“Since Dr. Artis became president, we have experienced tremendous progress,” Dr. Johnson stated. “We are making substantial changes to enhance Benedict College. We are mindful of the fact that some of the changes that have been made, and will be implemented, will engender criticism, but we are not invested in the status quo; we are invested in the brightest future for Benedict College! With the extension of the Dr. Artis’ employment contract as President and CEO, we are expressing our confidence in her vision and outstanding leadership.”
In her brief tenure, Dr. Artis has made headlines across the state and region, launching bold initiatives to position Benedict College as a competitive institution where transformative learning, innovation and a commitment to community all merge to manifest The BESTofBC.
Improved Competitiveness — In the face of downward trends in undergraduate enrollment in the state and across the country and the increasing cost of higher education, Benedict made headlines this year when it lowered tuition by 26%. According to Dr. Artis, the decision was not made in order to increase enrollment, rather, the goals were to create needed financial stability and predictability for Benedict, to decrease the debt burdens on students and families, and to place the college in a stronger competitive position amongst its peers. Jeff Schilz, Interim Executive Director of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, praised Dr. Artis and the college for making higher education affordable for South Carolina families (The State, April 10, 2018).
Improved Academic Profile— Collaborating with the faculty and increasing the focus on strategic enrollment management, Benedict modified its admissions standards which resulted in a significant increase in the profile of its freshman class which includes 182 honors students with an average grade point average of 3.5 – 4.0.
Further, students who could not meet the new requirements, participated in a new BC Summer Bridge program where they had the opportunity to demonstrate college readiness and thereby earn full admission. Additionally, this year, entering Tigers have the opportunity to select from new areas of study such as Cybersecurity, Music Industry and Entrepreneurship.
Improved Giving and Growing— As a result of the initiative to reduce tuition and revise admissions standards, Benedict exceeded revenue projections and welcomed the largest class of new students in five years. Further, this summer, the College also announced the culmination of its fundraising efforts that included another record-giving year for alumni giving.
The Presidential Inauguration events, collectively raised nearly $400,000. In combination with corporate, alumni, and targeted giving, the College posted an overall record-breaking year of fundraising.
Dr. Artis continues to meet and engage Benedict alumni and stakeholders all across the city, state, region and country advocating for the Benedict. Her office has accounted for over 50 speaking engagements and 60 conferences and panels where the President has represented Benedict in the past 12 months.
Dr. Artis has, from the first day on the ground, been committed to the overall success of Benedict – academics, finances, and operations,” Dr. Elsie King Hamler, Asst. Secretary, Benedict College Board of Trustees reflects. “She is transparent in communicating the challenges that the college faces, and she systematically outlines strategies and steps to resolve the issues. This is what you expect in a transformative leader and we are proud that we have one of the best at Benedict!”
Opportunities on the Horizon— Under the leadership of Dr. Artis, Benedict hosted one of the first HBCU Economic Competitiveness Summits in collaboration with the White House Initiative for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Benedict also worked in collaboration with the 100 Black Men of America and the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame to host and lead the first HBCU Sustainability Summit. Both of these conferences focused on technology, enterprise and innovation as critical elements for the future of this country’s HBCUs.
Benedict also completed the college’s five-year strategic plan, an effort that included participation from faculty, staff, administrators, students and stakeholders to strategically assess, outline and develop initiatives and tools to position Benedict for the future.
Through the strategic planning process, ongoing challenges such as renovating aged infrastructure (facilities and technology), increasing retention, and continuing to build financial systems that will create better predictability and sustainability, remain at the forefront of the issues that lie ahead for Dr. Artis as President of Benedict College.
However, as stated by the Chair of the Board of Trustees Dr. Johnson and Trustee Dr. Hamler, as the President and CEO of Benedict College, Dr. Artis’ style of transparent, strategic and visionary leadership is exactly what Benedict needs to propel it forward.