The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Kate Moser
When debt forced Bishop College to close in 1988, alumni of the historically black institution in Texas had no campus to call home. Twenty years later, Bishop alumni are beginning to rally around their adoptive home, tiny Georgetown College, a mostly white institution nestled in Kentucky horse country.
Georgetown’s president, William H. Crouch Jr., proposed the idea to Bishop alumni two years ago: Georgetown could stand in as their alma mater, and they could help the president fulfill his goal of increasing minority enrollments from 7 percent today to 25 percent in 2012.
Mr. Crouch has raised money for a campus building that will include a nod to an iconic bell tower on the old Bishop College campus, and he hired minority-owned firms to design and construct it. But the challenges have gone beyond the financial.
He convinced members of an all-white fraternity that their tradition of dressing up in Confederate uniforms for “Old South” week in the spring would no longer be appropriate. He also enlisted “cultural advisers” to help him better understand black culture.
“It’s a rare time when you see a white male say, ‘I don’t know,’ and that’s why I love him,” says one of Mr. Crouch’s advisers, William C. Parker, a retired University of Kentucky administrator and expert in diversity training.
Mr. Crouch has won praise for his efforts. “To know that our school has been closed 20 years and to be able to revive that history and legacy at Georgetown is a tremendous blessing,” says the Rev. Denny D. Davis, a Bishop alumnus.
Mr. Davis’s niece, Ashley D. Carter-Colwell, is one of five students benefiting from a new scholarship for children and grandchildren of Bishop alumni or students nominated by alumni. Bishop’s name will be on her diploma, and her brand-new letter jacket â€” designed by a fellow Bishop scholar â€” features a lamp of knowledge from the defunct college’s insignia. Now Georgetown’s football coach wants his team to have the jackets, too, she says.