Contact: Thonnia Lee, Tuskegee University Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing
In its partnership with Alabama State University to host the Taking the Pentagon to the People summit, Tuskegee opened the event with a reception at the home of the university president at Grey Columns Wednesday evening.
The Pentagon special guests included the U.S. Department of Defense’s Gilbert R. Cisneros, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. The welcome reception was a preview of an all-day conference at Alabama State University on Thursday featuring panel discussions and workshops to encourage students of HBCUs to consider the Department of Defense as a career option.
“The Navy gave me an opportunity to make something of myself,” said Cisneros. “We want to create some of that opportunity with HBCUs. I am so excited to see so many college presidents and deans here. It’s exciting to talk to you, but I’m looking forward to talking to the students.
“At the Department of Defense, we’re looking for talent,” he said. “Whether you want to be an engineer, an accountant, or an auditor. We need the talent. We need teachers, we need doctors, and counselors. Think of the Department of Defense as an employer of choice. Think of the Department of Defense when you think ‘what am I going to do with my life, my career.’”
In addition to remarks by Cisneros, the crowd of more than 100 heard from the Director of Diversity for the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Equal Opportunity) at the Pentagon and TU alum Clarence “C.J.” Johnson, Alabama State Rep. Anthony Daniels and Alabama State Senator Bobby Singleton. They also enjoyed a few songs from the Golden Voices choir.
“This is a win for today,” said Alabama State Sen. Singleton. “This is something that would have never been dreamed of – that the Pentagon comes to Tuskegee. We really appreciate the position you take to want to go to the students.”
Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., President, Alabama State University, who served as cohost, used his catch phase to sum up the extraordinary event. “You have to go, to know.” “We are delighted to be here. Born out of the necessity, we the elite institutions called HBCUs, we are excited you are here with us. It is important to our future.
“Touching this hallowed institution, that has scholars all over the world, leaders of HBCUs, presidents of those institutions are here,” said Dr. Ross. “You have arrived at the learning meccas. It is our responsibility to provide our students with a leadership opportunity of a lifetime.”
Despite the high energy of the evening, Provost Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, who served as emcee with Chief Operating Officer Dr. Rolundus Rice, reminded the crowd of last week’s loss of Dr. Shaik Jeelani, vice president for Research and Dean of Graduate School, who coordinated Tuskegee’s participation and never missed the annual event.
“The passing of Dr. Jeelani challenges us to be more dedicated, more committed to serve,” Dr. Hargrove said.
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