By Dr. Sharon H. Porter | Monday, November 6, 2023 | 6:00 AM ET
Today's Divine Nine Member Spotlight Sponsor is DJG Enterprises
Join Vision & Purpose LifeStyle Magazine in celebrating the incredible influence of the members of the Divine Nine! Discover the rich legacy and vibrant impact of these exceptional members in our special Divine Nine Spotlight!
From Alpha to Omega, we're shining a spotlight on the trailblazers, scholars, leaders, and community advocates who make up the Divine Nine. Get ready to dive into the history, achievements, and empowering stories of the members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) organizations that continue to shape our society.
Stay tuned for the exclusive interviews, captivating profiles, and extraordinary journeys of the Divine Nine members on the Vision & Purpose Podcast and upcoming print issues.
Join the conversation and share your thoughts on the incredible impact of these inspiring individuals. Stay tuned for an issue you don't want to miss!
Who or what inspired you to become a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.?
My inspiration for becoming a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated was the mission of the organization which is to develop leaders, promote brotherhood and academic excellence, while providing service and advocacy for our communities. I was also inspired by the many Alpha brothers I had the distinct honor of serving with and working with in the Air Force, Corporate, and Higher Education.
These brothers were solid leaders with a true passion for and commitment to educational excellence and giving back to the community while mentoring me. They were smart, selfless, well-respected, and about their business. Years leading up to my initiation in A Phi A, I was thinking if I could be demonstrative of the light these brothers possessed and the impact they had in communities around the world, I knew there was no other place for me but among the brotherhood of A Phi A!
I have been a natural leader since my high school days in JROTC where I led people, learned how to apply leadership principles, and problem-solve in real time. Since I have been a member of Alpha Phi Alpha I have grown and developed the confidence to aspire even higher as a leader. My leadership reach is now international with a global impact affording me opportunities to build mutual understanding between nations, advance knowledge across communities, and improve lives around the world.
So many brothers of A Phi A have taught me the true essence of brotherhood through leadership and community advocacy. One of those brothers is Milton Fletcher, who taught me the true meaning of brotherhood over 20 years ago. Over the years, Milton has prayed with me, encouraged me, supported me, and mentored and coached me. He has also been a model of excellence in transforming lives in communities around the world. I remember many years ago, Milton invited me to visit his church in Detroit. Surprisingly, during service he awarded me with a plaque inscribed “The person who showed me the true meaning of brotherhood and most inspired my spirit.” Now that is true brotherhood!
I was always inspired by how brothers of A Phi A had a commitment and allegiance to academic excellence. To name a few, brothers like Dr. Anton Bizzell (medical doctor and chairman of a corporation), Reggie Salter (my line brother who is a dentist and college professor), and Lewis Saunders (who earned his PhD at the age of 85, and I had the opportunity to serve on his dissertation committee.) These brothers were high achievers, had a determination to earn higher education to effect change in communities around the world. Through their inspiration and the inspiration of many other Alpha brothers, I aspired to become a Fulbright scholar and was accepted the first time I applied. Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world. Now, I stand among the ranks of Fulbright scholars who are heads of state or government, Nobel Peace Prize winners, MacArther Foundation Fellows, Pulitzer Prize winners, and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.
When I reflect on the history of Alpha Phi Alpha, the profound vision of the seven jewels, the racial prejudice they had to endure and face, both educationally and socially, and the firm foundation they laid for the greatest fraternity, I remain inspired and eternally grateful. I am inspired by the long list of amazing men around the world who are continuing the great work of A Phi A by upholding the principles of scholarship, brotherhood, good character, and uplifting humanity! I am grateful for the influence and opportunities I have had to transform lives, in one community at a time – in one country at a time, through higher education and international development!
About Dr. Walter R. McCollum
Dr. Walter McCollum (Fulbright recipient) has worked in higher education for 17 years at community colleges, 4- year institutions, and online universities. He worked for top multinational corporations as a senior leader in change management, organizational development, quality management, and process improvement. Prior to his corporate experience, Dr. McCollum served in the United States Air Force (Desert Storm Veteran) both abroad and stateside in Information Management and Communication specialties.
As past Chancellor, Ivy Tech Community College – Richmond, Dr. McCollum increased partnerships and engagement across the Richmond Service Area including five counties (Wayne, Fayette, Randolph, Rush, and Union Counties). He contributed to the President’s Human Capital Campaign of $285M – Richmond Campus was #1 in the state for fundraising across 19 campuses. Dr. McCollum advanced Military and Veteran Education, Support, and Resources through the establishment of Walter McCollum Veteran’s Scholarship.
As Vice President of Miami Dade College Online, the largest community college in the U.S, Dr. McCollum had oversight of leadership, management, development and distribution of online education programs and courses for over 15,000 students and supported eight campuses and over 100,000 students.
As Dean of Student Affairs at Walden University for over 50,000 students, Dr. McCollum had oversight of Student Conduct, Military Services, Disability Services, Alumni Affairs, Student Activities/Student Organizations, and Student Counseling Services. His leadership yielded the result of many “firsts”. In 2017, he spearheaded the establishment of a groundbreaking Divine Nine Alliance (DNA), the first online Black Greek Letter student organization in higher education, where all the divine nine Black fraternities and sororities collaborated to support the institution’s mission on positive social change.
