Lane College President Logan Hampton (left) and the Rev. Dr. L. LaSimba M. Gray Jr., a Lane College alum, display a framed image that reflects the Lane College historical journey. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

(Lane College President Logan Hampton detailed the State of the College while addressing the Lane College National Alumni Association Annual Meeting in Memphis on July 19. Here are excerpts from his talk.)

…Today, I am delighted to update you on the happenings of Lane College. …Time does not permit a full accounting of blessings this afternoon.

I count it all joy to have received the official letter from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) dated, July 2, 2019.… Lane College is accredited with all the rights and privileges afforded to a SACSCOC regionally accredited institution.

I count it all joy when I think of our women’s basketball team. … During my tenure, these women had never won one tournament game. We never had to think about budget because they would go to the SIAC Basketball Tournament, play a game and return home. This year, they won their first game, then beat the undefeated regular season champions, and went on to win their first SIAC Conference Championship in the history of the College. We have been celebrating since March.

It has just been fun to see our students enjoy success. One graduate started his future at BET – Hollywood. Another will begin the PhD program in neuroscience this fall at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Yes, another is moving on to Syracuse. Our volleyball team was recognized for the highest GPA among other SIAC member institutions. They will spike the ball in your face and look better than you.

Our 2019 Miss Lane, Shannel DeFoe, is a member of the volleyball team, competed in the state Miss Tennessee Volunteer Scholarship Pageant, won talent and made the top 15, the first in the history of Lane College since 1985. The baseball and softball teams each won 20 plus games and competed well in their tournaments. Additionally, the baseball team had four players to make SIAC All-Conference, yes, from Lane, SIAC All-Conference in baseball.

Frankie Grice (right) had plenty of support as she received an award for “your tireless hard work and dedication to The Lane College Memphis Alumni Chapter.” Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

I count it all joy when I consider that the College finally completed and submitted its proposal to establish a teacher preparation program to the State of Tennessee. My colleagues have done the work, so we pray now that the proposal finds favor with the Tennessee Department of Education and is approved.

I count it all joy when I think of the  $649,801 S-STEM National Science Foundation (NSF) grant awarded to our science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty this year. The grant provides scholarships to science, STEM majors. We want to scholarship the next generation of high achieving STEM scholars to earn their degree. Tell your seniors, apply now, it’s not too late.

 A couple of weeks back, the College received notification that the Lane College Chemistry Department has been awarded a grant in the amount of  $398,786 by NSF Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP).

I count it all joy when I think of the community garden or urban farm that we are currently developing on our 2.5 acres lot on Lane Avenue. We will soon have sweet potatoes, herbs, flowers growing in East Jackson as we grow scholars, grow our community and grow hope.

This year, we piloted several institutional innovations. We created the Student Textbook Exchange Program (STEP), a collaboration of academic affairs, student affairs and auxiliary services that provided each student their course materials. We reasoned that we could provide the materials at a more affordable price than our students could purchase on the Internet. We observed that students who participated in STEP had a higher average GPA compared to those who did not.

Also, we adjusted our fall calendar to end the semester prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Since I arrived, I observed how difficult it is for our students to go home for a week at Thanksgiving and then return to campus for a week of finals. So, we ended the semester early and then hosted a Decembermester.

I count it all joy that Dr. Willie Mae Willett brought CVS to the College to explore a partnership to establish internship and CVS training center on campus.

Lane’s slogan, The Power of Potential®, not only describes our students; it also describes how we view current and future students.  While it may be all that some see, an underfunded and underprepared student who hails from underserved and under-resourced schools and communities, at Lane College, we see grit, resiliency, hopefulness, gifts, talent and the power of potential.  We employ intrusive, high-touch policies, practices, and processes to cultivate and develop each student’s potential. We do it more affordably than our sister institutions. …

Dr. Anna Cooke described our founder, Bishop Lane, with these words, “Regarded by some as a crank on the subject of education, by others as a beggar, he was often rejected but continued to pray and work for the educational uplift of the young people of his race” (Lane College: It’s Heritage and Outreach 1882-1982, p. 18).

Some might consider it an insult to be called cranky and a beggar. But after, these five years as president, I have confirmed the Ecclesiastical writing, to everything there is a season, a time to be cranky and a time to beg.

When it comes to defending the educational mission of Lane College, I find it necessary sometimes to be cranky. One day, a fella stopped by my office and asked me, more or less, if we had too many black boys with all their testosterone. I got a little cranky.

I told him, “Pick up your newspaper and read it some time.  Turn the nightly news on and watch it some time.  You will find sufficient evidence that we need to provide all of the educational opportunities for African-American males that we possibly can.”

That’s why I’m happy to be here today representing the Lord and Lane College. At Lane, 52 percent of the student body is male with 48 percent female. I celebrate the number of African American males that we enroll.

For too long, our black boys have been marginalized and stigmatized and demonized and ostracized and denigrated. The media goes out of its way to portray them as scary thugs.

So I say bring us your black boys with all their testosterone because we ain’t scared. We are set to make leaders who know the Lord, their lesson, and life purpose.  Bring us your testosterone because we are set to help them be good daddies and strong daddies, active and engaged in the lives of their children. Bring us your testosterone because we are set to make them scholars and intellectuals and preachers and doctors and lawyers.  Bring us your testosterone.  We are ready make men out of boys….

In equipping, educating and empowering our graduates, we make them ready to be lifelong learners, leaders and servants. The graduate leaves ready to compete in the marketplace, compete in the workforce and make their companies, communities and our country stronger.

Again, Lane College National Alumni, I ask you for the following: Pray for Fair Lane. Call us by name. Pray for me, a broken, frail leader…

Say good things about us… In particular, please write your United States congressional representatives and advocate for Lane by asking your senator and representatives to vote for legislation that supports the HBCU historic preservation, full funding of Title III programs, increase in Pell grants…

Send us your students. While our national recruiting is strong, we always have room for one more exceptional scholar.

Send us your gifts. Financial gifts sustain the College. We need you to make your best gift to the College today. The College has great deferred maintenance needs to sustain the historic buildings and unfortunately the new buildings as well. … Also, I remind you that 90 percent of our students are Pell eligible and need your help to make the institution affordable. … Put the College in your will.

Here is my shout today: We, Lane College, that is, sit on the highest point, the highest elevation, in Jackson-Madison County. Jesus spoke about us in the Bible. Read the Lane College translation of the Bible. Jesus said,  ““You are the light of the world (Jackson-Madison County). A city (college) that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men (Jackson-Madison County, State of Tennessee), that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14,16)