Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Signs Bill That Will Re-Open Michigan’s Only HBCU

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Pensole founder D’Wayne Edwards had a mission to re-open the Lewis College of Business. It was a Detroit-based historically Black college and university founded by the late Violet T. Lewis that sadly closed in 2013. Thankfully, after proposing draft legislation back in October to re-open the school, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 5447 and 5448 on Tuesday for the school to re-open its doors in March 2022.

Now known as the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design, the only Black HBCU in Michigan and the first HBCU to close and re-open in the U.S., Gov. Whitmer spoke about signing the legislation.

From MT Live:

“I am proud to play a part in helping reopen the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design in Detroit,” Whitmer said in a press release. “I am committed to expanding educational opportunities for Michiganders across our state to put Michigan first.”

The bills were sponsored by Rep. Joe Tate, D – Detroit, and Rep. Pamela Hornberger, R – Chesterfield.

“I was proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the governor to have an HBCU back in the city of Detroit,” Tate said. “I look forward to seeing the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design create valuable opportunities for its students and businesses across Michigan and Detroit.”

CCS, The Gilbert Family Foundation, Target, and future president of the College, Dr. D’Wayne Edwards, will fund the school’s free tuition model. CCS president Don Tuski offered his thoughts on this momentous occasion via the Detroit Metro Times:

“I want to thank Governor Whitmer for taking action to support this pipeline of underserved talent alongside the countless partners who have stood up to make this a reality,” CCS president Don Tuski said in a press release. “We can create generations of equitable access to the skills that will lead to good-paying jobs and create products and services that can define the future.”

Pensole Lewis College will operate on the College for Creative Studies campus in Detroit and plans to offer free tuition for Black designers, creatives, and future business leaders. Regarding the victory, Edwards himself had this to say:

“Our goal is to celebrate Violet T. Lewis’ life’s work she established in the city of Detroit in 1939,” said Edwards, who will be president. “Today moves us forward to another major step in continuing her legacy with the support of our founding partners College for Creative Studies, Target, and The Gilbert Family Foundation.”

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