In 2018, he established a partnership with The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), the largest leadership organization in the United States, and increased membership by 13,000 within three months of chapter launch. As a result, Walden University had the largest induction in NSLS’s 20-year history. In 2019, he spearheaded the establishment of the first digital Fulbright Chapter in the 42-year history of Fulbright, providing broader national and international access for Fulbright scholars to connect minds and hearts for global change. Dr. McCollum served on the board of directors for both The National Society of Leadership and Success and Fulbright Association, National Capital Area Chapter. He was recently appointed to the National Fulbright Association Board beginning his appointment in January 2024.
As a professor of 17 years, Dr. McCollum has taught at many institutions at all degree levels and served on over 100 dissertation committees across multiple disciplines to include, but not limited to, business, psychology, education, public policy, management, and leadership. His book “How to Use Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence and Spiritual Intelligence to Mentor Doctoral Learners: Best Practices and Tools to Help Mentors and Doctoral Learners Navigate the Dissertation Process” was reviewed and adopted by Kansas State University which also published the book review in the Adult Learning Journal.
Dr. McCollum is passionate about impacting positive social change globally. As a Fulbright recipient (2019), he completed a Fulbright grant with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Amman Jordan, to evaluate the selection and evaluation processes for hiring university presidents in public universities in Jordan. He also designed, developed, and automated rubrics for the search and evaluation processes and provided recommendations for the academic congressional mandate for hiring university presidents in the Kingdom of Jordan.
In Komga, Eastern Cape, South Africa, Dr. McCollum mentored an educator in the Local Township on the teacher certification process and the establishment of a nonprofit organization. In Cahuita, Costa Rica, he led a delegation and assessed international development opportunities on an Indigenous Reservation and led a team to rebuild homes to coincide with the Costa Rican culture of cooking on open fire. In Carrefour, Haiti he led a delegation to explore a partnership with Quisqueya University to identify opportunities to create student exchange programs and opportunities to bring technology into the Haitian educational system.
In 2018, Dr. McCollum’s foundation, McCollum Education Foundation, built a primary school in Haiti (with 208 students in the inaugural class/50 percent boys and 50 percent girls) to improve literacy and gender equality.
He holds an Associate of Applied Sciences degree in Business Management from Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Liberal Arts/Psychology from The University of the State of New York SUNY Albany, a Master of Arts Degree in Management from Webster University, and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), in Applied Management and Decision Sciences with a specialization in Leadership and Organizational Change from Walden University. Dr. McCollum is an Association for Governing Boards (AGB) Institute for Leadership and Governance in Higher Education Fellow (class of 2020), and a Penn State Academic Leadership Academy graduate. He has written and published seven books and published in several peer reviewed journals. His doctoral research (2004) was “Process Improvement in Quality Management Systems: Case Study Analyzing Carnegie Mellon’s Capability Maturity Model.
Dr. McCollum has earned many awards, to include, but not limited to Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award, Walden University, 2014; Executive Leadership Award, Sodexo Military Business Resource Group, 2012; and Extraordinary Faculty of the Year, Walden University, 2011.
Dr. McCollum’s military awards include: Joint Service Achievement Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal with two devices, Air Force Commendation Medal with one device, Southwest Asia Service Medal with two devices, National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, NCO Professional Military Education with one device, NCO Leadership Academy Distinguished Graduate Award, NCO Leadership Academy Military Citizenship Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with one device, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, Air Force Longevity Service Award with two devices, Air Force Training Ribbon, Air Force Overseas Short Tour Ribbon, Air Force Overseas Long Tour Ribbon, and Air Force Good Conduct Medal with three devices.
Dr. Walter R. McCollum was the cover feature for Vision & Purpose LifeStyle Magazine May.June 2022 issue.
About Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Alpha Phi Alpha™, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African American Men, was founded on December 4, 1906™ at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York by seven college men who recognized the need for a strong bond of brotherhood among African descendants in this country.
The fraternity initially served as a study and support group for minority students who faced racial prejudice, both educationally and socially, at Cornell. The Jewel founders and early leaders of the fraternity succeeded in laying a firm foundation for Alpha Phi Alpha’s principles of scholarship, fellowship, good character, and the uplifting of humanity.
Alpha Phi Alpha chapters were established at other colleges and universities, many of them historically black institutions, soon after the founding at Cornell. The first alumni chapter was established in 1911. While continuing to stress academic excellence among its members, Alpha also recognized the need to help correct the educational, economic, political, and social injustices faced by African Americans. Alpha Phi Alpha has long stood at the forefront of the African-American community’s fight for civil rights through leaders such as W.E.B. DuBois, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Edward Brooke, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young, William Gray, Paul Robeson, and many others. True to its form as the “first of firsts,” Alpha Phi Alpha has been interracial since 1945.
Since its founding on December 4, 1906™, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has supplied voice and vision to the struggle of African Americans and people of color around the world.
About the Divine Nine
The Divine Nine, formally known as, the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) is a collaborative umbrella council composed of nine historically African American fraternities and sororities, and also referred to as Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLOs). The NPHC was formed as a permanent organization on May 10, 1930, on the campus of Howard University, in Washington, D.C., with Matthew W. Bullock as the active Chairman and B. Beatrix Scott as Vice-Chairman. NPHC was incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois in 1937.
The council promotes interaction through forums, meetings, and other media for the exchange of information and engages in cooperative programming and initiatives through various activities and functions.
Each constituent member organization determines its own strategic direction and program agenda. Today, the primary purpose and focus of member organizations remains camaraderie and academic excellence for its members and service to the communities they serve. Each promotes community awareness and action through educational, economic, and cultural service activities.
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