University hosts 11th annual HBCU Philanthropy Symposium

(L-r) Dr. Vita Pickrum, VP of University Advancement, stands with Presidents’ Panel participants Norfolk State University President Javaune Adams-Gaston, George Suttles (moderator), Delaware State University President Tony Allen, Medgar Evers College President Patricia Ramsey, and Morris Brown College President Kevin James during the HBCU Philanthropy Symposium hosted by the University and held at the National Harbor in Maryland.


Delaware State University not only resumed its in-person HBCU Philanthropy Symposium after the last two years of COVID forced the annual conference to shift to a virtual gathering, but it also moved to a new venue.

After hosting the event at home – in the first few years at the University and later at the Dover Downs Hotel and Casino – the University held the 11th annual HBCU Philanthropy Symposium on June 20-22 at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. just off of the southern outskirts of Washington, D.C.

Forty-three HBCUs and other predominantly Black Institutions of Higher Education – many with multiple representatives – along with 20 corporate partners and other education agencies representatives attended the three-day symposium. This year’s theme was “It’s Our Time — Building on the Historical Value of HBCUs.”

Dr. Harry L. Williams, President and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund as well as the former President of Delaware State University, spoke at the opening session, noting that historical legacy.

“Without HBCUs, the black middle-class would not be in existence as it is today,” Dr. Williams told the gathering of fundraising professionals. “You are in this role because you understand the importance of what this is going to do – provide opportunities. Just look on our campuses at the historic buildings that our forefathers created, because they knew the power of education and what it would do in terms of lifting up the community.”

In his remarks at the Symposium, Delaware State University President Tony Allen made reference to the oft-repeated saying that “HBCUs do more with less,” and noted that it is time for such institutions to stop settling for having less resources to carry out their missions.

The Symposium featured presentations and discussions on a wide range of fundraising, high education, and partnership opportunities topics.

During the conference, The Walt Disney Company – which did a panel discussion on “Empowering the Next Generation of Storytellers” – announced its new partnership with the Propel Education Center. In an agreement that could create opportunities for Delaware State University students, Disney will work with HBCU faculty and other industry leaders to create curriculum that will prepare students for future careers in arts, media, entertainment and hospitality.

During the President’s Panel session, Dr. Allen, Medgar Evers College President Patricia Ramsey and Norfolk State University President Javaune Adams-Gaston was joined Morris Brown College President Kevin James. It was particularly touching part of the Symposium, as the 300 attendees gave Dr. James a heartfelt congratulatory standing-ovation applause in recognition of the recent reaccreditation of Morris Brown College after losing it 20 years ago.