More than 100 attended the Revitalize the City of Tuskegee Forum December 10 and 11 at the Tuskegee University Kellogg Conference Center to discuss another chance for Tuskegee to pioneer change in the black community. The National Small Town Alliance (NSTA) chose Tuskegee to begin its effort to resuscitate Historically Black College and University (HBCU) host communities nationwide and the forum was its first step in the process.
A partnership between Tuskegee and TU was spotlighted during the event and, in this first partnership of its kind for NSTA, the organization hopes to revitalize the community and create a template to pass on.
During the conference, NSTA President John Rosenthall pointed out there are 140 HBCUs in the country and many are suffering limited finances, falling enrollment and declining communities.
“I felt like with the history of Tuskegee it would be a great place to start this initiative,” Rosenthall said. “I found passionate partners in Mayor (Omar Neal) and (Tuskegee University) President (Dr. Benjamin) Payton. With that combination, it’s time to move and make it work.”
“The university has been somewhat stale in opening doors to the community,” said Getchel Caldwell, Vice President for University Advancement. “Dr. Payton is retiring in June and his intent is in putting together a platform as viable partners in revitalization to leave the new president.”
Caldwell said Tuskegee University wants to grow its student body to 5,000, which cannot be done in isolation. His plan is to improve TU’s extension, continued education and recruitment efforts and improve the relationship with the National Park Service.
“We are going to develop Tuskegee to the standards of Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver,” Mayor Neal said. “Will it be easy? I don’t know, but it will be done. Tuskegee and Tuskegee University stand in complete solidarity as we move forward.”