Benedict College's Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic
By Dr. Sharon H. Porter
Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, President of Benedict College, in Columbia, SC, announced that Benedict’s primary campus functions would cease, until at least April 3, 2020. There are currently no students remaining on campus and all of their courses have been migrated to an online/virtual format. Dr. Artis, along with approximately 31 members of her team who are classified as “essential” remains on the main campus to ensure that all buildings are thoroughly cleaned and secured, to field calls and questions, and to provide briefings to the school's constituents.
While the procedures followed the order issued by South Carolina Governor, Henry McMaster to close all public colleges and Universities in South Carolina (SC) through at least March 31, 2020, it is the action and response of the Board of Trustees and the Benedict Team that is noteworthy.
Recognizing the extreme financial hardship the closure would be for many of Benedict's students and families, Dr. Artis reached out to the Benedict College Board of Trustees for assistance, and assist they did! Dr. Artis stated "Due to the personal and collective generosity of our Trustees, and a generous donation from the Columbia Chapter of the Links, Inc., Benedict was able to offer emergency travel assistance for students with no resources to get home." Benedict College was able to provide travel assistance to more than 100 students. The university booked nearly 90 airline tickets (domestic and international), purchased four train tickets and five bus tickets for students. One of the university's Trustees personally booked over 45 plane tickets!
In addition to providing travel assistance, the university was able to provide luggage, money for gas, and provided cash for food while traveling to their neediest students. The help did not stop there. Benedict ran 24-hour shuttle service to Charleston, Charlotte, and Columbia airports as well as to the train station and bus depot, to any student needing those services.
Dr. Artis goes on to say "We have transported belongings to storage facilities for students and assisted with boxes etc. for students to pack and store their items. In short, we have done everything we could think of to make a terrible situation a little less terrible for our students."
Dr. Artist extended special thanks to members of the Board of Trustees as well as the Benedict College Team for their dedication and extended hours during this crisis in a Facebook post as well as an official memo.
"I am proud to lead an institution where a Board of Trustees demonstrates its commitment to students by contributing their personal financial resources to support our vulnerable students in a crisis. I am proud of our faculty for transitioning to online delivery practically overnight. I am proud of a staff that works non-stop to care for our students. I am proud of the calls and emails and texts I've received from Alumni and community members offering their support. That is what attending an HBCU is all about. We are #HBCUStrong! We are #TheBESTofBC!" ~ Dr. Rosyln Clark Artis
Benedict College Board of Trustees donated nearly $25,000 in two days." While the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has disrupted life globally, it has also been an opportunity for individuals and organizations to pull together and provide for those in need.
Dr. Sharon H. Porter (Dr. Sharon), educator, best-selling author, podcaster, and interview show host has 30 years experience as a principal, assistant principal, central office administrator, and classroom teacher. Dr. Sharon is a two-time HBCU graduate ( Winston-Salem State University -1992 and Howard University 2017).
She is the host of Education FIRST, a monthly livestream interview show that features educators. Dr. Sharon is the visionary and publisher of The HBCU Experience Anthology book series, the President of SHP Enterprise, the umbrella entity for Perfect Time SHP LLC, The GRIND Entrepreneur Network, and SHP Media and Broadcasting. She is a contributing writer, Co-Founder, and Editor-In-Chief of Vision & Purpose (V&P) LifeStyle Magazine.