Livingstone celebrates Founder’s Day, announce residence hall upgrades

Published 12:07 am Thursday, February 16, 2023

SALISBURY — Livingstone College officials made a major announcement during a Founder’s Day program on Friday that sets up residence halls for a series of refurbishments. 

“In my first 120 days, I have secured capital investment to the tune of $4 million that we will use to begin refurbishing our student residence halls,” Livingstone President Dr. Anthony J. Davis said on Friday. 

Davis revealed an additional $3 million in the college’s budget to go toward the project. 

“The least we can do is make students comfortable while they are on their journey,” Davis said. “We will begin construction in May.”

In addition to that announcement, Davis also said Mondale Robinson, a 2011 graduate of Livingstone College and the mayor of Enfield has pledged $60,000 per year over the next 10 years.

Dr. Laticia Godette, owner of Ottendorf Laboratories, presented the college with a check for $50,000, as part of an ongoing pledge.

“When God helps you get to a certain place, you can never forget those others who helped get you where you are,” Godette said. 

Failing infrastructure has plagued the 144-year-old historic Black college with students often venting their frustrations on social media. Davis referenced a social media comment from an individual who said the college “should have closed a long time ago.”

“Initially, I was bothered,” Davis said. “But, I realized that of all that was said, that was most factual. This institution should have been closed a long time ago, and would have been closed a long time ago, if not for two words — but God.”

What many don’t know is that Livingstone College provides $4 million annually from its operating budget for scholarships and persistence grants to help students stay in school, having to defer maintenance projects until now.

As the latest Livingstone president, Davis indicated that one of his priorities was to refurbish the student-residence halls.

“He’s going to make 13 a lucky number,” said Bishop Kenneth Monroe, chairman of the Livingstone College Board of Trustees and senior bishop of the AME Zion Church.


Founder’s Day celebration

The annual Founder’s Day event at Livingstone honors the college’s first and founding president, Dr. Joseph Charles Price. A direct descendent of Price, great-grandson Phillip Sherrill, attended to give remarks on behalf of the family.

In 1879, Price left the United States and went to Europe to secure $10,000 to start this college, Sherrill said.

“It’s incumbent upon all of us to make sure this school never closes,” Sherrill said. “All I ask is that you do your best, you try your best and you come out of here making it a better place, and when you do leave, that you give back.”

Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, served as the keynote speaker. 

“Every unnecessary help is a stumbling block to developing independence,” Bryant said. “I don’t want the help if it will impede the development.”

He shared his story of dropping out of school in the 11th grade and how his guidance counselor suggested he go into the military. He ended up getting his GED and enrolling at Morehouse College, becoming the first person to do so without having taken the SAT and without having the appropriate GPA.

“A historic Black college saw my value and saw my possibilities,” Bryant said.

Bryant later earned his master of divinity degree from Duke University, where 43 years before he attended, his grandfather was the head cook. He then earned a doctorate degree in philosophy from Oxford University in England and later a doctorate from The Graduate Theological Foundation in Indiana. 

He started an A.M.E. church in his living room in Baltimore, Maryland, that went from 43 members to 10,000 at its peak.

A third-generation preacher in the A.M.E. faith, he was led to switch denominations and become a Baptist minister at his current church. He said he didn’t understand why the move until a woman at the church approached him and asked if he remembered her, and he did not.

It was his guidance counselor from high school, who told him she owed him an apology for not believing in him.

The program ended with a processional to the Price Mausoleum on campus, where there was a brief memorial service and the laying of a new wreath, which is an annual tradition on Founder’s Day.