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Livingstone College: A holistic approach to academic preparation

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  • "Our philosophy is we take our students where they are, take them where they need to be so that they can command their rightful place in the global society," said President Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr.
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Founded in 1879 and affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Livingstone College is a private, historically Black college located on 272 acres of land in Salisbury.

In fall 2020, 845 students enrolled at Livingstone College, and 53% were from North Carolina. According to the college’s Statistical Profile and Fact Book, the in-state students come from 55 of our 100 counties, and the out-of-state students come from 26 states and the District of Columbia.

The college has four academic divisions — Division of Business; Division of Education, Psychology, and Social Work; Division of Liberal Arts and Humanities; and Division of Mathematics and Sciences — offering 24 majors with 62 full-time faculty. The top two majors are sports management and business administration followed by criminal justice and biology.

Tuition and fees with room and board costs $25,491.72 per year, and 99% of students receive financial aid. The average net price is $16,016.

Livingstone College offers a holistic approach to learning and living, including awareness and mastery of:

  • Health, wellness, and fitness.
  • Emergency response and first aid.
  • Political action and social responsibility.
  • Volunteerism and public service.
  • Cultural and social awareness.
  • Debt management, personal responsibility, and philanthropy.
  • Individual and organizational leadership.
  • Spanish as a second language.
  • Technology and the 21st century.
  • Faith-based strategies for the enhancement of the quality of life.

“Our philosophy is we take our students where they are, take them where they need to be so that they can command their rightful place in the global society,” said President Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr.

Welcome to Blue Bear Country!

The place

“Beneath thy maples and thy oaks,” as those who love Livingstone College say, the campus includes 26 buildings, include seven on the National Register of Historic Places.

Price Memorial Administration Building was dedicated in 1943. It is the iconic image and logo of the college.
The F. George Shipman Science Center opened in 2022. The 16,000-square-foot building features laboratory and research spaces for microbiology, human anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and chemistry, with smaller laboratory spaces for specialized research including a tissue culture lab. In the planetarium/immersion theater with SciDome IQ 2400 technology, students have a virtual-reality experience for human anatomy, physics, astronomy, and earth science. A quote from President Shipman, who served from 1969-1982, reads, “I respect the individual for his worth and for what he is capable of becoming.”
By Jon Hair, the Blue Bear is over life size at 13 feet long and 10 feet high. Made of bronze and granite, it represents strength and power, according to the artist.

The people

Jenkins has served Livingstone College since 2006, and he is retiring on July 1.

“Dr. Jenkins has been an outstanding president at Livingstone,” said Hope Williams, president of the N.C. Independent Colleges and Universities, “strengthening and moving the college forward, including establishing new, high-demand programs and renovating and constructing new facilities.”

Meet Justin Wade, the president of the Student Government Association. A senior, he is headed to the Duke Divinity School. He said students at Livingstone College are equipped to make a major impact on our global society.

Wade says his favorite place on campus is the garden. This is the garden he loves:

Nia McDougald is the Miss Maple and Miss UNCF for Livingstone College. From Connecticut, she emphasizes the family-oriented campus. “Being on a campus that makes me feel like I have a home is one of the best things ever,” she said.

Nia McDougald

Students are out and about on campus — in and out of the Student Success Center, eating together in the pavilion, picking up lunch at the cafeteria and taking it back to the dorm.

The past and the future

On football and the resolve of HBCU students and institutions

On Dec. 27, 1892, a historic football game was played on the front lawn of Livingstone College against what is now Johnson C. Smith University. Who won? Both sides claim victory. Livingstone fell on the ball in the end zone, but it was snowing that day, and the referees couldn’t tell if it was a touch down or if the ball was out of bounds.

“The reality is both institutions won,” said Dr. Anthony J. Davis, the senior vice president for institutional advancement and chief operating officer — and the one telling this story that has been handed down over time.

“It doesn’t matter who won,” he says. “It speaks to the resolve of two HBCUs wanting to play this new game.”

They didn’t have a football, he said, so both schools pooled the resources to buy the ball. They didn’t have uniforms, so those were made by the industrial arts departments. They didn’t have cleats, so the players took their dress shoes and drove nails through their soles so they could play the game.

“What matters is what they gave birth to — a sense of self reliance and a resolve to defy the odds. And that’s what HBCUs do and have done historically since our inception,” said Davis.

On eSports and a commitment to remain progressive and relevant

It’s been almost 130 years since that football game was played, but the resolve to lead the way remains.

eSports are multiplayer video games played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers, according to the Oxford Dictionary. In June 2021, Livingstone College announced an industry-leading eSports complex.

Courtesy of Livingstone College

Located in its School of Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts and open to students and the public, the facility will include 16 competitive gaming stations, 16 social play stations, a pre-game strategy and coaching room, two golf simulation stations, a broadcasting center, two iRacing simulation units, and uniquely-designed eSports hotel suites.

The student-centered curriculum with scholarship support will incorporate STEM education and prepare students for career opportunities including commercial and defense drone operators, computer programming, sports journalism and broadcasting, audio/visual entertainment professionals, content creators, and hospitality and event planning management.

“The launch of our state-of-the-art eSports program is demonstrative of Livingstone’s commitment to remain progressive and relevant with the programs we offer,” said President Jenkins. 

Here is the Livingstone College Student Handbook.

Here is Statistical Profile and Fact Book for 2020-21.

Here is the Annual Report for 2020-21.

Listen to the Livingstone College podcast.

Here you can learn all about sports at Livingstone College.

Stones with this quote are placed around campus. President Jenkins, “the student’s president,” is beloved. When I asked him what he wished he had known at the start of his presidency, he said, “how much fun I would have.” Thank you for your leadership, President.
Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.