Booker Washington Institute Alumni Association of North America (BWINAANA) Meets with Prairie View A & M University
BWI Tigers Family,
We are pleased to report to you that we hit the ground running when we arrived for our National Convention in Dallas, Texas! We are pleased to report to you that history was revisited and reclaimed today for Booker Washington Institute when a delegation led by Mr. Eric Harris, National President of the Booker Washington Institute National Alumni Association of North America, paid a courtesy call to Prairie View A & M University in Houston, Texas. Others on the delegation from Booker Washington Institute's family were: Mr. Ralph D. Henri, Co-Chair of the 2017 National Convention, Mr. David Kangba, Program Committee Chairman for the 2017 Convention, Hon. Jackson Paye, Chairman of the Board of Governors of Booker Washington Institute, Rev. Dr. Francis Tabla, Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the BWINAANA, Mr. Harris F. Tarnue, Principal of the Booker Washington Institute, and Mr. Nathaniel Y. Wilson, National Vice President of the BWINAANAA.
Dr. James A. Wilson, Jr., Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Director of the Honors Program and Dr. Michael L. McFrazier, Vice President for Administration welcomed our delegation to Prairie View A & M University on behalf of the President and Dr. Felecia M. Nave, Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs of Prairie View. We were also joined by Mr. Steve Vincent, a long time friend of BWI, and the liaison who arranged this historic meeting, representing Texas A&M University.
Having introduced ourselves, President Eric Harris thanked the staff of Prairie View for welcoming us to their university and granting us audience. He then went on to recount excerpts of the historic partnership that BWI once shared with Prairie View, which among other things led to scores of instructors and former students of BWI being trained at Prairie View. He said the partnership became none existent as a result of the prolonged civil war in Liberia. He said in the wake of the many challenges BWI currently faces, the BWINAANA has over the years try to assist with scholarship programs and other support to help keep the school afloat. He said a priority of his administration is to build relationships and partnerships to help achieve the goals of revitalizing BWI. It is in this vein he said, that we were reaching out to our historic partner, Prairie View A&M University.
Dr. Wilson said that he had read a little history about Booker Washington Institute, but would like to hear first hand some more, and the current state of affairs of the institution. In response, Mr. Tarnue, Principal of BWI informed the staff of Prairie View that BWI was heavily impacted during the civil war, which left the school vandalized. He said that the school reopened on a lower scale in 2000. He said the school is now opened at full scale, with an interesting upsurge in enrollment of about 1,700 students. He however said there is a lack of training equipment, and what remains of trade shops, technology and training materials are obsolete. He said that the school has a total of about 76 academic and vocational instructors and about 30 buildings on campus. He underscored the need for instructional staff development, as most of the instructors of the institute have aged.
Mr. Tarnue then went on to articulate the strategic priorities of the Abridged Strategic Sustainability Plan (2016-2021) for BWI as follows:
Invest in Staff Development and Capacity Building
Increase BWI's Revenue Generating Capacity
Invest in Existing Infrastructures and Build New Ones
Elevate BWI to a High Quality Market Focused Institution
Enhance Student and Young Faculty Recruitment, Development and Retention Programs. A copy of the document was presented to Dr. James Wilson for onwards transmission to Dr. Nave
All members of the delegation of BWINAANA chipped in their words of gratitude for the partnership Prairie View shared with BWI before, accentuating that the need to reestablish this partnership cannot be overemphasized. Board of Governors' Chair Hon. Jackson Paye registered his passion about the food Hub project at BWI, indicating how resourceful, valuable it would be in self sustainability and generating revenue for the institute.
Dr. McFrazier expressed his interest in knowing a little bit about the social life of the students on the campus of the Booker Washington Institute. Dr. Tabla pointed out that the the brass band, glee club, gospel chorus, Bible quizzing, majorettes, drill contests, musical contests, soccer, basketball, volleyball, track and field and other social clubs on campus all helped to lighten the social life of the students on campus. He then observed with deep gratitude that the partnership with Prairie View not only helped BWI, but Liberia, Africa, and the world, as graduates of BWI are making significant impact and contributions in places around the world.
Mr. Steve Vincent representing Texas A&M University concurred with the points we had raised to the staff of Prairie View, mentioning that he had visited BWI three times, and that the partnership will be very vital to the development of BWI, undergirded by the core values that both institutions share.
The staff of Prairie View received our words of commendations, gratitude, and passionate plea to renew the partnership with great interest and humility, underscoring that the history we share lends to positive ways in what will be their response. Based upon the information they had received from us, they mentioned possibilities such as the use of solar electricity, build a consortium of institutions that the late Booker T. Washington had his fingerprints on, develop a tangible time-line to accomplish some of the projects, assistance in developing grant proposals to solicit funding for some of the programs, etc.
Dr. James Wilson assured the body that he will write a formal report to be presented to Dr. Felicia M. Nave, Provost & Senior Vice President of Prairie View. He said that Prairie View has been blessed over the years to have some Liberians on their staff, and that he and his colleague were very impressed and deeply moved by the importance our delegation attached to making this courtesy call upon them. He pointed out that providentially/coincidently, we were holding the meeting in the A.I. Thomas Building, named in honor of the sitting president when the partnership between BWI and Prairie View was established. He promised to communicate with President Harris in the shortest possible time, outcome of his report to the Senior Vice President.
As Chairman of the Board of Advisors representing the Board on this delegation, we express our deep thanks and appreciation to President Harris for leading our association in reengaging this process, which by God's grace will undoubtedly benefit our both institutions in ways than words could adequately express. We also express our deep thanks and appreciation to all members of our delegation as well as Mr. Stephen Vincent for accompanying us to this meeting. Thanks to our BWINAANA for giving us the privilege to serve you.
Very truly yours,
Rev. Dr. Francis Tabla
Chairman of the Board of Advisors