of a tour that will take them to four Alabama community colleges with the HBCU designation. The Valley Street Campus is the area’s only HBCU.

“We feel privileged to have the opportunity to meet with such a great group of workforce development leaders,” said Valley Street Campus Director Ricky Tillis. “We are proud to show them the valuable and important programs we have on our campus, and we are appreciative of the feedback and advice they have provided.”

A group of 15 were a part of the Valley Street Campus visit representing the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Jobs for the Future, the Alabama Office of Apprenticeships and the Alabama Department of Commerce. Other guests included representatives from the City of Gadsden, the Gadsden Career Center, Gadsden City Schools and the WIOA Board of Directors.

The visit kicked off with a historical overview of Valley Street Campus, which opened its doors in 1960 as a private vocational training school for Black Americans. A campus tour followed with stops in the Dental Assisting Program, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Certified Nursing Assistant Program, Construction Technology and HVAC Technology.

“We had student speakers on each tour stop,” Tillis said. “They did a fantastic job telling their story as well as sharing the important role Gadsden State plays in their lives. Our guests were very impressed with what they saw on the tour, both in terms of our equipment and facilities as well as our students.”

The visit ended with breakout sessions that provided opportunities to have more conversation about programs at Gadsden State as well as federal programs and partnerships available to the college.

“We are grateful and appreciative of the White House Initiative members’ time, knowledge and energy that they provided to us today,” said Dr. Kathy Murphy, president of Gadsden State.

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