Tuskegee University President Shares Future Plans

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By Lisa Blackwell

Tuskegee University’s new president has ambitious plans for the historic college.

As far as Dr. Gilbert Rochon is concerned, the sky’s the limit.

When Booker T Washington laid the foundation for Tuskegee University back in the 1800’s on 100 acres of land people may have thought he was reaching for the stars. It’s a dream the new president is comfortable following.

I know that this university is primed and well positioned to move into not just maintain its position as one of the elite historical black colleges and universities, but I think that it is primed to move into the elite rank of globally recognized research universities.

Dr. Rochon plans to take advantage of key research that’s occurring at the University now and follow through on intellectual property protection and commercialization. He wants to partner with the state and corporations to help fund future research and enhance programs.

Dr. Gilbert Rochon, President, Tuskegee University, says “These are areas where we have comparative advantage with respect to research and development, we want to make an effective case that you can in source to us rather than outsource to some other entity and in so doing you can get better return on your investment for your stockholders and more over you can be assured of more easy monitoring with respect to quality assurance.”

One of Dr. Rochon’s many projects is to transform the old Varner House into the Tuskegee Alumni House and Visitor Center.

Rochon is hoping by welcoming alumni that they will make an investment in the future of the university. That future includes partnering with the local community to help improve economic conditions.

“As the largest employer within Tuskegee itself we need to energize that community and contribute to its sustainable development,” said Rochon.

Rochon plans to create a global footprint by providing distance learning, study abroad and joint research projects within developing countries.

“The mechanism for facilitating that will be investments in cutting edge technologies such as high performance computing, super-computing and training for jobs of the future,” said Rochon.
Colleagues are energized by his vision.

Dr. Walter Hill, Dean, College of Agriculture, Environmental and Natural Sciences, says, “He is a master communicator he makes everyone feel a part of where he is going that is a gift communication is key.”

Dr. Legand Burge, Jr., Dean, College of Engineering, Architecture & Physical Sciences, says “The whole idea of faculty development, facility enhancement and the whole idea of modest funding and extreme interest to develop our international program we see this as being quite significant.”

For this new ambitious president who includes MIT, Purdue University and NASA on his resume, it may not be a stretch to reach beyond the stars.

Tuskegee University has graduated seventy-five percent of black veterinarians and 72 percent of black architects in the U.S.

Rochon also has plans to offer more continuing education classes in the evening and summer.

He wants to offer mentoring for High School students through a Science Academy.

He is looking at introducing new technologies to local farmers such as satellite guidance for precision agriculture.

He says the university is working on a GPS mapping system of the campus that would give a map of everything on campus, including soil samples. This technology is something they may also work on for local community.

Tuskegee currently has 3000 students. Rochon plans to grow that number to 5000.

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